An Avalanche of Sorrows (Job Sermon 2)
February 28, 2021 | Andy Davis
Joy in Suffering, Internal Journey, Suffering, Trials
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a sermon on Job 1-2. He covers the suffering that Job experienced in the first two chapters of the book and applies it to the ways that Christians will suffer in their earthly lives. Earthly suffering is used by God to sanctify us and teach us patience.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Turn your Bibles to Job chapter one. We'll be looking this morning at the first two chapters of this incredible book. We begin walking through this masterpiece of Hebrew wisdom, this incomparably deep book of Job. This morning, we're going to stand alongside this godly man, Job, and watch him go through the greatest avalanche of sorrows that ever crashed down on any living man in a single day. This morning, we're going to peer, as you're doing maybe even right now, on the cold words on the page that recount a blazing hot trial in the life of a godly man poured out on him by a loving and sovereign God, poured out on the choicest servant of God that lived at that time. The cold words, black and white on the page, will become living lessons burned into our hearts only by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
However, as we, this morning, read the account of Job's sufferings, we do so from the perspective of life beyond the grave, beyond the cross and the empty grave of Jesus Christ. We seek to learn the timeless lessons of suffering given to us by this old Testament book, Job, but as we do, we don't forget what we've learned from the new Testament of Christ, of his sufferings in his triumph over the grave. From that perspective, we look back at this book. So, this morning, we look back at the immeasurable sorrows of a godly man, having ourselves been blessed by the infinite sorrows of a perfect man, Jesus Christ, whose sufferings on the cross atones for the sins of all who believe and whose resurrection victory answers all of the deepest questions of our souls, and the questions of earthly suffering. Yet, even knowing that Christ died for our sins, that he rose for our glory, we still have much to learn about suffering don't we? We still have much to learn. We are not done with our salvation yet. Salvation is a process. Salvation comes to us in stages. That's even true for some of you that are listening to me who are not yet Christians, who are, the scripture says, "Dead in your transgressions and sins." That God, when he works in the heart of a lost person to eventually bring them to Christ, it's a process that could go on for years. The process of drawing of a magnetic pull that results finally in coming to Christ and finding forgiveness of sins. And if you are, as yet, outside of Christ, it is good for you to understand that the sufferings that Job went through are nothing compared to the eternal torments of hell. The Bible's very clear about the perfect wrath and justice of God and hell, and that there is one and only one remedy for that, and that is faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, up to this point, if you're not a Christian, if you've heard the gospel. You're here today, or maybe listening by live stream, you're aware of the gospel, but there may yet be still a process before you're ready to give your life to Christ. That process will involve pain and suffering. You will be stripped of the illusion of this world as bringing ultimate pleasure and joy to you and you'll realize it's all empty, as the author to Ecclesiastes said, "Vanity of vanities." At some point you'll realize that you're facing the judgment of God and then flee to Christ. That's my prayer for you today.
Now the rest of you have already found Christ. You've already come to faith in Christ. You know that you're a sinner. You have been saved by grace through faith. You have received the gift of justification, of full forgiveness of all sins past, present, and future by simple faith in Christ. That's already happened to you, but you're not done being saved yet either. There's still a process going on in your life. The journey of holiness, of sanctification. God is in the process of purifying your hearts and your lives from the pervasive effects of sin. And the fires of suffering are necessary; they're essential to that journey of salvation that we're on even after we've come to faith in Christ. We do not make much progress in holiness during the times of sunshine and hot fudge sundaes. That's not when we make a lot of pro... however enjoyable those things are, for God has given us all things richly to enjoy. And we should enjoy them, but we don't make a lot of progress and sanctification at those times. God must, it seems, hurt us in order to fully save us. We must, through many tribulations, enter the kingdom of God; it's not easy. We have to go through the refiner's fire so that the corruption of sin can be burned from our hearts, from our mixed and changeful hearts, we have to go through the fires. And so, we're told in a later book of the Bible, in the book of James, chapter 1:2-4. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that you will be mature and complete and not lacking in anything." That word mature means Christ-like, sanctified. We have to go through trials, hard times in order to be sanctified and Christ-like. Now that text, James 1:2-4, will be central to our meditations, God willing, over the number of weeks and beyond that we walk through this entire book of Job. Because the problem of pain and sorrow and suffering is, I guess, the most poignant of all of the theological problems on earth. We have to walk through it. We have to study it. It's not a light, quick study: this issue of suffering.
When we hurt ourselves, when loved ones hurt or are dying, or even have died, and we've walked through that experience, that's when our souls can be most rocked by temptations toward dark thoughts about God. Is he really wise, or is he really powerful, or does he really love me? Is he really good? And we can start listening to Satan and wonder about one or more of those attributes that are so clearly taught in the Bible, but we start to wonder and we start to doubt. We need the book of Job. We need to walk through these chapters and understand them. So, this morning we're going to begin that process of walking through this incomparable drama with Job one and two. Now, we start with the clear teaching about who Job was, the greatness of Job.
I. The Greatness of Job
Look at verses one through five in chapter one, “In the land of Uz, there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright. He feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yolk of oxen, 500 donkeys, a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the east. His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning, he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job's regular custom.” All right so, Job's greatness is asserted here by the Holy Spirit in the text. He was the greatest man in the east.
Job's greatness is asserted by God himself in these two chapters. In Job 1:8, “the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil,’’ Job 1:8. That's God speaking about Job. And then again in chapter two, verse three, “the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil and he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him, without any reason.’” So twice, almighty God asserts the greatness of this man, Job. For me, it's remarkable, really amazing, how much pride God takes in his own creation work. He delights in what he's made. He looks at what he's made in Genesis and sees that it's very good, and he delights in it. And at the end, when God speaks out of a whirlwind, he spends a lot of time boasting about his creatures, effectively saying, "Have you considered the wild donkey that runs free out in the desert? Have you considered the ostrich, how fast she is? Have you considered the horse and its courage of heart, and the way it snorts and stamps? Have you considered the Eagle the way it sores free in the air?" But none of God's creations bring him as much pride and delight as human beings created in his image, and his redeemed children, redeemed by the blood of Christ.
I actually believe when God says to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?" that that is a foretaste of some innumerable, even infinite moments there will be in heaven when God will effectively say that in reference to all of his children. We have plenty of time in heaven. And how God will hold up various servants so that we'll understand the grace God did in their lives and through their lives to others, that great network of good works, but there are some people that are elevated above the norm. They are the great heroes and heroines of redemptive history. They're unique. They go through a high level of suffering. There's a high level of fruitfulness in their lives. They're just unique individuals. They will receive proportional honor, and God saying, "Have you considered my servant so and so?" Job was one of those. He was a unique individual, the greatest man in the east.
Now, what are the attributes of Job's greatness? Well, it says right away, he is blameless and upright, that he feared God and shunned evil. Blameless means that there is no record against him of wrongdoing. Satan himself doesn't question this. Satan is the accuser and he doesn't bring any accusation about Job's sinfulness. He had nothing to say; he's a blameless man. No witness for the prosecution could be brought forth at that moment. He is upright, that is, he is righteous; he lives according to the standard of God, of God's moral law. He feared God; he was a pious man. He feared sin because of what God would do to him, and because how it would dishonor God.
He later is going to say to God, at that moment, somewhat disrespectfully, but he's going to say, "Will you never look away from me for a moment, oh watcher of men?" He lived every moment aware that God is watching him, every moment, and that he would have to give an account for his actions on judgment day. He feared God. He feared his power and judgment, and so he feared sin, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” as we read in book of Proverbs, chapter nine, verse 10. So he shunned evil. He stayed away from evil. He hated evil. Later, he will assert, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” He wouldn't defraud anyone. He wouldn't hurt anyone. Anything that was evil, he stayed away from it. He shunned it. Turned aside.
He also had a secret piety, and he understood the importance of secret piety. He was not a whitewashed tomb looking good on the outside, but corrupt on the inside. You remember the whole thing with his children, “He wondered if some of them might have cursed God in their hearts. So he got up early in the morning to offer sacrifices for them, and would send and have them purified,” it says. And so, this is remarkable. This may be one of the best accounts of a fatherly action in the whole Bible. Maybe I would put it even ahead of some of what we see in father Abraham's life. Although similar, what Abraham did with Isaac: remarkable. But he continued to shepherd his grown children after they were grown, and to care about their piety and their holiness, and he offered sacrifices for them at times of feasting. He knew that feasting could bring on corruption. Celebration, pleasure could, it could be a time of weakness. He would do this. It says it was his regular custom. He had the habit of doing this.
Now, we need to keep this in mind when his so-called friends start wrangling with him over the issue of their perception of morality and what's really going on with all of his suffering, and the only thing they can surmise is he must be a very great sinner in private. They don't have any accusation; they have no evidence. He's blameless with them, but all they see is his suffering. They reason he must be a secret sinner, and a great one, but we have the alternate truth here. We know that he was not a whitewashed tomb, but he was what he appeared to be.
So for me, I'm going to apply all of this at the end, but I just want to break off and apply this to you Christian fathers, and just say, study Job as a pattern for fathering. That you would be a role model, both in your public life and your private life, that you would keep on shepherding your children in their older years, even when they're not minors anymore, that you would actually care about what's going on in their hearts and their lives, asking them challenging questions, praying for them secretly. These are things that Job gives us a role model for.
"Christian fathers study Job as a pattern for fathering. That you would be a role model, both in your public life and your private life, that you would keep on shepherding your children in their older years."
And he had prosperity; he was wealthy in the way that you look at wealth and success. He had family prosperity, 10 children: seven sons and three daughters, so it seemed like his family lineage was set. And material prosperity; in that agrarian society all of this livestock that's listed in great detail would've made for wealth back in those agrarian society. For me, I wouldn't know what to do with one camel, never mind, 3,000 camels. What did 3,000 camels eat in a day? And what does that even look like? In my geeky way, I figured out it's somewhat like a matrix of 55 camels wide by 55 camels deep, that's what it... so picture that. But I don't know how wide 55 camels is. What is it? It's bigger than my property. So, this was a wealthy man. 500 yolk of oxen, that's a thousand oxen. He was wealthy. This was Job.
II. Satan’s First Test of Job
Now, let's talk about Satan's first test of Job in Job 1:6-19. Satan approaches, “There was a day,” verse six, “when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them.” This is what's often seen to be the heavenly council. It's in the heavenly realms; not something could have been seen with the naked eye. God ruling in the heavenly realms. One translation just simply says angels, and they, I think, were angels, the sons of God. The text, the Hebrew, says sons of God, but in Job 38:7, it says that the sons of God were celebrating and worshiping when he laid the foundations of the earth. There were no human beings at that point. We don't know exactly, in Genesis one, it's not accounted when he created the angels, spirit beings, but he did and they watched him make the physical universe.
So the heavenly council, I believe, involves God descending from the region above creation, if you could picture it that way: heaven, even the highest heavens. Christ, in the book of Hebrews, moves through the heavens above all that, so God is not part even of the heavens; he's above everything. But you get the sense of him descending and setting up his throne amongst the angels. And they come and the Holy angels assemble around him to stand in his presence ready to serve him, to bow down in his presence, to worship him, this is what's going on. And Satan comes as well, so there's a sense that he's an outlier, not ordinarily there perhaps, or not welcome, in one sense he's not included in them, but he comes.
Satan is a fallen angel. He is an angel that thought, it seems, from Isaiah 14, that he could ascend and topple God from his throne, preposterous, but he was arrogant in that sense and thought that he could do that. So he comes and Satan comes as well. God, then, questions, Satan: “The Lord said to Satan,” verse seven, “‘From where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’” This is a picture of the restless roaming of Satan. It's his nature to be restless and to roam and to move around, moving back and forth over it. Charles Spurgeon said that Satan marched everywhere like a king in his own dominions, unhindered and unchallenged.
So that's the confident Satan who just dominates the earth, like when Satan takes Jesus to a very high mountain and shows him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. He said, "All this has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. If you'll bow down and worship me, it'll all be yours." You remember that moment. So there's that sense that Satan runs planet earth, but Revelation 12 we get more of the full story, where it seems that Satan, as he was leading a rebellion of maybe a third of the Holy angels against the throne of God, fought a battle and lost and was hurled to the earth, lost his place in heaven and was hurled. And it says that he's filled with rage because he knows that his time is short. If you study the gospels, the demons, in their encounters with Jesus, are terrified of Jesus. They're absolutely terrified; there's zero doubt about his power over them. They're afraid that he's going to throw them into the pit to be tortured before the final judgment where they'll be cast into the lake of fire, where they are not now, but they will be at the end of time.
And so yeah, in some sense, Satan's confident, roaming around, other sense, filled with rage because he knows his time is short. And Jesus said of demons, “When an evil spirit goes out of a man,” Matthew 12:43, “it goes through arid places seeking rest.” You picture demons as, well, restless, roaming around. Says in Isaiah 57, speaking of people, but it's also true of demons and of Satan, “The wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” So when you think restless, Satan is restless. I've also seen how when he is tempting us, he makes us restless and discontent as well. Just, when that's going on in your soul you know where that's coming from. So Satan has a deep-seated hatred for God and for God's people. Relentless. Relentless malice, and he has vast powers of destruction at his disposal.
So, God boasts about Satan in verse eight, as we've seen, “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’" He says that to Satan. Now, it's key that Satan doesn't say, what about this? What about that? What about the other? There is nothing he can say. It's just true, but what does he say? Look at the accusation, verse nine through 11. "‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household, and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands so that his flock and herds are spread throughout the land, but stretch out your hand and strike everything he has and he will surely curse you to your face.’"
Like I said, Satan means accuser. It's an actual... the Satan, in a court trial, would be the prosecuting attorney; that's what the Hebrew word means. But here, it's just the name that we've taken over in English. He is the accuser. He says that Job is essentially in it for the money. He's a mercenary. He's basically accusing Job of being a prosperity gospel man. Meaning he's just in it for worldly goods. And he accuses God for abetting it, “You're paying off your friends, God.” Now this shows one of the key points that I'm going to make later this morning, it's vital, but I think repetition is helpful. Satan is restricted in his access to the people of God. He's restricted. He's like a lion on a leash. God is faithful to his children and he will not let any of them be tempted beyond what they can bear. I'm going to say that many times this morning, but it's first time I said it this morning. You just need to understand that.
"Satan is restricted in his access to the people of God. He's restricted. He's like a lion on a leash. God is faithful to his children and he will not let any of them be tempted beyond what they can bear."
So, God erects a protective wall around Job and everything he has, called a hedge, something that he cannot penetrate. And Satan has to ask permission to get at Job, at every step. Permission. This is vital for us to realize. All of Satan's approaches to us are filtered through the throne of God. He zealously guards his children, his adopted children. He zealously guards them, but he will allow some flaming arrows of temptations, and then accusations, to come through from time to time. And he trains us to put on a spiritual armor and lift up the shield of faith, and he works with, but understand: everything has had to go through him, God.
And also, Satan's accusation here is really repulsive, “If you take away everything, he will curse you to your face.” There's so many dimensions of wickedness about that. Effectively, “God, there's nothing about you worth worshiping.” There's so many things in Job, himself, being essentially a deceiver. Well, then God grants Satan permission, but he limits it. Verse 12, “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him, do not stretch out your hand.’” Now, we need to understand this, I Corinthians 10:13 says: “no temptation has seized you, except what is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but with the temptation, will provide a way out so you can stand up under it.” So when you're being assaulted, understand, God had to give permission for that, so take it back up to God. What are you intending, Lord, in this? What are your purposes? You are very wise and loving to me. You're going to bring it back to God. There's intentionality in whatever God permits.
So then Satan goes out from the presence of the Lord, verse 12. Satan and his demons, we should not imagine, are continually in the presence of God, and see him, and whatever. Not at all. Actually, we learned in the book of James, where it says, "You believe that there is one God, good, even the demons," what? "Believe that." That means they don't see him; they got to believe that there is one God. God is higher than the highest heavens. He's above all of them. He reveals himself as he chooses. It's interesting how, in the Bible, angels and demons fight it out on roughly equal terms. We see it in the book of Daniel. It's really quite remarkable, but God and his sovereignty rules over all of these things. So, Satan goes out, verse 12, from the Lord's presence and the avalanche of sorrow starts. The avalanche, wave upon wave, upon wave of sorrow comes down on this man.
One day. In one day, all of his possessions are lost. He loses, when the first messenger comes, all of his oxygen and his donkeys. The Sabaeans came in, and they're raiders, and they came in and they took everything, slaughtered the servants, and I'm the only one left. While he's speaking, then the next messenger comes, and the sheep and the servants, the shepherds, are taken by the fire of God from the sky. Lightning, I guess, some electrical storm might have started a prairie fire, I don't know, but the fire of God comes down, it was called, killing them all. While that messenger's still speaking, then the next wave comes. Chaldeans swept in and stole all 3,000 camels; gone in an instant, and they slaughtered the servants as well. While that messenger's still speaking, the next avalanche comes down and the worst of all, the worst of all.
Verse 18 and 19, “your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck all four corners of the house and it collapsed on them and they're dead and I'm the only one who has escaped to tell you.” Could be, I would think, what any parent fears the most, which is vulnerable. We can't keep our kids safe perfectly in this world. We know it. It's one of the greatest sorrows there is in this world, is parents burying a child. Well, he didn't have one to bury, he had 10, in one day. An avalanche of sorrows, and then we see what James calls the patience of Job.
III. The Patience of Job
Verse 20 through 22, “At this, Job got up, tore his robe, shaved his head, then he fell to the ground in worship and said, ‘Naked, I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” This really is one of the greatest moments in redemptive history. Very, very unique, that a man would receive that kind of news and respond like that. Incredible. He humbled himself under God's mighty hand. He tore his clothes. He shaved his head. This deeply hurt him. There's no doubt about it, but he's very aware of his own mortality, and of the temporary nature of all of the earthy blessings that God gave him. He said, "Naked, I entered the world, and naked I will depart." What this says to me, if you ponder this carefully, what this says to me is every last one of us will experience, in some way, what Job experienced at the end of our lives.
One of my best friends in this church, over the years, was a man named Mac Woody. Mac was on the search committee that brought me here, Godly man, one of the most consistently cheerful men that I've ever met. He loved his wife, Eileen. He loved his three children, his multiple grandchildren. Sweet man. Consistently cheerful. The last time that I saw him, I visited him at Croasdaile Nursing Home. Mac had three homes. He had a home on Garrett road, simple home that he lived with Eileen for many years. Then he had her ancestral home out in Otto, North Carolina, the Western part of the state in a beautiful part of the mountainous area out there, very simple home, but it’s a very pretty area. Later in life, he acquired a beach home at Carolina Beach, got an amazing deal on it. He just let our family go to the mountain home or the beach home whenever we wanted. Very generous, and I remember seeing him, visiting him that last time and he knew, I knew where he was at physically and that the end was very near, but he was cheerful as always, filled with the faith of the gospel. But it occurred to me, he will never live in any of those homes again. Probably never see them again in this world… done. It's all gone. I didn't say that to him, but it was in my mind. It was just a lesson on how to die well. I just want you all to be ready for what's coming to you, and I want to be ready for what's coming to me. We don't know when, but it's going to come. Naked, we entered this world and naked we will leave it. And the Bible's very honest about that. We need to be ready for that.
We need to have the faith of the faith-filled men and women that are celebrated in the hall of faith in Hebrews 11, who when they reached the end of their lives, realized that all of the best promises were still yet to come. They died in faith, Hebrews 11:13 and 16 says, "All of these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers in this world." That's what naked I entered and naked I will leave, that's what it means. Aliens and strangers. We just moved through. They were longing for a better country, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. God has prepared a country, and a city, and he's going to give that to us through faith in Christ.
So you're going to reach the end of your life and all of your earthly stuff's going to be taken away. And if you're strong in the faith, like I hope you will be, it won't bother you at all. You will rejoice and say, "All of my best blessings are yet to come. They're in the future." So Job's patience means that he worshiped God, he trusted God, he did not question God, he did not challenge him, or charge him with wrongdoing. Now, people ask me, “Pastor, is it ever okay to just be angry at God?” What do you think the book of Job's answer to that question is? Absolutely not, ever.
"People ask me, “Pastor, is it ever okay to just be angry at God?” What do you think the book of Job's answer to that question is? Absolutely not, ever."
We are never okay to challenge God, or charge God with wrongdoing. God never does anything wrong. And I just think it's part of the trial that we go through, that Satan tries to slip that in and teach us it's okay to be angry with God sometimes. No it isn't. God loves you and sent his only begotten son to die for you. His love for you is... the credentials are impeccable. No, it's not okay. It won't do you any good to be angry at God. Now, I believe that there's some things percolating inside Job at this point. Do you sense it? You've read the book. You know what's happening. It's going to start bubbling to the surface, but it's not there yet. He doesn't charge God with wrongdoing, and he worships.
IV. Satan’s Second Test of Job
All right, second test of Job, chapter two. Satan's relentless, “On another day, the angels came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan came also with them to present himself before him and the Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’” He is so proud. He can never admit he was wrong. Just a proud being, too proud to admit failure. He's never going to think differently about anything for repentance is a gift of God's grace. And he's not going to repent; Satan doesn't repent of anything, just comes out at a different angle. He does what he does, and what does he do? He's a thief that comes to steal, and kill, and destroy, John 10:10. That's what he does.
Well, God vindicates Job, as we've seen. Chapter two, verse three, “the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him. He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil and he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.’” Well, Satan renews his accusation, despite his failure to get Job to blaspheme. But Satan does know human nature. He has studied us. He knows our weaknesses. And what does he say? Look at verse four and five. “‘Skin for skin,’ Satan replied. ‘A man will give all he has for his own life, but stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and his bones and he will surely curse you to your face.’” Basically, what Satan saying is fundamentally, fundamentally, without our health we can't enjoy any blessings in this world, and we will actually trade all of our earthly blessings to get our health back. There's a sense in which that's really true. There are spiritual blessings that are not tied to our health, and we can enjoy those anytime, but it's hard to enjoy the physical blessings of life if you're in deep physical pain; if you're in agony, it's hard to enjoy them. People will spend a lot of money on their health. The last normal medical year, before COVID, in the United States alone, people spent $3.5 trillion on healthcare in one year. That's an average of $11,000 per citizen. That's how much we value our health and how much we... and Job, in his physical misery, lost his appetite. He didn't want to eat anything. Even an egg white tasted terrible to him. He says in Job 6:6 and 7, "Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg? I refuse to touch it. Such food makes me ill." You can't enjoy anything when you're hurting, when you're physically sick. So God permits Satan, but limits him again. Verse six through eight, “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well then. He is in your hands, but you must spare his life.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores, from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.” hard to even imagine what that's like. We're going to talk, God willing, in weeks to come, about what he was physically feeling, and what kinds of suffering he was going through. But then Job's wife comes to him in verse nine and his wife said to him, "Are you still holding onto your integrity? Curse God and die." We don't know much about her, but those are her children too. It's just hard. It's hard. It's painful. But what she said was wrong. At that point, she's almost, it seems, coming at from the same angle that Satan was.
The devil can take us captive to do his will. We can actually say things the devil wants us to say. We just need to be really, really careful. We all can do that. We all can do that. And then Job's friends come. We're going to get to know them, God willing, over the next number of weeks. Interesting people, all I can say about them at this point, “Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him. They set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him. They began to weep aloud. They tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. They sat there on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how great his suffering was.” we'll just leave it there. It is through this paragraph here we sense just how great Job's suffering is. They can't even recognize him.
V. The Patience of Job Deepened
The patience of Job is deepened and broadened. In verse 10, as his wife said, “‘Are you still holding onto your integrity? Curse God and die.’ He replied, ‘You're talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Now, that's an interesting statement. You know, first chapter is he didn't sin by charging God with wrongdoing, now he didn't sin in anything he said, but he is thinking some thoughts. How do we know that? Because he says them, over the subsequent chapters, just not yet. So it's percolating in there, and I think this is part of God's purpose, in Job's life. There is a basic corruption deep inside this blameless man and it's going to come bubbling to the surface and God's going to deal with it and heal him from it, but it's going to take time. The rest of us, it would have come a lot quicker, almost right away. With Job, look at all he went through before, but he didn't sin in what he said. He said, like in Psalms 141:3, "Set a guard over my mouth, oh Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips." He's going to say later, "I put my hand over my mouth." sometimes, that's the best thing you can do. "I'm not going to say anything." Good choice, but he's thinking it.
VI. Ten Lessons and Their Applications
All right. I want to just give you 10 quick lessons and one word applications, because we're going to see these lessons again and again. I'm just going to say it and apply it quickly. First, earthly prosperity is temporary, so store up your treasure in heaven. Second, God is sovereign, so humble yourself under his mighty hand. Third, Satan is a powerful adversary, so study his schemes. Paul says, "We're not unaware of his schemes. Study what he does." Fourth, the heavenly realms, the realms of angels and demons, are hidden from us, but they're impactful on our lives. Fifth, human godliness is precious to God, so pursue it. Pursue it. Say, "I would like five years from now, 10 years from now, to be more like Job in which it could be said, blameless and upright. Someone who fears God and shuns, shuns, evil. Six, God limits Satan's power, so rely on God's protection. Understand God has a hedge, a wall, around you too. He is protecting you. Understand that. And he's limiting Satan's power, and God knows how to do that. Seven, suffering is deep and inevitable, so prepare for it and suffer well when it comes. Don't act like it's a surprise. Don't act like these things, you didn't know this was coming. It's going to come. Get ready for it. You may say, how do I do that? Suffer well on the little things. He who is faithful in little, be faithful in much. Bear traffic annoyances better than you do. I mean all humor aside, just do that. Be more patient in your life. Be more patient with little annoyances that happen along the way. Say, "God, get me ready for the big one." You say, "But I don't want the big one, so if I ask God for patience, he's going to start doing stuff to me." Friend, he's going to do things to you anyway. The question is, are you going to react well or poorly? So, if you can get ready now and ask God to build patience in you now, then you'll be more ready to suffer well when that time comes. So number eight, patience in suffering is essential, so develop it in that way. Develop your patience. Number nine, Providence is meticulous, so learn the doctrine of Providence and trust in it, “A sparrow doesn't fall to the ground, apart from the will of God.” Ten, God is good and loving, so draw near to him in Christ. Draw near to him in Christ.
I'm going to finish the sermon by just meditating with you briefly on Christ, as contrasted with Job. Christ shines radiantly against the black backdrop of human sin and human suffering. Christ shines. Job was, in some sense, the best our human race had to offer. He was blameless and upright, who feared God and shunned evil. Jesus is infinitely greater than Job. Perfect in all respects. Completely sinless. He is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness, that's Jesus. He was wholly at a level Job couldn't even touch. Job was vastly wealthy and lost everything without any cause at all. Jesus was infinitely wealthier. He was on a throne of glory in heaven. He was rich, and for our sakes, he became poor, so that we, through his poverty, might become rich. So everything was taken from Jesus too, but he did it so that we might have eternal life. Job was afflicted with terrible sores from the sole of his feet to the top of his head, but he survived; Satan was not permitted to take his life, but Jesus is different. Jesus willingly laid down his life in death for us. He made himself nothing and became obedient to God. Even to death, even to death on a cross, he allowed Satan to take his life. He put himself in Satan's power to some degree, because Judas was inhabited with Satan, and Jesus went with him. Satan is a murderer and Jesus died, but in so doing, he destroyed Satan, who held the power of death.
Job eventually would question God's justice. We'll get there, but he does. Jesus displayed God's perfect justice, perfectly, for all time, Romans 3:25 and 26, “God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice because in his forbearance, he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just, and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” By his death on the cross, the only begotten son of God, sinless, but our sin substitute, by his death, he perfectly displays for all time, God's justice. So Job's example can teach us patience and suffering, but Jesus is the only savior. Job can't save us. He's an example, but Jesus is a savior, so trust in him.
I'm going to close the sermon time in prayer, and then we'll go to a time of the Lord supper, celebrating the Lord supper. Let's pray together. Father, thank you for this time in God's word. We thank you for the truth of the book of Job. There's so many deep lessons for us here. Help us, oh Lord, to take them to heart. We thank you for the ministry of the word. Now, as we turn to the ministry of this ordinance, we pray that you would bless it as well. In Jesus name, amen.