An Overview of the Book of Job (Job Sermon 1)
February 21, 2021 | Andy Davis
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a sermon giving an overview of the Book of Job, covering the genre, history, and topics in the book.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Today we begin a study in the book of Job. My intention is to give you an overview of the whole book today. Most profound problem facing all believers in an infinitely powerful, infinitely wise, perfectly good God is the problem of evil, the problem of pain and suffering. And more acutely, when evil descends into the lives of God's people in the form of pain and suffering, why do good people suffer? Where is God when we face the varied sorrows of life in this world? Some of you are going through significant trials right now, this morning, or in this phase of your life. Some of those you're willing to share with others, some of them you keep to yourselves, no one knows about it. And even if we ourselves are not suffering right now this morning, or in this phase of our lives, perhaps we have in the past, and we have a strong sense that we will again in the future. And with the sting of that lash, the lash of pain and suffering, we often cry out to God, why, oh Lord? Why? Do you still love me?
We feel disconnected from the, apparently, happy people around us. Their laughter, their vigor, their apparent success in life can feel like so much salt in those wounds, the wounds of the lacerations of the trials that we're going through. We yearn for some explanation, at least, some sense of the reason why. We're left with the worst problem of all: a sneaking doubt about God himself. Is he really good? Is he really powerful? Is he really wise? And if so, then how do we understand the world around us, the world we're actually seeing. A world of pandemics that afflict millions, a world of natural disasters, like tsunamis that wipe out whole coastlines of cities and towns and fishing villages in a single day, a world of wars and rumors of wars, of viciousness and cruelty, and seemingly mindless, purposeless evil.
And then, in terms of outreach, in terms of evangelism and missions as we Christians try to proclaim a Creator God, who rules lovingly as king, and who calls on all people everywhere to trust him and love him, and follow him. It's not long before, in our evangelistic encounters, we meet people who throw this at us, this seemingly insurmountable problem of evil, of suffering and of pain. We don't know if we have an answer.
And there are many people like this, this evidence of strong unbelief in God, because of the problem of suffering and pain. Some of you have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and you've seen the evidence of the evil of the Holocaust, World War II, and at the end, there's a quote by Elie Wiesel, he's a man who was Jewish, who actually personally experienced the Holocaust as a boy, and who wrote the book Night, among other works, and he wrote this, talking about the Jewish doxology: “Blessed be God’s name? Why, why would I bless him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Because he caused thousands of children to burn in his mass graves? Because he kept six crematoria working day and night, including Sabbath and Holy Days? Because in his great might, he had created Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and so many other factories of death? How could I say to him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in the furnaces? But now, I no longer pleaded for anything. I was no longer able to lament. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes had opened, and I was alone, terribly alone in a world without God, without man."
Such is the effect of human suffering, on the worldview of some. People feel emboldened to question, even interrogate the very idea of an omnipotent loving, good, wise, God. To them it's proof that such a God doesn't exist. But then for us who are believers, even if you've never been there, you certainly know people who have questioned or people who are Christians but they're going through suffering, and they believe in God, they believe that God is wise loving, powerful, but they don't have an answer for what's going on in their lives.
And you know that someday that will probably be you. It's going to come in some form or other, no one gets out of this world unscathed by pain and suffering and death. So we're talking about reality, a real world faith that actually faces, honestly, what is happening in this world, faces the problem square on, and seeks to address it. And no book in the Bible does this better, or with more masterful skill than the book we're about to begin studying this morning, the book of Job. So this morning we're gonna begin our journey in the book. My goal in my preaching ministry is always the same. My goal is to preach for the faith of my hearers, faith in Jesus Christ, faith in God who sent him, faith in his goodness, in his mercy and love, that as a result of my preaching, that you would have faith in Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and for the joy, the eternal joy of your soul; that's always my goal.
As Jesus himself said the night before he was crucified: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God, trust also in me,” that's my goal: that in the face of suffering, you would be stable in your faith in Christ, that you would not, as it says in Ephesians 4:14, “be infants tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching,” or we could say, blown here and there by every wind of circumstance. There's nothing that can happen in this world that would move you from faith in God and in Christ. Now the book of Job is a part of, a cluster of books called, generally, wisdom literature. It's not like the history books that precede it, or the prophets that follow, which have a different role in the Old Testament, this is wisdom literature, five books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.
Now these books address the life of the heart, and of faith in the midst of the real world that we live in, that's what they seek to do. And Job is the first of these wisdom books. And it addresses the problem of suffering, the problem of pain, of evil in the world, specifically the suffering of the righteous. Some scholars call it the oldest book in the Bible, older than the books of Moses.
I just want to say, how do you know that? We will never know in this world when this book was written, I'm sorry for your chronological Bibles that put Job first. The scholars say, and it's an argument from silence, because Moses is never mentioned, Yahweh, I mean, these things, and so they think it must come first, we'll never know. And then there's the issue of the author, who is the author of the book of Job? Some of you were like: I thought it was Job? Well, it may have been, we don't know. I believe some scholars focus too much on the author; they talk about his literary skill, his poetical genius, his knowledge of science, his knowledge of the cosmology and all that. I get all that, I understand it, but I think the more you do that, you may find yourself in a dead end, effectively having denied this book as history. It's just becomes a work of, like a fable almost, a moralistic fable if you make too much of the author's skill. I believe the true author of all the scripture is God, the Holy Spirit. And I tend to take an approach where I, unless compelled by the text, to take a grammatical historical approach, this actually happened. There actually was a man named Job, this really happened in life. And Job's message of faith, and the immense suffering that he faced, his process of reasoning through it, the final resolution of unshakable trust in God, once God reveals himself, is timeless, it's essential for us today. We need this book.
And our unsaved neighbors who are going through the same trials, physical trials, we are, but they are without hope and without God in the world, they need us to read this book, though they don't know that, but they do. They need us to suffer well, based on sound doctrine in this world, to suffer well. And to be lights shining in a dark place. In the midst of the same kinds of trials they go through, that we would be very different because we're so filled with hope and we don't yield to the temptation to doubt God and to murmur against him and to argue against him when we go through pain. But instead, we show a rock solid faith in Christ.
So faith in the God of Job will help you to shine when the world, your world, is the darkest, and that will be perhaps the best you've ever been in this world. As people watch you suffer well through your faith in Christ. So, this morning, the outline for the sermon is four parts: first: the problem of human suffering, secondly: the limits of human understanding, third: the resolution in the glory of God, and fourth: a call for unshakable faith. So that's the whole book, as we walk across it we'll look at it today. And no I'm not preaching verse by verse through all 42 chapters today, so rest easy. Honestly, I still don't have figured out a homiletical strategy on this book, so I'm hoping God will reveal that to me as we go. I tend to just go chapter by chapter, but this is a long book and it's just a fascinating study, but right now we're doing an overview of the 42 chapters.
I. The Problem of Human Suffering
Let's start with the problem of human suffering. Job is introduced as you just heard, as a pious man, righteous, blameless, and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil. He was a godly man. He was wealthy: seven sons, three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 yolk of oxen, 500 donkeys, a huge number of servants. In agrarian societies that's a very, very wealthy man. He was called the greatest man of all the people of the East. As we said, he's pious and he was a godly father. One of the best examples of fathering in the Bible is Job, because he didn't just assume things were well spiritually with his grown children: they seemed to be doing well, they get along with each other, they frequently feasted together, they enjoyed each other, but Job saw deeper and he knew that even in times of feasting and celebration there could be secret sin going on in their hearts. And so he would offer sacrifices for them saying: “perhaps my children have cursed God in their hearts.” And so Job realized piety is not just a matter of looking good on the outside, being a whitewash tomb, but there has to be reality inside. That's the kind of man he was. Then suddenly, overwhelming sorrow and suffering strikes him. You just heard it, verse 13 through 19, chapter one. It's overwhelming because of how sudden it all was, and how comprehensive it was. What's shocking is that this all came upon him in one single day. A report came upon him, and then another report. Reports come in, wave upon wave, waves of sorrow. As soon as one messenger finishes, the next one begins. And in one terrible day Job loses all of his wealth and all 10 of his children. I would dare say that none of you have had a day like that, even close to a day like that, ever. And not only that, I would dare say, you don't even know anyone that actually has been through something to that level. The level of pain here is almost indescribable. Everything thing that made him wealthy and blessed in this world is gone in an instant, taken in a single day, all 10 children gone, but the trial wasn't done.
Phase two, which we didn't read this morning, happens in chapter two. And he is stricken with disease, with physical pain, from the sole of his feet to the top of his head, painful sores blistering out. And his agony was so great he's sitting there in an ash heap and scraping his body with shards of pottery just for some relief of the agony. His appearance was so transfigured, transformed, that his friends did not recognize him. And beyond that, his trials are misinterpreted by his friends and by the community around him, to the end that they all assumed he must be a very wicked person. To have all of this evil come upon him, he must be evil, only secretly evil. He's not the man we thought, so his friends, though initially they have some compassion on him, soon that goes away and they begin effectively accusing him of sin, again and again. And not only that, but the community around him thinks nothing of him anymore, he has no reputation with them. As he says in Job 29, he says: "Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house, when the almighty was still with me, and my children were around me, I wish for those days. When my path was drenched with cream and the rock, poured out for me streams of olive oil. When I went to the gate of the city and I took my seat in the public square. When the young men saw me, they stepped aside, and the old men rose to their feet, and the chief men refrain from speaking, and they covered their mouths with their hands. I sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops. I was like one who comforts mourners. But now, they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would've distained to put with my sheep dogs, mock me,” lost it all.
This is real life. This is; our Christianity has to face these kinds of things, this kind of suffering. And we need to be honest with ourselves. Job's already said it, you already heard it this morning: you actually are going to go through this. You will lose everything physical you care about in this world when you die. Now some of you're going to die in one way, some another, some cases of the process will be long and drawn out and very painful, others it will be very quick. But Job said it, in Job 1:21, he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart,” and so will you. So our Christianity has to be real world and face this suffering head-on. And therefore we can't just come to church, for what John Piper calls, “yippy-skippy worship,” and then a fluffy sermon like cotton candy, that makes you feel good for a short time, and then kind of sick and queasy later. Instead, you need the real meat of the word, you need to be able to fight for your souls, and fight for your faith in God when these things happen to you.
"...You need the real meat of the word, you need to be able to fight for your souls, and fight for your faith in God when these things happen to you. "
II. The Limits of Human Understanding
Secondly, the limits of human understanding: we don't understand. Again and again, we struggle with this searing question: why, oh Lord? We just don't understand the reason why a loving, wise, powerful God would allow such suffering in our lives. Job didn't understand. The majority of the book of Job records limited and faulty human attempts to make sense of human suffering, most of the book. At the end of chapter two Job's friends come and sit with him, and they come to console him, and as I said, they're staggered by his appearance, they don't recognize him, they sit there in silence with him for a week lamenting with him. But then, come the words, a river of words. It's long. It's a long book. I almost wonder if the length of the book of Job is almost like a statement to us of how long the trials are going to go on your life, longer than you thought they would.
And so Job begins to talk. In Job three he laments and curses the day of his birth, I wish I'd never been born, why was I born at all? Why does God bring people into a world of suffering? And worst of all for Job, was that he cried out to God and got nothing but silence back. Job 30:19 through 21, he said, "I cry to you for help, and you do not answer me, I stand, and you only look at me. You have turned cruel to me. With the might of your hand you persecute me." Imagine saying that to God, 'you've turned cruel to me, and you're persecuting me with your omnipotence.' So he didn't understand. And Job's friends definitely didn't understand.
They think they do. Their theology is all figured out, they got the whole thing worked out, they had it worked out before they went and saw Job, they know what's going on. And they all come, effectively, from the same school of theology. God is perfectly just, he's sovereign over the events of planet earth; he doesn't let the wicked get away with it. And he brings judgment on people. And so, the only possible explanation here, Job, is that you must be a sinner. And it's proportional, so given the magnitude of your suffering, that's evidence of the magnitude of your sin; you must be a very great sinner.
And so, we have a dialogue from chapter four through 27, three cycles of dialogues between Job and his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. And so one of them will speak and Job answers, and the next one will speak Job answers, and the next one speak and Joe answers, and then they cycle back. And they just, really, the friends anyway, just keep making the same points over and over. But Job is on a journey, and Job just continues to unfold his heart as he's trying to work through this. The worst moment, in terms of the friends, is Eliphaz's second speech. In Job 22:5, he actually says this to his friend: "Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?" I mean, how much further from reality could such a friend be? You must be the greatest, most endless sinner that's ever walked on earth. This is the man that, of whom we're told, is blameless and upright. I think their theology is basically the same as the disciples’, I mean, is current among the Jews of Jesus' day, with a man that was born blind, it was a problem for that theology, right? You sin, you die. You sin, you suffer. But now we have a baby born into the world blind, blind from birth. So, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind? They were trying to work it through; you remember John nine, same theology. The only explanation the friends have for Job suffering is Job’s sin. But Job swears his innocence. Again and again, he asserts his innocence, he's not claiming sinlessness, there are clear evidence that he knows he's a sinner in that sense. But rather, that there's no horrendous sins, skeletons in his closet that would explain this, possibly could explain such massive suffering. So in Job chapters 29 through 31, he basically takes a solemn vow before God and man that he is innocent, blameless of great transgression.
Job 31 is a fascinating chapter. It's, I think, the parallel to Proverbs 31, which is the righteous wife, righteous godly woman. Job 31 is the righteous godly man. And he just goes step by step through the levels of his piety. He claims to be innocent of lust, of falsehood, of covetousness, of adultery, of mistreatment of servants, or mistreatment of the poor needy. Actually, he's lavishly cared for the poor needy. He's not trusted in his wealth, he's not celebrated a foes misfortune, he's not failed to care for the sojourner, and he has not secretly idolized the stars. I'm a righteous person. However, he goes so far as to charge God with injustice. Job 19:6,7, "God has wronged me, and drawn his net around me. Though I cry, 'I've been wronged,' I get no response. Though I call for help, there is no justice." Wow. Imagine saying that to God.
And then, he said earlier, Job 13:15, "I will surely defend myself to his face. I will take God on." It is for this very sin, that God, when he appears at the end in a whirlwind, bears down on him and brings him to repentance. The Lord said to Job, Job 41 through five, "’Will the one who contends with the almighty correct him. Let him who accuses God, answer him.’ Job answered the Lord, ‘I am unworthy. How can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer twice, but I will say no more.’" But God didn't let it go so easily. Job 48 through 10, he said, "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God's? Can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory, and splendor, and cloth yourself in honor and majesty." So to question God's justice, to question his love, to question his power, to question his goodness, these basic attributes are the ones that get on trial when we're suffering. God is either not this, or he’s not this, or he’s not this. He's either not wise, or he’s not loving, or he’s not powerful, one of those. But to do that, is a very great sin. And I actually think it is the point of the whole book of Job that we would never do that. And that we would end up having a stable faith in the God of the Bible, and all of his attributes, no matter what's happening in our lives; to move us, so that we never murmur against God ever. We never question God, we don't challenge him, ever, we just trust.
"We never question God, we don't challenge him, ever, we just trust."
Now the basic issue with our seeking to understand is we lack all the facts; there's just some things we don't know. We're limited in our ability to process the facts that we do have, and worse than that: we twist our interpretation by pride to bias ourselves. So those are our problems. So first, we lack all the facts. I have left out so far of this fascinating drama, the heavenly realms, the conversation that happened between God and Satan, up in the heavenly realms, the whole thing started with that. And Job never knew anything about that conversation. God boasts about Job to Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job?” And then Satan accuses Job: “Does Job fear God for nothing, you've blessed him and protected him.” Well, this encounter shapes the whole experience completely, powerfully. If Job had known this conversation had gone on, he would've been much stronger in his faith, and been able to endure knowing that God was in some way using him as an example, putting him on a pedestal of suffering, not because of any sin that he'd committed, but for his own sovereign purposes, he would've been able to endure, that God thought well of him, actually, of all the people on earth, he thought well of him. He was a man of whom God was accustomed to boast, and it would've shut up all of Job's friends, quickly. You need a broader interpretation scheme here. They would've known God's evaluation of Job, that he was blameless and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil. As it turns out, we, the readers of Job, know more than Job did. And we also know how blessed Job ends up at the end of the book. Have you ever done that? Where the answers at the end of the book, maybe a mystery, and you're like, "I got to know." And you flip ahead? Maybe somebody you're like, "I would never do that." But we can go ahead to the end and find out how well it all turns out for Job in this world, in this world. James talks about that, James 5:11, he said, "As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered. You've heard of Job's perseverance, and have seen what the Lord finally brought about." So we have information about the heavenly realms, God and Satan, we have information about how it's all going to turn out, on earth at least. Job didn't have those things; we lack the facts.
So our earthly knowledge of our sufferings is limited. The book of Job takes us up into the heavenly realms and shows us dimensions of God's providence that we don't have access to. And it takes us to the, at least the end of Job's earthly days, to see the blessedness that God poured out on him in the end. But I really believe, the full satisfying, richly satisfying explanation will be in heaven not on earth. I believe there we will see in retrospect the full dimensions of God's plan for our lives. There we will see how God ordained our suffering for our own salvation, and for the blessing of others through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will see his wise, tenderhearted fatherly discipline for us and our sins, how wise God was with that. We will see, I think, the Satanic and demonic activity around us, which, thankfully actually, we cannot see while we live in this world. We'd be paralyzed; we wouldn't be able to live. We would understand that Satan is a thief who comes to steal, and kill, and destroy and that God only means to give us life and give it to us abundantly. We will see how he protected us, and would not let us be tempted beyond what we could bear. We'll see that. We will see how Christ constantly interceded for us at the right hand of God that our faith would not fail, and it didn't. We will see how our own blood, sweat, and tears, and our toils were used for the kingdom of God, the building of the kingdom of God, in dimensions we could never understand, the effect of our lives on our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, our friends, acquaintances, fellow workers, the whole scheme, and not just for us, but for all our brothers and sisters. Now, pastor, you're getting to multiply to infinity, yes, but we'll have infinite time. This is a big story. And there, we will finally understand, how infinitely reasonable, how perfectly rational was everything God did in this world. And we will know none of it was mindless or for no purpose at all. We'll actually admire God's craftsmanship in everything he did in providence when we get to heaven.
But now, our perspective is limited. We just get themes, and the book of Job gives us themes. In 1773, William Cooper wrote a poem that he called, “Light Shining out of Darkness.” He was a man who battled depression, even occasionally strong temptations to suicide, throughout his Christian life. And that poem, “Light Shining out of Darkness,” was his effort at self-therapy to fight depression. We know it in the hymnal as, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” He wrote the poem based on Jesus' statement to his disciples in John 13:7, "What I am doing, you do not understand now, but later you will understand."
This is the poem: "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace. Behind a frowning providence, he hides a smiling face. Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan his work in vain. God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain." That's powerful, isn't it? When's that going to happen? “God is his own interpreter he will make it plain,” not in this world. What you get in this world are themes, and you're called on, based on those themes to trust God. Heaven will give us that comprehensive education and the minute purposes of God throughout redemptive history. We'll be able to see the rest of the story, why our children had to die maybe, or why this natural disaster had to come and take our home, or why this economic setback had me unemployed for that length of time, or all of it.
We'll be able to see, the light and dark threads in the tapestry of grace. And we'll be able to celebrate, and we'll see that education, but here on earth, we don't get the explanations. God never told Job, you know, when he appeared to him in the whirlwind and started talking? He didn't say, “oh, by the way, something you should know, I had a conversation with Satan about you, let me tell you what I said,” he didn't say anything about it. And he never, certainly never, told Job how much he intended to use his suffering to bless every generation of his children for millennia after that. The dimensions of God's goodness through Job suffering, he never knew. Instead, we just need to learn how to trust God, and to see his glory in everything, and those two points will take the rest of our time.
III. The Resolution in the Glory of God
Thirdly: the resolution in the glory of God. God appears in glory. After hundreds, I don't know, maybe thousands of futile human words, in which, God actually speaks against both what Job says, and what the friends say, leaving me as an interpreter a basic problem. God's already panned the things these men have said, what do I do with it? But yet we find there's so much truth in it, it'll be interesting, so we'll get to that in the future. But he appears to Job in a whirlwind. And he said, "Who is this that darkens my counsel, but with words without knowledge, brace yourself like a man, I will question you, and you shall answer me." And for the next four chapters God puts Job, the best man on earth, in his place, puts him in his place. He deeply, fully, completely humbles him. And he does it by pointing to his own wisdom and power and creation. This is the pinnacle of what some call natural theology: God, the creator can be known and learned by observing what he has made. But in this case, it's God, the nature instructor, it's God, the one teaching us natural theology, it's so beautiful.
And we're not going on a nature walk here with binoculars and a sketchpad. No, this is God himself talking with obvious pleasure, in the dimensions and details of his creation. He discusses the fundamental structure of the world, but he brings it right down to Job himself, Job 38:4-7. He says, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you understand, who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know. Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footing set? Who laid its cornerstone while all the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Where were you, Job, when all that happened? Did I ask you for advice? And if I had, would you have had any to give me?" And God goes beyond that to discuss the limiting of the mighty oceans of the world, the structure of the subterranean regions. He talks about the weather, the control of the winds and the storms, the wise arrangement of different types of zones on the earth, the desert, the icy regions, also the lightning, the precise amount of rain that falls at certain times, all of this. And then he takes Job up into the heavens to discuss the stars, the constellations, like the Pleiades and Orion, which he made and control. "Job, can you make the stars? Can you count them and keep them all in their place?" Having arranged the heavens and the earth wisely, he talks about the creatures that he's made, the lioness, the raven, the mountain goat, the doe, the wild donkey, the wild ox, the ostrich, the horse, as well as birds of prey, the eagle. Simply put, “Job, can you make an ostrich? The thing about her is she treats your young roughly, but she runs like the wind. She's interesting. Can you make an ostrich, Job?” He's just putting Job in his place.
He's also giving a clear lesson. “If I can do all this, and if I can care for all of my creatures so wisely, how much more will I care for you, my son, whom I love?” This is an amazing, and astonishing therapy session. Reminds me of when Jesus dealt with Peter after the resurrection, after Peter denied him three times, remember? And how Jesus bore down on him, and said, "Simon, son of John, do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?" And the third time the text says Peter was hurt, he said, "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you," but it was therapy, it was healing him. And so God, I think, is hurting Job's pride in order to heal him. And it is immensely satisfying and successful. If a God like this loves me and cares for me, if he knows me and cherishes me, and if he will talk to me, that's all I need. And it really is. The God who made the universe knows us by name and loves us and cares about us, and pain is part of his method for saving our souls. Because of our sins, we must have a painful process of salvation. Not that there's any merit in our pain, but this is God's way of awakening our awareness to our sin and to our need for a redeemer and our need for salvation and to cry out to him and trust in him; he uses pain.
IV. The Call for Unshakeable Faith
So fourthly, this brings us to a call for unshakeable faith. The bottom line is the book of Job calls us to trust God while he works skillfully in our souls. Even if that working takes pain. All roads in the Bible lead to Christ, all of them. The book of Job leads to Christ.
"The bottom line is the book of Job calls us to trust God while he works skillfully in our souls. Even if that working takes pain. All roads in the Bible lead to Christ, all of them. The book of Job leads to Christ."
Job cries out in Job 9:33, "If only there were a mediator, someone who could lay a hand on us both." Well, there is a mediator; there's one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. There is a mediator. And then beautifully he says, "I wish there were a Redeemer, but I know that there is a Redeemer, I actually," Job 19:25, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end, he will take his stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been destroyed yet in my flesh I will see God, I myself will see him with my own eyes, I and not another. How my heart yearns within me." That's the faith of Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and someday I'm going to be in a resurrection body.” And so therefore, he says in Job 13:15, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." I actually think that's probably the point to the whole book of Job; that you get to that point. “No matter what God does in my life, I will trust in God and trust in Christ and not let my heart be troubled,” that's why this book is here.
Now, the Son of God knows infinite suffering more than Job. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. Jesus suffered more than Job did. Job was a righteous man in that sense; Jesus was a perfect man. Job was definitely a man of whom God chose to boast, "Have you considered my servant Job?" But God spoke at least twice out of the heavens concerning his only begotten son, "This is my son whom my love, with him I am well pleased." Highest commendation. And Job was a man who knew immense earthly suffering, but that suffering in no way represented God abandoning him. God didn't abandon him, but what about Jesus? Jesus up on the cross, in an infinitely mysterious sense, as our substitute, bearing our sins in his body on the tree he cried out as if from hell, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I don't even think I can begin to comprehend what was going on at that moment in the spiritual realms. God demanded from Jesus his bloody death for our sins. "Father, if it is possible, let this cup be taken away." There is no other way, and he drank it.
So, Job knew immense suffering, but Jesus knew infinite suffering. He basically drank hell for us on the cross, so we wouldn't have to be condemned. So, when we're suffering now as Christians we need to first and foremost evaluate our sufferings in light of the cross. We're not suffering as we deserve, and we're not suffering to atone for our sins. Jesus did that, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And we need to realize, that God is using that suffering to shape us and prepare us for eternity, not to punish us. Yes, to discipline us, to get us to hate sin, but it's all to save us. And we need to believe that, that pain is essential to our salvation. The New Testament gives a far more developed theology of suffering than the Old Testament does, because it's in light of the work of Christ on the cross. Many verses explain the benefit of our suffering to us, perhaps Job is, sorry, James is the clearest, James 1:2-4, he said, "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 may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." You must go through pain, dear Christian brother and sister, if you're going to become mature and complete, not lacking anything, it's the only way. And then, if you want to be a witness to others, you must suffer additional pain and suffering. You must be willing to be persecuted. Because Jesus said, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself a single seed, but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." So we have to be willing to suffer both in the internal journey of holiness, and the external journey of gospel advance.
And in the end, when we get to heaven, we will see how all of our suffering had a very powerful purpose, in the wise providence of God. Close with me in prayer. Father, thank you for the incredible book of Job, as we begin this morning to study it and to understand its big picture, and its themes, help us oh Lord to take these lessons to heart, to realize, oh Lord, that you are good, and loving, and wise. And that everything you do is right, and all your ways are just. Help us oh Lord to embrace that truth, and help us to suffer well when you call on us to do so, and to be strong. Help us not to live in fear, waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the curse to finally come. Help us to realize everything you intend for us is for your own glory and for our good, in Jesus’ name, amen. Hi, this is Andy Davis. I hope that you've enjoyed this sermon, for more of my resources, please go to twojourneys.org, and may the Lord, Jesus Christ bless you as you continue to serve him.