Job’s Third Lament: Pain Made Him Doubt (Job Sermon 8)
April 18, 2021 | Andy Davis
Walk by Faith, Suffering
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a sermon on Job 11-14. He covers Job’s third lament, showing how the weariness of the trial and Job's pain has begun to wear him down and cause him to doubt.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
This morning we're going to continue our study in the book of Job. We're looking at these three chapters, Job 11 through, actually four chapters, through 14. At the end of his life, a man that I considered to have lived the greatest Christian life in church history, the apostle Paul, said these words, very well known, “I have fought the good fight, I've finished the race, I've kept the faith.” And he sets in our hearts by these words, some powerful images. The Christian life is a holy war, a holy war that we must fight. It is a good fight. We must battle sin every day of our lives. Battling the world, the flesh, and the devil, it's a holy war. I've finished the race. It's a marathon race, not a sprint. It's not a short race. It's a marathon, a life long, hard run, which we're told that we have to lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily entangles our feet and run with endurance this marathon race of faith. That's what it is.
Now, the Holy Spirit would be for us, our drill instructor preparing us to fight well, and our commanding officer for the middle of the battle to enable us to be victorious in this daily holy war. That's what the Holy Spirit would be for us. The Holy Spirit would be for us, our coach who would train us how to run with endurance and then would stand along the side of the race course and urge us on and exhort us to run fervently till the end. That's what the Holy Spirit would be for us. How does he do this? Well, he does it by means of the word of God, which he inspired, he himself inspired centuries ago. He would take the Scriptures, and as I prayed a moment ago, he would illuminate them to us, cause them to glow and shine in truth.
There's a text I want to commend to you as we continue to study the book of Job, Romans 15:4. You can look at it now if you'd like, or just listen, Romans 15:4. There the apostle Paul wrote, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.” It's a powerful verse, especially for the study of the book of Job. Everything that was written in the past, including the book of Job was written to give us instruction. We're supposed to be taught things. The mind of the Christian needs to be instructed in right doctrine.
And the result of this is to fuel endurance for that long marathon race or that holy war. And that we might, through the encouragement of the Scriptures, that we might have hope. What is hope? Hope is a feeling, a sense, a glowing sense in the heart that the future's bright based on the promises of God. That's what hope is. That's what God wants to give you as we study the book of Job.
Now, as we get that instruction, that teaching ministry of everything that was written in the past, we learn that there're just different things in God's word. It's not all of one sort. And we find in God's word, accounts of both truth and falsehood. People who spoke amazing truths, people who also spoke falsehoods recorded for us in Scripture. We have records of right actions and of wrong actions. We have records of right attitudes and wrong attitudes. We get the positive, we get the negative, we get all of that in Scripture. And we have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us sift through it all. And we get that, don't we, in the book of Job. And so we sort through this.
Thirdly, by way of introduction, I want you to look at the text we're looking at today, Job 12:11. This will kind of stick with us as we continue to study the book of Job. Job 12:11, “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?” So we are going to be food testers as we go through the book of Job. We're going to taste everything. Recently, I have gotten into—from time to time—watching competitive cooking shows. I know, I know. All right. Some of you don't watch these at all. I was led into it by some others. I won't talk about any of those details. But that's what we're doing tonight, we're watching a cooking show. And I've gotten interested. They're amazing. And at the end, the meal is presented and the judges, Gordon Ramsey or some other guy, I don't know all their names, tastes what was cooked. And they have an expert palate. The more you go on in the Christian life, the more refined your palate gets, the more you're able to taste everything that you're reading in Scripture and sample it, and to see truth, falsehood, to taste bitter, sweet, salty.
And to some degree, changing the metaphor a little, we're just going to end up calling balls and strikes on the things that we read, especially in the book of Job. We're going to read it and say, is it so, is it so? And if it passes the doctrinal test and so much of it does, even those things said by the friends are still true assertions, they're wrongly applied frequently, but they're true assertions, we find ourselves drawn into deep theology. And we're going to do that today. So all that's by way of introduction.
As we come to this, Job's third lament, we're going to see here how the weariness of this trial has begun to break him down. We're going to see flickers of unbelief in the things he says concerning the final vindication over death, the triumph over death. We're going to see flickering of doubt about that actually. We're going to see also how Job's friends are pridefully detached from his suffering because they're not going through it. They don't feel it because it's not them.
We're going to see briefly and talk much more about it next week, the terror of the majesty of God. And in all of these things, I believe God is desiring to prepare each of you, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for trials you will face between now and the end of your lives. Our Christian hope is realistic hope. Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead since he was about 100 years old and that Sarah's womb was also dead, but he did not waiver through unbelief facing those facts.
So we're not up here preaching a prosperity gospel. I'm not telling you that if you have faith in Jesus, you're going to have nothing but prosperity and success in your lives. And if you're not experiencing prosperity and success in your life, something's wrong with your faith. I'm not telling you that. I'm telling you the opposite. You will, through many hardships, enter the kingdom of heaven. And secondly, it's actually very important how you are as you go through those trials. It actually matters whether you're filled with hope as you suffer or not. And the book of Job, 42 chapters of it with lots of details, was given to help you in that respect. But it's not easy because some of what they say is true, some isn't, and we have to sift through it.
Job Rebukes His Friends, Part I (12:1-12)
Now, this section begins with Job rebuking his friends. And so just walk through what Zophar says that sets Job off. In Job 11, Job's third friend, Zophar, gives his first speech. He takes his gloves off, if he ever had them on, and comes hard at Job and rebukes Job, who by this time has twice defended his innocence. Zophar is probably the youngest and definitely the most arrogant and the most insensitive of the three friends.
Look at 11:2-6, Zophar says, "Are all these words to go unanswered? Is this talker to be vindicated? Will your idle talk reduce men to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock? You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I'm pure in your sight.’ Oh, how I wish that God would speak and that he would open his lips against you and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin."
Wow. That's Zophar. Zophar confidently appeals to the infinite majesty of God, verses 7-9. "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea." Actually, all of that's true. I would commend those verses to you for your meditation. They're true even though Zophar said them.
Then Zophar gives the kind of advice, same kind of advice as the other two friends. Job, just repent and God will restore you to your prosperity, verses 13-18, “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that's in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will be like morning. You'll be secure, because there is hope; you'll look about you and take your rest and safety." So stop sinning, Job, because it's clear that you are, put away all that secret sin, throw yourself on the mercy of God and look what will happen. God will restore you. So much for Zophar.
Now it's time for Job to deal with not only Zophar, but all three of them. It's accumulating in him, building up and he lets off some steam here. He rebukes his friends part one chapter 12:1-12. This is his first rebuke. Starts with sarcasm. “Then Job replied: "Doubtless you are the people and wisdom will die with you." That's quite a statement. Actually, it's one of my favorite statements in the book of Job. "When you three die, there won't be any wisdom left on earth." Then pride verse three, "But I have a mind as well as you; I'm not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things?” Everything you know, I know already. Then he laments his public shame. Verse four, "I've become a laughingstock to my friends. Though I called upon God and he answered—a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!” The horizontal aspects of suffering are painful. Feels shameful to him to go through this.
And then he makes a very potent accusation of them, and it's something we should take to heart, verses 5-6, "Men at ease have contempt for misfortune." I'm going to say that again, “Men at ease have contempt for misfortune.” If you're not going through it, it's hard for you to feel it. We're not actually very compassionate. And when it's not us, we don't really feel it much. Part of Christian sanctification is for that to be transformed, where you go through it as though it were happening to you.
But that's what he says. He accuses. He said, look at you. You're at ease. And therefore you have contempt for people that are suffering, “As the fate of those whose feet are slipping. The tents of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure—those who carry their god in their hands.” So the wicked are doing well. They're not going through these things, and you're at ease. One saying that struck me years ago, and I think about it often, it's easy to be righteous in someone else's life. It really is. I know exactly what you should do, that kind of thing. But you're not going through it, you don't know what it's like.
In verses 7-10 interestingly, Job says even the animals know what you know. Look at verse 7-10, he says, "But ask the animals, and they'll teach you, the birds of the air, they'll tell you; speak to the earth and it will teach you, let the fish to the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is a life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." So this is natural theology. It's going to shine at the end of the book, God himself is going to do it. Nature shows that there's a mighty, powerful, creator God who sustains everything. Even the animals, the fish, they all know this. Now they don't know it, that's the difference between animals and humans. We are creating the image of God and we can know and study the works of God as such. They can't. But they do display the wisdom of God and the power of God. That's what he's saying.
And then as I mentioned, in verse 11 and then verse 12, I'm testing your words. I'm testing what you're saying, “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?" You need to do that with all 66 books of the Bible, every day that you have a quiet time, every conversation you have, test it. See if it's true. Like the Bereans, you're going to take the things I preach and bring them home and line them up with Scripture. You should do this. Be discerning. And Job says, this is what I'm doing with you, I'm evaluating. It's interesting, I think there may be no book in the Bible that more needs this than the book of Job. You have got to test everything you read even if Job's saying it, because Job kind of comes in and out of strong faith. He does well sometimes, other times not. So you have got to test and evaluate.
“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bringing understanding?” The very same thing the friends have said, the longer you live, the more wisdom you're going to gain, you're going to gain experience and all of that. So to his friends' summary, your so-called wisdom is obvious. I already knew it before you said anything. And it's just so unfair that I'm being publicly shamed and you people have no compassion whatsoever. It's very easy for you to judge a suffering man because you're not suffering. That's what he's saying in this section.
II. Job Dreads God’s Awesome Power and Knowledge (12:13-25)
Next he turns, Job turns with dread to the power of God, the awesome power and knowledge of God. He says in verse 13, God owns wisdom and power, “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” He speaks of God's destructive power. It's awesome and irresistible. Verses 14 and 15, “What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; the man he imprisons cannot be released. If he holds back the waters, there's drought; if he lets him loose, they devastate the land.” If he doesn't get the water just right, we die. God actively rules over all of humanity and he destroys them all in the end. All of them.
Verses 16-25, earthly victory comes from God, verse 16, “To him belong strength and victory; both deceiver and deceived are his.” In other words, every victory, however you want to define it, on earth, it's God that gives it. And no one escapes God. Verses 17-21, “He leads counselors away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties the loin cloth on their waist. He leads priests away stripped, overthrows men long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisors takes away the discernment of the elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty.” So you go through those verses, and you could just circle all of the offices of significant people, kings and counselors and the mighty and the nobles and all that, and God can do anything he wants with any of them anytime. Any of their decrees, he can overturn it or uphold it. He just rules over everyone. Verses 17-21.
Not only that, God exposes men's secrets. Verse 22, “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.” Will be no secrets whatsoever in heaven. All eternity, everything is uncovered and laid bare. Jesus makes that very plain, no secrets.
God's sovereignty then over the rise and fall of mighty empires and nations. These are great verses. Look at Job 12:23-25, “He makes nations great, and destroys them.” Just ponder to that. If you look back, if you know anything about the rise and fall of the world, one human empire after the other has risen up, reached an apex and then dropped off and gone down into obscurity or weakness, comparative weakness compared to its heyday. I could name nations in Europe that all had their time in the sun and then dropped off. And now they're weak comparatively, one after the other. That's what he does, “He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and then disperses them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he sends them wandering through a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.”
Now these verses very much remind me of one of the greatest chapters, for me anyway, in the whole Bible, Daniel chapter four. Do you remember Nebuchadnezzar, the tyrant? And he's arrogant and filled with pride at his empire. And God gives him a shot across the bow, a warning, through a dream, of a big, huge, leafy branchy tree that has all these birds perching and all the animals under it. And the tree gets cut down, toppled, stripped. And all of these things are prediction of something that's about to happen in Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel warns him specifically about them. If you do not repent, show kindness to the oppressed and if you do not primarily acknowledge that God rules sovereignly over every nation of earth, including the Babylonian empire, you'll lose everything. Well, he doesn't repent. He's arrogant, he's prideful. And God strikes his brain, takes away his reason, like the text says here in Job, so that he's insane, thinks he's a cow, is out being drenched with the dew of heaven and eats grass like a cow for seven years. Like that. That's what God can do to someone's mind. And he didn't kill him, he just did that to him.
And the lesson, Daniel 4:17, the lesson is, “So the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.” And Nebuchadnezzar learned that lesson in Daniel 4:34-35, "At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”…Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride, he is able to humble." That's Daniel 4.
Well, that's what Job is saying here in Job 12:23-25, “He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason: he sends them wandering through a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; he makes them stagger light drunkards.” So God owns all wisdom and sovereignly rolls over the peoples of the earth. He raises empires as high as he chooses, and then crushes them back down into the dust of the earth. God's power over all individuals, no matter how great or how small, is absolute and terrifying. Imagine, then, what it's like to have such a mighty God as your adversary. That's what Job is saying here. This is who I'm against. This is who is hunting me down for my sins and prosecuting me.
III. Job Rebukes His Friends, Part II (13:1-13)
Then, at the beginning of chapter 13, Job rebukes his friends again, circles back for a second time on them. I actually think they deserve it. Job 13:1-2, “My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I'm not inferior to you.” And besides, verse three, I don't even want to talk to you anyway, who I really want to talk to is God, not you. Verse three, “I desire to speak to the Almighty and argue my case with God.” And then he resorts to insults. Verse four, “You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you.” And I think that's so true. Would you go to Job's friends if you were down or discouraged or depressed and needed some input? Not at all. You wouldn't feel better. They are worthless physicians. So because you're worthless physicians, the wisest thing you could do would be to shut your mouths.
Verse five, “If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” Listen, there are some people that that's the beginning of wisdom. Stop talking. There's an account where Peter, James, and John are on the Mount of Transfiguration and they see Jesus radiant and glorious. And Peter says, “Lord, it's good to be here. Let's put up three shelters, da, da, da.” And then the text says, he did not know what to say. They were so frightened. It's like, look, the best thing you could do would be to shut your mouth. Just be quiet.
And so it is Job is saying concerning Zophar and really, the friends, if you would be silent, that would be wisdom for you. Big problem is you're lying about God, verses 6-8, “Hear now my argument; listen to the plea of my lips. Will you speak wickedly on God's behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God?” At the end of the book, this is the very thing that God is going to criticize the friends for. They have not spoken about me, God says, rightly. And so Job is actually onto them in this regard.
And then he gives a warning, which I will develop, God willing, more fully next week, not today. You should be just as afraid of God as I am. But you're not. He says in verse nine, “Would it turn out well if he examined you?” Would it turn out well if he examined you? Feel the weight of that. How would it turn out if God searched you, “Could you deceive him as you might deceive men?” Would you be able to fool God, verse 10 or verse nine. And then verse 10, “He would surely rebuke you if you secretly showed partiality.” And then verse 11 would say, next week, we're going to, God willing, swim in it for a while, we're going to take our time on verse 11, “Would not his splendor terrify you? Would not the dread of him fall on you?” I'm not going to say anymore. Just, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We're going to walk in it next week.
Would not your defensive words be scattered like ashes and crumble like clay? Verse 12, “Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay.” So Job's friends are vastly underestimating the infinite majesty of God and they should be approaching Job more humbly. They should be aware that they themselves are under the same sentence. They're under the same scrutiny. God's eyes are pure. He can't even look on evil. We are all under this, Job is saying, not just me. And they should fear God and they should repent just as much as Job has cause to do that.
IV. Job Makes His Case Directly to God (13:13-14:22)
Now in the next phase, Job turns away from the friends and makes his case directly toward God. So from 13:13 up to 14:22. Now, Job 13:15 says, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” It's a powerfully important verse and we're going to give full attention to it next week. So basically verse 11, verse 15, both parts of verse 15 will occupy our whole time next week, God willing. I believe that that verse, rightly translated, though he slay me yet will I hope in him or trust in him, may well be the point of the entire book of Job, all 42 chapters. It's like that's it. That the Holy Spirit would move in you, dear Christian people, to the point where you from your heart could say that to God, "No matter what God does to me in this world, I will hope in him and trust in him." I think that's the point of the book. “Yet,” verse 15B, “I will surely argue my ways to God's face.” So like I said, next week we're going to zero in on both of that.
"That the Holy Spirit would move in you, dear Christian people, to the point where you from your heart could say that to God, "No matter what God does to me in this world, I will hope in him and trust in him. I think that's the point of the book.""
Often we find in the book of Job, Job at his best and at his worst side by side. So we'll talk about that next week, God willing. He says in verse 16, my boldness and willingness to argue my ways to God's face proves my innocence. Verse 16, “Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him.” Is that true? I don't know. I think there's some people who just don't know God and are very cocky and confident in reference to God. But Job, knowing what he does know about God says, I know his holiness and his power and yet I'm saying, I'm confidently willing to argue my ways to him. That should prove my innocence.
And then horizontally, other humans, the lack of accusers and witnesses prove my innocence. And this is true. Look at verse 17-19, “Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say. Now that I've prepared my case, I know I'll be vindicated.” Verse 19, “Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I'll be silent and die.” If you can bring some witnesses about all my evil doings and wicked acts, bring them and I'll just shut my mouth and die. But you can't.
Then he turns up to God and says, God, show me my sin or else leave me alone. Look at verse 20 and 21, “Only grant me these two things, O God, and then I will not hide from you” withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors.” Give me a hearing, God, let me make my defense. Verse 22, “Summon me and I will answer.” Let me speak and you reply. I want that conversation, God.
And then he asked him, please show me my sin. What did I do? Verse 23, “How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin.” And God, how did it happen that I became your enemy? I thought we were in a good relationship. How is it that now you have become my enemy. Verse 24, “Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” I don't understand why you're pursuing me at all. I'm nothing. I'm like a windblown leaf, “Will you chase after dried chaff?” Verse 25, I'm nothing. Why do you even pay attention to me?
And then he says, you have shackled me to my sins, even the sins of my youth. So I can't seem to escape the things I did years and years and years ago, I don't do them anymore, stopped doing them, but seems like you're bringing them up again. As David said in a Psalm, “Remember not the sins of my youth.” Look at verse 26-28. “For you write down bitter things against me and make me inherit the sins of my youth. You fasten my feet in shackles; you keep close watch on all my paths by putting marks on the soles of my feet. So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.” So why, God? Why do you judge insignificant men?
Chapter 14:1-6, man born of trouble is of few days and full of trouble, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower withers away; like fleeting shadow, he does not endure.” Life's generally hard. Everywhere I look, Job saying, I see people suffering. People who are sad, people who are sick, people who are dying, people who are hurting. Man born of woman is born to trouble. So why do you spend your time judging us? Verse three, “Do you fix your eye on such a one? Will you bring him before you for judgment?” Now, how could impure beings like us ever be pure in your sight, “Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one.” We are impure, how could we ever be pure? God, if that's what you're looking for, that we be pure as light, we aren't. None of us are. And then he says, man's days are determined by your sovereign plan. So why do you judge us? Interesting theology here. Verse five and six, “Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months. You have set limits he cannot exceed. So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired hand”.
This reminds me of the doctrine of predestination. The Greek word for predestination that Paul uses in Ephesians and Romans literally means to set the boundary lines like a horizon line ahead of time. And that's what Job says in terms of his lifespan. You have set the boundary for my lifespan, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be,” Psalm 139:16.
But Job seems to use this fact as an excuse for his sins, for why God should not judge us. Many do this. God is absolutely sovereign. He predestines our lives, he sets us up by his decrees ahead of time. Why then does he hold us accountable for what we do? Paul brings up this very same argument, Romans 9:19, when he's walking through the issue of predestination, when it comes to human salvation. Romans 9:19 he brings up this argument, “One of you will say to me, “Then why does God still find fault or blame us? For who resists his will?”” God's sovereign. If I'm just doing what I was sovereignly ordained to do, then I can't be held accountable for that. But Paul refutes that immediately in the next verse in Romans 9:20. He says, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what does formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” And it's the universal testimony of the Scriptures, not only that predestination is true, but that human beings are absolutely held accountable for the decisions they make. There is a judgment day. We will give an account for every careless word we have spoken. That is biblically true. So it's not an excuse that God predestines, that God is sovereign, that God knew ahead of time what we do. All different ways of saying different aspects of that doctrine do not excuse us from our sins and our guilt.
And then he says, and this is very powerful and we're going to really dig into this at another sermon, not next week, but Job seems from time to time, and especially here in Chapter 14, to have no hope of resurrection. It doesn't seem to inform his attitude at all from time to time. Look at verse seven and following. He says, “At least there is hope for a tree: If it's cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. It's roots may grow old in the ground and stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and it will put forth shoots like a plant. But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, man will not awake or be roused from their sleep.”
So that's very, very hard right there. Job 14:7-12 seems to say, I don't see any evidence for human resurrection. You die and that's it. You lay them down in the grave and they don't get up again. You never see it. You don't see human beings rising up out of the grave. You just don't see it. To the end of the world, it just doesn't happen, Job says. Well, Job says, if that's true, at least the grave can conceal me from this misery and your anger, God. Verse 13, “If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!”
Then he asks in verse 14, a very significant question, “If a man dies, will he live again?” Now, what do you think the apostle Paul would say? We're going to talk fully about this God willing in the future. But what do you think Paul would say to that question, “If a man dies, will he live again?” I know what he would say. I know what I would say. I know what all you Christian people would say, and it doesn't have to be Easter Sunday to give an answer. But Job doesn't seem to have an answer. He doesn't wait for an answer. His implied answer is no in 14:14.
But strangely, and he says, I'm still going to wait for my deliverance when at last, I hope, my sins will be atoned for, and I won't have to deal with them anymore. Look at 14-17, “All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.” Those are powerful verses and we're going to visit them at the end of the sermon.
His yearning is for a renewal even beyond the grave. He's yearning for God to restore him, have that love relationship with him for which he was created. He yearns to be set free of God's careful record keeping of his sins. Where at last, God's omniscience and careful, meticulous watching over him every moment will be for his pleasure and his joy and his good, not his destruction, as he feels. This is the heaven we want, isn't it friends? Where at last, our sins will cause us not the slightest bit of trouble at all.
But Job ends this portion with a return to the reality of his agony. It seems all roads on earth, for Job at this point, lead to hopelessness and the grave. Look at verses 18-22, “But as a mountain erodes and crumbles and as rock is moved from its place, as water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy man's hope.” That's so depressing. I had hope, now it's gone. It's eroded. It's destroyed. My hope is gone. “You overpower him once for all, and he's gone; you change his countenance and send him away. If his sons are honored, he does not know it; if they're brought low, he doesn't see it. He feels but the pain of his own body and mourns only for himself.”
Well, I had an array of applications, I'm going to just zero in on one thing. Just one. Do you see how much Christ, the incarnate son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, the one who lived a sinless life, did all these amazing miracles, died on the cross and rose again from the dead, physically rose from the dead on the third day, answers all of Job's questions and meets all of Job's needs? Do you not see it? Look again at Job 14:12, “Man dies and does not rise again.” Job 14:12.
What would Jesus say to that? Would he not say this, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” That should answer Job 14:12, don't you think? Look at Job 14:14. If a man dies, will he live again? Well, I just answered that a moment ago. I could just quote John 11 again, but there's so many other verses I could choose. So why not John 5:28-29, “All who are in their graves will hear the voice of the Son of Man and come out.” Clear teaching of bodily resurrection. We're going to hear Jesus call us by name out of the grave, John chapter 5.
Look again at Job 14:16-17, “Surely then you'll count my steps, but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed in a bag and you will cover over my sins.” Didn't the apostle Paul say in Romans 4, “Blessed is the man whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered?” Our sins will be covered in the atoning work of Christ for all eternity, in terms of their condemning power, their power to make us feel guilty. Jesus looked at the paralyzed man who was lowered down by ropes through an opening in the roof, lowered down and laid there. He looked at him and because of his faith said, your sins are forgiven. What would that be worth to you to have the judge of all the earth, Jesus, the judge of all the earth, look at you and say, because of your faith, your sins are forgiven. He has that power. He has the power on earth and in heaven to forgive sins.
And so Job yearns for a day when his sins will be locked up in a bag and not looked at again and not cause him any trouble. That day is coming for all who trust in Christ. The question is, is that you, dear friend? Is that you? Have you trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? It's not universalism. We Christians don't believe everybody goes to heaven, doesn't matter how you live, what you think, what you believe, we don't think that. We think you have to believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, to trust that his death is effectively your death, his resurrection is your resurrection. Putting all your trust in him and none of your good works because you can't survive this kind of a God scrutinizing you on judgment day. You will not survive. But if Jesus is your advocate, you will more than just survive. You'll spend eternity in a glorious resurrection body praising him for all eternity.
"You can't survive ... God scrutinizing you on judgment day. You will not survive. But if Jesus is your advocate, you will more than just survive. You'll spend eternity in a glorious resurrection body praising him for all eternity."
Close with me in prayer. Father, there's so much to learn in the book of Job. So many details, so many things we don't know, so many mysteries. But Lord, we do see as Job thrashes out, as he says things from time to time it seems that ought not to be said, and we can be compassionate because he lived long before Christ died and rose again. And he just saw it at a distance. We have the record. We have Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, we have the Epistles, we have the book of Revelation. We have all of this truth. We thank you.
Father, I pray that you would help us to live filled with hope. Help each one of us to get ready to suffer well. To not imagine we're going to make it out of this world, healthy, prosperous till the day that we die. But that you actually will bring severe afflictions and that we will not question you or doubt you, but will be radiant with hope. And then lost people who are presently without hope and without God in the world will see our hope and ask us to give a reason for the hope that we have. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.