Timeless Lessons from the Book of Job
December 12, 2021 | Andrew Davis
Joy in Suffering, Book Overviews
The main point of the book of Job is to help Christians suffer well. To let God bring suffering into our lives and still trust him and his purposes. Listen to this final summary sermon in the Job series.
- Sermon Transcript -
Ordinarily, I'd say turn in your Bibles to... So, I don't know, find someplace in Job. Mason, who just read scripture, he's read the whole chapter. I said, "Well, just thank God I didn't have you read the whole book.” We'd be here a while. But it is time for us now to draw this study in Job to conclusion. What lessons can we draw from this incredible book of Job that will help us? Every book in the Bible has its place and its purpose. Its mission from the Holy Spirit for the people of God. Recently, I was meditating on a single verse in the gospel of Mark, Mark 15:38. It's a book, God willing, that we'll be turning to after Christmas. The context of Mark 15:38 is powerful, Christ has just died in verse 37. And in verse 39, the Roman centurion's about to make an incredible pronouncement about Christ. So, Mark 15:37, "With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last." Verse 39, "When the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, 'Surely he was the Son of God.'"
Right in the middle of these two statements, we have this one historical fact, Mark 15:38, "The curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom." It occurred to me, as I was meditating on that verse, that the Holy Spirit, inspiring Mark to write his gospel, moved him to record the simple fact of the curtain in the temple being torn in two. And then the additional detail that it was torn in two from top to bottom. But what struck me was that the Holy Spirit did not inspire Mark to add a single word of explanation about it. Not one word about what the curtain in the temple was, what it was for, what was the significance of it being rent, of it being torn in two, and from top to bottom. I've heard, don't know this for certain, but I've heard that the gospel of Mark seems to have been written as an introduction of Christ to the Gentile worlds, to the Roman worlds. That the person and work of Christ would be introduced to the Romans.
So if you were a Roman citizen and you held this ancient document in your hands there in the first century, and you were reading this, you would get to this point, what we know as Mark 15:38, and you'd have no idea what it was talking about. No idea what this curtain was and what was the significance of it being torn in two from top to bottom. You would be in the dark. But the Holy Spirit is very wise. He left the full explanation of that event to other books of the Bible.
He left it, especially to the author of the book of Hebrews, the task of explaining it. The curtain in the temple separated the Holy place from the Most Holy place. And the Most Holy Place, or the Holy of Holies, was a place where God himself symbolically dwelt in a glory cloud above the arc of the covenant. And the curtain was a barrier keeping sinful human beings out of God's holy presence. The one exception was the Day of Atonement, and that only once a year. And only the high priest, the descendant of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, from the Jewish nation could enter. Once a year with the blood of the atoning sacrifice."
Now, Jesus, by dying on the cross, has changed all that forever. By his death on the cross, God himself has torn the curtain and thrown it open for all sinners to come near through Christ’s atoning work. So we have the full theology of the curtain of the temple in Hebrews 10:19-22, "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way open for us through the curtain that is his body. And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our heart sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience, and having our bodies washed with pure water."
So my point here is that the Holy Spirit did not assign to Mark, the gospel writer, the task of explaining all that. He knew that explanation would be made later by the author to the book of Hebrews and other places. So, as I was meditating on that, I thought, "Every book in the Bible has its role to play." It has a role to play in our lives. It has an assigned task. And that assigned task is limited and bounded by the wisdom of God, by the Holy Spirit, to achieve that task.
Let's take that whole thing and move it over now to the book of Job. What is its purpose? What is its assigned task? Now, obviously, there's not just one purpose for the book of Job, because it's a long book, 42 chapters, many verses. And many concepts, many theological themes flow from Job. It's not just one. But I would say plainly that the book of Job was given to us by God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to help God's people with the problem of pain, with the problem of suffering. Even the problem of evil in a world governed by a wise and loving all-powerful God. Simply put, the book of Job was given to us, the people of God, to help us suffer well. Suffer well.
"The book of Job was given to us, the people of God, to help us suffer well."
Now, what does that mean? What does it mean to suffer well? Well, I believe it means to let God bring suffering into your life without you accusing him of wrongdoing. Without you cursing God. Without you being estranged from God. Well, that's putting it negatively. Suffering well means not doing those things or anything like them.
More positively, I think this one verse from Job sums the whole thing up very well. Job 13:15, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." If I could choose one verse from the whole book, I would say that's the point. Even though God brings suffering into my life, I will use that suffering. I will use it to learn from God and draw close to God, and be strengthened in my faith in God. And yes, I will be filled with hope in God, even while I am suffering.
Now, as I've said, many times before, hope is a strong feeling in the heart that the future is bright based on the promises of God. So the book of Job will help you get the most out of your suffering. To not waste your cancer, as pastor John Piper puts in his book, Don't Waste Your Cancer. Or to not waste your unemployment or to not waste your experience of aging. Or to not waste even the sorrow of burying a loved one. Even a child. Even a child. That you will not waste your suffering through unbelief and through accusing God of wrongdoing. Through rebellion, and yes, through sin. I think that's what the book of Job was given to help us with.
Along with that, we see that the book of Job was given to the cannon in the Bible at a certain moment in redemptive history, the Old Testament era. It seems to be very old. Some people say it was the first Bible book ever written. Some of you may even have chronological Bibles and you open up and there's Job right away. I'm not a big fan of that. I don't really know how anyone can know exactly when the book of Job was written. Just seems to me to be an elaborate argument from silence based on the things that are not spoken of in the book of Job. Moses isn't mentioned, the Jews aren't mentioned, Abraham isn't mentioned. All of that. So the assumption is that Job must have preceded all of those things. We don't know that.
One thing we definitely do know, however, it definitely preceded the birth of Jesus Christ. It's definitely an Old Testament book. And therefore, the author of Hebrews tells us, speaking of the whole old covenant, "It's shadow wisdom. Shadow. Shadow wisdom. The reality is Christ." So it is helpful, but it's, "Shadow. The reality is Christ. The full light of glory is Christ."
So as we saw, Old Testament saints had a very limited, and in many cases, defective view of death and of the grave and anything beyond it. There is, it seems to me, almost no clear teaching on hell as eternal conscious torment in the 39 books of the Old Testament. That teaching was brought into the world clearly by the son of God, by Jesus Christ. No one warned the human race as clearly about hell as Jesus did. Christ himself.
And in the same way, even a great man like Job seemed to have a very defective view of death and the grave. Not much of a view of eternal life in heaven or of the bodily resurrection from the dead that Christ promised for all who believe in him. How could he? Those things hadn't been revealed yet. So, as I learned in this process, preparing all these sermons. At one point, it just hit me this statement that I've made many times since then, “Job was a better man than any of us will ever be”. But we, we have a better hope than Job ever had. So that's a redemptive-historical argument for the position of the book of Job. And just say, "Look, friends, we can do better than this." Not because we're any better people, but because we have a better hope.
So, we drink in his words and we live in imitation where we can, but in contrast where we must. We hope to imitate him in his godliness, but we want to surpass him in his articulation of hope. Not because we're better people, we aren't, but because we live beyond Christ cross and the empty tomb. Because we have Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Because we have the book of Acts. Because we have the epistles of Paul and of Peter and of John. We have that grand glorious book of Revelation, which tells us how wonderfully all of this comes out. We have all of those things.
So that's how I want to position this.. That's just my introduction. We're going to walk through today 10 lessons, timeless lessons from the book of Job. I'm not going to say everything about each of these lessons that could be said. Each one, I think, really would bear a full sermon, I think.
Also, I don't think these 10 are an exhaustive list. This morning, Daphne and I were driving in. I said, "If you had to give some timeless lessons from the book of Job, what would you say?" One of the first things she said is, "Don't be like Job's friends." I was like, "That's good. It's not on the list here, but that's a good one." Would you all agree that's a good lesson from the don't do that? All right. I think God would approve of that one. So thank you, Daphne, for that one. So that's number 11, don't be like Job's friends. So this is not exhaustive list, but I hope that these 10 will be helpful to you. Let's walk through them.
I. Suffering will most certainly come, but don’t live in fear.
Number one, suffering will most certainly come, but don't live in fear. Suffering will most certainly come, but don't live in fear. So we need to have a proper view of life under the curse. Job 5:7, "Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." And again, Job 14:1 and 2, "Man born of woman is a few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away like a fleeting shadow he does not endure."
Well, that's just true. I think sometimes it seems we're surprised when trials come, "Never saw this coming." As though we somehow expect a trouble-free existence. And we forget that we are descendants of Adam, and that in Adam, the original sinner, we all sin. And in Adam, we die. And because of Adam's sin, God cursed the world and cursed the ground to produce thorns and thistles for our labors.
So let us not be surprised when trials and affliction come. Yet, don't dread them before they come. Don't live in fear over them. Job said in Job 3:25, "What I feared has come upon me. What I dreaded has happened to me." God does not want us to live in constant fear, of the three categories of loss that Job experienced. The loss of his wealth, possessions, the loss of his loved ones, then the loss of his health. Those are the three big categories of suffering. He doesn't want us to live in fear of those things.
We see the final purpose of God and Job's life, as all blessings were fully restored to him in the end. We also know that our true blessedness is our citizenship in heaven, not on earth. Faith, biblical faith, is designed to drive out fear. They're pitted against each other, again and again, in the Bible. It's been sad for me over the last stretch of time, year and a half or more, to see so many people living in constant fear concerning the COVID pandemic. It's been sad for me to see that fear among God's people, even. I mean, both sides of the equation, fear of the virus, fear of the vaccine. I've seen both. Just fear.
I wonder if some of the individuals will ever get beyond it. But as we said, faith and fear are often juxtaposed as opposites. You see this in the gospels frequently. Like when he went to heal Jairus' daughter and some messengers come to tell Jairus, "Your little daughter is dead. Why bother to teach her anymore?" Just zero compassion, it seems. And Jesus, ignoring what they said, spoke directly to Jairus. And he said, "Don't be afraid, just believe." So there it is. Don't be afraid, just believe. They're juxtaposed as enemies, fear, and faith. Or again, in the stilling of the storm, Matthew 8:26. He replied to his disciples, "You of little faith. Why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuke the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. So afflictions are going to come. God is saying, "I cannot save you unless I hurt you." It's not possible for him to finish our salvation pain-free. But don't live in fear of those things.
II. Love your earthly blessings, but hold them loosely.
Number two, love your earthly blessings, but hold all of them loosely. Hold them loosely. Now, we stand in amazement how quickly all of Job's earthly blessings were taken from him. In a single day, he lost all his wealth and his 10 children. Then in phase two, he lost his health in a single day. So, earthly blessings are a delight. We should not refuse to partake for fear they will be taken from us. That's not the right way to live. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows," James 1:17. He wants us to enjoy good things.
1 Timothy 6:17. It says that God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. But the book of Job tells us to hold them loosely, open hand. They belong to God, and God has the right to do whatever he wants with them. So our children are not really ours. They really aren't. They belong to God, and God has the right to do with them whatever he thinks best. They belong to God because it was God who knit them together in their mother's womb. As Job himself said beautifully in Job 10:9-12, Job speaking to God, "Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness. And in your Providence, watched over my spirit." That's God knitting together every human being that has ever lived in his mother's womb. God owns us. All of us.
So much of the trouble comes from us thinking that our money and our homes and our clothes and our bodies and our children and our days, "All of those things really are ours, and they're ours to do with as we see fit." They're not. We're stewards of things that belong to someone else. And we are, and will continue to be, vulnerable in this present age. We're vulnerable. Proverbs 23:5 says, "Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an Eagle." So instead, James tells us how we ought to live. James 4:15 says, "Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'" So do that with all of your blessings, all your earthly blessings. If it is the Lord's will, I'll continue to have them. If it is not his will, then I won't.
III. Understand Satan’s relentless hatred and the hedge of protection.
Number three, understand Satan's relentless hatred, and also, the hedge of protection. The book of Job clearly reveals the hidden activities of Satan. Job 1:7, which you just heard Mason read a moment ago. “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." His accusations of Job prompted the test that God allowed. Job 1:11, "Stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." His direct involvement in Job's sickness, in chapter two, implies that he was just as involved in all of the earlier assaults in chapter one, on his wealth in his family.
So Job 2:7, "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." Satan, therefore, in 1 Peter 5:8, is presented as, "A roaring lion prowling around seeking someone to devour." That's Satan. Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." Therefore, much of the sorrow and misery we experience in this life is delivered to us by Satan and his demons. Though, their activities are hidden from our sight. We can't see them, but they bring it. They deliver misery.
It is quite possible, as we said at the time, that Behemoth and Leviathan are referring to the secret activities of demons and of Satan. Various reasons that I articulated at the time. Probably the central reason other than Isaiah 27:1, which presents Leviathan as an embodiment of evil, that God directly will kill by his sword. Beyond that is the fact that the message is, "You can't handle these animals. They're too strong for you. You can't corral them. You can't control them. You can't kill them." That's just not true of any physical animal that we know of. So I think it just makes sense that we're talking ultimately about Satan.
So we need to be aware that we have a relentless enemy prowling around like a lion. Satan wants to trick us into thinking of God as a raving beast, God is the mindless beast that's tearing you to shreds. It's sad that Job fell into that a little bit. In Job 10:16, he said, "If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion, and again, display your awesome power against me." That's Job speaking to God, "You're hunting me down like a lion." Don't do that. Don't do that. The ravenous beast is Satan, not God.
But the teaching of the hedge of protection is vital for us. Satan is frustrated by the hedge of protection. Do you get that sense? He would like to do more than he is allowed to do to Job. He would like to get at him, but God won't let him. Job 1:10, "Have you not put a hedge around him in 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." The image I have is of Behemoth and Leviathan on a leash or in a cage is very comforting.
God says this to us, "You can't do it." Job 41:5, "Can you make a pet of him, Leviathan like a bird, or put him on a leash for your girls?" A few verses later, "No one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me." So God is just infinitely more powerful than Leviathan. He's got him on a leash, absolutely. Central to this is the promise. 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but with the temptation will make a way of escape so you can stand up under it." That's true of all of the afflictions, all of the sorrows. Satan's on a leash, he's blocked, continually blocked. And when God opens up an opening for you, he has a wise purpose in that.
IV. When suffering comes, respond like Job did.
Number four, when suffering comes, respond like Job did. All right. Now, you know I have to put a little asterisks on this, like he mostly did. Or like he did at the beginning. But he does get vindicated, doesn't he, by God at the end. When he says to the friends, "You have not spoken what is right of me, as my servant Job has."
So, at the beginning of the book that you just heard Mason read Job 1:21-22, Job responded this way, "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.
So when you are shocked by the news, the news that comes, whatever that news is, respond like Job did. The Lord gave, and now the Lord's chosen to take away. May the name of the Lord be praised. Do that. Get ready to do that. Prepare ahead of time to do that. He does that again in chapter two, Job 2:10, "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble." In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. God is wisely mixing, mixing things we consider blessings with things that we consider afflictions. There's a recipe for your salvation that he's wisely mixing. He knows how much of the one to put in and how much of the other. Trust him. Show we accept from God good and not trouble.
V. Expect God to use the suffering to probe you, expose you, convict you.
Fifth, expect God to use the suffering to probe you, expose you, and convict you. This trial went on much longer than Job wanted it to go. It kept going on. That's why he began to decay in his piety, to say harsh things about God. Now, expect the trial to keep going. God is probing the depths of your being. He's probing the inner workings of your heart. He's exposing deep-seated sin. Job 7:17-20, Job says to God, "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him at every moment? Will you never look away from me or let me alone, even for an instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, a watcher of men? Why have you made me your target?" Job was being probed to the deepest level of his being. And in the end, some sins had bubbled from inside to the surface.
"Job was being probed to the deepest level of his being. And in the end, some sins had bubbled from inside to the surface."
You need to know that there are trapped sins and attitudes within the depths of your being that trials bring bubbling to the surface. It's God's intention. He wants it to come out so that you can repent of it. So Job did repent. Job 40:4 and 5, "I'm unworthy." He said to God, "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."
And then Job 42:1-6, Job replied to the Lord, "I know that you can do all things. No plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge? Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, listen now and I will speak. I will question you, and you shall answer me. My ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." So understand that the trials that God will bring into your life are meant to sanctify you. And part of that sanctification is to become increasingly aware of how much you needed Jesus to be your savior, how much you needed an atoning sacrifice. You underestimate it. So do I. And trials bring it to the surface.
VI. Develop a deep, powerful sense of the overwhelming majesty of God.
Number six, develop a deep and powerful sense of the overwhelming majesty of God. Perhaps no book in the Bible gives a greater sense of this, the infinite, searchable majesty of God. One verse in particular struck me as I was walking through these 42 chapters. It was way back in Job 13:11. I preached a whole sermon on this theme. "Would not his splendor terrify you. Would not the dread of him fall upon you." Remember how I said, "What if God showed up in your life in one of those Old Testament theophanies, like happened from time to time? What do you think you'd be doing?" I know what you'd be doing. You'd be on your face. You'd be on the ground. It's good for us to know that, to know the infinite majesty of almighty God, to have a sense of that.
We get it just from reading the book, just the sense of the majesty when God shows up in the whirlwind. Job 38, then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind. He said, "Who is this that darkens my counsel, by speaking words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man. I will question you, and you shall answer me. 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 out a measuring line across it? On what were it's footing set, or who laid its cornerstone while the mourning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea behind the doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'?" If God did that for you, showed up in a whirlwind, and talked to you like that, what do you think you'd be doing? You'd be on your face. The more we have a sense of the fear of the Lord, an appropriate fear of the Lord that's the beginning of wisdom, the better it will be for our souls. We need to develop this deep sense of the holiness of God, the infinite glory and majesty of God
What is it that causes the holy seraphim to cover their faces in his presence? And to cover their feet, and to be overwhelmed with one theme, the holiness of God? “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty… the whole earth is full of his glory! The more that we see that by faith, the better we will be prepared to live well, to prosper well, and then when the time comes, yes, to suffer well.
VII. Don’t ever question God’s love, justice, or wisdom.
Number seven, don't ever question God's love, God's justice, or God's wisdom. Satan predicted that he could make Job curse God to his face. In the heat of the trial, Job's wife was Satan's mouthpiece, when she said, "Curse God and die." It's the same theme. It is very humbling for us to realize we can all play that role from time to time. We can be Satan's mouthpiece in the life of someone else. Don't ever do that.
As the trial wore on, Job's negative attitude toward God became more and more pronounced, more and more shocking even. Probably the low point for me was in Job 9:17-18. It's the kind of thing you can read through and you don't fully understand what he's saying to God. But he said this of God, "He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason. He would not let me regain my breath, but would overwhelm me with misery." And five verses later, "When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent." Stop right there. That is not the God of the Bible. He doesn't mock the despair of his hurting children. Not at all.
Now, this is the essence, I think, of suffering poorly. Don't do this. Don't accuse God of wrongdoing. Don't accuse him of injustice. Don't tell him he doesn't love you anymore because you're going through this. It's just not true. And don't think that by doing this, you're doing therapeutic venting. It's just helping you psychologically. It's not! You're further away from the throne of grace and the help you need. It's making you further from it. Run to the throne of grace. Receive mercy and find grace to help through Jesus Christ, the help you need in a time of need. Go to him. Yes, the psalmists pour out their complaint before God. That's how to do it. Imitate the psalmists in bringing their troubles to God, but don't think of God as a vicious, cruel, unloving tyrant as you're going through trial.
VIII. Do not expect here on earth full explanations of your suffering.
Number eight, do not expect here on earth, full explanations of your suffering. Even when God spoke to Job directly in the whirlwind, he never explained anything about his own conditions or the reason why. Job was yearning for the why. As I read earlier, Job 7:20, "Why have you made me your target? Why?" I think everyone that goes through suffering wants that question answered, right? "Why is this happening to me? Why? Why are you doing this?" But notice, once he shows up in the whirlwind, he never gives any explanation. He doesn't say a word about it. And he doesn't talk about Satan. He doesn't talk about Satan's accusations or God boasting about him in heaven. "Have you considered my servant, Job?" He didn't tell him anything. Nothing about any of that. He gives him no explanation.
We readers know more as we're reading than Job knew at the time. Fundamentally, God makes it plain, that he doesn't owe any of us anything, including an explanation. Job 41:11, he says, "Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me." Think about that. Who has a claim against me that I must pay? No one. So you cannot demand anything from God, including an explanation. He doesn't owe you anything. But that is not the final word on you understanding why things happen to you. We'll get to that on my 10th point.
IX. Know that in Christ, you have a perfect Mediator and Redeemer.
Now, number nine, and this is the main point of everything, because it's the main point of the Bible. What is the main point, not just of the book of Job, but of all 66 books? Jesus. Jesus Christ. The mediator, the Redeemer, he is the point of the book of Job. Know that in Christ you have a perfect mediator and a perfect Redeemer. All roads lead eventually to Christ. Again and again, Job yearns for a mediator and Redeemer. We know very well, as we're reading, as Christians, we know who that is, don't we?
Remember how he says in Job 9:33-34, "If only, if only there were someone to arbitrate between us, between me and God. Someone who could lay his hand upon us both as a mediator," he's saying. "Someone," listen to this, "to remove God's rod from me so that his terror would frighten me no more." That is the theology of propitiation. The wrath of God is gone. You don't need to fear the wrath of God. Through faith in Christ, God presented him as a propitiation, a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. Once you come to faith in Christ, you need fear his terrors no more.
And Job's there saying, "If only there were someone like that. Don't you want to talk to me? 'Job, I got just the person. I want to tell you about Jesus.'" But then he says so beautifully, the most famous verses, I think, in the book, Job 19:25-27, Job says, "I know that my Redeemer lives. And that in the end, he will 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."
Now, whatever Job fully understood and spoke at that moment is no longer my concern. How can I read those wonderful words as a Christian? The greatest calamity, the greatest earthly calamity that can possibly happen to me has not yet happened, but will happen. It's called death. If we're not the final generation, it is appointed to each one of us to die. And those three categories, your wealth, gone. All of it. Your loved ones, your time here on earth with them is done. It's over. And your health, gone. You will die. Now listen to these words, "I know that my Redeemer lives. The one who's paid a price to buy me out of sin and hell and death. He lives. He rose again. And that in the end, in the final analysis, he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed in the grave and the worm has had its way with me, I will see him, my savior, in my body. My resurrection body." That's how I read those words. That's how I read them.
Therefore, in Christ, we have Emmanuel, the very thing we've been singing. We have God with us, walking with us through the trial. He's familiar with our sufferings. He knows what it's like to hurt. So it says in Isaiah 43, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You're mine. And when you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. And when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze." And because Christ has risen from the dead, we know that this world is not all there is friends. We know it's not all there is. All of our earthly loss, all of our sufferings, all of our deeper questions are waiting for the next world. That's why I say Job is a better man than any of us will ever be, but we definitely have a better hope than he had.
"In Christ, we have Emmanuel, the very thing we've been singing. We have God with us, walking with us through the trial. He's familiar with our sufferings. He knows what it's like to hurt. "
For Job, the grave was a place of deep darkness and hopelessness. Listen again to Job 17:13-16, "If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in darkness, if I say to corruption, 'You are my father, and to the worm, my mother or my sister,' where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me? Will it go down to the gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust?" Now that is pretty depressing. But now that Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of a mighty harvest of righteousness, we are going to be, by death, transported like a portal from a world of death and sorrow and misery and pain, into a world where there'll be no more death, mourning, crying or pain. It's a portal. That's what Jesus has done for us. Opened up a doorway.
So we're going to be able to say, "Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?" And like Paul says in Philippians 1, "For me to live is Christ and die is what, gain, and better by far." I just feel like I would rather spend the afternoon with the apostle Paul in the Philippian jail, as he contemplates death, then Job as he was contemplating death. Amen? Just so much happier and better. And we get to do that. If you're a Christian. If you're a Christian. Are you? Are you a Christian? Have you repented and trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? Have you been delivered from judgment and sin and hell by faith in Christ? There is no other way. There's no other savior. Have you trusted in him? Do you know that forgiveness, or not?
X. Know that in heaven, God will perfectly restore, vindicate, bless, and educate you.
Finally, number 10, know that in heaven, God will perfectly restore, vindicate, bless, and educate you. Job died old and full of years, as we know, and as we preached last week from the New Testament. However, we know that was not the end of Job's story. In heaven, God has been completing Job's education in his own glory. Job's true wealth in heaven will never be taken from him. His redeemed children in heaven will never die. There'll be no more death, mourning, crying or pain for him. Job is perfectly vindicated before all the redeemed as a hero of the faith. You can put in your reservation once you die for a dinner with Job. Sit down and talk to him and tell him how thankful you are for what God did in your life through his story. And that'll be a wonderful time.
And so it'll be with us. Our true vindication will be our resurrection in glorious bodies. Our eternal blessing will be in the new heaven, new earth. And then God will explain himself to you. I really believe that. I believe he will tell you why you suffered. Why do I think that? Because that's just what God does with his children. He says very plainly, in John 15:15, Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants because a servant doesn't know his master's business. Instead, I've called you friends, because everything I've heard from the father, I've made known to you." Or again, as he said to Abraham, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I'm about to do?" What does that tell you? God wants to tell you things. He wants to let you in on his thinking.
As I was writing my book on heaven, I came across a story, and I'll close with this. It's a tragedy that I'd known about, but there was an aspect or detail that I hadn't known. Has to do with the famous hymn, It Is Well With My Soul. It was written by a man named Horatio Spafford. What happened was his wife, Anna, and their four young daughters, the oldest, I think, was 12, were on a ship that collided in the middle of the ocean off Cardiff and sank very quickly. Anna somehow was amazingly rescued, but all four daughters drowned. All of them. She wired her husband, Horatio, these words, saved alone. Saved alone. What I didn't know is that she was lying unconscious floating on a piece of wreckage. Someone found her and she came to and immediately realized what had happened with the girls, that they were gone. She cried out in a loud voice, "God gave me four daughters. Someday I will understand why he took them from me. Someday I'll understand why."
But not in this life. Not in this life. Not in this life. I do think in the next. I think God will bring us into his council and explain why that was helpful for you, beneficial for your salvation, horizontally helpful to everyone who knew you, how that story has blessed to others. How, in this case, that particular case, how the hymn has helped other people, et cetera. God will give an explanation, and he'll tell you the reason why. I'm looking forward to that.
Close with me in prayer. Father, we thank you for all the things that we've learned from the book of Job. There's a lot to take in. Probably the most sobering message for me is to know that I, that all of us, will need this book at some point. That we're going to need it. And that you're getting us ready for a suffering that you will choose to bring in our lives. Help us not to dread it, help us to walk in faith in Christ, knowing that you are able, Lord, to sustain us and to encourage us through anything you choose to bring us through. Jesus name. Amen.