Job 17 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job%2017&version=ESV Most people try not to think about death. They don’t understand it. They don’t know what to think of it. It frightens them. So they don’t think about it. But there are times when death breaks past the barriers and crashes into the mind. And when it does, men and women must grapple with it’s reality, with it’s imminence, and try to understand what it means. When they do, most people make one of two fundamental errors. They often make both!
The first is to think of death as rest without having Christ. People write “R.I.P” on tombstones and some even look forward to death as a way to rest from the troubles of life. But without Christ, without faith in God and in the forgiveness of sins that He brings through His Son, such hope is entirely vain. Because death is not nothing and it’s not a mystery. Death is not rest. Not for those who do not believe. It’s not the stage exit at the end of the play of life as Job’s poor excuses for counselors seem to think. “There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21). Death is much worse for the unbeliever than anything in this life.
But there is rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9). And that rest is not a “nothingness” either. It’s eternal joy and glory with the Father. Death is much better for the believer than anything in this life! And that’s the other major error that many make with regard to death. Many lament the death of people in this world and blame God for being cruel. And while death is something to lament because of the loss and hurt that it creates here, it is also something to celebrate when it is the death of a believer because of the joy that it brings to them and to God. “Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of His saints!” (Psalm 116:15). Job is longing for death still in chapter 17. Even more so perhaps now because of the continued abusive and foolish counsel of his friends. He knows that in death he will have rest, rest from the troubles of this world. Rest from the false accusations of his friends, rest in the eternal joyful presence of His God. That’s the truth about death. No rest for the wicked, eternal rest for those who have faith in Christ!
In Christ Pastor Ude
Job 11-13 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
The third of Job’s friends, Zophar, speaks up and Job isn’t very pleased with what he has to say either. It’s kind of the same as what the first two friends said: “You deserve this, you must have done something, in fact, you deserve worst.” Again, there is a sense in which that is true. For all of us, our sins justly deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment. But Job’s friends have forgotten about faith. They have assumed that their wealth and ease are products of their own goodness rather than gifts from a merciful God. And they fail to see that the same is true about Job. His misfortunes are not the punishment for his sins anymore than their riches are the reward for their goodness. Rather, both are gifts of God’s mercy. God is trying Job, testing His faith and showing it to us so that we can see that even if He should slay us, we can trust Him.
Job believes that God is going to kill him. He knows that God has done this or at least has allowed this to happen. He doesn’t know why. He doesn’t understand what is going on. But he knows that God is not against him because of his sin, He knows He has loved him, forgiven him, and is with him. Job believes in God. Job’s friends do not, they believe in themselves: in their riches and in their works.
Don’t let good times deceive you into thinking that all is well with God. And don’t let hard times trick you into thinking that God hates you. There is only one way to be right with God – faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Then, we know that material blessings and suffering are both gifts from the hand of a loving God and though He may slay us, yet we can trust Him!
1 Corinthians 1:31, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
It’s not usually helpful to say “I told you so.” What good does that do someone who has just failed at something? It only rubs salt in the wound! But it can be very helpful to say “God told you so.” Whenever God is proved to be right, it is cause for great rejoicing for God’s Church! It reminds us that He is always faithful, always true.
That is the case when it comes to marriage. A colleague shared the article linked below with us pastors and I, like him, found it very encouraging. You’ve probably heard the claim before, “50 percent of marriages end in divorce.” You’ve probably heard people make comments about that like this, “Why should I even bother getting married? It fails half the time anyway.” We’ve known for a long time that those statistics (and excuses) were complete nonsense. Here’s proof. According to this expansive study, the divorce rate in society in general is about 30 percent. That’s a lot lower than 50. But far better than this is what the study reveals about the difference between the divorce rate among practicing Christians and society in general. Couples who regularly attend church have a divorce rate of only about 10 percent!
This is great news. And it isn’t really surprising. What it means is that those who follow God’s plan for marriage and sex, are far more likely to have successful marriages. Didn’t God tell you so? See, this is good news for the Church and for all. If you are in a marriage that is struggling and someone tells you that there’s a 50-50 chance yours will fail, that’s discouraging. If someone tells you that there is no difference in the divorce rate between practicing Christians and the rest, then you might feel like there is no point in going to church! If you are a young person contemplating how to proceed with your romantic relationship, then these lies about marriage might make you think there is no point, that it doesn’t work.
But as always, “let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). God’s always right. That means that marriage does work. It means that His plan for it is the best way. And it means more than that too. It means that everything He said is right. It means that He was telling the truth when He said that He died for our sins, rose from the grave and is coming again to take us home. It means He’s right when He says “Your sins are forgiven.” It means that there is strength and eternal comfort for those who are struggling in their marriages, those who have already suffered a divorce, and those who are doubting their faith. God was right. Didn’t he tell you so?
We’re back to our Friday catechism reviews. We begin with God’s Word. And I want to focus on those two words. First, “God’s.” I have often heard people say that believing everything the Bible says is idolatry because you are making the Bible into your God instead of the real God. But such an idea ignores the basics truths of the Bible. This Word, is a word from God Himself about Himself! It’s not something men wrote to describe God, it’s what God wrote to come to us and save us!
A young soldier went away to fight in a distant land. While he was there, his pregnant wife waited anxiously for his return since she loved him deeply. Every day she opened the mailbox in both fear and hope. What would she find there? News of his death or words from his pen? One day, she received both. News came that he had been wounded in battle and died shortly after but before he died he wrote her a letter. In it, he poured his heart out to her. He told her how much he loved her and always would. He told her of the dreams he had had for their life together. And he asked her to tell their child how much he loved her too. She treasured the letter. She kept it all her life and read it often. She shared it with her daughter who loved to listen to her mother read it to her. Why was it so precious to them? Did they love the letter and not the man who wrote it? No. They loved the letter because they loved the man who wrote it. The letter was a part of him, the only part they had left. It told them who he was and how much he loved them.
It’s the same with Scripture. You cannot separate God from His Word. In it, he tells us who He is. He tells us His will. He describes exactly how much He loved us and what He did to save us. He inspired His chosen prophets and apostles to write down the very words that He wanted most for us to hear from Him. And this, His Word, is all that we have of Him in this world. It is the only way to know God. It is the only way to be saved.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:15-16, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
God’s Word is pure, perfect, and good. Through law and gospel He saves us by showing our sins our inability to come to Him and then by coming to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is His Word. This is the message of salvation, the message of forgiveness. It’s His dearest wish that we would treasure it, find Him in it, and be saved by it.
No Mediator, No Hope.
Job 9 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
In this chapter, Job appears to have gone too far. He comes very close to charging God with doing wrong (verses 23-24) if not actually doing so. It is a reminder to us that even great heroes of the faith like Job were sinful human beings like us. He couldn’t accept Bildad and Eliphaz’s contention that God was punishing him for some great evil because he didn’t believe that he had done anything like that! And he was right. But at the same time, Job almost seems to be suggesting that he hasn’t done anything wrong at all. Even so, he says there is no point of going to court with God about his complaint because God is too great. How can Job contend with Him? If he tried, he assumes he will probably end up saying something that he can be accused of! And, he says, he doesn’t have a mediator, anyone to go between him and God. Job is all out of sorts .He doesn’t know why this is happening to him. He’s confused and hurt. He hasn’t lost his faith certainly, but he’s in a rut. That can happen to us all sometimes. Maybe because of some great tragedy or maybe it’s depression or maybe it’s for no particular reason at all. When you feel like Job felt, remember that you do have a mediator:
1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
Jesus, true God, became man in order to be the mediator between us and the Father. His death calms the Father’s wrath against our sin. His Word of forgiveness assures us of the Father’s love. He carries our prayers before God and brings His blessings to us. Without Jesus as mediator, Job’s fears would certainly be true, we would have no hope and we would certainly be condemned. But since Jesus lives we do have hope! We have the forgiveness of sins.
Job 8 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
Now it’s time for Bildad to try to counsel Job. And again, he fails to understand the situation. Much of what he says is good but ironically the point he makes is exactly the opposite of the truth in Job’s case.
It is true, as he says in verses 11-19 that those who do not hope in the Lord really have nothing to hope in at all. What they build their lives on, what they rely on is like leaning against a spiders web. It reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed. He talked about the seed that fell among rocky soil. These are people who hear the word and believe it but they have no depth to their faith and so when testing comes they fall away. There’s a really good example of this in a lot of American Christianity today. So much of it has become self-help with Jesus slapped on the cover. So much of it has become about you, how your life can be better, how Jesus can make your life better now. That’s not real Christianity. And this kind of doctrine makes it impossible for people to spread their roots down deep so that when testing comes they whither and die. After all, if you believe that the purpose of Christianity, that God’s will is to make things better for you now in this life, then won’t ever tragedy prove that God hates you or doesn’t really exist? Won’t every misfortune prove that your faith is worthless?
Deep faith is the kind of faith that Job had. Even when testing came, he held fast to the truths of the gospel, he held fast to the promise of life in His savior. He longed for death because he knew that was where heaven waited. What’s ironic is that Bildad got it all turned around. He is essentially claiming here that the reason why Job has lost all his stuff is because he had a shallow trust in God! But in fact it was the deep faith that God had planted in Job’s heart which weathered this terrible tragedy in his life.
It has been well said that you can test the genuineness of Christian doctrine (to a point) by seeing what it would sound like coming out of the mouth of a martyr or someone suffering like Job. Peter essentially said the same thing, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3-7).
May God grant us each such deep faith in the promises of God in Christ Jesus that we may hold fast in times of testing and at last receive our unfading inheritance. Amen.
Job 7 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
Have you ever asked that question? Has some great suffering ever squeezed those anguished words from your lips? Job simply didn’t understand. He didn’t believe that God was punishing him for anything in particular. That’s not to say that Job didn’t think he had sinned but he knew that God had forgiven his sins through the coming savior. He indicates that in verse 20. So he can’t figure out what this is happening. Why won’t God just let him die? Why won’t he at least let him have some peace in his sleep? He doesn’t.
We can’t always answer those questions. At least not in the moment. At least not very specifically. But there is a place we can turn when we are asking “Why God?” Because Jesus once asked the same question. On the cross, in the anguish of our sins, suffering the torments of hell, Jesus asked “My God, My God, why? Why have you forsaken me? Why are you letting this happen to me.” Psalm 22 prophesied that he would say this. In fact, if you study Psalm 22, you find that Jesus on the cross really didn’t understand why God was doing this. Though true God, he had laid aside His omniscience to suffer just as we suffer, just as Job suffered. He knew that He had lived a perfect life. He had never sinned. And yet there he was suffering on the cross, being abandoned by His father, punished as if He were the worst sinner in the world. And He was doing it for us. He was doing it for Job. He was doing it so that when we can’t figure out why God would let something so terrible happen to us, we could turn there and know that our sins are forgiven, know that our God loves us, know that He has some good in mind for us through this suffering.
When you suffer as Job did, remember that Jesus’ “why” is the answer to yours.
Job 6 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
Sometimes, no one understands what you are going through, or at least it seems that way. Your friends offer advice but it doesn’t help because they don’t understand. That’s what was happening to Job. As we saw last time, Eliphaz gives bad advice because he didn’t really understand what was happening with Job. He assumed that Job must be being punished for some sin and so he makes Job’s burden greater instead of pointing him to Christ.
In Chapter 6, Job responds to Eliphaz with a fair amount of anger. What did he know about it anyway? Job says “Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?” (verse 26). When we are in pain, we often say things that we don’t mean, our speech is “just wind.” So if you are trying to counsel a friend who is in pain, you have to get behind the words, you have to understand what the real pain is even if you can’t totally understand.
And for those who are feeling as if no one understands, for those who feel as if no one will listen and no one can help. Remember Job’s Savior who was born of human flesh, who suffered in every way as you do so that he could sympathize with you in all your weaknesses and all your sorrows. He died for you and lives again. Turn to Him. He will be a friend even when no one else quite knows how to be. Amen.
Job 5 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+5&version=ESV
Have you ever had someone try to comfort you when you were in pain and they clearly didn’t really understand the situation? Eliphaz continues his advice to Job in chapter 5 and a lot of it sounds good. But Eliphaz is still missing the point entirely. He actually makes things worse. What he is saying to Job is, “You must have done something wrong. If you are good, then everything will be wonderful. Just trust in God because God is great and He blesses people.” Now again, there is much truth in what Eliphaz says, but he’s not helping. Job knows and believes everything that Eliphaz tells him. He knows of God’s goodness, he has tasted it for many years. He knows that God disciplines. That’s not the issue.
Job needs the cross. Job needs to see the forgiveness of sins. He needs to be reminded that this life isn’t the end-all be-all of our existence. Rather, Christ is preparing us for eternal life and that is why there is suffering now.
If you ever find yourself in a position to comfort someone who has experienced great suffering and tragedy, make sure to listen closely to them before speaking. Don’t use empty platitudes. Be with them in their pain. Simply point them to the love of God in Christ Jesus. That’s no empty platitude. That’s what it’s all about. And that is the light that can shine into any darkness.