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.
Job 4 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job%204&version=ESV
It can be hard to know what to say can’t it? When a loved one is going through some terrible difficulty and you sit with them in their pain, what do you say? Sometimes we feel impelled to say something just to break the silence even if it isn’t particularly helpful. I don’t know if that’s the reason that Eliphaz spoke up in chapter 4 (and continues in chapter 5), but what he said really wasn’t all that helpful because it wasn’t true.
His basic claim is that Job must have done something to deserve what was happening to him. Now in a general sense, what Eliphaz says is true. Verse 17, “Can mortal man be in the right before[b] God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” All humans are sinners, that’s true. Yet, that is not why Job was going through these sorrows. We know that for a number of reasons.
1. From a logical standpoint, shouldn’t Eliphaz then also be facing punishment?
2. Because we have already seen why Job was going through this and it wasn’t punishment for some sin. In fact it was because of Job’s faith and uprightness! It was no punishment.
3. The gospel is entirely opposed to this idea. The gospel is the good news that the blood of Christ was shed for every sin of every human being that ever lived. It means that Christ tasted death in our place (Hebrews 2) and bore our sins. Only those who reject this sacrifice will be judged for their sins and that on the last day (Acts 17:31). So even though we might face the pain and consequences of sin in this life and even though God might send a specific thing upon us as discipline to turn us back to him, he is not and will not ever punish us for our sins in this life.
We’ll continue looking at Eliphaz’s advice tomorrow in chapter 5.
Job 3 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
Have you ever wanted to die? Did you ever feel like there was nothing left to live for? Wishing you had never been born? I think most of us could probably remember a time like that in our lives although most of us, looking back, would probably also have to admit that we were being overly dramatic. If you wished that you would die because your girlfriend or boyfriend broke up with you, you were definitely being a drama llama! Job wasn’t. He really didn’t have anything left on earth that was good. He had said “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the LORD.” He really meant that. All that the LORD had given, the LORD had taken away. Job’s livelihood, his riches, his family – all were gone. And so in chapter three he mourns, he wishes for death. And let’s get one thing really clear – there’s nothing wrong with that. If you have ever felt like Job did (even if you were being overly dramatic), you are really just agreeing with God. After all, when He was here on earth in human flesh with human emotions, he too felt sadness even despair! He wept bitter tears at the tomb of His friend Lazarus (even though he knew he was about to raise him from the dead), His soul was “very sorrowful even unto death” the night before His crucifixion. You might have heard someone say that since Christians are to rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), they should therefore never be sad. That’s not true. One can be sorrowful and joyful at the same time. Back to Jesus who was very sorrowful even unto death and yet Hebrews 12:2 says that He went to the cross “for the joy that was set before Him!”
In fact, for the Christian, the desire to die is in itself an expression of joy! Paul said (even while he still had things to live for) “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23). When we feel the pain of the corruption of sin in this world and seek death as Job did we are doing so in joy for the life which has been promised and sealed to us in the blood of Christ Jesus. We hear John’s Words and long for their realization: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
But notice, Job is not suicidal. For the Christian, suicide is never the answer. When you feel like you have nothing left to live for, know that it is ok for you to long for death, to long to be with the LORD. That’s the goal of your life after all! But remember too that God is the one who decides when it is time to come home. There may yet be bright days ahead even if you can’t see them. And even if all the years of your life are lived under a cloud of despair, the time will come when those clouds are lifted forever. For this short momentary affliction is nothing compared to the eternal weight of glory that is yours in the forgiveness of sins.
Job 2 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
Have you ever known someone who was super predictable? I’ve been watching the TV series “Gotham” recently. Detective Gordon is like that. He’s very predictable. While everyone else is at least somewhat corrupt, he isn’t. He refuses to give in or to bend even a little. It’s an admirable quality. We have a word for it – integrity. It means to be whole, to be complete, to live your life wholly and completely by certain standards that you won’t turn away from.
In Job, we find another men with a great deal of integrity. God Himself says this about Job, “He still holds fast his integrity” (Verse 3). Even in great suffering, Job wouldn’t waver from his standards, his beliefs. His wife thought he should, “Curse God and die” she said. But Job gives a wonderful response, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
Does something really have integrity of it only holds up when things are easy? Is a belief worth keeping if it only helps when things are good? Job stuck to his integrity even in the midst of great personal loss and great personal pain because he knew that God also has integrity. God is the ultimate in that in fact. God is whole and complete. He has a standard which He adheres to and never swerves from. He is the same yesterday today and forever. Ultimately that standard is love. Job knew that the same God that sent him so much good, wasn’t any different because He had allowed some evil. Job wasn’t that easily fooled. Because he had faith in the coming Savior. Job knew Jesus albeit not by name. He knew the forgiveness of sins and eternal life which he would bring. And when you know Jesus, when you know God’s integrity of love, when you know His grace, then you know that whatever He sends your away and whatever suffering you might face, you can hold to your integrity because He does.