A. Introduction: We are working on learning to respond to the difficulties of life rather than react to them.
1. To respond to your situation means to answer it with the word of God. It means to acknowledge God by talking about who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. Ps 107:8,15,21,31
a. Because of lack of accurate knowledge of what God is like and how He works people react to their troubles: God, why is this happening? How could you let it happen? What are you trying to do?
b. When you know what God is like and how He works you can respond: God, this is truly a mess, but I know it did not come from you. Thank you that you will cause this to work for good. You will bring maximum glory to yourself and maximum good to as many people as possible. You will get me through until you get me out.
2. Much of our misinformation about how God works comes from wrong ideas about the Book of Job. a. People mistakenly believe God brought Job's troubles into his life by commissioning or permitting the devil to attack Job. And, if God did that to Job, He may do it to us as well.
b. But that is not correct. In this lesson we are going to apply some of the principles we've been learning about what God is like and how He works to help us sort this out.
3. Let's begin by briefly summarizing the Book of Job. At the beginning of the book, Job is introduced as a perfect, upright man who feared God. He had a large family and much material wealth.
a. After a description of Job, a conversation between God and Satan is recorded (Job 1:1-12; 2:1-6).
After the conversation, Satan destroyed Job's wealth and his children, and gave him a terrible skin disease. Satan's goal was to prove that Job only served God because of the good things in his life, and that if those things were taken away, Job would curse God. Job 1:13-22; 2:7-13
b. Three of Job's friends came to comfort him -- Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Most of the book is a dialogue between Job and these men as they try to figure out why this happened to Job. Job 3-31
1. Job's friends said he must have sinned terribly to be so afflicted. Eliphaz used a dream to make his point. Bildad used some proverbs. Zophar used experience and reason.
2. Job insisted he had done nothing wrong, and he did not understand why this all had happened.
c. Finally, a man called Elihu came along, rebuked all four men, and talked about God's justice and mercy. Then God spoke to Job from a whirlwind and rebuked him and his friends. Job 32-41
d. In the end, Job repented of some things, prayed for his friends, and God restored to him twice as much as he had before. Job 42
B. The Book of Job is found in the Old Testament. As we have said in previous lessons, the Old Testament must be read in the light of the New Testament. That means several things.
1. First of all, it means that anything written in the Old Testament cannot contradict the revelation of God given to us in Jesus in the New Testament.
a. The Bible is progressive revelation. God has gradually revealed Himself through the scriptures. Jesus is God and shows us God. He is the full revelation of God in human flesh. Heb 1:3
1. Jesus said: If you've seen Me, you've see the Father, not because He is the Father, but because He did the works of the Father by His power in Him. John 14:9,10; 5:19,20; 10:32
2. If something in the Old Testament seems to contradicts what Jesus shows us about God, we do not reject the revelation given to us in Jesus. We presume that we have misinterpreted the Old Testament verse or do not yet have full understanding of it.
b. The Book of Job cannot be saying that God afflicted Job and destroyed his family, either directly or indirectly, because that is contrary to the way Jesus treated men when He was on this earth. God is not “different” or “changed” in the New Testament. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament.
2. Second, it means to consider what the New Testament says about an Old Testament subject. Job is mentioned one time in the New Testament in James 5:11.
a. This verse commends Job for his patience and draws our attention to the end of Job's story.
1. Remember: `We count those happy who stood firm.' You have all heard how Job stood firm, and you have seen how the Lord treated him in the end. For the Lord is full of pity and compassion. (NEB)
2. Why, we call those who showed such endurance happy! You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen what the Lord brought out of it, for the Lord is very kind and merciful. (Goodspeed)
b. Job 42:10 gives us the end of Job's story. The Lord turned the captivity of Job and gave him twice as much as he had before. That is consistent with what Jesus shows us about God. Jesus came to set captives free, to deliver men from bondage. Isa 61:1; Luke 4:18; Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38; etc.
1. God is a deliver (Ps 34:6,17,19). He does not afflict people only to deliver them. If He did, that would be a house divided against itself (Matt 12:24-26).
2. The Book of Job is not about God afflicting one of His servants for some purpose. It is about God getting a captive free because He is merciful and compassionate. If that's not what you got out of reading, you didn't read it right.
3. People look at Job's story and ask: “Why did this happen?” People try to use Job to explain why people suffer. But, the book does not deal with the “why” question.
a. The Book of Job actually shows the futility of asking why. Job asked “why” at least twenty times. He and his friends all speculated about why bad was happening to Job.
1. All four of them were wrong in their conclusions as to why it happened and all four of them were rebuked by God for trying to figure it out.
2. The Bible does not specifically say why bad happened to Job. It gives general information about suffering, but not specific details about Job. That's not the point of the book.
b. Others presume that because bad happened to Job it must be the will of God for trouble to come into people's lives. However, just because something happens does not mean it is the will of God.
1. If that's the case then it's God's will for people to sin and go to hell because people sin and go to hell. You can't look at anyone's experience, including Job's, to determine the will of God.
2. Paul's fellow laborer, Demas, “backslide” and Judas betrayed Jesus. Clearly, neither man's experience was the will of God. II Tim 4:10; Luke 22:3,4
C. The Book of Job itself tells us that Satan, not God, brought destruction into Job's life. It is Satan steals, kills, and destroys (John 10:10). That is what happened to Job.
1. Yes, some would say, but God allowed it. After all, the devil is God's devil and God uses him to deal with His people. However, nowhere does the Bible call Satan God's agent or God's perfecting tool.
a. Satan is called a foe. The Hebrew word translated Satan in Job means an opponent, an adversary.
1. The Holy Spirit is identified as the Teacher of God's people and the Word of God is His teaching tool. John 14:26; Eph 6:17; II Tim 3:16,7; etc.
2. Think about it: God sees one of His children who is getting into some “junk” and needs correction. God says: This job is too big for his pastor. It's too big for the Holy Ghost. I'll use the devil to help my wayward son get back on track. Can you see how illogical that is?
b. If Satan is God's perfecting agent, how can we resist Satan and “refuse not God's chastening” at the same time? We are instructed to do both. James 4:7; I Pet 5:8,9; Heb 12:5-7
2. Yes, some would say, but didn't God draw Satan's attention to Job, initiating the whole thing? Job 1:8
a. The Book of Job opens with a description of Job (1:1-6), records a conversation between God and the devil about Job (1:6-12), then records a second conversation (2:1-6).
b. No one has full understanding of what happened here. A face-to-face conversation between God and Satan is beyond our understanding at this point in our existence. Consider these points.
1. If you have ten verses that clearly say one thing and one verse that seems to say something different, you don't throw out the ten in favor of the one. You assume you do not yet have full understanding of the one verse and put it on the shelf until you have more understanding.
2. We cannot use an unclear passage to support our preconceived religious ideas about how God treats people. We have to walk in the light of what is clearly revealed. Jesus who shows us God did not afflict people or “allow” the devil to afflict people, so God did not do that to Job.
3. If we take a closer look at these verses which seem to identify God as the source of Job's problems (if not directly, then indirectly) we'll see that God was in no way responsible for what happened to Job.
a. In Job 1:8 God said to Satan: Have you considered my servant Job? From that verse, people deduce that God pointed Job out to Satan and thereby initiated all of Job's troubles.
1. The word “considered” in Hebrew, is LEB, which means the heart. v8--And Jehovah said unto the Adversary, Hast thou set thy heart against my servant Job? (Young's Literal Translation)
2. Notice, in v8 the Lord spoke to Satan about Job and pointed out Job's spiritual characteristics.
Yet, Satan knew Job was wealthy (v9,10). How did he know? God did not mention it to him.
3. This shows us that Satan already knew who Job was, had his eye on him, and had already set himself against Job. Satan goes about seeking people to devour.
b. Job 2:3 repeats the statement and gives a further detail. It says that Satan moved God to destroy Job. Move means to stimulate. v3--You did incite me (Berkeley); entice me (Moffatt).
1. Satan has no power over God to entice God to do anything. If the second part of the verse (Satan moved God) can't mean what it seems to say, then, it is not unreasonable to say that the first part of the verse (hast thou considered Job) can't mean what it seems to say, either.
2. The Septuagint translation makes this clearer. v3--Still he retained his innocence; so that thou hast ordered the destruction of his property, without accomplishing thy purpose.
c. In Job 1:12 God said to Satan: All that Job has is in your power. With this statement, some say that God gave Satan permission to attack Job. That can't be the case because it is contrary to the revelation of God given to us in Jesus in the New Testament.
1. In v12 God is stating a fact. Job was already in Satan's power because he was born into a fallen race in a sin cursed earth. Gen 1:26; Luke 4:6; II Cor 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; etc.
2. Because of the fall of Adam, every human being is born into the devil's kingdom of darkness. That is one reason why a new birth is necessary -- so we can be taken out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God. Col 1:13; Acts 26:18; etc.
4. Many of our misconceptions about what happened to Job come from statements Job himself made: Job 1:21--The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; Job 2:10--Shall we not receive evil as well as good from the hand of thee Lord?; Job 13:15--Though He slay me, I will trust Him; etc., etc.
a. You must understand that although everything in the Bible is truly stated, not everything is true. For example, the Pharisees said Jesus was a sinner (John 9:13-16,24). That is not a true statement, but, it is truly stated. Those men actually made these statements and they are accurately recorded.
b. There are many statements in Job which are accurately recorded, but they are not accurate statements. We cannot make doctrine out of them or use them to explain our situation.
1. The verses we referred to above (Job 1:21; 13:15; 2:10), sound right because we've heard them so much. But, these statements contradict other verses in the Bible. James 1:17
2. Consider some other less well known statements Job made. Although they are accurately recorded, they are clearly inaccurate. Job 6:4; 7:12-20; 9:17,22-24; 10:13-17 (Living Bible)
c. In fairness to Job, he had much less light than we have. Job is possible the oldest book in the Bible. Job lived during the period of the Patriarchs (Abraham to Moses). He wasn't even an Old Covenant man. His picture of God was incomplete, and there is no hint that he had any knowledge of the workings of Satan behind the scenes.
D. When Job is mentioned, thoughts like these immediately pop into our minds: God permits bad to happen to us sometimes because He knows best. God permits the devil to afflict us because He knows we're strong enough to take it. God uses the devil to test us and refine through suffering. etc.; etc.
1. We don't realize that those ideas aren't based on what the scriptures say but on clichés that have build up over 2,000 years. Satan has worked through religion to undermine our trust in God's goodness
a. The first Christians would never have thought any of those things when Job was mentioned. The only New Testament reference to Job in James (possibly the earliest epistle) makes that clear.
b. James 5:11 points to the goodness of God and the end of Job's ordeal, commending his patience. 1. Patience means to stay under, remain. The same word is translated endure earlier in the verse. 2. Despite severe affliction, Job stayed faithful to God and the scripture commends him for that.
c. Consider other verses found in James: James 1:17--Only good gifts come from God. James 4:7-- Resist the devil and he will flee. James 1:13--Let no one, undergoing trial, be saying that “From God am I undergoing trial,” for God is not tried by evils, yet He is trying no one. (Concordant Lit.)
2. The fact that Job is referenced in James is no accident. James' epistle begins with an exhortation: James 1:2-4--Reckon it nothing but joy (Weymouth) my brethren, when you encounter trials of every sort (Knox); Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith brings out endurance and steadfastness and patience (Amp). Endurance must do its work thoroughly, if you are to be men full- grown in every part, nothing lacking in you (Moffatt). Consider these points.
a. Trials test our faith: Will you continue to believe and obey despite what you see and feel? The trials of life don't create patience. They give you an opportunity to express or exercise patience. b. If you will persevere or endure (exercise patience) in your hardship, the end result is that you will make it through the trial and come through the other side perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
1. James 1:12 repeats the idea that the man who endures, who stands firm in trials, will be blessed. Then, in James 5:11 the Holy Spirit, through James, commends Job's endurance. 2. Job encountered great trials and troubles, but he endured, and ended up with twice as much as he had before. What about the loss of his children? He was reunited with them at his death.
E. Conclusion: We have not said all we need to say about Job. But, consider these points as we close.
1. We really don't care about Job. Our concern is: Will anything like that happen to me? Is this why I'm having all these troubles? Am I a modern-day Job?
a. If you are a modern-day Job, praise the Lord!! Job's trials only lasted nine to twelve months, God delivered him out of all of it, and restored to Job twice as much as he had before.
b. I can't tell you that you won't have trouble. But I can tell you: We have to deal with the fear of “what if?” If the worst thing that could possible happen happens, it's not bigger than God. Job saw his kids again. Even the biggest loss is temporary.
c. If you can learn to respond rather than react you'll open the door to God's power to lift you up above in the midst of the trouble. That is one way God gets you through until He gets you out.
2. The Book of Job should be a source of inspiration and encouragement for us, not a source of fear. Job is a story of redemption. It is a story of God delivering a man from trouble. The Book of Job shows us the mercy and kindness of God who redeems His people from bondage and it shows us the blessings of perseverance or endurance. More next week!