Job: Acknowledge the Sovereignty of God
(1:1-22, 13:15, 37:23-24) Pastor Heo
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. 4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. 6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. 13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” 20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “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.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
3:15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.
37:23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. 24 Therefore, people revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart? ”
No, but I like Job.
Nobody likes suffering, but as long as we live in this world, we cannot escape from suffering – thus, our attitude, response to suffering is very important.
In 66 Books of the Bible, they are not arranged in chron order, but writing style and topics.
Today, 5 books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) are Poetry style books.
Job has 42 chapters and among these:
- the first two chapters are the prologue,
- and the last 5 (38-42) – both are in prose style (essay style).
- From chp 3-37, this is poetry style.
As for Job, we don’t know who the author is, but we know is it is not fictional – Job is not imaginary – he really lived once in human history. Ex: Ezekiel – Noah, Daniel, Job in parallel are introduced as righteous men in their own time. If Job is imaginary, so are Noah and Daniel. But if Noah and Daniel are real, so is Job.
Actually, Job is probably the FIRST book (chronologically) in the Bible. We can guess that he lived in the period of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob). There are various reasons why we think this.
- Job lived 140 years more after this event (his lifespan must have been close to at least 200 years). Abraham lived 175 years.
- Job’s possessions and wealth are counted in terms of animals (not money).
- Like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job was the priest in his own family – he offered a burnt offering for his family members often.
In this story, Job lost EVERYTHING – children, possessions, physical health – and he wrestles with the question, “WHY? Why me?”
- The story begins with a debate between God and Satan –
- and journeys through a 3-stage debate between Job and his friends –
- and then finally comes to the conclusion of Job’s problems.
- At this point, he finally acknowledges the sovereignty of God – and then his possessions are DOUBLED.
Stage 1 (Chp 1):
In the land of Uz (Arabia) – was a righteous man, who shunned evil and lived rightly. He had many children and animals – he was the greatest, richest man in all the East.
One day, Satan appeared, and God boasted of him before Satan. What is the literal meaning of “Satan”? “Accuser” – so he carried out his job description and said, “wow, really? That’s because you blessed him. But if you don’t bless him, rather curse him, then he will curse you to your face.” God said, “Very well. Test him.” Job immediately lost everything – but he did not sin in his actions before God.
- What is the first thing he did after losing everything? Worship God. He knelt down and worshiped God (1:20~)
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. ‘He gives and takes away, but still my heart will say, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.’”
Then, after this, God boasted before Satan about Job. Again, Satan challenged this, (chp 2) “skin for skin” – “if you strike his body, he will curse you to your face.” “OK, fine, his body is yours, but his life is not.”
Immediately, Job was covered with boils – a terrible skin disease – and he took a piece of broken pottery and scraped his body while sitting on the ashes. Even his own wife said, “Geez, just curse God and die!” Job said, “You are speaking foolishly. Should we accept only good from God and not evil as well?”
Next, Job’s three elementary school buddies (best friends) – came to sympathize with him and sat with him. They only sat with him for 7 days and nights without speaking – only weeping. They didn’t even recognize their old friend. They saw how great his pain and suffering was.
Job finally broke the silence by cursing his birthday, “Oh, if I’d never been born it would be much better for me than to suffer like this.” – Even still, he did not curse God.
Stage 2 (Debate):
- Now, the debate begins (chp 3-14) between the 3 friends.
- Then, round 2 (chp 15-21)
- Round 3 (chp 22-31)
There are three cycles of debates here. Maybe they were best friends to Job – of ALL the people who knew him (he was rich and influential) – only they came and sat with him for 7 days without talking.
Yet, as their debate went on, they also accused Job. “Your suffering PROVES you did something wrong against God. Repent!”
At first, they came as friends, but later they became judges, teachers, fighters. They fought with their tongues.
- LESSON: Before those who are suffering, do not become a judge. Mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice.
Elihu (important) began to speak later (chp 32-37). He was very angry with Job because Job did not repent before them, but continually justified himself. Also, he was angry with his three friends who did not beat Job in the debate.
Stage 3 (God speaks):
Finally, chp 38-42, God FINALLY appears.
- Speech 1: God reveals his POWER as physical creator and sustainer of all the world. Job acknowledged his ignorance.
- Speech 2: God reveals his SOVEREIGNTY and that he can control the uncontrollable. Job acknowledged God’s sovereignty.
If Job could not understand God’s way in the physical world, then HOW could he possibly understand God’s way in the spiritual world?
Actually, God makes ZERO reference to Job’s suffering, but Job gets the message. After he acknowledges the sovereignty of God, he is restored DOUBLY. (7 sons, 3 daughters at first = again 7 sons, 3 daughters later)
Stage 4 (Restoration):
From 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys + 7 sons, 3 daughters (chp 1) to:
Job 42:10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. 12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters.
Main Topic of Job:
But, what we must understand about Job = suffering is NOT the main topic. Rather, the focus is on what Job LEARNS from his suffering. That is the sovereignty of God over all creation. “God is God all the time.”
He is worthy to be praised, honored, worshiped, believed, recognized, trusted in ANY and all circumstances. Yes, nobody likes suffering, but as long as we live in this world, no one can escape them.
Jesus, “While in this world, you will have troubles of many kinds, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”
Yes, we will have suffering, but ONE suffering can have two sides.
- On the one hand, it comes from God to bring out the BEST in our lives,
- but at the same time, it comes from Satan to bring out the WORST in our lives.
- The suffering may be a TEST from God to bring out our BEST.
- OR the suffering may be a TEMPTATION from Satan to bring out our WORST.
It all depends on our attitude.
- James “Rejoice, therefore in suffering, for you know that suffering produces perseverence and brings you up into the way that God wants.”
- Romans – in faith, our suffering produces perseverance, character, hope. This hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.
Yes, we must be clear in our attitude toward suffering because as long as we are in this world, we cannot escape suffering.
In conclusion, let me say at least EIGHT benefits (purposes) of suffering. Yes, there is no question GOD IS GOOD – righteous – kind – wise – Almighty. If God is like that, then WHY allow his loving children to suffer? We must be clear about the answer to this question. “Why do the righteous suffer IF God is good, righteous, and Almighty?”
The 8 Purposes of Suffering:
1. To produce fruit
Everybody understands this lesson from the natural world. Jesus says, “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed, but if it dies, it produces many seeds – and trees – and fruit.” We know that to fall on the ground and be buried under the ground is a BIG suffering to this seed, but without this, there is no tree.
“No pain, no gain; no cross, no crown; no suffering, no fruit.”
2. To silence our enemy
Our struggle is against spirits and powers not of this world (Satan).
In this story, Job has blessings within this world. God allowed him to be tested to prove that Job did not worship God because of material things, but because of WHO GOD IS.
3. To glorify our Father God
This is also our final purpose in this world. In John 9: “As for a man born blind, his disciples asked Jesus, ‘Who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?’ Jesus, ‘Neither. This happened to him so that the work of God might be revealed in his life.’”
Also, Lazarus, “Jesus said, ‘His sickness will not end in death. This is for the glory of God. If you believe, you will see the glory of God. I am the Resurrection and the Life, and whoever believes in me will live and never die.’”
4. To make us like Jesus – our final example, model, perfector of our faith
- Phil 3:10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
- 1 Peter 1 “To this you were called, because our Lord Jesus suffered as an example that you should follow in his steps.”
Whenever you are suffering, meditate (ponder) on HOW MUCH Jesus suffered for us on the cross. There is no suffering in this world that can compare to THAT.
Yes, suffering is permitted by God in this world as long as we live.
5. To teach us dependence on God (to make us humble)
To experience the power of God.
Remember the story of Paul? He was a great man of faith and power – he performed many miracles by trusting in God – he was called up to “the third heaven” and received much revelation from God. But, to keep him from becoming too proud, a sickness (thorn) was put in his body. Paul pleaded 3 times to remove it, but God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul said, “Therefore, let me boast all the more in my weakness, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When I am weak, I can experience the POWER of Christ through my weakness.
6. To refine our lives
To prove our faith genuinely, really, truly.
Yes, we all like precious stones like silver, gold, diamonds. The crucible refines silver, the furnace refines gold (Proverbs) – yes, fire and pressure refines diamonds and gold – like this, suffering refines our lives.
7. To rebuke our sins
To correct us, to return us to God, as punishment and discipline.
Parents know this well. If children do something wrong, you rebuke, sometimes hit, to correct your children. Yet, if other people do something wrong, we do not rebuke them.
- Hebrews “God receives us as sons and daughters. Do not lose heart when he rebukes you, for God disciplines those he loves. If we are not disciplined, we are not children. God disciplines us for our good so that we may share in his righteousness, holiness, and joy.”
8. To enlarge our ministries to others
God is the God of compassion and all comfort. This is a VERY IMPORTANT point.
Nobody likes suffering, but nobody can escape suffering while in this world. Everyone needs comfort.
- (You suffer so you can help others who will later endure the same suffering.)
Do you need comfort? Yes, everyone needs comfort. Know that TRUE comfort only comes from God. God is the God of ALL comfort.
I need comfort, but comfort cannot come from me.
All comfort comes from God alone. So how can we comfort others? We cannot give comfort directly, but we can be a channel of God’s comfort.
When suffering, I can share God’s comfort with others. This is one secret why he allows suffering in this world – so that we will become a channel for his comfort to others who are suffering.
Fear God, acknowledge his sovereignty over all creation, and you will overcome suffering – you will be free from the fear of suffering.
Fear God to not fear anything else.
Let’s close our eyes and take some time to talk with God personally.
Yes, nobody likes suffering, but we cannot escape. We all need comfort, and we can experience that comfort from God. We then share that comfort and compassion and mercy with others who are also suffering.
God is God all the time.
Do not worry about suffering, for God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
Let’s pray collectively.