Biography – Job - Trusting God Despite Suffering!
Mr. Job - describe your life for us?
A biography is a written account of another person's life.[i] If you were to turn on A & E this weekend you would find biographies on Sarah Jessica Parker, Jeffrey Dahmer and Kylie Minogue who is an Australian global music star having sold over 40 million records over a 20 year career.[ii] Based on a person’s bio, let’s play name that person!
He was born on July 13, 1962 in Syracuse, New York. He was the lead vocalist for the New York-based band The Tearjerkers. He is an actor, comedian and voice actor. His wife’s name is Jill Talley and they have two children. His middle name is James but most people know him as Tom. You might not recognize his face, as much as his voice. (Video-Tom Kenny) Tom Kenny has been the voice of SpongeBob since it’s inception in 1999. Kenny has voiced characters in over 200 productions including Scooby Doo and the Powerpuff girls![iii]
This next one is a little harder! This woman was born in Tempe, Arizona in 1964. Although she was born in Arizona, she moved to Ohio when she was two and remained there her entire life. She has (3) three brothers and (2) two sisters. Her mom passed away when she was 6, but her Dad remarried a woman that loved the Lord and made church a priority. Her dad is always the life of the party, always joked with everyone and never met a stranger, but he now suffers with Alzheimer’s. She has been married for 24 years and has three wonderful daughters. Her purpose in life is “to love God with all her heart, soul, and mind and take others on that journey with her. Name this person! This is of course our own Lisa Davis! Did you know that this month Lisa celebrates 25 years of serving Jesus Christ in ministry! “Lisa, this is for you and Brian. We just want to say thanks for all you’ve done and will do for God and his kingdom!” I have one more bio. Turn in your Bibles to the Old Testament book of Job. I have a quick 1-2-3 for you! #1: Please fill out your communication card! #2: Don’t forget to sign up for Christ in You! Dr. Mark Moore is coming next weekend to teach on the Book of Matthew! #3: Do you need a Bible today? You will find Job on page 352. Today we begin a seven week biography series called “Job. Trusting God Despite Suffering!” I’m not sure if I can get you to do this or not, but for the next seven weeks I want you to pretend that Job is sitting right here in this chair. I literally want to interview Job asking him these seven questions: Mr. Job - describe your life for us? // What role did Satan play in your suffering? // What role did God play in your suffering? // Did your wife become bitter or was she misunderstood? // Was your suffering the result of your own sin? // Was there ever a time in your life when you wondered if God knew what he was doing? // Were you able to overcome this personal time of suffering?
Today we’ll answer the first question, Mr. Job - describe your life for us? I want to do this in two ways. There are 39 books in the Bible that are both a person and a book. Genesis is a book, but Joshua, Nehemiah, Esther, Matthew – Job among others are both people and books. So let’s first look at Job as a book!
Does your Bible have a Table of Contents? Locate a pen. The Old Testament is divided into five major sections. The Law – Genesis thru Deuteronomy. History – Joshua thru Esther. The Prophets – both Major – Isaiah thru Daniel and minor Hosea thru Malachi. But smack dab in the middle of the OT you have the poetic or wisdom books starting with Job! Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. So Job is a wisdom book? Big deal? Derek Kidner wrote a book called, The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. Kidner said, “Where the bulk of the Old Testament calls us simply to obey and to believe, the wisdom books summon us to think hard as well as humbly; to keep our eyes open, to use our conscience and our common sense, and not to shirk the most disturbing questions.” It’s really unwise to avoid disturbing questions. Disturbing questions make you think. Does God enjoy wiping out men, women and children? Is God angry? Racist? AND Why do the righteous suffer? Let’s look at the big picture when it comes to the wisdom books. Proverbs are pithy little sayings about God’s ordered world. For instance, if you work hard, you will prosper, if you don’t, you won’t. I love Proverbs 12:1: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. So based on this Proverb I can conclude… Disciplined people can expect a blessed life while stupid people can expect a hard life. Proverbs is so rational and normal and then there’s Job! I am grateful to Scott Duvall and Daniel Hays in their book, Grasping God’s Word. “The book of Job demonstrates that there are often events in life that humans cannot grasp or understand through the wisdom approach in Proverbs. If we take both books together, we conclude that most of life is rational and can be understood. Some events in life, however, are inexplicable… Our wisdom approach of Proverbs fails us in these situations, and we are forced to rely on faith in the Creator. This is what we learn from Job.”[iv] The purpose of the book of Job is this, “God allows human suffering for His own purposes.”[v] Now in a nutshell, that’s the book of Job. I want to challenge you. In the next seven weeks read all 42 chapters of Job. Let’s now look at the person we call Job! Andrew Jensen is a minister and was hired at a church. The church wanted to introduce Andrew on his first Sunday so they placed a little blurb in their newsletter. They also needed to instruct people on their efforts to collect aid for victims of a recent hurricane. Unfortunately, but the center page of the church newsletter was accidentally omitted. So members of the congregation read from the bottom of the second page to the top of the last page and this is what they read, "Welcome to Rev. Andrew Jensen and his family ... the worst disaster to hit the area in this century. The full extent of the tragedy is not yet known.”[vi]
Job will soon feel allot like Andrew. Turn with me to Job 1:1. Eventually we’ll read the first 5 verses. Let’s start with verse 1. Abraham came from Ur. Job comes from Uz! Real people, real places. Strange sounding places, but none-the-less real! Do you know where Leonora is? Not the woman; the place? Leonora is in Australia. Have you ever heard of Midian? Midian is where Moses lived as a shepherd for 40 years. Most scholars believe Uz was located in Northern Arabia near Midian[vii]. My wife Tricia comes up with new words for our kids. Lately she’s been saying “perhaps.” “Perhaps we’ll go. Perhaps you can have a snack. Perhaps you can stay up late.” When it comes to Job – perhaps Job is a contemporary of Patriarchs? Perhaps Job lived sometime between 2000 and 1000 BC? Perhaps Job is the oldest book in the Bible? Find the end of verse 3. And he didn’t even drink Dos Equis! Obviously, Job did not author this book. Verse 3 would be a little self serving in my opinion. Perhaps it was Moses or Solomon or even Elihu[viii] found in Job. Perhaps! That’s speculation. But here are the facts! Let’s keep reading. (Job 1:1b-3) But what made him great? Blameless and upright does not mean sinless. Job had high moral integrity! He chose to fear God in his life. Fearing God will completely rearrange your priorities in life and ultimately make you wise. Dr. James Smith said, “Wisdom is the ability to observe life from the divine point of view.”[ix] That’s what made Job so great! He became wise because he feared God. Wisdom led him to live a life of personal consistency – two examples – his marriage and his kids. Look at verse 4. Catch this – each of Job’s sons owned a house. Seven sons – they celebrate seven days a week. What a lifestyle! Job is wealthy. His wealth has also made his sons and daughters wealthy! But in the midst of the celebrations maybe someone inadvertently sins. Too much to drink - a slip of tongue – cursing God is a big deal in Job! So just to be safe – I’ll offer up an animal sacrifice to atone for my kids sins! Is anyone thinking what I’m thinking right now? How could God do this to such a great man?
This past week I was required to attend a 2½ day retreat in Lakeside, Ohio. I spent this time with the same 21 people I traveled with to Israel last May. The reason for the retreat was to determine what we had learned from traveling to Israel. Allot of questions were asked. Here’s one! What has forged your faith in this life? Here were several answers. People, mentors – a minister, an older couple, a close friend. Someone to come alongside of you and show you the ropes of following God. Consistently being in the Bible. Reading and applying the Bible transforms your mind and produces faith! Praying and being prayed for. Time and time again someone would say – I knew my Grandma or my Mom or someone was praying for me. And then this answer. CRISIS! Do you honestly think you’re going to get out of this world unscathed? Not a single person you know will ever die! You can get a Flu shot that’s literally needle free. We try our best in this world to avoid pain at all costs and then we wonder why we’re so immature. Let’s ask Job one more time. “Mr. Job, describe your life for us?” I am a man who fears God. I’m not a perfect man. But I trust the one who is perfect. DO YOU? DO WE? Does anyone want to sit in Job’s seat? I admit to you. I don’t. But I long to know what Job knows about God and you can only get that by enduring suffering. If we ask the question, How could God do this to such a great man like Job, shouldn’t we also ask that of Jesus? Job was great, but Jesus was perfect! Why did God let the ultimate of righteousness suffer? Dairy Queen has a new marketing technique. (Watch this) Good isn’t good enough for DQ. Good isn’t good enough for God! So God gave up his son. Don’t you think that’s radically unfair? Do you believe God is being unfair to you? Come to him and pray, “God, I don’t get this. I don’t know the reason, but I trust you do!”
[iv] Duvall & Hays, Grasping God’s Word, 390-391
[v] Know Your Bible, 33
[vii] MacArthur Bible Commentary, 568
[viii] Life Application Bible Notes, Job, 1012
[ix] James E. Smith, The Old Testament Books Made Simple, 117