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Faithlife

Job 40 and 42

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Huh, I don’t get it?

Intro:

Secular - The light glints off the shiny metal. The beads of sweat roll down the brow of an unshaven man; his ruddy complexion is hidden behind a mask. With incredible force he drives the blade into the flesh of a young man who is unaware of what is about to take place. The spray of blood, the crunch of bones…

And the skilled physician in his surgical mask prevents the young man from dying by removing his leg; a leg badly damaged in a horrific car accident… an injury that left unattended would have caused him to bleed to death.

Despite the fact that this action was very necessary it appeared by the simple play by play account to be a gruesome account of murder when in actual fact it was an act of love and mercy by a trained medical professional – we went from an Huh, I don’t get it? To Oh, now I get it! Or as Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

Biblical - The Bible recounts many cases of people who just didn’t get it! Simon the Sorcerer was just such a fellow…

NIV Acts Chapter 8 -  9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them…starting again at verse 17 - 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money 19 and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." 20 Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

Simon didn’t understand the gift of the Spirit. He related it to his own importance and didn’t appear to see how God was at work. For Simon it was a… Huh, I don’t get it… moment.

Personal – Have you ever prayed and prayed for something. Ever desired something so much that you could almost taste the sweetness of its fulfillment. You were praying in concert with Scripture. You were not selfish in your request… you believed wholeheartedly that God wanted this for you… you believed wholeheartedly that God wanted this for your church… but no matter how great your faith and petitioning, God has withheld this… have you ever wondered Huh, I don’t get it? Job wondered this. He tried to understand why it was that he, who was blameless before God and faithful to God, was subject to such severe torment. Job was crying out to God… not only Huh, I don’t get it … but why me Lord, why me? I deserve better than this!! God heard his cries and responded…

Let’s look at God and Job’s interaction.  We will look at Chapter 40:1-14 and 42:1-6.

Let’s see how God responds to Job’s cry and then we’ll look at some background info.

NIV Job 40:1 The LORD said to Job: 2 "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!"

The “Let him who accuses God” is the Hebrew word rASyI that means – one who reproves, coming from the idea of discipline and chastening… chastening God?  

0877.0 rs;y" (y¹sar) discipline, chasten, instruct.

(877a) rASyI (yissôr) one who reproves. Only in Job 40:2,

(877b) rs'Wm (mûs¹r) discipline. 

Doesn’t it just make the static run up your back and make your hair stand on end? Yahweh speaking from a cloud says to Job, you got a complaint against God!… You are accusing me!! We all cry out to the Lord in anguish and the Lord would have it no other way. We are to bring our burdens to him. As his adopted children it would be insulting to God if we failed to recognize his Fatherly love and concern.

** Imagine as a parent your child falling and scraping his knee... the blood and tears dripping… the child falls to the ground and curls up into a ball on the front lawn and weeps. Your child is fully capable of coming to you, but refuses… they shun your hugs and compassion, they turn away from you in their pain.

God wants us to call on him, to lean on him. But to accuse God of injustice!

Background: What led Job to bring this accusation against God? Well Job was a worthy servant of God. Job 1:1 says There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. As a beacon of right living, Job became the target of Satan. As a test of his worthiness God allowed Job to be tested, this testing illustrated that God’s love is not tied to material goods or temporal hope. God’s love is tied to God’s freedom. This testing incorporated the loss of his family (lost 3 girls & 7 boys and all his servants), the loss of all his possession ( a sheep or camel or two… thousand) and eventually the loss of his good health (wound up sitting in the ashes scraping his wounds). As he suffered,  there are recorded numerous discourses between Job and his friends… in these discourses Job received all kinds of advice from his friends...  friends is a term I might use loosely. ** You know the old adage… when advice is free you get what you paid for. It was never truer than in Job’s case. His friends viewed his suffering as punishment for sins he had committed in his life. Job’s reaction… he defended himself against the charges and then lashed out at God. Like we all do ** now come on… admit it there are points in everyone’s life where they have been stretched beyond breaking and we cry out God why! GOD WHY!! And even “God I do not deserve this… God why did you do this to me?” God expects it... he expects his children to react passionately to the challenges of life. But there is a line… GOD WHY!! And even God I do not deserve this… God why did you do this to me… this is not right or fair? – That was the line that Job crossed. He called into question the very nature of God… God’s justice. Job crossed the line when he declared his own blamelessness and therefore inferred that God acted outside his nature in allowing his suffering and testing… it was then that he grieved God, when he wanted to make God subject to his rules of conduct.

AND NOW God wants to know what right Job has to question or reprove him!! (Let him who accuses God answer him)

Now for real fear and trembling…

Job 40:3 Then Job answered the LORD and said, 4 "Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 "Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more."

Have you ever felt like oh-gee now I’ve done it. Can you imagine old Job? All scabby and sore and sitting in the ashes and thinking oh no how bad is this going to get? Man he hasn’t seen anything if he keeps getting God upset. Old Job well… he starts back peddling, back peddling so fast that he could have rode up the side of Everest backwards on a tricycle. And he says I am a twerp Lord… a teeny tiny little twerp who didn’t mean anything… The Hebrew word he uses is ll;q' (q¹lal) be slight, trifling, of little account. I am a nobody Lord and boy do I know it. And he adds in verse 5 And I am not going to say another word… nope… I am done… mouthed zipped nothing more to say.

Recap: So let’s look back God challenged Job on his call for fairness and to be treated ‘rightly’. Job’s response was oh-no what have I done… I had better just sit down and be quiet… who am I to question God?

** Okay this one is for the sports enthusiast. Have you ever been in a Titanic struggle, whether in sports or other combative venue. There is that adrenaline filled moment , that moment when you correctly size up your opponent and find out you are severely outmatched and instantly you had a real sinking feeling… yikes. And you cried for Mommy (well felt like it anyway)… Not only does Job quickly recognize that he had misrepresented God, God’s justice and God’s freedom but God is about to give Job a tongue-lashing he will never forget!

6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:

7 "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.

 ** Here it comes… wouldn’t you love to take his pulse or blood pressure right about now?

 8 "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

 9 Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his?

 10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. ** I’d like to see it.

 11 Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low,

 12 look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand.

 13 Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.

 14 Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.

The idea of power is swirling in the storm and God is beginning to mount the challenge to Job. When we challenge God, he may not appear to us… we may not hear the thundering voice from the cloud immediately but He will bring us to account one day. So just as Job stood before God, cowering and silent, so will we one day face the judgment seat and have to answer to God for our challenges.

Would you discredit my justice? Oh the times we’ve prayed and questioned God about fulfillment, Oh the times things haven’t gone our way and can be quick to blame it on Satan –  but it is God who is the sovereign… Satan only works as God allows… When God tests us and refines us… it is not a painless process. We needn’t question God’s love or justice when we cannot perceive the motives or when we deem the results to be unsatisfactory by our standards. God is free! God is not subject to what we believe is right, He is the standard!!

Next we address the Arm of God

** Hey, Venice Beach… eat your heart out. Venice Beach is that place in California where all the muscle bound brutes workout at on-the-beach gyms and flash their muscles to all who will gaze.

The Lord says to Job… Do you have an arm like God's? Wow no contest… God has way bigger biceps!! The Hebrew word [;Arz> (z®rôa`) arm, shoulder, strength. Sorry… not even close Job. This is a reference to the power of Almighty God. Or how about speaking as the thunder, a voice that drips with power, that exudes majesty, that is witness to the divine orator… come on Job show us your stuff. Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.

Beaten and wishing he was dead, parked among the ashes, covered in sores – and God hammers it home. Equal with me… able to judge me… Then show me your wrath, bring the proud low, humble them… go ahead.

The word wrath or anger is translated elsewhere

Exodus

21 "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

 22 "You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.

 23 "If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry;

 24 and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

God’s anger is raised against injustice… kind of ironic… well Job?

Paraphrasing verse 11 - If little old you can bury these individuals then I will consider you worthy to make this judgment  Send the wicked ones to the grave and return them to dust as I pronounced in the curse.

Gen 3:19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."

Oh Job, God continues this for another 44 verses. I know that you got the point… we are going to study it in Chapter 42. The question is have we got the point yet?

Recap: So let’s look back, God challenged Job on his call for fairness and to be treated ‘rightly’… the question of justice. Job’s response was oh-no what have I done… I am in soooo much trouble. But what is the response? God doesn’t respond by saying… okay this is why my faithful servant had to suffer. God responded, I am the God of Creation, the Powerful God that administers justice and is Lord over all… so there. God is Free. He is free to act according to his own will and is not subject to our trifling whimsy or mortal sense of justice. God is above and beyond our comprehension. God is free!

Let’s look at the response:

NAU Job 42:1 Then Job answered the LORD and said,

 2 "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

 3 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' "Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."

 4 'Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.'

 5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You;

 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes."

Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Job gets it! Job understands the point of the divine speech. God made it very clear that He is the all-powerful Lord over creation. It is the sovereign will of God that ‘reigns in’ evil and brings to pass all that He has ordained. Elmer Smick, in his commentary, puts it this way, “Job opened his mouth to tell God that he had gotten the message: God’s purpose is all that counts, and since He is God He is able to bring it to pass. There is nothing else Job needed to know – only, perhaps, that this that this Sovereign of the universe was his friend.” A point made in 42:7-8.

** In tumultuous times, whether at home or school or work… or yes even occasionally in our church, we begin to wonder is this what God had intended. Is God endorsing or behind my anguish? We sing the chorus Refiner’s Fire but do we understand what we are asking! Refine us Lord, heat us up, melt us , mold us, burn off our impurities! This is no sugar coated relationship we are asking for! We are asking to be refined into his tools, his people, for his sovereign purposes.

We read in Zech 13:9

9 "And I will bring the third part (God’s chosen) through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

God is molding us into his people. Testing us to recognize our gifts, calling us to serve, challenging us to love our neighbour more and to draw nearer to an awesome God. We are tested not because we have sinned or Satan has been turned loose on us. We are tested because we are being refined, tested because God’s purposes will not be thwarted, tested because God is free… Free as the Creator to do as He pleases with all creation according to his own will for his ultimate glory.

3 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' "Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know."

The opening of verse 3 is Job restating a question asked by God - 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Or who are you to make decisions about things about which you have no idea.  Job is being reminded of his place in relation to the divine. Job was guilty of making uniformed or misinformed decisions (remember the friends… they were not exactly wise counsel). Job responds by confessing his mistake. He recognizes his shortcomings. He declares that he did not understand. We need to remember this behaviour – we need to remember to bow down before God and ask for forgiveness when we presume to know better. When we presumptuously assume to know things that are ‘too wonderful’. What does the author mean by wonderful The Hebrew word is  al'P' pala  Meaning: to be surpassing or extraordinary  or difficult. The things of God are far beyond our comprehension, they are too wonderful for the human mind to conceive. Every day of the life of every human being has been foreordained by the God – The Psalmist says. In Psalm 139 - 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

There is no way that we could ever understand how God would weave together all the people of history to accomplish his purposes. How a family crisis in 1975 could be the seed of salvation set in the mind of young girl or how the plane crash of a Payne Stewart could reach out and touch lives of thousands because his faith was so evident and so prevalent in the coverage after his death – our disasters are God’s triumphs, used for his ultimate glory. Job is now getting the message.

4Job continues to quote the Lord saying  'Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.'

God used this line to open the discourse we have been studying and the one in chapter 38. It plays heavily on the irony of the Divine asking the mortal for instruction. It is the exclamation point to verse 3 where Job disclosed that he knows God has the answers, the Lord is the answer. No more Huh, I don’t get… But Lord… you are coming in loud and clear!!

5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You;

Job heard God and knew him. He was faithful to God’s command and was ‘blameless’. But the picture wasn’t totally clear. Job’s understanding of God had been incomplete. He saw God in the simple obedience equals prosperity model. It was his puzzlement at his predicament that gives weight to the argument, I have been faithful and have prospered yet while still faithful I have lost all that I owned, I have lost all of my family including my heirs and my servants. And physically I am a mess. I have lost everything! He knew that he had not brought these conditions on by being sinful - he is described as faithful to God and he defended his character before the assails of his so-called friends. But this little one-one conversion with God has peeled back the blinders and Job now recognizes that God is not bound to materially reward faithfulness, that loyal service does not mean that we will not face trials. Job’s eyes are opened and he sees God, the Creator, the Almighty in sovereign control of all things. That nothings slips past God, he doesn’t make mistakes and is not bound to our sense of justice – God is free. Free to be God. Free to test us and cause trials. Free to reward, free to withhold. Free to answer prayer the way we hope and free to answer prayer contrary to our hope – All of this is God exercising sovereignty for his ultimate glory and honour.

Upon his recognition Job says, “6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes." Job withdraws his comments about the injustice done to him. He has recognized that to challenge the Divine right of God was to step way in over his head. To challenge the wisdom of God was to err grievously. To in some way question the justice of the Creator of the Universe for his predicament was wrong. And he repented. He turned away from his old notion, and embraced his new fuller understanding of God. He recognized God’s place in the universe and accepted his humble role.

Application: What then has Job taught us?

1)       We can, as God’s children, rant to God. We are allowed to complain, ask for help, get angry, and shed tears. But what we are not allowed to do is question God’s justice.  When we experience a problem, a trial, a prayer answered no instead of yes, a period of suffering – we need to recognize that God in his freedom and sovereignty can choose to pursue whatever means, which are consistent with his will, to achieve his ultimate end – to bring glory and honour to himself.

2)      Job helped to teach us our place in relation to the divine. We are not to speak out against God. We are allowed to wonder why and pray for discernment and seek counsel. But if we recognize God as sovereign we must be careful not to charge him with injustice or ill intent. As children of the Kingdom there is no temporal suffering that doesn’t pale in the light of eternity with God. As we look at the way trials unfold we need to seek God’s face and his will as a guide to direct our paths – not by challenging God but by being faithful to him and looking to bring him glory and honour.

3)       Job taught us that sometimes err and fail to accept how God works, when we challenge him we need to repent of our action. In times of trial when our heart is breaking over an untimely passing of a friend or family member, we may unjustly call out to God and question his goodness. Or when mountains of prayer have been committed to something that doesn’t come to pass. And we challenge God. God is not bound by mere mortal ethics – He sets the standards – it is his game, his rules. But his rules ultimately serve his good and we will be partakers of his good for eternity!

God is Free to exercise his sovereign will over all of creation. And though like the play by play of the operation that seemed gruesome and unfair – God’s sees the big picture. God sees suffering that brings glory, he sees his end achieved, He sees his will done. God is free.

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