We are beginning a series today on the story of Job. Do you ever feel like Job?
One day I greeted somebody and asked ďHow are you doing?Ē ďNot good. Troubles. Troubles. When it rains it pours!Ē I donít like troubles either. Neither do I like to exist in the rain. Almost everyone would rather have sunshine than showers. It would kind of be nice if it never rained again.
There is such a place. It is in Northern Chile between the great Andes mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. There is a 100% chance of sunshine EVERY day. That is what they claim. You can see the storms far out over the sea, but the sun continues to shine on this favored paradise. Would you like to live there? Not me. Because it is a sterile and desolate desert with no streams and no water. Nothing grows there.
We all want perfect weather. And we all want a perfect life with no trouble and no pain. But I will tell you that these things are the very materials that God uses to make us beautiful. If you doubt this, read 1 Peter 4:12, 13. You know, life without trials would not be creative, would not be productive, or challenging. We need the sunshine and the showers. They are actually showers of blessing to us.
Have you ever felt like Job? I have felt like Job at times. My wife has felt like Job. Youíve had some troubles. Actually Job did not deserve his troubles. Job was a righteous man. You can see that in Job 1:1, 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.
Job feared God. Oswald Chambers said: ďThe remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else.Ē So fear the Lord. That is the sign, the mark, of a good Christian.
Now Job was rich in character, rich in cash and rich in children. He was a wealthy man. Well balanced. In Job 1:3 it says he was the greatest of all the people of the east. This means that in todayís terms he was a billionaire. His children were all millionaires. Each of Jobís seven sons had his own home and a place in the family business.
Think about some children from some wealthy families. Their kids are spoiled and suffer from a lack of love. They have all the money they could ever want, but some still become lonely brats, diving deep into drugs and sin. Someone said: Cocaine is Godís way of telling you that you have too much money in your pocket and too much time on your hands.
On the other hand, Jobís ten children were model youngsters. They were obedient, hard working, and happy. Job 1:4 says his sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. There would be parties and merrymaking and feasting which lasted for several days. They were a happy family united by honest labor and sweet success.
Job was also a man of prayer. Job 1:5 says, When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them 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.
Father Job prayed for his children on a regular basis. He was an intercessor mediating on a regular basis in behalf of each of his children. You know, you parents need to be intercessors for your children. You need to pray for their forgiveness. You need to pray for your children in a very specific way that maybe you havenít prayed before. Pray on a regular basis. Good parents do that for their children. Pray for them when they are growing up and you need to pray for them when they are adults and still need to grow up. Do you have any kids like that?
Next, the curtain of the invisible world is lifted and we are privy to Godís monthly board meeting up in heaven. Would you like to go to a board meeting in heaven and see what goes on up there? Well here we are privy to that. All the regular members were there, according to verse six. The angels were there to report but suddenly, in barges a cantankerous devil of a fellow. Most boards have one. Maybe two. He came to disrupt, to dominate to criticize, not to help. Not to grow.
Now Satan shares some of his job description with us. Do you know what part? Look at Job 1:7 The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." Satan is roaming around like a caged lion. He admits to his vagabond nature of seeking victims throughout the earth, seeking whom he may devour. See 1 Peter 5:8. Satan is obsessed with evil . And he wants his followers to be evil. He hates righteousness and goodness. So, this rebel has been out walking to and fro over the earth. Fortunately God also has appointed good agents to also go throughout the earth. See Zechariah 1:10. So itís balanced.
I donít think Satan was on Godís agenda when he barged into that board meeting. And the devil is certainly not on my agenda. Sometimes he comes uninvited. In fact, he always comes uninvited. Do you ever invite the devil? You donít have to invite him, he just comes in unannounced where he is not wanted and he always brings trouble in his wake. What was Satan doing up in Heaven anyway? You know, I just donít like the idea of the fact that the devil is up in heaven. Did you ever think about that? I think he was still allowed to attend the councils like he did before Adamís sin. But I think that after Jesus rose victoriously from the tomb, Satan was quarantined or barred from going up to heaven anymore and confined to this earth.
But some think Satanís headquarters are in Hell. Actually his headquarters are in this world. You see, the truth is that Hell is not even in operation yet. When does hell get cranked up? Well, at the last day. You know, after the millennium there when the fire comes down this whole world will be hell someday. See Revelation 20:10 and onward. Today he rules right here from this earth. This is his kingdom because we have allowed and even invited him in. Revelation 12:9, John 12:31, John 16:11, I Peter 5:8 You can read a lot of texts.
Today he is barred from heaven, but attends church. Do you think the devil attends church? Do you he thinks he just wanders around out there in the country but when he gets to a church he shies away from it? Oh no! He barges right into the church. Thatís what the devil does. How do we know that? ďSatan came also among them (Job 1:6), not to bow before the Eternal King, but to further his own malicious designs against the righteous. With the same object he is in attendance when men assemble for the worship of God. Though hidden from sight, he is working with all diligence to control the minds of the worshipers.Ē [Great Controversy. EG White, p. 518] The devil wants you to sleep in church. The devil wants you to think about the balance in your check book during the sermon. The devil wants to interrupt your worship of God.
And Satan came to challenge God. But God read his mind. God knew the Tempterís thoughts about Job. What do you think the devil was thinking about Job and about God? I believe that Satan thought that God had to buy Jobís loyalty. Thatís what I think he was thinking.
And so God said ďhave you considered my servant Job?Ē The devil said ďHow did you know? Iíve been thinking about him, yes I have!Ē And Satan replied here in Job 1:10,11 ĒHave 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. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.Ē
ďHe will do it, mark my wordĒ the devil says. Heíll curse you if you remove his possessions. If you let him go broke. If you let the money run out. You remove all those things. Heíll curse you to your face.
Well you know God holds us with a loose hand. With at hand of freedom. We are not chained to the cross. God said well, go ahead, Iíll take the hedge and remove it mostly and you can touch all that he has. And Job wonít sin. I will guarantee you that. Just donít harm him physically.Ē So the devil goes out. And here we can see the real reason for Jobís suffering: itís not because Job has done anything wrong, like his three ďfriendsĒ thought. Itís because thereís a great controversy between God and Satan that we are not especially privy to, and the whole universe needed to know that God was right and the devil was wrong. Thatís whatís going on here. And so Job became a living laboratory to prove whether or not God was really worthy of love. And Job continued to love God even when he did not understand Godís actions. And you may say, well I have cancer, I have all these problems. You continue to love the Lord even though you may not understand why certain things are happening to you. Just continue to be faithful.
Years later when Jesus came to this earth, God did allow Satan to go at His son with no holds barred. And Jesusí life was taken. There are times in our life when we might think God has lifted all the limits and the devil has at us. Well I will tell you that God has again reverted to His policy of the hedge. I think God likes to put a hedge around His people. And I appreciate that. So often He has protected us. You never know when you go out on the highway and you almost slip off the road that it was an angel that kept you from sliding off. Youíll never know those things until you get to heaven. Most of us do not experience the full fury of the devil. If we did we would be dead.
Now think about this: Could it be that nothing bad can happen to us that God does not permit? (Unless of course we bring it upon ourselves, or maybe it was an accident or something.) Could it be that we, with Job, wonít know until we get to heaven why God allowed certain things to happen?
Well, Job was a wealthy man. Letís get on with this story. How many camels did he have? He had 3,000 camels. Now this was the equivalent to 18-wheeler trucks. Can you imagine owning 3,000 of those things? Job ran a trucking business. His wife was probably the dispatcher. He had 500 yoke of oxen. Wwhat do oxen do? Well, they are plows. He had a plowing business. He had hundreds of tractors. He had 7,000 sheep! Why did he have those? Well for his dairy and wool business. Job was a successful big time business man.
Notice what happened to him. Beginning with Job 1:13-22. Now Iím going to summarize this. This depicts how quickly Satan works when unleashed:
I think that Satan controls nature as far as God allows. Have you ever thought about that? These hurricanes and tornadoes and all these types of things. Satan works through the elements to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. [Great Controvery. EG White, p. 589]. I think only the prayers of certain Christians here in the United States prevented hurricane Katrina from devastating New Orleans worse than it did. Because it was a Category 5 out there in the gulf wasnít it, and when it hit it was diminishing down to a category 3. And so I think that sometimes the devil is hampered quite a bit.
But all 10 of Jobís children were killed in just a few minutes. No you know weíre all terminal. You do know that, right? Is there anybody here that doesnít suffer from a terminal disease? You all do! We are terminal. We donít know when. This could be the last sermon that I ever preach here in this pulpit. This could be the last sermon that you ever listen to. You know we never know, do we. We must be ready at all times. Ecclesiastes 9:12 No man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. You never know when it might happen.
Just donít give the Devil a foothold into your life. You want to prevent that. Satan could not find one source of sin in Jobís life. It wasnít there. So often our problems are self-imposed by our sinful life. Job lost everything and he didnít bring it upon himself. So, WHAT DID JOB DO??
Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship. What a remarkable man! He fell to the ground in worship. In worship! Think about this next verse. Think about it really well. Job 1:21 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. God gives, we receive that. God takes that away. We donít want to receive that. But we should receive them both.
Job thanked the Lord for his troubles. Did you know that Troubles are an asset? Now your accountant may not list on your balance sheet all the assets, because trouble is an asset. And if so, you say, ďthen I am rich, because I have plenty of troublesĒ. Well Joseph had more troubles than all his brothers but the troubles formed Joseph into a prince. The Struggles of life are Godís plowshares that bring up from the depths some of the gems that would otherwise not come into our lives. Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NLT) Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. What about that?
Severe storms swept over Job but eventually the sun came out again. The question is: Was there any benefit in the rain that almost drowned him? The shower upon Job had a lot to do with the shining that Job did. I think Job was even stronger after his trial. Donít curse the rain. Rain is a blessing. Ezekiel 34:26. Job was strengthened by his trials.
Satan met his match in Job. But he did not give up on Job. He came back into another one of those heavenly board meetings and said ďWell, actually, if you would just give me full reign upon Job, I believe he would curse you, I know he will.Ē And so God said ďWell, go ahead. Just donít take his life.Ē You know one of the good things about the devil, one positive thing about the devil? A good attribute is his tenaciousness. He doesnít give up. Heís like a bulldog, he never seems to give up. He keeps attacking (now thatís not a virtue, but the fact that he keeps at it is what I am talking about) until like Delilah, Samsonís girl friend, he finds our weakness that will lead us to sin, curse God and then die lost.
I believe the devil has too much time on his hands. I wish he had some job other than looking out after us. Did you know that the devil doesÖhe preys! The devil preys. About all he has to do is roam around preying upon Godís children. Thatís the type of preying he does. Job 2:4-7 tells a story. "Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face." The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
Job was afflicted with boils, or maybe leprosy, or maybe elephantitis. Doctors really donít know what disease it was. He looked hideous and was in great pain. Then Satan recruited Jobís wife as one of his coworkers. Jobís wife acted like Eve in tempting her husband to do wrong. Adam listened to his wife. Abraham listened to his wife. Job did not listen to and heed his wife. And you wives or you husbands donít be a tool of the devil to ruin what is left of your home or your spouse. You should always take the high road. Never urge them to do some thing wrong and never do it yourself.
Look at Job 2:9-10, His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
What a man! Job was remarkable. He was now unemployed, sitting on a pile of ashes at the town dump looking at the 10 newly dug graves of his children. His body is covered with oozing sores, his skin is diseased, his eyes sunken yet he remains faithful to God. James 5:11 (NLT) says: We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord's plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy.
In every tragedy you can look at what you've lost and be hateful, or you can look at what you have left and be grateful. And thatís what Job did. You can look at what you have left and be joyful. [See Gerald Mann, When the Bad Times Are Over For Good, p. 150, 152]
You know life is not easy. It would have been easy for Job to just curse the Lord and die. But he did not do that. That is what the devil wants you to do. If you are suffering from some disease, if you are suffering from some big calamity that has happened in your life, donít curse God, donít leave His church, and donít leave Jesus. Stay close to Jesus. Job would have lost eternity had he given up on God. Never give up. You must be faithful unto death. Look at Revelation 2:10: Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Of eternal life.
Be faithful. Be faithful to Jesus. Donít give up. Donít throw in the towel. You be faithful. Itís worth it. Hang in there. ďHold fast till I comeĒ Those that hold in there and donít give up are the ones who are going to be in Godís kingdom someday soon, and I pray that you will be one of those people. Stay close to Jesus, like Job did.
Be Patient by Warren W. Wiersbe, Chariot Victor Publishing, Colorado Springs, CO, 1991.
Communicators Commentary, Job, by David L. McKenna, Word Books, Publisher, Waco, TX, 1986.
Hymn of Praise: #71, Come, Thou Almighty King Scripture: Job 1:1-4 Hymn of Response: #181, Does Jesus Care?
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last updated 10/16/2005 by Eric Koester.