November 27, 2022
For the past 2 weeks we have been reading the book Job which is the oldest book of the Bible. The time period that it was written was before Moses. It is considered poetry.
The theme of Job revolves around the question, “How can God allow suffering, especially to those that are innocent?”
In Job chapter 1 we find out that Job was blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters, and owned many animals and had many servants. He was very wealthy. He would sacrifice burnt offerings for his children just in case they sinned or cursed God.
During this time there was something happening behind the scenes, in the spiritual realm. The angels presented themselves to God, and Satan came with them. God asked Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan responded that he had been roaming through the earth going back and forth. The Lord asked Satan if he had considered his servant Job because he was blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. Satan felt that Job was good only because he had not encountered difficulty. Job 1:12 says, “The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Thus, God allowed Satan to cause suffering, even though Job was a good man.
In a very short amount of time, Job found out that all of his animals and servants were killed by the Serbeans (Arabs), Chaldeans (Mesopotamians) and by fire. He then found out that all 10 children were killed by a wind storm that caused his house to collapse on them. With all of this Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22). He did say, “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 by praised.”
Satan came back to the LORD again. 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. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” Then Satan wanted to strike Job’s skin. He felt he maintained his integrity because his body was intact. The LORD allowed Satan to strike Job again. This time he developed painful sores from the top of his head to the bottom of the feet. Then Satan used his wife to tempt Job. She says in Job 1:9-10 “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.”
In Chapter 3 Job does curse the day he was born, but never curses God. He has 3 friends who come and say nothing to him and just sit with him for 7 days. But from chapters 4-37, Job and his friends have long conversations about the suffering Job is experiencing. Job continues to say that he has done nothing wrong. His friends do not believe him. They feel that God is punishing Job because of sin in his life and he must repent in order to be in God’s good grace. They are not very kind. Job says in 16:2 “I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you!” Job’s suffering is terrible. Job 19:17-20 says, “My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own brothers. Even the little boys scorn me; All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. I am mothing but skin and bones. I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.” Job defends himself further stating that the wicked prosper at times, and the righteous suffer.
In chapter 30 Job cries out to God, but states he does not listen. Job 30:20 says, “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.” He says in 31:35 “Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense-let the Almighty answer; let my accuser put his indictment in writing.”
In chapter 32 we find the 3 men stop talking to Job because “he was righteous in his own eyes.” A new man, Elihu (means YHWH is my God), who is younger, then begins to speak with Job. He condemns the 3 friends because “they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him” (32:3). He condemned Job because he kept saying he was without sin in chapters 32, 33, and 35. In chapters 36 and 37 he talked about the greatness of God.
Even with Elihu, Job does not get an answer about why he is suffering. In chapter 38, the LORD speaks. He asks Jobs 77 rhetorical questions about the creation and nature that Job cannot answer. An example is 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” God’s purpose in this was to show Job how big God was and how small Job was. After the questioning, Job was humbled. In Job 40:2-4 God asks, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him! Then Job answered the LORD: “I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer-twice, but I will say no more.” In chapter 42:2-6, Job says to the LORD, ““I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” We see more humility from Job, along with glorifying God, and asking for forgiveness.
After this conversation, the LORD told Job’s friends he was angry with them because of what they said about God, and to Job. He had them sacrifice a burnt offering. He then had Job pray for the friends, and accept Job’s prayer and withhold judgement. After Job prayed, the LORD made him prosperous again. He had double the animals, 7 more sons and 3 more daughters, and his reputation was restored in the community.
The first question is, “Why do we suffer?”
- Sin: We have to go back to the garden in Genesis. God wanted us to live in perfect harmony with Him. But, he gave us a choice to love Him or not. He wanted obedience and Adam and Eve were not obedient. When Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the ground. Genesis 3:17-19 says, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Because of this curse, we will always have pain and suffering. Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” No matter who you are or how good of a person, or how godly you are, pain and suffering will happen. Job is a great example. God said he was righteous and blameless and he allowed this to happen to him.
- Satan: Satan (which means opponent or adversary) is the originator of sin. He tempted Adam and Eve and got them to sin (Genesis 3:1-6). We can see in Job that Satan was roaming around the earth looking for someone to tempt and cause calamity. He authored the pain and suffering that Job experienced. We do learn that it had to go through God. And that is when we question God.
The second question is, “Why does God allow the suffering?” God wants to be glorified. He also wants to build our character, our strength and our trust in Him.
- God wants to be glorified: Job did this well. While he suffered, he did not curse God. He was a great witness. Where I use to go to church, one of the pastors, Dr. Bob Laurent, use to talk about “shiny people.” These were people who were sick and dying, yet glorified God wherever they went. They had a certain glow about them because of their faith in the Lord, and they shown His light wherever they went. When each one of us suffers, we have a choice as to how we handle the situation. We can be a witness to God, or we can curse Him.
- God wants us to be humble: Job was humbled after he heard from God. He realized that while he was righteous, he was not perfect. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Also, think of Paul. God allowed Paul to see heaven, and he had reasons to think he was great. 2 Corinthians 12:6-12 says “Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
- God wants to give us patience and strength: James 5:10-11 says, “Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. Job suffered, yet did not sin against God with his words. He was patient through his suffering. Why is this important? Because patience builds strength. Isaiah 40:31 says, “those that hope (means wait) upon the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
- God wants to give us perseverance, character and hope: Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The Expositors Bible commentary says this about suffering and hope in these verses. “They help to produce character, and approved Christian character finds its ultimate resting place in the presence of God, not in a grave. By the tutelage of suffering the Lord is fitting us for his eternal fellowship. Paul then makes it plain that this hope is not just a pious wish, for it does not put one to shame. It does not disappoint, because it is coupled with the love of God (v.5). Human love may bring disappointment and frustration, but not the love of God. Subjective desire is supported by an objective divine gift guaranteeing the realization of an eternal fellowship with God.”
- God wants to get our attention: An example in the Bible is from the book of Jonah. God wanted him to go to Nineveh. Jonah did not listen. God had Jonah in the belly of a whale for 3 days. I think God got his attention. He may not go to such extremes with us, but he will get our attention somehow. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” He also may want to draw you closer to him. Through tragedy, many people seek the LORD. He may want you to know Him as your LORD and Savior.
- God wants to reveal your true character: When Job suffered, he asked God a lot of questions. He did not understand why these terrible things had to happen, but he never sinned. His wife, however, wanted Job to curse God and die. Which person are you when suffering occurs. As said by a pastor, “suffering does not create character, it reveals it.”
- God wants to prepare you for a certain task: Joseph suffered much, but it prepared him to be 2nd in command. His brothers had sold him into slavery. After many hardships, Joseph was 2nd in command. His brothers thought Joseph was angry with them. He was not. Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
These are just a few of the reasons God allows us to suffer. He is divine. We must trust him. He loves us so much he sent his Son to die for us on a cross. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We may find out the reason for our suffering here on earth, or may have to wait until we get to heaven. We won’t always know why. Job asked God 5 times in chapter 3 “why?” Jesus asked God why when he was dying on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46).
Are you going through a trial or tribulation? It may be your health, a job or lack of job, stress in your marriage or with your children. If you are struggling, I hope that this will help you understand a little more about possible reasons why. Pray to the Lord and talk to Him honestly and openly without sinning. He may answer your questions, he may not. But know that you are not walking the difficulty alone. He is with you the whole time. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Next week we will read Psalm 1-30. Have a blessed week!
References: sermons from Pat Damiani, Toby Powers, Dennis Lee, Greg Laurie