Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE HAND OF GOD”

Job 2.10

 

We are living in such difficult times. Some of you here today are facing financial difficulties, for a variety of reasons. Others among us are challenged with health issues of varying severity. In one way or the other, we can increasingly identify with the Apostle Paul’s condition, as he relates it to his readers in Second Corinthians 1.8: “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.”

I wonder if you have ever stared death in the face. Have you ever contemplated the very real likelihood that you would lose everything, job, home, even cherished possessions? Many are confronted with such issues in the aftermath of tsunamis, in the wake of tornados, typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires. Who would have ever thought as recently as a year ago that the economy would so suddenly and so steeply turn downward, raising the very real possibility of lifestyle changes such as no one in our generation has ever before imagined? Even kids in college these days see a bleak future in store for them.

Various things happen during the course of life that enable us to better understand what some of the men and women in the Bible must have felt like at times. However, we have not yet been cast into a pit, as Joseph was by his brothers, or as Jeremiah was by his king, or as good Daniel was by Darius (with lions for companions), or as Paul and Silas were when they found themselves beaten and blocked in the Philippian jail. Though we always think about the possibility of grave physical maladies, debilitating conditions, and even diseases that pose threats to life, especially when reflecting on and praying about our beloved Rosa, it is little comfort to us that such things are not new to our race.

Lazarus was so weak from starvation and disease that he could not lift a hand to prevent the dogs from licking his sores. The Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, which I suppose might have been an affliction of his eyes, which he pleaded with God to be relieved from, only to be told by divine revelation that his humble request would be refused.

My friends, what do you do when you face the loss of everything? I am referring to facing the loss of all your possessions, and the loss of your family, and the loss of your health, and you are staring the loss of your life in the face? What do you do then? It is a facet of our nature that we tend to learn more by example than by precept. In other words, our conduct is more caught than taught. Therefore, when we find ourselves suddenly facing suffering as we have never faced it before, we tend to be at a loss, unless we turn to God’s Word.

It is when we turn to God’s Word that we find the example for right conduct in the face of bankruptcy, in the face of the loss of loved ones, when you are staring death in the face, or when you find that you have been betrayed by a loved one. Who is that example? None other than Job. Turn to the book of Job, where we will begin reading from verse one of chapter one:

 

1      There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.

2      And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

3      His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.

4      And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.

5      And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

6      Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

7      And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

8      And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

9      Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

10     Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

11     But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

12     And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

13     And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:

14     And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:

15     And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

16     While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

17     While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

18     While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:

19     And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

20     Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21     And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

22     In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

1      Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

2      And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

3      And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

4      And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

5      But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.

6      And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

7      So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.

8      And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

9      Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

10     But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

11     Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.

12     And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

13     So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

 

What a staggering series of hammer blows landed on this man. How could he stand it? How would you hold up under these repeated catastrophes? I am persuaded that any real man would shudder to think of the loss of all that he has accumulated over the years, as well as the shocking loss of his cherished sons and daughters, and then on top of that being suddenly struck with an odious and defiling affliction that left him facing death as the despicable object of other people’s repugnance and revulsion. Then, when he could least afford the added grief of it, he was confronted with the betrayal of his wife! What a staggering blow to any man (unless the betrayal of your wife is something you have had to gradually learn to cope with over time).

We have to soberly ask ourselves, “How did Job stand up to such devastating and discouraging blows?” for stand up to them he certainly did. My friend, how will you bear up to even one of these horrors suddenly coming upon you, much less the four I have just recounted to you?

Three observations to make concerning Job’s resiliency:

 

JOB’S RESILIENCY IS, FIRST, RELATED TO HIS PREPARATION

 

To be sure, no one can anticipate everything that could possibly befall him. If you spent all your time contemplating the evils that could happen to you, you would rather quickly degenerate into a state of insanity, always worrying about this, or that, or the other thing. We will notice that although Job was not given over to worrying all the time, he was a realist. He knew a man simply has to be prepared for the unexpected. Consider the ways in which Job was prepared, this preparation partly accounting for his resiliency:

First, according to verse one, “Job . . . was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” My friend, no one can properly prepare for anything who does not fear God. The instructed fear of God is the basis for life, the basis for learning, the basis for wisdom, the basis for knowledge, and the basis for all understanding of things that matter, of things eternal.[1] Abraham knew his life was in danger when he was in a place that had no fear of God, Genesis 20.11. As well, the patriarch, Jacob, when he was in a place of potential danger and distinct disadvantage, knew God to be the fear of his father, Isaac, and the fear of his grandfather, Abraham, Genesis 31.42. Thus, Job’s fear of the LORD was an intelligent and advantageous response to the realization that life is fraught with many dangers and variables, and only the God Who controls all things, whose providential hand invisibly orders the affairs of all men, is the Rock upon whom all real security is founded.

Job did not seek preparation for himself alone, however. Job 1.5 reveals that Job continually offered burnt offerings on behalf of his ten children, doing what he could to secure their spiritual welfare. However, before you criticize Job’s efforts on behalf of his children, keep in mind that this patriarch likely lived near the time of Abraham, long before the giving of the Law to Moses and the ordering of ritual sacrifices that accompanied the giving of the Law. That he was spiritual even though he was a man of great wealth, that he sought to order his life in a manner that pleased God, and that he looked after the spiritual welfare of his sons and daughters in a day when the light of God’s revealed Word was very dim, indeed, showed that as much as a man could be expected to diligently prepare himself with God for the unexpected and the unanticipated things that befall us, Job was such a man.

Life is just as uncertain these days as it was in Job’s day, though we face different kinds of uncertainties. However, you and I have the completed revelation of God’s Word as our bright and shining guide through the dark times of life. Do you fear God? Have you sought the spiritual welfare of your children? In short, are you so prepared as to have any expectation you will not buckle under the kinds of adversity, both financial and physical, that may someday befall you?

 

Next, JOB’S RESILIENCY IS RELATED TO HIS PRAISE

 

Keep in mind that praise is not always the same as rejoicing. Rejoicing, at least the Christian concept of rejoicing, has to do with the outward expression of inner joy. When you have joy, you rejoice. Much of the focus in the Bible on praising God overlaps this concept.

However, that aspect of praise to which I am referring has more to do with facts than feelings, is more objective than subjective. When Job was told of the deaths of his beloved children, a piercing to the heart that would drive the best of us to despair, notice his reaction, in Job 1.20-22:

 

20     Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,

21     And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

22     In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

 

Allow me to subsume the three things Job did under the heading of what I choose to call praise. His entire response was a statement about God, a statement to God, and a witness to others, that God is worthy of praise no matter what has happened to me or to those I love.

First, verse 20, he worshipped. To be sure, he is stricken with grief, but he worships. To be sure, his heart has been torn by the tragedy of his suddenly lost children, who he had raised through the dangerous time of childhood, and the diseases that ravaged so many children until recent times. Nevertheless, he “fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.” This is a man of God.

Next, verse 21, he praises with his lips. He testifies. He utters words acknowledging God’s absolute sovereignty in the affairs of men, as well as the blessedness of God’s name: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” My friends, I am persuaded that men usually cannot say such things at such times unless they plan to say such things. Though I might have made previous reference to this comment as implying evidence of Job’s preparation, it is right to make mention of it here. What will you say when adverse circumstances strike a blow to your heart? Have you thought to praise God then? Have you prepared to praise God then? It is unlikely that you will praise God at such a time unless you prepare to praise God at such a time.

Third, verse 22: “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” It is a great temptation, in times of great tragedy and heartache, to question God’s wisdom, to challenge God’s goodness, or to deny God’s awesome power. Job was a man who, because he feared God, because he eschewed evil, said only what he had (in my opinion) planned to say, and otherwise kept his mouth shut. When a man is on the very edge of losing control of himself to grief and mourning, he needs to weep much but not speak much, except to speak words he has planned to say before the tragedy struck. Can you do what Job did? Will I be able to do what Job did? We will not know for sure, until the time. However, a plausible explanation of Job’s resiliency is that it was related to his praise, which showed him doing the right thing (he worshipped), saying the right thing (verse 22), and not saying the wrong thing (verse 23).

 

JOB’S RESILIENCY WAS RELATED TO HIS PREPARATION, WAS RELATED TO HIS PRAISE, AND WAS FINALLY RELATED TO HIS PERSPECTIVE

 

We get a good look at Job’s sense of perspective from the words he spoke when informed of his children’s sudden deaths, in Job 1.21: “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away.” However, our best sense of Job’s perspective comes later. If we confine our attention to the human realm, to those things Job knew about, we can set aside the comments concerning God’s dealings with Satan. Job had no knowledge of those events. We have no indication in this account that he had any idea of Satan’s involvement in his troubles. Therefore, we note that the very next thing Job did following his actions in Job 1.20-22, is found in Job 2.8, when he is now plagued with boils on top of the two earlier tragedies: “And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.”

The first tragedy was the sudden loss of his wealth. The second shock was the news that his children had been suddenly killed. The third hammer blow was the loss of his health that came with the affliction of boils over his entire body, making him the object of revulsion as he stank of oozing puss, scraping his sores in the ash heap he sat in. The fourth assault to him came not from Satan, but from his wife, when she betrayed him.

Job 2.9: “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” She did not need to say this to Job. To be sure, the loss of wealth affected her as much as it did him. And the loss of her children, her babies, who she had delivered and nursed, who she had partnered with her husband in comforting and teaching, had no doubt left her feeling bruised and battered. However, when he was overcome with the plague of boils she turned on him.

Perhaps she turned on him because he was now repulsive to her. It may also be that she genuinely loved and admired him and wanted his suffering to end. We simply cannot be sure of her motives, though her actions are clear. She betrayed him. Her task before God was to be a fit helper to her husband. That was God’s original job description for a wife, and it remained in force in her day, as well as in ours. Instead of helping her husband do right, she betrayed him by advising him to sin against God.

How did Job respond to this fourth, and to this point most dangerous, assault? His words in 2.10 reveal to us his sense of perspective: “But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” Have you noticed how it is all related to God, with Job? His wife is likely concerned only with the immediate and most obvious matter at hand. They have nothing, their children are all dead, and now her husband is one mass of infection and putrefaction. Her response? “Curse God and die,” she says to him. His response? He does not lash out at her, though he does rebuke her, and then he indicates that if you are willing to take the good from God, you need to be prepared to take the bad.

Job’s sense of perspective was the result of two things: First, he feared God. He knew it was not all about Job, but all about God. God is at the center of this man’s universe, not himself. His preparation is in relation to God, his praise is directed toward God, and his perspective is in relation to God. As a result of that, Job did not live in the immediate. He did not live in the right here and right now. His evaluation of life and the experiences that make up so much of life were not based upon the snapshots of life that capture only a single frame of experience at a time. Instead, Job’s perspective was more like a video of life that took in his entire range of experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant, without in any way ignoring the role that God was determined to play in our lives.

I can only guess, but I imagine that though he mourned the loss of his children, he was also profoundly grateful for the years God had given to him with them. To be sure, he missed his material possessions, but he had them to enjoy for a long time before they were suddenly gone. As well, though he did not admire boils, he had enjoyed many years of good health before the sores arrived. That, I believe, is what he meant when he referred to receiving the good as well as the evil from God. Take the whole life in when making an evaluation. God gives you air to breathe. God gives you family and friends to love and to like you. He has given you work to support yourself with. Did you take that into account when you were bellyaching for the unpleasant experiences, or with you does it all have to go one way, always good?

 

Job’s is such an encouraging life. To be sure, he endured many terrifying and difficult things. However, we see so much of God’s sustaining grace through the loss of his possessions, the sudden deaths of all ten of his beloved children, his excruciating plague of boils, and then the devastating betrayal of his wife of many years. So long as Job stayed fixed upon his God he did not sin with his lips. Not when he lost his flocks and herds, not when he lost his children, not when he lost his health, and not even when he lost the loyalty of his wife.

There was only one thing that would cause Job to buckle under the strain of adversity, and that was the loss of his friends. Sadly, we do not have the time to deal with his friends, who arrived on the scene at the very end of Job chapter two. However, I will close with this one observation. When Job lost the loyalty of his friends, he was distracted for the first time from his focus on God. When his friends began to challenge his integrity, presuming that his afflictions were the result of personal sins he was hiding from them, Job then reacted by saying sinful things, whereas before they arrived he had wisely kept his mouth shut except to praise God.

Is it not amazing that this true story that comprises an entire book of the Bible shows a man who was resilient when he lost his wealth, was resilient when he lost his kids, was resilient when he lost his health, was resilient when he lost the loyalty of his wife, but buckled under the strain that resulted from losing the loyalty of his friends? What happened? They distracted him from his focus on his God.

So long as a man walks with God he can put up with anything. Anything. Oh, let us fear God and cling to Him through thick and thin, taking the bad along with the good experiences of life. As well, make sure you are a friend to your friends, always a friend to your friends. You never know what it will do to a man who discovers he has lost your loyalty as a friend. Oh, how it must have tortured the Savior when Peter denied Him those three times.

I pray we here at Calvary Road Baptist Church will always be friends to our friends, thereby encouraging and helping each other to be faithful to God during the good times and also the difficult times of life. And on those occasions when we stumble and fail to discharge our awesome privilege as friends to be loyal friends, I am thankful there is forgiveness.

I want to be your friend. I have known the terrible pain of lost friendship. I have failed and then sought forgiveness for not being the friend I ought to have been, determining afterwards to be forever a better friend. Most of all, however, I want to introduce you to my Friend. With Him as your Friend you can handle anything, any problem, any difficulty. Without Him, you can handle nothing. My Friend’s name is Jesus. He is the Son of God.



[1] Job 28.28; Psalm 111.10; Proverbs 1.7; 9.10; 15.33



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org