FROM THE ASH HEAP TO WORSHIP
Christopher Ash wrote in his commentary on Job “The more I have walked through it and around it, the more deeply convinced I have become that it makes no sense apart from the cross of Christ.” He is absolutely right. The only way we can make sense of anything is to look at our sufferings through the lens of Christ and the Cross. The cross reveals the brokenness of mankind and our separation to a holy God. The cross reveals His healing power as we go through suffering. The cross reveals His love and grace as we endure suffering. The cross reveals the only way we will ever understand our present sufferings. The cross reveals that our ransom has been paid; the captives are set free from sin and death through Christ. The cross reveals the answer to all of life’s questions. Because the cross reveals the brokenness of man and the sin that held Him there.
The cross is our hope in the midst of hurt, pain and suffering! Sadly the question we ask in the midst of suffering is “Why me Lord?” What did I do to deserve this? I love you, I serve you with my life and You are allowing this into my life, right now, at this moment;
it doesn’t make sense! As we go through this letter we will see what doesn’t make sense, draws us closer to God and His grace. God is sovereign and He never wastes a hurt or a suffering. Bad things happen to bad people. Why? There is no such thing as good people! As I said last week there was only One person who was good, and He was placed on a Roman’s cross, so that we could be declared good, based solely on the grounds of the finished work of the gospel. Paul said “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:21 We are guilt apart from God’s saving and rescuing grace. Understand! Just because we are saved for all eternity, this doesn’t mean we won’t go through seasons and periods of rain and suffering in this life. But rest assured as we go through this letter, God doesn’t waste your hurt or pain. It’s in these moments where God refines us in the fire, so that we can endure the next one and the next one and so on.
Friends from bible school found out last week their niece “Pepper” has been diagnosed with Leukemia.
Friends from Moosehorn niece a young girl named “Lacey” has been battling in the hospital for many months and just recently went through bone marrow surgery to keep her alive.
A young man in the States who was outside an abortion clinic pleading with women not to end their child’s life and was brutally assaulted while doing so.
Jeremiah Thomas a vibrant athletic young man who loved Christ and the gospel and would go out every day after school pleading with women to reconsider their decision to end their pregnancy and seek Christ for life. This young man died at the short age of seventeen due to cancer.
Asia Bibi who is seeking asylum because she is in fear for her life after denouncing Islam and embracing Christianity.
A close friend of mine Mark & Alicia McKeen, from bible school, lost their first child five days after delivery with a rare genic disease.
A young couple in in the Muskoka area trying to adopt a child but refused because of their Christian beliefs.
Very close friends of my wife’s uncle and aunt, where a mother who was expecting and her seven children killed in a house fire outside of Ottawa, while her husband was in the St Catharines looking for a place to live to do farming with his brother.
What do all these people have in common? There deep roots of love and joy that only comes through the Lord as He provides the grace and the endurance to continue through the valley. See, to make sense of these stories you have to put on the glasses of the gospel. You have to look past what is seen to what is unseen in order to make sense of anything. We see tragedy like this and say that’s “Tragic and senseless” and humanly speaking that is true. But that’s the problem! We see suffering and tragedy through the lenses of a sinner. Who is self-absorbed, thinking this world owes you something, especially God. That thinking is complete arrogance! Because it’s saying “I serve, I attend church, I stomach the pastors long messages, I attend bible study and love people with the gospel, so why Lord why?”
My answer to that question is “Why not you/me?”
God went to great lengths to save us from death and destruction. John penned these words to remind us that truth “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Paul wrote “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Col 2:13-14. God did all that but He also goes to great lengths to see us though our suffering and pain. Isaiah wrote “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.” Isa 41:10. Job is a prime example and the one truth we need to understand is that God is sovereign and Satan is subordinate. We see this truth in the chapter one. (v6-v12) so let’s start here!
We see the sons of God come and present themselves to the LORD. (v6) The “sons of God” are angelic beings. “present oneself” means something like “to attend a meeting to which one is summoned” or “to come before a superior ready to do His will.” This is the same expression used in Zechariah 6:5 “And the angel answered and said to me, "These are going out to the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.” God is in council with His angels and the Accuser comes on the scene. The LORD asks his a question in a somewhat hostile voice (v7). It’s almost on the same line of questioning “What do you think you are doing here?” Satan’s response is very arrogant and condescending. (v7) “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” Do you understand what Satan is saying here?I’ve only been going around trying to disrupt, temp and cause your people to sin and curse you, nothing much really.
What is God’s response? (v8) “Have you considered my servant Job?” What we need to understand, many Christians get this wrong, because they see this passage as two deities doing battle or fighting over power and authority. But that’s not true! Is Satan deadly and powerful, and does he hate God? Yes....But! Satan is not equivalent to wear the shoes of God or has the slightest power to take the throne for himself. Satan is not equal with God, and you need to remind yourself that, to believe otherwise, is a lie from the pits of Hell itself. There is nothing on this earth that takes God by surprise where He needs to write this down because He didn’t realize what was happening. God is the sovereign maker of the heaven and earth, and He is over all things in Heaven and on the earth and below the earth. Think about it! When we pray to Him we are not commanding Him. He is not our heavenly bellboy where He is subordinate to us. The same is true with Satan. He know he’s lost and he knows his time is limited. Remember the encounter the demons had with Jesus “And when he came to the other side, to the country……. two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, "What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" Matt 8:28-29
God is in control and there is nothing Satan can do in Heaven or on earth except without God’s permission. So God response to the arrogant Accuser? (v8) “Have you considered my servant Job?” Not! Get out of here you’ve already been banish and you have lost the fight, so be gone with you Satan. No! God says “Here is a man I want you to consider and his name is Job.” Satan’s response is arrogant and condescending (v9) Ya right! You have him protected from all corners, he is untouchable so how am I to make this work in my advantage. Satan goes on to say “How could he ever curse you when he has everything he could possibly want.” What Satan is implying is that the only reason Job fears God is because God buys his affection and that’s the only way we will love Him back, as if He supplies everything we want. Which leads me to ask! Who is sovereign in this relationship? We or God? So the LORD responds to Satan (v12) You can have the lion clamp down on his neck so far, but you will go no further. You can affect his property, possessions and family but you cannot touch Job, himself.
This is interesting because this shows who is sovereign and who is subordinate in this conversation.
First…….. Who is the one who initiated the challenge? God ..(v8)
Second……… Who gives the ground rules to the challenge? God...(v12)
Third……Who is in control over heaven and earth in this conversation? God....(v6)
What is Satan’s response “So Satan went out from the presence of God.” (v12c) See this conversation reminds the reader that God is the one who is sovereign and Satan is subordinate. We know this to be true by Satan’s obedience to God’s challenge, take everything away from Job, but do not harm him physically. Satan knows, and this would be suicide for him to go against the LORD’s conditions. Satan would not dare break or negotiate the LORD’s commands. So Satan leaves and goes out to prove God wrong. Satan believes that when you take everything away from God’s children, they will surely curse His name and turn their backs on Him and His grace. Satan goes out to prove to God, that we only love God superficially because its build on conditions that He buys our love and affections. So God sends Satan out to test dear Job, a man who was upright, blameless, not perfect, but a man of authentic character who loved God. (v1)
First Satan attacks and kills his servants with the exception of one to tell the story and to top it off they stole his livestock. (v15)
Second Satan attacks his servants and sheep and all are consumed in a fire, with the exception of one to tell the story. (v16)
Third, Satan steals all of Job’s camels and his workers were all killed, with the exception of one to tell the story. (v17-v18)
Fourth, Satan attacks the most precious items that Job has and that was his children. All ten of them perished in a tornado with the exception of one to tell the story. (V19)
It is finished in the eyes of Satan….I’ve won, so now I will sit back and watch a man curse the ground in which he stands. Satan is thinking “I’ve accomplish what I intended, I have sunken my claws in so far according to God. Now it’s time to watch a man crumble with rage and bitterness towards the Heavens to cures the living God who is sovereign over our suffering, so He thinks!. Is Satan right? What is Job’s response to all this devastating news? (v20-v22) Out of the ashes into genuine, authentic worship towards a God who is sovereign over everything. What did Job do? He fell to his knees in brokenness, pain and suffering, giving praises though many tears, confusion, brokenness and a deeply shattered heart, Job still had the energy to muster these words. (v20-v22)
Job lost everything and I mean everything…. Raiders came and took Job’s oxen His donkey herd is decimated A storm wipes out his flock His sons and daughters are killed in a tornado. Things couldn’t get any worse for Job from what we read in chapter one and this is how Job responds “the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (v21) That is…. genuine, authentic and humble worship. This response by a man proves Satan’s schemes are nothing more than schemes. Thinking that the child of God will curse God if everything was taken away from them.” Job hasn’t had time to properly grieve! Yet the first statement from his mouth brings glory to God in the midst of his suffering. What a picture and testimony for us as we endure suffering and hardship. Job wasn’t someone special or above the standard of sinners. He was a sinner who loved God and promises of God, and that was enough to lead his heart into worship despite what just happened on the same day. See this only makes sense when we look at this world through the lenses of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God does not waste our hurts or sorrows as we go through suffering. Job is a witness to this as we read the first chapter of this letter. This sad story should bless your heart and encourage your heart to praise Him even if He chose to take it away from us. We worship because of His redeeming grace, not what we have been given. The prosperity of one man does not determine his worth in Christ, what determines our worth is Christ, Himself. The self-sustaining God of the universe who is sovereign over my life, the God who is over your life. I want you to keep that in mind as we take this journey through this letter of a man broken with grief, but faithful to God in the midst of it.
David Jackson said this about Job in his commentary “…Job dug in his heels, and fingernails and would not let go of what he knew of “the words of the Holy One,” which were God’s promises and declaration that he, Job, was righteous. In the furnace of suffering and confusion, Job’s understanding was stretched, and what he knew led him to discover things he didn’t understand.
Job was a man who was… Blameless, not perfect, but a man of authentic character that loved God above all else. Job’s heartfelt response and attitude as he is faced with great loss is for us to see and to know. To know what? That God is bigger than our hurt, our struggle and our circumstances. This is why Job was able to see God, despite having a heart filled with great sorrow and pain. Job theologically identifies God has something far greater than his tragedy. What’s amazing is that he didn’t attend Seminary to find this out. Job knew by what was before him, creation, family and a God who is sovereign over his life. Job didn’t need a church model to know how to worship and give God glory for himself and his family. There were no priests to do the sacrifice, there was no nation of Israel to live amoung, and there was no temple or tent to worship in. See this letter predates the time of Moses and the nation of Israel. This man, this account in Scripture gives sinners hope to find rest in a sovereign God. A sovereign God who “allows” but says “no further” because our suffering should lead us to one thing! Worship. Job recognized that his live stock was a gift from God. Job recognized that his children were a gift from God. Solomon wrote “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward” Psalm 127:3 . What do we learn from Job’s tragic experience? Times of stress and trials tend to drive us into the arms of God, but people have a tendency to fall away from God during times of prosperity and celebration. What we learn from Job is that to deny and forsake God, is at its worst, when things are going well. Suffering forces us to put our roots down deep into the soil of God’s love. When we face suffering and trials we need to look past our momentary suffering and focus on the eternal hope we have in Christ.
Let me ask you!
How would you respond to the incredible loss that Job has just suffered?
What if everything you owned and loved was taken from you in a moment!
The right answer to these questions is in Job’s response to his calamity.
Job didn’t complain.
Job didn’t blame God.
Job didn’t say “Why did this happen to me.”
Job didn’t say “This isn’t fair God”
Job didn’t blame God.
Job didn’t say “Why did this happen to me.”
Job didn’t say “This isn’t fair God”
Someone asked C S Lewis “Why do the righteous suffer?” To which he responded “Why shouldn’t the righteous suffer? They’re the only ones who can handle it.” Job thanked God for what he had for the time he had them….meaning his children. Job thanked God for this life because he loved God with an unshakeable faith. Job thanked God that led him to worshipping God in the midst of his suffering. Shane and Shane in their song “Though You Slay Me” they sing “Though you slay me, yet I will praise you, though you ruin me, I will bless your name! Still I will worship, I will sing the song, you’re the only one I need.” Our suffering is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory that no one , not even Satan can take away from the genuine child of God.