As we continue our Lenten journey, we have seen tables turned on enemies, giants fall and the promise of a land of milk and honey knowing that God will go before us. We have seen the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the Most High thundering from heaven. Isaiah 7:9 “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” so we stand on the promises of God. We also know that as we dive deep into the word the enemy will rise up against us but we do not need to fear as 2 Chronicles 32:7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.” Elisha answered 2 Kings 6:16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” So yes the enemy will advance but we will remain strong. The enemy knows his time is short so he will breathe out threats against us. The most important thing we can understand is that God is sovereign. 2 Samuel 7:22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.” The sooner we understand this the better our life will be. As we submit to our Sovereign Lord we know that we will be able to stand firm no matter what.
                Today we are going to look at Job. We saw how Hannah though provoked constantly waited before God in prayer and she received what she had prayed for. Job gives us a picture of the war we are in. You will see that what happened to Job was allowed by God even suggested. To grasp this we must understand that God is sovereign and satan reports to God. Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He was also “the greatest man among all the people of the East.” But this all changed when 6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” So we see that satan is accountable to God. Now this is the part where the testing was excruciating for Job. In the first few verses we see Job’s concern for his 10 children, who were quite the partiers. He wanted to make sure that while partying they did not curse God. So we see this not cursing God is always on his mind. So satan approaches God with the argument that Job is only faithful because God had blessed him so much. satan says in Job 1:11 “Stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
                Now this is where Job’s life changes overnight.12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” So in one day he looses everything. While one is reporting bad news, another, then another, then another brings bad news. So everything he had and his 10 children were gone. The first reaction of most people is to blame God and turn from him. How often when life does not go as expected, a child dies or sickness comes or finances go south or simply something unexplainable happens do people turn from God. The reason for this is a lack of knowledge of the word of God and who God is. There is also a total lack of respect for God’s sovereignty. Most teaching in the church is superficial in this area as are many commitments made to God. They don’t stand a chance. People think that if they show up at church they will be okay but when something bad happens in their life they stop going. 2 Peter 3:11 “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives. 14 make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. But here is where we learn from Job who was a blameless man who feared God. This was a true man of God being tested. His answer to all this devastation was to worship. This shows us that there is much more to worship than singing a few songs on Sunday morning. Job 1:20 “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and 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. 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” You would think that would be enough but another round was coming. This second time Job 2:3 “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.”6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.”
                Now we see the start of those around him trying to get him to turn away. They weren’t trying to comfort him really. Remember this is satan’s goal to turn you from God and even those close to you will be used in the process. So the one closest to him, his wife says, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” This is usually the suggestion by most. Have you noticed that sometimes people who haven’t even followed God wholeheartedly want to blame God. They ask why is there evil? Why would God do this? I don’t want to serve him wholeheartedly but why is this evil happening? The easy answer is most people in the church have no idea who God really is, so of course they blame him. Jobs answer to his wife was “10 “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.” Obviously there is not a lot of dialogue with his wife. But before we talk about the next trouble-makers, we are told the answer to Jobs problems in chapter two; “you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” Job did not know this and neither did his friends. But we know it as we have God’s word but do we believe. It wasn’t because he sinned, there was no reason other to test him. Would he turn from God when he looses everything. He was a blameless and God-fearing man but that is not how the friends saw it. They figured there had to be something wrong with Job. The truth is God tests us. Deuteronomy 8:1 “Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Mark 2:8 “Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts.” We are tested even though God knows the outcome. Deuteronomy 8:9 “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. 19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 4:34 “Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? Testing is part of the Christian walk so we should not be surprised by it. Deuteronomy 8:5 “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” We read earlier from Hebrews 12 talking about discipline
    1 Thessalonians 2:4 “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.”
                Now before the onslaught of “there must be something wrong with you” or “what did you do,” these friends started off respecting his suffering. Job 2:12 “they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” They should have kept it that way and kept their mouths closed and been more like Hebrews 10:32 “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” But no there will be many so called comforters who will do satan’s bidding. Eliphaz says Job 4:7 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? 8 As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.” Job 8:1 Then Bildad replied: 2 “How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind.” 1 Then Zophar replied: 2 “Are all these words to go unanswered? Is this talker to be vindicated? 3 Will your idle talk reduce others to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock? 4 You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.’ 5 Oh, how I wish that God would speak.” 14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent.” Yes there is much more dialogue going on here.
                Then Job responds Job 12:4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered—a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! In spite of all that was said Job stands strong. Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” Job 19:5 “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 21:14 “Then Job points out the people of whom the rod of God is not against them yet he says these people say ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. 15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?” Job then talks about the dreaded silence from God. Job 23:8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. 9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. 12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” Job is feeling the silence from God that happens to all of us. Testing is hard when there is silence. Jesus taught us while dying on the cross when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Yes God had to turn His face for a time but he did not forsake him. Upon hearing this your mind would have turned to Psalm 22 where David says the same thing.1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” After describing exactly what happened to Jesus, he says 24 For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” It feels that God has forsaken us but we know he hasn’t and we will come forth as gold. Job talks about the before and after of his life. He says, Job 30:1 “But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs. “And now those young men mock me in song; I have become a byword among them. 10 They detest me and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face.” This was the greatest man in the east these young men were mocking.
                Then another joins in the tirade against Job. His name was Elihu. I would describe this young man as an egotistical narcissist. Job 32:2 “Elihu became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. 4 Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 5 But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.”9 It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right. 12 I gave you my full attention. But not one of you has proved Job wrong; 8 For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; Job 33:3 “My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know.14 For God does speak—now one way, now another-    though no one perceives it. Then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”10 “So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. 11 He repays everyone for what they have done; he brings on them what their conduct deserves.” Elihu then states 4 “Men of understanding declare, wise men who hear me say to me, 35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.’ 36 Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man! 37 To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.” Yes Job is being tested to the utmost but not for what they think! He goes on and says 16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words.”
                So now you see the arrogant narcissist shine. He says Job 36:2 “Bear with me a little longer and I will show you that there is more to be said in God’s behalf. 3 I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. 4 Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you.” Elihu actually thinks he is speaking for God. He then tries to describe the powers of God, which is not even close to God describing his own powers later to Job.
                So for the last while Job has had to put up with this young whippersnapper as they used to be called. Now it is a know it all or might I say generally speaking, millennial (the me, me, me generation.)  I won’t get into this topic now but as one site I read from a young writer reflecting on church and the millennial perspective, there was nothing in it about personal responsibility, humility and submission to the word for God. It was all blame blame blame! Here is what you could be doing better but no submission to spiritual authority. Again “the know it all” perspective meanwhile totally putting down preaching as not important which falls under apostles preacher evangelist, prophets and teachers. You can’t mentor someone who doesn’t submit to spiritual authority and the word of God. This kind of spiritual ignorance only leads to further desolation. Romans 10:2 “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” 1 Timothy 1:7 “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” Many talk of scripture as if they actually understand but it is more of a personal feeling than fact.  
                So we have the lecture from this young man to Job his senior in everyway. Here is God’s response to this talk. Job doesn’t even have to respond as God intervenes and says Job 38:1 “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: 2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” Then we hear from God and wow. God says 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” After the first series of questions like a tornado, Job responded3 Then Job answered the Lord: 4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. 5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” Remember he had no idea why all this happened to him. God then starts again “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” Now we see true humility before God. Job 42:1 “Then Job replied to the Lord: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 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. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
               As he responded to the words said to Elihu, Job is humbled before God and repents. He now knew God. Then God blessed Job in a mighty way. I wonder if these next ten children will pay more attention to Job’s blameless life before God. Job 42:7 “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.” All along Job was okay. Just as at the beginning Job do not sin nor did he curse God. The tables were turned on his friends but there was no mention of Elihu, he was dealt with according to his folly. He was left out. I would say the enemy was prompting him.
                There are times when God does things in our lives that make no sense to others. We might not even have an explanation for it other than we will not turn away from scripture. Yes they will deny that God is at work in your life but we know that his plan for us will not be thwarted. Both Moses and Elijaha said let the people know this was not my idea but God’s. Some just have a hard time understanding mostly because they are not in tune with how God works. We must persevere. We may not have the answers as to why this is happening but we will not curse God and die. We will persevere no matter what. David said also Psalm 27:12 “Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
                When the day comes and the Holy Spirit moves among us, the response will be the same. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” As of now God is not understood since there is no fear of Him. No fear means no knowledge. As of now the Holy Spirit is not convicting. But when that time comes many will despise themselves and repent. So no matter if people mock you for following God’s way because they do not understand or if the enemy assails you, don’t give up. Be strong and courageous as no plan of the Lord can be thwarted. 12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part and so Job died, an old man and full of years.