Sermon: "The Faith of Job"

        Last week we looked at the faith of Abraham who Romans 4:3 “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Paul said Romans 4:18 “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” We saw that Hebrews 11:17 “by faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.” Just at the right time God provided a way.

        Today we will be looking at the faith of Job and asking how does your faith stand up while under testing and great pressure / adversity? Job lost everything, his reputation, great wealth, his children died, and lost his health but Job continued to be faithful and did not waver. James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” Not only did Job lose everything, he had an onslaught of naysayers against him trying to get him to give up, yet Job did not curse God. Even though Job suffered greatly, God acknowledged that Job had spoken truth, unlike his friends who tried to turn him from the truth. In spite of losing everything, Job persevered. To persevere means to “continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success,” but like faith, as we talked about last week, perseverance can also be based solely on our own abilities. Many people have lost everything and started over but have not surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and live for themselves only. Man can and has accomplished amazing things and there are countless stories of men and woman persevering under considerable opposition. There are many who have lost everything and started over. They have climbed the highest mountains and even beyond those great heights into space. Explorers prevailed under insurmountable odds against them. Inventions have been made that took years to come to fruition, and some in the face of opposition as many were mocked for even thinking their idea was a possibility. I thought this article on the laptop was interesting. A writer from the New York Times (1985) said “Was the laptop dream an illusion, then? For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.” I think you can see how ironic that last statement especially when it comes to smart phones. The laptop would eventually explode into the market. Again, this type of perseverance is different than what we will be talking about today. 

        Persevering in one’s own strength is different that persevering because you believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and that He will fulfill His promise according to His word as found in scripture which is truth. Everything you do is about God, so you persevere for Him and in His strength because you believe in His word. You refuse to waver because as we see in Malachi 1:14 “I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” Hebrews 12:25 “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?” The psalmist said Psalm 71:5 “For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. 6 From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. 7 I have become a sign to many; you are my strong refuge. 8 My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” Paul knew what it meant not to waver in his belief. He said Acts 20:22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Paul said to Timothy 2 Timothy 1:5 “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” It is important here to understand that when you stand firm on something, it better be the truth of God’s word not in what your hands have and can make. Paul shows us that previously he was zealous but for the wrong purpose. Acts 22:3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.” Then Paul literally saw the light (Acts 22:6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?”) and from that point on served Jesus, the truth, way and life with everything he had. We persevere not to finish our race but to complete the race God has set before us. We saw this with Job.

        If we think about Job for a moment, here was a great man of wealth who was blessed, not only financially but also through his family and he was respected in his community. After he lost everything, Job described his previous life this way. Job 29:2 “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil. 7 “When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, 8 the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet; 9 the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands; 10 the voices of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. 11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me. 21 People listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. 22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. 23 They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. 24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. 25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners.” The book of Job starts off describing Job this way. 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. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.” God said this about Job. Job 1:8 “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” After he lost everything God said again Job 2:3 “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.” Job really helps us understand what it means to fear God.

        When you look at the book of Job, you see Job’s life literally explode in the first two chapters. The first chapter is an annihilation of all that he had, and the second chapter was the loss of his health and all of this for no reason at all, even though his friends tried to tell him there must be a reason. The book of Job is forty-two chapters long, but the first two chapters are only spent on what caused his suffering. Most of the rest of the book is about Job’s so-called friends trying to convince him that he is a sinner and has done something to deserve all this. The final chapters are reserved for God. Most of the book of Job focuses on Job persevering through loss as seen in those first two chapters and standing firm on his belief in God through a barrage of doubt cast upon him by his friends. It is important to understand that satan was still present in that barrage from his friends. The book of Job goes back and forth between the thoughts of his friends and Job’s response to his friends. Job would not give in and said Job 27:2 “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter, 3 as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, 4 my lips will not say anything wicked, and my tongue will not utter lies. 5 I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. 6 I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” Again if you are going to say this, make sure you are zealous for the truth and not the teachings of man as many are zealous to the point of death for other gospels. This back and forth lasted right up till the point God says enough while Elihu, the arrogant young man is still speaking. God said Job 38:2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”

        When you start at the beginning of Job you get a picture of God and satan. First of all, God is sovereign and is in control of everything as we see in Job 1:6 “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.” We know the satan is called the prince of this world. John 12:31 “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” We also know that Revelation 12:9 “the great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” We know that the world was satan’s kingdom, that is till Jesus came. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” In that kingdom satan had great power. In his arrogance he even tried to deceive Jesus. Luke 4:5 “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours. 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” The devil is working hard to destroy the people of God, but Jesus came to set us free. It is imperative that you understand satan wants to destroy you so you must stand firm of God’s word. You must also understand that when we are clothed with power from on High, we can destroy satan’s work which is what the church was supposed to continue to do. 1 John 3:8 “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Paul was told Acts 26:17 “ I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” It is important to see from Job that God is sovereign over satan, even though he is the prince of this world, satan still had to report before God. We also saw this with the prophet Micaiah. Micaiah said to King Ahab 1 Kings 22:19 “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ 23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.” This is why it is so important to test the spirits because not every spirit is the spirit of God. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

        As satan reported before God, it was actually God who offered up Job to be tested. It is so important that you know and believe God is sovereign. Will your faith in God stand up under pressure? Will you remain faithful to God if God said to satan have you considered (insert your name here). Look at what happened to Joseph. God gave him a dream but ended up a prisoner. He then ended up with great power just as the dream showed him God said to satan Job 1:8 “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.” This is where you find out if you really believe God is sovereign and whether you have submitted your life wholeheartedly to Him. If all this is going to happen, then you know God will be with Job till the end, but Job still had to follow wholeheartedly. It is not satan who gets the final word but God. Here you have a man whom God Himself calls blameless and suddenly Job’s life is turned upside down. Peter said to 1 Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. Obviously satan was looking for someone to devour.” James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Don’t give up before your testing is complete. Many are surprised at the fiery ordeal they are facing and do not trust God enough to see them through their time of testing and they turn away. Jesus described these people when He said, Luke 8:13 “Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” We also saw this happen when Israel was in the desert. Hebrews 3:8 “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that  generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.”

        The only way to endure is to trust God and stand on His word. Proverbs 3:11 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” As you trust God remember to 1 Peter 5:8 “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Don’t be like Job’s friends who were convinced that Job had sinned and deserved what was happening to him. We must be able to discern the difference as there are many times the onslaught by satan is due to rebellion. This is not the case in Job. Job described the ramblings of his friends like this. Job 16:2 “I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! 3 Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? 4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. 5 But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” Job’s friends said things like this Job 11:2 “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 (God did later), that he would open his lips against you (but not against Job) 6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin. 13 “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, 14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, 15 then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. 16 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. 17 Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. 18 You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. 19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. 20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.” Job 18:2 “When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk.” Later Elihu conveyed this message from others Job 34:34 “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.” Job said Job 17:2 “Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility.” Job 21:3 “Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.” 

        Even though Job lost everything, he had to endure this onslaught on his character from his ignorant friends. Job had no idea what was happening yet remained faithful to God. His friends and those around him had no idea what was happening but decided they knew better, even though as Job said 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!” They did not understand what God was doing but we on the other hand have no excuse. We have the bible and the book of Job. You can read chapters one and two and then flip over to chapter forty-two and see the outcome. Job 1:2 “He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants.” Job 42:10 “the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.” He also once again had seven sons and three daughters. Job 42:16 “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.” You can also see it in James 5:7 “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10 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.” We have the word of God before us, so we have no excuse. Job didn’t know what God was doing but we do, so be prepared and don’t be surprised about the fiery ordeal that is happening to you. 

        Like Abraham and Job were tested, we also will be tested. Job 23:10 “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Psalm 66:10 “For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” John 15:20 “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” Paul said to Timothy 2 Timothy 3:10 “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Job said Job 42:5 “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Many who call themselves Christians will quickly fail the test because they are not grounded in the word of God. Matthew 13:20 “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.” They go to church and call themselves Christians but that is about it and the first sign of trouble they turn away.     

        When God uses people, He tests them but most just want the blessing without the test. In preparation for his ministry, Paul was taught by the Spirit of God. Galatians 1:14 “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.” Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:1 “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Paul showed us what it is like to persevere. If we jump to the end of Job, we see God say this. Job 42:7 “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. 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.” God tested Job to the extreme. If God is going to use you, you will be tested. God had said to satan Job 1:12 “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.” Right then he lost oxen, sheep, donkeys, camels and servants. Then his sons and daughters were killed. The in chapter two we see God allow satan to go after Job himself. Job 2:4 “Skin for skin!” satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 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. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.” Your testing may not be as severe as Job’s but it might, so be prepared by standing on God’s word. No matter what, do not turn away from God.

        Later in Job we see the effect of all this tragedy on his life yet he did not turn against God. Job 30:1 “But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs. 9 “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. 11 Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence.” Job 19:13 “He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. 14 My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me. 15 My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner; they look on me as on a stranger. 16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer, though I beg him with my own mouth. 17 My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family. 18 Even the little boys scorn me; when I appear, they ridicule me. 19 All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. 20 I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.”

        Even after Job lost all his possessions and his children, he still remained faithful. 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.” In these first two chapters we see that satan was trying to get Job to curse God. After Job was inflicted with sores, his wife said “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” That is what satan wanted from Job. satan had said “stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” and “stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job did not listen and said Job 2:10 “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.” Then his friends got involved which is where most of Job takes place. First you have the three friends going at Job and they fail to get Job to waver. Job 32:1 “So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 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. 12 not one of you has proved Job wrong; none of you has answered his arguments.” Then Elihu begins to speak 17 I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know. 18 For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; (remember, test the spirits). Job 33:1 “But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say. 2 I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue. 3 My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know. 4 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 31 “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.” Job 35:16 “Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words.” Elihu arrogantly said 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.” This arrogant young man was not speaking for God and the spirit of God was not in Elihu. As he was speaking it was not Job who answered this time but God who said out of the storm. Job 38:2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” God cuts him off and you will notice he was not among the three friends that were prayed for. Be careful who listen to! Many will sound as if they are speaking for God but are not.

        Job showed us a picture of perseverance that started with God testing him. God presented Job to satan and in the end Job persevered because he knew who it was that he believed in. Job 19:25 “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!” David said the same Psalm 27:13 “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.” Job understood that God was sovereign above all. Job 9:4 “His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? 5 He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. 6 He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. 7 He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. 8 He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. 9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. 10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. 11 When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him. 12 If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ Solomon said Ecclesiastes 8:4 “Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?” Even King Nebuchadnezzar understood this after his trial in the wilderness. Daniel 4:34 “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” Too many people question God and say what have you done or what are you doing, thinking that they know better than God and refuse to submit to His will. Others refuse to wait for God’s plan to unfold and miss the blessings that God has for those who wait on Him.

        Job believed that God would hear his case. We see this when Elihu was mocking Job. Job 35:14 “How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him, 15 and further, that his anger never punishes and he does not take the least notice of wickedness. 16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words.” When David was being pursued by Saul, he said 1 Samuel 24:14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” Jeremiah said Lamentations 3:58 “You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life. 59 Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause! 60 You have seen the depth of their vengeance, all their plots against me. Isaiah 34:8 “For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.” We are told 2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” When we commit to God and serve Him wholeheartedly as Job did, even when he had lost everything God will be with us. He will uphold our cause. 

        You may be in the midst of something unbearable and you think there is no hope. If you have submitted to God and serve Him wholeheartedly, you would be wrong in thinking there is no hope. Again, it is important to make sure you are not being zealous for other gospels of which so many are, but make sure you are following the true gospel of Jesus Christ. We are promised that there will be power just as there was with Jesus and His disciples, and that power will return if we seek God and follow His word once again. Peter said Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Because the church has turned away from God’s word and rebelled against Him, we have lost the power that was available to us, but it is not gone forever. God wants to bless us with His presence once again. Ezra 9:8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.” Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.” Job knew who His redeemer was and followed faithfully.

        The amazing part of this account is that Job who was considered blameless, stood before God and humbled himself. As we saw earlier, God intervened when Elihu was speaking, said, Job 38:2 “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” but it was Job who responded by humbling himself before God. After God spoke to Job, Job responded by saying Job 42:2 “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.” This is where we should start if we want to get back on track. Solomon concludes the book of Ecclesiastics by saying Ecclesiastes 12:3 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Jesus said Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Most Christians have heard of Jesus but don’t really know Him because they do not know His word. Not only do they not know His word, they also don’t expect what they read to be possible for today. They have no problem accepting God’s word as truth for when it was written but not possible for today. Most Christians fall into this category. They agree that Jesus performed miracles but no longer believe that signs, wonders and miracles are part of the church and most have accepted that as truth but to accept that as truth means you have to reject what scripture clearly states. The ones who do expect miracles and signs have been deceived by the signs they desire because they have not tested the spirits. 

        We are told to turn from our own ways and God would come near. 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” Jeremiah 29:10 “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” 

        In the first example there was no rain and in the second example Gpd’s people were in captivity. Today’s church is in a famine of hearing the word of the Lord and is not blameless as Job was. The church has rebelled against God’s word by not adhering to it and going their own way. The church today does not fear God, therefore there is a lack of knowledge and people are perishing. While there are some who have been faithful, by wholeheartedly following God’s word, for the most part the church has rebelled against God’s word. This has happened because deceit was allowed to prosper. Daniel 8:25 “He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” We were warned about the abomination that causes desolation, but the church refused to listen and now is desolate. Deception and delusion abounded in the church and instead of prevailing against our enemies, our enemies overcame the church and truth was thrown down. Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” The church has paid a high price for its rebellion but as the verse above said, the end of this abomination is coming and the truth will once again be revealed to the world. While Job was blameless, the church did not follow in his footsteps. We were told, 2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 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 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” The opposite happened and the return of Jesus was slowed down. 

        The church has not been like Job. Matthew 15:7 “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” But we can still learn from Job and if you are still breathing it is not too late to repent. Even Job who was blameless despised himself in the presence of God. We too need to despise ourselves and repent. We also must believe what God tells us in His word and wait patiently for Him to fulfil His word just as He did for Job. James 5:11 “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” God has said seek me and you will find. Deuteronomy 4:25 “After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt (Peter said Acts 2:40 “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”) and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.”

        So, we have hope and it is not too late. If we live by faith, we too will be blameless and righteous just as Job and Abraham were and God will fulfil His promise just as He said He would. Zechariah 10:6 “I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.” Ezekiel 37:27 “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Zechariah 9:12 “Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” God blessed Job with twice as much as He had before. Job 42:10 “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Isaiah 61:7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.” God even tells us Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” That is not just about money but committing our lives wholly to God. Jesus said do not worry. Jesus also told us to not put any one or thing before Him. Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Job taught us this and we see God fulfil His promise to him at the end of his trial. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Man thinks they are in control, but they are not. God is sovereign, so it only makes sense to turn to the one who controls everything. Many only expect what their own hands can make but refuse to wait on the one who made the world with a word. 

         As you wait for God to act and He will act, do not be afraid or dismayed. Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” They took the land but did not obey, so they not only lost the land but were taken into captivity but there was still hope just as there is still hope today. Jeremiah said Jeremiah 29:10 “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 30:10 “‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid.”

        Job is an amazing book of the bible and shows the great faith and perseverance of a man under severe circumstances. Job shows us the sovereignty of God but also shows us the great lengths satan will undertake to undermine your faith in God’s word. His sole purpose is to destroy you by getting you to turn from God’s word and take you to hell, the place that was prepared for him. Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” satan has done this from the beginning. Genesis 2:1 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” satan has been getting people to question God ever since but ever since, God has provided a way to stand firm and not turn against Him. No, he doesn’t force you to obey but He gives us the strength to persevere. Psalm 68:32 “Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth, sing praise to the Lord, 33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens, who thunders with mighty voice. 34 Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the heavens. 35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people Praise be to God!” Isaiah 40:27 “Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in 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.” Luke 18:8 “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

        Do you have the faith of Job? To have this faith we must stand on God’s word and believe all that He says. Don’t give up before you see God’s plan unfold for your life. You have a choice whether to obey or to continue to rebel against God. You can continue to listen to satan or tell him to stand behind you. Ask God to open your eyes and ears so that you can see and hear not only the devastation that has overtaken the church, but the hope God has given us when we return to Him. Ephesians 1:17 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” 2 Chronicles 30:9 “If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” Job 42:16 “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.”