Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Job: The Righteous Suffer

March 8th, 2009 by Vic

When my dad died, grandpa Schoenborn quoted Job 1:21, “The Lord giveth and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  We don’t know why God allowed the doctors to misdiagnose dad’s lung problem, but we still know God is in control.  The book of Job gives some insight into the mind of God.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do the righteous suffer?

Like Job’s friends Christians today try to explain suffering as punishment for sin.  They urge the sufferer to confess and get right with God.  But maybe like Job’s comforters their idea of God may not be God at all.

Job could find no explanation for his suffering.  He wanted a cure for his pain.  He could see the obvious fact that in this world the wicked do not always suffer and the righteous often receive less justice than the wicked.  He knew his heart was right and yet he was miserable and wishing he were dead.

This observation was ignored by Job’s friends.  If Job was right they would have to change their theology.  So they insisted that  Job had sinned and if he would just admit his sin then God would bless him and their theology would be proved right.

Job 1-2 The dilemma is presented.

Job 3-37 The debate and dialogue seems to go in circles.

Job 38-42 God speaks. Job repents. And deliverance comes.

Job 1-2 READ

We do not know where the land of Uz was.  We do not know who wrote this poetic discourse.  Most scholars assume it was written around the time of Abraham.  The book is acclaimed by many as a literary masterpiece.  Remember a camel would be equivalent to our Freightliner.  He had an incredible fleet of trucks.

Everything is going well.  He was rich and respected.  He is concerned about his kids.  He got up early in the morning for his kids.

Satan walks into the heavenly council uninvited.  He leaves in a hurry to mess with Job (12).

Job’s life fell apart, but he never accused God foolishly (22).

2:1 Another heavenly council and Satan is still talking.  He’s still in a hurry to prove God wrong (2:7).  But this is the last time we hear of Satan for hundreds of years.  This gives us insight into an answer for Job’s question, but Job never gets the answer.  Job does not know why he is suffering and God never tells him, but we know.  Job never curses God, but he has a lot of questions.

Satan’s arrogance in a way caused Job’s suffering.  Satan claimed to know everything.  He knew all humans were born in sin and were selfish and self-centered.  Satan’s loud challenge was confronted by God.  God called satan’s bluff.  God knew that man could be faithful.  God knew Job was righteous.  We do not hear about satan after he left heaven in 2:7.  Job’s righteousness silenced satan.  The word ‘satan’ appears 14 times in the first 2 chapters of Job and only 3 other times in all the OT.  The word appears 8 times in Revelation and 16 in the 4 gospels.  Do you suppose there is any significance that satan’s major appearances are in the first book that was written and the last book that was written and during the temptation of Jesus?

Job’s honesty before God on earth silenced the accusations of satan in heaven.  Jesus’ submission to God’s will in the wilderness silenced satan on earth.

Why did God lift His hand of protection from Job?  To prove that satan is a liar and to prove that Job is true.  Why does God remove the hedge of protection around you?  I don’t know.  Maybe you don’t know.  But God has a reason.

Maybe your faithfulness is silencing the accusations/temptations of satan for many others.  We hear no more from satan, but he uses Job’s friends and Job’s wife.

Satan devours all that Job had.  He covers Job’s body with boils or afflicts him with elephantiasis.  Job is sitting on a manure pile or garbage dump scraping his boils (2:10) and yet never sinned with his lips.

2:11 The friends did 3 good things, then started talking.  Like the Jamaican students in Trinidad, when Kevin was hurt, they came and sat in our living room without saying a word.

1. Came to visit.  Job was not pleasant to be with.

2. Sat by Job and wept with him for 7 days.

3. Talked with Job and not about Job.


Job (3:1–26)

“I’m sorry I was ever born. Why didn’t I die at birth?  I’d be better off dead than suffering all this trouble.”

Eliphaz (4:1–5:27)

“I can answer that with your own words.  You said the innocent don’t perish.  You said God punishes the sinner.  God is clearly punishing you, and when you repent, He’ll restore you.”

Job (6:1–7:21)

“I agree that God is making me suffer, but I don’t know why.  Show me what I’ve done wrong!  I wish He’d crush me and get it over with!

“Why does God let this happen?  If I had sinned I would repent and He could forgive.  What’s happening to me?”

Bildad (8:1–22)

“That’s a terrible way to talk!  Is God ever unjust?  Never!

“If you were pure and prayed to God, He’d surely pardon you.  God doesn’t punish the upright.

Job (9:1–10:22)

“How can anyone really be upright with God?  He’s so far above us. What can I say to Him? How can I reach Him?  I wish I could plead my innocence in some court.  But who’s going to judge between me and God?  I say I’m righteous, but God still afflicts me.

“Show me where I sinned. You know I’m not wicked.

Zophar (11:1–20)

“How can you expect to be justified talking like that?

“Why, you’re full of boasting.

“You say. ‘I’m pure, I’m just.’”

“Get your heart right with God, and He’ll still accept you.

Job (12:1–14:22)

“You guys are so smart. You sure know it all.

“Well, I know just as much as you.

“I know God has all wisdom and power.

“I know He sets people up, and knocks them down. Sure God is working in our lives.

“Oh, I wish I could talk to God about it. You stick up for God, and say I must be wrong. Well, you’re wrong!

“I know I’m right. I’d say it to God’s face as well as to yours. I’m right. I haven’t done wrong.

Eliphaz (15:1–35)

“Job, you’re rambling on like a fool. Why, that kind of talk itself condemns you.

“You don’t know everything. God is wiser than you.

“Remember what we know about God.

“It is the wicked man who suffers.

“It is the proud man God brings low—the man who boasts against God.

“It’s the godless who suffer in the end.”

Job (16:1–17:16)

“Oh, you’re a miserable bunch of comforters.

“Whether I talk like this or keep quiet, I still suffer.

“The fact is, God’s against me.

“Scoff if you will. But let heaven and earth be my witness. It’s not happening because of my guilt.

Bildad (18:1–21)

“Why keep on trying to justify yourself?  We all know it’s the wicked man who suffers terrors and falls into calamity.

Job (19:1–29)

“Stop it!  I’m not wicked.  You seen to be afraid to take my side!”

Zophar (20:1–29)

“Don’t you know that ever since men have been on earth that the wicked only get away with sin for a time?

“They might seem to prosper, but in the end God will unleash all the fierceness of His wrath on them.

“That’s what always happens to the wicked man.

Job (21:1–34)

“Well, look around. We each know wicked men who do prosper. They get old. They see their grandchildren. Their houses are safe, nothing bad seems to happen to them.

“God doesn’t use His rod on them.  They say, ‘Why serve God? We’re doing all right without Him.  Where’s the profit in sacrifice and prayer?’

“How often do folks like this really get what they deserve?

“Oh, you say, they get it in the end.

“But when? Why, God’s children seem to suffer more than the ungodly!

“Who repays the wicked? Your answers are all lies!”

Eliphaz (22:1–30)

“Now you’ve shown your true colors.  You said, ‘What’s the profit in prayer?’  You hypocrite!

“Listen, Job, seek God now.  Listen to Him.  If you return to God and put away your sins, He’ll restore all the good things you had.

“Pray. God will hear you.

“God saves the humble man, the innocent. Turn from your sin. You can still be delivered.”

Job (23:1–24:25)

“You don’t listen to what I say.  I wish I could talk to God.  He’d listen. I’m right. I am innocent. God would have to agree.

“But He’s hidden—He’s hiding.

“I’ve done right.

“I’ve done His will.

“I’ve kept His commandments.

“Why does He do this to me?

“God knows what’s happening, but He doesn’t act.  People are murdered.  People steal.  People commit adultery.  The poor suffer.  The wicked prosper!  God is patient with them.  Be honest.  It’s true.  Prove me a liar.”

Bildad (25:1–6)

“God is always right.  We men, how can we be just with God?  How could we, worms that we are, explain His actions?”

Job (26:1–27:12)

“How you’ve helped poor, weak me.  Thanks!

“I know God’s power—His majesty.  How far beyond our conception His might is.

“But as God lives, He’s treating me unjustly.

“I have been righteous.  I’ll hold to that fact as long as I live.


3:3 (Just a note about Job’s argument against abortion.)  Job complains about his conception then complains about his birthday.  At conception the Bible does not call him a fetus, zygote, or blob of tissue, but a person, “a man-child is conceived”

3:11-19  Some religions use this paragraph as proof of soul sleep.  It is important to note that what Job understands about death, God declares is not right.  Some quote Job to affirm that the soul sleeps until Christ returns.  But Jesus said, today you will be with me in paradise.  Paul said to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord.  Be careful about using the wisdom of Job and his friends to build your theology on.  God speaks in 38:2 and reminds Job he is speaking words without knowledge.  In 38:17 God asks Job where he got his information about death.  In 42 God accuses the friends of speaking falsely.

When Christ returns the soul is united with a new body.  I think the Adventists are using Job’s misunderstanding rather than biblical teaching.

1 Thes 4:16 says the dead in Christ get their resurrected body first then those living will get a full body make over so they can meet Him in the air or on our way to meet Him in the air.  Paul says it a different way in 1 Cor 15:51.  We would like to have some answers about death just like Job wanted answers about pain and suffering.  God may be saying, “Just trust Me.”

In chapters 3-37 Job asks a lot of questions and we can see that every question is answered in Jesus.  He asks how he can be made right with God (9:2).  He asks for someone to be an advocate for him.  He wants a mediator that can relate to him.  He wants an umpire (9:33).  He wants someone who really understands man, to explain to God why he as a human is so frustrated about suffering (10:4).  He asks if a man dies will he live again (14:4).  What happens after we die?  Read you Bible.  Some say we are reincarnated in a different life form.  Reincarnation is a false understanding and distortion of our resurrection with Jesus.

READ the Wallace McRae poem

We know that God does care.  Isaiah compares God to a good shepherd.  Jesus also takes the title of the Good Shepherd.  We know that our high priest was tempted in every way like we are.  We know there is only one mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5).  We know there is abundant eternal life in Jesus.  But soul sleep and reincarnation are not biblical truths.

Job believes in a resurrected body that will see God.  “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!” (19:25–26).

We have a redeemer.  There are 3 different words for redemption in the NT.  Jesus is our redeemer.  He is the redeemer who buys a slave to set him free.  Like a parent bailing a child out of jail or a relative kinsman like Boaz who redeemed Ruth.  The other 2 words for redemption mean to buy a slave like a tool, to use and resell.  Or you can buy a bond slave to be with you for life.  Job says his redeemer lives and is coming to earth again.

38:2  God shows up in a whirlwind and answers all the questions with questions.  Why do you talk without knowing what you are talking about?  You know very little about life.  How can you know anything about death?

Be careful about listening to friends before reading God’s word.  The Bible is the best commentary on the Bible.  How often do we accept the counsel of men too quickly?  Why do we trust in the world’s chariots, horses, drugs, and counselors without seeking God?  We don’t like to suffer and we want some answers right now.  We have forgotten that much of the classical music and art came out of very difficult and dark periods of time.  Rather than holding the hand of Jesus, we talk to a psychologist.  Rather than listening for a song in the night, we take a sleeping pill.  Rather than taking out a paper and pencil we turn on the TV and put our mind in neutral.

38:3  Job must have fallen on his face and God says, “Stand up like a man.”  (Job’s still on the ash heap with boils and God is speaking from the eye of the storm.)  Quit feeling sorry for yourself.  Quit using excuses to act depressed.  Be a Tigger not an Eyore.  Think about God.  Think about creation.  Whatever is good and lovely, think on these things.

39:1  Think about the animals.  Do you know their birthdays?  God knows and cares.  Look at the goats, the deer, the donkey, the buffalo, the peacock, the ostrich, the horse, the hawk, the eagle.

40:1  Listen Job, do you understand anything about anything?  Do you think you can have an answer for everything?  Are you trying to tell Me what is going on in your life?

40:3-5  Job says, I’ve talked too much already.  I will shut up and listen.

40:7 God tells him to stand up again.

40:8  Are you trying to prove God wrong and prove yourself right?  What can you do with your right arm on an ash heap?  Can you make yourself successful?

40:15  A very large land creature you can’t control, but God can.

41:1  A very large sea creature you can’t control, but God can.

41:11  So can you control God?  How many things are you capable of really understanding?

42:6 Job repents of his foolish questions.

42:7  God is mad at the wise counselors.  He was angry with the popular wisdom expressed by these wise men because their understanding of God was distorted. (42:7)  If Job will offer a sacrifice for them as he used to do for his children and pray for them, then God will listen to Job’s prayer on their behalf.  Job became their mediator.  The righteous can influence God toward the unrighteous.  10 righteous people could have saved Sodom and Gomorrah.  Christians can be salt and light to the world and our neighborhood.

42:10  After Job had prayed for his friends he got out of his misery.  Forget about yourself and pray for others if you want your circumstances to change.  It could be that Job was on the ash heap until he prayed for his friends.

A major cosmic battle was finished and Satan has been silenced.  A huge victory is being celebrated in heaven.

God does not always give us answers.  We cannot always understand God’s answers.  Sometimes our questions are stupid and he can’t answer them.  “What shape is yellow?”  Can God make a rock too big to lift?  Our brain is too small and God understands.

If God were small enough for us to understand, He would not be big enough to worship.

So what does the book of Job teach you about God?

May He accept our praise and worship!

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