The Furnace • Job 1 & 2

I.   INTRODUCTION

A.  Explaining God

1.   I received this recently and got a kick out of it, wanted to share it with you this morning . . .

2.   It was written by 8 year old Danny Dutton as a 3rd grade homework assignment; Danny lives in Chula Vista, CA.

3.   The topic was "Explain God". He wrote . . .

"One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things here on earth. He doesn't make grown-ups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way, He doesn't have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.

"God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times besides bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV on account of this. Since He hears everything, not only prayers, there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off. God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere, which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting His time by going over your parent's head asking for something they said you couldn't have.

"Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista. At least there aren't any who come to our church.

"Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified Him. But He was good and kind like His Father and He told His Father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said OK. His Dad (God) appreciated everything that He had done and all His hard work on earth so He told Him He didn't have to go out on the road anymore, He could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps His Dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones He can take care of  Himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important, of course. You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to hear you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the times.

"You should always go to Church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God. Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong! And, besides, the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.

"If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared in the dark or when you can't swim very good and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids. But you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you.

"I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases. And that's why I believe in God."

B.  Faith

1.   Danny is certainly no theological prodigy

2.   But there is an innocent simplicity to his faith that God can build a solid work on

3.   Danny illustrates something that we who are more mature and learned must never forget:

a.   when you boil it all down to it's simplest terms,

b.   what it's all about is faith; simple faith!

4.   Our lives are lived by faith in Christ; daily, abiding faith

5.   In Romans 14:23 Paul writes . . .

. . . Whatever is not from faith is sin.

6.   The Faith Chapter, Hebrews 11, puts it like this . . .

Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

C.  The Book of Job

1.   We're starting a new book of the Bible this morning

2.   Since we just finished 2 Corinthians it's now time for us to jump back to the OT and take a look at the Book of Job

3.   Now, if you pick up a commentary on Job and read the introductory background material, it will inevitably say the theme of the book is to answer the question of suffering:  Why do good people suffer?

4.   While that is certainly an issue covered in Job, I have to respectfully disagree with the esteemed commentators

5.   It's my humble belief the theme of Job is faith - and I hope to prove that in the message this today

6.   It is my firm conviction that what we will look at this morning is one of the most important lesson the Christian can learn

7.   And it is my hope this message will bring comfort and hope to those who are suffering

II.  TEXT

A.  Read ingA Lot

1.   We are going to be reading more than usual so we can set the scene of the book

2.   For our purposes this morning, I'll only be summarizing most of what we read

3.   In our study on Wednesday evening, we'll get in to these things in much greater depth

B.  1:1-5 = Enter The Hero

1.   The main character of the story is Job

a.   a good and godly man who lived in the region called Uz

b.   this is believed to be somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula

c.   he was wealthy and well known

d.   had a huge estate and a large family

e.   Job had done a good job raising his children because even after they were grown they maintained a sense of unity that found itself being expressed in regular reunions

2.   Part of Job's virtuous character was seen in the great care he took to ensure his family was right with God

a.   he reasoned that in the midst of his children's merry-making, they might become too festive and forget God

b.   so when the party was over, he would sponsor a special time for the family to gather, offer sacrifices and renew their commitment to God

3.   This means of course, that Job lived before the giving of the law and the institution of the priesthood in Israel

4.   Everything we read about Job in these first verses presents him as a standout in the pages of scripture

C.  1:6-12= Enter the Villain

1.   Now the scene shifts to heaven

2.   The angels come before the Lord, apparently each bringing some kind of report

3.   Among them is Satan - a name which means "adversary"

4.   He has been cruising the Earth

5.   God asks, and this is noteworthy, if Satan has "considered" Job

a.   the word "considered, " as used here, means to carefully ponder

b.   what was the devil cruising the earth for - what was he doing?

c.   he was checking things out - he was looking for something

d.   as the adversary to God, he was looking for opportunities to oppose the love and truth of the Almighty

e.   as it says in 1 peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

f.    so God asks Satan if in his prowling about he's encountered Job

g.   and if he's stopped to ponder Job's whole hearted devotion to God

h.   this passage should clue us off to the fact that there is a cosmic debate going on between God and the devil, and that mankind is critical to the outcome

i.    the debate centers on the justice of God; who ousted Satan from his position in heaven when he was formerly known as Lucifer, the chief cherub who seems to have been the official worship leader before God's throne

j.    but Lucifer became proud of his own beauty and wisdom and thought to unseat God and take the throne for himself

k.   his bid for supremacy over God was defeated, and he was demoted and removed from his place

l.    now, in his unreserved pride and rebellion he has set up his own system and decries the justice of God for removing him and stripping him of his powers

m.  and so the debate goes on - and faithful men and women are part of God's answer to the baseless charges of Satan

n.   So God brags on Job:  he is a faithful man who loves and serves God and refuses evil

6.   But the devil's retort is that the only reason Job is so faithful, is because God has been so good to him

7.   Satan defames Job's faith by insinuating it is only mercenary

8.   If God were to pull back the protective hedge he's placed around Job, and the devil could have at him for a season, the Job would prove himself to be as false as anyone else

9.   God responds to Satan's challenge - "You're on!  You can go ahead and have at Job.  Just one thing, you can’t touch him personally or physically."

10. Why would God allow this?

a.   that's the big question that occupies the rest of the book of Job

b.   it's the desperate cry from Job's own lips - "Why God?"

c.   now, here's the rub, here's the hard part:

d.   we read to the end of the book and discover, GOD NEVER TELLS JOB WHY ALL THIS HAPPENED TO HIM!!!!!!!!!!

e.   you and I know, because we are privy to what took place in the heavenlies

f.    but Job never does find out in the book

11. The point is this: there are some things that we may never discover the reason for in this life

12. But we must trust that God, in His infinite wisdom and love, does indeed have a reason

13. There is a reason for EVERYTHING that God does and God allows

14. Some of those reasons have to do with the cosmic debate between heaven and hell

15. This becomes even more clear as we read on . . .

D.  1:13-19 = Catastrophe!

1.   In a moment of time, Job loses everything

a.   all his property is wiped out

b.   he even loses his precious children

2.   What will his reaction be?

3.   Will he curse God, as the devil said?

E.  1:20-22 = Job's Response

1.   Job's response shows the very height of grief

a.   he tore his clothes and shaved his head

b.   these were the most intense means of grieving in that time

2.   Then he resigns himself into God's hand

a.   he had been born with nothing

b.   and when he died, he could take nothing with him

c.   all that he had in-between birth and death and been from the good and gracious hand of God

d.   and if the God who gave it chose to take it, how could Job protest?

e.   indeed - God didn't ever have to give it in the first place

f.    so praise God for the time he was allowed to enjoy it

3.   Then, as a summary and analysis of Job's response, we read in v. 22 that he never sinned in all this - he never charged God with wrong

4.   Satan's charge against Job proved groundless

F.   2:1-6 = The Devil Doesn’t Give Up Easily

1.   Satan returns once again to appear before the throne of God

2.   And the Lord renews the dialog about Job's integrity

3.   Score one for the Kingdom of God

4.   But the devil will not be so easily persuaded

5.   In his mind, Job must not have been all that caring about his wealth and his family

6.   Ah - but there is one thing every human being cares about - themselves

7.   Let Job experience some personal physical pain, and he'll be ranting and raving against God

8.   And once more, God allows the devil to have at Job - the only restriction, is that the devil couldn’t kill him

G.  2:7-8 = Job Is Afflicted With Boils

1.   What a lovely picture this suggests to us

2.   Job is covered head to foot with big, green, pussy boils

3.   They are so gross and he is so loathsome he has to scrap himself with the sharp edge of a piece of broken pottery; as he sits in the ashes of his ruined estate

4.   If you've every had a boil, you know how incredibly painful they are

5.   Job was covered with them!

6.   And to make matters worse - the one person who might have provided some understanding and comfort turns against him - his wife!

H.  2:9-10

1.   It seems that Mrs. Job allowed herself to become the mouthpiece of the devil

2.   This is what Satan wanted Job to do - curse God!

3.   But Job knows that he has done nothing that would demand what had happened as a measure of the  judgment of God

4.   Something was happening behind the scenes, but Job knew it wasn't judgment

5.   And he would not be found guilty of accusing God of something unworthy of Him.

6.   Job knew God was just and good, and no matter what happened, he would not let go of his faith in this good and just God

I.    The Great Lesson of Job

1.   This is the great lesson the book of Job teaches us

2.   Faith is believing God, even when all the reasons for believing Him are lost to our sight and experience

3.   You see, Job was a man of faith, great faith

4.   But both Job and the devil needed to see just how great that faith was

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5.   It's relatively easy to believe in the goodness of God when our lives are comfortable and we are experiencing His manifold blessings

6.   It is an altogether different thing to believe in God as all-good and all-loving when things aren't going well

7.   There probably isn’t a person in this room who hasn’t been through a dark time, or an intense trial, and questioned the goodness of God

8.   In fact, chances are, someone here today, lost their faith and trust in God because of some loss or trial

9.   Listen to the lesson of Job - our whole relationship with God is built on faith

a.   the stronger our faith, the closer the relationship

b.   the closer the relationship, the more meaningful and rich life is because we were created for fellowship with God

10. And while God gives us plenty of reasons to love and trust Him, in the final analysis, faith has to be rooted in nothing more than the sheer promise of God, apart from visible evidence

11. Faith is never so strong and precious as it is when it hangs on to God when all the reasons have been stripped away and nothing is left but the bare promise of God

12. That's where Job came to:

a.   everything visible was stripped away

b.   his house, his wealth, his family, his health, and then, finally, even all human companionship - as the rest of the book shows

c.   he was left alone, sitting in the ashes of his past, scrapping himself with a piece of broken pottery

d.   all that was left to him was his faith in God; that He is good and just

e.   that was something that was more precious to him than life itself

f.    yes, he wept bitter tears and asked why of God, but he knew there had to be a reason BECAUSE JOB'S GOD WAS GOOD!

III. CONCLUSION

A.  Us

1.   God wants to bring you and me to that same point

2.   Thank God that doesn’t mean every one of us will have to endure what Job did

3.   It happened to Job so that it might be a lesson to us

4.   But the fact of the matter is - what God is seeking to develop in us is our faith

a.   an He is making that faith pure and strong

b.   He is diligently and consistently pruning and purging us and refining our faith in the furnace of trial

c.   He applies just what measures and pressures He must to make our faith unshakable

d.   that means some of us will indeed follow in Job's footsteps and experience great trial and loss

e.   friend, don’t waste your sorrows

f.    and don’t fall into the devil's trap of questioning the goodness or justice of God

g.   hold on to God: He is Good!

5.   And in the end- though Job never does get an explanation, his faith is rewarded and all is restored

B.  Preparation

1.   During the Depression, some suffered more than others.

2.   One man  his job, his fortune, his wife, and his home, but he held on to his faith ; it was the only thing he had left.

3.   One day he stopped to watch some men building a stone church. 

a.   one of them was chiseling a triangular piece of rock.

b.   because it was an unusually shaped piece, he asked the mason, 'What are you going to do with that?"

c.   the workman said, 'Do you see that little opening way up there near the spire? Well, I'm shaping this down here so that it will fit up there.' 

4    Tears filled the man's eyes as he walked away. 

5.   It seemed that God had spoken through the workman to explain the ordeal through which he was passing.

6.   Perhaps you have suffered a great loss. 

7.   Or maybe you are experiencing tremendous physical or emotional pain. 

8.   All these things are under the loving hand of your heavenly Father, who is using them to prepare you for heaven.

9.   There is a verse that must become to us a staff to guide and support us when the weight of trial presses down

10. Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.