There Was a Man in the Land of Uz

Job 1:1-5

Probably familiar with at least the basics of Job and his story: Job the good guy, Satan the bad guy. Bad guy takes all of value that belonged to good guy. Even wrecks his health. Then his friends. Those guys, did fine until they started talking; what Satan didn’t take away they tried to. God shows up, puts everyone in their place, gives Job back twice what he had before (except for number of kids!). Everyone lived happily ever after. Except Satan.

Book summarized by Psalm 34:19Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” That according to Joseph Caryl, 17th-century pastor, 424 sermons later wasn’t sure he had done as well as he could with his understanding and exposition. Don’t get nervous, not planning that many sermons on Job! But,… see if you have same perspective on Job come next Christmas.

Two questions addressed by Job, friends:

First question: Is it consistent with the justice and goodness of God to afflict the righteous? Asked another way: Is it consistent with God’s justice and goodness for it to go badly for good people and go well for evil people?

Second question: Can we properly determine the righteousness or unrighteousness of a person by their present circumstances? by the way God appears to be dealing with them?

Here’s logical argument of Job’s friends: God cannot afflict a righteous man. Job is severely afflicted. Job is not righteous. (He must be a great sinner or great hypocrite.) That’s probably the majority view among professed Christians today. Something bad happens to someone, what do we often say? “Boy, you must have really messed up to deserve that!” Not necessarily the perspective Bible teaches.

This morning, a few things by way of introduction to this man and the inspired record of his experiences: first his story, then his character, his stature, his piety, and finally the lessons he teaches us.

A. his story

a real person (cp. Ezekiel 14:14, 20; James 5:11)

“word of the Lord” through prophet Ezekiel – Job grouped with Noah and Daniel as examples of righteous people

James presumed his readers were familiar with Job and his story

both Ezekiel and James write as though it’s a given – Job was real historical person: was righteous, demonstrated perseverance

only enough declared about his identity to affirm historical reality of his existence

left vague enough – his genealogy, his country of origin, etc – so any reader can connect with him

probably lived sometime between Noah and Abraham – he sacrificed for his family; his age ~200 (Job 42:16)

a real story, not a parable

sure, major portion of story written in poetic form; however,…. specific details given about Job and his friends not found in parable

real life people struggling with real life issues; attempting to find answers to some important questions

some say story deals with theodicy – branch of theology that deals with the problem of evil, tries to answer question: “If God is good, why is there evil?”

Job and his story far more personal than an answer to a theoretical question. Job addresses something we can all relate to: “Why do the righteous suffer?”

Job doesn’t get direct answer to that question; instead learns some far more important truths

important to recognize we have important pieces of information hidden from Job, his wife, his friends – God’s opinion of Job, God’s dealings with Satan

gives us “some” understanding of what was going on; Job, his wife, friends totally in the dark about God’s perspective

B. his character v.1

toward fellow man (external):

blameless – could not be charged with wrongdoing; even those on the right road hobble along, yet was known for his integrity

upright – works showed how Spirit of God reigned in his soul; openness before men – what is inside is shown outside

read Job 29:12-17 – wasn’t just a front, an act; Job had genuine compassion for the needy

side note: means Job’s wealth didn’t come to him at expense of poor and needy – unlike Pharisees of Jesus’ day who “devoured widows’ houses” (Mark 12:40)

toward God (internal):

feared God – heart devoted to God

not only saw true religion as important for himself, did his best to pass that principle along to his children

Job not a sinless man but one who was truly godly to his very core; made sure there was nothing to hinder his fellowship with God (regular sacrifice – confession and forgiveness)

shunned evil – kept himself at a distance from sin

deliberately stayed away from those people / situations that would encourage him to sin

too many want to be as much like world as possible and still be a Christian; how close can I get without too much rubbing off?

Job’s perspective – how can I get closer to God, farther from sin; closer one is to God, more distasteful sin becomes

description of Job in v.1 “borrowed” from – see Job 1:8; 2:3 – not simply author’s perspective, reflects reality as God saw it

C. his stature v.2-4

family man – wife and ten kids

home / family life such they still liked one another as adults – v.4; instilled certain values in his children

wasn’t a case of “do as I say, not as I do”; that wears out, doesn’t get carried on, perpetuated after kids leave home

same principles – justice, mercy and humility (Mic. 6:8) – that governed Job’s attitude and heart toward neighbors applied to family also

wealthy man – critters plus acreage plus servants

animals alone represent significant wealth – in today’s language, an impressive portfolio

then consider all that is typically associated with that number and kind of animals

pasturage for flocks and herds – 11,500 “hay burners” need a lot of grazing land to be adequately nourished

acreage for 500 “yoke” to cultivate in addition to pasture – perhaps things that could be traded for other items

goods for camels to transport in international commerce – wool or products from 7000 sheep, produce that had been cultivated

and all the servants necessary to take care of the animals, work the animals, shear the sheep, harvest the crops, manage trading caravans

leading man – “greatest of all” in the community

not a kid – ten children all grown; probably about 30 when first was born, 60-70 at time his troubles began

had credibility in the community – opportunity to observe business practices, results of child-rearing; had earned respect of people across socio-economic spectrum

read Job 29:8-10, 21-25 – position of honor and respect given voluntarily; not bought or coerced by Job

D. his piety v.5

faith in God

God would keep his promises if Job obeyed – God said would accept burnt offering as atonement for sin

concern for faith of his family

had certainly done his part while they were growing up; continued to pray, intercede with God on their behalf; desired their holiness (“sanctify them”) more than their happiness or prosperity

spiritual leader in his household

didn’t wait for children to make the first move; “Job would send”, taking the lead, instructing and setting example for wife (2:9-10) and children

diligence in duty

taking lead in worship was Job’s habit, his regular custom; this day not a special occasion

E. his lessons

Job was truly righteous man, remember what God said about him! Yet he suffered in every way imaginable – emotional, physical, spiritual

torn apart by the conflict between what he believed and what he experienced; between what he knew of himself and God and what his friends were telling him

desperately wanted answers to his questions, for a time none were forthcoming; when they did come, didn’t really address questions he asked

=> how to handle a cross – “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me” (Mat. 16:24) how should the righteous suffer

question asked is “why”; question answered is “how”; Job never knew “why”, he did learn how to suffer in a godly way

=> affliction has a purpose

God often does not reveal his purpose, he does reveal his character – all he does, even in our affliction, is just and right

=> God is sovereign

over all things and in all things – over all including Satan and his activities; in all including our afflictions

=> true grace is never overcome

Job won the victory, with God’s help; all things do work out for good of those who love God; nothing will come our way by the hand of God that he will not enable us to bear or provide a way of escape

Must not allow suffering, affliction to come between us and God, to push us away from God. Must instead seek God as our only help, our best help in time of need. The NT writer exhorts us: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb. 4:16

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