What’s Your Bottom Line?

Job 19

Often think of “bottom line” in terms of what you refuse to compromise or give up; at what point do you stop negotiating. Another way to look at it: when you get to your bottom line, what do you have? What are you counting on in a particular situation? what holds you up when life is hard? when you are being persecuted?

If hadn’t been made clear before this, Job now had to come to grips with reality that he was place where he must decide: what will he cling to, what will he count on for survival, for hope. Job had already lost much, had no choice in the matter. But,…had a few things left; his integrity, his worldview, his value system.

To put it a different way: Job is up at bat, down two strikes, here comes (potentially) strike three. Job puts all his remaining strength into the swing: is it a long out or a home run?

A. strike 1 – fouled

wronged by friends v.3

needed mercy from them (21), instead got something much different; if you want to be helpful friend, must be quick to show mercy

Jesus puts an implied condition on mercy: Matt. 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

just like forgiveness: Luke 11:4 “forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”

friends had tormented him, chewed him up and spit him out, humiliated and mistreated him without embarrassment (2-3)

other “friends” had turned away from him, forgotten him (13-14); closest friends had come to detest him (19)

what made it hardest to bear: friends showed no feeling for Job – “You are not ashamed that you have wronged me”

no tears, no “this is going to hurt me more than you”, no sincere expressions of compassion or sympathy – just piled on the criticism and rebuke and accusations without any let-up (ten times)

wronged by God v.6

makes you want to dodge the lightning – can someone really complain against God this way and escape?

given God’s evaluation of Job at both ends of the book (Job 1:1, 1:8, 2:3, 42:7) Job spoke the best he could from his perspective at the time and he didn’t stop pursuing clearer truth

Job had two primary complaints against God – treated as an enemy and without explanation

Job experienced all kinds of persecution from God that made Job look like an evil monster; God had not made it clear that there was another explanation, Job really wasn’t a monster

a secondary complaint that came from frustration: Job was trying to understand God and his ways; instead of cooperating with Job, God was hiding from him, putting roadblocks in his way

surrounded with His net (6), blocked the path (7a), obscured his way (7b), removed strength and hope (10), brought in reinforcements against Job (12)

can hear Job crying out: “I just want to be vindicated; tell them it’s not my fault, I’ve been wronged but there is no justice.”

wronged by body v.20

“I have escaped alive with only the skin of my teeth.” – health is gone, body is shot, only barely escaped death

physical condition such that others (even close family) don’t want to be near him (17)

frustration that many deal with today – body that refuses to cooperate in way we’d like

progressive change due to aging process; disease that slowly incapacitates (ALS, MD, cancer); sudden “accident” – Joni Eareckson Tada, military vet

what is the end God has in view for each of these circumstances? – was Job’s question, Joni’s question, others who cannot see how justice is served in their situation

B. strike 2 – failed

counted on fairness (justice) v.7

fairness requires a hearing – listen to both sides or at least whole story, then decide what is fair and just

Job struck out twice – failed to get hearing from people in his life, sure seemed like God had turned deaf ear as well

didn’t matter how hard he tried, friends refused to really listen to Job, receive his testimony as credible and true

if anyone should hear with understanding ear, ought to have been friends; rather than falsely accuse him, they of all people should have jumped to his defense; he would have done, perhaps already had done, the same for them

didn’t seem to make difference what Job did, God remained hidden and remote and silent; God for sure could have set the record straight

so is WCF right? Q4: What is God?

A4: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

if justice is essential component of God’s nature, should be able to count on justice prevailing; we can, but must be patient, recognize it will come according to God’s plan on his schedule

counted on friends v.13-14, 18-19

if culture, justice system, wasn’t going to come through for Job, surely his friends and neighbors would

instead of coming to his aid or defense, did their best to pretend they didn’t know him

don’t be too hard on them – have you ever said “don’t drag me into this; you’re on your own here, I don’t want any part of it”

didn’t matter that Job had previously treated them well; loyalty of friends didn’t go as far as sharing in his hard times

Job credits God with turning his friends against him; God appeared to be systematically putting Job in isolation

first, communication with God is cut off; Job prays, calls out to God, never makes it past the ceiling; only response: silence, of the deafening kind

second, supportive communication from community cut off; if friends / acquaintances have anything to say to Job, is negative and accusatory and disrespectful

third, final circle of relationships is cut off

counted on family v.15-17

not even recognized and acknowledged in his own home – master of the house is treated like a stranger who doesn’t belong and who has no privileges

wasn’t for lack of family or distance – had brothers and sisters who lived in the neighborhood

Job 42:11Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.

Job credited God with turning family away from him, making his isolation complete from those who should help him

as if Job were incarcerated, put in solitary confinement, only visitors those who came to torment him and try to change his mind, persuade him of his evil – would he be overcome by his circumstances?

C. strike 3? – overcome

framed by persecution v.22, 28

even though it didn’t make sense for God to treat him that way, felt like God was persecuting him – his friends just adding their licks in to what God started

God’s silence as hard for Job to bear as the accusations of his friends – if God wouldn’t respond, what would that mean about his faith?

sustained by hope v.23-24

even though Job’s present reality and worldview / belief system in conflict, wasn’t prepared to give up his hope

confident that at some future time truth would be acknowledged, he would be vindicated – men would agree with what God already declared (although Job didn’t know it!)

bottom line: faith v.25-27

of a particular sort: centered in resurrection – see 1 Cor. 15:13-19

Job’s friends wanted him to recognize greatness of his sin; Job wanted his friends to recognize greatness of his Savior

From this point forward, Job says no more about arbiters or witnesses or redeemers. Instead, he intensifies his quest to find God (Job 23) and to argue his innocence before the Almighty with a force that requires response (Job 31). Balentine

When absolutely everything else has failed or been taken away, what is the one thing you have left? Is your bottom line a creed? Memorized and can recite in good conscience the Apostle’s Creed. Is it a confession? Full subscription to LBCF or WCF or SD or BFM. Perhaps it’s membership. Been a baptized member of such-and-such church for 47 years. Remember, this is the final thing in which you have confidence in, that it’s going to get you through whatever comes next. Or how about a conversion experience? Raised your hand; walked an aisle; prayed a prayer; made a decision.

Are two people whose experiences along with Job are worthy of considering.

“Mariam [Ibrahim], who just gave birth in prison chains [in Sudan], is condemned to die for “apostasy,” that is, violating Sharia law by becoming a Christian. She’s also charged with “adultery,” because her marriage to a Christian man isn’t recognized. [Her brother Al Samani Al Hadi told CNN he turned his sister into authorities because his family are “Muslim people.”] …Mariam’s husband tells the press that she refused, despite all she has been through, to renounce the name of Jesus.”

“Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent, was sentenced in early 2013 to eight years in prison for his involvement in Iran’s house church movement. …The American Center for Law and Justice reported May 20 that Saeed had been returned to prison after spending two months in a hospital to receive treatment for injuries inflicted by prison officials. He was severely beaten at the hospital before being returned to prison, ACLJ reported. Prison guards have told Abedini that they can and will increase his jail sentence unless he stops telling fellow prisoners about Jesus.”

Bottom line for these persecuted Christians: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

I trust your bottom line is Jesus – your resurrected and living Redeemer whose name you refuse to renounce, the one you refuse to stop telling others about.

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