People hope in lots of things. For many different outcomes. Some aspects of hope are not life-changers, others are. Hope in current Red Sox lineup – helps a competitive spirit, not likely to seriously affect quality of your life. Hope in particular group of investors – may grow your retirement income, but outcome mostly applies to this life. How about hope in medical community (insurers, doctors, hospitals, prescriptions) – may have significant impact on quality of life, even length of life. But whether hope is well-placed or not, impact and outcomes limited to life and maybe death but not beyond.
What about hope in something that bridges this life to next, that maybe even has greater application to next life? People hope in different things for that, too. If your good karma outweighs bad, next life will be better; someday you’ll make it to nirvana. If good deeds outweigh bad, especially if you die a martyr, Allah will let you into Paradise. Hell is just old wives’ tale made up to scare naughty children and simple heathen; everybody goes to heaven, eventually.
On surface, might look like someone’s hope has right object, maybe even the same as yours. Looked that way for Job and his friends. They talked a lot about God, used all the good insider language, sure sounded like were all on same page. But…on closer inspection, maybe not. Could make a case that E, B & Z were hoping in their righteousness, their good deeds to guarantee their future – “God has to treat the righteous OK, you know!” If that was object of their hope, had a serious problem Yes, Job had his integrity, his righteousness, but that wasn’t what he trusted in to make him acceptable before God.
A. I really am righteous v.1-6
very few criminals readily confess their crime; always have a story, explanation why not their fault, didn’t happen that way, someone else really to blame, you just don’t understand; then there’s one like
Jonathan Fleming, 1989, his family left their New York home and headed for Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Police arrested him for the murder of a friend who was shot to death in Brooklyn in what authorities suggested was a dispute over stolen money. Evidence that showed five hours before the shooting he was more than 1,000 miles away was never given to his attorney and never presented at his trial. Fleming was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life.
After serving 24 years and 8 months in prison for a crime he never committed a New York judge on Tuesday vacated Fleming’s conviction after prosecutors determined he was indeed innocent.
Fleming never confessed to the crime because he didn’t commit it; Job was in same boat – evidence that would have proven Job innocent had not been presented to his friends (chap. 1 & 2), so they convicted him
had his integrity as well (4-5)
Job committed to saying what was right as well as doing what was pleasing to God – refused to compromise, agree with friends when he knew that would be dishonest
Job believed, rightly, to confess sin he had not committed would be just as wrong as committing sin and failing to confess
to properly understand, have to take Job’s declaration of righteousness in light of how he lived his life (5b-6)
refused to set aside his integrity, determined to live righteously, intended to enjoy a clear conscience for rest of life
God’s evaluation of Job: “There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.” (Job 1:8)
plus….was in regular habit of worship and sacrifice – “he would get up early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job thought, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s customary practice.” (Job 1:5)
Job’s regular practice: confess his sin before God, offer sacrifice, ensure that as much as was up to him, was on good terms / in right relationship with God
was because that represented normal for Job that his affliction – God’s heavy, silent hand – troubled him so much
not a bad list of principles to follow: on basis of right relationship with God, maintain your integrity; do what is right; keep a clear conscience
B. the godless have no hope v.7-10
Job uses technique friends had used – ask rhetorical questions, ones that have (supposedly) obvious answers
What hope does the godless have, when God cuts him off? None. Does God listen to his cry when distress overtakes him? No. Will he find delight in the Almighty? No. Will he call out to God at all times? No.
that’s harsh! isn’t it different now, since Jesus came? What did Jesus say? in Sermon on the Mount, btw
Matt. 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
so long as godless have no fear of hell and have a false hope of heaven, will see no reason to repent and put their hope in God
I know God by his Spirit can change mind and heart of most self-satisfied person you can imagine – thank God he does!
but….ultimate destiny of the godless person is plainly taught in Scripture – turn to Rev. 20:10-15
some of strongest words in Bible about hell come from lips of Lord Jesus: Matt 10:28; 13:42, 50; 25:41; Luk. 16:23
“fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'”
greatest favor we can do for a godless person – impress on them what Bible teaches about hell as place of just punishment for rebellious sinners
no asbestos suit, no fire insurance policy will suffice; only hope is in Christ who can take away sin
not about saving from hell, is about saving from sin – only one Savior has accomplished that
so what about Job’s rhetorical questions? are the expected answers the right ones?
when God takes away the life of one still in their sins, they have no genuine hope; remember the rich man – ample opportunity during life to repent of sin, trust in Christ
when godless person cries out for deliverance from hard stuff, God will not respond (Mic. 3:4; John 9:31; Jas. 4:3); however…he graciously listens to sincere cry for deliverance from sin, responds with eternal life
will godless person who is rebelling against God, rejecting God and his ways, will that person find delight in God? Rom. 8:7 “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Enemies do not delight on one another
will godless person live in moment by moment dependence on God? of course not, has already determined to depend on someone/something else other than God
please, don’t be fooled: are many many people who want goodies that God can supply and want nothing to do with God – when life gets tough, want him to supply stuff, make problems go away, but have no desire to submit to him as their King
without grace of God we would be no different; if you are child of God, thank him for his gracious goodness, pray he would convert those you love or have as neighbors who are still in their sins
C. God will do right v.11-23
Job shakes his head – can’t believe E, B & Z don’t see the reality, it’s all around them: how God really deals with truly wicked
God will set things right. Like Asaph, see Psa. 73:17, Job has gone to the sanctuary – can see from God’s perspective that any prosperity wicked might enjoy is only temporary
is obvious in practical terms, too – hard stuff in daily life that affects not just individual but whole family
the sword – violence
not satisfied with bread – poverty
buried in death (by the plague) – disease
widows do not weep – dysfunctional family
heaps up, piles up, but…. – loses what he does gain
east wind carries, sweeps, hurls – natural world itself turns against him
don’t have to watch much news, drive through too many neighborhoods, listen to friends and neighbors to recognize these hard things are everywhere
in Job’s view, aren’t simply things that accompany evildoers – are at least in part a portion of judgment from God on them for their wickedness
if Job is right, I believe he is, solution is not more social programs; way to lessen violence, poverty, disease, dysfunctional families is by proclaiming the Gospel as integral and essential part of practical help we give
D. My hope is in God v.7-10 converse
go back up to Job’s list of questions – let’s take them in reverse order and make them personal
do you call out to God at all times? then you should have hope / confidence
do you find delight in the Almighty? then you should have hope / confidence
does God listen to your cry when distress overtakes you? if previous two are yes’s, then you should have hope / confidence
What hope do you have, when God brings your earthly life to an end? that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. If you hope in God, then you belong to him body and soul in life and death; God can be trusted to take perfect care of his own at all times
Many in world without genuine hope in the right object, the Lord Jesus. They need to hear from God’s word the Bible what awaits them so long as they continue in their sin. They also need to hear that there is hope for all who turn to Christ in faith, believing he will save them.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God!” Ps. 42:5, 11; 43:5
As we bring service to close, important exhortation from Paul we should heed: Col. 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.” Let’s do that with our closing hymn…and throughout the week. If you hope is God, then God will take care of you.