I love the orderly layout for Job’s final 3 chapters of his defense before God and man.
In chapter 29 Job longs for his earlier days, “When the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me” (Job 29:5). He isn’t dwelling on all the wonderful material goods he once enjoyed, though we know they were many. Rather, he is fondly recalling the interactions he had with others – the respect he felt, the ability he once had to help others: serving as the father to the needy, rescuing the fatherless, and comforting the mourners. And, then he became the mourner.
In chapter 30 Job details his current despair. Now he is detested by men. He has lost all former dignity and safety and feels terror instead. He is physically suffering with gnawing pain; blackened, peeling skin; and fever. And perhaps worst of all, he feels like God is ignoring his cries for help.
In chapter 31 Job affirms his righteousness, denying his friends’ claims that he must now be suffering because of great past sins. He describes many sins: lust, dishonest business transactions, marital infidelity, injustice, not caring for the poor and fatherless, abusing power, greed, idolatry, rejoicing over one’s enemy’s misfortune, and hiding guilt. For each sin he says, I didn’t do it. And for each sin he names a punishment a just God could give to him or anyone else who did that evil.
The problem is Job – and his friends we have heard from in the past many chapters – don’t understand that there are multiple reasons why we may be enduring trials. His friends say trials are a result of God’s punishment. And they were right – but only partially right. They were erroneously blaming Job for his current trials because he must have deserved it. Job says he was righteous (not sinless, but righteous) and thus shouldn’t be experiencing trials if God was just. But, just who is God? And why does He allow suffering? These are still the questions that need answers today.
Last month I was delighted to watch the youth of our church develop and share a Youth Sunday based on several “apologetic” questions people ask about God. Does God exist? Did He create the world? Is the Bible accurate and reliable? Are science and the Bible enemies? AND the biggie – why does God allow suffering? Too many times a faithful person can believe all the right things and live the right life (just like Job) – until trouble comes. And then the blaming and questioning tears them away from what they knew was true and the God that loves them. It was powerful seeing these young people studying truth (guided by godly mentors) and gaining this understanding which will prepare them for trials to come.
I want to share with you a brief outline which youth group members, Kaitlyn and Addie, presented on “Why Does God Allow Suffering?”
- The Fall (Genesis 3:14-19, Romans 5:12)
- The Devil Causes Evil (2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Peter 5:8,9)
- God’s Judgments (Romans 6:23, Genesis 19:13) – this was the one Job’s friends knew about
- God Uses Suffering for Good (Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4)
- Sometimes People Don’t Get Healing Because of a Lack of Faith (Matthew 9:22-24, Mark 9:29)
- Time & Chance (Luke 13:1-5, Ecclesiastes 9:11)
Many sermons could be written about any of these but I want to say just a few words about the devil, Satan, the accuser, the serpent, or the god of this age…the list goes on. He goes by many names – perhaps a part of his deception and secret identities. I find it very interesting that he plays a KEY role in Job 1 & 2 – and yet is not mentioned again by either Job or his friends. He is the one bringing about these trials (which God is allowing) but everyone is pointing the finger at God rather than at Satan. It is true that the Old Testament has a very limited number of references to Satan. They did not yet have a very thorough understanding of many things God would reveal to His people through time – the Messiah, the resurrection, and Satan.
When Jesus enters the scene, he works to bring a clearer understanding of all these things. All 4 gospel writers record Jesus speaking about (and sometimes directly to) the devil/Satan and the power he wields to tempt, deceive and inflict. Every New Testament writer references the devil or Satan. I believe we still point the finger at God often times when we ought to be recognizing, and fleeing from, the power of the god of this age. Perhaps there is something you need to stop blaming God for and give the “credit” to Satan instead.
And, that is just ONE of the other Biblical reasons for our trials. So much to think about in the book of Job!
I enjoyed looking into Job with you this week and I greatly look forward to the coming week when we get to hear from Cayce (Ballard) Fletcher as we get into the BEST parts of the book of Job!
Keep Reading and Seeking, Growing and Loving
To read or listen to today’s Bible passage check out – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+29-31&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 32-34 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan