Stuff Happens, The Story of the Book #4

July 26, 2015

I began by playing “the Bricklayers disaster” Video
Boy, you gotta hate that. 
Maybe his name was Job, or Job Murphy, cause it seemed that anything
that could go wrong did go wrong.  You
might recall the story from the Old Testament book that bears the name of
Job.  If you have your bible with you
then you can find it by going to the middle of your Bible which should be Psalms
or Proverbs and then turning toward the front. 
Job was the righteous man’s poster boy, the Bible tells us
that He was blameless, a man of complete integrity, who feared God and stayed
away from Evil.  And just to top it off
we are told that he was the richest man in the area.  But these aren’t the things that made Job
famous, and we’ve all heard of Job, even if you don’t know the story of Job you
probably have heard the expression, “The patience of Job” an expression that
was most often used in reference to my Mother’s dealing with her youngest child.
But you have to know the story to understand the
reference.    The book of Job is the eighteenth book of the
bible and the first book in the section that we refer to as Poetry & Wisdom Literature This section
contains the books of Job, Psalms,
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs.
And they are exactly what they are
called, books made up of poetry in the case of the Psalms and Song of Solomon
and the wisdom included in the books of Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
We don’t know who wrote the book of Job, the Psalms were
primarily written by King David we know that he wrote at least 73 of them.
Other writers include his son Solomon, Moses and several others whose names you
won’t recognize.  The book of Proverbs
was written by King Solomon, with a couple of additional contributors.  Solomon was reputed to be the wisest man who
ever lived, and if you’ve taken the time to read the proverbs you’ll understand
why.
Traditionally we have been told that Solomon wrote the book
of Ecclesiastes but we don’t know that for sure, the author only identifies
himself as “The Teacher”, “The Preacher” or “The Leader of the Assembly.”  Likewise tradition tells us that Solomon
wrote the beautiful love poem called the “Song of Songs” some people even refer
to it as “The Song of Solomon” but we don’t know that for certain. 
For the most part these books were written during the reign
of David and Solomon around 1000 years before the birth of Christ although Job
was probably written around the time of Abraham 1000 years earlier.
And there were so many options for preaching from the
section, and instead of going to one of my favorite Psalms or Proverbs I
decided to land here in Job, because most of us have felt a little bit like Job
from time to time, we feel like Murphy is writing the script for our life and
what can go wrong is going wrong.
Now the first part of the story is a little confusing, I
don’t understand it, and really can’t explain it.  It would appear that one day the angels
appeared before God reporting on what they had done and Satan shows up.  During the ensuing conversation God questions
Satan on his activities and Satan responds by saying Job 1:7. . . “I have
been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”
And at that point God draws Satan’s attention to his servant
Job and how righteous he is, and Satan says “sure, and why wouldn’t he serve
you, you have always protected him, and his property.  Everything he touches turns to gold, take
away his possessions and I can guarantee that he will curse you.”
Now what I don’t understand is why at this point God agrees
to allow Satan access to Job, someday I might understand it, but right now I
don’t.  A long time ago I discovered that
God is way up here and I’m way down here and I can’t understand everything that
God does, but that’s ok, because if I could understand everything about God he
wouldn’t be much of a God.  After all I
can’t even understand woman.    But that
is what happens.  Not very long after
this conversation Job is at home when a servant arrives telling him that his
enemies have raided the farm stolen his oxen and donkeys and killed all his
farm hands.  Just then another messenger
arrives and says “you’ll never believe what happened boss, fire fell from the
sky and burned up your sheep and shepherds” And a third guy arrives on the
scene to inform Job that all his camels have been stolen by raiders from the
north.
Now you gotta admit at this point Job seems to be handling
it pretty well, until the fourth messenger arrives to tell his boss that a
powerful wind hit the house where his children were celebrating with their
oldest brothers and there have been no survivors, all ten children have died.  It was at this point that Job broke down in
grief.  But even with that listen to what
he says in Job 1:21  He said, “I came naked from my
mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave.
The LORD gave
me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise
the name of the LORD!”
Man, and the bible sums it up in the next verse by saying Job 1:22  In all of
this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
Did you catch that? In all this,
Job did not sin by blaming God. Which would lead me to believe that if he had
of blamed God he would have sinned!  You
gotta be careful about those “Oh God how could you do this to me” statements.
Well someone must have come along and said “Cheer up Job,
things could be worse” cause he cheered up and sure enough things got
worse.  Kind of reminds me of what Paul Anderson said “I have
yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in
the right way, did not become still more complicated.”
Up to now the tragedies happened to the things and people
surrounding Job but not Job himself, and Satan told God, “Well sure, he can
still praise you, he still has his health, let me take that from him.”  And again I don’t understand it but God agreed,
saying “Just spare his life.”  Now
personally I think Satan underestimated Job as a parent, I think that the death
of his children would be a far greater tragedy then mere physical discomfort.  But Job became covered with boils from head
to foot, yuck. 
But you know Satan had some smarts because of all the things
that Job lost, Satan left him with his wife. 
You say “Denn, that’s just nasty.” 
Not so, listen to the comfort that Job’s wife offered in Job 2:9  His wife
said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and
die.”
“Why thanks babe, I love you too.”  And so for the next forty or so chapters we
read how various friends came and the discussion they had concerning the
tragedies that had befallen our hero. 
And through it all, Job remained true to God. 
I mentioned earlier that we have no idea who wrote it, there
have been various suggestions but bottom line is we just don’t know.  And we really don’t have a definitive date
for when it was written although if you look at the cultural and historical
setting it would appear the book was written in the time frame encompassed by
Genesis 12-50 so right around 2000 BC. It is felt the story was passed down
orally from generation to generation and only later put into writing.
Why was it written? 
Now that is an easy one to answer. 
It was written to address the question of suffering, sometime most of us
can identify with.
So 4000 years after the events happened we are holding the
book of Job in our hands asking “What can we learn from Job?”
1) Stuff Happens Because you are a member of the
human race you will have troubles, you can’t get around that.   We live in a world that has been corrupted
by evil and because of that bad things happen. 
Even to believers, it would be neat if becoming a Christian exempted you
from all hurt and heart break, you’d never get sick, never become unemployed
never lose a spouse or a child, but that ain’t the way it happens. It would be
nice if our salvation was a passport out of suffering and tragedy, we’d have to
bar the doors to keep people out, but that’s not the way it happens, sorry.
Jesus’ brother James wrote a letter to the early church and he said James 1:2  Dear
brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity
for great joy.
He didn’t say if trouble comes your way, he said when
trouble comes your way.  And Jesus
himself said in Matthew 6:34  “So don’t worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Did you catch that? Today’s trouble is enough for today.
C.S. Lewis kind of summed it
up when he said “We were promised sufferings. They
were part of the program. We were even told,
”Blessed are they that mourn.””
And no it isn’t fair, there are times that life isn’t fair,
but we live in a world that has been corrupted by sin, and stuff happens.  Little stuff and big stuff.  But you’re probably doing alright compared to
Job.
2) Don’t Take It Personal Sometimes when trouble
happens we tend to look at it a couple of different ways.  As Christians sometimes we look inward for
reasons, wondering what have I done, why me, I don’t deserve this.  Job hadn’t done anything wrong, there was no hidden
sin in his life, and he wasn’t rebelling against God.  We need to realize that trouble happens to
the just and the unjust. And I know that’s a cynical view of life but Jesus
said in Matthew 5:45  . . .For he (God)  gives his sunlight to both the evil and the
good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  How often do we focus on our problems
to the exclusion of everything and everyone else?  We aren’t alone in this world and chance are
there are people with bigger problems then yours, it was Humphrey Bogart who said “Everybody
in Casablanca
has problems.”  And everybody in
the Halifax has problems.  
Sometimes when stuff happens to us our first reaction is to
ask: Why Me?  Maybe the important
questions is: Why not me?
The second thing that believers do is to automatically
attribute every problem in their life to Satan. 
Now I don’t want to underestimate the power of the dark one, however I think we give him way too much
credit.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a child of God and certain privileges come
with that position.  And my Bible still
has 2 Thessalonians 3:3  But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and
guard you from the evil one. Sure you say but what about when you’re in
bondage?  Again I don’t want to minimize
spiritual warfare, but there are a
lot of people out there who are in bondage because they choose to be in
bondage.  It’s a very convenient excuse
when we enjoy a sin to simply throw up our hands and say “I can’t help myself, I’m in bondage. 
I’m not sure that is what Jesus had in mind when he told his disciples
in  John
8:34-36
 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.
 A slave is not a permanent member of the family,
but a son is part of the family forever.  So
if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” 
 I like that, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
But Denn what if what happened to Job happens to me? What if
God allows Satan to strike at my family and I? Probably won’t happen.  Job is very much an isolated incident in the
scriptures, we can’t explain why God allowed it to happen the first time but it
doesn’t happen again.  And considering
the description of Job, remember it Job 1:1  . . . He was blameless—a man of
complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.
If that is the critea for being tested by Satan than most of
us have nothing to worry about.  Don’t be
in so much of a hurry to give the Devil all the credit for the bad stuff that
happens in your life.  To quote C.S.
Lewis again “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our
race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The
other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.
They themselves are equally pleased by both errors.”
3) It’s Not Wrong To Question  Sometimes we are given the impression
that Job stoically endured all that happened, that he never asked why, never
questioned whether it was fair on not, just endured.  And that just isn’t true, for most of the
forty chapters in the book of Job, Job was asking; Why?  And there’s nothing wrong with asking
why.  Throughout the Bible people
questioned God, Abraham asked why, Moses asked why, Joshua asked why, David
asked why, Isaiah asked why, Peter asked why, Paul asked why.  Even Jesus when he was hanging on the cross
looked up to heaven and asked “Why?”
But if you’re going to ask God why, you are going to have to
be satisfied with the answers and that can be tough.  Because as God told Job 38:2  “Who is
this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?”
Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, God is
God and we are just people.  But a little
homework for this week, go home and read Job chapters 38-40, won’t take you
long but it might help you understand God a little more.
4) We Have The Victory 
Sometimes we can figure out a solution to our problem on our own
perhaps by using Guptill’s First Law of Problem
Solving: When confronted by a difficult problem,
you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question: How would MacGyver
have handled this? But more often than not,
that’s not enough and so if you get nothing else out of this morning’s message
get this “We Win”.  When we are faithful
to God, in the good times and in the
bad we are the victors.  Listen to what
Paul wrote to the early church in Rome, and remember this was where the persecution broke
out against the early church, where
Christians were killed for the sheer sport of it.  Romans 8:35-37  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does
it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are
persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are
being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things,
overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Did you catch that Overwhelming
victory is ours.  And in 1 John 5:4 We read 1 John
5:4
 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve
this victory through our faith.
Don’t throw up your hands and say, “I quit”  It was Billy Sunday
who said, “Stopping at third adds no more to the score
then striking out.” 
Friends the message I leave with you today is Don’t quit,
don’t give up, the victory has already been won.  So where are you at?  Do you sometimes find it tough to be
faithful, to believe in the victory?  I
want to pray for you this morning.  Life
is tough, but God is there for us.   If
you want me to pray for you this morning, and through the week I’d like you to
stand where you are, I don’t know what you’re going through but God does.  There’s an old saying that says “Let go and
let God.”  Is that what you need to do
today, is to let go and let God?