I’m both daunted and excited to have begun a 6 part sermon series, overviewing the book of Job. This book is going to be moving, thought-provoking, but above all I pray faith-strengthening.
To help us find our way into this book of darkness and storm, here are some thoughts to orientate us. (Some of this was said from the pulpit last Sunday but just for fun, I’ve thrown in a few additional points!)
1. Job was a historical individual. Ezekiel and the New Testament say so (Ezekiel 14:14, James 5:11).
2. The book of Job is highly poetic, but it isn’t a parable. Like the flood account in Genesis, the description is highly stylised but the events are real.
3. The aim of Job is to equip God-fearers and God-trusters to go on fearing and trusting him when calamity comes. When they do so, this is wisdom (Job is part of the wisdom genre of bible books).
4. There are three main parts to Job: prose A (ch 1-2), poetry (ch 3 – 42:6), prose B (ch 42:7-17). The poetry reflects the long, emotional wrestle with suffering. It is long, because suffering isn’t easily untangled. The prose, though short, gives the context to the poetry.
5. The glimpses into the heavenly court (in ch 1 & 2) give the reader a key insight into things unseen. But these heavenly events are a mystery to Job. Key point: WE SHOULDN’T EXPECT TO KNOW THE REASONS FOR EVERYTHING WE SUFFER.
6. God is ultimately sovereign over all things. Satan is accountable to him and must ask for permission to harm Job. The Bible doesn’t present a Star Wars universe, but a cosmos in which God reigns over all things.
7. God’s ultimate control does raise some hard questions (eg. can God permit suffering and still be said to be good?). But let’s be clear on what the Bible insists in Job and elsewhere:
- God is not the author of evil
- God is good in all he does
- God is able to superintend evil actions for his glory
8. what is more comforting: to think that God isn’t in control of every situation, or to know that he is sovereign over every event, even the most calamitous?
9. The heart of the book of Job is the question raised by Satan: does Job fear God for nothing? (1:9). The big question in Job is whether God is worthy of worship, fear, trust and love simply for being who he is.
10. Are we loyal to God only when he gives us what we want?
11. Little did Job know that his sufferings on earth was winning God a great victory in heaven over the forces of evil. Who knows what our sufferings are achieving in God’s purposes! Just because we cannot see a good purpose, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
12. Connections between Jesus and Job should be obvious: Jesus was the blameless/innocent sufferer – there was no one else like him on the earth. Satan and evil men afflicted him but it was God’s sovereign plan. When afflicted, Jesus trusted and feared the Lord without sinning.
13. One more point (since informed by Job, we don’t believe in ‘luck’): The stoic faith and worship of chapters 1 and 2 need to be seen alongside the harrowing cries and darkness of Job’s lament in chapter 3. Don’t think it is easy to trust God in the storm. But it is possible.