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Community Bible Chapel Podcast

11/10/19 Suffering – God’s Good Counsel

Suffering is common to all of humanity and has been for all of time.

-Since suffering it tied to the original sin of Adam, the Bible speaks to suffering from beginning to end.

            -It’s pretty amazing that since we all suffer in life, we struggle so much in trying  to help a fellow sufferer.

            -We don’t know what to say or what to do, and that often results in us doing nothing to help them and other times doing the wrong thing.

We have been thinking about suffering in the book of Job.

            *Ultimately, suffering begs the question:

Is God worthy of our worship, even in suffering?

            *Next we looked at the lament of suffering and God is good with our laments.

                        -We might think that God see’s our laments as grumbling or complaining, but He welcomes them and uses them to turn our eyes toward Him and His deliverance.

                        -A good lament in suffering includes worship and a glimmer of hope.

            *Last week we ran through the counsel of Job’s friends.

                        -Focusing on both good and lousy counsel.

                        -Some that rested on good theology and bad application.

                        -And some that rested on bad theology and bad application.

                        -We explored that deeper in our life-groups this week.

Today, we will dig into one of the most amazing passages of God’s Word.

                        -All through the book, Job has been asking for, and even demanding an audience with the Lord.

            -Elihu answered Job that “the Almighty is beyond our reach” in 37:23.

                        -That we will never have that face to face with God.

            -Be careful what you ask for because God suddenly shows up to speak with Job.

God Speaks – READ Job 38:1-3         

-God speaks to Job, out of the “storm” or “whirlwind”.

-And right out of the gate, Job is in awe and can’t find the words he has been rehearsing in his mind for 30 some chapters.

-And it’s God who calls Job to account . . . “who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?”

            -To know God is a royal pursuit and Job is about to get an advanced class so “brace himself” or “gird up your loins” (ASV)

            -God says:  “if you are going to exalt your knowledge and wisdom, then let’s get to it.”  “Let’s see what you know”

-If he wasn’t in a vulnerable place before – he is now in an infinitely more vulnerable place as he stands before the Lord.

God begins with his knowledge of the . . .

                         Physical Creation v. 38:4-38

-A relentless series of questions that are not designed to destroy Job, but to get his eyes off is suffering (the God eclipse) that the personal  pronouns of chapter 3 reveal.

-God is asking to refocus his vision back on the character of God, which is just what we miss in the eclipse.

-The questions are designed to elevate Job’s vision to the elaborate design of the  creation, of which Job is not the center of, but is a small part of.

            -God questions Job about how the earth and universe were formed and how they continue to run.

            -v. 33 forces us to a place of humility.

                        “Do you know the laws of the heavens?  Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?”

-These questions force us to grapple with the sovereignty of God over all things, and at the same time grapple with our total lack of sovereignty.

            -Giving orders to the morning, setting the limits of the sea, setting the patterns of the weather in motion.

-Science may help us discover and understand the laws of physics and Biology, but science cannot create those laws.

-It can’t even fully understand how God has set those laws in place or how they work.

-If God is sovereign over these things, is He not sovereign over us as well?

            -If we can’t understand the mysteries of how God governs His world, can we fully understand the mysteries of our human suffering?

            -And that question comes to my mind . . .

-Are we called to understand all these mysteries, or are we called to live in the midst of them by trusting in God’s sovereignty.

                        Animal Kingdom v. 38:39-39:30

                        -God asks Job about the varied animals of the lion and the raven.

                        -Asking Job is he can care for them with their varied diets?

                        -And more than that, could you design them to eat certain things?

                        -All the animal kingdom lives in total dependence upon God for food, without having the intellect to know that it’s God who feeds them.

            -The mountain goat gives birth without any human knowledge or help.

                        -We might know time of year they give birth, but the exact day?

                        -Only God has that kind of knowledge.

            -The wild donkey lives in the wasteland and manages to survive by the hand of God.

                        -But who is it that makes it wild or the extent of it’s wild nature?

-Is that the result of human design and creation?

            -The wild ox is not to be depended upon to plow fields or even stay in the barn.

                        -Could we tame it without God having programed that nature in it?

            -Would we have designed the ostrich with those silly wings.

                        -They lay their eggs on the ground with no care or nurture of the young.

                        -God decided not to give it wisdom but it out-runs a horse.

                        -We scratch our head and wonder:  What God is doing?

                        -Yet, we have no ability to design or create it.

            -The strength of the horse – always ready for battle.

                        -How different from the ostrich could it be?

                        -Although we use the horse for various things, it is not humans who designed the horse and created it for these purpose.

            -Did we create the hawk or eagle, and design them to next in the cliffs and give it the ability to see it’s food as it soars on the wind?

The key to God’s questioning culminates where He began in 38:4

                        “Tell me, if you understand”

            -Even with our advanced science of today, we have to answer that we know nothing about these few things let alone a billion other animals that exist.

            -And that’s the point that God drives home with Job, and with us today.

            -The infinite wisdom and sovereignty of God has brought the universe into being and designed it to work the way that it does.

            -God, not only designed and created this world for Adam and Eve before the fall, but also for the brokenness that would develop after it.

-Although the effects of the fall have brought deep suffering, still, the generosity of God shines forth through the darkness of sin and death still today.

            -The fall makes it more difficult to understand the character of God and makes it impossible to have a correct view of ourselves.

            -And we see that in Job.

-But God graciously points out Job’s total lack of understanding and wisdom.

                        -Job thinks his has his life figured out.

                        -He thinks he understands the purpose and working of God.

                        -He thinks he is more in control than he is.

                        -Ultimately, he has been asking for an audience with God because he thinks God is accountable to Him.

            -But with these questions, God straightens that out.

-And Job begins to understand if God governs the world, even his suffering is governed by God’s sovereignty and wisdom.

God’s invitation to respond – READ 40:1-2

                        -God knows the heart and that the words of Job have been words of correction.

                        -God calls him on the carpet.

                        -Job has questioned the way God has governed the world, especially how he has governed the circumstances of his life.

                        -He has accused God of treating him unfairly.

            -After two chapters of questions of the wisdom of God, He asks Job to respond.

                        -To plead his case and accuse God if he can.

            -And Job recognizes that he has had it all backwards.

-Thankfully, Job doesn’t need more as God could have gone on and on with more mysteries of His creation.

            -The purpose of God’s questions hit the mark and Job is overwhelmed with the wonder and mystery of God’s governing of the world.

-God speaks again, directly to the area of Job’s complaint.

God Corrects Job’s Idea of Justice – Job 40:6-41:34

                        Justice – 40:6-14

  1. God asks the question:  “Would you discredit my justice?

Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

-“Well, when you put it like that . . . . . I guess I have it backwards.”

-The “right hand” is a sign for power and God asks Job if he can establish

Justice for mankind by his own power?

-If we can’t establish justice, then we also can’t save ourselves by our own power.

-Only by God’s power can anyone be saved.

            -That is the Gospel.

            -We need God’s power to save us.

            -God’s justice demands death as the punishment for sin.

            -Thankfully, God himself took our punishment on the cross and in his power rose from the dead.

            -God’s justice has established that by faith in Jesus, our sin is forgiven and we are made new in Him.

                        Two Examples

                        Behemoth v. 40:15-24

                                    -Behemoth is created by God.

                        -The description is that of a dinosaur – brontosaurus?

                        -It’s a plant eater, powerful and a tail like a cedar tree.

            -Can it be captured and domesticated?

            -If it decides to walk through Job’s yard, can he even stop it?

                        Leviathan v. 41:1-34

                        -The description reminds me of Jurassic Park, where the two Tyrannosaurus Rex’s are fighting and the Leviathan jumps from the water and eats one of them.

                        -Yea, like that except that v. 19 tells us that it also breaths fire.

            -God asks, are you going to catch that thing with a fishhook?

                        -Are you going to put it on a rope for your daughters to play with?

God’s questions

  1.   Who can stand against me?  v. 41:10

                        -If Job can’t stand before these two created animals, then how can he ever hope to stand before their creator and question Him?

  1.  Who does God owe? V. 41:11

                        -Is God under any obligation to give us anything – does He owe us something?

            -Job answered this in chapter 2

                        “shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”

            -Everything we have is a gift from God because as the Creator – it’s all His and all under His sovereign control.

            -Even the power of evil is under the sovereignty of God (whole nother discussion), which means that there is a purpose for Job’s suffering that is not related to whether Job sinned or not.

            -In his humanness, Job can only see his suffering, but when God pushes the  suffering back into the sovereignty of himself, Job begins to see that the issue is much broader than his                                suffering.

Job’s response – READ Job 42:1-6

                        -A growing bitterness that Job was harboring is swallowed up in a repentant heart.

                        -He repents of his questioning of God’s justice.

                        -“Dust and ashes” are terms that are used other places in the OT to signify

                                    = humility and humiliation.

            -In repeating God’s questions of him, Job is now beginning to see himself from God’s perspective rather than seeing God from his.

            -His self-righteousness that leads to death is replaced by a humble heart.

            -And that is a huge difference as Job now sees his total depravity.

            -The Bible teaches that every part of our being – mind, will, emotions, and flesh – have been effected by sin.

            -That doesn’t mean that we are as evil as we could be, but that even the good we do is tainted by our sin.

            -The only hope we have is that our corrupt thinking comes under the influence of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s Word, which Job gets in person and we get in the Bible.

            -It’s only by the truth of God’s Word that we can think rightly, starting from the position of seeing ourselves rightly.

                        -Sinful and in need of a Savior.

            -He is our only hope.

            -Job’s view was human centered, meaning that he saw himself from his perspective.

-When I was young everybody was hitch-hiking across the country to find themselves.

-And people are still confused about who they are.

            -As Job points out, we will never find ourselves apart from knowing God first.

                        -When we see God rightly, we can see ourselves rightly, as God helps Job to see.

So, I want to close this section with the idea of helping others who are in the God eclipse.

Bringing Godly Counsel to Fellow Sufferers   Picture of God eclipse

                        -Why is it so hard to help fellow sufferers?

                        -One reason is we want to fix their problem and we often times can’t fix it.

                        -Again, the first thing on the table is always comforting them in their suffering.

                        -And the second thing is also comforting them.

                                    -We do that by being available, present, and listening to them.

            -As you bring that kind of comfort, you will have opportunity to begin to help put their suffering back where it belongs, into the sovereign justice of God.

-That’s the God eclipse that is hindering them from seeing God.

            -Now as we do that, we need to make sure that we do not minimize their suffering because that suffering is real and they are hurting.

            -Seeing God in the midst of the suffering doesn’t change their circumstances.

            -But it does help bring the hope that they desperately need.

     Prayer

            -Pray with them, not only that God will heal them, but also that if he decides to allow it to continue, that He will use this to grow them.

                        -Some might call that a faithless prayer, but I believe it to be very faithful.

                        -Faithful to what we see in God’s Word in the lives of Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and Job. . . . . .

                        -Faithful to the wisdom of God’s Word as well.

     Counsel

            -Our counsel needs to match God’s counsel.

            -As we listen to their suffering, and we match it up with the truth of God’s Word.

-If they are thinking that God is punishing them, we speak truth that God loves them.

            -If they are thinking they are worthless, we speak truth that God cares for the birds and lily’s, and he certainly cares for them and even is carrying them through this suffering.

            -That their suffering puts them in good company – Jesus, who suffered and died to pay for their sin.

     Practice

            -What do we do for those that are suffering?

            -We take the to the grocery store, we help them pay their bills, we help them financially, we pick them up and take them to church, we bring them meals, we make sure they have a friend.

            -All these are ways to help them get their eyes back on the prize – the Lord Jesus Christ.

            -Naturally, their suffering has left them struggling to see Him, and so the goal of any counsel and help we may bring to them has to lead them to Him.

            -That is exactly what God does with Job and we He calls us to do with fellow sufferers.