We come today to the final part of the book of Job. This is now the sixteenth sermon in this series and we’ve gone through forty-one and a half of the forty-two chapters in this book. But before we get to the final passage, I thought it would be useful to remind you of some of the highlights from the book of Job. After all, while I tried to summarise and reinforce some of the things we learned as we’ve gone through it, no doubt there’s been plenty which we’ve now forgotten. And so, for the first part of the sermon this evening, I want to review what we’ve been hearing over the past fifteen sermons.
So, let me take you right back to the beginning and to the opening five scenes. The first scene took place on the earth where we were introduced to Job, who was described as being blameless and upright, a man who feared God and who shunned evil. And he was an extraordinarily prosperous man with many children and many animals and many servants. The second scene took place in heaven, where the angels appeared before God. And Satan was there. And God drew Satan’s attention to Job. Have you considered him? There’s no one like him. He is blameless and upright and he fears God and he shuns evil. But Satan was not impressed. He said that the only reason Job worshipped God was because God had protected him and blessed him. If you take away all that he has, he will surely curse you. And the Lord gave Satan permission to attack Job. And so, the third scene takes place on earth again and we hear about that extra-ordinary day when Job’s children were killed and his animals were either destroyed or stolen. In that one extra-ordinary day, Job lost his family and his possessions; but he did not curse God. The fourth scene takes place in heaven again, where the angels once again appeared before God. And Satan was also there. Once again God drew Satan’s attention to Job. Have you considered him? There’s no one like him. He is blameless and upright and he fears God and he shuns evil. And he has maintained his integrity. But Satan was still not impressed. Let’s see what happens if you stretch out your hand and strike his flesh. Then he’ll curse you. And the Lord gave Satan permission to attack Job. And so, the fifth scene took place on earth and it’s about how Job’s body was covered in painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. But Job did not curse God, even though his wife urged him to do so. He said: ‘Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?’
And so, the book opened with those five scenes. And I made the point that Job’s extra-ordinary experience points us to Christ. Job was extra-ordinarily rich at the beginning of the story. And then his loss was extra-ordinary, because he lost his possessions and his family and his health. He started off in the heights and plunged down to the depths. Most of us will never experience what he experienced, because none of us will ever be extra-ordinarily rich, as Job was at the beginning; and none of us will suffer as severely as Job suffered. And then, as we read in today’s passage, after his suffering was over, the Lord blessed the latter part of his life more than the first so that he had double the number of animals and more children. It’s an extra-ordinary ending to the book.
And the extra-ordinary nature of his life points us to Christ because, from all eternity, Christ was exalted exalted in heaven as the Eternal Son of God. Angels worshipped and served him. But then, he came down to earth as one of us; and his life on earth was a life of sorrow and suffering from the time he was born until the time he was killed on the cross and buried in the ground. And so, like Job, the Lord Jesus went from the heights to the depths. But then, after his suffering and death, he was raised from the grave and he was exalted to the highest place and given the name that is above every name. What happened to Job points us to Christ. And the Saviour — who suffered for us before being exalted to heaven — promises his suffering people fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore in the new and better world to come.
I also said in that first sermon that the book of Job is about the great spiritual conflict between the Lord God Almighty and his people on one side and Satan on the other. Satan hates the Lord and he hates the Lord’s people. And so, he was prepared to do everything he could to destroy Job’s faith. That was his aim. And he aims at the same thing today and he’ll do everything he can to stir up trouble for God’s people, because he wants to destroy our faith. And so, we should look to the Lord who has promised to be our strength and our shield to uphold us in our faith despite the opposition of the Devil. But I also said that Satan’s attack on Job was also an attack on God. Satan was saying the only reason people like Job worship God is because of what we can get out of God in this life. Why else would anyone worship God? No one will worship God because he’s God, but only because of what God might give to us. However, with a God-given faith, Job continued to worship God. He was prepared to worship God because he’s God and not because of what he might get from God. He was prepared to worship God for nothing. He was prepared to worship him ‘come what may’.
And yet it wasn’t easy for Job, was it? In the second sermon we spent much of our time on chapter 3 which is that dark, dark, dark chapter where Job cursed the day of his birth. He wished he had never been born. If he had to be born, he wished he has died immediately. And why can’t I die now? When all I want to do is lie down and die, why must my life continue? Job longed for death, because he thought death would bring him peace and rest. And I compared Job’s longing for death to the Lord Jesus, who did not long for death, but he was willing to die. And he was willing to die, not because dying would bring him peace, which is what Job wished for. No, the Lord Jesus was willing to die because it would bring you peace. He suffered and died in order to give you everlasting peace in the presence of God. And so, while you may suffer in this world, your suffering will not be forever, because Christ died to give you eternal life in the presence of God, where there will be no more sorrow or suffering, because the old order of things will have passed away and there will only be fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore for you and for all of God’s people. That time has not yet come. You must wait for it. And while you wait for it, we can look to the Saviour to help you to endure all things now.
In the third sermon we began to think about Job’s three friends who came to comfort him, but they were no comfort at all. And it was because of their vending machine theology. When you put money in the vending machine, out comes a snack. Always and immediately. And according to vending machine theology, when you do evil, God will punish you. Always and immediately. And when you do good, God will bless you. Always and immediately. That’s the way the world works, according to Job’s three friends. And it’s the way people naturally think, because whenever we suffer, our default reaction is to ask: ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ And according to Job’s friends, he must have done something to deserve his suffering, because only the wicked suffer in this life. And since Job must have done something evil to deserve his suffering, then he should now repent in order to receive God’s blessing again. But they were wrong about Job, because God himself had declared him to be upright and blameless and a man who fears God and who shuns evil. He had not done anything to deserve his suffering.
Job was not suffering because he was a sinner, but because he was a saint. And his saintly suffering was the extra-ordinary suffering of a blameless and upright man who had not done anything to deserve what had happened to him. And therefore Job’s suffering foreshadows the suffering of our Saviour who never did anything wrong, but who suffered and died for us to give us peace with God and the hope of everlasting joy in the presence of God.
In the fourth sermon, we saw how Job spoke about death as a land of gloom and darkness, a place where there is no light. While Old Testament saints believed in the life to come, their understanding of what that life would be like was shrouded in darkness. It was a deep mystery. To them, the life to come seemed to be a land of deepest night. But with the resurrection of our Saviour, we have been given a fuller picture of the life to come and the glory of the new heavens and earth, where the righteous will live with God and where there is no more sorrow or sadness or mourning or death and where our present suffering will pale in comparison to the glory to be revealed in us when Christ comes again and makes everything new. For Job, death meant the end of his suffering. And that’s really as far as it went for him. But for us, death leads to the resurrection and to the enjoyment of that perfect peace and rest which the Lord Jesus has prepared for us in the world to come. And knowing this, believing this, helps us to persevere and to endure all things now in this troubled life.
In the fifth sermon, we read in chapter 14 how Job expressed a longing. He expressed a wish. If only, he said. If only God would hide me in the grave and conceal me until his anger has passed. And then, once God’s anger had subsided, if only he would bring me out again. And Job went on to ask: ‘If a man dies, will he live again?’ Is it possible? Can that happen? And will all my days of hard service lead eventually to renewal? So, Job was asking whether it’s possible for his life to be renewed after his death, so that somehow he will continue to live, but in a new and better way? And he spoke about having his sins sealed up in a bag so that his sin will not come between him and God. Job was longing for, wishing for, the resurrection and eternal life in God’s presence.
And what was only a wish for Job has become a sure and certain hope for us because of the death and resurrection of our Saviour. He died, giving up his life to pay for our sins. And in this way, he has made peace for us with God. Though we once deserved to be punished for our sins and for all that we have done wrong, Christ has now paid for our sins in full and he has satisfied the justice of God on our behalf. God is no longer against us, but for us. And just as Christ died and was raised, so all who believe in him will be raised from the grave, to live with God forever. Christ will come and call us; and we will hear his call and answer him. And our bodies will rise the grave and we will live with him in body and soul forever and forever.
In the sixth sermon, we saw how Job saw these two glimmers of light in the midst of his darkness. In chapter 16 he mentioned a witness in heaven, an advocate on high, an intercessor and friend. And in chapter 17 he has asked God to give God a pledge on his behalf. That is, he asked God to do what is necessary to appease God’s own anger. So God is angry with me; and I need God himself to come between God’s anger and me. And what was only a glimmer of light to Job has become a bright light for us, because God has done everything necessary to appease his own anger when he sent his Only Begotten Son into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. And Christ — who died for us, and who was raised and who ascended to heaven — now intercedes for us before the Father. He is our witness, our advocate on high, our intercessor and friend. And when we sin against God the Father, he’s there in heaven to defend us.
In the seventh sermon, we saw how Job’s hope for a heavenly mediator and intercessor reached its highest point in chapter 19 where he declared that he knows his Redeemer lives; and in the end, his Redeemer will stand upon the earth. And after Job’s skin has been destroyed, he will nevertheless see God. Job was able to look into the future with a God-given faith and know that one day God will deliver him from his misery in this life through the resurrection of his body from the grave. Job did not know how God would do it, but we know that God has delivered us by sending his Son into the world as one of us to pay for our sins with his life and to make peace for us with God. And our Saviour who died for us has risen; and one day, he will return and he will stand over our graves and he will raise us from the dead and bring us into the presence of God, where we will see God. By faith Job looked beyond his present suffering to the time when God will come in the person of his Son to deliver us from our sin and misery in this life and to give us everlasting life in the world to come. And God was not his enemy, because one day God would rescue him.
In the eighth sermon, we read how Job said in chapter 23 that ‘God knows the way with me.’ In other words, God knows what he’s doing with me. Job was puzzled by God’s treatment of him, but he took comfort in the thought that God knows what he’s doing. I may not understand it, but I trust that God knows what he’s doing.
And Job went on to say that God was testing him. So, God was not punishing him, but testing him, the way we might apply heat to a metal to test that it’s genuine. And the result of this testing by God will be to make clear that Job’s faith is in fact gold. Satan said Job only worshipped God for what he would get out of God in this life. But even though he lost his family and possessions and health and happiness, Job continued to worship God. He did not renounce his faith. His faith was real. It was genuine. His devotion was real. His worship was real. He was prepared to worship God for nothing in this life. He was prepared to serve God ‘come what may’. And who knows? Maybe God is sending trouble into your life to test you and to test your faith the way he sent trouble to test Job and Job’s faith. And if we withstand the test and persevere in the faith, it becomes clear to Satan that we’re not just worshipping God for what we can get from him in this life, but we’re prepared to worship God for nothing; and we’re prepared to serve him ‘come what may’. We’re worshipping God, not for what we can get, but we’re worshipping God because he is God and he’s worthy of our worship.
In the ninth sermon, we learned what true wisdom is. What is true wisdom? It’s to fear God and to shun evil. That is, we’re to worship God and do what’s right. And so, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, whether we’re going through good times or whether we’re going through difficult times, we’re to worship God and we’re to do what’s right. That’s always God’s will for us.
In the tenth sermon, we thought about Job’s words in chapter 30 where he said: ‘I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer. I stand up, but you merely look at me.’ And we thought about how the suffering of God’s people is a suffering which is so necessary that God will not heed the calls of the sufferers until its purpose is accomplished. So, when we suffer, it’s part of God’s will for us. There’s a purpose to it. We may not understand why we have to suffer, but we need to remember and believe that everything happens according to God’s will and he’s in control. And so, when we suffer, God has some purpose for our pain. He is working out his plan. And therefore, he will not heed our cries for relief until his purpose is accomplished.
Sermons 11, 12 and 13 were about Elihu, who spoke after Job and his three friends had finished speaking. Elihu made clear that Job was not suffering because he had sinned, but he had sinned because of his suffering. Job had not done anything to deserve his suffering, but now that he was suffering, he dishonoured God by some of the thing he said about God. And Elihu made clear that God uses our suffering to speak to us and to keep us from sinning. He uses our suffering to prevent us from sinning, because who knows what we would have done if God did not afflict us with trouble? And God also uses our suffering to uncover the sin which lurks in our hearts. It’s easy to serve God when everything is going well, but when we suffer, we see another side to our nature when we begin to complain and when we become impatient and unkind. And so, God sends suffering into our lives for a good purpose.
And in sermons 14 and 15, God spoke to Job from out of the storm. He drew Job’s attention to the creation: the foundations of the earth and the sea and the dawn and the underworld and the light and darkness and the snow and hail and so on. And then he drew Job’s attention to various wild animals: the lionness and lion and the ravens and the mountain goat and the wild donkey and ox and the ostrich and so on. And then he drew Job’s attention to Behemoth and Leviathan and I suggested last week that those two strange creatures represent Satan and all his demons.
God drew Job’s attention to all of these things, because Job had complained that God was being unjust and unfair to him. And therefore he was implying that he — Job — could rule the universe better than God. But Job can’t rule the world: he can’t rule creation, he can’t rule the animals and he certainly can’t rule over Satan and his demons. And so, in the end, Job confessed that he had spoken of things he did not understand. And so, he now despised himself and repented in dust and ashes because of what he had said to dishonour God. But do you remember? The God who rules the universe and all that it contains is the LORD, who has bound himself with a promise to be our God and to love us with an everlasting love. When he sends trouble into our lives, it’s not as if his love has been temporarily interrupted. His love for his people is never interrupted. And so, when he sends trouble into our lives it’s for some good and loving purpose.
Verses 7 to 17
And so, we come to the final passage. In verses 7 to 9, the Lord said to Eliphaz that he is angry with Job’s three friends, because what they said to Job about God was not right. Their vending machine theology was wrong; and God was not punishing Job for something he had done wrong.
The Lord says at the end of verse 7 that what Job had spoken was right. Now, that’s puzzling, because Elihu had said in his speeches that Job had dishonoured God by the things he said. Job had said things about God which were not right. And what Elihu said about Job was true, otherwise God would have condemned Elihu just as he had condemned Job’s three friends. And so, when the Lord says in verse 7 that what Job said was right, he must be referring to what Job said in verses 1 to 6. In those verses, Job acknowledged that he has said things about God he did not understand. And in saying that, Job was right. And so, in verse 7 the Lord is referring to the things Job said in verses 1 to 6.
And the Lord then told the three friends to go to Job and offer sacrifices to God. And Job will pray for his three friends. And God reassured them that he would accept Job’s intercession and not deal with them according to their sins. And we read how they did what God said and Job prayed for them and God accepted Job’s prayer.
And after this, the Lord made Job prosperous again. And all his brothers and sisters and former friends came and visited him. They comforted and consoled him and gave him silver and gold. And God gave Job twice as much as he had before. So, 14,000 sheep instead of 7,000. 6,000 camels instead of 3,000. 1,000 yoke of oxen instead of 500. 1,000 donkeys instead of 500. He also had another seven sons and three daughters. And his daughters were beautiful. And Job became so prosperous that he was able to share his inheritance with his daughters as well as with his sons. And Job lived a hundred and forty years and he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And when he died, he died an old man and full of years.
God allowed Job to pray for his friends in order to foreshadow our Saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord, who stands before the Father in heaven on our behalf, where he intercedes for us and asks the Father to pardon us for all that we have done wrong. And the Father is willing to hear and answer the Saviour’s prayer, because the Saviour offered up himself as the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins in full and he shed his blood to cleanse us.
And since God had won his battle with Satan, God was able to restore Job’s possessions. Satan had said that the only reason Job worshipped God was because of what he could get from God in this life. But it has become clear through this trial that Job was prepared to worship God for nothing. He was prepared to worship God ‘come what may’. When he lost everything, he did not curse God and he did not give up his faith. He was puzzled by what happened to him, but, with a God-given faith, he continued to trust in his Redeemer and to look forward to the resurrection and to everlasting life in the presence of God when all his troubles would be over. In all of this, he did not curse God. And so, God had won his battle with Satan. And therefore he could remove Job’s affliction and restore his possessions to him. And when we worship God in the midst of sorrow and suffering and loss, then we also demonstrate to Satan that the reason we’re worshipping God is because he is God and he is always worthy of our worship.
And the way the Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life is a promise to us and to all who believe. It’s a promise to us that God will one day give us that fullness of joy and those pleasures forevermore which he has prepared for all his people in the new and better world to come where we will see God and where we will enjoy God forever.
Already we have benefitted from his blessings, because every day he fills our lives with good things. But our experience of God’s blessings in this life is mixed with troubles and trials and sorrow and sadness. Our life on earth is a mixture of joy and sorrow. But God has promised that the life to come will be a life of perfect joy and happiness; and there will be no more sorrow or suffering in the life to come, where we will see God and enjoy him forever. And when we read of how God blessed the latter part of Job’s life, it speaks to us of God’s promise to us and to all who believe in the Saviour of the glory and joy that awaits us in the presence of our God. And so, for the joy set before us, we should endure all things now in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection and everlasting life with God.