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Job 1:1-2:10

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 29, 2005

Almost four years ago today - 293 passengers boarded a Canadian Air Transat flight from Toronto to Lisbon, Portugal.  About mid-way over the Atlantic Ocean - more than 1,000 miles from the coast of Portugal - Captain Robert Piche and his crew noticed a fuel leak.  23 minutes later - fuel almost exhausted - Captain Piche issued a mayday emergency distress signal.  40 minutes later the right engine lost power and went dead.  2 minutes later the left engine - the last of the two engines - lost power and died.  Still hundreds of miles from Portugal the airplane was without power and helpless.

As the plane dropped through the sky - depressurized and jerking around - passengers panicked and screamed - the flight crew became hysterical.  Captain Piche - with only minimum power - a control stick - and an emergency propeller - for 18 minutes wrestled with the jetliner guiding it to Lajes Airport on Terciera Island in the Azores.  When the plane landed it hit with such force that the tires exploded - bursting into flames.  One of the passengers said,
“It was a miracle we survived.” (1)

Do you ever feel like that?  Not
that we’re at 30,000 feet in the air and falling.  But, like things are out of control and very wrong.  Like being in an airplane fuselage - the tightness of a cylinder that we can’t escape from - helpless in the circumstances around us - being carried along to a destination we don’t want to go to.

Maybe you’re there this morning. 
There are times - too many times - when its very natural for us to ask, “Why is this happening?  Where is God in all this?  Why doesn’t He answer my prayers?  Why doesn’t He step in and do something?”

This morning I’d like to share from the Book of Job.  If you would, please turn with me there to Job 1.  There’s truths in Job that we need to be reminded about when were looking for hope - for direction - for the way through and out.  When we’re longing for God to work in our lives.

Job 1:1: 
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.      

Notice how Job is introduced to us.  First:  He’s a
real person living in the land of Uz - east of Canaan - probably around the time of Abraham.  He is a well known and important person. (Ezekiel 14:14,20; James 5:11)

Job was “blameless and upright.”  Which doesn’t mean that Job was perfect.  But, when he sinned, Job admitted his sin - confessed it - allowed God to deal with it.  So, that he was living “uprightly” - rightly before God.

Job “feared God.”  He understood God’s power and working in his life. 

Verse 2: 
Seven sons and three daughters were born to him.  His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.  Point being - that unlike most of us - Job was very - very - wealthy. 

Verse 3: 
His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.  When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.”  Thus Job did continually.      

Notice the love of a father for
his children.  Job prays for his children - a prayer that’s echoed by every Christian parent whose heart is burdened for their children - especially when we’re concerned about our children’s relationship with God.  As a father Job pours out his heart before God.  He offers burnt offerings which were offerings given in total dedication - consecration - to God.  He’s telling God, “My children are yours.  May they be totally under Your control.  Keep them in Your hands and don’t let go of them.”  Ever prayed that for you kids?

Point being that -
Job was a man - like us - a husband - a father - a man who was trying to live life in obedience and reverence for God.

Verse 6: 
Now there was a day when the sons of God - the angels - came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.  The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”  Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”  The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job?  For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”  Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing?  Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”  Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.”  So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.    

In verse 6 the scene changes from Job - on earth - to Heaven - God’s throne room.  While we were being introduced to Job it was like seeing the set and the actors.  But, now the props are taken away - the backdrop is lifted - and God allows us to see behind the scenes - to the invisible spiritual realm around us - the realm of God and Satan - of angels and demons.  Which is a little hard to get our minds around.  But important for us to be aware of.

Imagine the universe - planet after planet - solar system after solar system - galaxy beyond galaxy. 
From all over this vastness - the sons of God - thousands and thousands - countless numbers of angels - have gathered before the presence of God Himself - to report on their activities.  That’s mind numbing.  All of creation - with it vastness - what is seen and unseen - all of it is held accountable to God.

In this scene, Satan - fallen - rebellious - Satan - is permitted - is also allowed to come into God’s presence.

Hold on to that truth.  Always - during the trials and experiences of our lives - always
there are dimensions to those trials that we do not see.  But we need to be aware that they’re there.  Always, there’s more than  -what? meets the eye.  Try this together, “There’s always more than meets the eye.”

erse 13 - meanwhile back on earth:  Now on the day when Job’s sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans attacked and took them.  They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”  While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”  While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”  While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

With no time to absorb each blow - within one day - everything is taken from Job.  The devastation is complete.

In the midst of the tragedy - there are three truths here that we don’t to pass by.  The behind the scenes part that we need to hold on to.

Satan is not equal to God.

Can you imagine
Osama bin Laden coming to President Bush and asking for permission to fly planes into the World Trade Center?  What kind of answer do you think President Bush would have given him?

No enemy ever comes and asks for permission to attack.  And yet, here, Satan asks God for permission to attack Job.  This is not warfare between equal opposing sides - good and evil - yang and yin
- the dark and good side of the force.  They’re not playing good god - bad god.  Job is not a casualty of a war between God and Satan.  What’s being set up is a test of Job’s faith allowed by the Almighty God.  Satan makes it happen.  But, God permits it.

Satan is not equal to God. 
Second, notice how Satan operates.

God says to Satan,
“Where have you been?”  Satan says, “I’ve been roaming the earth.”   

Behind the scenes of life is Satan who is looking for people he can get to - to place under his power - to ruin - to destroy - a malicious enemy who
s looking for any opportunity to lead us away from God and to destruction. (1 Peter 5:8) 

Third, notice that
God limits Satan’s power to effect our lives.

God says to Satan,
“He’s in your power.  But, don’t touch his body.”

Its God who points out Job to Satan as a subject
to be tested.  Its God who sets the conditions of the test - the boundaries - the limitations.  As rebellious and as malicious as Satan is - no matter how greatly he desires our destruction - he never even attempts to go beyond what God allows.  He can’t.  He has no power to do it.

Bottom line
:  Behind the scenes of what’s going on God is in unquestioned control over what happens.  Try that together, “God is in unquestioned control over what happens.” 

Job’s response
to the devastation comes in verse 20:  Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head - gestures of the deepest grief - and Job fell to the ground and worshiped.  Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

God gave us emotions to use them.  We aren’t wimping out - somehow being less spiritual when we show emotions - grief - sorrow.  But notice this - where did Job turn in his grief?  To God.  He worshiped God.  Declared the sovereignty and justice of God.  Share this with the person next to you,
“He turned to God.”

Job 2:1
- the next scene in the unfolding drama:  Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord.  The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”  Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”  The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job?  For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil.  And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”

God allows Satan to ruin Job
.  Job responds in faith.  God again challenges Satan, “Now what do you think of My servant Job?  With all that you did to him, he still trusts Me!”

“Na, na, na, na, na, na!” 
Well, maybe not.

Verse 4: 
Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin!  Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.  However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.”

“Skin for skin”
is a way of saying that we love ourselves more than anything or anyone else.  Satan’s claim is that Job’s family and possessions mean nothing to him.  His own life is what he values.  “God, the reason Job stayed faithful is that You didn’t let me go far enough.  Let me touch his skin - his life - and then see if he remains faithful. ”

Verse 6: 
So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”  Once again - God in control - sets the limits.

erse 7:  Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.  And he - Job - took a potshard to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.

Someone has said that God never created anything useless.  But, mosquitoes come close.  Sometimes just itching a mosquito bite feels good.  Even tearing at the skin. 
It makes it itch more.  But it feels so good to itch that it seems worth the pain.  Amen?

What kind of disease were the boils?  We don’t know.  The point is that from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet Job is really suffering. 
The only relief he has is to use pieces of broken pottery to scrape the sores - to itch.

There’s Job.  Condemned to suffer.  Sitting in ashes - a sign of mourning - and in the dust of the street - itching
.  His body bloated and discolored by the sores.  He’s ugly - repulsive.  People probably to one look at Job and turned away in disgust.

Verse 9: 
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die!”

It would be easy to bag on Mrs. Job.  But, we need to have some sympathy.  She’s been through a lot. 
Seemingly overnight, Mrs. Job has gone from being the wife of one of the most respected men in the east to a homeless outcast.  Like Job, she’s lost everything - including her 10 kids.  Now, her husband is sitting in the street - suffering from a life debilitating disease.  His name is synonymous with tragedy.  The town looks at him with disgust.  So, Mrs. Job has been through a lot.

The problem is that -
unlike Job - Mrs. Job has caved into Satan’s attack.  She’s no longer looking at God as loving and just - as the source of renewal and hope.  She sees God as unfaithful - detached - uncaring.  The  one person Job should have been able to look to for comfort and support becomes a tool in Satan’s hand - a further humiliation - a part of the test. 

rips into Job’s heart.  Her advice is God assisted suicide.  Killing ourselves is a sin.  “So, forget your faith in this uncaring God.  Curse God - get God really ticked off - and God will kill you.”

Point being:  T
hat’s what Satan wants from us.  To curse God and die - or to slowly kill ourselves with sin.  To complain.  To get angry.  To be bitter.  To stop going to church.  To stop reading our Bibles.  To stop praying.  In chronic illness and suffering to look only at our immediate circumstances and to doubt God’s love and faithfulness towards us.  To doubt God and to turn away from Him.

Verse 10: 
But Job said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Bottom line:  Whatever the struggle
Job continues to trust God.

Three thoughts of application
.  For when we’re looking for hope - the way through and out - for God to work in our lives.

:  In all things, God is the authority.

Rev. Otis Moss - preaching at the funeral of Mrs. Martin Luther King, Sr., - the mother of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Rev. Moss preached a sermon about “the little dash between.” 
He pointed out that on Mrs. King’s tomb stone there would be her name and a couple of dates - when she was born and when she died - and then a little dash - a line - in between.  Rev. Moss didn’t talk about Mrs. King’s birth date or the day she died.  He talked about that little dash - describing Mrs. King’s life. (2)

That’s what Job is talking about - naked in birth - naked in death - and everything between - the dash - belongs to God. 

Somehow people have the idea that
we’re here to have a good time.  To have our needs met and to enjoy life.  We consider “quality of life” issues and viability as a justification for going on in life.  If it hurts too much just pull the plug - just end it all.  Babies are murdered in the womb because they’re inconvenient.

Job reminds us that life isn’t lived in those terms.  Life has value and purpose even when it hurts - under pressure - in pain - life is worth living.  A philosophy that wants to “end it all” when things go wrong is empty - shallow - wrong - a distorted view of life.

Life is not about whether or not we own real estate or how large our house is.  Its not about whether or not we have a family or how many children or grandchildren we have.  Its not the size of our portfolio or retirement “nest egg”.  Life is about glorifying God - living that dash - about remaining faithful in our relationship to Him in riches and in poverty - in whatever He sovereignly chooses to bless us with or to withhold from our lives.

Second thought
of application:  In all things, God sets the boundaries.

Four guys went out mountain climbing.  In the middle of the climb - one guy slipped and fell over a cliff - dropped about 60 sixty feet - landed with a thud on the ledge below.  The other three - hoping to rescue him, yelled,
“Joe, are you OK?”

“I’m alive,”
came the answer.  “But, I think I broke both my arms.”

We’ll toss a rope down to you and pull you up.  Just lie still!” said the three.

answered Joe.

A couple of minutes after dropping one end of the rope, they started tugging and grunting together, working feverishly to pull their wounded companion to safety.  When they had him about three-fourths of the way up, they suddenly remembered that he said he had broken both his arms.

“Joe!  If you broke both your arms, how in the world are you hanging on?”

Joe responded,
“With my Teeeeeeth…” (3)

When we get to the end of our rope - what?  tie a knot and hang on.  But, what if the knot comes undone?

The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13,
“God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted - what? beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

en we’re hanging on by a thread we need to be reminded that God always has his protecting hands around us.  He knows what we can bear.  He will never allow us to be tested so that our trust in Him will be destroyed.  That’s a promise that we can hold on to.  God sets the boundaries.

Third thought of application
:  In all things, we have a choice.

In 1976, Pam Rosewell, became Corrie ten Boom’s live-in executive assistant and travel companion.  Shortly afterwards, Corrie suffered a stroke.  Hospitalization followed.  Physical therapy.  Then long - loving hours at home.  Corrie regain
ed some of her mobility - until the next strokes hit.  She never regained her speech.

Pam Rosewell, in her book “The Five Silent Years of Corrie ten Boom” writes about how - even without speech and from a bed in her home - during five long years of debilitating physical illness until her death in 1983 - Corrie carried on her ministry - testifying of God’s love and care - touching the lives of those around her.

Reflecting on those 5 years, Pam Rosewell writes this,
“Corrie often told me, ‘It is not so much what happens, but how we take it that is important.’”  Pam writes, “Through the hard circumstances of the last years of her life, the Lord had shown me a paradox:  The deepest fellowship with Him lies in not resisting when suffering comes our way, but in going through it resolutely with Him.” (4)

We always have a choice as to how we respond.  Turn towards God.  Or, turn away from God. 

We will remain miserable - despairing - hopeless - people - continually separating ourselves from God’s power to renew - uphold - and uplift - if we insist on living life on our terms rather than accepting God’s authority over our lives and circumstances.   That’s the choice Satan desires for us.

To turn towards God is to allow Him to give us hope - to renew us - to lead us - to bless us.  Even if the blessing is not immediate.  That was Job’s choice - to remain faithfully trusting God.

Do your remember how all this ends up?  In the end God totally blesses Job’s socks off.  He lives 140 more years with blessings that went way beyond what was taken away. 
Job 40:17 says that, “Job died, an old man and full of days.”

That’s encouraging isn’t it?  Choose to trust the God who is the authority - who sets the boundaries - who always takes care of His kids.


1. San Francisco Chronicle, 8/25/01 & 8/29/01
2. Jimmy Carter, Living Faith
3. Charles R. Swindoll, Standing Out
4. Pamela Rosewell, The Five Silent Years of Corrie ten Boom

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.