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Job 1:20,21

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
December 12, 1997

It seems strange to be coming up on Christmas - and the celebration of Jesus’ birth - all of the joy and excitement of His coming - and to be here in a cemetery. The timing of _____’s death seems grossly out-of-place in all this. Death seems like that - cruel and out of place in life. And life sometimes seems very hard - certainly the last few years of _____’s life were hard. Sometimes we have a tremendous number of questions - and no answers.

I’d like to share 2 verses from the life of Job which I hope will be of help to all of us this morning. I don’t think they really are an answer to all our questions. But, they do give us some direction - so hope - some strength.

As the book of Job begins we read about Job who was a God fearing man - and he had 7 sons and 3 daughters - and was very wealthy. He had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and many servants. He was called the greatest man in all the east.

Satan complains about the way that God has blessed Job. Satan argues before God - anybody is going to obey God when life is easy - if life gets hard - impossible - Job will turn away from God. And so God grants Satan the right to take everything away from Job - except for His life. Within one short chapter, Job looses everything - servants - livestock - family - everything.

Job 1:20-21 - this is how Job responds after loosing everything - Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshipped. - in horrible circumstances - rather than turning from God - Job turns to God. Here’s his reasoning - And he 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.”

How can Job worship at a time like this? As we read through the Book of Job - there is a realization that Job is not wise enough to grasp the purposes of God. But, he understands enough to rest in God’s character.

In Ecclesiastes 2:1-2a we are told this: There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. A time to give birth, and a time to die...

All of what we see around us - and the timing of _____’s death - is in God’s timing. And at some point we must trust God that His timing and His working is best.

That’s really hard to hear and it leaves me - all of us with a lot questions. There is one other truth I’d like to share this morning. Because it helps us to trust God. _____’s death brings us face to face with the ugly reality of death - and the fear which it holds for us - the loss - the uncertainty - even our own mortality.

Where in all this is there comfort for us? Where in God’s timing and character is there hope? How can we face the fear and uncertainty that death confronts us with?

Listen to these verses - David - a man who new adversity in life - great contrast from the heights of joy to the depths of sorrow and despair - David writes of His relationship with God - Psalm 23:4: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me...

And Psalm 139:7-8: Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.

And these words by Asaph - The Temple Choir Director:

Psalm 73:23-28: Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works.

God understands death. God is the master over death. All of these verses speak of the true believer’s faith in God and hope beyond the grave. In every case, their comfort comes from the fact that God is with them. They have no need to fear when they are in His presence, and when He is with them.

Its also very clear - from these verses - and through-out the Bible - that not all have this hope, nor do they all await the same destiny after death. In the same verses which speak of the deliverance and salvation of the righteous, we read of the punishment of the wicked. So what really helps us to enter into the presence of God - and to not fear the unknown of death?

God’s answer is His provision of the Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Jesus as the promised Savior was the coming of God Himself. Listen to these words, so closely associated with Christmas, and yet so very much related to our hope of eternal life after death. When the angel spoke to Joseph concerning the miraculous birth of the Savior through Mary, he said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:20b-23)

Jesus is God’s way to deliver us from the fear of death. He is “God with us” - in whatever circumstance of our lives - the hard times - the times when we have questions and no answers - we know that God is with us. And not only is Jesus “God with us” - but, He died for us - for the forgiveness of our sins - He is the One who rose from the dead. And as we trust Him as our Savior - we know that we are no longer alone in death - no longer need to fear death - because Jesus has opened the door to life - with God now - and life eternal with God which is coming.

We can all give thanks to God for _____’s life. Those who know God can also give thanks for his death - knowing that it was in God’s perfect plan - at His appointed time. Those who know Jesus Christ by faith can look death squarely in the eye - knowing that we need not fear if God is with us. May that hope and comfort be ours today.