Job 11: A Rocky Balboa Moment
We all loved the movie: “Rocky” with its inspirational theme, underdog against champion, a modern day, David vs. Goliath story. We love those stories and are inspired by them. And life comes at us pretty hard sometimes, like Apollo came at Rocky. But Rocky was determined to get up each time he got knocked down. He had one clear goal- to finish the fight, 15 rounds- just 45 minutes. We watched that movie the first time and we found ourselves pulling for him, cheering him on, and encouraging him to get up one more time. Ever said to yourself- if I can just make it through today. Or like a Merle Haggard song, ‘if we can make it through December, everything’s going to be alright.’
I don’t know what knocked you down this week, but I know some of you have been battling problems for some time: relationships; finances, health. Storms sweep in and leave one flattened and you wonder if they are ever going to end. The flesh, our old nature is pre-disposed to unbelief. But in today’s lesson, we see a Rocky moment in Job’s life where he gets up and starts fighting back. This about the bully, who wants you to give up and give in. This is about getting up and saying I know whom I have believed. Say it with me: The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is my strength, of whom shall I be afraid?”
Now we hear from Zophar and his accusations against Job. He will make three accusations against Job. Job is covered in open sores. Yet none of his friends have brought him any balm or oil to soothe his pain. They have poured salt on his open wounds, creating more pain. Zophar’s accusations:
- Job is guilty of sin.
- Job is ignorant of God and the greatness of His wisdom.
- Job is stubborn in his refusal to repent.
Zophar and his friends are intelligent men. They have lots of information and truths about God. The book of Job is poetic and these men can certainly turn a poetic phrase as Zophar does here extolling the mysteries of God, the deep things of his wisdom. In verses 8 & 9, Zophar’s declarations of God’s wisdom states: “They are higher than the heavens- what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave, what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.” But these men seem to know nothing of the love of God of it and how wide and long and high and deep it is and how it surpasses all knowledge says Paul in Ephesians 3. (As Corrie Ten Boom said, “No matter how deep the pit you are in, God is deeper still.”)
Zophar, more or less, calls Job a liar. Listen in to this conversation: “Will no one rebuke you when you mock? You say to God, “My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.” Zophar says I wish God would talk and tell us the both sides of this. For Zophar and his friends are sure Job has unconfessed sin, and this must be the only reason Job is suffering such great misery and loss.
(Have you ever worked with someone like this or for someone like this- who was often wrong, but never uncertain?)
God is never wrong. He has the right to do what He pleases and He always does what is right. These men do not want to believe a person can suffer such misery without having done something terribly wrong and God has come along and imprisoned the guilty.
Yet we know evil men get away with crimes and sinful behavior in this world. Psalm 37 is a psalm of contrast between the evil and the righteous. We see the evil flourish and we fret or worse we envy them their pleasures and possessions. God tells us they will soon wither, but His instructions to us are to: Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Faith is the basis of any genuine relationship; be it in a marriage, a friendship, a business transaction. In fact the more sensitive and personal the relationship, the greater the need of faith in the relationship. We are told the greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. We are also told to trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path. I believe in order to trust the Lord with all your heart, you must, in fact, love the Lord with all your heart.
This why we are told , without faith it is impossible to please God.(Hebrews 11:6) Can you not see, a failure to believe God is really to say God I do not have faith in you? I do not have faith in your promises. What a devastating blow to a relationship- to not believe the other party is faithful. No relationship is possible without faith. The enemy of your soul wants to drive a wedge between you and God by making you believe God is not faithful and cannot be trusted.
In the story of Job, Satan is using his three friends to pound away at Job to drive a wedge between God and Job and get Job to curse God. Or as we will see, to confess to something he has not done in order to receive the blessing of God. The same verse which says without faith it is impossible to please God, also says God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, not what they can get from Him. Satan has accused Job of seeking God and worshipping God only because God has given him so much wealth. Now if he can get Job to try and manipulate God in to giving him back his life and riches, Job will be guilty of seeking God’s rewards, not God Himself.
Satan also wants to plant doubt in the heart and mind of the believer. When we waver, James says we are like a man tossed about at sea by the wind. This man cannot expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways. The enemy wants Job to doubt the goodness of God. Faith is the cup we bring to God to fill. This cup is a measuring cup. It measures our faith – wavering with doubt, little faith, or great faith. And it will be done according to our faith. A wavering faith we get nothing from God. But even a little faith, if is as a grain of mustard seed can move mountains. For it is the object of our faith which is of most importance not the amount of faith. Sometimes Jesus would ask those who come seeking healing, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Upon saying yes, Jesus would say, “Be it done according to your faith.” This same verse (Hebrews 11:6) which tells us without faith it is impossible to please God; says the first thing we must believe is God exists. God is Who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. The next thing we must believe is God is a Rewarder of those who seek Him. He is real and He is a rewarder.
Two causes may underlie the difficulty we have in believing. One would be a fear that God does not want to give. Yet the repeated invitations in the Bible are to call on God and He will show you great and mighty things; ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will opened to you. We are told if as earthly father we know how to give good gifts, how much more will our Heavenly Father give to us. All good gifts come from the Father in whom there is no shadow of turning. He is the same today, as yesterday and He will be tomorrow. He says I am the Lord, I do not change. It seems clear God wants us to believe Him. God tells us in Malachi 3: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw up the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” God wants you to believe in Him. God loves to give.
Second cause is a fear the thing we ask is too great or too difficult. Listen to what Jesus said to the man with the son who had seizures and sometimes cast him into the fire. The man ask Jesus ‘if you can- take pity on us, and help us. Jesus answered: “If you can?”- all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9; 23) Do you remember what the man ask for then? He claimed, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus healed the boy. Nothing is impossible for God- nothing is difficult for Him. Also may we learn the lesson here- ask God to help you believe Him in the area where unbelief keeps you from receiving. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God. (Romans 10)
Faith is the bridge by which we receive grace. Faith is also the bridge which allows us to enter the throne room of heaven itself and call Almighty God, Our Father, and Abba Father. If we do not trust the bridge is stable and will hold us up, we are very cautious about going forward on it, fearing it will collapse. We are timid in our prayer request. We do not want to get our hopes up and be disappointed. Yet- faith is the substance of things hoped for—faith is the ‘mother of hope.’ God is the God of all Hope- hope that does not disappoint!
Satan wishes to drive a wedge in our relationship with God. And since it is based on faith, this will be the area of attack. We must make sure we are abiding in Him. In John 15, Jesus tells us He is the Vine and we are the branch. And the Father is the owner of the vineyard, the Gardener, the Constant Gardener. Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”
The enemy is attempting to cut Job off from the vine, isn’t he? He is using these three men to do his chopping.
Zophar is saying in this chapter, Job you are a liar and you are guilty, otherwise, you would not be undergoing such punishment and persecution from God.
Zophar, says you are ignorant of God. You do not understand His Ways.
Finally Zophar says, Job you are stubborn in your refusal to repent.
Now we know no one is sinless and perfect except Jesus. However, God has revealed to Job He is blameless and upright because Job fears (reverences) God and shuns evil. Job is adamant in this fact: He knows God has revealed this truth about himself to Job and he knows God has not revealed to him, a sin he has committed for which he is being punished. Job is reasoning- I know Whom I have believed. He has revealed to me I am blameless and upright because I fear Him and shun evil. So it makes sense to Job, God would have revealed to Him the source of his sin, so he could confess and ask for forgiveness.
This chapter ends with Zophar tempting Job to bargain with God in order to manipulate God to get out of his troubles. He says things will look brighter and you will be secure and you will be back in the good life again.
Job did not understand God’s reasons for what was happening to him, but Job still had faith in his goodness. I love the verse in Psalm 27, when the writer admits: “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Are you discouraged today? Have you a vexing problem which breaks your heart, which will not seem to go away? Are you at the end of your rope? Do you notice something about that phrase we often use to describe our woes? It is ‘your rope’- that you are at the end of, which implies you are at the end of your resources. But it is here, God steps in, having allowed you to come to the end of your resources, so you will learn to lean on Him and His provisions and not your provisions. The Word of God tells us we will see His goodness in the land of the living. Will it be an easy way out of your problems, in that you buy a lottery ticket and win millions? No. God wants to show you the way through the waters, through the fire and through the storm. The best way to deal with a problem is to go through it, not around it. David started this Psalm 27 by declaring: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? “Are you in a dark place? The Lord’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light upon our path.
JOB’S ANSWER TO ZOPHAR
Job’s answer to Zophar covers chapters 12, 13 and 14. Job fires back with a dose of sarcasm for his friends and some righteous anger and pent up frustration. He speaks to his three friends in these chapters and then speaks to God.
Job says you three men act like you are the only ones who have wisdom. Job says I am not inferior to you. Do you have an inferiority complex? Do others sometimes make you feel like you are not as smart, or wise, or successful as they are? Do you notice as Job notices, ‘men at ease have contempt for those who are suffering misfortune. (Job 12: 5)
Job will address the accusations that he, Job, is ignorant of God’s greatness and wisdom. Job strikes back. Job, in essence, says I have had enough from you three. Now hear this I am not to become a laughingstock to my friends to become the butt of your jokes to be ridiculed, because I know what God has said of me.
Do you know what God has said of you? You are His child; He loves you with an everlasting love. He longs to hear from you each and every day and whatever concerns you, concerns Him. His thoughts toward you outnumber the grains of sand. He has plans for you and they are not for calamity but to give you a future and a hope.
You know the devil is bully, don’t you? These three men are trying to bully Job. There have always been bullies. There was a bully when I was in the 7th grade, who was older than us and he was strong and intimidating. In phys.ed, he would come to us 7th graders and shake us down for money. He wanted us to give him a .25 from our lunch money. You could try hiding it in your shoes, but he would find it. We were physically afraid to take him on. When I came out for football in the 8th grade- there he was. We dressed on one side of the field house- 8th.9th and 10th graders dressed there while the varsity dressed on the other side. He was shaking us down in the field house dressing room. One day a 10th grader, who was not as big as him, told him to stop. The bully looked at him and said what are you going to do? Tell on me. No, said the 10th grader and immediately he hit him square in the nose and they fought across the dressing room into the showers. The fight was a draw- but we all knew who had won. This young boy would later become an Eagle Scout and an FBI agent. I believe for him – this was a character defining moment. It was a Rocky Balboa moment- long before the movie was ever made!
Job is saying- enough is enough. He is going to strike back. He knows who he is and whose he is- do you? It is time, past time, for us to say, enough is enough!
Job says: “To God belong wisdom and power, counsel and understanding are his.” Job is saying this is the only one who understands what is going on and why- not you three.
“What He tears down cannot be rebuilt; the man He imprisons cannot be released. If He holds back the waters, there is drought; if He lets them loose, they devastate the land. To Him belong strength and victory, both deceived and deceiver are His. He leads counselors away stripped and makes judges look like fools. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows men long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into light. He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges them nations and disperses them. He deprives leaders of the earth of their reason; He sends them wandering through a trackless waste. They grope in darkness with no light; He makes them stagger like drunkards. My eye have seen all this, my ears have heard all this and understood it.
What you know, I know. I am not inferior to you.” (Job 12:13-13:2)
Job says it is all about God not you or me. He is Almighty. He is Sovereign and all knowing. He alone is in full control. Job is saying it is God alone to Whom I bow. Don’t bully me. I may not be able to answer all the questions or why this is happening to me. God is the only one who can answer me. He sits on the throne in heaven and does as He pleases. All kinds of people experience difficulties in life because God does as He pleases. He is no respecter of persons. He is not impressed with man’s power, intellect, wealth or social status. If God so chooses, kings will lose their authority and wealth, judges will become confused, the wise will be silenced. Nations will be brought down. Those who would build the Tower of Babel were confused and dispersed when they tried to build and manage without God. And in the 21st century those labor to build governments and nations labor in vain if they leave God out and it will collapse and fail as surely as the Tower of Babel.
Paul had his Rocky Balboa moments- and when he came to the end – he could say ‘I fought a good fight- I finished the race!