Job 4: Is God Enough?
When Job’s wife admonished him to ‘curse God and die!’ he replied “shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) Both Job and his wife were under unbelievable suffering from grief and the multiple tragedies which had struck them. Sometimes we say things in those emotional moments we wish we had not said.
We need to be careful what we say we would never do in a given situation. For often the situation changes and we find ourselves doing exactly what we said we would not do. Gina and I were recently watching Antique Roadshow, where a man brought in a silver cornet (trumpet) his great grandfather had used during the Civil War. When asked if he had ever had it appraised, the man said, “No, I would never sell it. It’s a family heirloom.” When told how much it was worth, ($35,000), he said, “Now it’s for sale.”
Job had said to his grieving wife, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” But seven days later Job cursed two nights in his life. He cursed the night he was conceived. The conception of a child is a miracle and a blessing from God. He also cursed the day he was born. A child is called a ‘reward from God’ in Psalm 127. Now Job has cursed two blessings, which were good from God. He has not cursed God, but he has questioned God’s goodness and God’s sovereignty in having ever been born. Job is beginning to feel forsaken. We know we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness, having been tempted in every way, but without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) And remember Jesus knows what it is to be forsaken and question his father, “why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Notice the use of the word, “darkness”, in Job 3:4. When a baby is born, he/she comes from the darkness of the mother’s womb into the physical light of this world. However, we are all stillborn spiritually and in spiritual darkness. This why Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again. When we experience salvation, like a newborn baby, we come from the kingdom darkness into the kingdom of light. And like a newborn baby, we are a new creation.
There is also an interesting statement made by Job in his lament. In verse 25, Job states: “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” Remember in the opening verses of this story, Job made an offering for each of his children, for fear his children had sinned and cursed God. Job was the wealthiest and greatest man in all the East, yet with all his wealth there was a fear of bad things happening. And now Job’s worst fears have been realized. His statement of faith in God has turned into his lament. Job says, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Do you realize besides his wife, all Job has is God. Is not God enough?
Now before we begin the dialogue as Eliphaz is about to interrupt Job’s sad lament with his comments and insights, let me introduce you to his three friends and their background.
Eliphaz is recognized as the oldest, since he speaks first. He is a Temanite, coming from the town of Teman. Men from Teman were renowned for their wisdom. The town was named after Teman the grandson of Esau. (Genesis 36:11) His name means “God is Strength” and/or “God is Fine Gold.” His speeches to Job are based on his experience. He often states: ‘what I have seen /observed.’
Bildad is a Shuhite. Shuah was Abraham’s son by Keturah. His name means, “Son of contention.” He is a legalist. He is blunt in his arguments to the point of being brutal.
Zophar is also a descendant of Esau, whose name means-‘sparrow’. He makes terrible insinuations against Job. His arguments are based on assumptions. All three are legalistic. Like the disciples who thought the man born blind in John 9 was a result of either his sin or his parents’ sin, these three view suffering as a direct result of sin.
Job 4 begins with Eliphaz who breaks in when Job pauses after his lament in Job 3. He starts by saying if I say something will you be impatient? Ever have someone say to you, can I give you some advice- or do you mind if I offer some constructive criticism? Will you be upset if I tell you what is wrong with you? When a conversation begins this way, the other person, perhaps with good intentions, is going to tell you what your problem is and what the solution is based on their viewpoint and opinion.
Eliphaz then proceeds to tell Job how Job has often helped and instructed many who were in trouble. He knew how to give good advice and strengthen them in the times of their trouble. But now trouble has come to you and you can’t follow your own advice. Trouble has hit you big time and you have folded up. Eliphaz says, now it has come to you Job and you are weary and troubled. It’s easy to trust God when you are in good health, have plenty of money and all your children are doing great. But what happens when any of these are touched or lost? What happens when there is loss and a great void fills your soul? Is God enough to fill the gap?
Eliphaz says – ‘is not your fear and reverence of God, your confidence? And your integrity and uprightness your hope? In other words, if you fear (reverence) God and shun evil, if you are a person of integrity- why is this happening to you?
Eliphaz then ventures into the area of false assumptions. Do the innocent ever perish? Are the upright cut off?
Then he comments on what he has seen: those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. Can a man be more righteous than God?
Yet the Bible is filled with stories of martyrs who died as we read in Hebrews 11 and of course the disciples were martyred and God’s own son, the only ever innocent person was crucified. In other words, Eliphaz does not know what he is talking about. He is wrong.
Eliphaz knows what a righteous man Job has been. He does not want to believe God can allow this to happen to Job and Job not deserve it. Eliphaz is fearful; for if this can happen to Job it could happen to him. When we see good people go through difficult times, it often makes us fearful or nervous to think about what if this happens to me, to my family? Fear and anger sometimes go together. These are three men who are fearful this could happen to them. It reveals itself in these dialogues as anger and frustration sometimes.
Now lets’ review for a moment what was the purpose of this suffering from the outset. The purpose was to demonstrate that Job valued God and loved God more than anything: his possessions and great wealth, his family and his own health. When all of this occurred, we read:
“The Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshipped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. “
And in all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
This was the purpose of the suffering at the beginning was to show the depth not only of Job’s faith, but the depth of his love for God. For we are to love him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and above all else.
Now Job has been struck in his body, covered with hideous sores and failing health which has left him in a miserable state. He will continue in this state for months. What is the purpose of this suffering now?
The purpose now is the ongoing refining of Job’s righteousness. So when it is done he will come forth as gold.
Suffering comes to all of us. In the story of Job we see the most common and also the most feared and dreaded areas of suffering:
- Relationships- family, loved ones.
- Wealth, finances, possessions.
Now we have seen problems in these areas come from neglect, not doing what you need to do. We have seen suffering come from sins we have committed- both sins of commission and omission.
But there is suffering as a part of the refining process. What is it the Lord wants to accomplish in this type of suffering?
- Stronger faith.
- Deeper love.
- More consistent behavior.
- Bear more fruit, thus the pruning.
- Focus on Him and His Kingdom.
The only way our faith can grow and mature is through suffering, which produces perseverance (endurance/patience) which produces character and gives us hope which does not disappoint. James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.” (James 1)
Let’s look at a story in the gospel of John which is well known. The story of Lazarus in John 11. Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha lived in Bethany, about 2 miles outside of Jerusalem. Jesus loved this little family and they loved Him. Their home was like a second home for Jesus. It was his favorite place to stay when coming to Jerusalem. It was a retreat and a place of relaxation.
We read that Lazarus lay sick. It evidently was a serious illness. The sisters send a simple message and plea: “Lord, the one who you love is sick.” This is a family who loved Jesus. And Jesus loved this family. FACT: Bad things happen to those Jesus loves and who love Jesus.
Are you a Lazarus today and you are sick with a disease or a sin you cannot conquer or do you have a Lazarus who is sick with a disease or a sinful condition in their life? Then tell Jesus: “Jesus, the one you love is sick.”
Notice what Jesus said to the disciples when He received the message: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”
Has Jesus responded to your request by not coming? Why has he not come? Why the delay? Why is Jesus allowing them (or you and your Lazarus) to suffer?
Now after the two days, Jesus says ‘let us go back to Judea.’ The disciples begin to argue with Jesus- saying they want to stone you – we cannot go back there now. They argued with God. Have you argued with God because He is not doing what you want Him to do, when you want Him to do it and how you want Him to do it? Are you trying to advise God what He needs to do?
Jesus then says ‘Are there not 12 hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by the world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles for he has no light. “Jesus is the light of the world. John tells us this in John 1 and also in I John. In I John he writes: “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His son purifies us from all sin.”
Then Jesus tells the disciples, our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up. The disciples do not understand what Jesus is saying and he explains Lazarus is dead.
Jesus then arrives at Bethany, four days after Lazarus has died. He has been in the grave for four days. Martha and Mary are suffering and grieving not only for the death of their beloved brother Lazarus, but also because they are disappointed and do not understand why Jesus has not responded to their dire needs and now it is too late. ‘If only you had been here, our brother would not have died.” They are probably thinking you have healed and raised from the dead people you did not even know- and you would not come here to help us.
The disciples did not understand. Martha and Mary did not understand. Do you and I sometimes not understand what Jesus meant by the abundant life? Do we think it means we will have a good life, a nice home, nice cars, good vacations, fun, health, wealth, and all our children and grandchildren doing well?
Or do we in a moment of pain, illness, or grief say to God, like my mother did in the hospital room when diagnosed with cancer only six months after burying my father- “that’s not fair!”
Martha shows she still has faith, even though disappointed. “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” She is exhibiting a faith which pleases God, because she believes He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.
Here comes the hope, the promise on which we can put our faith in completely. “Your brother (your Lazarus) will rise again.”
Jesus says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me, will never die. Do you believe this? “
Ask God to give you a promise, a rhema, from His Word on which to base your faith regarding your Lazarus. Whether that Lazarus in someone in your life or something in your life which needs the restoring touch of Jesus the Resurrection and the Life. (Gina asked the Lord to give her a verse when she was diagnosed with cancer. She awoke with the verses from Lamentations 3 as her rhema. What is interesting is Gina’s comfort came as a result of Jeremiah’s suffering. If he had not suffered – she would not have had her rhema which gave her comfort.
What was God doing in Job’s life? What was Jesus doing in the life of this family, Lazarus, Martha and Mary? He was sifting their faith- until they were completely focused on Him and not their circumstances.
All that Job and his wife had left, besides each other, was God. He would be their peace. He would give them rest.
He would be all they needed. GOD IS ALWAYS ENOUGH!
Notice Jesus wept. He is our High Priest how can sympathize with us. He is not indifferent, He loves you and what concerns you, concerns Him also.
He tells Martha to have the stone rolled away. Take away the stone, Jesus commands. Is there a stone keeping God away from a part of your life- Jesus says take it away. Yet we are as reluctant as Martha to take it away. Peter was reluctant to push the boat back out to the deep to cast their nets, having fished all night and caught nothing and now having put all their nets up. But when he looked at Jesus, he said “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Because you say so.
Martha was afraid of what would happen. Peter was just tired and did not want to do it. But they did what He asked them to do, what He commanded them to do.
But Jesus tells us a truth contrary to the conventional wisdom of the world: “Did I not tell you, that if you believed, you would see the glory of the God? Believe then see. Not I will believe it when I see it.
He calls Lazarus to come forth after the stone is rolled away. Lazarus comes out wrapped like a mummy in the grave clothes which hinder him from walking.
Take off his grave clothes. This is what making disciples is about. It is about rolling away stones so the spiritually blind can see the light. It is about helping people free themselves from their old grave clothes. Taking off the old and putting on the new is what making disciples is about.
God’s Word, His commands, His Promises are life giving, life changing and life transforming.
We cannot run the race in old grave clothes which entangle us.
Job will hear from God and his season of suffering will end. The refining process will have been completed. Job will realize he had spoken of things he did not understand
As we continue our study of Job we will see, Job is learning GOD IS ALWAYS ENOUGH.