Sermon Illustrations

“Torch Races!” Job 6:8-13 Key verse(s) 9:“. . . that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut me off!”

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how quickly you run the race; just that you finish. Everyone has bad days; days which like any other days start out all right but somewhere along the way a bit of sand or a patch of ice has an unforeseen role to play and crash, what started out fine ends up a disaster. Run as hard as you can and you still can’t seem to get out of last place. Perhaps when days like this raise their ugly heads there is only one practical course to take, dropping out of the race and saving the effort for another time.

The Greeks, well known for their competitive spirit, invented the art of competitive running. There were many races that were run during the course of their frequent Olympic competitions. We are familiar with the marathon and high hurdles as well as the myriad of short course races they also ran. But there was one race which held periodically outside of the Olympic competition that was as highly regarded perhaps even more so than all the other competitive races. This race was called the torch relay. The race which spawned the modern day Olympic torch race and ceremony, often took place in the streets and alleys of Athens. Ten or twelve men would assemble before the city fathers, each carrying a torch, a simple bound bundle of twigs inset in a hollow containers. The twigs were coated with tar and then, one by one, each torch was lit from the same flame. On their marks, the runners were sent out as a group and guided along a course that had been laid out among the city streets on which obstacles and barriers had been placed. The object of the race was to cross the finish line with your torch still lit. You could not stop and put the torch down or prop it anywhere. You had to hold it high and run with as much integrity as possible. In this race the victory seldom went to the fastest or the strongest. This was a race that depended upon timing and rhythm. To keep that torch lit required the ability to hold it properly, shielded from objects along the route and held away from the wind. If you ran too fast, you might put out the flame. If you ran to slow, the tar might burn up completely before you reached the finish line. If a runner’s torch flamed out, there was no relighting it. He was forced to drop out. The winner of the race was the first man to cross the finish line with his torch still lit. Winning was, therefore, dependent upon endurance, not speed.

Job was a man involved in a very similar race. God had put numerous “objects” across his path. He handed Job a torch, his earthly lot that must be regarded even when it has become a burden, and put him to the run. In the...

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