Summary: When I go through trials, what matters is who I know not what I know
I can’t prove it absolutely, but my guess is that the most asked question throughout history, regardless of culture, has been this one:
Why do bad things happen to good people?
And that question is certainly at the heart of the life of the man that we’ll look at this morning – Job.
When we go through difficult times in our lives, that is almost always the first question we ask, whether we do that out loud, or whether we just think it to ourselves. But as Job learned, and hopefully as we’ll learn this morning, the reason it’s so hard to find an answer to that question is because it’s not the right question to be asking in the first place.
You’re probably wondering why we’re even looking at the life of Job at this point in our journey through the Old Testament. After all, in our Bibles we find the book of Job right before the Psalms and there are 16 other books between Genesis, which we just finished last week, and Job.
Although we can’t even be sure of who authored the book of Job, the internal evidence in the text points to a setting during the time of the patriarchs and before Moses. The book pictures a family clan organization that would have been consistent with the time of Abraham and Job’s offering of a sacrifice for his family seems to reflect a time before the Exodus when God appoints priests to carry out that function. So it seems best to include our look at Job at this point in our study.
Obviously I have a daunting challenge ahead of me this morning as I try to share with you the essence of 42 chapters of Scripture in a little over 30 minutes. So let’s get right to it.
I’m going to ask you to follow along as I read from the beginning and the end of the book of Job and then we’ll use our remaining time to see if we can fill in the gaps and figure out what occurs in Job’s life between those two passages that completely changes his outlook on his suffering.
[Read Job 1:1-5]
The opening paragraph of the book of Job portrays Job as a very religious man. He is described as upright and blameless and he consistently goes through the religious ritual of making sacrifices for his children in case they have sinned. But there appears to be something that is missing in Job’s life – any kind of personal relationship with God. You’ll notice that in these first five verses, God is mentioned twice. And in both cases the underlying Hebrew word is Elohim, which is the generic name for God. It is the same word that is frequently translated “god” – with a little “g” throughout the Old Testament. So while Job is religious and has some concept of a deity, that is about as far as his relationship with God seems to go at that point in his life.
With that in mind, skip ahead with me all the way to the last chapter of Job – chapter 42 – and follow along as I read the first 6 verses.
[Read Job 42:1-6]
Something has obviously changed in Job’s life from when we first saw him back in chapter 1. First of all, He now refers to God as “the Lord”, which translates the Hebrew word “YHWH” – the covenant name of God. Job approaches the Lord here in complete humility. He acknowledges God’s sovereignty and he confesses his previous disrespect for God. And then in verse 5, he proclaims the message that we need to take away from the book of Job today that I would paraphrase like this.
When I go through trials, what matters is who I know
not what I know
In other words, trying to find the answer to why I’m suffering is really futile because the only lasting relief that I am going to find in the midst of my trials is to not just know about God, but to know Him personally.
That is actually very consistent with what we learned from Joseph last week isn’t it? Joseph was able to persevere through his trials not because of some principles he put into action, but rather because of what he knew about God:
1. God is 100% in control
2. God is 100% good
3. God never makes a mistake
So how did Job go from the religious man who knew about God in chapter 1, to the man who really knows God in chapter 42? Most of you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the story of Job’s journey, but let’s go ahead review it together and see what we can learn along the way.