“CALLING GOD TO ACCOUNT” Job 38: 1-7,34-41

– Who can know God’s ways? God answers Job and Job’s friends. Sometimes, when we try to stand on our own righteousness, we need to humble ourselves before God so that God can bring the healing we need.
Today is the third part of a sermon series on the book of Job. The entire sermon series is designed to help us grow deep spiritual roots that can resist any challenge that we face in life. And no challenge is greater than when bad things happen to us. If we can understand the lessons that God is teaching us through Job, then there is little that can shake our faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The lessons that Job teaches us are not designed to teach us why evil exists in the world. Job’s lessons teach us how to respond to evil in our life.
Job is one of the most important books of the Bible to read if you want a deep faith in God that cannot be shaken. Let us briefly re-cap what we have read and learned about Job over the past two weeks. In week one, we discussed that the book of JOB is an allegory. It is a teaching tool much like a parable. An allegory means that Job is a stand-in for any righteous woman or man who suffers because of evil. Job is described as a rich, caring, upright man with a large family and a huge livestock business. His life is blessed and he is a holy person.
As far as Job knows, one day for NO REASON, everything goes wrong. His business is destroyed. His slaves are killed. His sons and daughters are killed. We read in the story that God is attempting to show Satan and the Angels that Job’s faith is not based on the blessings that God has given Job. Job has a genuine, committed love and respect for the LORD. But Job knows none of this. God allows Satan to ruin Job’s life. Job is reduced to sitting in an ash heap, with his body ruined with sores, and his wife telling him to “curse God and die.”
Job is obviously devastated, and crazy with grief. But in his despair, he does not sin against God. He says, “The lord has given, and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the Lord.” He also says, “I will take the bad from God along with the good from God.” In short, Job responds to the evil that has ruined his life with “an attitude of gratitude.” Job is thankful for all that God has given… even though it was taken away. We learned in week 1 that having an attitude of gratitude like Job is the right way to respond to evil that causes bad things to happen to us.
In week 2, we read how Job’s suffering was not short lived. Job’s suffering spanned weeks and stretched into months. Job’s friend’s come to comfort him. Job eventually has some very meaningful conversations with his friends. Job’s friend’s tell Job that his suffering is his own fault because he has some hidden sin he won’t confess. But Job maintains his innocence. We hear in Job’s voice that his suffering is great. Job doesn’t understand, and laments his struggle loudly. Job speaks his mind to God. He doesn’t curse God, which would be a sin. Job is honest about his confusion, his pain, and his loneliness. And Job is honest out loud in front of his friends. We learned in week 2 that we must speak our mind to God, out loud, honestly, and with others when we experience the suffering caused by evil in our life. Only by speaking our mind to God, can we avoid bottling up our emotions which can lead us to sin and to distance ourselves from our loving God.
In today’s passage from Job, God responds to Job’s cries. In hearing God’s words to him, Job humbles himself before God. And that is exactly what we should do when we start to think that God is not just or fair. Humbling ourselves before God begins when we realize that God is God, and we are God’s creations.
Job already knows that God is smarter, and more perfect that he is. We all know this to be true as well. Most of us are familiar with Isaiah 55:9 where God says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” But in Job’s extreme suffering, he starts to question that God is just.
It doesn’t help that Job’s friends are telling Job that he is wrong, that he has some secret sin he won’t confess. If the loss of his family, livelihood, and life didn’t drive him crazy, his best friends would. Job’s friends are supposed to comfort him, and yet they accuse him. Job cannot understand how he is righteous and yet, God will not grant him mercy or relief. And Job begins to assert that if he could legally defend himself, as if somehow his understanding is greater than God’s.
During Job’s conversations with his three friends, Job says in chapter 21:19-21 “It is said, ‘God stores up the punishment of the wicked for their children.’ Let him repay the wicked, so that they themselves will experience it! Let their own eyes see their destruction; let them drink the cup of the wrath of the Almighty. For what do they care about the families they leave behind when their allotted months come to an end?” Job’s words show his confusion about how the righteous like himself can suffer and the wicked can prosper. He begins to think that God is being too lenient in deferring punishment to future generations. In thinking this, Job is putting himself on an equal level with God. As if Job could judge as well as God could.
Likewise, in Chapter 24:1 Job says in his laments, “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?” Again, in Job’s cries he wishes that the LORD would show forth Judgement in a way that JOB can understand. He wants to clearly see that the wicked are punished and the righteous are close to God. Again, Job’s words show that he speaks as though he could do a better Job than God.
It is important for me to say again at this point that JOB, in all his lamenting and questioning did not SIN against the LORD. He did however, in his insistence on his own righteousness, become proud. His pride is what comes out in his lament. Job really believes that as a righteous man, he is ENTITLED to experience God’s blessing on JOB’s terms and not on God’s terms. As if Job could correct God’s plans.
This is the point in the book of Job where God Answers Job directly, from within a raging storm. This is where our scripture passage today comes into play. God basically says to Job, where were you when I put creation into motion? Hmm? Where were you? And are you the one that keeps all of creation going? Huh?. God points out to Job, and to us that there is no way that we can understand, let alone think we can do better than God.
God sums up His message with a question to Job in 40:2, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”
In chapter 40: 3-5 we read, “Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer— twice, but I will say no more.”
Job humbled himself before God. And this is exactly what we must do whenever we start to think that we are anywhere close to the same level as God. When we encounter evil, just as Job did, and we feel like we are suffering for no reason, it is easy to think that we can stand on our own righteousness. This lie actually causes us to experience more pain and suffering! Because if we feel like we are suffering unjustly, then we feel violated.
Psychologists call this MORAL INJURY. Moral injury occurs whenever we feel shame because we feel that our moral conscience has been violated. This is the same kind of injury that combat veterans experience when they see terrible things in combat and are traumatized.
Job, many thousands of years before modern psychology, is addressing the solution to the problem of Moral Injury. Humble yourself before God. Only when we realize how big God really is compared to us, how much higher than us God is, then we can realize that we should not expect to understand the justice of God. But, rather, we should hold fast to our Faith that God is good, and wants the best for us.
When we humble ourselves before God in our suffering and lamenting, we actually speed the healing process. We make room for the only one who we know who can help us, Jesus Christ. Paul, in Romans chapter 2:1-4 addresses the very issue of how God’s goodness is designed to help us…
Paul writes, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
Repentance literally means to turn from focusing on yourself, to focusing on God. Repentance leads to Jesus. And we know that because of Jesus, we know that God will restore us. Romans 5:8 reads, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
If we follow Job’s example, we will humble ourselves before God, and realizes that the only thing we can stand on is JESUS, and never our own righteousness.
If bottling up our emotions, and not speaking our mind to God can lead us to sin, then the other extreme, which is: being so convinced of our own righteousness. That will lead to sin. When we actually think that we can do a better job of controlling the universe than God this can cause us to sin. We will harden our hearts, and distance our self from the only one who can assure that we have a right relationship with God, Jesus Christ.
Next week, is the last installment of this sermon series on the book of Job. We will look at What God does after Job humbles himself before God. In addition will examine some practical examples of how we can apply all that Job teaches us. We will see how Job provides a template for us to become men and women of strong faith in Jesus. We will see how Job helps us to become the people God wants us to be.