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BIBLE STUDY: The Book of Job (Part Two) - Why Do The Righteous Suffer?

The Book of Job is one of the Fascinating Writings of the Hebrew Bible, and is the first poetic book in the Christian Old Testament. It has been called “the greatest poem of ancient and modern times”; and addresses the theme of God's Justice in the face of human suffering – or more simply, "Why do the righteous suffer?"

Inside the Book of Job we find also a keen insight of how The Kingdom of God actually functions, how Satan is subjected to and limited by God - in his ability to do harm to God’s Elect, the rewards of the wicked and the righteous, God’s Promise of the Double; and even mention of dinosaurs still living among mankind – like the Brontosaurus and even the fierce Tyrannosaurus Rex!

The Book of Job is a rich theological work setting out a variety of human and spiritual perspectives; and has been widely and extravagantly praised, down through the centuries - for its literary qualities and profound revelations! Join us today, as we open up our Bibles and investigate what’s in the Amazing Book of Job for ourselves!!!

Bible Study Instructions: One Nation Under God Ministries (www.onug.us) publishes and distributes weekly Bible Studies, worldwide – free of charge, to anyone who requests them, in both printed and electronic formats. Our Studies are intended to be a simple and fun way to learn the Scriptures, and are very easy to follow! We adhere to Jesus Christ’s Biblical instructions to teach and feed the flock of God portions of meat in due season, on weekly Sabbaths, and on the seven annual Holy Days throughout each calendar year (Luke 12:42 / Isaiah 28:9-10 / Matthew 13:52). Using both the Old and New Testaments, our Bible Studies are designed to present a premise, make a statement, or ask a question – followed by one or more Scriptural references. Just look up and read from your Bible the Scriptures listed. Comments following questions elaborate on the Scriptures you just read. Pray always before beginning any study of God’s Word, asking God to open both your eyes and your mind to His Truth; then Prove everything you read, is in fact the Truth, by comparing it to The Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21 / 2 Timothy 3:15-17). Then use the Biblical System of Checks and Balances, and SEE if both Jesus Christ, and the First Century Church of God Apostles – also Did, Said, and Taught these SAME THINGS (Galatians 1:1-12, 5:25 / 1 Peter 2:21, 25 / 1 John 2:3-6)! That’s all there is to it! Our Bible Studies are based on the King James Version, unless otherwise stated. We will be praying for your eyes to “see” (Matthew 13:11-17); and we are always available to answer any of your questions! Be Blessed, in Jesus’ Name! - One Nation Under God Ministries (www.onug.us).

Today we continue on with Part Two of our Study on the Book of Job. Last Sabbath, we went in History and into Scripture to show you who the man Job really was! We showed you that Job was also known as “Cheops” (the “Ch” being pronounced as an “h” sound in English and in Ancient Greek; and the “p” was pronounced as our modern day “b”. So “Cheops” would be pronounced as “Heob” or “Hob”)!

The modern day English letter “J” and sound, as we would use in the boy’s name “Jay”, did not evolve in the English language until sometime in the early 1600’s A.D. Sometime, after the letter “J’s” arrival words like “Iesvs” (the WORD “Jesus” in the 1560 Geneva Bible) became “JESVS” or “JESUS”; and the name of “Cheops” or “Cheop”, simply became “Hoebs” or “Hoeb” – nd with the arrival of the letter “J” – “Hoeb” or “Hob” became “Job”! www.onug.us

Last week, we learned that Job lived in Joseph's time! Job lived in the generation after Esau, for one of his friends was Eliphaz the Temanite (Job 2:11). Eliphaz was the father of the Temanites (Genesis 36:11) and the son of Esau, Jacob's brother (Genesis 36:10). Eliphaz and Joseph were first cousins!!! Job lived before the Mosaic law which permitted only Levites to sacrifice. Notice that Job sacrificed to God for his family as was customarily done in patriarchal times (Job 1:5; 42:8).

None of the conversation in the book of Job refers to the Exodus under Moses. But the flood is still uppermost in the minds of the people (Job 22:11-18).

Cheops or Job came to the throne in 1726 B.C. That date is proved in World and Biblical History. Surprisingly that is the year in which Jacob entered Egypt with his family. A coincidence? Consider this! Coming into Egypt with Jacob in 1726 B.C. was a grandson, named Job! "And these are the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons ... And the sons of Issachar: Tola, and Phuvah and JOB, and Shimron" (Genesis 46:8-13)!!!

If you missed last week’s lesson, we invite you to go to www.onug.us and read our Bible Study:

The Book of Job (Part One) - Who Was The Man We Call Job?

There is a lot of great information there that you will not want to miss!                

In the Book of Job, we see a man who God allows to be directly attacked by Satan. He is an example of faithfulness as he loses everything important to him yet remains faithful to God. Its purpose is to illustrate God’s sovereignty and faithfulness during a time of great suffering.

A Quick Review:

•    In chapters 1-3, God tests Job’s faithfulness through allowing Satan to attack him. God told Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him” (1:12). Through Job’s trials, all is lost including his health, his wife even tells him to curse God and commit suicide, but he remains strong and faithful, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (1:22).

•    From chapters 4-37, Job’s friends give him plenty of bad advice, in rounds of discussion. They mistakenly blame his sufferings on his personal sins rather than God testing and growing Job. One of them was half-correct in that God wanted to humble him, but this was only a part of God’s test.

•    In chapters 38-42, God speaks to Job and restores him. God knows that Job has received incorrect guidance from his friends, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” God fittingly declares that humans do not know everything. Then He humbles Job by asking a series of questions that could never be answered by anyone other than Almighty God; for example, “Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this”. God then brings him to an understanding that believers don’t always know what God is doing in their lives.

In the end, Job answers God by saying, “I have declared that which I did not understand”. God then blessed Job with twice as much as he had before his trials began.

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You can break the Book of Job down like this:

Chapter 1:

        Job’s integrity and wealth (1-5)

 

        Satan questions Job’s motives (6-12)

 

        Job loses his property and children (13-19)

 

        Job does not blame God (20-22)

Chapter 2:

        Satan again questions Job’s motives (1-5)

 

        Satan permitted to strike Job’s body (6-8)

 

        Job’s wife: “Curse God and die!” (9, 10)

 

        Job’s three companions arrive (11-13)

 

Chapter 3:

        Job laments his birth (1-26)

 

        Asks why he is suffering (20, 21)

 

Chapter 4:

        Eliphaz’ first speech (1-21)

 

        Ridicules Job’s integrity (7, 8)

 

        Relates a spirit’s message (12-17)

 

         ‘God has no faith in his servants’ (18)

 

   Chapter 5:

        Eliphaz’ first speech continues (1-27)

 

        ‘God catches the wise in their cunning’ (13)

 

        ‘Job should not reject God’s discipline’ (17)

 

    Chapter 6:

        Job’s reply (1-30)

 

        Claims he is justified in crying out (2-6)

 

        His comforters are treacherous (15-18)

 

        “Honest words are not painful!” (25)

 

 Chapter 7:

        Job’s reply continues (1-21)

 

        Life like compulsory labor (1, 2)

 

        “Why have you made me your target?” (20)

 

Chapter 8:

        Bildad’s first speech (1-22)

 

         Implies that Job’s sons have sinned (4)

 

         ‘If you were pure, God would protect you’ (6)

 

          Implies that Job is godless (13)

 

Chapter 9:

        Job’s reply (1-35)

 

        Mortal man cannot contend with God (2-4)

 

        ‘God does unsearchable things’ (10)

 

        One cannot argue with God (32)

 

Chapter 10:

        Job’s reply continues (1-22)

 

        ‘Why does God contend with me?’ (2)

 

        God contrasted to mortal Job (4-12)

 

        ‘May I find some relief’ (20)

 

Chapter 11:

        Zophar’s first speech (1-20)

 

        Accuses Job of empty talk (2, 3)

 

        Tells Job to put away evil (14)

 

Chapter 12:

        Job’s reply (1-25)

 

        “I am not inferior to you” (3)

 

        “I have become a laughingstock” (4)

 

        ‘Wisdom is with God’ (13)

 

        God is above judges and kings (17, 18)

 

Chapter 13:

        Job’s reply continues (1-28)

 

        ‘I would rather speak to God’ (3)

 

        “You are useless physicians” (4)

 

         “I know I am in the right” (18)

 

        Asks why God views him as an enemy (24)

 

Chapter 14:

        Job’s reply continues (1-22)

 

        Man short-lived and with trouble (1)

 

         “There is hope even for a tree” (7)

 

         ‘O that you would conceal me in the Grave!’ (13)

 

         “If a man dies, can he live again?” (14)

 

         God will long for the Work of His hands (15)

 

Chapter 15:

        Eliphaz’ second speech (1-35)

 

        Claims that Job has no fear of God (4)

 

        Calls Job presumptuous (7-9)

 

        ‘God has no faith in his holy ones’ (15)

 

         ‘One who suffers is wicked’ (20-24)

 

 Chapter 16:

        Job’s reply (1-22)

 

        “You are troublesome comforters!” (2)

 

        Claims that God sets him up as his target (12)

 

Chapter 17:

        Job’s reply continues (1-16)

 

        “Mockers surround me” (2)

 

        “He has made me an object of scorn” (6)

 

        “The Grave will become my home” (13)

 

Chapter 18:

        Bildad’s second speech (1-21)

 

        Depicts the lot of sinners (5-20)

 

        Implies that Job does not know God (21)

 

Chapter 19:

        Job’s reply (1-29)

 

        Rejects rebukes from his “friends” (1-6)

 

        Says that he is abandoned (13-19)

 

        “My redeemer is alive” (25)

 

Chapter 20:

        Zophar’s second speech (1-29)

 

        Feels insulted by Job (2, 3)

 

        Implies that Job is wicked (5)

 

       Claims that Job enjoys sin (12, 13)

 

Chapter 21:

        Job’s reply (1-34)

 

        ‘Why do the wicked prosper?’ (7-13)

 

        Exposes his “comforters” (27-34)

 

Chapter 22:

        Eliphaz’ third speech (1-30)

 

        ‘Can a man benefit God?’ (2, 3)

 

        Accuses Job of greed and injustice (9)

 

        ‘Return to God and be restored’ (23)

 

Chapter 23:

        Job’s reply (1-17)

 

        Wants to present his case before God (1-7)

 

        Says that he cannot find God (8, 9)

 

        ‘I kept to his way without deviating’ (11)

 

 Chapter 24:

        Job’s reply continues (1-25)

         ‘Why does God not set a time?’ (1)

 

         Says that God permits wickedness (12)

 

         Sinners love darkness (13-17)

 

Chapter 25:

        Bildad’s third speech (1-6)

 

        ‘How can man be innocent before God?’ (4)

 

        Claims that man’s integrity is in vain (5, 6)

 

Chapter 26:

        Job’s reply (1-14)

 

        ‘How you have helped the powerless!’ (1-4)

 

         ‘God suspends the earth upon nothing’ (7)

 

         ‘Just the fringes of God’s ways’ (14)

 

Chapter 27:

        Job determined to keep his integrity (1-23)

 

        “I will not renounce my integrity” (5)

 

        Godless without hope (8)

 

         ‘Why are your speeches so empty?’ (12)

 

         The wicked end up with nothing (13-23)

 

Chapter 28:

        Job contrasts earth’s treasures with wisdom (1-28)

 

        Man’s mining efforts (1-11)

 

        Wisdom worth more than pearls (18)

 

        Fear of Jehovah is true wisdom (28)

 

 Chapter 29:

        Job recalls happy days before his trials (1-25)

 

        Respected in the city gate (7-10)

 

        His past course of justice (11-17)

 

        Everyone listened to his counsel (21-23)

 

 Chapter 30:

        Job describes his changed situation (1-31)

 

        Mocked by worthless ones (1-15)

 

        No help from others (20, 21)

 

         “My skin has blackened” (30)

 

 Chapter 31:

        Job defends his integrity (1-40)

 

        “A covenant with my eyes” (1)

 

        Asks to be weighed by God (6)

 

        Not an adulterer (9-12)

 

        Not a lover of money (24, 25)

 

        Not an idolater (26-28)

 

 Chapter 32:

        Young Elihu enters the discussion (1-22)

 

        Angry with Job and Job’s companions (2, 3)

 

         Waited respectfully before speaking (6, 7)

 

         Age alone does not make one wise (9)

 

         Elihu eager to speak (18-20)

 

 Chapter 33:

        Elihu reproves Job for his self-righteousness (1-33)

 

         A ransom found (24)

 

         Return to youthful vigor (25)

 

 Chapter 34:

        Elihu vindicates God’s justice and ways (1-37)

 

        Job said that God denied him justice (5)

 

        The true God never acts wickedly (10)

 

        Job is lacking knowledge (35)

 

 Chapter 35:

        Elihu points out Job’s faulty reasoning (1-16)

 

        Job said he is more righteous than God (2)

 

        God so high, not affected by sin (5, 6)

 

        Job should wait for God (14)

 

 Chapter 36:

        Elihu extols God’s unsearchable greatness (1-33)

       

        Obedient prosper; godless rejected (11-13)

 

        ‘What instructor is like God?’ (22)

 

          Job should magnify God (24)

 

          “God is greater than we can know” (26)

 

          God controls rain and lightning (27-33)

 

 Chapter 37:

        Natural forces reveal God’s greatness (1-24)

 

        God can stop man’s activities (7)

 

        ‘Consider God’s wonderful works’ (14)

 

         To understand God is beyond the reach of humans (23)

 

         No human should think he is wise (24)

 

Chapter 38:

        Jehovah gives a lesson in man’s littleness (1-41)

 

        ‘Where were you at earth’s creation?’ (4-6)

 

        God’s sons shouted in applause (7)

 

        Questions about natural phenomena (8-32)

 

        “Laws governing the heavens” (33)

 

 

Chapter 39:

        Animal creation shows man’s ignorance (1-30)

 

         Mountain goats and deer (1-4)

 

         The wild donkey (5-8)

 

         The wild bull (9-12)

 

         The ostrich (13-18)

 

          The horse (19-25)

 

          The falcon and the eagle (26-30)

 

Chapter 40:

        Further questions from Jehovah (1-24)

 

        Job admits he has nothing to say (3-5)

 

        ‘Will you question my justice?’ (8)

 

        God describes Behemoth’s strength (15-24)

 

Chapter 41:

        God describes the amazing Leviathan (1-34)

 

Chapter 42:

        Job’s reply to Jehovah (1-6)

 

        The three companions condemned (7-9)

 

        Jehovah restores Job (10-17)

 

        Job’s sons and daughters (13-15)

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Just about everyone has heard of the suffering of Job in the Old Testament. You might have heard someone say, “They have the patience of Job.”  There is good reason for that saying.  According to biblical scholars, the Book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible.  If you were to fit it chronologically, it should be place in the early chapters of Genesis.  What can we learn from the Book of Job?  Is there application for the believer’s life today?  Was sin involved in Job’s suffering?  Is there sin in all suffering?  Why does God allow suffering?

The Accuser:

All was going well with Job.  He had it all: A large family, wealth, and blessings of every kind imaginable.  At that time, Job may have been the richest man on the face of the earth.  Job 1:2-3 describes his wealth as “He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”  Clearly, Job had it all.  This must have bothered Satan TREMENDOUSLY!!! What did God say to Satan about Job?  God bragged on Job in 1:8, saying, “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Can you imagine the God of the Universe bragging on Job from heaven?  Might He also brag about you and your righteousness found in Jesus Christ?

Satan was not convinced and said to God, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11).

Satan’s name means “adversary” and he has been called the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). God sets out to prove to Satan that Job is not righteous just because he is being blessed. God challenges the Devil telling him, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (Job 1:12).  Job lost just about everything; his sheep, his oxen, his camels, his servants, and all of his sons and daughters – but remarkably he did not lose his faith in God. What was Job’s response?  “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 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.  In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:20-22).

Here we can plainly see Job’s reaction: He worshiped God, he said that he came into this world with nothing and will return with nothing, the Lord has taken away all he had except his wife – and his wife told him to “curse God and die” – and Job also blessed the name of the Lord.  In all of this, “Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong!”   He blessed God’s name, he worshiped God, and he did not sin.  Satan must have been angry at Job’s response.  Job suffered unjustly and yet he did not blame God or say, “why me?”

Job’s Fair Weather Friends:

Job’s friends tried to console him but they soon started to blame him for his own troubles inferring that he must have sinned in order for all these trials to come upon him. That is something that is far too easy for believers to do. When they see a Christian suffer, they unfairly assume that there must be sin in that believer’s life. But suffering is not always a result of sin as we see with Job. In many cases, those who are sinners suffer little while those who are saints suffer much!!!

Many people see this as a stumbling block for Christianity and ask why God allows suffering. Instead of asking “why” they might be better off asking “what”!

What is God up to?

What is He trying to produce in us?

Like the refiners fire, God often uses suffering to produce righteous character in believers!!!

Sometimes He wants those who suffer to be more dependent upon Him!!! It may be that He is trying to get our attention!!!

We might even be sinning; however we cannot always equate suffering with sin in a believer’s life, as we have seen with Job’s experience!!!

At first Job’s friends try to help Job but they quickly turn to accusing him of some sort of hidden or known sin. Job knows that this is not the reason and tries to justify himself against their accusations. But his justification quickly turns to self-righteousness and that is sin before God. 

Job’s friends say, “Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked.  You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry, though you were a powerful man, owning land – an honored man, living on it. And you sent widows away emptyhanded, and broke the strength of the fatherless. That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you” (Job 22:5-10). This brings God’s righteous indignation upon Job’s friends (Job 42:7-17)!!! BE CAREFUL HOW YOU CRITICIZE THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING THROUGH TRIALS!!! www.onug.us

God Answers Job:

Job is not guiltless as no man is without sin (1 John 1:8, Romans 3:23). Job becomes discouraged, partly because of the blame game played by his friends!!! Job begins to question God Himself and this is when God answers Job out of the whirlwind (tornado?), He says, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me!!!

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:2-4). 

God puts Job in his place and in effect tells Job, who are you to question the God of the Universe!!! God never does answer Job’s question on why He allows suffering!

God, in His sovereignty, chooses not to tell us everything! That is God’s prerogative! Also notice that God spoke to Job out of the “whirlwind” which is the terminology for a tornado or great and destructive windstorm! This could indicate that God is aware of ALL things going on this world! He is sovereign and nothing happens that is not within His perfect wil!!! These things include natural disasters and calamities - God is never caught off guard or by surprise!!!

Someday, when we put off flesh and take on spirit bodies, God will make it clear, if we have not yet seen WHY; why is was that Christians suffered!!! Why something terrible was allowed to happen to us; or why their child was allowed to die!

It is as God once said in Isaiah 45:9,

“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands”?” 

We cannot question God’s motives!!! His Ways are beyond human comprehension - but clearly He does have a purpose in suffering!!!

As God tells Isaiah,

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My Ways higher than your ways and My Thoughts than your thoughts!!!” (Isaiah. 55:9).  God sometimes chooses NOT to reveal this to believers; at least in this life!

God Restores Job:

If Job had known that God would have restored to him more than he had in the first place, would he have questioned Him at all?  God rewards Job for his faithfulness and his endurance through such suffering. This story has an incredible ending!!!

Job 42:10-17  “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his prosperity and doubled his [previous] possessions. All his brothers, sisters, and former acquaintances came to his house and dined with him in his house. They offered him sympathy and comfort concerning all the adversity the LORD had brought on him. Each one gave him a qesitah and a gold earring. So the LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the earlier. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.  He also had seven sons and three daughters.  He named his first [daughter] Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Keren-happuch. No women as beautiful as Job’s daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers. Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. Then Job died, old and full of days.”

So Job ended up much better off than he was in the beginning.  He had considerably more than when he began his suffering and even though God did not answer Job why he was allowed to suffer so terribly, in the end Job had more blessings than any man or the face of the earth at that time. 

The application for Christians today is that God will bless those who endure to the end, and that someday, God will reward us with unbelievable blessings that cannot compare with what we have today (Romans 8:18, 28)!!!

We will all suffer in this life. It is appointed to mankind to suffer. This is a fallen world!!! We may not know the “why” today, but some day we definitely will!!! And our suffering and our trials will have been WORTH IT – IF WE ENDURE UNTIL THE END!!!

Instead of asking “why”, we should ask “what”.  What is God up to?  What is God trying to do in me?  The “why” will have to wait for THE Resurrection!!! Until then, we cannot fully grasp the purpose of God, but we know that He will not allow us to suffer into eternity! One thing that is important - is that Satan could not lay a finger on Job, nor can he lay a finger on us!!! God will not allow this (Job 1:12 / 1 John 4:4 / 2 Chronicles 16:9)!!!

For those who reject God today, they may have suffering in this life; and in the Second Resurrection (Luke 16:22-31 / Daniel 12:2)! For those who believe in Him today, Follow and Obey Christ; and trust in the Son of God; their suffering will be over someday soon!!! They will have eternal joy and fellowship with God!!! My prayer for you is that you can inherit this eternal joy where there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more suffering, and no more death!!! The Word of God tells us what is in store for the children of God someday in Revelation 21:4,

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old, former order of things has passed away!!!”

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Learning The Lesson of Trials!!!

We all have them. Some of us even seem to have more than our share! The Apostle James tells us to count them all joy, but, as we know, that is easier said than done. We must ask what many might think is a silly question. What exactly are trials and tests, anyway? Also, why must we face them and why should we be told to count them a joy? Is there a right way and a wrong way to approach our trials?

The Greek terms rendered “temptation,” “trial”, or “test” in the New Testament are all closely related. They are derived from peirazo, which means “to test,” “try” or “put to the proof,” and from peira, meaning “to attempt” or “to know by experience.” Another word, dokime, meaning “to test the genuineness of something,” is also used. This latter term is found in 1 Peter 1:7 where the testing of our faith is compared to assaying the quality and purity of gold!!!

The book of James tells us that tests (peirasmos, James 1:2-4) have a purpose. They are the process by which the genuineness of our faith is determined (dokime, v. 3). Throughout this process, the quality of steadfast character is developed!!!

We are not only told that we must undergo many tests throughout this life, as indeed all humans must, but we are also given a pattern to follow in handling them. Face it. It is hard enough to maintain a decent attitude when you are going through troubles that you know you brought on yourself. But what about things that are patently unfair? Humanly, we all bristle at the idea of unfairness. If one does not seek to retaliate and even the score, it seems almost, well, un-American!

Notice what the Apostle Peter tells us:

“For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer for it, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:19–23).

The English word “example” in verse 21 is from upogrammos meaning “a writing copy.” It was a term used for a child’s copybook. The child, in copying every stroke of every letter, learned to reproduce the writing of the teacher. Christ is to be our pattern. We are to seek to reproduce His approach to life’s difficulties as closely as possible.

Besides Christ’s example, James 5:9–10 cites the prophets as worthy of consideration when it comes to handling trials. Most of the prophets of God suffered for their faithfulness. In addition to them, the Patriarch Job is pointed out in verse 11 as an outstanding example of steadfast faith in the way he handled severe trials. The book of Job is the story of a normal human being who is beset by misfortune and suffering.

Let’s end today by looking at the specific lessons we can learn about responding to trials from The Book of Job:

Lesson 1—God Knows!!!

One of the most overwhelming things about a severe trial can be the sense of isolation. We want to make sure that God knows because when He finds out, surely He’ll do something about it! In Job I we are given a behind-the-scenes look at events of which Job was completely unaware.

God, however, was very much aware of Job and of the wholehearted obedience he sought to render. In fact, God Himself called Satan’s attention to Job. Christ reminded His disciples in Luke 12:6–7 that God, who even takes detailed note of the sparrows, is much more deeply interested in the affairs of His own children. The Father is aware of everything about us down to the smallest detail. Even the hairs of our head are all numbered!!!

When we are struck with personal tragedy or persecuted for obedience, we can be sure that God knows. This is vitally important to keep in mind to counteract the sense of isolation and loneliness that will often beset us at such times. “No one understands what I’m going through,” we think. But Jesus Christ does! We have a faithful High Priest who was tested in all ways like us and is therefore able to empathize and give us the needed help (Hebrews 4:15–16).

Though Job could not begin to understand why all of these things were happening to him, he knew God was aware of it. He did not react, as Satan had predicted, by cursing God. Rather, Job told his wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).

Lesson 2 - God Limits the Trial!!!

The story recounted in chapters 1 and 2 makes us privy to actual conversations between God and Satan! When we begin reading the book of Job we learn that, while God allowed Satan to afflict Job, He set limits beyond which the devil could not pass. From the start we know there are limits to Job’s trial, and we know what those limits are. Initially, God restricted Satan from harming Job’s health. Later, He allowed Job to be personally stricken, but insisted that his life be spared. In all of this we have an advantage over Job. At the time he was going through adversity, Job knew nothing of the conversation between God and Satan. He knew nothing of any limits God had pre-imposed upon his trial.

When we find ourselves in the midst of great adversity, we must always keep in mind that there may have been a similar “behind-the-scenes” conversation regarding us. God has established the limits of our trial, but we just do not know what those limits are!

What we as Christians experience is not generally time and chance. The devil does not “sneak up” while God’s back is turned. God is involved in every test that we undergo and He has established preset limits beyond which Satan cannot go. Neither the duration nor the intensity of the trial is completely open-ended. Ultimately, God is in charge!

Lesson 3 - Seek Growth, Not Vindication!!!

This is perhaps one of the hardest lessons to keep in mind. Job wanted God to vindicate him in the eyes of his friends. People ridiculed him (Job 30:1, 9) and that can be hard to take. When Elihu began to answer Job on behalf of God in chapters 32 through 37, he pointed out that Job had been wrongly focused during much of his trial. In Job 33:12–22, Elihu explains that God instructs and chastens in various ways. God has His reasons for how He deals with us. And sometimes they are beyond our understanding.

Job was so certain of his innocence and of the injustice of his afflictions that for a long time he was unable to see beyond that. He tried to defend himself from the false conclusions of his friends and in so doing was unable to see areas of needed growth in his life.

Again, God has reasons for allowing whatever happens—though we are often at a loss to fathom what they are. In our trials and tests, James encourages us to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). If we do so in faith, He will surely give it. Whatever the trial or test, there is always growth that can be achieved. Even Jesus Christ Himself learned by the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). God wants us to grow. Therefore, we must undergo periodic pruning to stimulate that growth (John 15:2).

Lesson 4 - The “Why” Often Proves Elusive!!!

Humanly, we like everything to be neatly pigeon— holed. We want the world and the events in it to make sense. But in trying to give an explanation for everything we sometimes miss the point. This is the way it was for Job’s friends.

The first of Job’s friends to speak was Eliphaz. He declared, “Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:7–8). Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, Job’s three friends, were all sure that Job must have had some dirty secret at the root of his newfound troubles. They “knew” there had to be a reason. So, they badgered poor Job to confess this suspected secret sin.

Job knew there was no great hidden scandal in his life engendering his trials. He was defensive in the face of his accusers, but he also wondered—’ ‘Why?” One of the difficult things for us to accept is that many of the sufferings we go through simply cannot be neatly categorized. The why is often elusive. Bad things do not only happen to bad people. Job recognized that many times the wicked live to reach old age and even appear to prosper (Job 21:7–13).

There are many whys that we will never know in this life. Acceptance that the why may prove elusive sets the stage for a fifth vital lesson from the book of Job.

Lesson 5 - Trust in the Face of Anguish!!!

Job was in despair. His whole life had been turned upside down. He had lost his wealth and his loved ones in a series of sudden calamities. Now his health was gone too. Why? Job was deeply frustrated because he could not make sense out of his trials. Yet in the depths of perplexity and despair he made one of the most profound declarations of faith recorded in the Bible: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

In Job 19 we read the words of anguish that poured from Job’s lips. “Know that God has overthrown and put me in the wrong, and has closed His net about me.... He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and He has set darkness upon my paths.... My kinsfolk have failed me, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.... I am repulsive to my wife and loathsome to the children of my own mother” (Job 19: 6, 8, 14, 17 Amplified Bible). Yet even at this low point of anguish and bewilderment, Job declares his heartfelt trust in God. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth.... I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself” (Job 19:25–27).

Job understood the truth of The Resurrection!!!

“If a man die, shall he live again?” Job asked. He went on to record the divinely inspired answer. “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come (Job 14:14). Job knew that God would call and that he would answer and come forth from the grave, because God would have a desire to the work of His hands (Job 14:15)!!!

It is relatively easy to trust God when things are going the way we like them. When the world around us makes sense it is fairly easy to believe God is in charge. But what about when things turn upside down and inside out? It is in the midst of such perplexity and anguish that faith in God is most needed!!! www.onug.us

One of the things Satan never understood about Job was his motive. Satan thought Job only served God because it was to his advantage here and now. He was convinced that if God removed blessings and protection, Job would curse and revile Him. But that was not true. Job loved God and served Him out of sincere devotion. He trusted God even when he was feeling abandoned. This lesson of steadfast trust is one of the most important aspects of character we can gain from any trial!!!!

Lesson 6 - God Will Ultimately Reward both Good and Evil!!!

Life can often seem unfair. There are those who make no pretense of serving God and yet they seem to be doing well. There are others who are genuinely trying, but they are experiencing many difficulties and setbacks. What we have to keep in mind is that this life is temporary!!!

Job noticed that there were wicked men whose “houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. Their bull breeds without failure; their cow calves without miscarriage” (Job 21:9–10). Yet he realized that was not the end of the story. In verse 30 of the same chapter, Job said, “For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom; they shall be brought out on the day of wrath.” Even though it may seem that life is not fair, God is a God of justice.

Ultimately, it is in the resurrection that God will reward the righteous and punish the wicked. However, there are many times when even in this life events can make a sudden shift. The conclusion of the book of Job reveals, “Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12)!!!

In the long run, there are blessings for Obedience: Entrance into the Kingdom of God is the greatest of all blessings; and curses for disobedience!!!

Lesson 7—We Emerge From Our Trial, After We Learn What God Is Wanting To Teach Us!!!

Many public schools in the United States promote and graduate students, regardless of what they’ve actually learned!!! But God does not operate that way. He is the great Teacher who is preparing us for a role in His Kingdom (Revelation 5:9-10, 20:4-6); and He insists that we learn our lessons properly!!! It was only when Job began coming to grips with the lessons that God wanted Him to learn that he began emerging from his period of great trial!!! YOU ARE NOT ANY DIFFERENT!!!

God focuses on the bottom line. He wants us to become like Him. Job was an exemplary man but he had a flaw. The Scriptures say Job’s problem was that “he was righteous in his own eyes and that “he justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:1–2)!!!

Ultimately Job emerged with a far deeper understanding of The Almighty, as well as a deeper understanding of himself and his own human nature. “Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes,” Job told God (Job 42:6)!!!

A vital lesson that all of us must learn in order to please God and to begin emerging from a trial is that of mercy and forgiveness!!!

Job’s friends were miserable comforters. Regardless of their motives, they were a great part of Job’s trial. Yet notice the turning point when Job began to emerge from his great adversity. ‘And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends” (Job 42:10)!!! www.onug.us

Job came to really know God deeply, not simply to know about Him!!! He became a far more humble and compassionate man as a result of what he went through. Learning these lessons was the key to his emerging out of the dark shadows of life and into the sunlight once again (John 1:4-5)!!!.

Our trials can make us BITTER, or they can make us BETTER!!! Which will yours Trials from this point on, do for you?

We are honored that you joined us today, in the Study of God’s Word! We hope that you will join us again next week, and that you will continue to share what you have learned here, with others – at home, at work, and in your neighborhood (Matthew 28:18-20 / Mark 16:15-20)! May our Great God, Bless you and keep you, until then – in Jesus’ Name!!!

  •                                                                                                       Submitted by R.C. Brown III

One Nation Under God Ministries                                                           www.onug.us

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