This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.
One of the big questions that Job’s story raises is the cause of suffering. And while the account of his sufferings take up only a few verses of forty-two chapters, much of the book is a response to the intense and sudden sufferings he endures.
At the very beginning of the story, we are given a view into how Job’s suffering comes about, information Job and his friends are never given. Namely, an interaction between God and the Satan (the Accuser) where we see God responding to the presence of the Satan and his earthly travels by pointing out his servant, Job.
“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
(Job 1:8; see Job 1:6-12)
And even after Satan takes his family and his possessions, we hear God observe in a second interaction,
“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him without reason.”
(Job 2:3; see Job 2:1-6)
While we are never given an explicit reason for Job’s sufferings, I think we see in these interactions at least a partial reason from this interaction in the heavenly courts. For it strikes me that part of why God chooses Job in this way, for these trials, is precisely because he knows that Job will not fail to continue turning to and trusting in him. He knows his faith will endure, which is why Job is chosen. And in this way, Job becomes a powerful example for us—to show us that it is possible, frail as we humans are, to endure the most painful afflictions. And trust in God is the way.
Because Job never gives up on God. Even as he grieves, even as he laments, and complains, and challenges, and pleads, we read that “in all these things Job never sinned with his lips” and that “all that he said was right” about God. He is vindicated by God himself in the end, even as he repents for some of his strong language and assumptions (Job 42:1-6).
Therefore, this was a major aim in our study of the book. I proposed that Job challenges our assumptions about how much we should know or understand, that it confronts us with our limitations as finite creatures before an infinite, limitless Creator. We worked through this sentence as an outline of the book:
We often suffer—
we will not always understand,
but we can always trust.
I encourage you to take a listen to the sermon, in the hopes that God will use it in your life to give you hope and comfort in the midst of suffering—suffering you are experiencing yourself, or that you may be helping someone else endure. For further resources on this book, I encourage you to head over to the Bible Project, where you will find videos, articles, books, and outlines on Job to help you study and grow. In addition, be sure to check out their series on Wisdom, which has additional videos and resources for the books of Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes.
Finally, be sure to read Proverbs this week, in preparation for this coming Sunday’s sermon and study on that book.
grace and peace to you friends,
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
Helpful Resources for Living on Mission
This last Sunday, we gave a number of things away that I believe are really helpful resources as we live on mission at Calvary, making more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. I thought it would be helpful to make sure you had access to them, in case you were unable to be there, or you were there but missed noting the ones we gave away.