Job 29-42

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Week Four: The Lens of Suffering - Job 29, 42
Overview
Job 1-37 records a series of speeches between Job, his three older
friends, and a younger listener named Elihu. Job justifies himself rather
than God and sees himself as righteous. Now, however, a new speaker
appears on the scene—God Himself. God calls Job to account before
Himself, asking Job a series of questions determined to humble and
rebuke him. In response, Job humbles himself before the Lord,
acknowledges God’s power and justice, and admits that he is in the
wrong. God restores Job’s losses when he prays for his friends; Job lives a full life
with riches, respect, and three generations of descendants.
“In the whole story of Job,” wrote G. Campbell Morgan, “we see the patience of God
and endurance of man. When these act in fellowship, the issue is certain. It is that of
the coming forth from the fire as gold, that of receiving the crown of life.”1 No matter
what God permits to come into our lives, He always has His “afterward.” He writes the
last chapter—and that makes it worth it all.2
Lesson Objective:
At the conclusion of this lesson regarding Job’s conversation with God, students will
be able to explain that the presence or absence of suffering in a person’s life does not
reflect his standing before God.
Key Truths
Suffering or the lack of suffering is not a reliable gauge to determine a man’s right
standing with God. Outward appearances of success rarely indicate biblical faith; and
outward appearances of failure rarely indicate a lack of faith. The answer to the
question of suffering does not come by looking back at one’s past but by looking up to
the Creator.
God allows what He hates to accomplish the good He loves--a child of His expressing
simple faith in Him. Suffering doesn’t create faith--it reveals genuine faith, develops
and matures that faith.
1
G. Campbell Morgan, The Answers of Jesus to Job, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1973), 117.
2
Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Patient (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1996), s.v. Job 36:1.
Lesson Outline - Job 29
Review what God has revealed about Himself and about humanity through the
previous stories. Review the four filters through which man interprets his world. In the
previous week we looked at Job’s conversations with his four friends. Today we look
at Job’s final speech to his friends as he defends himself against their accusation that
unrighteousness on his part causes his present suffering. The text then introduces the
LORD’s conversation with Job.
1. Job defends himself from his friends accusations by looking back at his
life for verification of righteousness.
A.
Job looks back at past blessings (29:1-25)
It is easy to walk with God when life is good and you ‘feel’ blessed. Good times,
however, rarely develop the kind of faith that pleases God. Six times in verses 2-11
Job looks back over his life to the times he ‘felt’ blessed by God, “When God watched
over me”:
•
When His lamp shone upon my head and when by His light I walked
through darkness (verse 3)—a time when God made Job’s way clear.
•
When the friendly counsel of God was over my tent (verse 4) —a time
when God was intimate with Job.
•
When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were around me
(verse 5) —a time when the family prospered.
•
When my steps were bathed with cream and the rock poured out rivers
of oil for me (verse 6)—a time of full cupboards and barns
•
When I went out to the gate by the city, when I took my seat in the open
square (verse 7)—a time of admiration by others
•
When the ear heard, then it blessed me, and when the eye saw, then it
approved me (verse 11)—a time of exaltation
B.
Job also looks back at past deeds to validate his righteousness (Job
29:12-25)
•
I delivered the poor, the fatherless, and the one who had no helper
(verse 12), I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy (verse 13); I was eyes to
the blind and I was feet to the lame (verse 15)—Job provided for those without.
•
I put on righteousness and it clothed me. My justice was like a robe and
a turban (verse 14)—Job was known as a man of integrity and justice.
•
I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not
know (verse 16)—Job fully committed his life to helping others.
•
I broke the fangs of the wicked and plucked the victim from his teeth
(verse 17)— Job punished the wicked predators who preyed upon the weak.
•
Men listened to me and waited and kept silent for my counsel (verse
21)—Job was a “man’s man.”
•
I chose the way for them, and sat as chief, so I dwelt as a king in the
army, as one who comforts mourners (verse 25)—Job held a position of
prominence. Everyone wants to rule over others, but suffering as a sickly
outcast opens the eyes of the heart.
2. Job looks up as he interacts with God and understands the source of
righteousness. God redirects Job’s gaze upward and takes him to the apex of
His wisdom and greatness by a series of questions (Job 37:14 - 41:34)
Job fails to look up to God and His greatness until the LORD forces Job to look upward
by asking him seventy questions beginning with, “Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and
consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know when God dispatches them, and
causes the light to shine?” (37:14-15). Each question demands an answer that Job
cannot give. God’s question midway through His list of questions, “Shall the one who
contends with the Almighty correct Him?” (40:2), brings Job to his knees in surrender to
the Lord.
Only God existed before creation; therefore, Job’s small answer demonstrates that an
upward look grants an accurate view of self. “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer
You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer. Yes,
twice, but I will proceed no further” (40:4). God continues His interrogation until Job
sees God as Omnipotent and Sovereign.
3. Job sees 20/20 (Job 42:1-6)
Job recognizes God has a purpose for everything--even suffering. He also recognizes
that he is in way over his head. “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know . . . I have heard of You by the
hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in
dust and ashes” (Job 42:3, 5-6).
Application - What does this lesson teach us about God? Man? Sin? Redemption?
• Heavenly operations are hidden from man and, therefore, during times of
suffering, require man’s faith in the revealed character of God. Heaven will one day
fully reveal the spiritual benefits of suffering; therefore, we must wait for that day.
• Suffering doesn’t originate with God but is permitted by God for His own
redemptive and sanctifying purposes. Suffering has redemptive possibilities as it
awakens man to ask questions about life, purpose, and God.
• God, Satan, and humanity all question motives. Only God knows the motive of
a man’s heart. Satan always imposes His motives upon man. Fellow men often
misinterpret each other’s motives and actions. Suffering reveals Job’s motive in
loving God--He simply loves and fears God.
• Circumstances are not reliable gauges to spiritual realities. Personal wealth and
health do not prove spiritual well-being. A person of poverty and physical
brokenness may be spiritually healthy. Christians must resist questioning the
upright walk of a fellow believer who experiences suffering.
• God’s purposes in suffering often remain hidden. God used Job to expose the
wrong theology of Eliphaz (observation & experience), Bildad (tradition, man’s
wisdom from the past), and Zophar (reason). God’s ways must be revealed by
God. People today benefit from Job’s suffering (James 5:11). God never wastes
the suffering of His saints.
• Job’s story reveals man’s limitations. Suffering reveals his smallness,
powerlessness, and mortality. Suffering prompts people to think about spiritual
things, causes, and God. C. S. Lewis describes the voice of suffering, “God
whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.”3
Summary
God speaks through asking a series of questions to reveal His power, wisdom, and
sovereignty. God speaks to Job’s friends to instruct them to offer sacrifices through
Job.
God acts by accepting Job’s sacrifices, restoring his losses, honoring his prayers, and
blessing his latter end.
God reveals His creative wisdom and power--these seventy questions only expose the
tip of the iceberg of God’s limitless knowledge and power.
Romans 8:28 is ALWAYS true because of WHO GOD IS. Circumstances are the least
reliable gauge to ascertaining spiritual health.
Discussion Questions
Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. How did Paul view suffering? What motivated him to
endure his various afflictions? How does his view of suffering relate to Job’s story?
Paul and James both offered a strange view of trials (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:1-5);
what is their view? Why does it seem strange, and how can we integrate this view in
our lives today?
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain: The Intellectual Problem Raised by Human Suffering, Examined With
Sympathy and Realism (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1976), 93.
3
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