When Sickness Assails, Worship the Lord

sovereign_Job

 

JOB 2:1-13

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. (2) And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” (3) And the LORD said to Satan, “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 to destroy him without reason.” (4) Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. (5) But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” (6) And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” (7) So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (8) And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. (9) Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (10) But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (11) Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. (12) And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. (13) And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

INTRODUCTION

Job, a man known for serving the Lord, had most of his earthly wealth and all of his children taken from him in a single day’s time. In torn clothes and ashes, Job lifted worship and praise to God, declaring that it was all the Lord’s to give and the Lord’s to take away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Even though his wealth and children were gone, Job did not charge God foolishly.

We do not know how much time passed between chapters one and two. We only know that God had summoned the sons of God for another presentation before the Lord. Job’s name is mentioned again as an example of one who fears God. Satan is quick to point out why he believed Job held fast during the last trial: Job’s flesh was not afflicted. If only Job would be afflicted in the flesh, if only he would suffer personal affliction, thought Satan, then surely Job would curse God to His face!

Again, God permits the challenge and trial to commence, delivering Job into the hands of Satan, forbidding only the taking of Job’s life. Satan is swift to afflict Job with a head-to-toe covering of painful sores.

One can only imagine the pain and agony of his affliction. But when one couples this affliction with JOb’s previous losses of livelihood and beloved children, it seems from an outsider’s perspective too heavy a load to bear! Yet again, Job demonstrates how possessing knowledge of the truth is a great comfort even during times of great affliction.

It is also necessary to point out Job’s poor wife. Often the antagonist in shorthand accounts of Job, his wife is made to bear the brunt of criticism for her insistence that Job simply curse God and die. But we must remember that Job’s wife did not make these statements in a vacuum! She did not wield this sentiment lightly or flippantly. The poor woman demonstrated, perhaps in a misshapen way, love and concern for her husband. She watched his personal holdings and children vanish. Job’s situation broke her heart, and she simply sought an end to Job’s awful plight. While Job’s poor wife was broken down by the trials, Job did not curse God. In fact, His understanding of God’s sovereignty served as a comfort to Job, even in the ash heap of life’s more dire circumstances.

Job demonstrates how understanding God’s sovereignty strengthens God’s people during the most trying of life’s seasons. May the Lord be praised and glorified as we study His word together, Amen.

OUTLINE

1. Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD.

A. “Again there was a day….” – The Lord again called angelic beings to present themselves before Him. We do not know when this meeting took place in relation to the first.

B. “Satan also came…” – We know from this wording that Satan is not counted a “son of God.” It is also important to see the subordination of Satan to the will of God. God is sovereign and even Satan bows to His will and way.

C. “Present themselves before the LORD” – All creatures live, move, and have being in God. Everything was created for the glory of God. The angelic beings, Satan, and all other things serve at the pleasure of the Sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth. Should the Lord order any of these beings to stand before Him and give account, they shall always obey His command.

2. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”

A. “From where have you come?” – God does not ask this question because he seeks knowledge. God decrees all things and has perfect knowledge of all things. The question is posited to shame Satan, who was once an angel of light who lived in the presence of God.

B. going to and fro on the earth”Now, Satan is cast down, roaming the earth, ruling over the fallen world, seeking whom he may devour.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

3. And the LORD said to Satan, “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 to destroy him without reason.”

A. “Have you considered my servant Job?” – Let us consider the commendation the LORD of Glory lays at the feet of Job. He maintained his integrity before God even after all of the calamity that had befallen him.

B. “Although you incited me against him” – Remember, it was Satan who pressed the LORD to move against Job to prove that Job’s faith in God was built, not in Love for God, but in love of the prosperity with which God has blessed Job.

4 & 5. Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 6 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”

A. “skin for skin!” – Satan shifts the focus from possessions to Job’s health. Satan countered God with a new claim: should Job be in danger of losing his life, then he will curse God! This line of reasoning is not without evidence. Many men, when pushed to the limit and life itself is on the line, will do just about anything they can to avoid death, even if it means foolishly accusing God.

B. “All that a man has he will give for his life” – For the reprobate wicked, this life is the most precious thing they possess. But our Lord reminds us that His people have much more to look after than merely our physical lives:

Matthew 10:28
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.


Matthew 16:26
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

6 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

A. “Behold, he is in your hand…” – God sovereignly grants Satan the authority to act. That Old Serpent can only move when God gives him permission and authority to do so. So, the notion that Satan acts independently of God is unscriptural. God is in control of everything. Satan acts in accordance with God’s will.

B. “only spare his life.” – Satan is granted authority to act against Job while also receiving clear limitations as to how far he is permitted to take the affliction. God kept Satan from taking Job’s life.

7 & 8. So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (8) And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.

A. “loathsome sores”Satan immediately covered Job in head-to-toe boils. These festering wounds were filled with a foul discharge. Having such an ailment in those days meant certain isolation from polite society. Everyone would have seen his affliction as an act of God’s judgment against him, making Job an outcast and his life a cautionary tale.

B. “broken pottery to scrape himself” – Job’s misery was magnified by the putrid discharge of his festering sores. The discharge had to be removed, lest it hardened on the skin and caused further discomfort. Job made a makeshift tool for the job out of a piece of broken pottery. Think for a moment just how far Job has fallen in this world. He was one of the wealthiest men in the land. Now, he sat in an out-of-the-way place scraping boils with a piece of pottery!

C. “sat in the ashes” – it could very well be that Job went to the place where other lepers and untouchables went. The ash heap may have been such a place. It is also possible that the ash heap was set up by Job himself as a way to symbolize his state of mourning.

9 & 10 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (10) But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

A. “Curse God and die” – Cursory readings of Job’s story in Sunday school classes the world over villainize this poor woman. In context, this simply isn’t the case at all. Job’s wife remained with him even as they, that’s right THEY, lost their earthly possessions as well as their beloved children. And now, she stands by his side even as his body putrefies right in front of her. Unable to even touch or hold her husband during his affliction, she finally breaks rank with him, encouraging him to end his own suffering by cursing God. Her spiritually ignorant and misguided advice did not come from selfish motives. She was not like Satan, hoping and plotting for Job’s total destruction. No! Her advice was birthed out of love for her husband. She simply wanted to see Job free of suffering.

Put your place in the place of Job’s wife. Try if you can to understand even a small measure of her pain and loss. It becomes quite evident how easy her misguided advice was to offer.

B. “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak” – It is clear from Job’s reply that his wife knew better! Job used the occasion to teach his wife about the sovereignty of God in all things. Job reminded his wife that God is the giver of all things, good and bad. Job had tasted of the goodness of God through the abundance of earthly increase. Now, he tasted the bitter and dark chastening of the Lord through trial. Job understood his place in it all better than most. God is God, the giver of good and the giver of sorrow. All things are God’s to distribute in accordance with His sovereign will and way.

C. “In all this, Job did not sin”Job has come through the second trial thus far, having not sinned against God on account of it. Satan had given it his worst. Yet God gave Job enough grace and mercy to survive the demonic onslaught.

11-13 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. (12) And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. (13) And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

A. “three friends heard of all this evil…” – News of Job’s suffering has spread far and wide by this point. He was an influential man known to many for his great wealth and success. Job’s closest friends traveled to meet up with him to mourn along side him.

B. “they did not recognize him” – Just how bad had Job’s health failed him? Even his closest friends could not immediately recognize him! Job was in a sorry state, covered in discharge and ashes, sitting in his own filth wondering why he was ever born.

C. “seven days and seven nights” – Job’s friends ripped their own garments, sprinkled dust on their own heads, and mourned with him, sitting in silence for a solid week. Job’s suffering left everyone without words of wisdom or comfort. Job was in a sad and pain-ridden state.

CONCLUSION

Yet in all this, Job did not sin with his lips.” By God’s grace, Job saw the hand of God through the pain, through the misery, believing God to be just and the justifier. Though his family was shattered and his body broken, Job recognized God as Creator in control of all things. Job praised God by proclaiming the Lord’s truth to his suffering wife. Job did not worship to spare himself the suffering. No. Job worshipped in the midst of his suffering. His despair was real. So was his worship.

When sickness assails our mortal bodies, it could be a sickness unto death. Yet God is faithful to give His people the abiding truth of the matter: God is in control. Worship the Lord in the midst of your storm! Worship the Lord in the swirling tempest of life’s darkest hours. In all things, give thanks!

Lord, add blessings to your word today, for our good and for Your Glory – Amen.


Jason K. Boothe serves as Senior Pastor of Horizons Baptist Church of Piketon, Ohio. For more information concerning the ministries of the church, visit www.horizonsbaptist.org .

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