I have just read a horrible news in an Egyptian online newspaper,
Abd Alhamid Sheta, 25 year old, a brilliant graduate of a prestigious university (Cairo univ, faculty of economy and political sciences), he was fluent in English and French, and due to his brilliance, his articles were published in a couple of newspapers. Oneday his professor asked him to supervise a class in a short course organized by the faculty...
Then he and the students read that the ministry of economy has an oppening for a foreign trade representative (a highly esteemed post), all the 43 of them applied, Sheta passed all the written and oral exams, and as expected he was ranked first at that stage, then the unexpected happened, all of the 42 applicants were accepted except him!
And the reason was 'unfit socially', Sheta's only fault was that his father was a poor farmer from one of Egypt's poor villages...
Next, Sheta jumped into the river Nile! did he commit suicide or was he suicided?
JOB ... Man of Patience
Reading: Job chapters 1 & 2
The human race is beset with difficulties:
Death of loved ones
The loss of possessions
Suspicion, slander persecution, war
The list is endless and the question 'Why doesn't God - if He exists - intervene? is on many lips. The book of Job should be compulsory reading for all believers: because it provides invaluable insight into the government of the mighty universe and of the conflicts that occur in the court of heaven. It also reveals the kind of being Satan is, how his mind works and how distrustful he is of the Almighty's intelligence and judgement. Job's bitter experiences, his personal sufferings and a look at the spiritual conflict between Jehovah and Satan, all provide inside information that will equip the believer to face life's trials, no matter how bad they may happen to be. The book of Job is a spiritual first-aid kit. Study it.
1. JOB'S ENORMOUS WEALTH
Job was one of the richest men of his day. He was greatly blessed of God. His possessions, family relationships and social standing were of the highest grade. He had arrived at a position of wealth and respect most men only dream about.
Job 1: 1: There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
2: And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3: His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
2. SATAN'S ACCUSATION
It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand the mind of Satan. He levelled accusations against Job and Yahweh which every mind in the heavenly court found abhorrent. Job, Satan dared to suggest, was not serving the Almighty for nothing! Job was doing so for payment. In other words the Most High was bribing Job in order to prove that the divine law could be kept. In effect Satan claimed that Yahweh was buying human allegiance: He was enticing mankind with material possessions to obey His law. And Job, continued Satan, was the best example of this alleged 'divine bribery.'
"Remove the benefits and Job will curse you to your face." Satan suggested.
Job 1: 9: Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10: Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11: But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
3. THE TRIALS OF JOB
I have called this section the Trials of Job. It could as easily be called the Trials of Yahweh, because both were on trial at that testing time.
Job, to see if he was worshipping God only because of incoming payments:
The Almighty, to see if He was a) asking too much of mankind as regards obedience, b) was able to correctly judge human motives and c) was able to tell the end from the beginning.
All heaven watched and waited as the test began and Job's calamities began to mount. Within days Job had lost virtually everything.
TRIAL / LESSON ONE: Remain faithful with or without possessions.
Job 1: 12: And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
13: And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
14: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
16: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
17: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
18: While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
19: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.
20: Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
21: And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
22: In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
TRIAL / LESSON 2: Remain faithful even in bad health
Strange as it may seem, Satan was still unconvinced that Job still genuinely worshipped the Most High; with or without possessions. Satan then obtained permission to devastate Job's health. Within days he reduced Job to a human wreck.
Job 2: 7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8: And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.
9: Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.
10: But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
Remember: All heaven was watching!
TRIAL / LESSON 3: Remain true to God even though others accuse you of falsehood.
The next section (Chapters 3-37) is a catalogue of human reasoning, and judgement, most of it completely missing the mark. Job's friends (?) coming to the conclusion that Job has probably secretly sinned and that is why God is punishing him with:
The loss of his children
The loss of his possessions and wealth
The loss of his wife's love
The loss of his health
And finally the loss of respect, of wife and friends; for they had concluded that Job was a secret sinner: and this was the reason for his awful calamities.
Amid all this Job maintained his faith. Note his words.
Job 19: 23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
24: That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! (Comment: which they were)
25: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me
TRIAL / LESSON 4: Do not question Yahweh, because we do not know all the facts
Then Yahweh spoke. In a series of questions, none of which Job could answer, the Most High pointed out the futility of men's judgements which are seldom - if ever - based on a knowledge of all the facts. Job realising the smallness of his opinion says:
Job 42: 5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
6: Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
LESSON / TRIAL 5: Be prepared to forgive your accusers
This is Job's hardest trial. He has loved the Most High with all his heart and all his soul: even when his wealth and health were gone. Can he now love his neighbour as himself? Yahweh steps in with a final test which astonishes all heaven and leaves Satan floundering in total shame.
Job 42: 7 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.
8: Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
9: So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.
10: And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
In other words, forgiveness for sins of suspicion, misrepresentation and slander will only be forgiven if the victim, Job in this case, agrees to it. Take warning!
4. THE PATIENCE OF THE SAINTS
In the book of Revelation we are shown a picture of Yahweh's church in the last days. On a spiritual level every true believer is faced to varying degrees with situations similar to those Job went through:
Loss of wealth and material possessions
Loss of health
Loss of loved ones, family and friends
How will you cope? Will you, like Job, look past all the trials of life to the resurrection of the just when, because of your faith, you will see God and live forever! Or will you blame the Almighty for calamities which come your way? Perhaps your faith is currently being tested - to breaking point! I do not know. Like Job, perhaps even you do not know. But whatever the reason, you cannot afford to lose your faith: or give Satan the satisfaction of thinking that you only serve God for the temporal benefits (wealth, health, power, favour etc.)
Yes, how is it going to be with you?
Will you be patient like Job. Or will you give up your faith, perhaps even blaspheme God - and die?
Satan had said to God: He (Job) will curse you to your face!
Job's wife had said: "Curse God and die."
Job - Man of Patience - passed every test. I pray that all who hear or read this sermon will remember the lessons the patriarch Job has for us all.
James 5:11 You have heard of the patience of Job!
SBS Sermon Notes
Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
Reading: Revelation 21
Suffering comes to the human race in a variety of forms. Physical sickness and pain, mental pressure, rejection, loneliness, war, famine, disease, persecution, natural disasters, poverty etc. No nation or class of people is exempt. Black and white, rich and poor, educated and ignorant, all suffer even though their problems vary. Why is this? Why hasn't man, with his sophisticated knowledge and skill, been able to eradicate suffering? And what is God doing to help? Does the Almighty understand what the human race is going through? Will suffering ever end? And when it is all over will we be able to look back and say: 'suffering did have its benefits and God was just and right to allow it?' Let us briefly examine this important subject of human suffering.
1. CAUSES OF SUFFERING
Suffering has many causes. People suffer:
For the sins of their ancestors Exodus 20:5 "... for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me."
For their own sins
Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
16: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
17: Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
18: Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
19: Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
20: The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.
See also Psalm 89:30.
For Doing Right
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
2. SUFFERING COMES TO EVERYONE
No one is exempt from suffering. All the prophets, all the apostles, indeed all the church suffers in one form or another. Even the Messiah suffered.
The Sufferings of Jesus Christ
Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
The Saviour was called - a Man of Sorrows!
The Suffering of Paul
Acts 9:16 I will show him (Paul) what things he must suffer for my name's sake.
All Believers Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.
1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
3. SUFFERING HAS BENEFITS
Suffering has many benefits. I list a few:
To Learn Obedience Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.
To Learn Spiritual Lessons Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
3: And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4: And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
To Glorify God John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2: And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3: Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
To Share / Complete Yahweh's Suffering Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.
Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church.
To Enable One to Understand/Help Others 2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4: Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5: For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
6: And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
4. RIGHT ATTITUDES IN SUFFERING
How one reacts to suffering is extremely important. Do not waste time or effort trying to establish who - if anyone - is to blame. The real cause of human suffering is usually very difficult to establish. Concentrate on maintaining the correct attitude amidst suffering. And above all, do not abandon your faith in God if your suffering appears to be endless. If anything, suffering should draw the true believer closer to Yahweh. Is He not suffering inexpressible sorrow at this very moment as He views mankind's myriad miseries?
Bear Suffering Patiently 1 Peter 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20: For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
Get Suffering into Perspective Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9: And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Commit your Soul to the One Who Created You 1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Study Psalm 69.
All sufferers should read the Psalms. There you will find numerous examples of how to react to suffering. One's reaction to suffering is important. Do not grow bitter as many do and blame others or even God for not caring.
5. THE PATRIARCH JOB
Few men have suffered as much as Job did. He was a righteous man and served the Most High faithfully. Even God said that Job was perfect in all his ways. Job:1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
The book of Job goes on to tell of how Job lost everything: the love of his wife, the lives of his ten children, all his possessions, his health and the respect of his community. Job's friends even thought that he was suffering because deep within his soul he must be a very wicked man. They were 100% wrong. Job was suffering, unbeknown even to himself, to prove to the universe that he wasn't serving Yahweh for material gain; but because he loved God. Satan had accused the Almighty of favouring Job; by trying to gain the patriarch's worship by bribing him with cattle, goods and material wealth. Of course Satan was totally wrong: but the na´ve heavenly host of angels didn't know that. So God allowed Job to suffer the loss of virtually everything - including his health to prove that His servant's faithfulness was genuine and unselfish. And what was Job's reaction to his terrible suffering? He said this of the Almighty:
Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him...
6. THE END OF SUFFERING
Suffering will come to an end one day; and that day is near. We are told in numerous Bible passages that suffering of every kind is scheduled to end. Yes, believe it or not, the day is coming when there will be no more suffering, sickness, pain, sorrow and death.
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2: And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3: And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4: And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5: And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Yahweh will compensate His children a million-fold for all the suffering they have born for His Name's sake. The rewards the saints will receive is beyond imagination! Consider these all-encompassing promises when you are despondent. And remember that they are soon to come true. Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Memorise these two verses. They will carry you through times of seemingly unbearable suffering. Millions of believers in past ages have born suffering with great fortitude. Do as they have done and hold fast to your faith: because suffering will end - and that very soon. Yahweh's Word assures us of these facts.
Further information on Human Suffering see: Lesson 15 & Sermon Note 10/05
Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
December 1997 ... Updated September 1999