Sweet Will Be the Flow'r

Series: Affliction in Verse

Sermon by David Strain on Jul 22, 2018

Job 42:7-17

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Would you please open your Bibles one more time at the book of Job, chapter 42; Job chapter 42. Page 446 and 447 if you’re using one of our church Bibles. We’re considering verses 7 through 17. Last time, we thought together about the response of Job to the extraordinary revelation of God’s majesty and glory that He received in chapters 38 through 41. God had shown Job something of His greatness and we saw last time how, in response, Job was cut to the heart and brought to deep and abiding repentance.

And so now tonight, we’ve come to the last ten verses of the book where we see what follows in the wake of Job’s repentance. It’s become something of a trend, if you’ve been at the movies lately, to see an epilogue right at the end of all the credits. You know, if you manage to stay in your seat and you don’t rush off to your car and you sit through that endless, interminable, scrolling past of names, there’s a couple of extra minutes at the end, you know, just to sort of maybe be a teaser for the sequel or something like that, to tie everything off. There’s this little added bonus. It would be a mistake to view verses 7 through 17 here at the very end of the book of Job as analogous to that. You know, you’ve managed to sit through the tedium of the book thus far, and here’s this little added extra stuck on at the end if you’ve made it all this way. That’s a mistake. Better to see these last ten verses more like last words. You know, you really want to make your last words count. Don’t you? And so these last verses of Job really count. They help to drive home and answer the question, “So what? What should be our takeaways from the book of Job? What difference should it make?”

If you were wondering what difference the book of Job should make, our passage tonight has three answers, at least three answers. It reminds us first about our danger, it points us to our Deliverer, and it invites us to look for our destiny. And actually, if you’re tracked with us as we’ve made our way through the book of Job, those three truths keep reappearing again and again. Our danger, our Deliverer, and our destiny. Before we see how these ten verses make those three points, let me ask you once again to bow as we pray together.

O Lord, would You now open our eyes to behold marvelous things out of Your Law, for the glory of Jesus’ name. Amen.

Job 42 at the seventh verse. This is the Word of Almighty God:

“After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now, therefore, take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’ So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job's prayer.

 

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.

 

And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job's daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days.”

Amen, and we praise God for His holy Word.

One prominent aspect of the burden of suffering Job has had to bear throughout the book has been the unrelenting criticism that he's received from his so-called friends. There are few things more painful when we are down or otherwise hurting than to have the people closest to us pile on. Isn't that so? When we get blamed or accused and they wag their fingers in their faces and say, "I told you so." Instead of support, we get criticism. And it makes all our trials so much worse. Well, the men in our story ought to have been Job's comforters, but instead, they became the pawns of Satan himself in his spiteful campaign to derail Job's trust in the Lord.

But now at last in verse 7, the tables turn. Don’t they? Would you look there with me, please?

“After the Lord had spoken these words to Job and the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right as my servant Job has.’” These guys are in big trouble now. Aren’t they? Whereas Job, at last, has been publicly vindicated by the Lord. “You have not spoken of me what is right. Job has, and now my anger burns against you.” Now you will remember, Eliphaz, he was the theologian of the group. He claimed to base his arguments on special revelation. He belonged to the “God has told me” crew. Bildad on the other hand, he was the traditionalist. He based all of his arguments on the words of the fathers. And then Zophar, well Zophar was the dogmatist. He simply set out to teach Job a thing or two with bold, rather arrogant denunciation.

And we saw that the main problem with the arguments of these three so-called friends wasn't so much that everything they said about God or about Job was wrong. Rather, it was that they misapplied and misunderstood what they knew when they were considering Job's case. Whereas Job, on the other hand, Job had insisted all along God was sovereign and just and surely God would vindicate him. Job was innocent and he longed to make his case before the tribunal of heaven. And now, at last, God tells everyone involved Job has been right all along, and Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have missed the mark badly. 

Our Danger

And now here’s the first thing that I want you to see as we take all of that in. The passage here reminds us of our danger, as the book of Job, as a whole, has done. These three so-called friends, they were self-assured, self-righteous. They spoke of Job’s faults, but they never seemed to have noticed their own. They were so focused on setting Job straight that they’ve overlooked their own inconsistency and sin, and now their sin is exposed. In particular, notice, God highlights their sins of speech. “You have not spoken of me what is right.” God says to them, “Look, talk is cheap and the words coming from your mouth, you’ve indulged and excused and not noticed how far from the mark they really have been.”

Every Word Matters

Isn’t that easily done? Talk is cheap. Isn’t it? We pontificate, and we argue. We throw words around. "And sure, from time to time we might bruise an ego here and there, hurt some feelings, but we're straight shooters. It's just the cost of doing business." At worse, we might consider our words minor peccadilloes, little things, small transgressions barely worth considering, as soon to be forgotten as the time it took to say them. Job 42:7, however, reminds us, teaches us how wrong we are. Doesn’t it? How wrong we are. The Lord hears our words and He marks what we say and the way we saw it. Our words are not incidental or insignificant to Him. As Jesus Himself put it in Matthew 12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” Listen to this. “I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.”

There's a sense in which you could read verse 7 almost as a mini-judgment day. And in that confrontation, the Lord vindicates Job, justifies him, vindicates him, and condemns his friends on the basis of their words, specifically, their words about God. They have invoked God carelessly and casually in the service of their own agenda – to win their argument, to tear Job down. And now, before the Lord, their words condemn them.

Our Inconsistency

Isn't there a solemn warning for us all worth hearing there? Think about our social media words, our email words, our text words. Think about our gossiping words, our complaining words. Think about our argumentative words, our prideful words. Think about the way we've used the name of God, our careless worship, our ability to invoke His name one moment and tear one another down the next. James 3:8 reminds us that "the tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it, we bless our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers," James says, "these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives? Or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” We are so inconsistent, he’s saying. The truth about our hearts is revealed often by the poison on our lips and it betrays the profession we make to follow the Lord as our God.

Remember, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, they were church folks we might say. They were theological thinkers. They were spiritually minded. And God was angry with them for speaking about Him what was not right. Our words matter, brothers and sisters. Though in our day talk is cheap, in the sight of God our words are weighty things. Accuracy in doctrine matters. Truth-telling matters. How we speak about God to one another matters. God is angry at sin, including the sin of our lips. And so the passage here issues a sober warning to us of our danger.

Our Deliverer

But then secondly and wonderfully, our passage also points us to our Deliverer. Doesn't it? You'll notice the directions God gives Job's three friends in verses 8 and 9. If in verse 7 there's a sort of foreshadowing and glimpse of judgment day as God comes and confronts Job's friends, in verses 8 and 9 the God who confronts them preaches the Gospel to them. Look at what He tells them to do. "Now, therefore, take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord had told them and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.”

There’s a Syrian actor by the name of Mr. Abdo. He’s very famous in his homeland and actually, he has an international reputation. He’s played alongside Hollywood actors. But whenever he introduces himself to people here in the United States, they sort of recoil in horror because his first name is Jihad. And so you know, “Pleased to meet you, I’m Bill.” “Yes, lovely to meet you, Bill. I’m Jihad Abdo.” And people sort of take a step back and so he’s had to change his name just so as to avoid the shock on people’s faces! You see, names matter. Don’t they?

“My Servant”

I wonder if you noticed how God speaks about Job and the title, the name that He gives him. Four times over actually, in our passage, in verses 7 through 9, four times over it’s a title that He used for Job, remember, in the opening chapters during God’s interview with Satan. And so it's reappearance here at the end sort of ties the book together beautifully. It's a title that highlights the unique role that Job plays. God calls Job, do you see it, "my servant." Now that puts Job in terms of the Old Testament context in rather select company. In the Old Testament, Moses is called the "servant" thirty-seven times. David, God's "servant," thirty-eight times. The title is famously used by God, remember, in Isaiah 52:13 and following. "Behold, my servant. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hid their faces. He was despised, and we esteemed him not." That can easily be a description of Job. Isn't that exactly how Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar treated him, God's servant? But of course, those are not words about Job. These are words about the climactic, righteous suffering Servant, the Lord Jesus, "who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by His wounds, we are healed." It's a description of the Lord Jesus, of whom Job has over and again reminded us as we've worked our way through the book together.

Priestly Role

And like Jesus, in our passage, Job also has a priestly and intercessory ministry; a role to play on behalf of his guilty friends. Hasn’t he? They are to bring Job these offerings, sin offerings, burnt offerings to make atonement for their offenses before the Lord. And Job is to intercede for them as the smoke ascends. Now just think about that for a moment. Job is not yet healed. He’s still suffering. These men have been pounding away at him with terrible wounding words all along, and here he is still in his sorrow, still in his sickness and in his suffering, and now Job, against whom these men have sinned so grievously, must intercede for them as they make atonement and the smoke of their offering ascends to heaven.

Jesus our Savior

It's actually, I think, a fairly vivid reminder of what our Savior, the Lord Jesus, God’s final Servant has done for us. After all, doesn’t Christ have every right to stand over us as a Judge? Over and over again, day after day, haven’t we betrayed Him in so many ways, as surely as did Judas’ kiss on that first Good Friday? Over and again haven’t we found ourselves as it were in Pilate’s courtyard shouting with the crowds that, “We have no king but Caesar!” as we choose rather to rebel against Him than to bend the knee to Him in faith and obedience. No, Jesus has every right to deny us and condemn us. Doesn’t He? But instead, our Savior fills the role, actually both of priest and of sacrifice. He is both Job and the bulls and rams on the altar offered in atonement. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and He is our high priest who ever lives to make intercession for us.

Part of the message of the book of Job is certainly to remind us of our danger of the liabilities to which our sin exposes us. We need to be warned about the sins of speech that we so easily excuse and overlook. But even more importantly, the book of Job is designed to point us to the final, perfect, righteous Sufferer, the climactic Servant of the Lord, and to show us what to do with our sin, where to go with our need for pardon. There is a real sense in which, while verse 7 as I said earlier, is God's indictment against Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, in verses 8 and 9 God Himself preaches the Gospel to them. He preaches to them good news. There's atonement to be made and an intercessor available for you.

Intercessor

Now you will remember that Job himself has cried out to God for an intercessor more than once in the book. Back in chapter 9 verse 33, he said to God, "There is no arbiter, no mediator between us who might lay his hand on us both." In a depth of anguish, he was longing for someone to go between and reconcile him. And then later on in chapter 16 verse 19, he was able to say to his friends, “Even now, behold my witness is in heaven and he who testifies for me is on high.” He had some sense, he saw dimly somehow that a mediator and an intercessor and an advocate was necessary if ever he were to find vindication. But here in chapter 42 verses 7 through 9 it is Job himself who now fills the role of advocate and mediator and intercessor on behalf of his three friends. And so Job points us pretty clearly to the Lord Jesus Christ. Like Job, when Christ intercedes on behalf of His people on the basis of the atonement that has been made at the cross, as verse 9 puts it, the Lord accepts his prayer.

Now that’s a glorious thought, isn’t it, that should speak a great deal of comfort to our hearts. If you will go to Jesus with your sin, seeking atonement and cleansing and pardon, if you would take Christ as your advocate with the Father, the Lord will accept His prayer on your behalf. No prayer of Christ’s was ever denied. No prayer, no cry issuing from the lips of our Savior has ever been ignored at the throne of glory. And so when He pleads your cause, you are secure and safe. Your security is unshakable if you have a better than Job, our great High Priest who prays for you. The Lord accepts His prayer.

Our Destiny

Our danger. Our Deliverer. Then finally, notice the glimpse we are given here of our destiny. Look at verses 10 through 17. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the details except to notice a few things. First, notice carefully in verse 10 it’s not till Job intercedes for his friends that his fortunes are restored. We spent time last week talking about repentance. Didn’t we? And one way to know if repentance is for real is to look for fruit. And here very clearly is the fruit of Job’s repentance. While still in his sickness, still suffering, still destitute, still grieving, Job does not repay evil for evil but rather good. He forgives his friends just as he himself has been forgiven. It’s clear evidence of true, heart repentance. And it’s then that our text says God restores his fortunes.

Bring Back the Captivity

And that’s the other thing that I want you to notice here. That phrase, “restores his fortunes,” is an unfortunate translation. Older translations say something like, “The Lord brought back the captivity of Job.” And that’s much better. It’s a phrase that reappears in the Old Testament several times, always used of Israel being restored after exile. The Lord brought back the captivity of His people. Well here’s it’s used of Job. The Lord brought back his captivity. A classic text, Deuteronomy 30 verse 3, “The Lord your God will restore your fortunes” – it’s the same phrase – “The Lord your God will bring back your captivity and have mercy on you and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.” You see, Job’s experience is paradigmatic for the experience of the whole people of God being restored upon condition of repentance. But if you examine, if you look in the prophets especially, if you examine the prophetic pronouncements and announcements of Israel’s future restoration, you will notice that there is no earthly fulfillment of the full extent of those promises of future restoration in any of the earthly returns from exile that we can track through the Old Testament literature.

The Return

In fact, the return, the Lord bringing Israel from captivity in terms of the prophets, that image becomes an image of final salvation, of new creation, of a destiny waiting, actually at the end of the ages. And to be sure, on its own, in its own way rather, the idyllic restoration of Job's fortunes that we read about at the end of this passage do read almost in Eden-like terms. Don't they? It's almost as though the curse, at last, has been lifted, at least just for Job. Whereas before, his life was marked by alienation. He felt alienated from God and now that has been restored; there's reconciliation. He felt – not just felt – he was alienated from his family and now our text says his family are reconciled to him. His business, his fortune is restored. His children are there. His life is prolonged. It's as though the curse has been lifted; almost. It's almost Eden restored; not quite. 

Not quite, because of verse 17. “And Job died, an old man full of days.” It’s almost like Eden restored, but we know that the restoration of all things will not come through Job the righteous sufferer but through the greater than Job, not only a man who suffered and died but who rose and now reigns, the Lord Jesus. And He will bring the full and perfect renewal of all things in a new heaven and a new earth and there will be no more death. And verse 17 will not be written over any of us any longer – “And he died.”

A Sure Hope

I read recently the epitaph, a sad, sobering epitaph on the gravestone of one Mr. Andrew J. Olzack. Here’s what it said: “Andrew J. Olzack, 1895 – 1979. Abandoned in old age by wife and children. May God be more understanding and merciful.” Isn’t that heartbreaking? Not just because of the broken family life that it tells us about; I think it’s heartbreaking because of the desperate uncertainty about the life to come upon which this old man launched out into eternity. Job died an old man full of years, but he didn’t die like Mr. Olzack, cast into eternity with a wish and a hope and a heartbreaking “maybe.” Job died knowing as he once put it earlier in the book, that “my redeemer lives, and that in my flesh I will stand upon the earth in the end in a glorious resurrection yet to come.”

You see, Job 42 asks us about our destiny. How will you face yours? Don’t go, please don’t go another day on a wing and a prayer, hoping but not knowing. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the greater than Job, who died and now lives, who opens the way not to an approximation of an earthly Eden but to a glory to come, unfading and undefiled, kept in heaven for us.

Our danger, let's not pretend about our sin anymore, shall we, especially our careless sins of speech. Our Deliverer. Well, what should you do when you come to face your sins of speech? You must go to the greater than Job, the true righteous sufferer, the Lord Jesus Christ. He has made atonement and He intercedes for His people and His prayers are always heard and answered. If you're trusting in Him, the Lord hears His cries on your behalf. He is, as 1 John chapter 2 verse 2 reminds us, "the propitiation for our sins." And our destiny – there is a world to come that exceeds the blessedness Job came to enjoy in these latter days of his life; a world where the curse will truly, perfectly be lifted. But only those who trust in the Deliverer will come to enjoy it. So let me ask you, “Will you? Will you? How are you facing your destiny?”

Let’s pray together.

O Lord, the truth is that every one of us here has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The truth is, that in our speech, in particular, we need forgiveness and cleansing. So we praise You for the great Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who makes atonement in His own blood and intercedes on our behalf. Thank You that when He cries and pleads His blood and righteousness in our defense, You always hear His prayer and give us pardon. Help us, each of us, whether it’s for the very first time in our lives or again anew tonight, after years of following Jesus, help each of us to flee back to the Deliverer that we may face our destiny not on a wing and a prayer with uncertainty, but in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to everlasting life because we trust in the One who died and rose and now reigns and is returning to bring us a new world. For we ask this all in Jesus’ name, amen.

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