His & Hers: His Prayer (Job)

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One of the lingering realities of life is suffering.

  • environmental suffering: fear and suffering from earthly disasters (earthquakes, mudslides, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes; – even global issues such as starvation, disease such as HIV or cancer, and also man-made environmental suffering of violence, murder, terrorism)
  • physical suffering: pain from a fallen world (depression, sickness, bodily hurt, disease)
  • causation suffering: hardship from consequences of sin (brokenness, emotional hurt)
  • spiritual suffering: adversity with purpose (trials, tension, tests that God ordains in life circumstances)

Additional Suffering

  • Persecuted church across world. Will American Christians suffer in similar ways?
  • Will The Church experience Tribulation suffering or be removed? Requires serious study despite initial observations, common teaching and desired outcome; and despite that we may never know until we experience the reality.

So – part of a pastor’s role is to prepare people – the church – to suffer well. Everyone will experience suffering sooner or later. And when it comes how you respond toward God will be crucial: either receiving suffering by drawing closer to God or rejecting suffering and cursing God. Today’s message will help you learn to receive life circumstances and draw closer to God through the perspective of prayer.

EXAMINE           His Prayer: Job 1His and Hers Logo

Features of Job

  • Job is likely the earliest Bible books written.
    Most scholars believe Job existed in the early Patriarchal era, preceding or contemporary of Abraham. Job is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14, 14:20, so before this writing. This is further evidenced by the fact that God is rarely identified in covenant name of Yahweh or no mention of “Israelites” or “the law”. Ultimately, the book of Job gives us insight into our humanity from the earliest of times.
  • Job’s friends have critiques about his life and reasoning for suffering.
    Their counsel is question if they are truly comforting (2:11) or just plain cruel (21:34). Our friends and counselors often have a significant influence in the way we view life. Yet, Job was able to ascertain his identity from a higher plane and source.
  • Job is somewhat open ended.
    Job never gets a full or final answer to his suffering, only that God is God and Job is human. Many ‘post-modern’ stories (life, entertainment) leave out neatly packaged conclusions for the audience to provide their own meaning and understanding to life. The book of Job leaves the reader to conclude that no matter what life brings, God is enough.
  • Job needs an intercessor or mediator (Job 5:1; 9:2-3, 27-33; 16:19-22; 19:25-27; 23:3-16; 33:23-24).
    Reading Job will tempt readers toward pessimism or even despair. Yet, woven into the background of Job’s suffering is his dependency upon another greater than himself. More, the Sovereign God is not afraid of our questions and will intercede with both silence and presence. Ultimately, Job helps us to identify with our suffering by pointing us toward fulfillment and hope in God.
  • Job’s life left a multi-generation legacy (Job 42:12-17).
    The conclusion of the book shows God’s restoration of His blessing toward Job. Job’s fortunes are doubled from 7k to 14k sheep, 3k to 6k camels, 500 to 1000 oxen, 500 to 1000 donkeys. Job receives again 7 new children; the idea that the number of offspring is not doubled hints at the fact that the deceased children live in eternity, so in essence the number of children has doubled.
  • Job is timeless.
    The book, even among “secular” reading circles is examined on multiple levels from poetic literature, academic philosophy, to even Hollywood entertain scene in Mission Impossible (1996).
  • Job is a book of a praying life.
    The book begins and ends with Job praying. There are additional statements about prayer in the book, all of which one may understand at least two key realities for persevering in prayer.

We are to persevere in prayer because life has both pleasure and pain (Job 1:1-19)

The opening passage of Job outlines ten characteristics about Job. Each characteristic indicates God’s blessing on Job’s life. Job was

  • a man, Job (In Hebrew the word “man” is in emphatic position to emphasize Job’s human ordinariness.1)
  • living in Uz: unknown location
  • blameless: without observable sin, fidelity
  • upright: straight (see Prov 3:6)
  • feared God: reverence and obedience toward God
  • turned away from evil
  • father of 10 children (7 sons and 3 daughters)
  • wealth (children had separate homes; owned 7k sheep, 3k camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 donkeys, very many servants)
  • one of the greatest men of all the people of the east
  • servant of God, incomparable to other men (1:8)

Material possessions are frequently used as a standard of greatness. Certainly, Job’s possessions placed him in an elite category surpassing his peers and even regions (perhaps Job was some sort of king or vassal). In all, Job experienced the highest of pleasures life afforded in his time.

Yet, all these material blessings would be removed. Job would experience tragic loss of family and wealth. The picture of Job is one who is fulfilled with faith, family, and fame; he would lose family and fame but would he lose his faith? Job had both pleasure and pain and yet would persevere as a man of prayer.

The book Job confronts us with the pervasive reality of suffering. When similar circumstances occur in our lives we either turn away from God or doubt God’s existence. We assume God’s obligation to organize life according to our chosen comforts and benefits. Not Job. Job prayed in pleasure and pain.

God permitted Job’s testing from Satan (Job 1:6-12)

  • If you were a friend with a extravagantly wealthy person, how would you ever know if your friendship was based on love for the person or for how the person benefited you? The primary way is to have the benefits removed, to allow hardship to enter the relationship as a form of testing which would lead to maturity or separation.
  • C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters portrays conversation between senior devils with junior devils and Jesus is called the Enemy.
    “Desiring their freedom, [The Enemy], refuses to carry them by their mere affections and habits to any of the goals to which He sets before them: He leaves them to ‘do it on their own’. And therein lies our opportunity. But also, remember, there lies our danger. If once they get through this initial dryness successfully, they become much less dependent on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt.”
  • Satan seeks to use pleasure and pain as reasons to neglect God. When we experience pleasure we can be seduced into thinking that God is unnecessary. When we experience pain we can be deceived into thinking that God is unable. Satan’s aim is to replace faith, hope, and joy in God for love of worldly health and prosperity.

apply: praise God in pleasure and pray to God in pain.

We are to persevere in prayer because life has both purpose and hope (Job 1:20-22)

Consistent with Job’s life was one of purposeful and hopeful prayer.

  • Job would send and consecrate his children (1:5).
    The idea is sanctifying, setting apart and dedicating them to the Lord’s holiness.

    • Undoubtedly, the children’s feasting was celebrative but approaching sinful action. This is not saying their action was specifically sinful but that there was suspect or borderline immoral actions.
      à If children are left to themselves, they will drift spiritually.
      à Borderline immorality is inappropriate.
      à Frequent feasting and fun without focus upon serious spiritual realities will desensitize individuals toward the fundamental purpose of life before God.
    • Undoubtedly, this would have been a father’s moment for instructing and imploring the child toward discerning right from wrong, and to honor the Lord in their life. Job could not discern his children’s heart and his only means of searching them was to spend time with them in the sacrifice for spiritual matters. Some parents may snoop into bedrooms or on their child’s technological devices to see what they’re up to, but Job snooped through the sacrifice of spiritual worship.

Job suffered in prayer for his children before he suffered in pain for the loss of his children. Job’s life concern for his children was not just their physical death but a greater tragedy of their spiritual death.

 Parent’s, where do you spend the majority of sacrifices in your time with your children?

  • Undoubtedly, the children would have understood the connection between sin and death.
    • Today, many parents pray for their child’s forgiveness but do not proactively teach and urge the child toward righteous living to avoid and guard against sinful living.
      à Parental purpose to instruct and implore.
      à Parental purpose to confront children with the gospel, the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • Undoubtedly, it was understood that Job’s children were grown adults. Job was continually invested as a parent in the lives of each of his adult children for holiness and spiritual growth.
    à Parental purpose to continually invest spiritually in family. à growing godly generations
  • Job would rise early to pray and sacrifice for his children (1:5).
    • Rising early implies the first order of priority for the day. Further, Job did this continually. Can you sense the importance, the urgency, and gravity of Job’s prayer life?
    • Job prayed for his children because he knew that God could help them in a more comprehensive and complete way than he could. As a parent, do you believe this principle or are you making idols of your children by attempting to secure and spoil them in earthly comforts?
    • Notice, Job’s entire life does not show anxiety or fear – despite all his circumstances – and it’s likely so because the source of his strength was in the Sovereign to whom he prayed.
      • We conquer anxiety and fear for our children and circumstances by appealing to the Almighty.
    • Seldom will there be more prayers for children than by their parents. If that’s true, when you ask others to pray for your children then their prayers will have some correlation to your prayers. Does that lead you to say “amen” or “ouch”?

Following the loss of fame and family, all Job had left was his faith. The rest of the book shows Job persevering in prayer, despite the counsel of his friends. Job’s suffering was not a result of his sin but of a sinful world.

Job 16:16-17 “My face is red with weeping, and my on my eyelids is deep darkness, although there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure.”

Job 21:15-16 adapted “Others question the Almighty, for why we should serve him and for the profit of prayer. That counsel is wicked and far from me.”

At the end of the book Job’s fortunes are restored double (cf. chapter 1 with 42:12-17)

  • from 7k sheep to 14k sheep
  • 3k to 6k camels
  • 500 yoke to 1000 yoke oxen
  • 500 to 1000 donkeys
  • 7 sons & 3 daughters
    • Naming the daughters shows Job passed on an inheritance not just to his sons but to his daughters. The implication is abundance of blessing beyond the sons but to the daughters too.
    • (Jemimah – dove; Keziah – type of perfume; Keren-happuch – type of eye shadow). The daughter’s beauty is reflection of grace and blessing.
  • Job saw his sons and his sons, sons sons – four generations. Spiritual blessing is implied for mult-generational influence to conclude the book (Job 42:16-17).

Yet, more detail occurs to reflect Job’s prayer life (Job 42:7-11).

God communicates His anger with Job’s friends for their ill-speaking of God (42:8-9). God tells them to offer sacrifices for forgiveness, but more that Job will pray for them and his prayer will be accepted. So, Job does pray for his friends and his praying appears to be the impetus for God restoring Job’s blessings (42:10).

  • Forgiveness is related to God’s answered prayers (Matthew 5:23-24; 6:12-15).

– Persevering in prayer matters beyond your own life.

– When sinful people need the prayers of the righteous, can God send them to you or to our church? Is your prayer life trustworthy before God and others (Job 42:8-9; James 5:13-16)

 

James 5:13-16 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

APPLY/THINK

à Job’s intercessory prayer points us to Jesus who interceded for us on the cross for our forgiveness of sin. Jesus was the sinless sufferer; He was attacked by Satan, He was stripped of all He owned, mocked and betrayed by friends for all to see, and eventually was forsaken by God. Jesus persevered through all this so we never have to suffer alone.

à Join with Job in tears
Job 1:20 “Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Psalm 30:5 “weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning”

à Join with Job in trusting God
Job 1:21 “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him”

Philippians 3:7-11 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and may share his sufferings becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

1Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Revelation 2:9-10 “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)…. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”

1 For a detailed discussion of the word order, see M. Weiss, The Story of Job’s Beginning (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1983), 17–20.

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