Job 10:1-3

Sermon preached on February 12, 2017 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, said that one of the most common questions he was asked about his flight was,

"When you were sitting in that capsule listening to the count-down, how did you feel?"

Glen's reply was classic. He said,

"Well, the answer to that one is easy. I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts -- all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract."

Like many of his fellow astronauts he had a lot of questions about how the rocket and spacecraft were made. It was natural that they should have those questions. After all, they were the ones that we putting their lives on the line.

As a young boy I used to watch as many of the space launches as I could. I know I had a few questions about the launch and I listened to the launch commentators with great interest. But my questions were more of a general nature—like how does a rocket work, how high does the atmosphere go, how high does one have to go before one gets into 'space'. The astronauts who sat on those rockets that were filled with explosive fuel were more concerned about the quality and reliability of the components. As far as the astronauts were concerned, far too many of those parts were critical. If just one of those parts was not made correctly and failed—either the rocket would explode or something else catastrophic would happen that would result in their deaths. I learned later that in the months before their launches the astronauts would meet with the engineers and people assembling the spacecraft and pepper them with questions. Some of the question were, 'How does this work?', 'Why did you do this that way?' They wanted to know as much as they could about the rocketships that were going to propel them out of the earth's atmosphere. They had very good reasons to ask those questions—their lives depended on those rocketships being designed and made correctly.

In chapter 10 of Job we see Job asking God a lot of questions. Christopher Ash divides this chapter into four sections and summarizes each section as follows. Verses 1-3,

Why are you against me?

Verses 4-7,

Why do you watch me?

Verses 8-17,

Why did you create me?

Verses 18-22,

Why don't you kill me?

These are all 'why' questions and they are good questions. They are heart wrenching. One feels great sympathy for Job. Job is flummoxed. He can't make sense of his situation. He is bewildered. His friends are not speaking the truth about Job. They are insulting him, casting doubt on his character, accusing him of being a great sinner. Job is suffering greatly and he wants answers from God.

This morning we're going to look at the first three verses of chapter 10, the section that Christopher Ash summarized as Job asking God,

Why are you against me?

Job says, (Job 10:1–3)

"I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein
to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God: Do not condemn me,
but tell me what charges you have against me.
Does it please you to oppress me,
to spurn the work of your hands,
while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?"

Did you ever feel that God is against you? I'm sure that most of us have experienced something of this. You've all experienced Murphy's Law. Sometime it seems like the universe is against us. But if we look at it in a deeper way we could say that Murphy's Law exists because God is against sin and we live in a sinful world. Because we live in a fallen world, sometimes it seems like events conspire against us.

But many people, like Job, have felt that God is personally against them in a great and forceful way. Many people who have rebelled against have felt like that. King Saul, when he disobeyed the Lord, felt like God was against him. The prophets of old went to other rebels and told them that God was against them because of their sin. They urged them to repent. They would say something like,

"Unless you repent this and this (bad thing) is going to happen to you."

And it would come to pass because they didn't repent.

But sometimes it seems that God is against even great saints, like Job. Such tragedy happened to Job. We know the reason why. But Job didn't. We know that God wasn't really against Job. But at times it seemed to Job that God was against him. For most of the book of Job, (and maybe even after he was restored to prosperity) Job didn't understand why these disasters came upon him. God didn't tell him. God kept him in the dark. From everything Job experienced during this trial—it did indeed seem that God was against him—thoroughly and totally. The end of the chapter and other places where Job wishes he was never born show us that.

One of the truths we see here is that

God sometimes confronts His beloved people with dark experiences that they don't understand and which He doesn't explain to them.

In fact, for all the questions that Job asked God during His suffering—God didn't answer any of them. William Henry Green says of God's response to Job a the end of the book, (Conflict and Triumph, p. 138)

"The fact is, this discourse is not directed to an elucidation of that mystery at all. It is not the design of God to offer a vindication of his dealing with men in general, or a justification of his providence toward Job. He has no intention of placing himself at the bar of his creatures and elevating them into judges of his conduct. He is not amenable to them and he does not recognize their rights to be censors of him and him and of his ways."

Job had so many questions for God. He was puzzled. He didn't understand what God was doing. When God spoke to Job out of the storm in chapters 38 and following, He didn't answer Job's questions. Indeed, God began by rebuking Job. He said, (Job 38:2–3)

"Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me."

God rebuked Job and then He began to question Job.

There are two lessons for us to take from this.

First of all,

God is under no obligation to explain His plans for your life to you.

He is God. He is your Creator. He is the potter, you are the clay. Even though He loves you dearly, even though He is concerned with everything that is happening to you, even though He sympathizes so deeply with you, even though He is with you through all your troubles, even though Jesus is your Good Shepherd—for reasons only known to Himself, He often does not explain His reasons or His purposes to you.

He wants you to live by faith. He wants you to trust Him. He wants you to take the promises of His Word and apply them to your life.

It's not wrong to ask God, "Why?". But God is under no obligation tell you. As the Holy Spirit tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7,

"We live by faith, not by sight."

The point you should understand is that you don't need to know the details, the 'whys' to be obedient to God and serve Him well.

He has given us the big picture. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who is absolutely committed to you. (John 10:11) He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5) Jesus is ruling all things for His glory and for the church. (Ephesians 1:22) He has told you, (Romans 8:28)

"in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose."

He has told you that there is a purpose for everything. In Ephesians 1:11-12 the apostle Paul wrote,

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined
according to the plan of him
who works out everything in conformity
with the purpose of his will,
in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ,
might be for the praise of his glory."

He has told you that nothing can thwart His purposes. In Isaiah 46:10 God said,

"I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please."

In Psalm 135:6 we read,

"The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens
and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths."

He has told us that we will never lose our reward, that the least good things we do will be rewarded. As Jesus said in Matthew 10:42

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones because he is my disciple,
I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

Jesus has told us that the troubles that come to us, (1 Peter 1:7)

"have come so that your faith—
of greater worth than gold, which perishes
even though refined by fire—
may be proved genuine and
may result in praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ is revealed."

The Holy Spirit has told you, (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)

"All things are yours,
whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas
or the world or life or death
or the present or the future—
all are yours, and you are of Christ,
and Christ is of God."

Even death belongs to you. For a Christian death is but a doorway to Christ. Jesus has defeated it for you. Eternal glory is ahead of you, waiting for you. Jesus is preparing a place for you. (John 14:2-3) There will be a new heavens and a new earth, where you will dwell in righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1)

That's the big picture. These things are glorious. Aren't they enough for you? Do you have to know all the details in order to be content, in order to serve God well?

The second thing we should understand from Job's questions here

we need to be humble before God, before His providences.

If God did answer Job, could Job have understood, could he have fathomed and comprehended God's ways?

God has revealed to us some things we can't fully comprehend, things that mystify us. The Trinity is one such truth. A second is how God controls all things and yet how human beings are responsible for our choices. (Question 11 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism) God used Pharaoh (Exodus 9:16), Hazael (2 Kings 8:10-14), Nebuchadnezzar (Habakkuk 1:4-11) to accomplish His purposes, yet these men were still responsible for the evil they did. We can't understand those things.

Do you think that if God explained His actions to you, regarding His providences in the things that happen to you—that you could understand those things?

In the first three verses of Job 10 Job even recognizes that his suffering has affected his actions, and that not in a good way. It's like he recognizes that he's not thinking correctly. In verse 1 he says that he loathes his life so he is going to give free rein to his complain and speak out in the bitterness of his soul.

Everyone knows that you shouldn't give free utterance to your tongue. Yet that's what Job says he's going to do. He's going to vent.

Then he says that he's going to let the bitterness of his soul speak. If someone came to you and told you that they were full of bitterness toward someone and that they were going to have it out with that person—what advice would you give him? If you are a good friend and a good advisor you'd say,

"Don't do it now. You need to get rid of the bitterness. Wait to speak to him. Don't do it right now. You'll say things that you shouldn't say. You'll say things that you'll later regret."

But Job is not thinking clearly and he's going to speak from bitterness.

But even more than that, in verse 2 Job says that he's going to say to God,

"tell me what charges you have against me."

He wants to debate with God, to argue with Him. He is going to say to God, (verse 3)

"Does it please you to oppress me,
to spurn the work of your hands,
while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?"

He's going to question God's ways. To Job, it doesn't seem like they are right.

How different Job is at the end of the book when God questioned him. At the end of the first set of questions from God, Job said, (Job 40:4–5)

"I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more."

At the end of God's second set of questions, Job said to God, (Job 42:3–6)

"[You asked, ] 'Who is this that obscures
my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
['You said, ] 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.'
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.'
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Job said he was unworthy to answer God. God's question "Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?" had gone to Job's heart. Could Job fathom God's ways? God said that Job was 'without knowledge' when he spoke earlier and Job agrees.

Can you understand God's ways? Even if God explained them to you—could you understand? The answer to that has two parts. First, on the lowest level, we finite creatures can understand some of God's ways, those that are the simplest, the least complex. Second, there are mysteries in God that are beyond us. In Isaiah 55:8–9 God said,

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways
higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Let me illustrate. I'm reading about Alan Turing and the work of the Bletchley code breakers who broke the Nazi Enigma code machine during World War II. Maybe you've seen the movie about it, The Imitation Game. It's an interesting movie but many of the details about the code-breakers work in the movie are not factual. The movie totally dumbed-down things so that ordinary people could understand the simplest details of the code-breaking. Some of the details that the movie presented as breakthroughs by Turning and his team were actually things that Polish code-breakers discovered even before the war even began. The book gives credit to the Polish code-breakers and shows how Turing and his team built upon their work and went far beyond them. The book goes to great length to try to explain some of the methods that Turning used to defeat the Enigma. I really wanted to understand some of that section. But no matter how many times I read those pages, I just end up mystified, scratching my head. I understood some things—like how one of the Enigma's weaknesses is that it could never encrypt a letter as itself. If you typed an 'a' on an Enigma machine, it would never come out as an 'a'. That's easy enough to understand. And I could understand how they could exploit that.

I could understand some of the complexity of the Enigma machine. The Enigma consisted of rotors, round wheels that you could set to multiple settings. It also had a plug board, which looked like those early telephone ones, where the operator would put the plug into the right hole. That added immensely to the possible settings. The operator of the Enigma would change the settings of the rotors and the plug board every day. According to the movie, there were 159 million, million possible settings. These were changed every day.

One of the breakthroughs the Polish code-breakers made was that they found that the plug board and rotor settings could be disentangled. So when Alan Turning set up his Bombe (a machine he made to go through Enigma's settings), he had this absolute genius idea, an insight that enabled him to see that he could build his Bombe, he could set it up the electrical circuits, (Simon Singh.
The Code Book)

"in such a way as to nullify the effect of the plugboard, thereby allowing him to ignore the billions of plugboard settings."

It made the task of figuring out the daily settings billions of times easier. But when the book explained Turing's insight, I was lost completely. I can't for the life of my understand how he could see that the plugboard settings would cancel themselves out.

It's no wonder they couldn't incorporate the actual code-breaking breakthroughs in the movie. They were way too complicated. A lot of math was involved. And if they had tried to incorporate those parts, hardly anyone would have understood it. It would have been a terrible movie.

My point is similar. In dealing with God, His wisdom, His ways, with how He deals with this world and the people in it—we cannot understand most of it. The parts we do understand are dumb-downed. God is so far above us.

In a situation like this who are we dealing with? We are dealing with a God who is high and lifted up. A God who is thoroughly good—far purer than we can imagine. He is a God who is far beyond our comprehension. His ways are often far beyond our understanding. His justice is without fault. In his song in Deuteronomy 32:3–4 Moses said,

"I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he."

In David's song in 2 Samuel 22:31 he said,

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD
is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him."

In Psalm 97:2–5 the psalmist said of God,

"Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth."

William Henry Green says of God's response to Job a the end of the book, (Conflict and Triumph, p. 138)

"He did not appear to vindicate himself, but to rescue Job."

That God should love us sinners, that God should be good to us sinners, that God should save us, that God should send His son to die in our place. That's the greatest mystery. How can it be? Yet it is. He love us. Through Jesus He has saved us. Christians, trust Him. Trust His ways.

Thanks be to God.