Job 1:4-5

Sermon preached on June 7, 2015 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2015. 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.

A year and a half ago Marg and I traveled to Nova Scotia for the wedding of one of Marg's cousins. Before we traveled down she sent us an email telling us what was on the menu for both the rehearsal dinner and the reception. We were invited to both because I was officiating at the wedding. For the rehearsal dinner she said that there were having fresh cooked lobster. For the reception there were having turkey with all the trimmings.

As soon as I read the email I started looking forward to the trip even more than I had before. Wedding feasts are great. Wedding rehearsal feasts are wonderful too. You're with friends and family and they're very memorable. It's interesting that In Matthew 22:1 Jesus used the term 'wedding banquet' in reference to the kingdom of heaven. He said,

"The kingdom of heaven is like a king
who prepared a wedding banquet
for his son."

And in Matthew 8:11 He said,

"I say to you that many will come
from the east and the west,
and will take their places
at the feast with Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

Feasts are wonderful.

In our text we have an account of the feasts of Job's sons. We read, (Job 1:4–5)

"His sons used to take turns
holding feasts in their homes,
and they would invite their three sisters
to eat and drink with them.
When a period of feasting
had run its course,
Job would send and have them purified.
Early in the morning he would sacrifice
a burnt offering for each of them,
'Perhaps my children have sinned
and cursed God in their hearts.'
This was Job's regular custom."

At first glance we might be inclined to think of these feasts as drunken parties. After all, Job offered a burnt offering for each of his children after each feast.

But a closer reading of the text suggests something different. Job didn't offer sacrifices for any sin he could see in his children. It doesn't say they got drunk. It doesn't say that they cursed God. Job offered the sacrifices because there was a possibility that his children had sinned against God in their hearts. He offered the sacrifices because of that. There was no visible sin.

Thus some suggest that the feasts were probably occasional family feasts, perhaps birthday feasts. Christopher Ash writes, (Job, p. 34, 35)

"This is not a picture of incessant partying, but of regular family get-togethers… their parties were not wild drunken orgies or anything like that."

John Calvin even commends them for their feasts. He writes, (Sermons on Job, Sermon 2)

"The feasts that they had were a testimony to their brotherhood and harmony."

Indeed, in our text there is no suggestion of anything improper. In fact, the numbers indicate that Job was blessed with a model family, as far as children were concerned. He had seven sons. In the Bible seven symbolizes completeness. Hannah expressed this after she gave birth to Samuel. She said, (1 Samuel 2:5)

"She who was barren
has borne seven children,"

Christopher Ash writes, (Job, p. 33)

"What more could a man want than seven sons! Well, I guess some daughters as well. And three is a good number. And seven plus three equals ten, which is also a good number. They are all good numbers and speak of an ideal family."

But Job knew that outward appearances can be deceiving. So

he interceded on behalf of his children.

This is main point of doctrine we see in our text. He offered burnt offerings for them. He thought that one or more of them may have some secret sin in their heart so after their feasting Job would send for them and purify each one of them by offering a burnt offering for each.

Before we go into this in detail it's important to note that we can't save other people. We can't believe for them. We can't buy other people's salvation. In the Middle Ages, just before the Reformation, the Roman church used to sell indulgences. These were certificates which guaranteed the buyer, or the designated beneficiary, relief from purgatory. Purgatory, they thought, was a place here most Christians went when they died, a place where they were purged of their remaining impurities before they were admitted into heaven. Getting people out of purgatory became a money making scheme for the church.

But all that was nonsense. Salvation in Jesus is personal. It's about God changing your heart. In John 3:3 Jesus said to Nicodemus,

"I tell you the truth,
no one can see the kingdom of God
unless he is born again."

Job knew this. So after each party Job would call his sons and daughters and offer a burnt offering for each of them. The family would gather and Job would offer ten burnt offerings—one for each of them. The burnt offering is an illustration of, (Ash, p. 35).

"the hot anger of God burning up the animal in the place of the worshipper, whose sins would have made them liable to be burned up in the presence of God. We can imagine Job doing this for them one at a time: 'This one is for you,' and he lights the fire, and the animal is consumed. And the son or daughter watches the holocaust and thinks, 'That is what would have happened to me if there had not been a sacrifice.' And then the next one: 'This one is for you.' And so on until all the children were covered by sacrifice."

Job did this in order to impress upon his children the fear of God and the horror of sin. He knew that it was not enough for his children to be godly outwardly, but that God looks at the heart and that it was important for his children to worship God sincerely, like he did. Job was pointing each and every one of them to Christ. Job looked forward to the day when the Messiah would come and save His people. He spoke about that in Job 19:25. He said,

"I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end
he will stand upon the earth."

Job pointed out to them the consequences of sin and pointed them to the only One that could save them—the coming Redeemer, Jesus.

There are three lessons for us from this. The first is that

you who are parents should point out to your children, no matter what their age, the consequences of sin.

So many parents don't do that today. This is one of the things that has surprised most with all the changes that have taken place in our society in the last 50 years. So many parents today, instead of pointing out the horr and consequences of sin to their children, have instead become complicit in their children's sins.

Years ago, if parents had a daughter that was started having an affair with a married man, they would be horrified and tell her to stop seeing him. Instead of that, parents nowadays support the daughter as she breaks up the marriage. I know one case where the mother of such a daughter started referring to the husband's wife as, 'the witch' because the she was fighting to keep her marriage intact or was giving him a hard time in the divorce. This innocent wife, whose husband was abandoning her for a younger woman— she's 'the witch'.

Years ago, if parents had a son or daughter who started living with someone before they were married—they frowned upon it and did not accept it. How is it today?

"They're coming to visit. Let's make up the guest room and bed for them."

Today if a son or daughter falls into the sin of homosexuality—what do many parents do? They support their son or daughter in that sin. They buy into it. If they're going to a church that believes the Bible and teaches that homosexuality is sin—they will leave that church and refer to it as homophobic and hateful.

Parents, one of your God given tasks is to point out to your children the consequences of sin. Do it.

The second lesson is that if God has blessed you with a good family,

you ought to be full of praise and thankfulness to God for your family.

If you are privileged to belong to a family where peace and harmony exist and where love reigns—how you should be praising God for that. What a blessing God has given you. Psalm 133:1–3 says,

"How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron's beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion."

Families were designed to be such a blessing for us.

Life can be hard. Marriage vows have the line, 'in sickness and health' in them. A spouse is to be such a blessing to a person. I once heard a wife console and comfort her terminally ill husband with the words,

"You're going to die in my arms."

But it's not just a spouse that can do that. I've spoken more than once about my mom's family and how wonderful they are. She had 10 brothers and sisters and they're incredible. Some years ago my first cousin's son contacted a terrible disease and because they didn't diagnose it in time ravaged his body. He was only 14 or 15. While he was in the hospital in he contacted one of those super bugs. The combination of the two things ravaged his body. He was all shriveled up, his hands and feet. He couldn't talk and when I saw him I couldn't tell if he could understand anything we were saying. It was very disheartening and discouraging to see him. He had to be isolated in the hospital and cared for 24 hours a day. At the time he was in a hospital in Calgary, Alberta. What the family did was transport him from Calgary to Sydney, Nova Scotia. He was put in an isolated room in the hospital there. I'm not absolutely sure about this, but I think it's true, because during the time I was visiting I saw it)— that there was a family member with him 24 hours a day, helping the hospital staff take care of him for the months he was there until he died. My aunts were round the clock with him, taking turns caring for him. No one had to ask them to do it. They just did it. I saw it when I was there visiting. It was wonderful to see. What a blessing that was to him. Incredible love was there.

But that's not what you find in all families. In some families there is disharmony and hatred. Brothers and sisters don't talk to each other. They have issues with each other and some hold grudges. Some refuse to go to family get-togethers.

A few days ago I read a blog that quoted an obituary That I believe was real. Her children wrote it. The obituary began,

"Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Sept. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit."

Wow. The guy who wrote the blog and quoted that obituary said that it expressed his feelings toward his step-mother, who abused him for 13 years. He had just learned that she had died and he wrote,

"I would like to go to her funeral, stand and let everybody know what this person was truly like and how much damage she did while alive."

Two families like that is a tragedy—yet there are thousands of them.

If you have a good family that has been a blessing to you—how grateful to God you ought to be for them.

The third lesson is that in a very real sense,

Christians are also your family now.

Job didn't confine his care to just his family. He didn't just take care of his family. If you read the book of Job you'll see that he took care of widows and orphans, the poor, those seeking justice etc., etc. He viewed humanity as his family.

We are to do that as well. But besides that, we should recognize that Christians are in a very real sense our immediate family. In Mark 3:32–35 we read that Jesus was inside a house teaching,

"A crowd was sitting around him,
and they told him,
'Your mother and brothers
are outside looking for you.'
'Who are my mother and my brothers?'
he asked.
Then he looked at those seated
in a circle around him and said,
'Here are my mother and my brothers!
Whoever does God's will is my brother
and sister and mother.' "

So many today don't regard other Christians as family. They don't love them as family. They don't care for them. They're not hospitable to them. They speak ill of them. They use and abuse them. Christians, those around you are your brothers and sisters. Love them deeply, from the heart.

The fourth lesson we should note from our text is that

we need to be careful that the good things that God gives us don't lead us away from Him.

Job's children got together for feasts—for eating and drinking. Job recognized that instead of leading them to greater thankfulness and gratitude toward God, it could have lead them away from God. Job thought, (verse 5)

"Perhaps my children have sinned
and cursed God in their hearts."

Such is the corruption of our hearts that good times, good things can lead us away from God. Jesus spoke about this when He said, (Mark 10:23)

"How hard it is for the rich
to enter the kingdom of God!"

He also spoke of in the Parable of the Sower. In that parable some seed fell among 'thorns'. Jesus said, (Matthew 13:7)

"Other seed fell among thorns,
which grew up and choked the plants."

What are the thorns that Jesus spoke about. He explained a little later, (Matthew 13:22–23)

"The one who received the seed
that fell among the thorns
is the man who hears the word,
but the worries of this life and
the deceitfulness of wealth choke it,
making it unfruitful."

Wealth is so deceitful. John Calvin writes,

"Each of us ought to endeavor to tear the thorns out of his heart, if we do not choose that the word of God should be choked; for there is not one of us whose heart is not filled with a vast quantity, and, as I may say, a thick forest, of thorns."

In 1 John 2:15–17 the apostle John wrote,

"Do not love the world
or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.
For everything in the world—
the cravings of sinful man,
the lust of his eyes and the boasting
of what he has and does—
comes not from the Father
but from the world.
The world and its desires pass away,
but the man who does
the will of God lives forever."

In his great book, Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan wrote about the city of Vanity. In that city was a fair that was held all year long, the fair was called Vanity Fair. Everything sold there was vanity. Everything that came from there was vanity. It was a city that waylaid many pilgrims on their way to the Celestial City. They would stop there and not continue to the Celestial City. It would doom them. Bunyan wrote,

"Therefore at this fair are all such merchandise sold: as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms; lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts – as whores, bawds, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not."

Don't let anything in this world take you away from the true riches of God's Kingdom in Christ Jesus.