Job 3:11-19(2)

Sermon preached on November 1, 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.

In his book,
Light From Old Times, J.C. Ryle tells of the death of John Hooper. (p. 102) John Hooper, preacher of the gospel and Bishop of Gloucester, met a martyr's death by being burned at the stake on Friday, Feb. 9, 1555 during the reign of Bloody Mary. Just after he was led to the stake, a man came up to Hooper and asked him for forgiveness. Hooper asked why he should forgive him; saying that he knew of nothing he had committed against him.

Why would the man ask for forgiveness? Hooper couldn't understand it. For all he knew he had never met the man before. The main replied,

"O sir, I am appointed to make the fire."

It was then that Hooper knew the answer to his 'why' question. Hooper said to the man,

"Therein thou dost nothing offend me. God forgive thee thy sins, and do thine office, I pray thee."

'Why' questions are sometimes like that. There's a very good reason behind them that we don't understand until it's spelled out for us. We have no idea what's going on, and we ask 'why' and don't even see how there could be a good answer. But there is indeed a very good answer.

It was like that with Job's questions. Job asks three questions in our text and they are all about why he came into existence, why he was allowed to be born into this earth. The first two questions are in verse 11. He asks,

"Why did I not perish at birth,
and die as I came from the womb?
Why were there knees to receive me
and breasts that I might be nursed?"

The third question is found in verse 16,

"Or why was I not hidden
in the ground like a stillborn child,
like an infant who
never saw the light of day?"

Job's questions totally baffled him. He was bewildered. He didn't know the answer to his questions. He's acting like they didn't have answers—that they couldn't possibly have answers that would satisfy him. His friends didn't know the answer to his question either.

But we know the answers to Job's questions. We know about the conversations in heaven between God and Satan. So, if you were with Job when he uttered these words, you would have been able to say to him,

"You lost your possessions and your children because Satan, in front of the whole heavenly host, challenged God and told Him that if He took these things away from you, you would curse God to His face. When you didn't do that, when you tore your clothes, when you fell down in worship and said, (Job 1:21)

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised."

God was vindicated. The holy heavenly host praised God's name and rejoiced in the grace that God gave you. Satan was shamed. He was proved wrong. It was a great victory for God. It was the same with your sickness. Satan had declared that you would surely curse God to His face if God took your health away from you. But you didn't. God's grace was so strong in you that even when our wife told you to curse God and die, you again refused and told her that she was talking like a foolish woman. God was vindicated. Satan was shamed and proved wrong. God was honored and praised by the heavenly host. Not only that, but, Job, your experience would be written down in a book that was part of the Holy Scriptures. This book, that will bear your name, will be a great source of hope and comfort for generations of God's people and a great help to them in the troubles they will go through. It will help them to glorify God in those troubles. Indeed, this is confirmed in the New Testament which will extol your perseverance and God's mercy. In James 5:11 the apostle wrote,

"As you know,
we consider blessed
those who have persevered.
You have heard of Job's perseverance
and have seen what the Lord
finally brought about.
The Lord is full
of compassion and mercy."

Why was Job born? Why were there knees to receive him? Why where there breasts to nurse him? It was so that Job might be a shining example of God's grace. Job brought glory and honor to God's name by proving that God is absolutely committed to His people. Job brought praise to God by showing that God is intrinsically worthy of service—that Job would serve and praise God even if God took everything away from Job. Our God is so good, so wonderful, so glorious—that it is our duty to praise and serve Him even if we gain nothing from it.

One of the great truths that the book of Job shows us is that

Job's life was tied up with God's glory.

Satan's challenges to God showed that. God would either be glorified, honored or praised by Job's reaction—or God's enemies would have an opportunity to blaspheme God, Satan would have been vindicated and the evil angels would have gloated. On earth Job was the central player in that great contest. Job's life was tied up with God's glory. They were inextricably linked.

The same is true of us.

It was true of the apostles. Combating the pride of some of those in Corinth, the apostle Paul writes about the suffering of the true apostles. He says, (1 Corinthians 4:9)

"For it seems to me that God
has put us apostles on display
at the end of the procession,
like men condemned to die in the arena.
We have been made a spectacle
to the whole universe,
to angels as well as to men."

In a very real way, Paul and the other apostles were like Job. They were suffering and they were a spectacle to the whole universe. God's glory was at stake.

John's gospel tells us that Peter's suffering and death were connected to God's glory. In John 21:18–19, John recorded Jesus' conversation with Peter. He said,

"I tell you the truth,
when you were younger
you dressed yourself and
went where you wanted;
but when you are old you
will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where
you do not want to go."

Then John wrote,

"Jesus said this to indicate
the kind of death by which
Peter would glorify God."

God received glory, honor and praise when Peter was martyred. Peter was a spectacle to the whole universe.

But you may be thinking,

"Well, I can understand how Job, Peter and Paul were central players in God's story. I can even understand how Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David and the prophets were central actors in God's story, but I'm a nobody. You really can't be serious that my life is significant for God's glory."

We're so used to the Bible's teaching that tells us that we are not be arrogant, that we are to be humble, that we are to esteem others better than ourselves, that we are to put ourselves last—that we forget something that is incredibly important. The truth we forget is that as God's servants, what we do, how we behave, how we react to situations, how we suffer—is incredibly important. Our lives, like Job's, can bring much glory to God. You are the central actors in this giant drama concerning God's glory. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 the apostle Paul wrote,

"So whether you eat or drink
or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God."

Indeed, the ones that many would think were the most insignificant of God's people—are often those who are singled out by God as the ones that bring him much glory. In Mark 12:41–44 we read,

"Jesus sat down opposite the place
where the offerings were put
and watched the crowd putting
their money into the temple treasury.
Many rich people threw in large amounts.
But a poor widow came and put in
two very small copper coins,
worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him,
Jesus said,
'I tell you the truth,
this poor widow has put
more into the treasury than all the others.
They all gave out of their wealth;
but she, out of her poverty,
put in everything—
all she had to live on."

This widow was singled out by Jesus and her simple, seemingly insignificant act was included in the gospel for all generations of Christians to learn from.

Or consider the woman who took some very expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus' head. She was the opposite of the poor widow. She was a woman of some wealth. Yet she was disparaged by just about everyone. Some of those who saw her gift were indignant. They talked about how it could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor. They rebuked her harshly.

I don't know what the woman was thinking at that moment. But we're sure that many of them around her were sure that she wasn't one of the heroes of the faith, that she hadn't done a great thing, but rather a very stupid thing.

But Jesus told them to leave her alone—to stop bothering her. He said that she did a beautiful thing to Him. Then He said, (Mark 14:9)

"I tell you the truth,
wherever the gospel is preached
throughout the world,
what she has done will also be told,
in memory of her."

Many looked down on her as a foolish woman—but what words Jesus said about her. How she had honored Him.

Just before that, in verse 8, Jesus said,

"She did what she could."

James R. Edwards writes, (Mark, PNTC)

"Jesus' standard of judgment is that she did what she was able to do: 'She did what she could'… In nearly the same words Jesus earlier affirmed a woman whose gift was a pair of the smallest coins in circulation (12:44). How vastly different that woman's gift from this woman's, yet from Jesus they receive the same commendation! … In Jesus' sight an act has value according to its motive and intent, and that — not its material value — is what makes it serviceable in the kingdom of God. When one acts thus, no gift, not even a mere two lepta (12:41–44), is meaningless; and no gift, even a year's salary, is wasted."

Like the rich woman's gift—Job's sufferings were not wasted.

So we shouldn't think that our meager efforts to bring glory to Jesus are insignificant. Jesus told us that if we give a cup of cold water to one of His disciples we will not lose our reward. (Matthew 10:42)

Last year we saw how one of the criminals on the cross, at Jesus' darkest hour, when He was hanging on the cross with no visible vestiges of divine glory—testified to everyone there that Jesus was not only innocent of any crime, but that He was the king of glory, that He was the One who could save him. He said, (Luke 23:42)

"Jesus, remember me
when you come into your kingdom."

When Satan wanted to snuff out all testimony to Jesus and His glory—who testified to Jesus' eternal glory? There was only one—a lowly criminal. When Jesus' glory was hidden the most—this criminal spoke words that shook the powers of darkness to their very core.

If you think that your life is not important, that your actions, behavior and words are not important in God's kingdom—you couldn't be more mistaken. God uses the small and the great to bring glory to His name—Job and the widow with the two copper coins, the apostle Paul and the criminal on the cross, the apostle Peter and the woman with the expensive perfume. They were made for God's glory. You were made for God's glory. You can bring Him much glory and honor.

The second thing our text shows us is that God didn't answer Job's questions.

You don't need to know the answer to your 'why' questions.

Job wanted to know 'why'. The book of Job shows us that Job suffered for God's glory. That should be enough for us. One way to bring glory to God is to trust Him even when you don't know why you are suffering, why you are facing trouble.

When God told Abraham to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice, He didn't tell Abraham why he was to do it. He didn't tell him it was a test. He didn't tell him that if he carried it out that He would bring Isaac back from the dead. (Although Abraham believed that he would. Hebrews 11:19) At first God didn't reveal to Joseph why he was treated so badly by his brothers, why they sold him into slavery, or why he was thrown into prison by Potiphar when he had done nothing wrong. It was only much later that Joseph realized that it was all part of God's plan to save his family. (Genesis 45:5)

We often don't need to know why trouble comes. Our God is so great, so glorious, so intrinsically worthy of praise and adoration—that we ought to trust Him and praise Him no matter what our situation. Bruce Waltke writes, (An Old Testament Theology, p. 931)

"Do the pious love, trust, serve and fear God for his intrinsic worthiness or for what they can acquire out of that relationship? Do they serve God in order to be blessed or because they have sufficient grounds to trust, worship, and serve God, earthly possession and creature comforts denied? This is not a matter of disinterested piety. Rather, the issue is whether there are grounds for committing oneself to a covenant relationship with God even when the reason for suffering, which tests the relationship, may be forever hidden from mortals…"

As human beings, we were created for God's glory. We were redeemed for His glory. In saving us, God revealed more of his glory. God is glorified because He has redeemed miserable sinners. God loved us. The Father sent Jesus. Jesus died for us for us, paid for our sins, washed them away. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to our sin and a need for a Savior. God gives us new life and has brought us into His family—as His sons and daughters. God's glory is revealed in all this.

But we have a part to play. We are made in God's image and He is glorified when we reflect His glory. When we show love, kindness, compassion, when we are holy and righteous—we reflect these wonderful characteristics of God. There is nothing more important than that, nothing more significant than that in this universe. Never forget that.

But we also bring Him glory when we trust Him—when we trust Him even when we don't know why certain things are happening to us. We bring glory to Him when we acknowledge His Word as truth—when we believe His Word and live it. We bring Him glory when we show the world what real wisdom is—as when Job rebuked his wife for talking foolishness, or when Joseph rebuked Potiphar's wife. We bring Him glory when we trust Him even when we don't understand.

Christians, God loves you. Jesus loves you so much that He died for you. He rose from the grave for you. He is so committed to you that He will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5) Jesus is preparing a place for you and one day will come and take you to be with Himself. (John 14)

That's the big picture. It means that you don't need to know all the details, all the 'whys' of God's plan. He is worthy of your trust. He will not, cannot let you down. Bruce Waltke writes, (An Old Testament Theology, p. 932)

"God's challenge to Satan to prove Job's faith in him despite counterevidence shows that I AM uses mortals to validate truths about himself; in this case to prove the inviolability and the genuineness of the covenant relationship between him and Job in contradistinction to Satan's calumny. History is the crucible of truth, conferring awful dignity upon mortals."

Christians, you are here for God's glory. You don't need to know 'why'. You'll know why in the future. God's glory is involved. That is enough. Trust Him. Praise Him. Bring glory to Him.

For those of you who are not Christians. I'm sure you have a lot of 'why' questions. The Bible gives us many answers to them. Why do you experience good things even though you're a sinner? Romans 2:4 tells you that God gives you good things in order to lead you to repentance. We read,

"Or do you show contempt
for the riches of his kindness,
tolerance and patience,
not realizing that God's kindness
leads you toward repentance?"

Or why did you suffer? Why do bad things happen to you? It may be that God is trying to wake you up, to get you to turn to Him before it's too late. As David said, (Psalms 119:67)

"Before I was afflicted I went astray,"

Why did you hear the gospel? It's either to invite you to accept Jesus, or to render you so that you will be inexcusable on the last day. (Romans 1:20)

You really need to repent and turn to Jesus. There are a lot of why questions we don't know the answer to. Indeed, the most puzzling, unfathomable ones of all are the most amazing. Why would God love sinners? Why would Jesus die for us? Because of His love? Yes. But that just leads to another questions—how could He love us?

You don't need to know the answers to all the 'why' questions. But you should know that Jesus offers you life. Only He can save you. You need Him. Go to Him today.