Job 3:25

Sermon preached on November 15, 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.

When I was growing up one of my greatest fears was of drowning. I don't know why my friends and I talked about it but I can remember having lots of discussions with them about how we didn't want to die. The consensus among us was that none of us wanted to die by drowning. Any other death would be preferred. It wasn't so much that we were afraid of death—we was afraid of dying by drowning. Drownings or near drownings were very familiar to us. They happened all the time. One of my first memories of the danger of water happened when I was just knee high. We were at a Sunday School picnic and some people were running down the dock and jumping into the water off the end. It was great fun for them. At one point my father ran down the dock and he jumped off. When my brother Paul saw that he decided to do the same thing. So he ran down the dock and jumped off. But he didn't know how to swim. He didn't know anything about deep water or swimming. It was a good thing that someone saw what was happening and alerted someone to save him.

Two or three years after that my best friend from church fell off a wharf into the harbor and nearly drowned. A Mountie jumped in and pulled him out and for awhile they thought he was a goner. It was very close.

When I played little league baseball one of my school mates who I played against drowned. He was with some other friends and he just jumped off a rock and never came up.

Those were three people that I knew really well. But besides that there lots of drownings that we heard about. One summer the teenage son of the mayor of our town drowned. Every summer there was news of people who drowned at beaches or in boating accidents.

Yet in spite of that, my friends and I loved the water—swimming and boating. But we all knew what it was like to swallow water while we were playing in it. We all knew what it was like to be breath in at the wrong time when a wave came and instead of breathing in air we breathed in water. None of us wanted to die that way.

Now Job's worst fear wasn't of drowning. His fears were much more grownup. He lost most of his possessions. Immediately after that—in one fell swoop he lost all of his ten children when the house they were in collapsed on them. After that he was afflicted with an illness so terrible that he wondered why he was born and wished that he hadn't been born. He didn't have any hope of recovering and he wished to die. Job is absolutely miserable and doesn't see any glimmer of hope. At the height of his suffering he said, (Job 3:25–26)

"What I feared has come upon me;
what I dreaded has happened to me.
I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil."

Job is telling us is that before his troubles came upon him—he feared these things. Even though there were three things involved in his suffering—his possessions, his children, his health—I think what he is expressing here is the culmination of all things. He feels abandoned by God. He feels alone. Francis I. Andersen writes, (Job)

"The very thing he had dreaded, namely the loss of God's favor, has happened to him, and he has no idea why."

Part of the reason he served God was that he would not be afflicted like this—that God would not forsake him. Job served God and shunned evil, in part, so that he would not suffer some of the consequences of sin. He wanted to be close to God and experience His favor. Yet the very thing he dreaded came upon him.

Job's words express absolute horror. The Hebrew word he uses means that you're so afraid that you're shaking—to tremble in fear. In our text, this word is actually used twice in the sentence, one after another, I believe, to emphasize the horror that Job felt. It's hard to get a good translation in English, but a literal translation that gives the sense of the double word use might be something like,

"[My] horror of horrors has come upon me" or "[My] horrific horror has come upon me".

Job tells us that he is overwhelmed by his worst fear that he is trembling in horror.

One of the truths we see in our text is that

Job was attacked with what he feared most.

It seems that Satan was given permission to know Job's inner anxiety and it was there that he attacked. Thus we see some of the depth of Satan's attack on Job. He attacked Job with what he feared most. This is typical, Satan often attacks people where they are vulnerable—their greatest fears, their greatest loves, their greatest desires.

We see this throughout the Bible. We see it in Satan's temptation of Jesus. In a sense Jesus' dreaded parts of what He had to undergo to save us. Being forsaken by the Father while on the cross was one of them. Jesus dreaded it. In Luke 12:50 Jesus said to His disciples,

"I have a baptism to undergo,
and how distressed I am until it is completed!"

When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Taking our sins was horrific for Jesus. So how did Satan attack Jesus? One of the temptations targeted that dread. We read, (Matthew 4:8–9)

"the devil took him to
a very high mountain and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world
and their splendor.
'All this I will give you,' he said,
'if you will bow down and worship me.' "

He suggested that Jesus didn't have to go to the cross—that there was another way.

The story of the Shunammite woman in the Old Testament is another example of Satan attacking someone's vulnerability. God granted her a son because she had been hospitable to the prophet Elisha. But one day her son got sick and died. She said to Elisha, (2 Kings 4:28)

"Did I ask you for a son, my lord?
Didn't I tell you, 'Don't raise my hopes'?"

She was devastated because she lost what was most precious to her.

The first lesson for us here is that

you must take your greatest fears to God and leave them with Him.

Having fear in itself is not sinful. Jesus was afraid. He dreaded having our filthy sins put on His account and suffering for them. Yet He did not sin.

But the problem with fear is that if you don't deal with it correctly it can leave you vulnerable. Fear can cause you fear to lower your shield of faith. Not long ago I saw an interview with a Special Forces soldier telling about his service in Afghanistan. He said,

"If you let that fear bind you down, you've just lost your initiative, you've lost what is gonna make you win."

In his book, The Holy War, John Bunyan writes about the city of Mansoul. The city has five gates, Eye-Gate, Ear-Gate, Mouth-Gate, Feel-Gate and Nose-Gate. Satan realized that if he was going to conquer the city he had to get in through one of those gates. He and his cohorts also realized that if they were going to be successful, they had to shoot one or more of the most influential townsmen. The one that they chose to shoot was Mr. Resistance. They made their plan and they carried it out. Diabolus went to the city gate and told lies to those on guard. He told them they were in bondage. Bunyan writes,

"while Diabolus was speaking these words to Mansoul, Tisiphone shot at Captain Resistance, where he stood on the gate, and mortally wounded him in the head; so that he, to the amazement of the townsmen, and the encouragement of Diabolus, fell down dead quite over the wall. Now, when Captain Resistance was dead, (and he was the only man of war in the town,) poor Mansoul was wholly left naked of courage, nor had she now any heart to resist. But this was as the devil would have it."

You need to make sure that your Mr. Resistance is not unprotected. You need the shield of faith. You need to take any fears you have and give them to God.

You need to hand over your fear to God. If you're going to be able to stand against the wiles of Satan, you need to put on the armor of God. You need to be fully protected. In Ephesians 6:16 Paul wrote,

"take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all
the flaming arrows of the evil one."

Faith is your shield. Fear in the enemy of faith. Bring your fear to God and leave it with Him. Hold on to the promises of God.

You have no excuse for letting go of the promises of God. Job didn't have the great revelation like we do. Many of the promises of God hadn't been revealed to him. But you know them. You need to take them to heart so that your faith will be strong. In 1 Peter 5:7 the apostle tells us,

"Cast all your anxiety on him
because he cares for you."

And in Philippians 4:6 the apostle Paul wrote,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God."

You don't have to be anxious about anything.

The key here is that

we must draw near to God and find everything we need in Him.

Are you worried that God will abandon you? It will never happen. In Hebrews 13:5 we read,

"God has said,
'Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.' "

John Calvin writes, (Sermons on Job)

"Let us consider now what God promises us. He says that if he thought about us today, he will not forget us tomorrow either and we will be helped by his hand throughout our lives. That is what God's promise is. So we can remain sure that God will always watch over us and that we will not be in danger of falling into destruction."

What are your greatest fears? Take them to God. Are you worried about your children? You don't have to. God will take care of them. Are you worried about your health? Are you worried about your future? Don't. Trust God. Jesus has promised to take care of you. In Matthew 6:28–34 He said,

"And why do you worry about clothes?
See how the lilies of the field grow.
They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you that not even Solomon
in all his splendor
was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes
the grass of the field,
which is here today and tomorrow
is thrown into the fire,
will he not much more clothe you,
O you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying,
'What shall we eat?'
or 'What shall we drink?'
or 'What shall we wear?'
For the pagans run after all these things,
and your heavenly Father
knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom
and his righteousness,
and all these things will be
given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own."

So what we need to do is to draw near to God and find comfort and strength in Him. In Psalm 62 David put it this way, (1, 5-8)

"My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him…
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress,
I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor
depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times,
O people; pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge."

In Psalm 27 David put it this way, (v. 1-3)

"The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh, when my enemies
and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident."

In Psalm 73:25–26 Asaph put it this way,

"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing
I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."

We must love God best and trust Him. Love Him best. Have no other love compete with your love for Him. In Luke 14:26 Jesus said,

"If anyone comes to me and does not
hate his father and mother,
his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—
yes, even his own life—
he cannot be my disciple."

Love Jesus the most, the best, so that no other love competes with your love for Him. Find rest in God alone.

The second lesson here is that

we must not be presumptuous regarding our prospects on this earth.

This earth is not our home. We are pilgrims and strangers here. Here difficulty will be our lot. In John 16:33 Jesus said to His disciples,

"In this world you will have trouble."

That's what we should expect in this life. John Calvin writes,

"we must take it as a given that we will face many hardships, for our Lord does not say that he will keep us locked away from the world, that we will see no affliction, that we will not be acquainted with trouble, that we will always know joy and gladness. He does not promise us that, but only that he will help us and encourage us in times of need. So we have to realize that God wants to exercise us with many afflictions, that we are subject to the difficulties common to the present life, that his help is to suffice for us, and that we will not be utterly forsaken."

The prosperity gospel makes Christians very vulnerable. It tells them not to expect trouble. When trouble comes to them—they're not prepared. The prosperity gospel has not prepared them for it. Christians who have been duped by it are left to question their efforts, even to question whether they are Christians.

We must not presume on God. We must not expect Him to always give us prosperity. Calvin again,

"let us note that we must not expect more than God promises, for men are vainly and foolishly presumptuous when they delude themselves into thinking what God leaves in doubt for them. In fact, when we conclude that things will be as we think they ought to be, that is the kind of overweening pride that God chastises. God wants us to have nothing to lean on but his word, which is the certain truth that cannot lie. So when men are presumptuous, they produce only empty expectations. And we are not to be surprised if they are disappointed in their hope, for our Lord rightly mocks them when they exceed their limitations. Consequently, we must adhere to the general rule that our confidence is to be completely stayed on God's promises.""So let each of us be prepared to receive the blows whenever it pleases God to afflict us. Yet we know we can only fall on our feet because we are sustained by God's hand and know that we cannot be completely overwhelmed, for he lifts us up. As a result, we cannot be tormented by an unduly great anxiety, and yet we can grow weary because of our sorrows—not to the poi

nt of distancing ourselves from God or slighting prayer—but, because of them, take refuge in him."

The third thing that Job's words show us is that

no one can get to heaven by doing good works.

Job was the most righteous man on the face of the earth. In Job 1:8 the Lord said to Satan,

"Have you considered my servant Job?
There is no one on earth like him;
he is blameless and upright,
a man who fears God and shuns evil."

If one could work their way into heaven, if one could earn their way, or be worthy of heaven by doing good—if there was anyone on earth in Job's time who could do that, it was Job.

But what does Job tell us here? All his good works, all his efforts, all his sincerity did not prevent these disasters from coming upon him. They did not stop what he feared from happening to him.

God was not treating Job unfairly. God was not treating Job worse than he deserved. If Job got what he deserved he would have been cast into hell.

If you're not a Christian what does that say about you? You're lost without Jesus. This means that you cannot, you should not trust in your good works to save you. You should not think that you're in any way shape or form you are worthy of heaven. Job wasn't—and he was the best man on the face of the earth.

What your sins deserve should horrify you—they should shake you to your very core. They should cause you to seek refuge in Jesus. Unless you go to Jesus—you will experience much greater fright and horror that Job ever did. Go to Jesus. He's your only hope.