Job 6

Sermon preached on July 03, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. 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 a teenager I played a lot of hockey and one day I heard that Bobby Orr, who at that time was the best player in the world, didn't wear socks when he played hockey. He just put his bare feet in his skates. Once that became known a lot of youngsters starting doing that. They didn't wear socks in their skates. I'm not sure I should tell you if I ever did that. But there were a lot of crazy young hockey players who somehow thought that not wearing socks in their skates would make them better hockey players.

What makes a great hockey player? Young kids can easily have mistaken ideas about that—like not wearing socks. But it didn't make me a better hockey player. It wasn't until two or three years ago that I learned the reason Bobby Orr didn't wear socks when he played hockey. In his autobiography he wrote,

"Then there was the fact that I didn't wear socks in my skates when I played. Why would someone not wear socks? The answer is that when I played junior hockey, you were responsible for packing your own equipment, and on one trip I forgot to include a pair of socks in my equipment bag. The only option I had was to go without socks—and it felt pretty good. I decided I would just not bother with socks from that point forward."

Not wearing socks didn't make anyone a better hockey player. Yet lots of us did it.

We can also have mistaken ideas about what makes a great servant of the Lord. I'm sure many of those who watched the people putting money in the temple were impressed by the rich and the great amounts that they put in. But the one that Jesus singled out was the widow who put in two small copper coins. (Mark 12:41f)

Or think of the woman who came with a jar of very expensive perfume, broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus' head. Some of those who saw her do it were indignant and complained to one another about the waste of the perfume, how it could have been sold for a year's wages and the money given to the poor. They rebuked her harshly. But Jesus rebuked them. He said, (Mark 14:6-9)

"Leave her alone.
Why are you bothering her?
She has done a beautiful thing to me.
The poor you will always have with you,
and you can help them any time you want.
But you will not always have me.
She did what she could.
She poured perfume on my body beforehand
to prepare for my burial.
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."

The common consensus was that the poor widow was insignificant, that the woman with the perfume was wasteful. But they were the ones that our Lord commended.

The church in Laodicea thought that they were doing great. They were wealthy and seemingly self-sufficient. But Jesus said to them, (Revelation 3:17)

"You say, 'I am rich;
I have acquired wealth
and do not need a thing.'
But you do not realize
that you are wretched,
pitiful, poor, blind and naked."

In contrast, Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, (Revelation 2:9)

"I know your afflictions
and your poverty—
yet you are rich!"

All those instances show us that the Lord evaluates things differently than we do. As He said in Matthew 19:30,

"But many who are first will be last,
and many who are last will be first."

What makes a great Christian? Some people boast about themselves and their spirituality. They will tell you that the Lord talks to them directly. Eliphaz did that. Others will tell you that they are very serious about following Jesus. They're like the Pharisees who wanted everyone to know about their righteous acts. They will tell you that they get up at 4:30 A.M. to have their quiet time with the Lord. Others look up to successful Christian businessmen. Someone who is healthy, wealthy and prosperous and claims to be a Christian must be pleasing to God. God is obviously blessing them so they must be in favor with God.

But what about someone like Job? Someone who is afflicted with a great sickness, someone who has had multiple tragedies in their life, someone who is really going through dark times and struggling with doubt, discouragement and depression. Job's friends, and many others looked at Job and concluded,

"Not him. He's obviously not someone who is close to the Lord."

But they were wrong. Christopher Ash writes of Job in his suffering, (Job, p. 117, 118)

"As we begin, we will see a deeply unimpressive exterior peeled back to reveal an interior of infinite value. We are going to watch as a true worshipper of God is revealed. We will see some surprising and paradoxical marks of the real believer unveiled. These marks will cut right across all human instincts about religion. These hallmarks of a true worshipper are utterly contradictory to what we might expect." "We are going to see in Job's speeches a true worshipper revealed. And we may be surprised by the hallmarks that mark him out as the real thing. To the visible eye Job is alone, scratching at his agonized skin, sitting on the rubbish dump outside the city gate (2:8). He has no status, no job, no family, and no hope. And yet we will see here, despised and rejected, outside the city wall, the pure gold of a real believer."

The characteristic of a true believer that we're going to look at this morning is that fact that

A great servant of God puts God's glory ahead of everything else.

In Job 6:8–10 Job said,

"Oh, that I might have my request,
that God would grant what I hope for,
that God would be willing to crush me,
to let loose his hand and cut me off!
Then I would still have this consolation—
my joy in unrelenting pain—
that I had not denied the words
of the Holy One."

Christopher Ash writes, (Job p. 123)

"In this motivation something of the heart of Job the believer is revealed. He longs for God to be honored by his life and by his death."

One of Job's greatest desires in his suffering was that He not deny the words of the Holy One. Ash continues, (Job p. 123)

"Like a prisoner undergoing torture, he fears the moment he will break; he longs to die without betraying his faith in the goodness of God."

Job feared something else far worse than death. Death, God crushing him would be something he could exult in, delight in, if he only had his desire of not denying the Holy One. Job longs for God to be honored by his life and death. What he says reminds me of the apostle Paul's words in Philippians 1:20,

"I eagerly expect and hope
that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage
so that now as always
Christ will be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death."

In a very real sense, Job wanted what was written about Peter in John 21:18-19. Jesus said to Peter,

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

Job did not fear death. What he feared was denying God's words before he died. He wanted to avoid that. That was something much worse than death. If he cursed God, as his wife suggested, then he knew he would be totally undone—he would have done the worst possible thing he could do.

To see how dear God's glory was to Job,

consider how deeply Job wanted this.

Job's words in the beginning of verse 10 are amazing. He said that if God crushed him there and then,

"Then I would still have this consolation
—my joy in unrelenting pain…"

The ESV renders it,

"This would be my comfort;
I would even exult in pain unsparing,"

The Holman CSB has it,

"It would still bring me comfort,
and I would leap for joy
in unrelenting pain…"

The idea of leaping for joy even in the utmost pain is seemingly a contradiction in terms but it shows Job's devotion to God and His glory.

What would make someone rejoice in the middle of incredible pain? Only something that was incredibly important. Only something that was very dear and precious to him.

Job wanted God, His Redeemer, to be glorified.

There's an incredible story about Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury that illustrates this. Cranmer was a leading protestant and led the reformation in England under Henry VIII. When Bloody Mary came to the throne in 1553 Cranmer was sentenced to death for treason. But it seemed for a time that he would be spared if he recanted his protestant beliefs. He was put under intense pressure. One of the tactics they used was to force him to watch when fellow protestants Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were burned at the stake. They were basically saying to him—

"This is what is going to happen to you if you don't recant."

Facing such pressure, Cranmer broke. He signed several recantations. According to Catholic Canon Law heretics who recanted should be reprieved. But Queen Mary wasn't going to allow that. In spite of his recantations Cranmer's execution was set for March 21 (1556). He was told that he would be able to make one final public recantation on the day of his execution. Before he was executed he was to be taken to University Church and allowed to give one final sermon in which he admitted sorrow for his protestant beliefs and to repudiate them. But they told him he had to submit his recantation speech in advance for approval. So Cranmer gave them his speech and prepared to die.

At the pulpit on the day of his execution, he opened with a prayer and exhorted the crowd to obey the Queen. But then he deviated from his prepared text and took his sermon in a most unexpected direction. He renounced his recantations and said that he deeply regretted that he had signed them. He then stated that the hand that had signed the recantations would be punished by being burnt first. Before he could be pulled from the pulpit he denounced the Roman church. He was immediately taken to the place where Latimer and Ridley had been burnt six months earlier. As the flames drew around him, he fulfilled his promise by placing his right hand into the heart of the fire while stating,

"that unworthy hand…"

That unworthy hand! What an act. It showed how much he regretted denying the Lord. He regretted sinning against his conscience. He deeply regretted giving in to fear and sinning against God.

Job deeply wanted to avoid all that. He didn't want to sin in the first place. Job said he would be able to die happy if he could die without having denied the words of the Holy One.. He wanted to be faithful to God till death.

With Job it was not primarily about his welfare, his happiness, his pleasure, his living or dying. It was about God, about His glory.

In a sense we should all have something of this fear in us.

How we should fear letting the Lord down.

We are all weak in ourselves. In Romans 7:22-24 the apostle Paul wrote,

"For in my inner being
I delight in God's law;
but I see another law at work
in the members of my body,
waging war against
the law of my mind and making me
a prisoner of the law of sin
at work within my members.
What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me
from this body of death?"

John Calvin, (Sermons on Job: Chapters 1-14, Sermon 24)

"Because of our weaknesses, there is no limit to our offences. Paul regrets that he has to live so long while offending God, and his regret is good and holy and comes from the Holy Spirit."

Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples just before He was arrested? He said, (Matthew 26:31–35)

"This very night you will all
fall away on account of me,
for it is written:
'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock
will be scattered.'
But after I have risen,
I will go ahead of you into Galilee.'
Peter replied,
'Even if all fall away on account of you,
I never will.'
'I tell you the truth,'
Jesus answered,
'this very night,
before the rooster crows,
you will disown me three times.'
But Peter declared,
'Even if I have to die with you,
I will never disown you.'
And all the other disciples said the same."

But they all deserted Jesus.

Remember King Saul? He started so well. But what a disgrace he was before he died. He departed from the Lord. He consulted a witch.

Consider King Solomon. He started so well. He built God His temple. God told him to ask for anything he wanted. He asked for wisdom. But all that changed. His foreign wives led him astray. What a disgrace his last years were.

What about you? Do you fear sinning against God? You ought to be saying to God,

"Lord, take me rather than let me commit sin against you. God, if you're going to let me live, please keep me from sin."

God has done so much for you. Jesus condescended to save you. He came to this world of sin and darkness. He took human nature to save you. He lived for you, kept the law perfectly for you. He suffered for you. For hours He hung on that cross to pay for your sins. Jesus, the Author of Life, (Acts 3:15) breathed His last and died for you.

If you don't have the attitude—Lord, let me die rather than sin against you—there is something drastically wrong with your heart. Like Job, you should have a tremendous desire not to sin against God, not to deny the words of the Holy One.

Rather, than sinning against God, it should be your desire to serve Him well, not only in prosperous times, but in difficulty, in times of darkness and sorrow. Pray for grace that even in such times, you will shine brightly for Jesus.