Job 6:11-13

Sermon preached on July 17, 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.

If you watch any of the Tour de France bicycle race one of the interesting things about it is how the TV commentators refer to the cyclists who are losing time on the mountain stages. Sometimes certain riders will pull away from other contenders when they're going up a steep section of a mountain and put some distance between them and the guys behind. The TV commentators will then say about those who are left behind,

"They're going backwards."

They're not really going backwards but since the leaders are pulling away from them so quickly, it seems like they are indeed going backwards. It's like they've stopped going uphill and have started rolling back down backwards. Another phrase the announcers use for someone who cracks on a mountain stage and who is being dropped is,

"His tire is stuck to the pavement."

It's not really stuck to the pavement but the rider is going so slow that's what it seems like.

In a cases like that, the riders who are left behind lose all hope of winning the tour. Once they lose three or four minutes on the other top contenders everything is lost. They have no hope on making that up. If it was just one top contender ahead of them in the standings, they might possibly make it up another day. But because there are always three or four top contenders who do not crack in the mountains—all thoughts of winning the Tour four those who lose three or four minutes are gone. Months of training, dreams of glory—they all disappear, replaced by disappointment and thoughts of what might have been. Losing everything because of one bad day is a bitter pill to swallow. But that's the way it often is. All hope is gone.

The text before us is about Job losing all hope—but it's not about something minor like a race, he has lost all hope in life. He said to his friends, (Job 6:11–13)

"What strength do I have,
that I should still hope?
What prospects,
that I should be patient?
Do I have the strength of stone?
Is my flesh bronze?
Do I have any power to help myself,
now that success
has been driven from me?"

Job complains that he has no strength left. He will not make any life plans because he has no prospects of living. His strength is like jelly, not like hardened stones. His flesh is not bronze, able to resist the blows of God, or even the blows of his friends. He is powerless to help himself. He has no hope, no prospects. He has no hope of being healed or restored to his former lifestyle. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. His has no strength left. His hope is gone.

Now there are two important lessons we ought to learn from this passage.

First of all, you as a Christian should always have hope.

You should never lose hope.

Consider Job here. He was totally wrong. The Lord healed him. The Lord blessed him. The words of chapter 42 are astounding. We read, (Job 42:10–17)

"After Job had prayed for his friends,
the Lord made him prosperous again
and gave him twice as much
as he had before.
All his brothers and sisters and everyone
who had known him before
came and ate with him in his house.
They comforted and consoled him
over all the trouble
the Lord had brought upon him,
and each one gave him
a piece of silver and a gold ring.
The Lord blessed the latter part
of Job's life more than the first.
He had fourteen thousand sheep,
six thousand camels,
a thousand yoke of oxen
and a thousand donkeys.
And he also had seven sons
and three daughters.
The first daughter he named Jemimah,
the second Keziah
and the third Keren-Happuch.
Nowhere in all the land
were there found women
as beautiful as Job's daughters,
and their father granted them
an inheritance along with their brothers.
After this,
Job lived a hundred and forty years;
he saw his children and
their children to the fourth generation.
And so he died,
old and full of years."

God made Job twice as prosperous. He had twice the animals that he had at the beginning. Contrary to Job's pessimism God blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. God gave him seven more sons. Seven is the number of completeness. Job alo had three more daughters. C. F. Keil and Delitzsch F. say of Job's daughters, (Commentary on the Old Testament, paragraph 11969)

"The one was called… (a dove) on account of her dove's eyes; the other… cassia, because she seemed to be woven out of the odor of cinnamon; and the third… a horn of paint… which is not exactly beautiful in itself, but is the principal cosmetic of female beauty… the third was altogether the most beautiful, possessing a beauty heightened by artificial means. They were therefore like three graces."

Not only that, but after this Job lived 140 years after this. Tremper Longman III writes, (Job, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms; 461.)

"God added an additional one hundred and forty years to his life, twice seventy, based on the number seven, a number of completion. He did indeed die an 'old man.'"

After his affliction Job was so blessed.

What this means is that we should never underestimate God's power to restore us.

We should never lose hope. Job said,

"What strength do I have,
that I should still hope?
What prospects,
that I should be patient?"

He thought it was impossible that he should ever see good days again. But Job was totally wrong. God blessed him twice as much.

The fact is that people who underestimate God's power to save, to provide, to restore—are very mistaken.

Do you remember when the people of Israel were in the wilderness and some of the rabble among them were complaining that they only had manna to eat. They said, (Numbers 11:4)

"If only we had meat to eat!"

Moses was troubled because he thought it was impossible for God to provide the people with meat. He asked God why He had brought trouble on him. He asked God where he was going to get meat for all the people. God told him to call together the 70 elders and told him to consecrate the people for the next day because God would give them meat for a whole month. Moses said to God, (Numbers 11:21–22)

"I am among
six hundred thousand men on foot,
and you say,
'I will give them meat to eat
for a whole month!'
Would they have enough
if flocks and herds
were slaughtered for them?
Would they have enough if all the fish
in the sea were caught for them?"

Moses was being foolish. He imitated Job's doubt and folly.

We're so often like that. We doubt that God can save us. But what did God say to Moses?

"The LORD answered Moses,
'Is the LORD'S arm too short?
You will now see whether or not
what I say will come true for you.' "

What did God do? He sent the Spirit on the 70 elders and they prophesied and a wind came down from the Lord and it drove quail in from the sea and brought them down on the camp to a height of three feet.

Is the arm of the Lord too short to save? Anyone who doubts that is a fool. Is the Lord sometimes so weak that He cannot give us strength? No. Is any cause ever helpless with the Lord? No. (See also 2 Kings 7.)

I once saw an interesting chart about the people that God used to bring glory to His name. The heroes of the faith were listed by their names and at least one of their weaknesses or faults. If my memory is correct David was there and it highlighted that God used him in spite of the fact that he was just a young boy. One of the other names that was on the list was Jesus' friend Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, the one that Jesus raised from the dead. It said that God used him for his glory—his weakness was that he was deceased. It said that God used Lazarus—

"and he was dead!"

God used Lazarus, he restored his strength, his prospects, his hope. And this in spite of the fact that Lazarus was not merely at death's door—he had been dead for four days.

Christians never lose hope. No matter what you go through, you should have hope because your God is the God of eternity, the One who created all things and gives strength to His people. In Isaiah 40:28–31 the prophet wrote,

"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?"

E.J. Young, (Isaiah, Vol 3, p. 66)

"The questions are designed to call Israel's attention to the folly of her despondent attitude."

How foolish we often are. Our God, who is absolutely committed to us, who loves us with an everlasting love, who is faithful and will never leave us, is always with us. He is always available to help us. And yet we act like He isn't. Isaiah continues,

"The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."

God gives strength to the weary. Young men, even the choicest, the most fit, become weary.

But in contrast to them, those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like eagles. E. J. Young writes, (Isaiah, vol.3, p. 69)

"With apparently no effort the eagle mounts high into the sky; so the people of God will mount up from the depths of their griefs and difficulties."

Christians, you should never lose hope. The everlasting God, the Almighty, is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

This does not mean that He will always choose to give us physical strength, or even rescue us from physical death. But if it's His will, He will certainly do it. But even if he doesn't, for Christians death is but a doorway to Christ, an entryway into glory—a place where we will be endowed with the strength of God and never be without strength again.

The second lesson our text teaches us is that when you're in trouble, when you're at your wits end,

you should rely totally on God, on His power.

Job looked at his strength and saw that it was non-existent. He said,

"What strength do I have,
that I should still hope?
What prospects,
that I should be patient?
Do I have the strength of stone?
Is my flesh bronze?
Do I have any power to help myself,
now that success
has been driven from me?"

That's the way that it is with all of us. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. In John 15:5 Jesus said,

"I am the vine;
you are the branches.
If a man remains in me
and I in him,
he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing."

One of the big mistakes that human beings make in dealing with temptation is to rely on our own strength and neglect to ask for God's help. Peter is an example of this. In Matthew 26:33 he said to Jesus,

"Even if all fall away
on account of you, I never will."

In a sermon on this text John Calvin said, (Sermons on Job, Vol. 1, Job 1-14, sermon 24)

"we must ask what our strength is and look for it, not in ourselves, but in the one who strengthens us, for in ourselves we will only find emptiness. If we think we have the strength to bear a burden, we will find ourselves overwhelmed by it, for we grow weak of ourselves. In God's eyes, our strength is nil. It is true that on the surface we will appear to possess some strength, but it is only a shadow… But when we realize our strength is ever and always nil, that is when we will learn to humble ourselves before God and ask him to strengthen us, knowing that it is he who possesses the spirit of strength and that it is he who grants it to us. Otherwise, if he did not sustain us and we had to endure for a long time, what would happen to us? Let us be aware that from the outset we would be immediately defeated."

Thus, when facing difficulty, we should say, (Calvin)

"Alas, my God! It is true I am so weak and feeble that I am an empty vessel. Yet if it pleases you to strengthen me, your strength is not limited to that of stone or brass. It is infinite. If stones strike me, if storms and tempests buffet me, and if the whole world seems to collapse around me, your strength remains forever unconquerable. So be pleased to fortify me with your Holy Spirit so that if I am frail by nature, I will continue to struggle against the temptations and trials which assail us."

Calvin says if we do that we will show that we have profited from this teaching.

I like Calvin's illustration of us needing to realize that we're empty vessels. If we're empty vessels, we're ready to be filled with God's power. But if we don't realize we have no strength in ourselves, it's like instead of being an empty vessel, we're an empty vessel with a big soap bubble in it. Because we're so puffed up with pride, we don't let God's power fill us—and then when the slightest disturbance comes our soap bubble busts and we fail.

We need to be like the apostle Paul, recognizing that God works in our weakness. He often felt overwhelmed by difficulties and troubles. In 2 Corinthians 1:8–10 he wrote,

"We do not want you to be uninformed,
brothers, about the hardships
we suffered in the province of Asia.
We were under great pressure,
far beyond our ability to endure,
so that we despaired even of life.
Indeed, in our hearts
we felt the sentence of death.
But this happened
that we might not rely on ourselves
but on God, who raises the dead.
He has delivered us from such
a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.
On him we have set our hope
that he will continue to deliver us,"

Paul said those things happened so that he might not rely on himself but on God, who raised the dead. Later in 2 Corinthians 12 when Paul asked God to remove the thorn in the flesh, the message of Satan that tormented him, God said to him, (2 Corinthians 12:9)

"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."

How did Paul respond to that? He wrote, (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

"Therefore I will boast all the more
gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ's power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ's sake,
I delight in weaknesses,
in insults, in hardships,
in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak,
then I am strong."

In 2 Corinthians 4:7–12 Paul also wrote,

"But we have this treasure
in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us.
We are hard pressed on every side,
but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.
We always carry around in our body
the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus
may also be revealed in our body.
For we who are alive are
always being given over
to death for Jesus' sake,
so that his life may be revealed
in our mortal body."

If you want power, you need Christ's power to rest on you.

Lastly, if you're not a Christian, know that Job's words are indeed true about you. You have no power in yourself to stand against Satan. He wants to put you into hell. It's only God's grace that has been daily given to you that is keeping you from it. But you need even more grace than that, you need God's grace in Jesus to keep you from that permanently. Go to Jesus. Embrace Him now. Receive from Him the power of life eternal.