Job 7:11-21

Sermon preached on September 04, 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.

One of my grandmother's was exceptionally blessed in that she lived a neighborhood where she was surrounded by relatives. She lived just around the corner from her mother and father. My grandmother's back yard bordered the back yard of her sister. One of her first cousins lived just a few houses up the road. My memory is a little foggy as to the other details, but I know there were many more relatives that lived around her. I only remember the ones that existed when I was growing up. But I remember her telling me about other family members who lived around her. She lived to be in her 90's and the last few years of her life, whenever I would visit her, she would lament and say,

"They're all gone now. They're all gone."

She had lived a long and healthy life. Yet she experienced such loss and suffering. One by one her family members died and she missed them immensely. At the end she felt very much alone.

In a very real sense, this life is about suffering. Right now there may be no darkness in your life, but no one, if they live long enough, is exempt. Sooner or later they will experience great loss and suffering.

How should you deal with such darkness? People use different strategies.

You can try to ignore it. Bill Gates was interviewed (I believe) by Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes (aired in May 2013) about his last meeting with Steve Jobs, a few months before Steve died of cancer. Bill said,

"he showed me the boat he was working on and talked about how he was looking forward to being on it, even though we both knew that there was a good chance that wouldn't happen."

Charlie Rose interrupted and asked,

"He knew that but he went on ahead to build the boat?"

Bill Gates replied,

"Sure, thinking about your potential mortality isn't very constructive."

That's a strategy a lot of people use. Some think that all the busyness we see in our society today is a strategy that people use to avoid thinking about their own mortality.

But it's a bad strategy. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says,

"It is better to go
to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart."

The truth is that sooner or later the darkness gets so bad that you can't ignore it.

Some people choose to believe that God is not behind our suffering. In the book
Why Bad Things Happen to Good People Rabbi Harold S. Kushner denied that God was all powerful. His answer to the problem of evil was that God does the best he can and is with people in their suffering, but He is not able to prevent their suffering. The implication of this is that God can't deliver us from suffering.

Others will tell you that God is watching us from a distance—and that He's not involved in the details of our lives. He is not really intimately involved in our affairs. There was even a popular song with that title,
From A Distance. One of the lines went,

"God is watching us, God is watching us, from a distance."

But Job would have none of that. Job is very instructive for us here. Even though he's almost at the end of his rope, even though some of the things he says are not the best—he shows us what to do when we are in a situation like that. There are three things we are going to look at in this section that can be helpful to us when we suffer.

The first thing Job shows us is that

God is intimately involved in our sufferings—even in the sense that they are from God.

Job saw his suffering as being from God. In verses 12-21 Job complains to God about God afflicting him. In just about every verse Job makes this clear. In verse 12 he said,

"Am I the sea,
or the monster of the deep,
that you put me under guard?"

In verses 13 and 14 he said,

"When I think my bed will comfort me
and my couch will ease my complaint,
even then you frighten me
with dreams and terrify me with visions,"

In verse 16 he said,

"Let me alone;
my days have no meaning."

In verses 17-19 he said,

"What is man that
you make so much of him,
that you give him so much attention,
that you examine him every morning
and test him every moment?
Will you never look away from me,
or let me alone even for an instant?"

And in verses 20–21 he says,

"Why have you made me your target?
Have I become a burden to you?
Why do you not pardon my offenses
and forgive my sins?"

Job sees his afflictions as being ultimately from God.

We should also understand that suffering came into this world because of sin. God made the world good. It was because of rebellion against God by Adam that suffering came into this world. But the verses I just quoted show us that suffering is not something that is outside of God's control. Quite the contrary—God is the Almighty—suffering is part of the part of the consequence for sin and God is in complete control of it.

The great lesson for us here is that

we can go to God for help in our sufferings because God can help us.

God is not powerless to help us. He can help us. Consider Job here. He hasn't lost faith. He hasn't lost hope. Job here is talking to God. He's pleading with Him. Job saw his only hope for deliverance in God.

If God is not in control of suffering and can't do anything about it—it means that He can't help us, that there's no point in looking to Him for deliverance.

But if we understand that God is in control of our sufferings it changes everything. It means that we can go to Him for help, for succor, for relief.

Nor is God uncaring. Job is pleading with God. He is hoping that his complaints will have an effect on God. In spite of all his suffering deep down Job knows that God cares for him. Why else would he cry out to God? Why would he plead his case like this?

Today we have much more knowledge of God's love than Job did. Job knew that God loved him but the New Testament has expanded our horizons on that much more than the knowledge that was given to Job. Many passages in the New Testament show us that God loves us very dearly and no matter how bad things are for us—He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) We know that the Father cares for us so much that He sent Jesus to die in our place. (John 3:16) We know that Jesus loves us so much that He died for us, in our place, to save us from our sins. (1 John 4:10) We know that Jesus cares about what we go through. As Hebrews 4:14–16 says,

"Therefore, since we have
a great high priest who has gone
through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize
with our weaknesses,
but we have one
who has been tempted in every way,
just as we are—
yet was without sin.
Let us then approach
the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help us
in our time of need."

So in your suffering, when it seems that God has abandoned you, when it seems that God doesn't care at all for you, when it seems that God considers you his enemy—remember Job and realize that he felt the same way and yet God loved Job, God heard Job and ultimately God delivered Job.

The second thing we see from our text is that

Job specifically complained about God's presence.

We see this all through our text. In verse 12 Job complains that God has put him under guard. Later he says that God sends him bad dreams and visions. In verse 17 it's that God gives him so much attention, that He examines him every morning and tests him every moment. Job wants God to look away from him to leave him alone for at least a moment. Christopher Ash writes, (Job: p. 130)

"God is to Job what Big Brother is to citizens in Orwell's 1984; his cameras are everywhere, and his secret police are close behind."

Christopher Ash summarizes this section as Job saying to God,

"Leave me alone!"

Job sees God as way too involved in his life in the sense of causing him grief and suffering. He complains about God's watchful eye, or as Tremper Longman calls it,

"God's punishing attention".

Job feels so hemmed in by God that it's like God considers him a threat to God's good creation. Job complains to God that he is not the sea or a sea monster. John E. Hartley writes, (Job, NICOT; p. 149)

"Drawing on the rich mythopoeic imagery of primordial conflict, Job wonders if God is treating him so harshly because he fears that he is a cosmic foe."

Christopher Ash adds, (p. 130)

"Job is protesting that the Almighty is attacking him as if he were the personification of supernatural evil, that the Almighty has 'set a guard over' him as if he were a danger to the order of the cosmos (v. 12)."

God's presence that God felt was very negative. He longed to be free from God's presence. He found God's presence was too much to bear, like it was crushing him.

This is very different than how we Christians usually think of God's presence.

We usually think of the presence of God as something exceedingly good.

We see this in many places in Scripture. In Exodus 33:14–15 God told Moses that he had found favor with Him and was going to lead them to the promised land. The Lord said to Moses,

"My Presence will go with you,
and I will give you rest."

Moses replied,

"If your Presence does not go with us,
do not send us up from here."

Moses valued God's presence. He recognized that without it he would fail in leading God's people to the promised land.

We usually think of God's watching us as a good thing for it brings us help and strength. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says,

"For the eyes of the LORD
range throughout the earth
to strengthen those whose hearts
are fully committed to him."

God seeing us, examining us is a good thing. God will strengthen His people. In Psalm 27 David wrote, (1,4-5)

"The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid? …
One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell
in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter
of his tabernacle and set me
high upon a rock."

Job's experience here was very different than what David described in Psalm 139. When David considered how God knew when he rose and when he sat down, when God perceived his going out and lying down, he praised God and said, (Psalm 139:6)

"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain."

Later in that psalm David said, (verses 14–18)

"I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together
in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,
O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you."

We see the same thing in Psalm 84. The sons of Korah wrote, (verses 1, 2, 4, 10)

"How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns,
even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God…
Blessed are those
who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you…
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;"

But here Job is experiencing the opposite. God's presence is very disturbing to him. In his commentary on Job Tremper Longman III entitles his comments on verses 11-16 as,

"God terrorizes Job."

That's what God's presence does to Job.

Some people believe that hell is the absence of God. But the Bible teaches that God is present everywhere. He cannot be absent from any place. He upholds everything, even the lake of fire. It's not the lack of his presence that makes hell so dreadful—it's the absence of His presence of blessing. It's His presence of judgment.

The lesson us you Christians is

how thankful you ought to be for Jesus and His intercession for you, for His making you part of God's family.

God's presence is terrifying to sinners. We're all sinners and we all deserve to experience the dreadful presence of God.

In Isaiah 6, when Isaiah saw God on His throne—Isaiah was terrified. He was undone, threatened with personal disintegration. Sin has separated us from God. His presence is exceedingly threatening to sinners. After Adam and Eve sinned, when they heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the day they hid themselves. They were afraid of God. His presence was threatening to them. It made them uncomfortable.

But with Jesus everything has changed. He has paid for our sins. He has given us the Spirit who is transforming us. We are now members of God's family. We are His sons and daughters. There is no condemnation to us. There is peace between God and man.

Christians, you who enjoy God's presence, who enjoy His Word, who feel contentment and satisfaction in life—how much you owe to Jesus. Your standing before God is all because of Him. He has made you joint-heirs with Him. As John wrote in his first epistle, (1 John 1:1–4)

"That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked at
and our hands have touched—
this we proclaim
concerning the Word of life.
The life appeared;
we have seen it and testify to it,
and we proclaim to you the eternal life,
which was with the Father
and has appeared to us.
We proclaim to you
what we have seen and heard,
so that you also
may have fellowship with us.
And our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We write this to make our joy complete."

How thankful we ought to be that we can have fellowship with God, with the Father, with Jesus, with the Spirit.

The third thing we see here, is although Job is at a very low point, although he complains to God,

Job still recognizes the supremacy, the greatness of God.

In verses 17 and 18 Job says to God,

"What is man that
you make so much of him,
that you give him so much attention,
that you examine him every morning
and test him every moment?"

This is similar to David's words in Psalm 8:3-9,

"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower
than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler
over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

Tremper Longman III writes, (Job, p. 148-149)

"The psalmist's reflection on God's relationship with his human creatures leads him to glory in humanity: 'You made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor' (Ps. 8:5 NLT). Job's query ('What are humans?') also expresses his 'wonder' that God directs his attention toward human beings. However, rather than appreciating the attention, Job is greatly upset by it. To paraphrase the psalmist: 'What are humans that you have given them so much authority, status, and responsibility?' ('You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet,' 8:6–7 TNIV). To paraphrase Job, 'What are humans that you so diligently and exactly examine them to denigrate them?' "

But what is similar in both is that both David and Job saw how high and exalted God was. They knew that God was very much above them. They both has a reverence, an awe of God.

This is an important lesson to us. When trouble comes, when suffering seems unbearable, you can pour out your heart to God, but always remember who you are dealing with. Always remember that He is the holy One, the high and exalted One—the One who deserves your praise even though He slay you. (Job 13:15) He is the great One who does no wrong. (Deuteronomy 32:4) His ways are righteous and just, (Psalm 97:2) so far above our ways that we cannot fathom them. (Isaiah 55:8-9) In our suffering we ought to be like our Savior Jesus and praise God. (Psalm 22:22-31) May God give us grace to do so.