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PRAYER: PREMISED ON WORSHIP

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JOB—AND TRUE WORSHIP

1 INTRODUCTION

Job has had no formal education or formal theological education. He didn’t go to “church” or “Bible study”. He didn’t have a Bible. And yet Job responded to God in a way that puts most of us to shame.

Note his personal standing and community status:

1In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2He had seven sons and three daughters, 3and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. (Job 1:1-3, emphases added).

An appreciation of the significance of the example of Job, is premised upon an understanding of him as a person in his society.

In summary, the Bible declares: He was the greatest man among all the people of the East (verse 3). This example is no idle illustration. This is the life of the greatest man living in that area in that era.

Here was a man for whom everything was just fine—that seemed to befit his position. It would be easy to be satisfied and successful with all the attributes he enjoyed. But he stood out in his society for all the right reasons.

2 GOD CHALLENGES SATAN

And it is to precisely such a person as Job that God brings a severe test—compare Abraham, asked to sacrifice his son.

Because of his high integrity and notoriety, God was totally confident of his character and was prepared to challenge Satan:

8 … “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.” (Job 1:8, emphasis added).

Satan quickly responded with sarcasm:

9Does Job fear God for nothing?” ... 10“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 1:9-11, emphases added).

Satan brashly asserts that Job doesn’t default because he can’t—he is protected on every side. But given the opportunity, Satan believes that he could quickly bring Job to his knees, and destroy him.

** NOTE: Fundamental to each person, is the fact that each life is in God’s hands. Nothing that happens to us escapes God’s attention and intervention—as He sees fit.

** NOTE: RE THE GRAVITY OF ANY TESTING:

At no stage can Satan tempt us or try us apart from the express permission of God. That is our starting point when we consider the circumstance that we wish to relate to God in prayer. And Satan can only operate within the express guidelines that God permits. Hence we need to remind ourselves of the principles in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (emphases added):

13No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

If we fail, and yield to temptation, it is not because it was too hard. Expressly the Word reminds us:

** NOTE: God is in control, and Satan has to admit: stretch out your hand and strike everything he has (Job 1:11). It is never in Satan’s province to act and claim any authority over us or our situation or possessions. We are always in God’s hand.

** EXAMPLE:

God may well taunt Satan: “Have you considered my servant, Bill—a fine upstanding Christian gentleman”? And Satan may respond, “Well that’s just fine while he is so popular and successful (like Job who had flocks and herds … spread throughout the land), but if you were to give him terminal cancer, he would curse you and everyone else, and crumple in a heap”.

And then, and only then, God may well—having already challenged Satan—suggest that you may be subjected to terminal cancer, or whatever He in His wisdom knows you can well endure. He knows your capacity as an individual.

We are not exempt from sickness, suffering and evil, just because we are Christians, and God will sustain us and protect us throughout the trial.

A woman at church, who had cancer and needed chemotherapy and a mastectomy, maintained a marvellous attitude and approach. She testified to all who visited her, not “Why me?” but “Why not me?” Later she required a second mastectomy, and the same attitude prevailed, and friends from work and neighbours were greatly blessed by her unchanging testimony. God was in control, and as she acknowledged that, so He blessed her and her testimony.

Returning to Job.

3 JOB IS UNWITTINGLY TESTED

In response to Satan’s sarcastic retort concerning his perception of Job as fickle, and would easily succumb resulting in cursing God, should he lose all his possessions:

12The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:12, emphases added).

God is totally in control—and always is. Satan can only go so far—and no further. That is true for each one of us. He never ever has carte blanche (free rein). In this case, he is not permitted to touch Job’s body.

At an indeterminant time after this—and completely unexpected—there is a sudden execution of activity against Job’s family and possessions (but not his body):

13One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

16While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

17While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

18While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!

(Job 1:13-19, emphases added).

There is a dramatic picture, as a sequence of servants arrive to announce devastating news to Job. Seemingly in one day all his life crumbles. He has nothing. No possessions. No family. No status. He has nothing more to lose—one would think.

But what is his immediate response?

20At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21and said: “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.”

22In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

(Job 1:20-22, emphases added).

Satan is totally routed. He has failed completely to cause Job to default.

** PERSONAL REFLECTION: Recognising these guidelines of God’s operation and control in our circumstances, what can He confidently trust me with? What permissions would He grant Satan as far as my life is concerned? When I consider what some people go through—like Job, or people facing terminal conditions—I have never had to face anything like that. Am I a wimp or something? Of course, others may have not experienced some of the trials that I have experienced either.

Have I learned to truly worship?

* * * * *

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