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Dr. Ed Young - A Search for the Meaning of Suffering

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    Dr. Ed Young - A Search for the Meaning of Suffering
TOPICS: Sufferings

It was in Topeka Kansas-a guy was going to visit churches all across America and write a book! While in Topeka, he saw on the side of a wall in this church a golden telephone. It says "For Ten Thousand Dollars, one minute call to God". He thought that was unusual. He moved from Kansas on across to California, and he saw another church-golden telephone! "Ten thousand dollars, one minute conversation with God"! He went to Missouri, another church. Golden telephone. "One minute, ten thousand dollars. Conversation with God". He went to New York City. Another golden telephone. Ten thousand dollars. Dropped down to Florida; another golden telephone, ten thousand dollars.

Came to the deep South; Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas. He got in Austin, Texas, and he went in a church in Austin, and he saw on the wall a golden telephone he'd seen in churches across the country; and on this call, it says "One minute conversation with God; thirty-five cents". He couldn't understand it. He went over and got an usher. He said "What is this? I've been in churches across the country; one minute conversation with God is ten thousand dollars. Here in Austin, it is thirty-five cents! What is going on"? He said "Don't you know where you are? You're in Texas! This is God's Country! It's a local call"!

What if you had the opportunity to talk with God for one minute? I thought about that. I think I would ask Him a lot of questions, beginning with the little word "why". "Why me? Why her? Why Him? Why now? Why, why, why? O' Lord, tell me why"! We're beginning to study the Book of Job. Job is Phi Beta Kappa in asking God that very important question as he battled suffering. He said "Why"? Job, I think, is the greatest word on suffering. By the way, we'll not answer all the "whys" of suffering. Suffering has a mystery about it that we'll never understand until we get to Heaven, and when we get to Heaven, when God says "This is what was going on..." We'll all stand back and say "Ohhhh, I see it now"!

But when, when a baby suffers; when cancer befalls someone that's very young; when a birth defect takes some somebody out, and somebody is living with so many different situations of suffering and privation in our world! And we just sit back and say "Why? Why? Why"? Job points us to some very profound answers. So, let me begin by reading just the first few Verses of Job to introduce him, introduce you to this guy. And then I will not read all twenty-two Verses. We're gonna look at Chapter 1. Uh, I'm gonna read the first few Verses, and then I'm gonna give you Young's translation of the latter part as we go about in our Biblical teaching.

Job, Chapter Number 1, Verse Number 1 following: There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. And that man was blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil. Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. His possessions also were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five thousand yoke of oxen. How many oxen would that be? Five thousand yoke? How many oxen? A thousand! That's right! Fifteen female donkeys... By the way, did you know that female donkeys were a prize possession this period of time because their milk was, was like caviar. It was the foremost delicacy of the age; milk from female donkeys. How many of you knew that? Eehh, yeah...

See, you're already ahead! Five hundred female donkeys, and very many servants, and that man was the greatest of all the men of the East. This is Job! The greatest of all the men of the East. Whew! His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God". Remember that phrase. "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts". Thus Job did continually. The Book opens, "And there was a man..."

What kind of guy was Job? First of all, we see that he was a godly man. Did you read that? Upright! Feared God! Blameless! Not that he was perfect; but when he would do something wrong, he would confess to God and keep a clean conscience. He feared God; he was a worshipper! A lot of people have the idea that I can pray, and sing, and preach, and I can study God's Word, and man, I am a worshipper! We can't worship Him when we have dirt inside of our lives. When there is filth there; when there is unconfessed with, unrepented of sin and rebellion in our lives; you can't worship! You can go through all the motions and all the ritual, but you can't worship Him! But it says "Job feared God". This means he worshipped Him.

Oswald Chambers said that if anybody fears God; they'll not be afraid of anything else. But anybody who does not fear God; they will be fearful of everything else. Someone who fears God; not that, "Oh, I'm afraid of God! Oh, He might..." Oh no. Someone who, the word "fear" means "awe; to hold in wonder; to esteem; to lift up". Job was a godly man! Godly man... That's the first thing we see in the Verses I've just read. Also, Job was a wealthy man! Did you read what he had? In that day in which he lived, wealth was measured by your flock, your animals; by the number of children you had. And it was measured by the number of servants that you had.

And certainly, Job was the biggest big-shot of all the East! He was a combination of Billy Graham, and Bill Gates! I mean he had every base covered! Look at all the sheep, all the oxen. Look at all the donkeys. Look at all the camels! By the way, the camel was the most valuable animal of all that he possessed. He was a wealthy man by anybody's standard! He was a godly man! Also, he was a great dad! You know, the greatest thing we need in morals in the 21st Century are dads who are great dads! That's what we need! Job had that base covered. Here he had grown children-did you read it carefully? Job had grown children.

And by the way, that's a wonderful moment in your life. The empty nest-whewww, is great! I love kids; I love grandkids; I love my sons, my ten grandchildren; but I'm gonna tell you, the empty next is way ahead of that other period when the diaper phase, and the carpool phase, and all the other boo-hoo! I'm telling you! The empty nest is fabulous! Mr. and Mrs. Job now had an empty nest! Their seven sons were grown; their three daughters were grown, but Job still was the priest of the family. Did you notice that? They would have birthday celebrations, and all the kids would gather together.

Job would go over there and lay hands on them, and pray for them, and offer burnt sacrifices to God, just in case-remember that phrase? One of the kids may have cursed God, even in their hearts; maybe not literally, but just in case a kid had cursed and spoken out, and displeased God! Job would offer sacrifice, remind them that they were his children; they were sons and daughters; reminding them of the blessings that they had in the inheritance business. And he went there every time! It says he did it early in the morning, continuously! Boy! What a guy was Job! You know anybody better than Job? He is a great hero in the Bible! The greatest man in the East! Godly man; wealthy man; great dad.

And now, if this were a drama, or we're reading a book; we would go to the second chapter. And the curtain would, would be closed. And then we'd shuffle around, and we'd talk and yawn, and, or we'd turn the next page, and, and then chapter number two, certainly the curtain is contracted-whooo! We're in the Third Heaven! We're in the Throne Room of God! And there is God, God Almighty on the Throne! And there are all, Job says, the sons of God are gathered; the seraphim, the cherubim, the archangels, the angels-they're all gathered around the Throne of God, and they're reporting. It was a time of celebration. If you asked me the one place I'd rather be than any other place throughout all eternity or time; it would be right in that number. It'd be right in that number.

Man, what praising, what singing, what's glory... There's nothing, no other scene in all the Bible like this, except for the Book of Revelation. You just don't find it! Here we are! The curtains are contracted, and you're in the Throne Room of God Himself! And then we see the first part of the Book of Job. You can have a big outline of the Book of Job; the first part of the Book of Job, it's, it's God and Satan talking. The second part is gonna be Job and his three friends are conversing. And the third part is gonna just be Job and God in the great show down! That's the general outline in the Book of Job. But when this curtain pulls, we see there that God is with all the Heavenly Hosts, and He looks back over there, and He says "Wait a minute! Who is that? It is Satan"!

That's right! What is Satan doing in the Throne Room of the Almighty? There is Satan, the fallen archangel! Still beautiful; still magnificent! Still powerful! And there is Satan! And God says to Him, Young paraphrase: "What have you been up to? Satan the accuser, the liar, Slew foot, the murderer. What have you been up to"? And here, we see in this particular situation; we see Satanic activity. We see Satanic philosophy, and we see Satanic limitation. Now look at Satanic activity. God says "What have you been up to, Satan"? And Satan says "I've been going to and fro. I've been wandering around all over the world". And Satan can do that with supernatural power. Satan can go from Australia to the North Pole just in pshewt! A blink of your eye! He said "I've been wandering around all over the world".

Now God knew his agenda. Satan's agenda is to destroy; it's to thwart the plans of Almighty God, and to destroy His sons and His daughters. That's his plan; that's his agenda, and he is faithful, and he's, he's continuously at that particular assignment in rebellion against Almighty! "What have you been up to, Satan"? "I've been going to and fro, confusing, lying, deceiving, killing, taking out those who would be followers of Yours, or those who are followers of Yours..." And then, God says to Satan an amazing thing to me! He says "Satan, do you know My main man, Job"?

You know, I'd just as soon God wouldn't bring my name into this. I don't know about you... "Have you considered my main man, Job"? And then God affirms what we've already read. He is blameless; he fears Me. He's the greatest man in the East. Other words, He says "Satan, Job loves Me! Have you seen Job in your trolling around"? And Satan says "Oh yeah! Yeah, yeah, I've tried to get at Job; but God, You've put a hedge around him, and that hedge is so thick; I can't get to him! You've put a hedge around him, and around all of his children, around all his possessions, around all his animals! You've so hedged in your guy Job; You've been giving him penthouse treatment! And I can't get to Him! But" says Satan, "If You'll just take that hedge down and let me get my hands on him; he will curse You to Your face! You think he loves You? Let me take away all the stuff You have given him, and he'll curse You"!

Now ladies and gentlemen, Satan is doing what? He's questioning the motives of Job. He said "Oh yeah! Job is godly, and he's wealthy, and he's a wonderful dad; but let me tell you something: He is serving You, and he says he loves You in worship, O' Lord, because of the benefits he's getting"! A question of motive! Let me tell you something: You can't prove your motives are good or bad! Nobody can! Nobody can about anything! Just can't do it! It's impossible! Now, you could accuse me of stealing a car. I could prove to you, I hope, that I didn't steal your car! But you say "Hey, your motives are shabby! You're preaching that sermon. They pay you a salary! We pay you! You work for me! Man, you're preaching for money"!

I can't prove that you're right, or I can't prove you're wrong. So he challenges God! Satan challenges God and puts God in what seems to be a box! "Man, just let me get to him"! You know what God did? This is another staggering thing! God says "Okay. You can put your hands on him. You can deal with him anyway you want to; but don't touch his health; don't touch his mind; don't touch his body". Curtain comes down! Act II! Satan attacks Job! And boy, he attacks swiftly! And Job is seated, and a messenger comes in, one of his servants, and he says "Job! The Sabeans have come and attacked, and they have taken away all the oxen, and all the donkeys, and killed all the servants who were looking after them"!

And the Bible says while he was still telling Job about the attacks of the Sabeans; another servant comes in and said "Oh Job! Lightening has struck! There was a lightening storm, and all your sheep-seven thousand of them, were herded together, and lightening came and killed every one of them, and all the servants with them. I was the only one that survived". And while he was still talking, another servant came in and said "The Chaldeans have come with three different attacking points, and they had come and killed all the servants and taken away all your camels"! And then while he was still reporting, another servant came in broken and says, "Oh Job! You will not believe what happened! Your seven sons and your three daughters; they were having a celebration together of the birthday of one of your son, and a tornado came and killed all of your kids! They're dead, and all of the servants who were there"!

Bam! Zip, zip, zip, zip! Job goes from the richest, greatest, most pious man in the East, to someone who is destitute on the streets! He's lost it all! Then the Bible tells of how Job reacts to this. Listen to it! All of Heaven is waiting to see. They know about the contests between God and Satan, and Job is the ping-pong ball that God and Satan are hitting back to one another. And now all of Heaven, and all of Hell, and all the universe waits to see how Job will respond! Was Satan right? Was he, was he serving God because of what he could get out of God, so he could be the "teacher's pet"? Or did he love God for Himself alone? Who was right?

And we see the response here. Job says, after he'd lost it all, Verse 20: Then Job arose and tore his robe, and shaved his head, and fell to the ground and worshipped! And he said "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away"! Cursed? No. "Blessed be the name of the Lord". What did Job do? Job went into sorrow! Nothing wrong with sorrow! We try to hold it back, "Oh, you've got to keep a stiff Oh, you've cried enough"! Oh no! Man, that's genuine sorrow! He'd lost all his possessions; he'd lost all of his kids! Pshew! Just like that! Just like that... So he shaved his head, tore his robe; would have put dirt over his head; fell down in the dirt face-down, a broken man, a humbled man, a penniless man, a pauper!

Suffering, suffering... But then what did he do? He said, he looked back! He said "You know, when I was born, I came in this world naked..." By the way, everybody came in this world naked. Do you rem, do you remember that? Are you aware of that? There's not a single one of here came... Every one of us came in the world naked. He looked back. He said, you know, "I didn't come in this world with anything". And then he looked ahead to his death. He said "Guess what? I'm gonna leave this world naked"! Right? Anybody want to debate that?

Paul said to Timothy, "You can't take it with you..." Paraphrase. That's what he said. That's what Job was saying. He said "I came in naked; I'm gonna leave naked"! He looked back; he looked ahead to his death. Then he looked up to God, and he said "But God, I want to thank You for the stuff that I had, for the children I enjoyed, for the life that I lived! I want to thank You for that, and praise You for that! Blessed be the Name of the Lord"!

Now, What's going on here in our Scripture? It is simply this: Suffering comes to Job, and so many times, suffering comes to you and me when we do not deserve it, at least as much suffering that is brought about, because we're being tested to see if we love God for Himself, and for Himself alone; or we love Him for the goodies; the health, the blessing that we can get from Him. You see, if "stuff", even family, and friends, and all the stuff that we gather around; when suffering comes, it pulls us away from all that stuff, doesn't it? That stuff doesn't seem important because we're broken! We're separated! All that was big yesterday; when suffering comes, makes no difference today! And we're isolated. And we're lonely! We're shameful! Suffering just takes us away from people, and stuff, and then we're, we find out whether or not we love God for Himself alone! Just love God for Himself alone!

Only suffering can teach you that. Only suffering can teach me that. We cannot learn it any other way! You see, if we love God for Himself alone; when we are suffering, and we're removed from family and stuff, and we move over here; it forces us to move closer to God who's always trying to move closer to us. You see it? And the only way we can discover whether or not we love God for God alone is to go through tough times! And sometimes, we go through tough times, we don't deserve it. Sometimes, we go through tough times and we deserve it. But every time we go through tough times, God is up to something! God is teaching us something!

How did Job know that God loved him unconditionally? Man, if you'd been Job back there in those patriarchal years; how in the world did he know when shweeeew! Everything was wiped out, that God still loved him? I don't know! I don't know how Job knew that! But see, we're way ahead of Job! We're way ahead of Job! How would you and I know that God loves us unconditionally when we go through tough times? We get in the deep end of the pool, and we're sinking; when we're in the bottom of a pit that's dark, and there's no way out! How do we know God loves us? Oh, we're way ahead of Job! We know God loves us because of the Cross of His Son, Jesus Christ! Heh, heh! We know that... We know that. Suffering drives us like nothing else into the love of God!
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