Dr. Ed Young - The Great Affirmation
God wants everybody to be healthy. If you're suffering, you're obviously not in the will of God. If you believe that, you don't know anything about that book. But you can turn on television 24/7 and find people who somehow take Scriptures out of wherever, and weave a mysterious net, and come up with that felonious conclusion. The Apostle Paul, God's man, had a thorn in the flesh. We do not know the kind of illness it was, there's a lot of speculation, but three times, he prayed, I'm sure passionately, I'm sure with tears, and said "Lord, take this thorn away. Give me healing". And three times, the Lord said, "No, no, no," and God told Paul, in his suffering, "My grace is sufficient for you. Strength is made perfect in weakness".
In other words, he was saying to Paul, "I'm going to use you powerfully in this world, and if you were totally healthy and strong, I would not be able to use you as effectively. I'm going to take your strength, and it's going to be weakened through suffering so you'll be strong for me". We're dealing with our guy, Job. Been studying Job for several weeks now. Those of you who haven't been here may not know that Job has had a tough time, to put it mildly. He lost all his possessions, and he was a wealthy man, he had a lot to lose. Lost ten children with a natural catastrophe, unbelievable, unspeakable. Then finally, he lost his health. He was struck by Satan trying to get Job to discount his faith in God, and Job kept standing tall, saying "I'm not going to curse God, I'm going to bless God and praise God". Then finally, we see Job today, he has been ricocheted, bombasted by these three men who came to encourage him, and they became accusers.
So open to the book of Job. I want to show you a verse in Job 18, the 2nd verse. This is Bildad, one of Job's erstwhile friends who'd come to attack him. Came to comfort, ended up attacking. You know first of all, they begin the conversation, then the conversation moved into an argument, and finally, there's a knock-down, drag out, and that's what the comforters led Job into in his suffering. Look at the verse number 2. This is Bildad talking to Job. He says, "Job, how long will you hunt for words? Show understanding, and then we can talk. Why are we regarded as beasts, as stupid in your eyes"? Look at the phrase, "How long you keep on talking, Job"?
Now, Job answers, and look what he says, chapter 19, "Then Job responded, 'How long will you torment me and crush me with your words? These ten times, you have insulted me. You are not ashamed to wrong me.'" Look at the verbs. Follow the verbs if you want to understand Scripture. Look at them. Look at verse 2. It says, Job says, "You've tormented me, you've crushed me, you've insulted me, you have wronged me". Now, the, the word here is, "How long will you keep on talking, Job"? And Job answers, "How long will you keep on talking, Bildad"? They're both asking for the other one to be quiet. I want to ask you a question. Have you ever been quiet in your life for 30 minutes? Have you ever been silent for 30 minutes? You say, "Oh sure".
Now wait a minute, wait a minute. Silent with your lips, and silent with your mind. Your lips are not moving, and your lips of your mind are not moving. Have you ever been silent for 30 minutes like that? It's a great challenge for us. We'd better practice a little bit, because when we get to heaven, we're gonna have to learn to be silent like that. Remember in the 8th chapter of Revelation, following the opening of the 7th Seal? John tells us there was 30 minutes silence in heaven. Lips did not move, mind did not move, silence. That's what Job primarily is about. This whole book is trying to say to us we have to learn how to be silent. "Be still and know that I am God".
You see, this is what's going on in the book of Job. Job is guilty of the same thing he's accusing his friends of being guilty of. Job is saying to his friends, "Hey you guys, stop talking and listen to me," and God is saying to Job, "Job, you stop talking and listen to me". But it took 40 chapters before Job knew how to shut up, and be quiet, and be silent before the Lord. Silence is a challenge. Bildad's complaining, "How long you gonna keep talking, Job"? Job's complaining, "How long you gonna keep criticizing me," and we run into three little anthems of ten. Did you hear the verse I said? It says, "Ten times you have crushed, you have insulted, you've slandered, you've wronged me".
Now, the word "ten" in the Bible is a complete word. It is a whole word. And by ten it means it has been fulfilled. And if you want to outline the 19th chapter of Job, and I highly recommend you do it, I want you to look... open your Bibles, if you would. It helps to have them right side up. Open your Bibles, if you would, to chapter 19, and verse 1 through verse 5. We see Job is saying, "Ten ways I've been attacked by my accusers". Ten different ways, you see it down there in the verse? Then look at verse 6 through verse 13, and Job says in this, "Ten ways I have been abandoned by God". Doesn't mean he'd been abandoned only ten ways, but he lists ten specific ways that God had just not been there when he needed him. And look at the last section, verse 13 through verse 24. Job says, "Ten ways I have been alienated from all human relationships".
So we have ten, ten, ten, fullness of abandonment, fullness of alienation, fullness of attacks by his accusers, by God, and by every other human being. We see that Job is rapidly reaching the very depths of the pit. Watch as he slides down. Look at verse 4. "Even if I have truly erred, my error lodges with me. If indeed you vault yourself against me and prove my disgrace to me". What is he saying? He's saying in ten ways, you have attacked me. He's talking to these. In other words, these were people who came to comfort, and now they get into an argument! I wonder if you're like that. When someone sees you coming, do they say, "Oh boy! Bill is coming"!
When someone sees you coming, they say, "Oh, Bill is coming". It depends on whether you're a builder or a wrecker, and you could be sure, when Job first saw his three friends coming when he was sick, and he was dying, he was in the garbage, he said, "Oh, here come my buddies! Man, they're gonna comfort me". But now, all of a sudden, instead of building, they attacked him at his lowest moment. They kicked him, time and time again, when he was down and out for the count. It says ten ways Job was attacked. And then he says, "Ten ways, I've been abandoned by God". Look at verse 6. I read it in our text. "Know then that God has wronged me, and he has closed his net around me". In other words, he's saying I'm like a criminal. God has taken his net, he's putting that net around me, he says, "I'm not a criminal. God has put me in a net! I don't know why I'm in the net". He says, "Behold, I cry violence, but I get no answer. I shout for help, but there is no justice".
Job is saying I want to get in a courtroom with God. See, that's the cry all the way through Job, isn't? He said, "But who in the world can be the judge? Who can be the advocate? Who can be the arbiter? Who can be the witnesses"? Man, when you're in God's courtroom, everybody has to be quiet. Job said, "I shout out, it's not right," you see. Let's look at the bottom line, the secret part that Job doesn't know. Job, in his suffering, listen carefully, was God's advocate in the courtroom of all of that which we do not see. And Job, in his suffering, had won the case for God against the devil. You follow me? And Job didn't even know it.
You see, there is always a metaphysical, there is always a supernatural, there is always a mystery about suffering when it comes to us that we'll never know in this life. Job was an advocate for God, and he had won his case as he kept blessing God instead of cursing God, and the devil was defeated, but Job didn't know it. Here's the afterglow. He's still complaining, he's still upset about his suffering. And we understand that, too. Look at the next way he said God has abandoned him. He says, "He has walled up my way," verse 6, verse 8, "So that I cannot pass". In other words, Job says I'm trying to get up from here, and I run into a brick wall, and it's God, it's God. Psalm 137, Psalm 138, remember David said, "God has put his hand on me," not the hand of blessing, but says, "He has hemmed me in, in the front, in the back, and on both sides". He says I am hemmed in.
Job feels exactly like this. He said God has hemmed me in, and do you wonder who wouldn't feel hemmed in where Job is now? And look at the next part. He says, latter part of verse 8, "And he has put darkness on my paths". Job says, "God, you've put me in darkness, and you're not there in the darkness with me". And I am sure God is saying to Job, "Job, don't you doubt in the darkness what I've already taught you all the years being present with you in the light". Then look at the next part of his complaint. He says, "He breaks me down on every side". No, excuse me, "And he removes the crown from my head". In other words, he had been the number one guy, now he was nothing! You remove the crown, the prestige, the position.
Verse 10, "He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, and he is uprooted my hope like a tree, and he's kindled his anger against me and considered me his enemy". In other words, before you remember, we talked about... we said Job was being pruned by God so he could produce more fruit and flower? And sometimes, that's suffering. Job says, "Let me tell you, this has gone so far. I have been uprooted like a tree". When a tree is uprooted, what happens? It dies. Job knows he's absolutely terminal, as far as he can understand. He said, "I'm dying. God isn't pruning me any more. I am dying. I've been uprooted like a tree". And then he goes on and gives another picture of how God has abandoned him. He said, "His troops," verse 12, "Come together and build up their way against me, and camp around my tent".
What's he saying here? He's saying I'm under siege. He said here I am in my little tent of life, and God has surrounded me with all of his troops, and it's as if I'm God's enemy, and God has dropped an atomic bomb on little old me. That's what he's seeing. Man, "Ten ways," Job says, "God has abandoned me". The Father has turned away from me. Think how that would be. Think how dark that darkness would be. How deep that pit would be. So now, we see the final stanza of the 19th chapter, and Job says, "Ten ways, ten ways I've been alienated from every other human relationship".
You say, "Well, nothing else can happen to Job". Here's the last thing that totally devastates him. Look at the latter part of this 19th chapter. It says "He," talking about God, "Has removed my brothers from me". Job's brothers don't have anything to do with him. All of his children are dead. He says, "My brothers, they're removed from me. They don't come around! I'm in the trash heap, I'm thrown away. I've got these boils from head to toe. My brothers have nothing to do with me". He said, "My acquaintances are completely estranged from me," my acquaintances.
You see, when Job was the number one guy, can't you imagine in all the area of the East, someone would say, "By the way, I was talking with Job yesterday. By the way, Job asked me to go to the chariot race with him. Incidentally, Job invited me for lunch. You know, I was talking with Job, and he told me the way things are going in the camel market..." But now, all of his acquaintances, he's not the number one boy any longer. He's not the number one guy! He says, "My brothers don't have anything to do with me, my acquaintances don't have anything to do with me," and he says, look at verse 14. "My relatives have failed, and my intimate friends have forgotten me".
You say, "Boy, I know Job," name drop, "You know, I know Job..." And now his intimate friends, when asked, "Do you know Job"? "Well, I sort of knew who he was". See what happened? Verse 15, "Those who live in my house," those who work for him, "My maids consider me a stranger. I'm a foreigner in their sight. I call to my servant, but he does not answer. I have to implore him with my mouth". In that day, someone, a potentate, someone as wealthy and prestigious as the number one guy in all the East, man, as far as his servants concerned, all he had to do was go, "Anything I can do for you, sir? Do you have a need? Any way I can help? Anything I can get"? And now, all of a sudden, nobody knows him, nobody cares, nobody's around, nobody's interested. His brothers, his relatives, his intimate friends, those who would love to just be seen with Job, or have Job simply acknowledge them, or even to know their name, they're nowhere to be found.
And I really love this one. Verse 17, "My breath is offensive to my wife". And I have to tell you this, we were driving over here from one of our other services I had spoken to, and Jo Beth said when I said that, she put a breath mint in her mouth. She said she didn't know why, said it was just a reflex reaction. But you see, this is the same wife, you remember, who told Job, "Curse God and die. You must have committed some terrible sin for all this to happen to you, to happen to us, to happen to our family," and Job blessed God. This same wife now, she's not even coming to the garbage pit to see him. And she tries to find an excuses, she is saying, "His breath is so bad! Oh, I can't stand to go around him. The stench, the boils, the death," she didn't show up, boy.
Then look, "And I am loathsome to my brothers," a general statement about everybody. He says, verse 18, "Even young children despise me, and I rise up, and they speak against me". Children can be cruel and heartless, and they see Job, skin and bones, emaciated, the stench, the garbage dump, and they laugh at him, they poke fun at him, they ridicule him, they say, "Look at that guy! Ooh, ooh, how horrible he looks"! In verse 19, get this Word, "All of my associates abhor me, and those I love have turned against me". And then he says, "My bone clings to my skin and my flesh". In other words, he's just flesh and bones. "And I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth".
And then he asks for a couple things. He says, "Pity me," verse 21. "Pity me, O you, my friends, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you persecute me as God does? Are you not satisfied"? He said, "Look at me! What else could happen to me? Are you not satisfied with how I've been beaten up, how I'm diseased, how I am dying, how I have been forsaken, how I've been cursed, how I've been abused"? He said, "Look at me! Are you not satisfied with this"? Then he makes a request to be remembered, verse 23 and 24. "Oh that my words were written. Oh that they were inscribed in a book, and with an iron stylus, and lead, and they were engraved in the rock forever". He is saying, in other words, what's happened to me, my experience, it needs to be written down, and you need to cut out a rock with a stylus and put lead in there so other people will know the story of my plight. His complaint, and what has happened to him.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, sum up if we can, where Job is here. I submit to you, you do not know of any individual who has ever lived, who has reached as low a point as does Job at this moment. Think about it. His net worth is zero. He's seen the tragic loss of ten children, and there are the graves on the hillside. His health is totally gone. Satan has struck him with a disease. You can be sure it was the most painful disease that Satan had in his arsenal. All outward understanding, he is dying, thrown away in the trash dump. People who knew him have come and attacked him ten different ways, viciously, unnecessarily, brutally, Godlessly, and then God is nowhere around.
The God who he's walked with, the God who he's served, the God who had blessed him, the God that he knew, God is not there. He's done everything, he said everything, and God is not around. It is darker than a thousand midnights down in a cypress swamp is how the poet expressed it. Dark, damp, death, disease, destruction, devastation. And then on top of that, every human relationship he had on this earth, every human relationship he had, they're all alienated against him, have nothing to do with him, don't come around him. They are shunning him, they are ashamed of him, they are humiliated by him.
If they're there, they curse him and abuse him, and kick him down. The darkest hole, the darkest pit of pain, of anguish, of emptiness, of nothingness, and right at that moment, Job utters the strongest word of faith you'll find anywhere in the Old Testament. He says, "I know my Redeemer liveth". There's not stronger faith like that in the Old Testament. The lowest moment, Job says, "I know my Redeemer liveth". And he goes on to say, he said, "I know there'll be a day in the flesh, though this flesh may die, when I will see him". He uses the word behold him face to face. I thought about, "We shall behold him. We shall behold him face to face". "I know my Redeemer liveth".
What a word from Job! Now, that word "redeemer" is a terrific word. In Hebrew, it is Goel, and it's a picture of kinsman redeemer. If you studied a little book of Ruth in the Old Testament, it says that Boaz was the kinsman redeemer of Ruth in that she was widowed. She was in poverty, but somehow as her distant kinsman, he became her redeemer and brought her back, and married her because he loved her. This is a precursor of exactly what God did for all of us! Let me give you a brief, brief theological tour. In creation, Adam and Eve were given dominion over the earth. Adam and Eve sinned, and they lost their dominion over the earth.
Who got that dominion? The prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world, Satan got the dominion that Adam and Eve lost through sin. God visited the world in his Son, Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and was our Redeemer, our kinsman man, Redeemer, God, on the cross. He died for you, and he died for me so that we are redeemed, and therefore, now we enter into the dominion of our Lord and of our Christ, and of God. We're in this world, but we're not a part of the kingdom of this world, we're now a part of the dominion that has been restored for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. You got it? Tremendous thing!
In other words, we have been rescued, redeemed, and we have been relocated. We have moved out of the dominion of the world, into the dominion of Christ. Though we're alive in this world, we've moved out of darkness into light. We've moved out of death into life. And that's Redeemer. And let me tell you something, when suffering comes to our life, we all cry out, we all need, we have to say in every climate of life, in fact, "Oh, I know my Redeemer liveth". If you know that, that's enough. That will see you through!