Tony Evans - Recovering Your Purpose
One of the most challenging questions that all of us have faced, many of us have verbalized it, most of us have thought it, is to ask God why? Throughout the scriptures there are numbers of people, great people, people that we admire, respect, and hold in high biblical esteem who ask God why. But the biggest why as far as humans are concerned, probably the biggest, biggest why is Jesus on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me"? But in terms of our own human trouble, the biggest why is Job. Job is the idyllic man. You might call him a man for all seasons. Everything in his life recorded in the first five verses of Job 1 is what we would love all of our lives to be.
We are told in verse 1, he was a man full of faith. He feared God, and he turned away from evil. He was not only a man of strong faith, he was a man with a solid family. We talked about verse 2, his seven sons and his three daughters, and this is the one most of us would like, he was a man of great fortune. But now in verse 6 there is a turn. As successful as he was, something begins to happen that collapses his world. But now he's gonna become a man of suffering. So just 'cause you have faith, just 'cause you come from a solid family and you got a little change in your pocket doesn't mean that you have bought yourself out of problems.
So to understand what Job is going through and what you very well might be or will or have been going through, we have to go back to understand something. Verse 6, "Now, there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' Then Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From roaming about on the earth, walking around on it.'" You have God calling a meeting of the angelic host called the Sons of God. So angels and demons have gathered. Satan is part of the gathering. Daniel chapter 7 verse 10 puts it in these words.
Let me read verse 9, "I kept looking until the thrones were set up and the Ancient of Days took His seat". God. "His vesture was like white snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing, And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened".
So the gathering in Job is the court scene that is described when the thousands and thousands of angels who are called Sons of God in Job are gathered because court is called in session. We have explained to you and me that your relationship with God on earth is a spiritual one, but it is also a legislative one. It is a legal gathering. If you do not grasp the legality of your life on earth based on what's happening in heaven, then you will not formally realize what is happening to you. Satan and the angels are called to court. Because that's the reason for the gathering. There is a grand jury in session. And God asked Satan, "Where you been, boy? What's the case load today"?
Now I'm going back. You remember Revelation 12:7 through 11, he is an accuser of the brethren. The Greek word accuse means to bring legal lawsuit. So Satan wants to bring legal lawsuit against you, and he wants to do it for one overriding purpose. Daniel 7 verse 10 says the books were opened. Psalm 139 verse 16 says that when God made you, he put you in a book. The book is the substance, Psalm 139:16 says, of your life. It's your story as God has desired it and designed it to be. So you have a book. Satan's goal is for you to not realize what's written in your book. In other words, he wants to deny you your destiny. He wants to deny you God's plan, goal for your life. Satan's goal is to keep that book from being realized, to keep your destiny, and he does that by accusing you, that is, bringing up a case against you.
"What have you been doing, devil"? He says, "I've been walking to and fro. I have been walking around the trading floor of Earth". "To and fro the earth". Verse 7 of Job 1 says, "Walking around it". And then God does something that we don't like, he helps the devil out. Verse 8, "Have you considered my servant Job"? "While you walking around looking for folk to mess with, why don't you check Job out"? Maybe you feel like God told the devil to check you out. Why don't you check Job out? Please notice what he calls Job, my servant.
So God tells Satan to check out somebody Satan never brought up, God brought him up. "Have you checked out my servant Job, because he is the GOAT"? "There is no one like him". Verse 8, "On Earth, blameless, upright, fearing God, turning from evil". The big question is why? Why would God do this? Why would he allow the devil, why would he help the devil out? God, if the devil can't find me, you don't help him. You don't give him my house address, you don't tell him where I live. You don't let him email me. Satan said, "Hmm, Job, Job. Hmm, I know about Job, 'cause he's the greatest man on Earth. So I know about him, does Job serve you for nothing"?
In order for Satan to accuse, he has to have a basis of accusation. "He's blameless in all of his actions, but God, I think I got something. Sometimes Job's motives are wrong. You know that he does all the right things but he doesn't always do all the right things for the right reason. Does he serve you for nothing, or is he like a lot of folk, you know, he just serves you for his blessing"? I'm coming to get my blessing, I want God to, you know, get me a new car, a new house, new clothes, you know? I challenge Job based on motivation. I can't blame him for his actions, because he either doesn't do wrong or he sacrifices when he does do wrong, so he is back in fellowship with me, but I wanna get into his mind. 'Cause all of us knows what it is to do the right things with the wrong thoughts. To do the right things with the wrong motivation. To justify our actions because of our thinking.
He says, "I know what I can do. I can attack job on the motivational level, but I got a problem, God". Devil says, "I do have a problem with this, 'cause you brought him up. I didn't bring him up, but since you brought him up, I can deal with him on the motivational level, but I got a problem". "Have you," verse 10, "not made a hedge around him, his house, and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hand, and his possessions have increased in the land". He says, "I got a problem, and that is you have put a restraining order on me".
That's what a hedge is, it's a restraint. "The reason I haven't been able to get to Job is you have blocked me. You have surrounded him with a protective shield so that that's the only reason I can't get to him, and if you ever take the leash off of me, if you ever let me loose and remove the restraining order, then I'm gonna show you that Job's motivation is enough to accuse him".
Now, there's a whole lot of theology there, 'cause one, Satan knows about the restraining order. Two, he can't do anything until God moves it, okay. So to remind you from one of our other messages, that means that Satan has to get God's permission to be the devil. That he's gotta ask God is it okay to mess with you? And so he says, "If you'll remove the hedge, if you'll remove this protective shield, then I can show you he ain't all that and a bag of chips, 'cause I can get him on the motivational level". "Put forth your hand," verse 11, "and stretch it out. And he will surely curse you in your face". "'Cause the only reason he's serving you is 'cause of stuff. You done given him a good life. Take away the good life, he ain't gonna be all that Christian. He ain't gonna be loving da Lord. 'Cause he's only doing this to get his blessing".
And unfortunately we live in a day when folk wanna use God. He's good as long as he giving me my stuff. The Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him". God releases the restraining order to a point. "I'm gonna let you touch his stuff", I'll say something about it in a moment, "but I'm not gonna let you touch him". So not only does God control whether the devil does something, he controls how much he allows the devil to do. But notice how much the devil was allowed to do was connected to his relationship with Job. Job is a blameless man, Job's an honorable man, he fears God.
So if you don't fear God, if you don't care about the Lord, what you have just done is strengthen and elongated the leash of what Satan is allowed to do. He says, okay, but don't touch him. And then he comes into the worst 24 hours of his life, beginning with verse 13. He loses his kids in a collapse. He loses his business, 14 and 15. Fire comes down and consumes everything, 16. Band of raiders come in and destroy everything, 17. Everything collapses. And it's one thing to have one bad thing today, it's another thing to have everything happening on the same day. This is a massive collapse allowed by God.
Please understand me here. The most important doctrine that you can learn as a Christian is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. Faith alone in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life, to accept Christ as your personal substitute is the greatest truth you can learn, but the second greatest truth you can learn is the sovereignty of God. This is very important. Because if you don't believe God is sovereign, you live your life by luck, chance, happenstance, fate. When life crushes in on you, if you don't have a handle on the sovereignty of God, you'll collapse at the work of the devil. When his whole world falls apart, verse 20, "Then Job arose and tore his robe, shaved his head, fell on the ground and worshiped".
Oh, no he didn't. Wait a minute, but worshiping when your world has fallen apart. Worshiping when your world has collapsed on you. Now, don't get me wrong, this is not, you know, play worship, 'cause he's still grieving, he's still shaving his head, he's still tearing his robe, he's still falling to the ground, he's still in emotional despair while worshiping. Do you know you can worship God in pain? What I'm trying to say is when God allows the devil to do whatever he allows to do in your life, that is the time to draw to him, not run from him. He says he worshiped. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I shall return there. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD. Through", watch this, "Through all this Job did not sin," verse 22, "Nor did he blame God".
So when it falls apart, you worship. When you falls apart, you say, "God, I don't understand". In chapter 2 Job loses his health. Boils breakout on his skin. His wife tells him to curse God and die. Says in verse 9, "Do you still hold onto your integrity? Curse God and die"! "I've been wanting to get rid of you a long time anyway. Curse God and die"! Says, "You speak as one," verse 10, "of the foolish women. Shall I indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity"?
His friends are trying to figure it out. He says in verse 3, "Oh, that I knew where I might find him, God, that I might come to his seat". He says, "I'm going through all this pain, and God is nowhere to be found". Verse 10. "But I know the way I take. When he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold". He says, "I can't find him, but I know what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna keep going. I'm not gonna throw in the towel, I'm not gonna quit, and when he has tried me, I will come forth as pure as gold". He says, "The reason God is silent is I'm on trial". 'Cause he said earlier, "I wanna take my seat".
That's a courtroom analogy. He says, "When God is silent, I'm on trial". Okay, watch this now. When you don't hear from God, and you need heaven and heaven doesn't answer your request, it is because you are now in the crucible of preparation for recovery. You're now... when he goes silent on you, and you are suffering, but you know the way you take you're gonna keep going, you're gonna keep the faith, you're gonna keep trusting, even though you don't see him, he is putting you on trial, so that he says, "When you come forth, you will come pure as gold".
And after everybody else has talked, God speaks. God said, "Let me explain something, Job. Let me let you know who you dealing with. Let me let you know..." Here is the first thing you gonna get in your trouble. If you will hold on in your worship to the sovereignty of God in spite of the pains of life, you will get a bigger view of God. This little tiny God you been coming to church singing to is now gonna expand in your understanding. God will use trouble for you to get a bigger view of him. God will use difficulty for you to stop being churchified and become a recognized person of how great and glorious... You know what heaven's gonna be?
Heaven, if I can define heaven for you, it will simply be the uninterrupted knowledge of God. So he comes to the last chapter, chapter 42. Job has been listening, and God has been blowing his mind. "Then Job answered the Lord," after the Lord blows his mind was how awesome he is, but nowhere does he give him the explanation. "I know that you can do all things," you the GOAT, "and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted". I have discovered you are in charge.
"Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge"? Who does man think he is that he can outsmart God? "Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand". Oh, oh, oh, my view of God has changed and the thing that changed, it was my trouble brought on by the devil that God okayed. Now I have seen you with my own eyes. Therefore I retract 37 chapters. I've been talking to me and my posse for 37 chapters, and we're talking smack. We're talking stuff we don't even know what we talking about, we're talking noise. I retract and I repent in dust and ashes.
One of Job's problems was he thought he knew more than he knew, and he had to have his knowledge base of God expanded, and God let the devil set it up for it to happen. God has a purpose for your life, and everybody's purpose, destiny, your book, while it's distinct in how that works out in your life, everybody has one thing in everybody's book that is the same, the greater knowledge of God. Let me come to the conclusion. He repents, and by the way, in scripture, Isaiah 43 verse 25 to 28 says, "State your case to God". Uses legal terminology, state your case, repent of your sins, and remove the devil's legal right to attack you.
"Then the Lord," verse 10, "restored the fortunes of Job", okay, watch this now, "when he prayed for his friends". Job needed help for him, his world was falling apart, his world had collapsed, but not until he prayed for his friends did the fortune change. So I wanna say it and say it again, minister while you suffer. Very interesting. "The Lord increased all that job had two-fold". Everything doubled.
So in closing up, you got a book, I got a book, we got a book. That book is your destiny. Satan wants to steal your destiny by distracting you from God and trading. Making money your God, making power your God, making popularity your God, making notoriety your God. He wants to trade with you, 'cause he's gonna make something in this world looks more important and more potent and more profitable and better than God and following him. He wants to do the trade. But the one-third of angels that traded with him will be in hell forever.
When you trade with the devil, you pay interest payments for eternity or maybe all of history. But God has allowed an appeal process, that if you go to God in repentance and appeal your case before him, he can reverse the decision, and you can pick up the next chapter in your book. Get your book out, ask God to show you where you are in it, and then fulfill your destiny so that when you stand before the Lord, you'll hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant".