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Just the Job

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sermon for the First Sunday after Trinity


God is a monster, isn’t he? After all, He uses poor Job just to win a bet with Satan.”


Lots of people have this view of the opening chapters of Job and it’s easy to see why. We do get a sense of God using us for His own ends. That can’t be right, can it?


[PAUSE]


Whose vision is it?


That’s the question to ask. We know Moses’ vision of God, and Isaiah’s vision of God, and Ezekiel’s vision of God, and St John’s vision of God, but who is having the vision of God in this story of Job? It’s not Job.


And that’s the key to understanding this.


The Bible is not just a collection of books of history. There are poetry, prophecy and wisdom as well – all God-breathed as St Paul tells us. We are not supposed to take poetry or proverb literally. The book of Job is not one of the history books in the bible. It’s not like Chronicles or Deuteronomy, or any of the Gospels or the Acts of the Apostles. It is classed as wisdom literature and placed among the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Wisdom books of Solomon and Jesus the Son of Sirach. It means we have to treat it as a story but to search within it for the truth that God has for us therein.


Look at the Heavenly Court in Job. What is this trying to tell us?


[PAUSE]


First, it presents to us the problem of why there is Evil in the world. We see God enthroned and Satan, the Accuser, taunting God about the depth of Job’s love for Him. And we see God permit Satan to afflict Job. That’s important. God says, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power.” And later, God says, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.” God does not command Satan to afflict Job. God states a fact. Satan, being an angelic being, has power over human beings. And Satan, being an angelic being, is as free to choose as we are.


Satan does not have to inflict suffering on Job, but he does because he hates God. He’s the one who is trying to score points over God.


And God allows it. Why?


[PAUSE]


As St John walks with Jesus, the Lord sees a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples ask Him, saying, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” And Jesus answers them, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”


So God is using us to win an argument?


There are two things here. First, we are Creations of God. This means that He gets to use us in the way that He chooses. Yet, the evidence that we have about Him is that He values us as individuals and rejoices in how He has created us. If God treats us as mere instruments and vessels to play with, why does Jesus Christ come in to save the world?


This brings us to the second point. God is not using us – He is using the results of Evil against Evil. This is hard to see because we don’t have a complete picture. We will never know the mind of God which is why He implores us to trust Him. The man was born blind for some reason we don’t know, but God uses the man’s blindness to bring good into the world. And where Good is, Evil cannot be.


A man has the palsy and look! His friends, people who love him so much, deliberately break through the roof of a house just so that he might be cured of his sickness. Not only do they love this man, but they also have faith in Jesus and this faith is communicated to the multitudes of people within the house crowding around Jesus. And yet further, the man’s sins are forgiven and the Lord’s power to forgive sins is displayed for all! At every stage, Satan’s wickedness is used by God to bring about something wonderful to draw human beings closer to His Love.


[PAUSE]


This is why we have to have faith. We can’t see the bigger picture. The story of God’s throne room in the book of Job is just that – a story. We will see suffering and it will test our love and faith to the limit. Yet, we do believe in a God Who has power over Death itself and not even that can separate us from His love.


The suffering of humanity does deserve an answer. This answer will never be found in textbooks, nor in lectures, nor even in sermons.


The suffering of humanity is answered by faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.

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