Why do bad things happen? Why is there suffering in the world? How can God be all loving and yet allow these bad things to happen? If God really loves me, then why didn’t He stop this evil from coming into my life? These questions are some of the most-often asked questions, especially for believers.
Today we are going to find the answers to these important questions, so that they will not be avenues for doubt, confusion or fear to come into our lives any longer.
Now I can’t speak for you, but I had a difficult week, a hard week, a challenging week. And what’s some of the common things that people say?
– I guess the devil is just picking on me this week, or
– I suppose Satan is sifting me as wheat like he did Job.
You would be shocked to learn how very often I hear believers say things like this. So let’s address these ideas from scripture, and see the truth of Jesus in the Word, because it’s by knowing the truth that we are set free (John 8:32). The first scripture which we are going to read tonight is going to be Job 1:1-4:
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters.
His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.”
Now right-away I want to address that word “perfect” in verse 1 of our text. We know according to Romans 3:23 that there is no-one who is perfect or sinless except Jesus Christ. A proper translation of the word used here is actually “blameless”. Job was not perfect, but he was blameless in the sight of God.
Another thing that we see from these verses is that Job was rich, Job was not poor. And who was responsible for Job’s wealth? Who gave Job all of his possessions? In Hebrew the name of Job means “hated and persecuted.” but who was the one who hated Job? Since we know that it was God who gave Job riches and wealth and protected him and all that he had, it obviously was not God who hated or persecuted Job. Let’s contuse reading with verses 6 through 12:
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, From where come you? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil?
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing?
Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.
And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.”
A question that many people immediately ask when reading these verses, is “Why was Satan allowed to come into the presence of the LORD to begin with?” Notice that verse 6 says “the sons of God” came to present themselves before God, and Satan also came; so he was an extra, not part of the group. Why was he allowed? First let’s clarify something… in Revelation 12:7-9 we see the following:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
This happened when Satan rebelled against God, he was cast out (of Heaven) out of the presence of God and cast down (into) the earth. So when this happened, Satan lost his access to the throne room of God.
Now fast-forward to the creation of man. In Genesis 1:26-28, God creates man and gives him dominion over the earth and everything in it. God made man the ruler of the earth… God did not make Satan the ruler of the earth, but man. Fast forward some more to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness in Luke 4:5-6, and we read something very interesting:
“And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
And the devil said to him, All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered to me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.”
Notice that the devil said that all the kingdoms of the world were “delivered unto” him. And the Greek word used there is paradidōmi, meaning “surrender”.
When was the world surrendered to Satan? When Adam fell back in the Garden.
You see, the ruling authority and position that Adam had, included access to the throne-room of God, and when Adam surrendered his authority to Satan, he also surrendered his access to the throne-room of God. That is why Satan was allowed to appear before God even after being cast out of Heaven.
Now back in Job, we see after Satan appeared before God, he accuses God indirectly of playing favorites with Job and he also accuses Job of loving God for selfish reasons. The devil’s real target is God, but he can’t attack God so he is trying to hurt God by hurting Job; just as some exceptionally evil people today will try to hurt you by hurting your children; Satan is doing the same thing here in our text.
God’s response in verse 12 is very interesting… God does not say “I give everything he has to you”. Instead God says “Behold”, that means “Look”, “… all that he has is in your hands.”.
We know from what we have just studied, that Satan had dominion over the earth from Adam’s surrender, but wait… we also see in verse 10 that God had a hedge around Job an all that he has! So what has happened to the hedge? Did Satan successfully bait God into removing the hedge? No, because as we know from James 1:13, that God cannot be tempted, nor does He tempt anyone.
There is something that transpired in the life of Job, that caused the hedge to be removed, and in order to understand it we need to study a bit more, so let’s continue. After this meeting, Satan leaves the throne room of God, and a bunch of things happen to Job. Now in none of these things does the Bible directly state that Satan was involved… it says that a servant came and reported that the Sabeans came and pillaged and murdered, and another one said that “fire from heaven” came and burned up his sheep and servants. You notice that when the world reports tragedies like earthquakes and tornadoes, they always say “it was an act of God.” but these things are not acts of God, we know it is the devil. He uses thieves, terrorists, disasters, these are acts of Satan, not God. God is a good God, and we read in James 5:11 that He is very merciful and tender.
Next a cyclone came and killed all of Job’s children.
Furthermore in Job 2:7 we also see that after Satan appeared a second-time before God, Job himself gets covered with painful boils. So all manner of calamity is laid on Job and as a side note, it is interesting to see that the Bible makes a point to mention that Job’s boils covered him from “his feet to the crown of his head” – from the bottom upwards. Yet in the Bible when healing comes it is always from “the top of the head to the soles of the feet”, from the top downwards. That tells us that sickness and disease is from hell, but healing is from God. God never makes you sick.
After this Job’s friends come, and they have good intentions, but they are misguided. We read about them in Job 2:11:
“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come on him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.”
Each one of these friends has a different argument, but the same end point. They all end up pointing Job to human effort and self. And we have friends like these today, and not only friends but also pastors who speak these same ways and use these same arguments, so we can learn a lesson from this here.
First we have Eliphaz, his name means God of Gold. Gold in the Bible is a type of righteousness, but this in-particular here is not God’s righteousness, but self-righteousness – we know this because all of his arguments are from human experience and human knowledge. (Job 4:7-8).
Then we have Bildad, whose name means Confusing Love. He has love, but it is unfocused and corrupted. Bildad always argues from human tradition. (Job 8:8-10). There are many people today so stuck in human traditions that they worship the tradition instead of God, and it leads to destruction.
After this we have Zophar, whose name means Departing Sparrow. Old Testament priests would take two sparrows, kill one of them and dip the second live sparrow in blood and set it free. The departing sparrow is a symbol therefore of freedom by the redemptive blood of another. Zophar, however argues strictly from self-merit and law. (Job 11:4-6).
All three of Job’s friends, direct Job more towards himself and his own actions than on God, and there are many friends and indeed many pastors who do the same; it’s one of Satan’s oldest schemes.
So what happened to Job? What happened to his hedge, we read a hint in Job 3:25-26:
“For the thing which I greatly feared is come on me, and that which I was afraid of is come to me.
I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.”
We see here that Job had lost his focus. He not only was afraid, but had great fear. Terror. Dread. He was not in safety, he had no rest, no peace nor was he quiet. Why was he afraid and not in peace? Because as you can read in Job chapter 32 and 33, Job stopped glorifying God and started glorying himself and his own righteousness. He lost sight of God and started trusting in himself. And when you start trusting in yourself, worry and fear and lack of peace come rushing in like a flood.
Now why does the Bible mention Job’s fear? Because in Hebrew’s 2:15 it is fear, specifically the fear of death and separation from God that subjects people to all kinds of bondage.
Let me give you an example of this: Let’s say that you hear a news report that says the taxes are going up, and because you are unsure of your spiritual foundation (trusting in your own righteousness) you are unable to really trust God for your provision. Then you will say something like “Oh no, I don’t know how I am going to make it through this month!”
Or you hear a report, that a disease is going around, and you are not trusting God for your health, you will utter something like “Oh well, I guess I’m next, I always seem to get sick!”
So in Job 33:8-12, we see God’s diagnosis of Job’s problem:
“Surely you have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard the voice of your words, saying,
I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.
Behold, he finds occasions against me, he counts me for his enemy,
He puts my feet in the stocks, he marks all my paths.
Behold, in this you are not just: I will answer you, that God is greater than man.”
No-one can stand before God and say that they are clean and righteous in themselves. And in verses 22-26 of this same chapter, we see the cure:
“Yes, his soul draws near to the grave, and his life to the destroyers.
If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show to man his uprightness:
Then he is gracious to him, and said, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.
His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth:
He shall pray to God, and he will be favorable to him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render to man his righteousness.”
God speaks through a fourth friend Elihu (whose name means He is God) and tells Job that even when a mean is near death, even at the point of dying, God is still merciful, and this is mercy with a purpose. God is always looking for a way to deliver and save each of us from the power of the enemy. To remove that fear, to remove that lack of rest and bring peace. And look at how He does it in verses 23-24. By showing the dying man God’s uprightness. Then God will say “Deliver him from going into the pit.: for I have found a ransom. And today we have that ransom, His Name is Jesus.
Look at the next verse, because this is for your body. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s, he shall return to the days of his youth. Same people think that we are supposed to get more feeble and broken down with age, and they just accept it as a fact of life. But this is for your flesh. And how does this come? Verse 26. it all comes through Jesus’ righteousness.
One final question: Can Satan do to us today what he did to Job? Can Satan stand in-front of God and slander us today? Because some people are afraid of that. In closing, I want to show you how complete and thorough of a job that Jesus did when He redeemed us.
In Leviticus 16:14 you will read about a ritual of the priests where they will sprinkle blood seven times in front of the Ark and mercy seat, to purify the place where they will stand before God. Because no sin can stand where the blood is, they in-essence are purifying it. Keeping this in-mind, you will also read in Hebrews 9:22-24, that Jesus our Great High Priest ascended into Heaven and sprinkled His perfect Blood to cleanse the Heavenly place where Satan once stood, and now Jesus appears before God on our behalf instead of Satan – The devil has no more right or access to the throne room of God to accuse us any longer.
The only way that he can have any real power in our lives today. Trouble and pressure from the world may come, but as long as we keep our eyes focused on His righteousness, our victory is assured. And in Job 42:10-13: we read that Job received back double what was stolen from him.
Give Jesus the praise for all He has done!