We started a series on Job at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville this past Sunday entitled “Walking with God When Life Goes Sideways.” After teaching through the Gospel of Mark we wanted to turn our attention to the Old Testament for a season and the wisdom literature in particular. The finalists were Job and Ecclesiastes. It was a tough choice.
In his commentary on Job, Francis Anderson describes this book as “…one of the best gifts of God to men.” And Christopher Ash observes that Job is “a neglected treasure of the Christian Life.” So if you are unfamiliar with Job as one of the best gifts of God to men or if you are numbered among those who have neglected this treasure, it is my hope that you will recognize and receive this exquisite gift from God and learn to treasure what you might have neglected.
And we must not neglect Job for a moment longer for as part of the wisdom literature this book has been divinely inspired and uniquely crafted to prepare us for suffering. And prepare we must, for as NT scholar Don Carson has insightfully written:
“The truth of the matter is that all we have to do is live long enough, and we will suffer.”
No one is exempt from suffering but not every Christian is prepared for suffering. And we all need to be prepared or we will be blindsided by suffering. You will need your best theology in your darkest moments. In your darkest moments of suffering you will need the theology present in Job. The theology of Job is revealed as you overhear him reach out in his agony to God and—most importantly—as God graciously reveals himself to Job.
If you are more familiar with Proverbs than you are Job, you are most likely not prepared for suffering and not prepared to care for those who are suffering. Tim Keller explains:
“While Proverbs tends to emphasize the justice of suffering and how much suffering is directly related to wrongdoing, Job and Ecclesiastes vividly show how much of it is not. Job and Ecclesiastes supplement Proverb’s understanding of the world. While Proverbs shows us the reality of God’s order, Job points to its hiddenness and Ecclesiastes to its confusion. At the end of the book of Job, God appears and insists that the moral order of the universe is still intact, but it is in large part hidden from human eyes. The Bible’s assessment is less flattering to non-sufferers and kinder to those who are hurting.”
Prior to suffering, prior to our darkest moments, it would be wise to have made friends with Job.
Douglas O’ Donnell explains why:
“We have come to a book that will teach us that God’s love for us is bigger and broader than sentimentality and sympathy and that his will for our lives is vaster and grander than our personal happiness or success…that we are to love God, to cherish him as he does us, whether he gives or takes away.”
And just one more choice quote from the excellent commentary by Christopher Ash on Job as to why Job:
“In some deep way it is necessary for it to be publicly seen by the whole universe that God is worthy of the worship of a man and that God’s worth is in no way dependent of God’s gifts.”
So let us neglect this treasure not a moment longer.