by Mike Ratliff
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:6-18)
If we listen to many very popular preachers these days, we will hear that God’s will for His people is that they be always healthy, have plenty of money, have well behaved children, a great job and a huge retirement fund awaiting them in their golden years. If any suffering comes into Christian’s lives it is a sure sign that they have sinned and are out of fellowship with God. This type of teaching is very popular with people. In fact, some of the largest churches in the United States are based entirely upon ministering within this teaching. After all, don’t we want to be blessed?
While this teaching is extremely popular, we must ask the crucial questions, “But is it Biblical?” ”Is this really God’s will for His people?” “Does suffering always equate to punishment for sin?” “Why is it that some Christians never seem to suffer, but others are always in the fire?” “How come some wicked people never seem to suffer, in fact they prosper while some very devout Christians do suffer?”
We will try to answer these questions plus many more in this study. We will be studying the book of Job in the Old Testament. Surely all of us have heard of “the patience of Job.” Many of us may not know what they refers to, but when we see a believer going through trial after trial we often will say that they manifest “the Patience of Job.” However, this wonderful book is not really about that. In fact, it has a depth of meaning that most of us have overlooked as we have painfully read through Job’s 42 chapters during our daily Bible readings. The spiritual truths in Job must be revealed to our hearts as we exegetically study each of its 12 sections.
The twelve sections or scenes in the Book of Job are:
- Job and his family before affliction overtook them.
- Satan instigates Job’s suffering by getting permission from God to strike. He then strikes by taking all of Job’s property and kills his children. However, Job does not sin and retains his integrity before God.
- Satan revisits God and gets permission to strike Job personally. God gives him permission to strike Job, but not kill him. Job does not blaspheme and submits to God’s will completely without sin.
- Job’s three friends arrive and sit with him in silence for seven days.
- Job, his patience being exhausted utters his complaint.
- The long and fruitless discourses between Job and his three friends who accuse him of being sinful, which caused his suffering. Job counters with his innocence.
- Elihu enters the conversation, but says nothing new.
- God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind with both words of encouragement and reproof.
- Job’s confession.
- God speaks again.
- Job’s second confession followed by God’s rebuke of Job’s three friends
- Job prays for his three friends and his own prosperity. God restores his health, his prosperity and blesses him with more children.
Personally, I am excited to do this study. I dislike suffering just like everyone else. However, I know from studying my Bible that all who live righteously before God will suffer. It is never pleasant. It seems to go on forever. However, suffering is God’s number one tool He uses to drive out of us any dependence we have on anyone or anything other than Him. Christ-likeness is developed in those who have been through the fires of tribulation.
Oh, my Lord God, please take us through this study of your Sovereignty over our suffering. Use it for you glory. Teach us the truth about You and Your ways as well as our own spiritual condition before You. Please bless the reading and studying of your Word. In Jesus Name – Amen.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
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