These are notes on the sermon, The Story Of Job Through The Lens Of Grace, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 17 March 2019, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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What is God doing when we're going through a trial? Is He behind the trials we face?
In this eye-opening message on the story of Job, you’ll see how God wants to reveal His compassion and mercy in all your challenges and difficulties. We hope these notes will help you understand:
Let this sermon put peace in your heart and fuel your faith to expect God’s protection, provision, deliverance, and restoration!
This sermon is a playback of the 21 July 2013 sermon, “The Story Of Job Through The Lens Of Grace.”
God is a good God and He loves you.
The original sin happened because the devil managed to make Eve unsure of God’s love for her. The devil presented God to her as if He was not generous, as if He was holding back good things from her, as if He had no concern for her.
The devil continues to present God in this bad light to us.
The cross of Jesus Christ destroyed that lie.
God loved us so much that He sent His own Son to die for our sins.
God needed to send Jesus to die for us. There was no other way for man to become righteous before Him.
God is a holy God. If He compromises on His holiness, the universe would collapse.
God is holy, but the essence of God is love. He is good and kind toward us not because we are good, but because He is good.
God found a way so that both His love and His holiness could be satisfied—He laid our sins on Jesus at the cross.
God had to send Jesus, His beloved Son, as a sacrifice because there was no man on earth who was worthy enough to redeem us from sin. The sacrifice had to be blameless and perfect, and every man had sin in his blood. So God sent Jesus to be born of a virgin so that His blood would not come from His earthly father but would be directly from God. He was born to be the perfect lamb, the perfect sacrifice, His sinless blood redeeming us from sin.
Today, if God rejects the sinner, God is saying that what Jesus did at the cross was a waste.
It’s important to set this groundwork that God is not just merciful in making you righteous, He is righteous in making you righteous. He has a righteous basis provided by the cross of Christ. Sin must be punished and has been punished!
The book of Job is one of the wisdom books in the Bible: Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
It is written in verse. But remember that it is not written in English poetry, but Hebrew poetry.
A technique of Hebrew poetry is to present two things (e.g. people, scenarios, speeches, etc.) and compare/contrast them to bring across a truth. We can see this technique used in the book of Job.
There are also many players/actors who play key roles in bringing across the truths in this book.
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.”
— Job 1:1 NKJV
“that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” — Here we have Job, who represents a believer, someone whom God has pronounced righteous by the blood of His Son. Job speaks of a believer who is going through difficulties, someone who is a child of God yet things aren’t going their way.
There are many teachings today that tell you if bad things are happening in your life, it’s because you did something wrong or sinful. That is not why Job suffered.
God Himself said about Job, “... there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8).
But even though Job was blameless and upright, he still had a root of self-righteousness in him that needed to be revealed.
Today, there are believers who also have this sense of self-righteousness that needs to be addressed. These are people who are always blaming others, e.g. “It’s my parents’ fault, my relative’s fault, my colleague’s fault. It’s everyone’s fault but mine.”
The root cause of Job’s suffering was his self-righteousness.
God corrects His children, but as a good Father, He doesn’t discipline with car accidents, sickness, and disease. Where these things are present, Satan is involved. These are his works.
But Job did have to learn something, and God allowed him to go through what he did. God allowed a certain level of disruption in Job’s life to bring out Job’s self-righteousness.
God is still dealing with self-righteousness today, but you need to know that many of Job’s trials cannot happen to you.
Job lamented that he did not have a mediator or an advocate to speak on his behalf. Today, we have this person. His name is Jesus.
The only reason Satan could stand before God to accuse Job in the first place is because Adam gave him the right to God’s throne (when Adam sinned and fell). But today, Satan no longer has a place before God because Jesus has redeemed that place.
Jesus now stands before God, pleading for us. At that time, Job did not have Jesus as his advocate.
The devil is evil. He knew God loved Job so he wanted to hurt Job to hurt God.
Even though God used Job’s sufferings to deal with Job’s self-righteousness, the devil was the one behind them.
Satan made Job lose all his possessions and even his children in one day. Job lost everything he had. Then Satan attacked his health—he “struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” (Job 2:7).
Notice that sickness is from the feet to the head, but healing is from the head to the feet. Sickness is from below, healing is from above. God is in the business of healing.
The devil was behind Job’s sufferings. It was not God.
Today, the devil will try to confuse the disasters he brings with God’s anger to make you believe that God is punishing you.
We need to look at our trials with the right perspective and see what God is really after.
“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
— James 5:11 NKJV
At the point Job’s friends are introduced, Job is covered with diseases and he has lost everything. His 3 friends come to comfort him.
They start well but end horribly, even though they are true-hearted friends.
Their names are:
Notice that the moment they show up, Satan is no more mentioned. Because he knows that with these 3 friends, he’s no more needed.
Many times, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar’s arguments are not wrong. But they are wrongly applied to Job.
Truth shared out of its season is no better than heresy. Make sure the truth you share with someone is in season. Don’t just share everything.
Each of the 3 friends represent a type of preaching we see in the world today.
“Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?”
— Job 4:7 NKJV
“who ever perished being innocent” — Eliphaz told Job he’s not innocent. If something bad is happening in his life, it’s because of some sin in his life.
It’s not true that if someone is going through a trial, it’s because of sin. Sometimes, people go through trials or persecution because of their faith.
The Bible promises that persecution will happen because you believe in the name of Jesus (but don’t get persecuted because of something wrong you did and say that you are under persecution for your belief in Christ—that’s different. The Bible also tells us not to be persecuted for being an evildoer (see 1 Pet. 4:15)).
“Even as I have seen,
Those who plow iniquity
And sow trouble reap the same.
By the blast of God they perish,
And by the breath of His anger they are consumed.”
— Job 4:8–9 NKJV
“Even as I have seen...” — Eliphaz argues from what he has seen, what he has experienced.
Experience is not the mother of wisdom. The Word of God is.
Eliphaz is using his experience (which is wrongly applied to Job) to kick Job after he has fallen.
“For inquire, please, of the former age,
And consider the things discovered by their fathers;
For we were born yesterday, and know nothing,
Because our days on earth are a shadow.
Will they not teach you and tell you,
And utter words from their heart?
“Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh?
Can the reeds flourish without water?
While it is yet green and not cut down,
It withers before any other plant.
So are the paths of all who forget God;
And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish,”
— Job 8:8–13 NKJV
“For inquire, please, of the former age, and consider the things discovered by their fathers” — Bildad argues based on “the former age” and the precedence set by the “fathers.” He argues from tradition.
Tradition does not mean truth.
The things that Bildad says are wrongly applied to Job.
“Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh? ... And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish” — Marsh is slimy, a picture of sin. Bildad is saying, “You are the marsh, Job. You are sinful.” Then he calls Job a hypocrite, telling him that the reason he’s suffering is because he did not observe tradition.
“If you would prepare your heart,
And stretch out your hands toward Him;
If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away,
And would not let wickedness dwell in your tents;
Then surely you could lift up your face without spot;
Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear;
Because you would forget your misery,
And remember it as waters that have passed away,
And your life would be brighter than noonday.
Though you were dark, you would be like the morning.”
— Job 11:13–17 NKJV
“If you would prepare your heart … If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away” — Zophar is saying, “Job, you didn’t prepare your heart. Iniquity is in your hand. That’s why you deserve all this happening to you.”
Technically, what Zophar is saying—that without sin, one can lift up his face without fear—is true. But it’s wrongfully applied to Job.
All Scripture is inspired by God, but not all Scripture should be applied to us, e.g. when Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees” (Matt. 23:13), he’s not talking to us.
When you apply Scripture wrongly to someone’s situation, you end up making the whole situation worse.
Today, this kind of counsel sounds like this: “Your life is very dark now because of sin in your life. If you put away sin, your life will become better.” This legalistic teaching is famous but doesn’t apply to us today because Jesus has fully put away our sins at the cross.
Pastor Prince shares about how terrible it was when a married couple he knew was told that the reason they lost their child is because of sin in their life. He encourages people not to be so narrow-minded to believe that sin is always the reason that people go through trials.
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar represent the 3 kinds of preaching we have in the world today.
Preachers who argue from experience
e.g. “This is how it worked for my family… I let my wife handle all the finances and now there’s peace in my family.” A practice or decision can work for someone and not work for another person. Every family is different. God’s Word just says, “Husbands, love your wives” (Eph. 5:23). How you love her, how you settle arguments, what you decide to agree on and be okay not agreeing on all has to be worked out.
Preachers who argue from tradition
e.g. “In my church, we’ve always done it this way… We only put pastors up for 2 years and worship leaders for 5 months, lest pride comes in.” Tradition is not necessarily truth. It cannot be applied to everything and everyone. It is not God’s Word.
Preachers who argue from legality
e.g. “If you’re going through a trial, there is sin in your life. If you do this, then life will get better for you.” This is religious talk and cannot be applied to those who are made righteous in Christ.
Whenever you preach from experience, tradition, and legality, you will get the opposite result of what you want. You want people to start living upright lives, but people will become self-righteous.
After his friends accuse him of deserving the suffering he is going through, Job gives his defense in chapter 29. In this one chapter, Job speaks of himself more than 40 times, e.g. “I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame.” (Job 29:15).
While Job mentions himself over 40 times, he mentions God only 5 times.
Pastor Prince tells pastors and ministers: “If you want to bring people to a place of humility where the Lord can become everything to them, where He can bless them richly without them being hurt by the blessings, where they know the source of all their blessings, you cannot argue from experience, tradition, or legality.”
Preaching based on experience, tradition, or legality will eventually lead people to bitterness.
“But now they mock at me, men younger than I,
Whose fathers I disdained to put with the dogs of my flock."
— Job 30:1 NKJV
Preaching based on experience, tradition, or legality will also cause people to rise up in self-righteousness.
“Then Job answered and said:
“I have heard many such things;
Miserable comforters are you all!
Shall words of wind have an end?
Or what provokes you that you answer?
I also could speak as you do,
If your soul were in my soul’s place.
I could heap up words against you,
And shake my head at you;”
— Job 16:1–4 NKJV
Not only did Job defend himself, he also blamed God.
“Then Job answered and said:
“How long will you torment my soul,
And break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have reproached me;
You are not ashamed that you have wronged me.
And if indeed I have erred,
My error remains with me.
If indeed you exalt yourselves against me,
And plead my disgrace against me,
Know then that God has wronged me,
And has surrounded me with His net.”
— Job 19:1–6 NKJV
“know then that God has wronged me, and has surrounded me with His net.” — Human nature would rather condemn God than condemn self.
King David was different. He said:
“Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.”
— Psalm 51:4 NKJV
David would rather condemn himself than condemn God. Let’s be like him. We should say to God, “You can never do wrong, Lord. I can never blame you. I might not understand everything I’m going through now, but I know that you’re a compassionate God.”
The whole time the 3 friends were talking, a young prophet named Elihu was standing with them silently. Finally, he spoke:
“Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused. So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said:
“I am young in years, and you are very old;
Therefore I was afraid,
And dared not declare my opinion to you.
I said, ‘Age should speak,
And multitude of years should teach wisdom.’
But there is a spirit in man,
And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.
Great men are not always wise,
Nor do the aged always understand justice.
“Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me,
I also will declare my opinion.’”
— Job 32:4–10 NKJV
“Elihu, the son of Barachel” — “Barachel” means “blessing of God.”
Elihu is a type of Christ.
When Elihu spoke, Job didn’t argue with him even though he argued with the rest of his friends. Job knew that he could not argue against what Elihu was saying.
To the people who are suffering, who have physical conditions in your body, the devil will come to you and tell you it’s because of your sin. If not a recent sin, then a sin in your past. If not in your past, then it could be your father’s or grandfather’s sin.
Many people today still teach on the generational curse. They are going back to the law. We don’t find Paul or Peter preaching on this, because Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. This kind of teaching breaks people instead of helps them.
At the end of Job’s story, he was healed of his boils. He became healthy and lived a long, full life.
Elihu said something very precious to Job:
“His flesh wastes away from sight,
And his bones stick out which once were not seen.
Yes, his soul draws near the Pit,
And his life to the executioners.
If there is a messenger for him,
A mediator, one among a thousand,
To show man His uprightness,
Then He is gracious to him, and says,
‘Deliver him from going down to the Pit;
I have found a ransom’;
His flesh shall be young like a child’s,
He shall return to the days of his youth.”
— Job 33:21–25 NKJV
“To show man His uprightness” — Elihu is saying that what can save a man from suffering and sickness is showing him God’s righteousness. When you talk to a person going through a difficult time, don’t talk about what he has done right or wrong. Talk about JESUS’ UPRIGHTNESS.
“If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand, to show man His uprightness” — Sometimes you can feel like you are one among a thousand preachers proclaiming God’s righteousness. But God is raising more and more young people to share this message of His righteousness!
These messengers will turn the focus away from man to God’s righteousness which comes to man as a gift.
“Then He is gracious to him, and says,
‘Deliver him from going down to the Pit;
I have found a ransom’;”
— Job 33:23–24 NKJV
“Then He is gracious to him” — Once the messenger of grace is able to preach this good news to people, then God will be gracious to the suffering one.
“I have found a ransom” — The word “ransom” here is “atonement.”
When someone declares God’s righteousness, declares that God has found a ransom, God will say over the sick person:
“His flesh shall be young like a child’s,
He shall return to the days of his youth.”
— Job 33:25 NKJV
God can be righteous in healing and blessing sinful men because the price for health, for a wonderful marriage, for blessed children, for days of heaven on earth, has been paid. God found a ransom.
Once we declare God’s righteousness, God says, “Deliver that man from going into the Pit. His flesh shall be young like a child’s and he shall return to the days of his youth.” Claim this blessing! Amen!
After Elihu ends his speech, God speaks to Job.
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
“Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?”
— Job 38:1–5 NKJV
God’s argument is not based on Job. It is based on the grandeur and sublimity of His creation.
Who can be like God? His wisdom is perfect. His compassions never fail. God asks Job, “Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?” (Job 40:8)
There are people who read the Bible and would rather say that the Bible is in error than say that they are in error. When the Bible condemns something they are doing, they would rather say that the Bible is old-fashioned than say that they are wrong. They would rather condemn God and justify themselves.
The Bible will outlast all of us. Long after we’re gone, God’s Word will still stand.
God tells Job about 2 creatures: the behemoth and leviathan. These are both old and powerful beings, and they represent the devil. God is saying, “Job, the devil has been around for a long time. You are no match for him. But the devil is no match for Me.”
Satan loses to God at every turn.
Satan always loses.
Even in this story of Job, when Satan attacks Job, he meets with God. He thinks he’s dealing with a weak and fallible saint, but he’s dealing with the Almighty God.
Unbelief is having a high opinion of yourself and a low opinion of God.
If you want to be blessed beyond your wildest dreams, learn to agree with God. If God says, “In your flesh dwells no good thing” (see Rom. 7:18), agree with it. Then you won’t be surprised when you have bad thoughts. You won’t respond with, “How can I have such thoughts?”
In our flesh dwells no good thing. That’s why God wants us to come before him as Justifier. If you stand before God as Judge, you cannot be saved. If you stand before God as Justifier, you cannot be lost.
When God justifies you, nothing and no one can condemn you.
After Job hears God, He answers:
“Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.””
— Job 42:1–6 NKJV
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. ” — Some people only hear about God and know Him second-hand. But when they go through a trial, they end up really KNOWING Him. They end up realizing that He is not the problem, He is the answer.
“Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” — Job condemns himself before God. He recognizes God’s power and compassion. He recognizes that God is above all.
This kind of condemnation is not about saying, “Oh, I’m so lousy. I’m so stupid. I’m so ugly...” That kind of condemnation kills! What Job did was see himself little and see God big. He humbled himself before God.
We can practice this in our daily lives by saying, “Lord, I had nothing before. All that I have now is from you.” If you want to experience uninterrupted peace and joy, learn to say, “Lord, I would not have clothes to wear if not for you. I would not have food to eat if not for you.”
These things demonstrate to God your indebtedness to His grace. And they remind you of it too.
Once Job comes to this place of humility, God restores to him all that he lost.
“And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
— Job 42:10 NKJV
God also speaks against Job’s 3 friends and commands them to offer sacrifices and get Job to pray for them.
“And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. ”
— Job 42:7–8 NKJV
The Lord restores Job’s losses when he prays for his friends. Don’t wait till you have received your miracle to pray for others! When you’re waiting to see the doctor at a clinic, pray for healing for someone else!
“Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days.”
— Job 42:12–17 NKJV
“no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job” — Beauty is a blessing that you can ask for. Some people have it because of their DNA, but if you feel like you don’t, you can ask God to make you beautiful and give you favor.
Job died old and full of days—satisfying days.
If you’re going through a trial, there’s an ending. You can choose to jump to chapter 42 and say “Lord, you are right and I’m wrong.”
Many of the things in Job’s life won’t happen to us because of Jesus who is pleading for us at God’s right hand. But there are trials that we will go through to manifest our self-righteousness so that it can be dealt with by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When you go through trials like that, you don’t have to live out all the 42 chapters of Job’s life—you can skip to the end of the trial by simply saying, “Lord, you are right and I am wrong. You are my righteousness, Lord. I repent. I abhor myself in ashes. Whatever You say is right, Lord. All that I have today is from You.”
We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.
© Copyright JosephPrince.com 2019
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.
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