It’s a scene – it’s not the story!
Since I started speaking I have read commentaries and watched preachers online, just kind of trying to find my lane. I recently watched a video of a pastor preaching and a phrase he used resonated with me. It’s a scene – it is not the story. How often do we think that the situation we are in right now in the present feels like it is our forever place?
I love to read. Have you ever gotten so caught up in a book or a movie that you found yourself holding your breath and thinking that the main character will never get out of this?
Scholars do not all agree but many think that Job may be the oldest book in the bible. It tackles the thorny issue of theodicy or divine justice. The thought that God rewards virtue and punishes sin. Job was my least favorite book of the bible. It doesn’t fit my picture of the loving Father, waiting to welcome me home with open arms, to dry my tears, and give me my heavenly assignment (which is probably going to be heavenly garbage person but that’s okay – long as I get in the door!)
The story of Job always left me with more questions than answers. Why would God give so much grief to this good man? Just because satan challenges him? It seems very unfair, arbitrary. Is this one of those lessons in trust? I know that for me, very often, the problem is not with God, but with the limitations of my understanding.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Isaiah 58:8-9 reminds me:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So I decided I needed to dig a little deeper.
You all know the story but here is the condensed version. Hopefully you can picture some of this story in your mind always keeping in mind – this is a scene – it is not the story!
We start out with Job. He has a good good life. He has a good wife, a beautiful home, livestock, servants and kids. He loves the Lord and the bible tells us he is blameless.
There are two confrontations between God and satan. God points out his faithful servant Job and satan says if you take away his blessings he will curse you. God gives satan permission to do that only not to harm him physically. Job loses his livestock, his servants, his home, and his children, but he doesn’t blame God, in fact he praises him. He said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
So God points this out to satan – Job has lost his earthly blessings and he is still faithful. Satan says take away his health and he will curse you to your face. God gives satan permission to take Jobs health but not to kill him and so Job is covered now with boils from head to toe. He sat in ashes scraping himself with a piece of pottery. Even his wife said “curse God and die” She gave up fast!
Now Jobs’ three friends enter the story and they see this awful sight and sit down in the ashes with Job and they stay there for a week with him, not speaking. Finally Job breaks his silence. What does he do? He complains. Well wouldn’t any of us? He wishes he had never been born, and if he had to be born he wishes he had died at birth. What good is living if it brings so much pain? He, like any of us would, was crying out. Why?
Do his friends offer sympathy and support? Nope. They point out to him that he used to encourage the weak. He should take his own advice. If all these trials have come upon him he must have sinned. He needs to confess his sin and repent so the Lord will restore him.
Job defends himself and pretty much tells these guys they are “fair weather” friends.
At about verse 36 apparently there is a storm. One of Job’s friends, Elihu compares God to the majesty of the storm and makes a speech. God speaks to Job out of the storm and asks him a series of questions and Job admits his understanding is too limited to answer and he repents. God rebukes Job’s friends/critics and tells them to make a sacrifice and that Job will pray for them so that God won’t give them what they deserve for not telling the truth about Him. Not too happy with their theology. After Job prayed for his friends, God restored him and blessed him in the latter part of his life more than He had in the former.
So what if we walk this out looking for signs or comparisons with Jesus? Where is Jesus?
Job as one of the oldest books in the bible happened a long time before the birth of Jesus…but!
John 1 says In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 8:12 says When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
We saw at the beginning – Job was blameless. The most upright man on earth suffers the most. Remind you of someone else?
Job said “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return there. (Job 21). Jesus died naked on a cross.
Eliphaz at one point started just making up stuff that Job never actually did. (Job 22:6-9) Jesus was falsely accused by false witnesses at His trial before the high priest.
Eliphaz taunted Job – told him to call out to God for help. Matthew 27:43 says “He trusted God; let him deliver Him now if He will have Him.”
At one point Job cried out “Why do you hide your face, and regard me as your enemy? Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
At the time that Job needed his friends the most, they failed him. Peter denied Jesus 3 times. I have failed people I love. Not intentionally but it caused pain none-the-less.
Job was raised up from his suffering when he interceded for his friends. After Jesus’ suffering, He was raised up as our intercessor.
So…Picture Job, a good and happy man, livestock, servants home, children – picture it. Beautiful life. The scene, but not the story.
Now see Job sitting in ashes, disfigured, bereft. At first too sorrow-filled to speak for a whole week! Still…A scene, not the story!
Then? Job still in ashes but his three so-called friends pointing fingers and lecturing him. Looking all high and mighty while Job is still crying out to God – asking why?
A storm, God speaks! Job in awe, realizes how little he understands. I can just picture this. Darkness, clouds and thunder and lightning and Job with his face turned to God’s voice while his friends are standing to the side, arms crossed, feeling pretty smug. Boy, Job is going to get it now! And God proceeds to ask questions.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
And more, so much more. You have to read the book of Job – the pictures of the glory and power and majesty of God are some of the most beautiful verses I have ever read….and Job is humbled and repents.
And then God turns just a bit and there is that moment when the three friends realize that oh oh….now they have their arms behind their backs and their heads bowed…
When I was a kid we had a glassed in porch called a breezeway. The kitchen door going to the porch had a square window covered in curtains my mama made. Those curtains were ALWAYS closed. I had just gotten a whipping for something. I don’t even remember what. I went out the door and turned around to face that window and stuck my tongue out. The curtains were open and there stood my mama – frowning and crooking her finger at me. I imagine those friends having that same feeling I had multiplied by a gazillion.
A scene but not the story.
After Job prays for his friends, God restores Job’s health and blesses him with a house and more livestock and children and his life is different. You can’t go back and losses are losses but there are new blessings.
Jesus arrested, tried and crucified. You can’t judge a story by one scene.
When you are sitting in the ashes? Well if you give up when you are in the pit, you will never see the palace!
The health scare? That job you didn’t get? That problem with your marriage? Worries for your children? A layover, not the destination!
The storm? The set up for the story!
It can be real and hard and painful, but it doesn’t define you – there is more to the story!
There are hard things that happen in this life. Sometime we cry out to God and there doesn’t seem to be an answer. We wonder how can God allow bad things to happen to good people?
There is pain, trials, suffering…death. Scenes.
There is grace, restoration, resurrection. The story!
Phillippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ
When trials come – you can sit in the ashes and you can cry out to God. Just don’t stay there. Look for Jesus. Amen?