Monday, June 9, 2014

Times of Testing

Looking at the book of Job, we can glean a lot of truth from this story.  In fact, last time I taught on a Sunday we studied Job to learn how to pray for our children by pleading the blood of Christ and putting a hedge of protection around them.  This time I want to take a closer look. We are going to look at what to do when you come under a testing time of your faith.  While none of have experienced the magnitude of testing that Job did, we can still see what it was that he did to endure and overcome the trials of this life. 

There are 3 types of testing from the word of God:

Common Testing
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Season of Testing
Luke 4:13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

Hour of Testing
Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

We see that Job is in his hour of testing.  But why is he being tested?  A lot of preachers have said that he loved his “stuff” and was being tested to see if he loved it more than he loved God.  I can see why and how that can apply, but I would like to offer a different reason. 
If we look at the dialog between Satan and God, we can see what the devil is doing.

Job 1:9 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!

He wants Job to curse God!  Job’s biggest fear is that he or his family will curse God in their hearts or with their mouths. 

Job 1:5  So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed[a] God in their hearts.”

First, Satan comes in and takes away all of the animals.  We learned last time that this took away Job’s ability to make sacrifice and plead the blood, thereby removing the hedge of protection and allowing the devil to overtake Job’s children in a whirlwind.  The words says, 20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

Are you beginning to see the pattern here?  It isn’t that Job is concerned with his stuff.  In fact, he doesn’t even waver in the face of the servants who are bringing him this bad news.  He doesn’t know why God is allowing this to happen, but he will not curse God.  Taking Job’s wealth and legacy wasn’t enough for Satan, he wanted to prove that he is right and God is wrong.  So again, he comes before God and says, 4 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!

Satan then strikes him with boils, but he still doesn’t curse God.  The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened with his wife, but Jewish sources say that Job’s wife was tricked by Satan and went to Job after the humiliation of having her head shaved by Satan in public.  She begged Job to give Satan what he wanted by cursing God so that they could just die. Instead, Job showed her their children in heaven and she gives up her spirit to be with them.  After all of this we see Job begin to crack.  He doesn’t curse God, but after his friends appeared and sat in the dung pile with him he began to curse himself.  This is where we see Job catch himself, stop and admit: Job 3:25 For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me.

It’s here that his friends start in on him.  They bring three accusations against him:
 Hidden sin

Deuteronomy 28 sheds some light on why these friends might have been accusing Job of wrong doing.  It shows the curses that come on someone who does wrong before God.  Three things stand out about the curses and Job’s condition.  God says that if you do not harken to My words, 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat any of it. Your donkey will be taken away from you and not returned to you. Your flock will be given to your enemies, and no one will help you. 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another people, while your eyes grow weary looking for them every day… 35 The Lord will afflict you with painful and incurable boils on your knees and thighs—from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.

Job’s friends are simply looking at the law and saying, “Well, from what we see and know about God, He must be the one who is doing this and because of that Job, you are in the wrong somewhere.”  This is how we still look at our brothers and sisters today.  We look at the circumstances and make judgments about them based on what they are going through instead of what they are going to in life.  Fortunately for Job his response is if God gives it He can also take it away.

While his friend is giving him counsel from the position of Job having sinned, he still gives Job some good advice on how to be.  In verse 28 he tells Job to start declaring good over himself, not evil.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue.  We have to realize that we are sons and daughters of the Most High and that we have authority in this world.  Our words carry weight. 

Job 22 23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up; You will remove iniquity far from your tents.
24 Then you will lay your gold in the dust, And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks.
25 Yes, the Almighty will be your gold[
c] And your precious silver; 26 For then you will have your delight in the Almighty, And lift up your face to God. 27 You will make your prayer to Him, He will hear you, And you will pay your vows. 28 You will also declare a thing, And it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways.

What are you speaking over your Hour of Testing?

God ends up having to come in and get between Job and his friends.  God has questions for them that they can’t begin to answer, then He changes direction and begins talking about a creator called “leviathan”.  This has caused many people to believe in the existence of everything from dragons to the Loch Ness monster. 

While I could spend a day excitedly talking about those topics, I will instead put forth a plausible argument for what and why God spends a whole chapter on this creator before instructing Job on what to do to reinstate the blessings of God for his life.

We read in Isaiah and Revelation that this leviathan is a 7-headed serpent which is the devil.  In Job, I think God is telling Job, who doesn’t know what is going on, that Satan is the one who has taken from him.  In fact, in verse 34, God says about the creator, Job 41:34 He sees everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride.

Who is the king over all the sons of pride?  His name is Satan.

Why would God want to show Job who was behind this theft?  I’m glad you asked because in the law there is a tenet that says,
Exodus 22:7 If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double.

God is showing Job the thief!  He is so amazing at bringing everything back and turning that which is bad into good. 
So what do we need to take from this story?

We can learn from this account that we
·         Never Curse God
·         Stop Cursing Yourself
·         Let God Defend you
·         Pray for those who wrong you

This will reverse the curse and ignite the blessings of God in double portion.  Solomon says, better is the end of a thing than the beginning.  In the last chapter of Job we see he has double what he had lost.  God’s law is still in effect today.  If the enemy comes and robs you of something God has given you, make a claim to God and He will make the enemy return that which he stole in double portion.  Let’s pray together for revelation and breakthrough.  I know there are people here who are in need of this word.  Believe that God is going to come in like a whirlwind and show us how to get out of our sorrow, out of hell and grief!  Let’s pray and believe together.