May the Lord bless, strengthen and grant what you need in these difficult times which are often the most blessed.
This morning I would like to look at a story in the Bible that is very well known. It is my prayer that as it helped me and touched my life that it might be a blessing to you. We will read from the book of Job. Ask the Lord to speak to you about it. There might be something that is not mentioned today but God will speak to your heart about it. That is life and that is what we seek.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate 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 children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Job 1:1 – 4
In short, Job was a down-to-earth farmer. This summary gives us a complete picture of Job’s life.
Job lived while Jacob did. So Jacob was not the only man who feared and served God with His family. God had His children in other places as well. Job’s affliction took place 10 years before the death of Joseph. Job passed away just before the children of Israel left Egypt.
There were a few things that were important to Job: he continually offered sacrifices to purify and sanctify his children. When he did it for his children, he would do it for himself first. That is what a real man does. He cannot expect his children to do what he himself does not. That is why the Lord said that there was no man as pure, upright and blameless as Job. He purified himself and shunned evil. We see how Job loved and cared for his children. Job knew the heart of man. He knew what man was up to. He knew that the only way out was that a person purifies himself. Job also had wealth and this is the most dangerous part of any person’s life.
Although God said that Job was blameless, He went deeper with him. Sometimes in life, we wonder why things happen – it is because God wants to go deeper in your life than you ever thought. Job may have felt: I attended services, I heard about the Lord, I did exactly what He told me to do, people acknowledged that I was an example, but Job came to a point where he admitted, “What experienced has opened my eyes to who God really is.” This is what God wants to do to our lives. The devil wanted to destroy him but God took that thing and turned it around so that it became a blessing which cannot be fathomed. This teaches that what God brings across your way, you should accept with a humble heart and it will turn out totally opposite to what the devil imagined it would be. When a person offers sacrifices, when he purifies and sanctifies himself, it is a humbling experience. This is where God wants us to be. That is why Job was blameless and upright because in his heart, his inner heart, he wanted to serve God and when something went wrong he made it right.
This is possibly why God allowed everything to be taken from him. Although rare, it is not impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Riches and wealth can be a great, great stumbling block in a person’s life which is why God allows us to be what we are and we must be thankful. Do not always yearn for what you have not got. Be satisfied. It is dangerous to have things which will enable you to do what you want. Bunyan said: Gold and gospel seldom go together. Religion sides with poverty. Wealth must never master you. You must master it. This is what Rev Stegen has taught us. He never had possessions which he kept things for himself. He was always prepared to reach out to the next person. Woe to us if we hold onto that which does not belong to us.
God smote Job. God smote Job that He might raise him above his fellow men. He was the greatest man in the East and God wanted him to be the greatest for God. Now you have a clearer understanding of how his sacrifices in order to sanctify himself were the key to his life.
Christ came to die for us and save us from our sin. Why should we not accept it with open arms? Through Him and with Him we can become blameless and upright. Those who say there should be no confession – have failed to understand what it is about. Job understood which is why the Bible speaks about him in this manner. The Bible says that he rose early. He did not waste time. He called his children. He did not leave them. He said let us do this because I do not know what is in your hearts. That he got up early has spiritual significance. He did it the first thing in the day. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed or disowned God in their hearts. (AMPC) We say that cursing is bad but sin has the same effect. Job understood that if his children sin, it was as if they cursed God. The Bible says that disobedience is as the sin of witchcraft. We despise witchcraft as evil and dark but we do not take disobedience as seriously.
It is so easy to talk about something that you do not know about. Someone made a comment recently and I followed it up. I found out that there was no truth in that comment. People twist things so quickly. It is said that people at the mission practise witchcraft and they have bewitched others. Have you ever asked those people whether they do that? Those who say such things are themselves bewitched because of their disobedience to what God has taught them from the beginning. If you are disobedient, what you see in others is exactly what you are like. When you say others bewitch people, you are bewitched and you are bewitching others with your lies.
Job knew what his children could be up to. He never excused them or sided with them but he knew that as a father he had to do something. When people are happy, feasting and everything is going well, the danger is the greatest. Job knew what went through the hearts and minds of children. They possibly disowned God. They may have had thoughts against their parents and God. You know what it is like but you allow your children and trust them. Job decided to watch his children. It is said that you cannot tell your children to go to a counsellor and confess their sins. When we were young we did not want to come to this place. One day Ms Lydia Dube visited us and my father told her that the children must decide whether they want to go to the mission or not. She feared God and her response was, “If the house was burning, wouldn’t you tell the children and warn them in order to escape a fiery death?” God gave us no choice. In other words, you do it or you lose it. What do we say? It would be wonderful if the children would come out of themselves. Job, however had a different attitude.
Parents often hold back and send their children to others for help. Once they have sent the child to someone else for help they feel they have done their bit like sending the child to school so they can panel beat your child into the correct shape. Where do parents get that idea from? These days I experienced parents who said – so far and no further with regards their child – then God started working. It seemed as if God was waiting for the parent to draw the line in order to be able to work in the child’s life. Forget what other parents are doing right and wrong. Look at your own life. Look at your own children. See where they stand. Before the day starts (early in the child’s life), help them and show them the way. When you put your foot down, God will put His foot down.
Eli did not take steps even when he was warned. He left things. He left his children. His children died but he also lost his life. The Bible says that we should draw nigh to God with that child that you do not know what to do with. You are the parent, you know what to do. Get up and do it. You will see how God will intervene.
Now one understands why our Lord in heaven said, “Have you seen that person?” Satan wormed himself into heaven. But the Bible says in Revelations 12 that one day he will be bound and thrown out forever. We do not understand everything and we do not have to either but here we are open to the reality of the spiritual battle we are in. Can God stand up and point at you and me and say, “Satan, have you seen that person, their life?” Not because you are better but because of the way you have accepted Christ and allowed Him to work in your life.
If the devil could enter heaven in such a way, how can he not enter and whisper evil things in your thoughts? We must be so on our guard because in a split second he whispers things into your thoughts and because you have dropped your guard you accept those thoughts. Friends, the devil will try whatever he can and often he begins in our thought life. This is where many problems start - with your thoughts. You relax and your thoughts trouble you because you are inclined to evil. It starts in the thoughts. You see somebody doing something and you make your own conclusions as to why they are doing it and how wrong it is. The Bible teaches us to watch and pray. If Satan can reach heaven, he can reach our thoughts. We must sanctify and purify ourselves continually so that the devil gets no foothold. If the heart is inclined to evil like pornography, the thoughts trigger it. These things work together. The thought life is let loose and it triggers the evil to be done.
Satan, the accuser, came before God. Satan could not accuse Job of any wrong. Our lives should be like this. If our lives are hid in Christ and we come to Him, Satan cannot accuse us. It is so important that a person offers those sacrifices and brings those confessions so that the devil will find no foothold. Satan intended to destroy Job because of his life. Wherever God is at work, the devil will be let lose to destroy. God had confidence in Job and it is no wonder that He singled him out. The Lord said to Peter, “I have prayed for you because the devil wants to sift you as disciples.” We do not understand all these things. Is the Lord able to trust you? Does He have that confidence in you, as He had in Job that He can say to Satan, “Alright, do it.”
You have children, parents. You are confident that your child will not do things that are wrong. Our heavenly Father also trusts us that we will not fall and do things that we should not.
The devil knew that he could attack Peter and where he could hit him the hardest. The Lord Jesus knew the final outcome of this. One of the disciples lost this battle because he lived in sin. Judas loved money. One may have understood this if Judas would have had the wealth of Job but just a few silver coins? You might say that you have not denied the Lord because of riches but think about your business. What have you not done? Have you have lost your faith or the truth that God has shown you?
God said, “Go, but only so far.” The devil attacked his children first. Do you hear that children? If the devil cannot reach your parents, he goes for you. He knows that when he touches you he touches your parents. Young people, you have a responsibility which is more than you ever think. Job lost everything in a moment. Can you imagine the heartache he must have felt? We see this pain in his wife through the way she reacted later. As a family, we need God all the time. We need Him to protect us and be a wall around us continually. We should not take this lightly.
The devil could not get it right although Job lost everything. Things were not the most important in his life. Although he lost everything, he did not say that God had given up on him because he did not hold onto things. The devil came for the second time and hit Job with sores. Then his wife showed her true colours. When God applies pressure upon pressure upon pressure in your life and He deals with you then your real colours come to the fore. Job’s wife was not the wife she should have been. His wife did not stand with him. Do you hear and understand that wives? You always know better you always have the last word but you are not a real helpmeet. She should have been the one who stood with him and by him, the one who prayed for him and encouraged him but no, she said, “Curse God.” God created man and wife to be one but not in evil. When something happens and God puts on one thing after another, eventually you cannot handle it anymore and you behave like Job’s wife. The person who should stand with you and help you, thinks you are too hard and you are not right. This is not the way God has created you. We do not know what happened to Job’s wife. Not much is written about her. Job sat in dust and ashes and scraped his sores. His wife did not help. When things go wrong, you are united like Ananias and Sapphira but when God works, where are you? What are you doing? Do you side with your children and turn against your husband because of the way he does things?
Job’s friends came. What kind of friends were they? Often the most dangerous things are what people whisper into your ears. Instead of helping him and showing him the right way, his friends darkened his counsel.
Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Job 42:1–3
Job suddenly saw - I said things but I did not understand. Do you understand why it is so important to have somebody to help and guide you. Someone to stand by you in these difficult times. God has given us each other to help one another. It may not be easy to accept help but in bowing there is blessing. The Bible says 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20
God asks Job, 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ It is perilous to be a counsellor because who says you are saying the right thing if you do things on your own and you do not ask for advice on how to assist people? Job’s friends did not understand. They said that Job was wrong. They said many things. If a person is no longer one with the children of God or with what God is doing, how can that person give advice? Their counsel will be darkened. They will lead people astray.
If a person hides sin in their heart, how on earth can they enlighten others? It is impossible.
Who is this that darkens and obscures counsel by words without knowledge? (AMPC) - without knowledge of the true God and the way He works. If you are not one, you will do things in the wrong way because you are on your own. There is no blessing as great as being one and sharing with the children of God.
Fruit does not happen overnight. I am a farmer. You can plant a tree and wait for 3-5 years before there is fruit. Why is it that the fruit of this counsel that you were given has led you in the direction you have gone? Don’t you see? Don’t you recognise?
7 After the Lord had spoken the previous words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job has. Job 42:7
Counsellors always want to help others, but they do not see how dangerous it is when they are not in that place where God wants them especially if there is evil hidden in their lives. God spoke to Job’s three friends: My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job has.
They thought Job was wrong. They were convinced that he was not right which is why they ‘helped’ him. They were 3 against 1. God said that what they said about Him and about what His servant Job had said, was not right. Friends, let us be honest, you have spoken and thought that what God’s servant is doing does not seem right. You have criticised what God has been doing through His servant in your heart. You know the criticism you have heard. God’s servant carries the brunt of it because they do not understand. Instead of being quiet and enquiring of the Lord, you have given your own opinions and judgements which are not from God. But because you are respected and well known, people have believed your words. Can you see the danger of this? It is easy to give your own opinion and shoot back. It is your opinion and your ideas. Who says that it is not darkened counsel that you have given? But because you are not one with how God has worked and the way things have gone, you have criticised it. No wonder your counsel has been darkened.
Now God does something very interesting: Go to the person you criticised and tried to help and let him pray for you. Imagine it! The one you have criticised and found fault with, who is a child of God and is used by God - go to that very person and speak to him and if that person is happy and prays for you, I will hear that prayer. Ms Lydia Dube has been criticised by so many, but have you ever had the courage to go and speak to her? God possibly says to you: go to that person and let that person pray for you and I will hear that prayer. I have experienced what prayer does through people. How often because of what others have said, you have separated yourself from the truth?
Job was busy with one thing – him and the Lord. He said, “Lord, I heard about you, I thought I knew, I thought I understood but I have not. You have opened my eyes.” May God open your eyes and my eyes. Job was humble enough to admit that he had heard. You have possibly heard many things, but have you ever asked God to open your eyes? One way in which He can open your eyes is to speak to that person. By God’s grace maybe He will open your eyes but do not take it for granted that He will do it.
God blessed Job. The Bible says that in all the land there were no women as fair as the daughters of Job, as beautiful as the daughters of Job. Physical beauty so easily leads people astray, but I think God meant that there were no children like those of Job. They had a beauty because of what they experienced through their father. We so easily give up. We think this is the end. It is impossible. But this is where God starts. God may have given you so many more spiritual children that you cannot even number and they are fair, there are none like them. This teaches us that God always, always, always wants the best and seeks the best for us. But we have to go through these things. We must experience these difficulties and hardships they are our best teachers. Do not kick and bite that hand that wants to help you.
In conclusion: The Key to Personal Revival by Charles Finney: "A revival of religion may be expected when Christians confess their sins one to another. At other times they confess in a general manner, as if they were only half in earnest. They may do it in eloquent language, but it does not mean anything. But when, by the Spirit’s power, there is a simple breaking down, and a pouring out of the heart in confession of sin, the floodgates of revival will soon burst open and salvation will flow over that place."
Finney says, ‘the key’ to personal revival is… and possibly Job’s key was that he was prepared to sanctify and purify himself. When the winds and difficulties come that tree should never be uprooted. Job brought sacrifices for himself and his children. He sanctified them. He brought their evil deeds to the light. He did it on every birthday. He did it repeatedly. They may do it in eloquent language, but it does not mean anything. But when, by the Spirit’s power, there is a simple breaking down, and a pouring out of the heart in confession of sin, the floodgates of revival will soon burst open and salvation will flow over that place. There is a difference. If a man is prepared to do it, not half-heartedly, not because s/he must, but because God’s spirit overrules it, Finney says that “…the floodgates of revival” will burst in. Job sanctified and purified his children and because of that things changed. He became a different man – the greatest man in the east.
Christ has done everything for us. It is complete. It is finished. We have to come to Him. Why do we do it with half a heart? Why do we clothe it with eloquent words? “Confession of sin must be specific and not general.” Deal with your own evil heart and you will become blameless through the Lord Jesus Christ. Job must have grasped this. He must have known that if he sanctified himself before God, God would accept it and be pleased by it.
Come with that thing. Maybe you are struggling because you do not bring your sin as it is. You do not see yourself as you should. Many say that confession of sins is not for us, it is not the way to go. We can simply go to our rooms and confess our sins but these men, Job and Finney, understood what could happen if they came to Christ and confessed their sin. When last did you really confess your sin? When last was your heart broken? May God be gracious to us and open our eyes so that we can understand what children can even understand. You do not want to confess your sin, you remain silent about it and you do not want it to come to the light but imagine the relief when God takes it away through Christ whom He gave.