Monday, March 28, 2005

Preaching Job, preaching the Resurrection

BEWARE!!! Long post!
In abscence of anything NEW to say, I'm putting up my sermon I preached yesterday, Easter Sunday. Yes, I was actually dressed up like Job . . . it was kind of fun! But the message is what's important. Read on if you want to hear it.

My name is Job, and I have a living God.

No doubt you’ve heard my story by now. I understand it’s in your book—what do you call it? Ah, yes, the Bible. My story is in what I guess you would call the Old Testament, many years before your time, and even many years before the One Whom you call Jesus was born. Ah, but you’ve heard His story, and you’ve come here for mine . . . yet I suppose that His story and mine do meet . . .
But ach! Where was I? Oh yes . . . my story. I was once one of the greatest men on the earth. Rich . . . very rich. I owned more sheep than you could count, enough camels to fill the desert, and the oxen, and the donkeys, and the servants? Oh, you should have seen them all! God had blessed me with so much . . . but I was rich in more than just things. I had family, and what man is poor when he has family, eh? Oh, my children; seven strong sons—smart as whips, all of them—and three beautiful daughters. They could light up my eyes just walking into the room.
I had wealth, I had family, but the most important treasure I had among them all was my God. He was to me the very breath of life, and I did all I could to follow His ways and to shun evil. The people, they used to say, “Job and God, they’re like two peas in a pod!” . . . I’m kidding, I’m kidding, I’m a kidder . . . but . . . I did feel so close to my God. I didn’t get mixed up with any of that crazy, uh, idol worship. No, no, no . . . I worshipped the true God. I would even make sacrifices for my children just in case they had sinned and cursed God in their hearts.
You see, I thought I understood God, that maybe God was just another good part of my life . . . something I could control. Not that I thought I knew more than God, no, no! But . . . oh, I don’t know . . . all I know is that in one day God took away everything from me. God—He took away my oxen, He took away my donkeys. He took away my sheep, and my servants . . . my camels . . . my children. Oh, my beautiful children! He could have taken away everything else and left me with just them, and I still would have been the richest man on earth! But my children—my strong sons and my beautiful daughters—He took them all away from me, and they died, crushed under a house when it collapsed on them. A house that my wealth had bought. What good is money when it cannot even protect your family? But the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away: Blessed be the name of the Lord.
And so I sat in mourning for days, thinking God had taken everything away from me; but I was wrong. As I sat mourning my children, God took away my health, too. Was I a sight, oy! Sores from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, itching, painful. It was so bad, my wife, she said I should curse God and die. But that’s foolish talk . . . should we take the good from God and not also accept trouble, eh? But still, the pain that was in my heart was worse than the pain in my body, and I wished I had never been born.
Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For sighing came to me instead of food; my groans poured out like water. What I feared had come upon me; what I dreaded had happened to me. I had no peace, no quietness; I had no rest, but only turmoil.
And then my friends came to comfort me. My friends! Bah! These friends, their comfort was to tell me that I had sinned, that my God was punishing me! Me! I had done nothing wrong, no evil had escaped my lips! Yet they kept on accusing me. With friends like those, who needs enemies, eh? Men at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
My days had passed, my plans were shattered, and so were the desires of my heart. What strength did I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should have been patient? Did I have the strength of stone? Was my flesh bronze? Did I have any power to help myself, when my success had been driven from me?
No, my friends, no. I had no power left, except in my God . . . and He was not answering me. Perhaps if I had been more righteous . . . But how can a mortal be righteous before God? Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, His power is vast. Who has resisted Him and come out unscathed?
But though God would slay me, yet would I trust Him. I would surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, I knew this would turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him! Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I myself will see Him—I, and not another!
These troubles of mine; they were nothing! Because I knew that I had a Redeemer, one who could bring me close to God and bring me to where I could speak with God face to face. My living God was there with me in my troubles! I could not see Him, I could not touch Him, I thought He was not listening . . . but He was there, and He came and spoke to me face to face—which is something you want to avoid, if you can help it! Oh, the lightning, and the glory, and the angels swooping around . . . have you ever tried to pick up after a bunch of angels? Not easy, let me tell you . . .
But where was I? Ah, yes. I know that my Redeemer lives. This Redeemer, He lives for me, and He lives for you. See, even though we are separated by many years, you and I, we have the same Redeemer. For even though I lived many, many years before Jesus Christ was born, God, he gave me those words, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” God gave me those words to help tell the story of Jesus Christ to people like you. Because we’re not so different, you and I . . . we’ve both had our desires shattered . . . we’ve both wondered just where God was in our lives . . . what will happen when our lives end. But this Jesus, He shows us the love God has for us by being a living Redeemer. Yes, you’ve heard the story of how Jesus, He died for you on the cross, but have you heard about He rose for you from the grave just three days later? In your New Testament Peter—Peter, a nice boy, a little emotional perhaps, but a nice boy all the same—Peter, he says God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. It was impossible for death to keep its hold on him!
This is the love God has for us! This is the thing that kept me strong through my troubles, knowing that my Redeemer was alive, and that through Him I would be alive forever with Him. I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in my flesh I will see Him!

My name is Job, and I have a living God. He . . . is . . . risen!

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