Intro: Many are asking today, “Why do bad things happen to good people.” Is there any truth in this? There is but if it not qualified it could mislead people to a false hope. A bad thing also depends on man’s perspective of what is bad. We are now reading from the book of Job in our “Everyday with Jesus Bible”. If there is any bad thing that can happen to a person, nothing comes close to what Job experienced. First he lost all his assets and many of his servants were killed. A tornado demolished the house his children were feasting in and all ten died at the same time. Nothing like this has happened today. Then he was afflicted with boils from head to foot. Can you imagine everything that happened to Job that came one after the other. Loss of wealth, loss of family except his wife and affliction in his body. If this happened to us, how would we take it and how would we view God in all these? But here’s Job’s response. Twice he responded this way,
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” …“In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Job 1: 1:22; 2:10b
Job at that time did not have the Bible to claim God’s promises. And what happened to him was not the result of sin. In fact, we have the privilege today to know what went on in heaven. There was a dialogue between God and Satan. God said to him that Job is blameless and upright and there is no one on earth like him. Did Job know what God saw in him and thought of him? No. God was proud of Job to tell Satan about him. Today, we thank God that we have His Word to read this account, a great blessing to know our God and why bad things happen to His people. I have shared something like this in the past but I believe God wants us to be reminded of this truth.
“God is Good”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”Rom. 8:28-30
In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina there were many people interviewed both Christians and non-Christians. And you can tell the difference in their responses to the calamity. Christians accepted the reality without blaming God but expressed their hope in God to help them recover from their loss. And recently along the path of hurricane Irene, I am sure among those affected are Christians who also suffered losses. Was God good in all these? Yes, He is but not to everyone. The good that will come out as a result of this calamity to Christians may not yet be seen but God knows what He was doing for their good. I stand by this truth that God is good. From our text here are the important truths and points.
Born again Christians ought to know this. “And we know.” If you do not know this yet, now you will know. This knowledge as to where we base our faith that results in confidence is a family secret. Confidential secrets in Pentagon, is only given to those who have security clearance and it will say “For your eyes only.” What then are we to know?
“In all things.” God knows every event that is happening in the whole world and to every person and the reason for a specific purpose. When we look back at the events in the Old Testament concerning God’s chosen nation, we read that when they became disobedient and commit the sin of idolatry, God calls the nations surrounding them to punish His people. Some are killed and some are taken captives. Then He judges those who have persecuted His people. Why does God send calamities in different places in the world today, in the past and what will happen in the future. First, let us see and know more of our God, His authority and power to do as he pleases.
“I am the Lord and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the Lord do all these things.” Isa. 45:7
And where was God in the recent floods in the East coast brought by Irene?
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Ps. 29:10-11
Does God have a purpose in sending calamities? Yes.
“When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the Lord.” Isa. 26:9b-10
But for His people, “God works for (their) good.” In the life of Job, what good did it do to Job, his family and to his servants. Was there anything pleasant and good to those who were witnesses of what happened to him? None at all and it seemed to them that Job had bad luck. This is the cause people who do not know God attribute misfortunes. With God there is no bad luck. He knows what He does in detail and His purposes. In God’s sight Job was blameless and upright, so were these his reward from God? Remember Job did not know what was going on in heaven between God and Satan, yet Job did not lose his integrity because in all these Job knew his God and trusted Him fully in what was happening in his life.
“Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him…” Job 13:15aHe left in God’s hand his life because he knew where he was going.
“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 with my own eyes – I and not another. How my heart yearns within me” Job 19:25-27
What confidence did Job have? He had a Redeemer and has been revealed of the resurrection of his body. So what was God working in the life of Job? That Job may know Him to the fullest. In the later part of the book, God had an intimate conversation with Job asking him 72 questions. Questions like,
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off the dimensions?” Job 38:4-5a
In the end of Job’s encounter with God, what good came out of everything Job went through, the loses, the sorrow of losing all his children and the worst physical suffering. This is the good God worked for his good.
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2, 5-6
Furthermore, God had another purpose for Job’s three friends.
After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.” Job 42:7-9
Because Job accepted the will of God, God used him to save his friends. Isn’t this what Jesus did for us? He went through what was bad in our eyes but God had a purpose for Him to suffer and die on that cruel cross because of us sinners that God may have mercy and pour out His grace to save us. Weren’t we the cause why God sent His Son down to earth in order to be punished for sins He did not commit?
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
So what was the reason God sent His Son to the cross? To be punished for our sins. So who put Jesus on the cross? We did. If we did not sin, there would have been no reason for God to sacrifice His Son in our behalf. Did God worked for Christ’s good? Did Romans 8:28 apply also to Jesus? Yes.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:9-11
This was the will of God revealed to Jesus, the good that will come out of the cross for his glory and for our salvation.
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.” Isa. 53:10
Jesus never had physical children, but those God saved through Him have become His offspring. We are His offspring.
Why was God able to work out the good in Jesus’ life? Because of Jesus’ love for His Father, moving Him to be willing to submit to His will.
“But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
“Of those who love him.” God will work out for our good because we have this love relationship with God. Only those who have received Christ as their Lord and Savior can love God with this kind of love that is produced in us by the Holy Spirit. Unbelievers cannot love God until they are born again. Their love is not the divine love that is produced by the Holy Spirit. I believe every born again believer loves God. They may vary in the quality, intensity and level of their submission just as Jesus loved but they have that love. Our love for God grows to the extent of how much we have experienced God’s love. That’s why God uses circumstances that are good and pleasant and circumstances that are painful and unpleasant, for this is when we will experience the full extent of the love of God. It may be painful at the start but in the end we will experience how good God is after His purpose is accomplished. Here’s how Job experienced God’s goodness after the trial.
“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.” Job 42:12-13
The ending of Job’s life is the most important of all.
“After this Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.” Job 42:16-17
God saved us for His purpose. We were called and some are being called today to glorify Christ. This is the will of God in answer to Jesus’ prayer.
“All I have is yours and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.” John 17:10
How do we glorify our Lord Jesus Christ? When we become conformed in His likeness, by being totally dependent and obedient to His commands.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among the brothers.” Rom. 8:29
The first thing God will work for our good is to take away anything that will come in between our love relationship with Him. Anything we love other than God is an idol. They come in the form of money as our security that we trust, in activities we love in the past that is ungodly and even family relationships. We are to love the Lord first with all our heart, and with all our strength and with all our minds. God is a jealous God and He will not tolerate any competition. So if you are experiencing a financial reversal after you got saved, God is working and doing this for your own good. Jesus said that His Father is the gardener. Gardeners prune dead and useless branches.
So how should we respond to any circumstance that happens, good or bad.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18
After David’s son died through an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba,
“Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.” 2 Sam. 12:20
In Conclusion. The Lord’s message to us in the last two Sundays was focused in offering our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. When we have come to that place where we leave everything in God’s hand and give Him the freedom to do as He pleases with us, then we will have the confidence of Job to trust the Lord because He knows what He is doing and in full surrender to his will this will glorify His Son in our lives. Whatever God works in us, through us and around us through circumstances especially the unpleasant, He does it so that we become conformed to the likeness of His Son and so He can accomplish His purposes in us. The trust and faith to let God do as He pleases comes from a growing love relationship with God. The ultimate purpose of God is for His Son to be glorified in us for the glory of God. Here’s a promise we can believe, trust and by faith accept.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11
And Romans 8:28 will always hold true.