The Story of Job – Told by his friend Elihu

This storytelling of Job was given as a sermon at Oak Road Lutheran Church in Lilburn, GA, on Father’s Day, 2021. The Scripture reading for the sermon was Job 38:1-5. Some of the dialog quotes come from the English Standard Version translation of the Bible or The Kingstone Bible.

Are you by chance friends with someone who is really rich?  Are you friends with the richest person in Gwinnett for instance… a person who has everything they’d ever need or want in life… And he… or she… is actually a good friend of yours.  And this uber rich person who is a good friend of yours is also just… good.  He loves and worships the one true Lord – no can find any fault in him… and his kids are great too… the best kids you can imagine having.  You probably don’t have a friend like that… you probably don’t hear about too many people like that either… rich and righteous. 

Well, I have a friend like that.  His name is Job and we’re from the land of Uz… about 4,000 years ago.  We all lived around the same time as the patriarch, Father Abraham.  I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

Job… He was a righteous man.  He had 7 sons and 3 daughters.  He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and many, many servants.  Job was the greatest of all the people in the East. 

His sons used to go and hold big feasts in their homes on each of their birthdays, and their siblings would join in on the party.  Job, always woke up early and made a sacrifice, an animal for each of his ten kids, at the end of these feasts, just in case his kids had partied to hard and moved into sin or if they cursed God in their hearts during their celebration. 

After one of these offerings to the Lord… Job sees one of his servants from the field, bloody and bruised and coming to him on foot… the news was not good… it was horrible.  The Sabeans stole all the oxen and donkeys and all the servants killed with the sword… that servant alone escaped. 

While that servant was still speaking another servant came… a fire from heaven fell and burned up the sheep and the servants… they all were consumed except the one.

While that servant was still speaking yet another came… the Chaldeans formed three groups and raided the camel caravan… all the servants were killed and the camels stolen, except the one to return. 

While that servant was still speaking… there came another servant… “Master, something horrible has happened.”  “I know, all the servants are killed, all the livestock, killed or stolen.”  “No, master, it’s something worse. Your sons and daughters were all at your oldest son’s house celebrating….”  “I know, I know.  What did you come to tell us?” 

“A great wind came sir… it came and struck the house down… we looked through the rubble… we found everyone, but they were all…they were all…”  He didn’t have to finish the sentence… we all knew. 

After collapsing on the ground and wailing with his wife, Job rose… tore his rob and cut off his hair with a knife and he fell on the ground… and then he gave the greatest testimony of faith in God I’ve ever heard… after that whirlwind of devastating news, after the whirlwind of destruction that took everything but his wife and his life… Job laying on the ground said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed by the name of the Lord.” 

In all of this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrong…. Amazing… All your business, all your income, all your employees, all your children… gone… and you don’t curse God???

Then while Job was in mourning, sitting in ashes he was struck with boils all over his body… he was in great pain and he grabbed a piece of broken pottery to scrape these sores.  His wife then told him to curse God and die.  He refused.   He said that was foolishness.  He said shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?  In all this, Job did not sin with his lips. 

Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to Job from their own territories when they heard of his suffering and they were good friends to him… they came to show him sympathy and to comfort him.  When they saw Job they couldn’t even recognize him… and they too wept and tore their robes and cast dust on their heads.  They sat with Job for seven days, day and night.  They did not speak a word to him for they saw that his suffering was very great. 


After these seven days… Job cursed himself… he didn’t listen to his wife who told him to curse God.  Instead, he cursed the day he was born and he wished for death.  This is understandable… most of us would do this if we had suffered only a fraction of Job, or we would sin unlike Job by cursing God! 

Eliphaz then spoke up… “When we went through hard times, Job, it was you who helped us out.  You encouraged us to put our hope in God. Now where is your hope?  Shouldn’t you have hope, if you are as sinless as you seem?” 

Job, so faithful, his answer, “If I have no hope, it’s because I just don’t have the strength to hope.” 

But Eliphaz didn’t take that word… he pushed Job.  “Job, God does not punish or cut off innocent people!  If you plow evil and sow trouble, what will you reap? Evil and trouble.  You’ve done something to deserve this! Seek God.  Be happy, for God has chosen to correct you!”

Happy?  Yeah, right?  Eliphaz was fortunate that Job didn’t punch him right in the nose or worse.  Could you imagine telling a Holocaust survivor or survivor of any of the genocides of human history, you must have committed a particular sin to have caused your suffering? But, Job was a much better man than me. 

Job… just shut Eliphaz down… “Be happy?  My children are all dead.  My body oozes with sores!  And I have never doubted God or denied his words.  Show me what I have done wrong!”

Eliphaz can’t point out his sin.

So Job turns to God, “What have I done?  Why have you made me your target?”  He then admitted his sinfulness, not a particular sin, but he did admit his sinfulness, and he asked that God would take away his iniquity! 

Bildad then speaks and pours on more of what Eliphaz said… “Job, you must have done something wrong.”  As does Zophar.  “Repent.  Repent.  Repent.”

But Job… in great sarcasm, “No doubt when you three die, wisdom will die with you.” 

Job corrects them – “Look at the world.  Sometimes good men go hungry and thieves and thugs get rich and richer.  No matter what God does, I will trust him.  Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”

Again and again they went in circles… “Job you are being punished, the only question is what have you done?  You know, but we don’t. God knows but we don’t.” 

Finally, Job broke… and he began to justify himself, saying everything good he has ever done, and it’s more than any of us could ever list.  And Job questions why this calamity has come upon him?  Isn’t such disaster for the wicked.  Why have you allowed this to happen to me, God? 

This is when I, Elihu, finally spoke!  I had had enough.  I was the youngest and so I let my elder friends speak first and I listened, but they all had erred and I was angry with them all.

I rebuked Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.  All they did was argue with Job.  They never proved him wrong.  They just condemned him for some secret sin.  Who are they to do that?  They are not God.  How do they know why he is suffering the way he is?”

I then had to rebuke Job… for he said, “That it profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God.” And he asked, “What advantage have I?  How am I better off than if I had sinned?” 

He began to argue the same way as our other friends… saying that his good deeds should have brought him good from God!  Job finally broke and began to justify himself instead of simply trusting God. 

I told him, “But look at the heavens!  How high are they?  They are certainly higher than you, Job.  If you have sinned, what do you give to God?  If you are righteous, what do you give to him?  If you are righteous, what does he receive from you?”

“Job,” I said, “You complain against God for not answering you and explaining himself!  But God does speak just not always as you expect or desire.  He speaks and answers in a dream, in a vision, through your experiences, through pain, through punishment.  When God punishes, it is to help us turn to him.  We all deserve worse than we get.  Are you anything like God, Job?  The universe answers to him.  He commands the lightening to go.  He says when it is to rain and when it is to snow.  We are to fear him in reverence and trust.” 

God then spoke to Job out of the whirlwind… the very storm that took the life of his kids. 

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

“Have you ever brought the morning light to break the dark of night?”

“Have you ever strolled through the depths of the sea?”

“Who is the dad of the rain?” 

“Can you untie the Orion’s belt up there?”

“Can you tell me when mountain goats give birth or when does give birth to their calves?”

“Do you give the horse his great power?”

“Is it by your understanding that the hawk flies?”

“Answer me Job, you who argues with me.” 

Job promised to keep his mouth shut, silenced.  Remember God was speaking from whirlwind!  And he continued to ask Job questions! 

“Look at the Behemoth, can you take him by his eyes or pierce his nose?”

“Or the Leviathan – can you catch him on a fishhook?  Can you make him your pet and put him on a leash or play with him like a bird?” 

God never answered Job as to why he allowed all his suffering… but he revealed to Job what he needed to hear… God was telling him, “Trust me.  I know what you do not.”  Job learned that he did not have the wisdom of God, but that he could trust in God’s wisdom. 

Job repented.  And God forgave him.

God rebuked Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for not speaking what was right about himself.  And they made a sacrifice unto the Lord as God requested and Job prayed for their forgiveness and they were forgiven.  The Lord restored Job’s fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.  And he had 7 more sons and 3 more daughters.  And he lived for 140 more years.  I told you we lived during the time of the patriarchs, right?

Why did it all happen?  Was it to teach Job a lesson?  Was it to teach his friends a lesson?  Was it to teach all of you a lesson?  Perhaps all of it, or more beyond our comprehension. 

A lesson for you today is that God is always speaking, always calling out, “Trust Me.”  “Trust Me.” 

Trust God in your suffering!  Trust God in your good fortunes.  You may never understand why one suffers and someone else prospers.  And that’s OK.  There is much that you simply cannot understand because you are not God.  Job represents all of humanity in that way. 

You sit in a great time in history… you live after God has revealed his Son Jesus Christ in the flesh.  What Job could not do to save himself, Jesus did for Job and for you.  It is in the cross of Jesus that we see that even God has suffered, yet he has overcame all.  And so trust in God.  Trust in Jesus. 

For fathers on Father’s Day… there is much that you do not understand and much that is completely out of your control in the lives of your kids – just like it was with Job.  Pray for your kids like Job did.  Pray that God would cover their sins and forgive their sins. 

The quote by someone named Billy Graham on the back of your bulletin insert (not from my time, you may know him) stood out to me: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”  As you pray for your kids, pray also for yourself to be a good father.  Ask the perfect Father who knows all beyond anything we can imagine for His wisdom in being a good father, and as you pray for your kids trust Him with their lives… that might be hard when we look at Job and what happened with his first ten kids.  I pray that you never have to go through what my friend suffered… but as Job said, I hope you too can say in all situations, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, yet blessed be the name of the Lord.”  The Lord is good.  The Lord is just.  Walk humbly and be good fathers as you trust in the perfect Father above.  Amen. 

“God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways” – An Application to Preaching

Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For application to preaching a few thoughts come to mind:

  1. Prayer – Before I can preach on a text of Scripture, I must understand the meaning of the text and the implications of that meaning for us. And too often I might have a different understanding of the text because my thoughts and my ways are not the Lord’s thoughts and ways.  I hope it is obvious that this prayer is not to say I don’t need to do any of the difficult work of exegetical study (an example of an exegetical study); it’s not because I pray God will download the meaning of the text right into my brain.  Instead, the prayer ultimately puts me in the right state of relationship towards God which should put me in the right mindset to appropriately approach the text.  It’s God’ Word I’m reading and it is God’s Word that I am going to preach – I can’t just be flippant about the process and I must make sure my reason and experiences are subject to God’s thoughts and ways.
  2. Quit apologizing for God or avoiding what God says all together.[1]We live in a very politically correct culture, where we don’t want to offend anyone or hurt anyone and we kind of just want to agree to disagree and we usually do that by simply not saying anything that we perceive would bring about disagreement.  It’s becoming more and more common to not mention sin and hell in our sermons – how much of that is us trying to appease people or tone down God’s words?  How much of it is us putting our ways and thoughts above God’s.  I need to not be afraid in my preaching to say God’s ways and God’s thoughts are what is right and what is wrong.
  3. Preach the stupid things of Scripture… and by that I mean preach the things that are revealed in Scripture that are antithetical to the thoughts and ways of the world that are antithetical to what I would reason to be true, right, and good. For example, Scripture teaches things like: “Living is dying and dying is living (Mark 8:35, John 12:24, 1 Corinthians 15:36,” “Save your life and you will lose it; lost your life and you will save it (Matthew 10:39),” “The best self-love is to not be self-centered (Matthew 6:33, Mark 12:29-31),” “The way up is down; exaltation requires humility (Ezekiel 21:26, Luke 14:8-9, 1 Peter 5:6),” “The way down is up; self-promotion leads to humiliation (Ezekiel 21:26, Matthew 23:12), “Please God and you will have pleasures forever more (Psalms 16:11, Matthew 6:33),” and “Please yourself and you will never be satisfied (Proverbs 27:20 and 30:15, Ecclesiastes 5:10).”[2] These statements of Scripture seem completely wrong to our thoughts and our ways, but because they are from God they are right… so in preaching such teachings from God, I really need to remember that even though it might sound stupid, it’s not, it’s the wisest thing there is in this world – the problem is that I’m just stupid.  So proclaim these revelations from God with boldness even if people might look at me and think I’m dumb.

[1] Much of this paragraph I drew from a Christian Post article that recounted Francis Chan’s application of these two Isaiah verses: https://www.christianpost.com/news/francis-chan-church-must-stop-apologizing-for-what-god-says-is-right-and-wrong-in-politically-correct-culture.html

[2] This is an abbreviated list of paradoxical tensions from Scripture that I pulled from Cris Putnam’s book, The Supernatural Worldview. 


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The Christian Life is Like a Draft of Guinness Stout

guinnessIf you pour a glass of Guinness Stout, you will see some very dark beer.  Blacker than Black.  If poured properly you will have a nice, thin layer of white head on top.  This whiteness is pure as snow in comparison to the depths of the darkness below.

How is this like the Christian life?

Our lives are dark and stained with sin.

In faith in Christ, when God the Father looks down at us, He does not see the darkness of our lives.  The darkness that demands his wrath.  Instead, He sees the cleanliness in the pure whiteness of the righteousness of his Son, Jesus, that covers us and justifies us as being in a right relationship with God.

This simple analogy has left out any long and detailed explanations of sin and the effects of sin.  It has assumed that everyone understands that Jesus is God and that the Father is God, and that there is another person in the nature of God, and he is the Holy Spirit.  These three persons are distinctly different, but still there is only one God.  Now I’m probably confusing matters worse to state this, but I also didn’t give a definition for righteousness or explain how a loving God has to punish sinners, because he is also just and holy.  I didn’t explain or prove any of this from the Bible, science, philosophy, or logic.  This analogy simply states that our lives are dark and deep with evil, wholly depraved, but that nonetheless, the depths of our depravity are covered and made clean through the perfect life and work of Jesus.  That’s why I can say that . . .

The Christian Life is like a Draft of Guinness Stout!

74. A Different Kind of Election

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The presidential election for 2016 is over!

So it’s time to talk about a different kind of election, the election of sinners by God to salvation. Andy shares the five points of Calvinism and Arminianism, the two common theological systems that are debated and compared when discussing God’s role in salvation.  But then the curveball comes, the Lutheran position on election is presented, a position which rarely discussed in the predestination debate among Christians.  The Lutheran understanding of single-predestination is by far a different election from Calvin’s double-predestination.

Some show notes:

Five Points of Calvinism

T – otal Depravity
U – nconditional Election
L – imited Atonement
I – irresistible Grace
P – reservation of the Saints

Five Points of Arminianism

  1. Free-will, human-ability
  2. Conditional Election (Election is Foreknowledge)
  3. General Atonement (Objective Justification)
  4. The Holy Spirit can be resisted.
  5. Falling from Grace

Lutherans hold to 1.5 points of Calvinism and 3 Points of Arminianism

Total Depravity and Predestination for Salvation
General Atonement, Grace is Resistible, and Falling from Faith

We are saved by grace through faith.  

John 3:16
Ephesians 2:8-9
Romans 4:5

Faith is not our work but the work of the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:5

1 Corinthians 12:3
John 1:13
Ephesians 2:8-9
Ephesians 2:5 “God makes us alive.”
Romans 9:16
John 6:29

We are incapable of deciding to have faith.

1 Corinthians 12:3
Ephesians 2:1 “We are dead in our sins and trespasses.”
John 1:13
John 6:441 Corinthians 2:14 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

Any verse about being born again indicates this also, for what role do we play in our natural birth?  None!

Since faith is purely a gift of God and we play no role in our conversion, then it could be assumed that God then chooses who will be saved, and also chooses who will not be saved.

Here’s what Scripture says on the matter:

God elects/predestines to salvation!

Ephesians 1:3-13, 4:3-5
John 1:13
Ephesians 2:4-5 “God made us alive (spiritually).
Romans 8:29-30
2 Timothy 1:8-9

It is the will of God that no man should perish!

1 Timothy 1:3-4
2 Peter 3:8-9