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 Answer to the Problem of Evil

The following is a sermon based on the Old Testament text: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4.

Habakkuk is crying out to God with the complaint that God’s people have struggled with through every age – and this is a struggle that won’t go away until Jesus returns and makes all things new – and that complaint is the problem of evil.  Why, oh why, does an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing God allow evil?  Why does he let his people suffer?

habakkuk 2

In our day and age, even those who reject the existence of God – ask this question.  In fact, many people who do not believe in God reject his existence, because of this very problem of evil.  They think if God is all-powerful and all-good and all-loving, he’d stop evil.  Since evil still exists, they conclude that an all-powerful God must not exist; he must be impotent.  Or, maybe he’s all-powerful, but he isn’t all good, maybe he is actually evil.  They conclude that an all-powerful, all-loving God does not exist.

The text does not tell us what the exact sins are that Habakkuk is witnessing.  We are told that there is violence.  That there is destruction.  That there is constant strife and contention.  We are told that the law can’t do anything to stop this evil – that there is no justice for the righteous who are surrounded by the wicked.

Not knowing the exact details of the evil deeds in Judah at the time of Habakkuk works to make the text more relatable to us today, because we all can turn on the news, or read our social media feeds, and witness the evil and injustices that occur daily in our society.

Many of us have experienced evil and injustice against us and against our family, friends, and neighbors.

Many of us have also experienced suffering and pain that can’t be directly linked to specific sinful acts– such as a loved one dying of cancer or suffering from mental depression that can’t simply be stopped.

Do we usually get the answer we want from God when we ask why such evil and suffering is happening to us, to our people, and in our nation?  Probably not.

Habakkuk didn’t get the answer he wanted either.  In chapter 1 verses 5-11, he is told that the evil in Judah that he wanted the Lord to stop would be stopped, but that it would happen through God raising up the Chaldeans, a fierce, strong nation that marched through nations taking whatever they desired – their strength was their god.

Habakkuk can’t believe this answer – not at all.  Is God really going to stop the evil in Judah by having a more evil nation conquer his people?

In verse 13 of Chapter 1, Habakkuk wants to know why God sits around and looks at the traitors and remains silent when the wicked swallow up the man more righteous than he.  So he raises a second complaint to God – Habakkuk asks if God plans to just let nations continue to eat each other up forever?

He then takes his stand at the watchtower, and he waits for the Lord to answer this second complaint.

The answer, again, is likely not what Habakkuk wanted to hear, but he is told to write down the answer and to make it easy to read on tablets.  He was to make it so big that a person running could read it.  Habakkuk might have even written the answer he received from the Lord on something very big like a giant billboard – that the person running by couldn’t miss even if he wanted to not see.

The answer God gives is simple, and it is two-fold – First, God says, “Be patient.”  God’s word is true – the world as it is now is not as God intended it to be; God is setting everything right, though his coming salvation and end to all evil seems very, very slow to us.

We struggle in understanding why he is delaying his salvation.  But… the second part of the answer is given to Habakkuk – “The righteous shall live by his faith.”

The person who lives by his faith in God and God’s Word is righteous before God.  The righteous are those who trust in God and his promises, patiently waiting for the Lord to bring about his salvation – in his chosen time and in his chosen way.

Unlike Habakkuk who lived before the coming of God’s promised savior, the Christ, we living in the New Testament era of the Church know our promised savior, Jesus of Nazareth.  We know how Jesus came to save us from evil – how he saved each and every one of us from evil.  He saved us from our own evil.

He saved us from our own sins.  Our sins deserve God’s eternal punishment.  Jesus saved us from the punishment we so rightly deserved by taking our sins upon himself, paying the penalty that we deserve through his death on the cross.

Jesus brought us from being enemies of God into being the children of God.

And through his resurrection from the dead, he has given us the assurance that our sins truly are forgiven and that he has all power over sin, death, and the devil, that at his promised return, he will put a final end to all evil in this world, in our lives – forever.  The wicked will no longer devour the righteous.  Nations will no longer continually eat each other up over and over and over again.

Jesus will restore all of creation and he will make all things new again.  He will make all things as he intended them to be.

So we ask, like Habakkuk, when are you going to do this oh Lord?  When will Jesus return to do as he promised?

And the answer we get from the Lord is the same that Habakkuk received – “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Peter at the end of his second letter tells us a very similar message to what Habakkuk received from the Lord.  In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

He continues in verses 10 to 13, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

God is not slow in keeping his promises to free us from all evil and suffering.  He is patient with us.  He desires for all to come to repentance.

Let me ask you, what would happen if Christ were to return today?  To return right now?

All who are not repentant, all who are not living by faith in Christ, will be lost to death forever along with everything else of this world that is destined for fire.

Who do you know that would be lost forever?  Do you really want God to put an end to all evil, right now, when you think of the ones you love who are not yet repentant of their sins?  Even those who have caused you evil would you really want that to be their fate?

What we perceive to be God’s lack of action in the problem of evil is actually patience that comes from his love for us – for you – for all people who are still outside of faith in Christ.  He does not want them to perish, though it is what they deserve, and that is what you deserve.

As he is patient with the wicked, he calls us, we who are righteous, not by any righteousness of our own, but by the righteousness we receive from Christ, through the faith by which we live, to be patient too.

So the problem of evil there is an answer – the answer is Jesus.

What is the greatest act of evil in the history of the world?  Many people typically will point to the acts of Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao Zedeng that led to the deaths of millions upon millions of people.

I’d point people however to the cross of Jesus.  The greatest act of evil that ever occurred in history has to be when Jesus, God in the flesh, innocent of any wrongdoing, was viciously beaten, whipped, and crucified at the hands of his sinful creation. Can anything more evil possibly happen than man killing God?

But what we see from the greatest act of evil is that the greatest good was produced: the forgiveness of all of our sins, the salvation of mankind. When Jesus allowed the greatest evil to be done to him and when God the Father offered his one and only son for us that we see the greatest love ever – God’s love.  And we see that God loves us.

When you face evil, remember Jesus and his love for you.

When you face evil, be patient and trust in the promises of God.  Pray and stand watch like Habakkuk.  Look for the return of Christ as Peter tells you to do.

Depending on what evil you have experienced or are experiencing, depending on what suffering you are enduring, such an answer may fail to cut the mustard.  If you attend the Sunday English Bible Study for Light of Christ, you’ll recognize that phrase “cut the mustard” from a couple of weeks ago.  It means that to be told to wait and trust in God when you are under attack by evil or when you are suffering in sorrow or pain will probably fail to satisfy your troubled heart and mind.

But nevertheless, when you stare evil in the face, remember the righteous shall live by his faith.  And it is through this faith that we live in holiness and godliness – as we wait for and speed the coming of the Day of the Lord.

And it is in that promised day of Christ’s return that Jesus will destroy sin, death, and the devil forever.

Amen.