Published November 10, 2005
Job 38:1-42:17; Job 42:1-13, 16-17
Related Sunday School Lesson, Family Bible Series, Nov. 27
Do you find it easy to submit to authority? Do you like other people telling you what to do? Does it bring joy to your life to be ordered around by someone in a position over you? Well, very few people easily and naturally submit themselves to another’s authority. For some reason or another something inside of us cringes at the thought of being told what to do.
Compliance grows much more difficult in times of suffering and loss. There are questions that are unanswered, fears that are raging and thoughts that are anything but encouraging. The question that we must ask and answer, however, is “How can I honor God in spite of suffering and loss?” To be honest, it’s easy to honor God when everything goes our way. It’s easy to worship and obey God when life fits easily into the box we’ve created for it. But add loss or suffering to the equation and honoring God grows more difficult.
Why? For one thing, most of us want to go our own way and do our own thing. We like to call the shots. To yield to someone else goes against the grain. And when difficult circumstances come upon us, oftentimes the last thing we want to do is honor God. But the sovereign God of the universe reveals Himself to all people and holds them accountable for submitting to Him as Lord, whether or not life is perfect.
What God reveals in this passage is that those who submit to Him at all times honor Him and experience the blessings of living in fellowship with Him. This lesson is designed to help you deepen your relationship with God when faced with suffering and loss by confessing that God is truly the sovereign Lord of all and by resolving to honor Him at all times.
Submit to God (Job 42:1-6)
Chapters 38-42 show in detail God’s response to Job. Job had challenged God in 13:22 by saying, “Call and I will answer, or let me speak, then reply to me.” God had remained silent for some time, indicating that Job had no power or authority to tell God when to speak. But God begins to speak in chapter 38 and He reveals to Job His sovereignty, His power and knowledge.
God’s address to Job can be summarized by three poignant questions: (1) Can you explain creation? in chapter 38, (2) Can you take care of creation? in chapter 39 and (3) Can you control creation? in chapters 40-41. God’s questions to Job painted a clear picture that God was the one in control and Job should submit to His authority alone.
Job’s response to God in chapter 42 came in light of this revelation from God. Job shifted his focus from demanding answers the Lord never provided to gaining peace by submitting to the Lord although his questions were still unanswered. Job acknowledged his presumption and submitted to the Lord, repenting of his words spoken in ignorance. Job says, “I repent in dust and ashes.”
Job’s repentance was not an indication of his agreement with his friend’s accusations. He wasn’t repenting of some terrible sin that had brought on his initial trouble and suffering. Rather, he repented of the foolish things he had said, especially the presumptuous things he had said about God’s injustice.
This lesson from the life of Job teaches us that we are to acknowledge God as the sovereign Lord of all and submit humbly to Him even when we cannot explain all of His ways.
Intercede for others (Job 42:7-9)
Because of their foolish assumptions, Job’s friends found themselves in a difficult situation. Yet in God’s mercy He allowed them an opportunity to be forgiven. They were allowed to offer sacrifices to God and Job was allowed to pray for them. Job obeyed God here by interceding for his friends who had spoken falsely about God. Intercessory prayer is of vital importance to anyone who knows Christ. We should be willing to pray for others and lift up their concerns and needs to God. Job was willing to do this now even though his friends seemed to shame him previously.
Through verses 7-8, God continually describes Job as “My servant.” The word “servant” is used four times in those two verses. God blessed Job for his confession in verses 1-6 and encouraged His servant to pray for his friends. It is only when we are truly submissive to God that we are in a position to pray effectively for others.
Enjoy God’s blessings (Job 42:10-13, 16-17)
The story of Job ends on a positive note. The Bible says in verse 10 that “the Lord increased all that Job had two-fold.” God blessed Job for his faithfulness and in spite of his failures. But we must be aware that God does not always promise to restore all losses or to fully reward His people in this life. The most valuable blessings God gives us are those that last for eternity – most importantly, the blessing of living in fellowship with Him.
One purpose of Job’s experience is to show that not all suffering is the direct result of people’s sins. The lesson is that suffering may be mysterious but it need not rob people of their faith in the sovereign, loving God of all.
By submitting to God, Job enjoyed God’s blessings and showed that he relied on God to meet his needs. By honoring God even in the midst of suffering and loss, we can enjoy the blessing of living in relationship with Him.
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