12/31/2006 Exhortation Reading: Job 41-42 Bro Jonathan Nicholls
2006年12月31日讲道词 读经：约伯记第41-42章—我的仆人约伯 约拿森尼科尔斯弟兄
The overall question of the book of Job is most certainly “Why do the righteous suffer?” Despite the hardships we face, God always has a reason and ultimate purpose in the suffering of His people. The reasons will vary from person to person and from situation to situation, but overall we know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). God is aiming at bringing us to be part of His wonderful purpose, to fill the whole earth with His glory (Numbers 14:21) and that may mean pain and suffering now, but with the goal of future glory. Paul says after being stoned at Lystra, “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). We can think of the fire used in the refining process of precious metals such as gold and silver – without the fire, the metal stays rough and unlovely, yet if the fire is applied, the impurities are removed and the gold shines with pure brilliance. It is just like this with our hearts. The clean, pure heart is worth more than gold and God is looking for the “pure in heart” to be part of His eternal purpose.
约伯记总体问题非常明确，那就是“神为什么让义人受难？”尽管我们面对困苦，神对他子民所受的磨难总是有他的原因和目的。他的原因因人而异，因情况而异。但总的来说 “我们晓得万事都互相效力，叫爱神的人得益处，就是按他旨意被召的人”（罗马书 8:28）。 神的目标是让我们成为他美好计划的一部分，这样让遍地充满他的荣耀（民数记 14:21），这也许意味着我们在目前遭受痛苦与磨难，但却是为了将来荣耀的目标。保罗在路司得被人用石头打时说：“我们进入神的国，必须经历许多艰难”（使徒行传14:22）。我们可以试想提炼贵重的金属，比如金，银的过程中使用的火－没有火，金属就显得粗糙和难看，一旦放到火里，杂质被去除以后，金子就闪耀着纯净的光芒。我们的内心也是这样的。一颗干净，纯洁的心比金子还值钱，神寻求“清心的人”成为他永恒目的的一部分。
Suffering plays another very important role in our lives. It teach us wisdom, and the ability to be sympathetic and empathise with others, especially those who are going through the same trials as we face. We can think of our Lord’s own life, he was tested in the same ways as we are, but he never sinned. So the Apostle Paul writes of Jesus Christ, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Christ is able to understand our trials, he experienced them all and more, and because of this he is able to ‘succour’ us – which means to bring aid and help – so that we are able to come through the trials by his help and putting our strength in him.
Another great lesson also comes out of the book of Job. We see from the way Job and his three friends are educated by God that we must learn to trust God completely in every circumstance of life, even if we are suffering greatly. This means having faith in His love, His mercy, and His justice, even though it may look like the opposite is happening in our lives, or the lives of our loved ones. God is honoured if we quietly and patiently put our trust in Him and endure the pain, knowing He is totally in control. It helps to remember at all times that the circumstances which God brings into our lives are all shaping us to be ready for His Kingdom, a time of blessed peace and rest for the children of God. And most importantly, we need to accept without hesitation the ways of God, because He is God. He has created all things and knows the reason behind everything. The Creation is a wonderful display of His unlimited power and wisdom, everything is beautiful and intricate in design and structure. God does not have to answer to us how and why He formed things like the crocodile, or other great beasts, it helps us to put our own lives and problems in perspective when we think of the greatness of the creation and of God Himself. So trust is the key to happiness, even when the darkest hour comes upon us. Job is a wonderful lesson in this.
约伯记还有另外一个了不起的功课。 我们从神教育约伯和他的三位朋友的方式中学习到：即使我们受到巨大的困难，在任何情况下都要完全地相信神。这意味着即使是在我们或者自己所爱的人正经受着人生考验的时候，也要相信神的爱，怜悯和公义。如果我们安静，耐心地信靠神，忍受痛苦，认识到一切都在神的掌控之中的话，这种态度就会荣耀神。永远记住我们生活里出现的所有的情形都是神为了带来的任何情况都是在修整我们预备好迎接他的神国－神的儿女得到神赐的平安和安息－这一点是很有帮助的。最重要的是我们需要毫不犹豫地接受神的道，因为他是神。他创造了万物，知晓所有事情的缘由。创世是神的无穷力量与智慧的美好的展示，因为他创造的万物在设计和结构上是如此的美妙与错综复杂。神没有必要回答我们他如何，或者为什么创造了各种事物，比如鳄鱼，或者其他的飞禽走兽。当我们想到神本身和他造物的伟大时将有助于我们正确地对待我们自己的人生和问题。 因此信靠神是幸福的关键，尤其是当黑暗的时刻降临到我们时。约伯是这方面的一个绝好的例子。
As we have seen, Job was a just man, fearing God and hating evil. An adversary of Job complained to God that he felt Job was only doing the right thing because he was blessed by God with riches and a good social standing in the community. Satan challenged God by saying, “But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:11). So the book of Job unfolds with the mounting sufferings brought on Job, even to the point of his wife suggesting he curse God and die (2:9). But Job did not sin with his lips throughout all this (2:10).
To make matters worse, his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar came to ‘comfort’ Job, the end product of which is the chapters we have read during our daily readings from chapter 4 to 31. Their main complaint against Job was that they saw his sufferings as a direct punishment from God for something Job must have done. They continued to ask him to confess this ‘sin’. Job, however, remained steadfast to the fact that he had done nothing worthy of all this grief. So great was his denial, that he started to desire to go to God’s courtroom to find out why he was unjustly suffering, as he saw it.
When finally the three friends and Job exhausted all they could think to say on the matter, a younger man Elihu speaks about the issues from chapters 32 to 37. Elihu was concerned that the righteousness of God needed to be upheld, rather than Job’s righteousness. He also saw that the sufferings in our lives are often intended by God not so much to prove a man, but to improve him. Elihu’s speech is a fascinating one, and prepared Job for God’s final appearance. God took over the proceedings from chapter 38 onwards and puts all the issues clearly.
God’s greatness, surpassing our imagination, and beyond all comprehension is brought into perspective as He reveals to Job, and to us all, the magnitude of His wisdom, power and loving care in His creation and amongst His people.
God starts with a challenge, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?” (Job 38:4-5). God has always been there, and will always remain. It is by His own design and power that the world holds together, and the ecological system runs in the magnificent way it does. How can we question therefore the actions He brings in our own lives. Once we realise God’s greatness and wisdom it will give us the confidence to throw our lives totally in His care and guidance, accepting all that happens as His will.
Job realises this and in chapter 40 verses 3 to 5 he answers the LORD, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further”.
God continues to educate Job in the lessons from the ‘Behemoth’ and ‘Leviathan’ – probably the Hippopotamus and the Crocodile – in chapters 40 and 41. Both animals in the lessons from their natural state, show us that God can humble pride. Both animals would not have been pleasant in Job’s eyes, and he would move away from them if he were to cross their paths. God, also abhors Pride and Sin and would have nothing to do with them. Behemoth represents pride “Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together” (40:16-17). The lesson here is that God can humble pride. In chapter 41, Leviathan represents sin, and try as we might, no one can control sin, only one man has been sinless and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. “Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?... Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?” (41:1-9).
神在第40－41章中通过“河马”和“鳄鱼”继续教育约伯。这两种动物的自然本性展示出神能够让骄傲谦卑下来。在约伯的眼里，这两种动物都是不招人喜欢的动物，他经过它们的地方时会躲开它们。神憎恶骄傲与罪，不会与此有份。 河马代表骄傲：“它的气力在腰间，能力在肚腹的筋上。它摇动尾巴如香柏树。它大腿的筋互相联络（40: 16-17）”。这里的功课就是神能够让骄傲谦卑下来。在第41章里，鳄鱼代表罪，正如我们所试过的那样，没有人能够控制罪，只有一个人是无罪的，那就是我们的主耶稣基督。“你能用鱼钩钓上鳄鱼吗？能用绳子压下它的舌头吗？…人指望捉拿它是徒然的。一见它，岂不丧胆吗？”（约伯记41: 1-9）
What we can see from these two great beasts, is that God is greater than them, and any other ‘mountain’ or problem we may encounter in our lives. Does not this cause us to reverently fear our God, the Creator of all and the One in whom we can place our every trust?
Job’s final recorded words are a wonderful testimony to his ability to humble himself when he was brought face to face with the reality of God. How does our own reaction compare to his? It is in our wisdom to deeply meditate regularly on the goodness and greatness of God, so we can keep everything in perspective and have greater faith and trust.
“Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:1-6).
Have our “eyes seen God”? This doesn’t mean literally seeing God, but having a relationship with our Heavenly Father to the point that we feel we can start to know and understand His ways and act as He would act. Job came step by step to put away his own reasoning and thoughts and take on the refuge of trust in God. It is important to note that he came to this realisation BEFORE he was blessed again by God as we shall see later on in chapter 42. We should not just trust in God when everything is going well – our deepest thoughts and allegiances are revealed in our times of suffering, and Job was brought to the right frame of mind whilst still sitting in dust and ashes.
Then the LORD turns to the three friends who had so openly condemned Job as a sinner and spoken things which were wrong about God Himself: “For ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7). God’s instruction for their forgiveness was very humbling indeed. They were required to ask Job, the very person they had been condemning, to sacrifice and pray for them! James writes in his epistle “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
Here we see what it means to be a ‘mediator’. The three friends were prayed for by Job, still whilst he was suffering, and they were forgiven by God Almighty. What a beautiful type we see of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his life in an agonising way on the cross, so we could have forgiveness of sins. He saw through the pain and tears, to generations of people who could be brought to glory because of his obedience to the death of the cross, a beautiful act of love on our behalf.
As soon as Job prayed for his friends, God turned his suffering into joy. His health was restored along with all the goods he lost, and he was granted the blessing of a further ten children (42:10-13)!
约伯一为他的朋友们祷告完，神就把他的痛苦转为喜悦。他的健康和失去的财富都回来了，神还给了他更多的赐福，给了他10个子女（42: 10 -13）。
When God brought Job to the comfort and peace of unquestioning love and trust, He thereby solved all Job’s problems, even BEFORE he removed Job’s afflictions. Job first acknowledged God’s greatness, which answered all his previous questions and complaints, and worshipped God. God then removed all his sufferings and made him a greater man than he was before!
Let us then meditate deeply on the majesty, greatness, goodness and love our Almighty Heavenly Father and of the incredible sacrifice of His Son, our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. As we do this, we will find our own lives brought into perspective. We will find the problems which loomed so large and brought us so much pain, being brought into perspective by the knowledge that God is working in our lives and characters to bring us to the time of eternal glory and happiness.
“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).
Exhortation Summary小 结:
Why do the righteous suffer?
- To purify us and make us ready for the Kingdom
- To teach us how to help others
- Learn to trust God completely
of the problems Job faced
- The adversary’s complaint to God
- The sufferings of Job that followed
▪ The three friends’ speeches against Job
- They saw his sufferings as a punishment for sin
- Job says he has done nothing worthy of this suffering
- Insists that the righteousness of God must be upheld
- Shows that God intends sufferings to improve us, not prove us
God’s intervention in declaring His supreme
- God speaks and, in showing His greatness, He encourages Job and ourselves to put our own lives into perspective
- Why then can we question God?
- Trust in God because He does everything in wisdom and for our good
from Behemoth and Leviathan
- God can humble pride
- God hates sin
humble response and the lessons for us
- Don’t rely on our own reasoning, but see how great God is and accept His will
prays for his friends, a type of Christ
- Three friends were forgiven only when Job prayed for them
- Christ’s death opened for us the way to have our sins forgiven
restores Job’s health and situation
- Only once he has prayed for his friends God gives Job all the goods he has before and a further 10 children
· Lesson to meditate on the greatness of God for correct perspective on life