Do You Have Enough Faith to Trust In the Silence & Sovereignty of God?

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament poetic book of Job, which not only describes the suffering of Job, but also the conflict and struggle in the midst of that suffering, and the final and ultimate confrontation of Job by the One who permitted the suffering in the first place. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters thirty-five through thirty-eight of this Old Testament book. THE FOURTH MAN IN THE MIDST! THE FOURTH MAN WHO SAT PATIENTLY! THE FOURTH MAN WHO SAT AND LISTENED! THERE IS ANOTHER IN THE COMPANY! I WAITED PATIENTLY TO SPEAK! I WAITED PATIENTLY AS I LISTENED! I LISTENED TO YOUR DIALOGUE! THR JUSTIFICATION OF ONE, THE ACCUSATIONS OF THREE! THE JUSTIFICATION OF ONE, THE CONDEMNATION OF THREE! WHY DID YOU JUSTIFY YOURSELF? WHY DID YOU ACCUSE? WHY DID YOU CONDEMN? MY DESIRE IS THAT JOB MIGHT BE TRIED UNTO THE END BECAUSE OF HIS ANSWERS FOR WICKED MEN! FOR HE ADDETH REBELLION UNTO HIS SIN, HE CLAPPETH HIS HANDS AMONG US, AND MULTIPLIETH HIS WORDS AGAINST GOD! THINKEST THOU THIS TO BE RIGHT, THAT THOU SAIDST, MY RIGHTEOUSNESS IS MORE THAN GOD’S? WHAT ADVANTAGE WILL IT BE UNTO THEE? AND, WHAT PROFIT SHALL I HAVE, IF I BE CLEANSED FROM MY SIN? SUFFERING SHOULD CAUSE US TO LOOK INWARD, BUT SHOULD ULTIMATELY CAUSE US TO LOOK UPWARD! THE GREATEST STRENGTH OF SUFFERING IS TO KNOW OUR GOD! TOUCHING THE ALMIGHTY, WE CANNOT FIND HIM OUT: HE IS EXCELLENT IN POWER, AND IN JUDGMENT, AND IN PLENTY OF JUDGMENT: HE WILL NOT AFFLICT! THEN THE LORD ANSWERED JOB OUT OF THE WHIRLWIND! THEN THE LORD ANSWERED JOB OUT OF! THEN THE LORD ANSWERED JOB! THEN THE LORD ANSWERED! THEN THE LORD! THEN! THE LORD BREAKS HIS SILENCE! FINALLY, THE LORD SPEAKS! IT’S NOT WHAT YOU’D EXPECT TO HEAR! THE LORD FINALLY BREAKS HIS SILENCE! ELIHU WASN’T THE ONLY ONE LISTENING! ELIHU WASN’T THE ONLY ONE THAT HAD SOMETHING TO SAY! IT’S ONE THING TO HEAR ABOUT GOD; IT’S ANOTHER THING TO HEAR FROM GOD! YOU’VE HEARD ENOUGH FROM MEN! IT IS TIME FOR THE LORD TO SPEAK! THIRTY EIGHT CHAPTERS LATER AND THE LORD BREAKS HIS SILENCE! THE LORD FINALLY SPEAKS! WHEN THE LORD SPEAKS AFTER THE SUFFERING! (OH THAT ONE WOULD HEAR ME! BEHOLD, MY DESIRE IS, THAT THE ALMIGHTY WOULD ANSWER ME, AND THAT MINE ADVERSARY HAD WRITTEN A BOOK! ISAIAH 40:12-31!

“Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counseller hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: Behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burnt, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? OR what likeness will ye compare unto him? The workman mleteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver China’s. It is so imperoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. Have you not known? Have y not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? IT is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants therefore are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: that bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? Saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, The Creatore of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:12-31).

“Thus saith God the LORD, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: Before they sorting forth I tell you of them. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands. The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: He shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. I have long time Holden my peace; I have been still, and remained myself: Now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I I will dry up the pools. And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. Who is blind, but my servant? Or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’s servant? Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but heareth not. The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable. But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. Who among you will give ear to this? Who will hearken and hear fro the time to come? Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the LORD, He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet ye laid it not to heart” (Isaiah 42:5-25).

You might be wondering why I chose to present these words which are written by the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament prophetic book which bears his name, and yet the answer is actually quite simple when you consider it in light of the narrative and dialogue that took place in the Old Testament book of Job. If you read the words found in this Old Testament poetic book you will find that throughout much of the book there was a dialogue which took place between Job and his three friends. After making an appointment to mourn with him and to comfort him, Job’s three friends sat in silence with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights. What Scripture doesn’t reveal—at least not until the thirty-second chapter—was that there was another friend that was present within this group. It is when you come to the thirty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Job that you encounter and come face to face with a fourth friend that was present throughout all the dialogue and throughout all the conversation which took place between Job and his three friends. From the third chapter of this Old Testament book all the way through the thirty-first chapter of the same we find a dialogue which took place between Job and his three friends as in the midst of his suffering—instead of mourning with him, and instead of comforting him—they would engage in and entertain theological debates about suffering and righteousness, as well as suffering and wickedness. As you read the words which are found throughout much of the Old Testament book of Job you will encounter the reality that while it might very well be true according to Scripture that Job’s friends did in fact come to mourn with him and to comfort him—there was anything but this which took place. We do know from Scripture that when Job’s friends lifted up their eyes and beheld him from a far they lifted up their eyes and wept, and rent their clothes, and cast dust and earth upon their heads. Undoubtedly when they saw Job from a far they could not believe their eyes, for the man whom they had known for perhaps a considerable amount of time was in a state, a condition and position they had never seen before—much less even expected to see Job their friend in. I have to admit that as I sit here this morning, I can’t help but wonder what this friendship between Job and these friends were like prior to the suffering. I can’t help but wonder what Job and these three friends would talk and speak about as they dialogued with one another, and enjoyed fellowship and relationship with each other. I can’t help but wonder what life was like prior to the suffering—when life made sense, when life seemed to be normal, when there was no suffering, when everything in Job’s life was still in tact, and when Job’s ten children were still alive.

As I sit here this morning, I am finding myself coming face to face with the absolutely wonderful and tremendous reality that most of the narrative and dialogue which took place between Job and his three friends was of such a nature that there were more theological debates in the midst of suffering than there was mourning and comfort. Oh, it might be true that these friends did in fact come to mourn with Job, and to comfort him in the midst of the suffering, and yet after sitting in silence with Job for seven days and seven nights, I would dare say that they could not handle two things—namely, the suffering of their friend Job, and the words which proceeded forth out of the lips and mouth of Job. There is not a doubt in my mind that once those seven days and seven nights were ended and over, and once Job broke his silence, it seemed to be an invitation for Job’s three friends to begin to voice their opinions, and to presume to teach Job in that place of suffering, and in that place of anguish, agony, affliction, and so much more. There is not a doubt in my mind that Job’s three friends might not have seen suffering like this before—and even if they had seen suffering before, they had not seen it within the life of their friend Job. It might very well be that Job’s friends witnessed suffering before, yet they witnessed and beheld it within the lives of those whom they perceived, or those whom they defined as being wicked and unjust men. In all reality, I do not think for one moment that Job’s three friends had any context for suffering and righteousness—much less a framework that suffering and righteousness could be joined together. Upon reading the words which were written and recorded in this Old Testament book you will find the tremendous truth that Job’s three friends not only sought to understand the suffering of Job, but they also sought to explain unto Job the reason and purpose for his suffering—namely, that there must have been some manner of wickedness found within his heart and life. They had perhaps seen and witnessed suffering before, however, there is not a doubt in my mind that it took them by surprise when they watched and witnessed Job in such a vulnerable position—one which they had never seen before. Undoubtedly they would never expect one such as Job—a man who was perfect and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil, and a man who was considered the greatest of all the men in the east. How does a man who is perfect and upright end up losing everything—even the lives of his ten children? How does a man who fears God and shuns evil lose everything, which included his sons and daughters? How does a man who was considered the greatest of all the men in the east experience and walk through so much suffering—so much anguish, so much agony, so much hurt, and so much pain? There is not a doubt in my mind that Job’s three friends had absolutely no context, nor framework for suffering of this magnitude and proportion—particularly in the life of one such as Job.

The narrative of the suffering of Job is about so much more than simply Job’s losing everything, and experiencing the sudden and tragic loss of his sons and daughters. It would be one thing to read the narrative of Job’s suffering and to think about and consider the fact that it was solely about the suffering itself, and yet as you read the words which are written and found within this Old Testament poetic book you will find that it actually describes something much more which took place in the midst of his suffering. In the first two chapters of this Old Testament book you will find the sovereignty and providence of God, as well as Satan the adversary and the accuser. Within the first two chapters of this Old Testament book you will discover the nature of Job, for Job was considered a man who was perfect and upright, and a man who feared God and shunned evil. It is in the first two chapters of this book where we learn that Job was a man of great substance, a man of great wealth, and a man of great possessions within the earth. Moreover, we learn of Job that he was considered to be the greatest of all the men in the east, and that there was none like him in all the earth. In the first two chapters of this book we encounter the nature and wealth of Job, which are not only written and presented by the author, but which are also spoken by the LORD—not only once, but twice unto Satan in the presence of the witness of the sons of God who came to appear before the throne of the LORD. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are written and recorded in this book, you will even encounter and come face to face with the nature of Satan himself. It is within the first two chapters of this book that you will find Satan responding to the LORD’s question of where he had come from to be the same answer. When the LORD asked Satan from whence he came, Satan would respond by declaring unto Him that he had come from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in the midst of it. This would not only be how Satan would respond the first time the LORD asked him, as it is recorded in the first chapter, but it would also be the way he responded when the LORD asked the question a second time. It is within the first two chapters of this Old Testament book that we not only encounter Satan as the adversary—as the lion which roars about seeking whom he may devour—but we also encounter Satan as the accuser who would dare accuse both the living God, as well as His servant. The first two chapters of the Old Testament book of Job bring us face to face with the tremendous reality that Job was indeed perfect and upright, and a man who feared God and shunned evil, but we learn that Satan is both an adversary, as well as an accuser. We dare not miss and lose sight of these two incredibly important realities, for there is something that we don’t find within the opening two chapters.

The more you read the opening two chapters of the Old Testament book, the more you will encounter the reality that we learn a great deal about Job—not only His character and His integrity, but also concerning his possessions, his wealth, and all that he had. Within these chapters we discover that Job was considered to be the greatest of all the men in the east, as Job was a man who had much possessions and much wealth. We learn and discover that Job was indeed a man who was righteous and just in the sight of the LORD, for we read of his being perfect and upright. What’s more, is that within the opening chapters of the Old Testament book of Job we learn and discover the nature of Satan who is and was that ancient serpent in the garden—that one who would be referred to in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation as the dragon, which was that ancient serpent, Satan and the Devil. We learn and discover within these chapters the nature of Satan—not only as the adversary which seeks to devour whom he may, and seeks to devour what he may, but also as the accuser who seeks to accuse the saints of God before His throne in the court of heaven in the company of many witnesses. It is in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ that we learn and discover that Satan is not only the deceiver of the whole world, but we also learn and discover that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and that he seeks to accuse the saints of God night and day before the throne of God. This nature as the accuser is put on full display in the Old Testament book of Job—and not only in the Old Testament book of Job, but also in the court room of heaven, as Satan not only sought to accuse Job before the throne of God, but as he also sought to accuse the living and eternal God as well. The first two chapters of this Old Testament book presents us with Satan as the accuser who accused Job before the throne of the living God, and even in his accusing Job would also accuse the LORD Himself concerning His treatment of Job. What’s more, is that when Satan would go forth from the presence of the LORD, he would switch from the accuser of the brethren to the adversary which seeks to devour. At first Satan would devour everything that Job had, for he would caused all Job’s substance to be devoured, and even the deaths of his sons and daughters. Once Satan had devoured everything that Job had and had brought about the deaths of his sons and daughters, we don’t read of any activity of Satan in the first and opening chapter.

I have to admit that as I read the words which are written and recorded in the first two chapters of this Old Testament book, I can’t help but wonder how much time elapsed between the end of the first chapter and the beginning of the second chapter.We know in the first chapter that there came a day when the sons of God came and appeared before the LORD, and we know that there came a day when Job’s children were eating and drinking in their eldest brother’s house, and it was on this second day when Job would lose everything—all his possessions, as well as the lives of his sons and daughters. At the end of the first chapter we find Job falling to the ground and worshipping the LORD declaring that the LORD gave and the LORD had taken away, but blessed be the name of the LORD. When we come to the second chapter we already know that Job was a perfect and upright man, and that Job feared God and shunned evil, so there wasn’t a need to present that a second time in this chapter. What we learn as we begin reading the second chapter, however, is that there was a third day when Satan came before the throne of God with the sons of God. We know that on this particular occasion we would once more encounter the adversary who had already devoured all that Job had, and had already robbed him of the lives of his sons and daughters. What we find in the second chapter is another encounter between the One who sat upon the throne in heaven, and the adversary and the accuser who had not only already accused Job before and unto the LORD once, but who had also devoured everything Job had. What we find at the end of the first chapter is that once Satan had devoured everything Job had and left him with his life, his house and his wife, he engaged no further within the life of Job. Undoubtedly Satan stopped where and when he did in the first chapter, for the LORD had placed strict borders and boundaries before him that upon Job’s physical body he could not lay a hand. It’s quite interesting—not only to think about the fact that the adversary stopped his devouring at the end of the first chapter, but also how much time elapsed between the first and second chapters. I would love to know how much time had elapsed between these two chapters, as when you come to the second chapter you will find there coming a second day when Satan would appear before the throne of God among the sons of God. There would be another day when the accuser and the adversary would appear before the throne of God—all except this time, he had not only considered Job, but had also devoured everything Job had.

I sit here today thinking about and considering what is found within the first two chapters of the Old Testament book of Job and I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with something truly unique. If and as you read the words which are written and found within the Old Testament book of Job—particularly the first two chapters—you will discover a great deal about Job, his character, his integrity, and his great wealth and possessions. What’s more, is that you learn a great deal about Satan who is not only the adversary, but who is also the accuser of the brethren. With that being said, it’s quite interesting and astonishing to think about the fact that you learn absolutely nothing about the LORD—at least not in terms of what was written and spoken of Him. Oh, it is true that you can encounter and do in fact come face to face with the sovereignty and providence of the living God, as it was the sovereignty and providence of God that not only allowed Satan to devour all that Job had, but also to stretch forth his hand upon Job’s physical body. Within the first two chapters of this Old Testament book you do in fact encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that the living and eternal God could in fact permit and allow one who was perfect and upright to not only suffer, but also to lose absolutely everything he had. We learn from the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Job that he was a man of much wealth and possessions, and as a result of the sovereignty of the living God he would lose everything. This reality is evidenced even more so in the declaration of Job when he emphatically declared in worship that the LORD had given, and the LORD had taken, but blessed be the name of the LORD. Within this worship Job acknowledged that the LORD had indeed given, and that the LORD had indeed given much, however, the LORD had also taken away. Job had absolutely no clue that the LORD had given everything he had into the hand of the adversary who would devour it all. Job had absolutely no clue the dialogue which took place between the LORD and Satan in the court of heaven, and the only thing Job knew was that the LORD had given, and the LORD had blessed—but the LORD had also taken away. Job viewed the tremendous loss he experienced as the LORD taking away, and the LORD removing it from within his life. Job was absolutely clueless to the fact that the LORD had given all that Job had into the hands of the adversary, and that it was the adversary who would devour it in a single day. In a single day everything Job had would be stripped, robbed, carried away, and taken, and he would be left with absolutely nothing save his life, his wife, and his home.

Within the first two chapters of the Old Testament book of Job, the only thing we really learn concerning and about the LORD is that the LORD had given and blessed Job, but the LORD had also taken away. What we learn and discover about the sovereignty and providence of God is something that is inferred and something that must be carefully understood when considering the dialogue which took place between the LORD and Satan in the court of heaven. The Old Testament author of the book of Job doesn’t explicitly come out and write of the sovereignty of the LORD, nor does the author come out and write about the providence of the living God. With that being said, however, I would dare say the author of the book of Job sought to—from the very outset of the book—bring us face to face with the divine sovereignty and providence of the living God. What’s more, is that I would dare say that the author of this Old Testament book sought to bring us face to face with the sovereignty and providence of the living God—particularly and especially in the midst of suffering. Stop and consider what the Old Testament book of Job would and could have been like had these words been found at the end of the book rather than at the beginning. Consider if you will what your understanding of the book of Job would have been like had we been presented with the nature and possessions of Job, as well as the suffering of Job, and the narrative and dialogue which took place between Satan and the LORD was presented at the end of the book. Consider what your understanding of suffering would and could have been like if this was the case, and you were reading the Old Testament book of Job for the very first time. What would your understanding of this be when you learned that Job was not only a righteous man, but how Job was also a man who had great wealth and possessions, and then in a single day would lose absolutely everything? What’s more, is what would you think if you immediately came to the dialogue between Job and his friends after everything he had had been devoured, and even after his physical body suffered and experienced sore boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet? It would bring on a whole different level to the book of Job if we didn’t from the very outset of the book learn and understand the dialogue which took place between Satan and the LORD in the court of heaven in the presence of the witness of the sons of God. Within the first two and opening chapters of the Old Testament book of Job we encounter this dialogue and exchange between Satan and the LORD, and as a direct result of these encounters—not only do we encounter the nature of Satan as the adversary and as the accuser, but we also encounter the LORD who is sovereign over suffering, in that He could allow even one who was righteous to suffer.

Taking this line of thought even further, I can’t help but stop and think about the fact that within the first two chapters of this Old Testament book we do in fact learn a great deal about the nature and prosperity of Job, and we do in fact learn a great deal about the nature of Satan as the adversary and the accuser, however, there is very little that is mentioned concerning the nature and the character of the LORD. I have to admit that even greater than the silence of the voice of the LORD throughout much of the Old Testament book of Job is the silence concerning His nature, concerning His character, and concerning His integrity. As you read the words which are written and recorded within the first thirty-seven chapters of the book you will find that the author was altogether silent about the nature and character of the living and eternal God. Oh it was true that Job, his three friends, and Elihu would speak about God, and would express their understanding concerning God and how He operated within the he earth, but there would be no definitive statements that would be made by the author concerning the nature and character of the living God. Much of the Old Testament book of Job would be a dialogue which would take place between Job and his three friends, as they would not only attempt to understand and explain suffering, but also try to understand and explain why and how Job could suffer the way he had. Included in these dialogues would be statements made about God, and even questions concerning and about God, and yet there wouldn’t be a definitive and concrete definition and revelation concerning the LORD. Within chapters three through thirty-seven there would be absolutely no revelation of God, nor would there be any revelation from God, as He would be completely and utterly silent concerning His nature, concerning His character, and concerning his integrity. For thirty-seven chapters within the Old Testament book of Job we find absolutely no statement, nor any declaration from the LORD concerning who He was, nor concerning His nature and His character. There would be absolutely no reference nor any record within the opening chapters of the Old Testament book of Job—nor even in all the chapters which describe the dialogue which took place between Job and his three friends—concerning the nature and character of the living God. Anything and everything we find concerning God within chapters three through thirty-seven would be the views, the opinions, and the perceptions of Job and his three friends concerning and about the living and eternal God. There would be absolutely no concrete revelation concerning God, nor would there be any concrete revelation from the LORD Himself, as the LORD would be completely and utterly silent in the midst of Job’s suffering.

Stop for a moment and think about that reality, as you read the words found within the Old Testament book of Job and find that while we do in fact find the LORD speaking to Satan in the first two chapters of the book, we find Him largely silent, absent and distant throughout much of the book until the thirty-eighth chapter. It is when you come to the thirty-eighth chapter of this Old Testament book that you will encounter and come face to face with the reality that the LORD finally comes forward and breaks His silence. After seven days and seven nights of sitting in silence with his friends Job would break the silence, and yet when we come to the thirty-eighth chapter of this Old Testament book we find the LORD breaking His silence, as he indeed not only speaks up, but also speaks directly unto Job. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely wonderful and tremendous reality, for it actually shines a great deal of light on to what is found within this Old Testament book, which is perhaps one of—if not the greatest books in all the Scripture concerning suffering. With that being said, however, it’s worth noting that when and as you read the Old Testament book of Job you will find that while there were many opinions about God, and while there were many thoughts about God, there was no revelation from the LORD Himself. Nowhere within the first thirty-seven chapters of the Old Testament book of Job will you find any concrete and definitive revelation from the LORD Himself concerning His nature, concerning His character, and concerning his integrity. Not only would the LORD be silent, but the LORD would not speak, nor would He reveal anything concerning Himself. Were it not for the dialogue we read about between the LORD and Satan the adversary and accuser, the LORD would have been silent for the first thirty-seven chapters altogether. There is some comfort, and some solace in the fact that the voice of the LORD which is found in the first two chapters describes the sovereignty of the living and eternal God, as well as the providence of God—not only in the affairs of men, not only in the suffering of men, but also in the activity of the enemy and adversary himself.

Within the first two chapters of the Old Testament book of Job we encounter and come face to face with the truly astonishing and remarkable reality that not only was, and not only is the LORD sovereign over the affairs of men, but the LORD is sovereign over the suffering of men, as well as the activity of the enemy who not only seeks to accuse, but who also seeks to deceive. We encounter and come face to face with the fact that the LORD was absolutely sovereign over the suffering of Job, as it was the LORD Himself who placed all that Job had into the hand of the adversary, and would even allow Job’s physical body to be touched by the adversary. The first two chapters of this Old Testament book would indeed bring us face to face with the reality of the sovereignty and providence of the living and eternal God, however, there would be no concrete, nor would there be any definitive revelation from the LORD. The LORD would remain largely silent in the midst of the suffering of Job, as He wouldn’t come forth and break His silence until the thirty-eighth chapter of this Old Testament book. Stop and consider that reality for a moment, for not only had Job lost everything, not only had Job suffered grievous and sore boils all over his body from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, and not only had Job suffered the accusation, the condemnation, the criticism, and the judgment of his friends in the midst of the suffering, but the LORD was altogether silent. Moreover, there is this glaring reality that in the midst of Job’s suffering—as well as in the midst of Job’s dialogue and conversation with his three friends—the LORD was altogether absent and distant, for there would be no revelation from the LORD. The LORD would not only allow Job to experience such great suffering, such great loss, such great devastation, and such great pain, but the LORD would even allow him to do so without hearing His voice, and without any revelation from Him directly. Oh we do know that the LORD would indeed break His silence, and the LORD would indeed come forth in the midst of the whirlwind to speak with Job in the midst of His suffering, but there would be a period of time when the LORD would seem silent, when He would seem distant, and when he would seem absent in the midst of the suffering. What I would love to understand when reading the book of Job is whether all this dialogue which took place between Job and his friends would take place in a single day, or whether it would take place over the course of multiple days. I am inclined to think about and consider it as having taken place within a single day, however, there is no concrete evidence that points to and reveals this reality. There is nothing that points to and reveals the reality that the dialogue and conversation which took place between Job and his three friends took place within a single day, and yet even with that being said, I would dare say that I am inclined to believe that all this took place in a single day.

THANK GOD THE LORD FINALLY BREAKS THE SILENCE! THANK GOD THE LORD DOESN’T REMAIN SILENT FOREVER! THANK GOD THE LORD ISN’T ALWAYS SILENT! Perhaps one of the most difficult things to cope and deal with in the midst of suffering is not only the idea of walking through suffering itself, but also in the midst of suffering to feel as though the LORD is silent, absent, and even distant. What we find within the Old Testament book of Job is a truly remarkable treatise in the narrative of suffering—and not only suffering, but also the sovereignty and silence in the midst of the suffering. Permit me to stop right here and ask whether or not you have enough faith to trust in the sovereignty and silence of God in the midst of the suffering. Do you as a saint of the most High God have enough faith and confidence within your heart and soul to trust in the sovereignty and silence of the living God—despite finding yourself walking through something that has perhaps utterly and completely devastated you? Do you as a saint of the most High God trust and believe in the sovereignty and silence of God in the midst of your silence, and that even though God might indeed remain silent He is still sovereign in the midst of everything? In all reality, I would dare say that the silence and the sovereignty of God are intrinsically linked and connected in the midst of suffering, and more often than not they are not mutually exclusive. We would like to think that it is possible to separate these two realities within our lives, and within the suffering we find ourselves experiencing and walking through, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely wonderful and remarkable reality, for when we think about suffering it is absolutely critical and vital that we understand the not only can God be sovereign over and in the midst of the suffering, but so also can God be silent before, and even in the midst of suffering. One of the thoughts I can’t help but think about when reading the Old Testament book of Job is when I consider the fact that not only did God appear to be silent in the midst of the suffering when Satan was devouring all that Job had and devouring his physical flesh, and not only did God appear to be silent in the midst of the conversation, dialogue and debate Job and his three friends were having with each other, but the LORD also appears to have been silent before the suffering. Stop for a moment and think about that reality, for it has the ability to dramatically alter and transform the way you think about suffering, and the way you think about the presence of the living God in the midst of your suffering.

If there is one thing we learn when reading the Old Testament book of Job it’s that not only was God silent in the midst of Satan devouring all that Job had—including Job’s physical body and flesh—but God was largely silent in the midst of the debate and dialogue which took place between Job and his friends. As Job and his friends debated and dialogued—not only concerning the living God, but also concerning suffering, and the role righteousness and wickedness play in suffering—the LORD seemed to be nowhere to be found, and seemed to largely and altogether silent and absent. What is truly intriguing to think about and consider is when you consider the fact that the LORD appears to be silent even before the suffering. We read of the dialogue between the LORD and Satan in the courts and halls of heaven in the company and presence of the witness of the sons of God, however, there is absolutely no mention, nor is there any record of the LORD speaking unto Job before the suffering. There is the phrase which has been commonly and widely used, which simply speaks of “the calm before the storm.” While this phrase has largely been used time and time again throughout history to describe a period of relative peace before an approaching storm strikes, I would like to take it a step further and adapt it to something different. I would like to take this phrase “the calm before the storm,” and I would like to modify it to state and speak of “the silence before the suffering.” We would like to think that the LORD is heavily active within our lives leading up to suffering, and we would like to think that the LORD is heavily involved in the days, weeks, months, and moments leading up to the suffering we face, and yet the truth of the matter is that this isn’t always the case. I would present for your consideration the possibility that more often than not in those moments leading up to the suffering we face and experience within our lives there is an underlying silence that seems to be so pervasive within our hearts and lives. There seems to be this underlying silence when the living and eternal God not only seems completely and utterly distant, but also largely absent within our lives. We would like to think that we experience God’s presence in a supernatural and mighty way in the moments leading up to suffering, and we would like to think that we can feel the LORD moving and working within our lives in the moments leading up to suffering, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. In fact, I would dare say that two of the greatest difficulties we have in the midst of suffering is when we think about the silence before the suffering, as well as the silence in the midst of the suffering. What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder if we cannot get—at least in part—a glimpse of suffering that is to come in the silence of God leading up to that which we might face.

I can’t help but sit here this morning and think about the fact that more often than not God might appear to be silent in those moments leading up to the suffering—possibly even absent and distant. We would like to think and believe that the presence of God is active within our lives in those days, weeks and months leading up to suffering, and that the hand of the LORD is active within our lives in those moments leading up to the suffering we might very well face, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. I can’t help but be reminded of the narrative of the children of Israel who had lived and dwelt in the land of Goshen within Egypt for four-hundred and thirty years before their deliverance would finally come at the hands of Moses and Aaron. Israel would come down unto the land of Egypt with his sons and his daughters, as well as their sons and daughters—seventy in all—and they would prosper during the days of Joseph and that Pharaoh who ruled over Egypt during those days. However, there would come a day when there would arise a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph, nor of how mightily Joseph had been used in the midst of the land of Egypt. As a result of not knowing Joseph, as well as witnessing the tremendous multiplication of the children of Israel in the midst of the land we find this new Pharaoh rising up to greatly oppress and persecute the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded within the first three chapters of the Old Testament book of Exodus:

“And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increase abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Comeon, let us deal wisely with them; lest thy multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour” (Exodus 1:7-14).

“And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive” (Exodus 1:22).

“And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them” (Exodus 2:23-25).

“And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place where on thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hittites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I wills end thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring froth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:5-10).

As you read the words which are written and recorded within this particular Old Testament book you will find that the children of Israel were about to enter into one of the darkest moments in their entire history, as after the death of Joseph there arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. Eventually there would come a point in time when this new Pharaoh would greatly afflict and oppress the children of Israel, and would make their lives bitter with much bondage, slavery, and service in the midst of the land of Egypt. What so strikes me about this particular reality is that the presence and voice of the living God was largely absent in the days, in the weeks, in the months leading up to the suffering and slavery of the people of Israel. Within the opening chapters of the book of Exodus there is absolutely no mention of the voice of the LORD speaking unto the children of Israel, nor is there any reference or record of His presence walking and being among them. What we find is the children of Israel beginning to be oppressed, afflicted, persecuted, and greatly troubled by Pharaoh and the Egyptian task masters which he had placed over the children of Israel. What’s more, is that if we understand the history and narrative of Moses correctly, Moses was born three-hundred and fifty years into the slavery, bondage and oppression of the children of Israel. The first forty years he had spent living within Pharaoh’s palace as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. The next forty years, however, Moses would spend his days living in the land of Midian after fleeing from the presence of Pharaoh after it was discovered how he had murdered an Egyptian and buried his body in the sand. It would four-hundred and thirty years after Israel entered into the land of Egypt that the LORD would raise up one who would bring about their deliverance from the bondage, slavery and oppression in the midst of the land of Egypt, and it would be Moses and his brother Aaron who would directly confront Pharaoh and demand that he let the people of God go. With that being said, it’s worth noting and pointing out the silence before the suffering—even the silence before the slavery. Within the narrative of the children of Israel in the land of Egypt it’s necessary to note and point out the silence before the bondage, and the silence before the oppression, for even though the LORD would reveal unto His friend Abraham that his descendants would be slaves in a foreign land, there was no advanced warning, nor was there any advanced notice that was given unto the children of Israel. There was no prophetic word, nor was there any visitation and/or revelation from the LORD that would announce and proclaim what was going to take place, and suddenly—without warning—the children and people of Israel began to find themselves greatly oppressed in the midst of the land of Egypt. It’s worth noting that before this slavery, bondage and oppression there was a great silence, as the revelation the LORD would give unto Moses at the burning bush in the wilderness would be the first revelation of Himself that would be given since the days when He revealed himself to Jacob whose name was later changed to Israel.

The narrative of Job and the suffering he endured is quite remarkable and astonishing when you take the time to think about and consider it, for not only was the voice of the LORD silent in the midst of the devouring of the adversary, and not only was the LORD silent in the midst of the dialogue and debate which would take place between Job and his friends, but there was also a silence that would undoubtedly be present in those moments leading up to the suffering. Job was completely unaware of the dialogue that had taken place between Satan the adversary and the accuser and the LORD, and he would wake up on the day of devouring much like he had any other day. There was no trumpet from heaven, no vision from the LORD, no revelation from the Spirit in the days, weeks, months, and even moments leading up to the suffering, and yet the suffering came anyway. Despite the fact that there was no advanced notice or warning concerning the suffering, there was still the devouring that would take place within the life of Job as the enemy and adversary would devour absolutely everything he had. The question I can’t help but ask myself when considering the suffering and narrative of Job is whether or not we have enough faith—enough trust and confidence—to believe in the silence and sovereignty of God. One of the most important questions we must ask ourselves is not only whether or not we trust and believe in the silence and sovereignty of God in the midst of the suffering itself, but also in the moments leading up to the suffering. I do believe there is relevance in the phrase “the calm before the storm,” and with that being said, I would also state that there is a great amount of truth in the reality of “the silence before the suffering,” as more often than not men and women find themselves entering into suffering with a profound sense of feeling as though the living and eternal God is somehow distant and silent. Moreover, there are men and women who find themselves experiencing a tremendous amount of feeling isolated, alone, and even separated from God—perhaps even from others—in those moments leading up to suffering. If and as you read the Old Testament book of Job you will find and discover that there was no revelation from the LORD within the heart and spirit of Job leading up to the devouring of the adversary—both of all that he had, as well as within and upon his physical body and form.

The narrative that is found and contained within the Old Testament book of Job is one that is truly and incredibly intriguing when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it reveals the tremendous reality that not only can the sovereign LORD indeed be silent in the moments leading up to the suffering, but He can also remain silent while the suffering is taking place, and even in the midst of our seeking to understand that which we have faced within our hearts and lives. The underlying question I can’t help but ask is what truly constitutes suffering within our lives—whether or not is the actual act that takes place within our lives, or whether it is what we have to deal with, and how we have to deal with it after the storm and suffering is indeed over. Is suffering that which we face as was in the case of Job when he lost everything he had, experienced the death of his sons and daughters, and even found his physical body being overtaken and overwhelmed with sore boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, or is suffering the aftermath of what takes place within our lives. Is suffering more so what we actually deal with, or is suffering how we deal with what we have experienced? Is suffering more so about that which seems to come upon and within our lives without warning and without notice, or is suffering the effects and aftermath of what has taken place? I do firmly believe that what the apostle Paul spoke of concerning “the sufferings of this present time,” as well as “the fiery trial,” and “the same afflictions” do in fact speak of very real things we experience within our hearts and lives, however, I am convinced that there are times within our lives when our being left to deal with, our being left to cope with, and even our being left to try and understand what we have experienced—perhaps even why we have experienced it—is just as real as the suffering itself. I am convinced that there are times when the sufferings themselves is but a brief moment within our hearts and lives, but the underlying reality of the suffering is found in the realm of dealing with the effects and aftermath of the suffering and what we have experienced. Job found himself experiencing the devouring of everything he had, the death of his sons and daughters, and even the affliction of his flesh, and yet in spite of all that, I can’t help but wonder whether or not the greater struggle within the suffering is perhaps that of the silence of God, that of the absence of God, and even that of the distance of God. I can’t help but get the strong sense that one of the greatest struggles in the midst of the suffering is that of trying to understand the silence and sovereignty of the living God in the midst of it.

When you come to the thirty-eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of Job you will find and discover that after Job’s three friends had said everything they needed and wanted to say, after Elihu had said everything he wanted to say, and after Job had said everything he wanted to say—it was then and at that moment when the LORD finally broke through the noise and began speaking. It’s interesting to think about and consider that it was Job who broke the silence after seven days and seven nights in the company of his friends without anything being spoken, and when the LORD finally began speaking, He broke through all the noise, all the commotion, and all the voices and opinions that were not only swirling around the suffering of Job, but also the righteousness of Job. It’s interesting to note that when the LORD finally began speaking to Job—He did not begin speaking in the midst of silence, but rather in the midst of the noise and the voices which were before and all around him. You will notice that in the beginning of the thirty-eighth chapter of this Old Testament book you will find that the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and began speaking directly to him. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning the suffering of Job, as well as the speaking of the LORD, it’s that the LORD never spoke up and revealed the purpose behind the suffering. The LORD broke through all the voices, all the noise, all the commotion, all the opinions, and all the theology in order that He might speak directly unto Job. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for it’s almost as if the LORD had to break through all the theology—perhaps even break through a support group and Bible study if you will—in order that He might speak directly unto Job Himself. This is truly intriguing and captivating when you take the time to think about it, for when the LORD broke through and finally began speaking, He appeared to break through theology, and seem to break through what we might consider a small group, or even a small group. IN our modern context today Job and his three friends would have been a part of a small group, or part of a support group, and would have had discussion and dialogue concerning Job’s suffering and possible righteousness. WHEN THE LORD BREAKS THROUGH THEOLOGY! WHEN THE LORD INTERRUPTS SMALL GROUP! WHEN THE LORD INTERRUPTS SUPPORT GROUPS! I find it absolutely intriguing to read the narrative of the suffering of Job and to think about the fact that when the LORD finally did in fact begin speaking—He didn’t begin speaking up immediately after Job had lost everything, nor even after Job’s physical body had been racked and riddled with sore boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. When the LORD finally began speaking, He began speaking in the midst of what might in our generation and in our modern context a support group, or even a small group of some sort.

As I bring this writing to a close, I can’t help but find it absolutely incredible to read the words found in the Old Testament book of Job and discover that when the LORD began speaking, He didn’t begin speaking up in response to the suffering, nor did He even begin speaking up to explain the suffering. When the LORD finally spoke up and began speaking unto Job, He did so after breaking through the theology of Job’s three friends—perhaps even Job himself. The LORD began speaking unto Job from the midst of a whirlwind and began speaking of Himself, and of His nature and His character. The LORD began speaking up after being silent for quite some time while Job and his friends hashed out their debate and discussion, and the LORD demanded to speak directly with Job. It’s necessary that we understand this, for I am convinced that one of the greatest truths surrounding suffering is not only our trust and confidence in the silence and sovereignty of God in the midst of suffering, but also our recognizing that the single greatest need in the midst of suffering, as well as the single greatest need coming out of the suffering is a knowledge and true understanding of the living and eternal God. When the LORD began speaking unto Job, He came in a whirlwind, and demanded Job’s attention. What’s more, is that the LORD broke through all the noise, all the commotion, all the opinions, all the voices, and all the debate and discussion in order that He might speak for and concerning Himself. It was enough of men attempting to speak “for” God, and it was enough of men speaking “about” God, for it was now time for the LORD Himself to speak—and speak he would. The LORD would indeed break through the noise and the voices in order that He might finally speak for and reveal Himself in the company of Job and those companions who were present with him during this time. There is not a doubt in my mind that the greatest reality we as the people of God can indeed face in the midst of, and in response to the suffering we face is our understanding of the living and eternal God. There is a great need to not merely know and understand about God, but to truly understand God Himself and understand who God is. There is an undeniable and indisputable need within our hearts and lives to truly know and understand the LORD, for even the apostle Paul wrote and declared “that I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Notice the direct link between knowledge and the fellowship of sufferings. Notice the direct link between knowledge and suffering, and how the greatest need in the midst of our suffering is indeed knowing in whom we have believed. Oh that we would not only trust in the silence and sovereignty of the living God, but that we would also truly know who He is personally.

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