Monday, February 23, 2015

Put On Your ‘Big Boy’ Pants

Week 2 in our 6 week study on "True Faith" at 

While building upon the understanding from the first lesson, in which students learned that faith is the certainty of things not seen, this next lesson opens students’ eyes to the awesome nature of the God they serve. The example of Job is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Students will see that even when they do not understand the situation in which they find themselves, God is in control. Natural tendencies to question God’s sovereignty or even accuse Him of being unfair will shrink in light of God’s power over His creation. Humility before the Creator is the only appropriate posture when truly glimpsing His greatness. Even in the midst of suffering or confusion, confidence that God is in complete control should motivate humble perseverance. God is in control, even when His people don’t understand what is happening.

Job 38:1-41 (NIV)
The Lord Speaks
38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans
    with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?
“Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?
“Have you ever given orders to the morning,
    or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges
    and shake the wicked out of it?
The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
    its features stand out like those of a garment.
The wicked are denied their light,
    and their upraised arm is broken.
“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
    or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?
    Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
    Tell me, if you know all this.
“What is the way to the abode of light?
    And where does darkness reside?
Can you take them to their places?
    Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
Surely you know, for you were already born!
    You have lived so many years!
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
    or seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I reserve for times of trouble,
    for days of war and battle?
What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
    or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
    and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no one lives,
    an uninhabited desert,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland
    and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father?
    Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
    Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,
    when the surface of the deep is frozen?
“Can you bind the chains[b] of the Pleiades?
    Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons[c]
    or lead out the Bear[d] with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?
    Can you set up God’s[e] dominion over the earth?
“Can you raise your voice to the clouds
    and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
    Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who gives the ibis wisdom[f]
    or gives the rooster understanding?[g]
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
    Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
when the dust becomes hard
    and the clods of earth stick together?
“Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
    and satisfy the hunger of the lions
when they crouch in their dens
    or lie in wait in a thicket?
Who provides food for the raven
    when its young cry out to God
    and wander about for lack of food?

Job 40:1-8  (NIV)
40 The Lord said to Job:
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
    Let him who accuses God answer him!”
Then Job answered the Lord:
“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
    I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
    twice, but I will say no more.”
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:
“Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
“Would you discredit my justice?
    Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

Supporting Passages:   Genesis 1:1-2:3, Isaiah 40:28, Romans 11:33

Even though believers suffer, God is always in control. Job was a faithful and devout follower of God. He lived a comfortable and prosperous life. But suddenly and inexplicably, Job lost all ten of his children, all of his possessions, and was struck by sickness. Job’s friends attempted to blame Job’s suffering on his sin, but they really had no idea about why God had allowed such distress. God was silent for 37 chapters of the book. God finally spoke to Job with a series of questions that revealed that His wisdom is unlimited; His goodness is constant, even in chaos, and His sovereignty rules the whole universe.

1. God’s control is evident in His wisdom (Job 38:1–11).

God did not tell Job the reason for or purpose of his suffering. Rather, God began by noting that Job did not have the wisdom or knowledge to understand the ways of the world, much less the mysteries of God; Job had been speaking without the proper knowledge needed to explain God’s ways. He began by asking Job a series of questions about the Creation event. Job was not present at Creation, nor did he have anything to do with the existence of the universe. As Creator, God in all of His wisdom caused all things to be and to exist together. God was not obligated to speak to Job at all, but He personally addressed the situation and began what will turn into four chapters (Job 38–42) of revelation to Job in the midst of his suffering.
Have you ever sent a text message and didn’t receive a quick response? You begin to wonder if the message didn’t go through. You begin to grow impatient as a response never comes. You eventually assume that there must be no one on the other end. When we cannot imagine a good reason for suffering, we often make similar assumptions: “God must not be listening to me” or “God must not be there.” A response that seems slow to us does not mean that God is not listening. We just have to rely on His control and remember that His wisdom is above ours in all things.
Some people try to make sense of their suffering logically. Others try to understand their suffering in light of their disobedience, and so they think that God is punishing them. Still, others simply fall into despair and despondence. All of these responses to suffering are looking for a reason or explanation that satisfies personal interests. We are limited in our understanding of suffering, but God is not. He is sovereign over all and loving to speak to us in the midst of suffering. Because we know that He is a wise and loving Father, the appropriate response is to trust and obey.

2. God’s control is evident in His sovereignty (Job 38:12–41).

After God asserted His wisdom, He began to ask Job about the intricacies of creation—the weather, the care of animals, and the dawning of the sun, to name a few. God pointed out that He caused rain and provided food even for the lands and animals that Job could not see. God rules over all of creation and maintains control over everything—something He reminded Job that man, specifically Job himself, could not do. From grass to galaxies, all of creation carries out God’s agenda, not humanity’s agenda (vv. 25–27). Nothing in the world is outside of God’s control. 
In Super Bowl XXVII, Dallas Cowboys defender Leon Lett fumbled during what would have been a touchdown return against the Buffalo Bills. He began celebrating before crossing into the end zone, and so the ball that had been fumbled once already was fumbled again, and possession returned to the Bills. Sometimes fumbles are caused by a forceful hit or even haphazardness. Either way, the player has lost control of the ball, and the outcome of the game could be greatly affected by it. God, however, never “fumbles” in our lives. Never. He makes no mistakes. He never loses control. Nothing is beyond his grip, and nothing can be swatted out of his control.

God’s plans are bigger and better than our plans. Therefore, it is helpful to identify what areas of life you are attempting to control. As we grow in awareness of God’s sovereign control, we grow in awareness that we cannot call the shots any longer. We must submit our entire lives to his lordship and give up every right to determine the direction of our lives. It is comforting to know we don’t have to be in control.

3. We respond to God’s control with humility (Job 40:1–8).
After Job heard God’s Word, his heart moved from blaming God for ignoring him (13:23–24) to worshipping God for humbling him (40:4–5). Job’s response to God was humble silence. He knew that God’s mysteries and ways were far superior to his own, which left Job with no other response than to recognize his humble standing before a God who controlled everything. He stopped questioning God and simply stood before Him in awe. The question that we must ask ourselves is not if we will suffer but how we will suffer. Job teaches us that we cannot inform or instruct God. We cannot restrict God to our limited understanding. When we suffer, we can pray for God to be glorified and praise Him for our salvation rather than live in a spirit of complaint and confusion.

So what's the big idea of the passage?

We might not always understand God’s ways, but we can always trust them. The book of Job compares the limits of our knowledge with the goodness and greatness of God in all things, including suffering. Even when life does not make sense, God reveals Himself as wise, sovereign, and trustworthy. Because we do not know why some things happen, we need to trust a God who is in control of everything. When we recognize God as wise, sovereign, and loving, we have every reason to trust Him. We can look forward to the day in which suffering is no more and trusting God is no longer a struggle. We persevere in humility until that day comes when we can see Him face to face.

Job is considered as one of the “Books of Wisdom” in the Old Testament. It bears the name of the one who is the primary character: Job. John D. W. Watts states, “Tennyson called it the ‘greatest poem of ancient or modern times’” (Allen, 22). Job is said to have lived in the land of Uz. Job 1:1 - Biblical scholars and geologists believe that Uz existed in what is now the Arabian or Syrian Desert east of Palestine and was home to the peoples of the Aramaic tribe (Pfeiffer, 1762). Uz extended “from Edom northerly and easterly toward the Euphrates River, skirting the caravan route between Babylon and Egypt” (Halley, 241).
We do not know who authored the book of Job, the time of its writing, or the time in which it was set. Perhaps the earliest reference to Job outside the book itself was by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 14:14, 14:20).Evidence suggests that the time of the setting of Job was during the period of the patriarchs (ESV, 869). The author provides evidence that he was a skilled writer who was familiar with Hebrew life and culture. He was also highly educated, demonstrating knowledge of theology and the study of Scripture, meteorology, astronomy, botany, geology, and biology in his explicit descriptions (ESV, 869). Through his knowledge, the author painted a rich backdrop of color of the greatness and vastness of God as well as His power and sovereignty.
The existence of God was never questioned throughout Job’s story. On the contrary, the reality of God is so much greater than the vaporous life of humanity, which is here today and then, suddenly and without warning, swept away tomorrow. However, the theme of the book seems to point to the following question: “Can God be trusted?” (ESV, 870). Throughout Job’s poetry and prose, God is revealed intimately as powerful, just, merciful, wrathful, gracious, and holy. The author went to great lengths to reveal God as Creator and Sovereign over all of His creation (Job 38:1-41). As such, Job, though he asked questions of God, never flinched in His desire and willingness to believe that God is God and is worthy of his complete trust no matter what the circumstances.
These verses also emphasize the Essential Truth that [The Future is in God’s Hands].
When we place ourselves directly against the magnificent backdrop of God—His wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and creative ability, we are instantly made humble. There is no comparison between the creation and the Creator other than the fact that He has chosen to create us in His image. What impact does it have upon you when you look out over the display of God’s creation from a mountaintop or from the edge of a mighty canyon? To whom or what is your mind drawn, and how large or small do you feel in those moments? Is God not worthy of our trust? Is He not worthy of the direction and control of our lives? Wouldn’t we be insane to try to take control over our own lives from God the Creator—the Almighty?
Students can sometimes live in a very small world that they carve out for themselves—home, school, church, work, and extracurricular activities. They forget that even in the realm where they live, God is there too. Instead of trusting Him in daily life, they seek to take control of it themselves. This kind of pattern can set students up to think that the destiny of their lives is their own, and so they disregard the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God. How can you take students to the edge of that vast canyon this week and cause them to feel how small they are in comparison to an enormous God? How can you help them begin to see that they must be speechless in His presence as they listen to Him, follow Him, obey Him, and trust Him?

Small Group Questions

  • When have you felt like Job, frustrated with God and wondering whether He had forgotten about you? How did you voice that frustration?
  • How would you respond to all of God’s questions in Job 38 if they were directed at you?
  • How can you know that God is sovereign over your life?
  • How does God’s sovereignty make a difference in whether you trust Him?

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