The Patience of Job
June 12th, 1960 @ 10:50 AM
THE PATIENCE OF JOB
Dr. W. A. Criswell
James 5:7 – 11
6-12-60 10:50 a.m.
Now in our preaching through the Bible we are in the fifth chapter of the Book of James. The second part of the chapter is given to prayer: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" [James 5:16]. And he takes Elijah for an instance and an illustration [James 5:17], and that is going to be the sermon tonight, Elijah. The first part of the chapter he speaks of patience, and he takes Job; and that is the sermon this morning. In James 5:7:
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the Judge standeth before the door.
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
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.
"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]." What we have heard, what we have seen, what we have heard we sometimes are inclined to forget, and it is good to be reminded. "Faith cometh by hearing" [Romans 10:17]. Hearing opens the eyes of the soul. And spiritual sight is a product of faithful, fruitful hearing. "Ye have heard…and ye have seen… ." We have seen the end of the Lord, that His works are always good. When He made the creation, He saw each thing, that it was very good [Genesis 1:1-31]. We have heard and we have seen.
And then to encourage us in that, he speaks of these who have been patient and makes a triple appeal for our patience. Evidently, we need it. It is a grace that most of us lack, are deficient of. In the seventh verse he says, "Be patient" [James 5;7]. In the eighth verse he says, "Be ye also patient" [James 5:8]. And in the tenth verse, "Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience" [James 5:10]. Thrice he makes that appeal before the words of this text on Job. "Be ye patient." We need it.
This triple appeal for patience is in view of the fact that all of us shall meet these afflictions and these trials by and by, all of us. Not one of us is going to be a pot plant, a flower in a greenhouse shielded from the frost. All of us shall meet these afflictions and these trials. And he thrice repeats here that appeal that we be patient. It is the appeal of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to be patient. It is the appeal of the Holy Scriptures that we read that we be patient. It is the appeal of the long-suffering heavenly Father that we be patient. And it is the appeal of the Savior Himself, who, in His own example before us, would plead with us to be patient.
Then he gives an illustration here as he speaks of prayer, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much"; Elijah [James 5:16-17]. Then, after he had made his threefold appeal for patience, he uses an Old Testament example: "Ye have heard 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].
His example goes back, back, back, back, years and centuries and millenniums before. Nobody knows when Job lived, except that he most certainly lived in the days of the patriarchs; that is, in the days of Abraham. In the Book of Job there is no reference to the Law. There is no single reference to an institution of Judaism. There is no reference to any historical incident after the Book of Genesis. Job refers to the creation, he refers to Adam, he refers to the Deluge, but everything in the book is in the days of Abraham. And after years, the priests made the offerings; but in the days of Abraham the father, as the head of the house, offered the offerings unto the Lord. And it is that that you will find in the days of Job. He lived many, many centuries and many millenniums ago.
And in those days, Job was grievously afflicted. He lost everything that he possessed, and he was a wealthy man. He lost ten children, all at one time, seven sons and three daughters [Job 1:2, 18-19]. He lost his health and became miserably afflicted [Job 2:7]. It is easy for us to bear other people’s afflictions. We look upon them and we pass them by, and may sympathize for a moment, but when affliction comes to our own bone and our own flesh, ah!, how grievous it is to be borne, when every part of the body is preeminent in excruciating pain, and when every nerve is a race and a track and a course over which armies of pain do march. Job was thus grievously afflicted.
Then he also knew anguish of mind. There was left his wife who said to him, "How is it that you don’t curse God and commit suicide?" [Job 2:9]. And there were those miserable comforters, Job’s comforters, his three so-called friends [Job 2:11] who came to see him and pointed their fingers at him and said, "You must be of all sinners most vile and wicked, else you would not suffer so much" [Job 4:7-8]. They were the crown of the edifice of his misery. They rubbed salt in his wounds and threw dust in his face and in his eyes.
Job was not a dyspeptic. Job was not a perpetual complainer. Job’s trials were real. He did not lose one child. He lost all ten of his children. Nor did he lose a few thousand of a great fortune, he lost everything that he possessed. Nor were his ills just mild and trivial, they were grievous and heavy. From the top of his head to the soul of his foot, he was covered with corrupting sores, and he hurt in every part of his body. Job met a terrible and cruel misfortune.
Now, why? Why would a righteous and a good man suffer thus? Why do the righteous today suffer? There are many of the wicked, the vile, the villainous, the iniquitous who prosper and flourish like the proverbial green bay tree. They are out here in the world, they are here in Dallas, they are everywhere, people who live vile and unspeakable lives, who blaspheme God, who honor not the Lord, who in every gesture and every measure show contempt for God and God’s church and God’s people, yet they prosper, and in a measure seem to flourish in happiness. David wondered at that. In the seventy-third Psalm he said:
As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well-nigh slipped.
For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Why does it pay for a man to be good when the wicked flourish as they do?
For there are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm.
They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
And they say, How doth God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?
Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the earth; they increase in riches.
Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
For all the day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.
If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of Thy children.
When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
Until I went into the sanctuary of God; and then I understood.
David says, "When I looked at the prosperity of the wicked, and how the vile flourished, and how God’s people are condemned and are in grievous agony, and are plagued, I couldn’t understand, until I went into the sanctuary of God. And there," David says, "when I got up high enough and when I could see far enough, then I understood." Now that’s why the Book of Job is placed here in the Bible, that those of us who, inevitably someday, if not now, someday, shall face trial and trouble and grievous affliction, that we might have encouragement in the Lord.
So we begin this thing of the patience of Job, waiting upon God. First: the thing that overwhelmed Job was not by adventitious circumstance, it was not by fortuitous providence. The thing that happened to Job was of the Lord. God doesn’t seem to be in it like the devil does. God seems to be in the background. He is not in the forefront. He is not active in the thing like the devil is. But God was in it just the same. Though He may be in the shadows, and He may be in the background, and His hand is not immediately discerned, yet the providence that overwhelms Job was of the Lord. And the Lord was watching. And the Lord was directing. And the Lord was restraining. God was in it.
The hounds of hell may snarl and they may snap and they may bark, but they are not loose. The omnipotent collar of restraint is on them, and the chain is held in the hands of God; these things that overwhelm us and that sweep us away. Satan sows us down and plows us under. These things are always in the permissive will of God. And God rules, and God directs, and God knows, and God sees.
May I speak of that in the life of Simon Peter? Simon Peter said to the Lord, he said, "All these others might deny Thee. But, I will not deny Thee [Matthew 26:33, 35]. Now John may forsake Thee, and Matthew may forget Thee, and Thomas may deny Thee, but not I. I will never deny Thee." And, Simon Peter says, "And what’s more, though the whole world forsake Thee, I will never forsake Thee."
And the Lord Jesus says to Simon Peter, He says, "Simon, Satan heard you say that, and Satan wants to try you a little, he wants to sift you a little regarding that. And," though He never said this yet it turned out as I’m going to show you, "And," says the Lord Jesus, "for your own good, for your own good, I have decided to let Satan have you that he might sift you as wheat. That he may divide in you the chaff from the wheat. Now, don’t you be afraid for I’ve prayed for you that your faith not fail. And when he’s done with you, when you’ve been through the fire and through the trial, Simon, I want you to turn around and comfort and encourage your brethren" [Luke 22:31-32].
All right. There he stands, the big fisherman; "Just let Satan appear and I’ll bop him! Just let him come by, I will decimate him! Just let him appear and one stroke of my big spiritual hand will lay him low! I just dare him to show his face. Other people succumb, and other people are afraid, other people may deny the Lord, but not I."
So Satan came by. Law me! He doesn’t come by like you would expect him. He is never going to come by with horns and tail and fire and a pitchfork. That’s the caricature that he makes of himself so you are not looking for him. Man alive, when Satan came by he came by in the form of an innocent little maid who poked her finger in his face and said, "You are one of His disciples." And he said, "I’m not." And she said, "Yes you are ’cause you talk like Him" [Mark 14:66-71]. And Simon Peter said, "You think I talk like Him, listen to this," and he let out a blue streak of cussing that just hurt your ears. And when Satan got through a-shifting and a-shaking, he shook Judas clear out, and he gave all of the disciples an experience that they never forgot.
But we’re talking about Simon Peter. I want you to listen to Simon Peter. Does this sound like Simon Peter?
I exhort you, who am an elder, an older one, among you and a witness of the sufferings of Christ,
I exhort you, ye younger, I exhort you, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.
Be sober and vigilant for your adversary, the devil, is a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour.
[1 Peter 5:1, 5, 6, 8]
Reckon where Simon Peter learned anything about the adversary, a roaring lion? He’d met him. And the experience did him good. It’s Simon Peter who says, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God" [1 Peter 5:6]. No boasting, no pride, the devil shook it out of him. God was in it all. And these experiences and these trials that come upon us have a purpose in them, and that purpose is God’s purpose. The devil may have a purpose, but God also has a purpose. With one hand, God may try us. But with the other hand, God sustains us.
And the purposes that He has, here in the example of Job, are very clear. The best demonstration that God has in this earth of God’s work is a dedicated man. That man, Job, is a marvelous man, an incomparably blessed man, glorious man. Satan flung him on the dunghill. It became a throne more glorious than in the ivory palace of Solomon. And Satan covered him with running sores and every one of them was a badge, a citation, a medal of honor. And Job, in the hands of Satan, stopped the mouth of the adversary and made him eat his words! What one man can do in demonstrating the faith of God before the world!
Now these purposes that God had in it: first, God purposed to give Job twice as much of everything as he possessed, twice as much [Job 42:10]. Now to give him twice as much wealth would have been easy. If he had a million dollars, he’d make a good investment, make another million. If he had fifty million dollars, discover a whole oil field and make another fifty million dollars. That would have been simple. You see that every day. But the purposes of God were not only to double everything he had in the way of affluence, in the way of luxuries and riches. But, God wanted to double his measure of grace, and of faith, and of experience, and of the knowledge of God, and of the sympathy, and tenderness of the Lord. And how do you do that? You can’t do that by doubling a man’s wealth, or doubling a man’s income, or doubling a man’s possession. The only way that God could bless Job in giving him a double portion of everything was to lead him through the fire and lead him through the trial.
Job had done admirably with his money. He was a fine, glorious man who honored God with his wealth. But when God had led Job through those trials and those troubles He elevated him and he became not only a man that glorified God with his means, but he became a man who glorified God in the fire! That’s what God would do with us, make us not only knights of the Golden Fleece but knights of the Iron Cross. The only way the Lord could do it, in blessing Job double with everything that God could give, was to lead him through the furnace and the flame. That’s the purpose of God.
The second purpose that God purposed for Job was this; God purposed to glorify the name and the reputation, and the life, and the influence of Job in the earth. You tell me, suppose Job all of his life had lived the rich, affluent, luxurious man that he was, the greatest in the East [Job 1:8, 2:3]; tell me, had he lived that life of luxury and wealth and ease, would you have ever heard about him?
"Ye have heard of the patience of Job" [James 5:11], that man lived thousands and thousands of years ago, and yet I’m preaching about him here this morning, thousands of years later. If he had lived and died, just a rich man, would you have ever heard about him? Listen, there are rich men everywhere. I have been in some of the poorest most poverty stricken countries of this earth, and I’ve never been in a nation yet or a country yet where there were not many rich men. When you go over there to the most abject poverty stricken of those in the Near East or in the Far East you will find men of great wealth and luxurious taste. A man with lots of camels, a man with lots of stock, a man with great fortunes, you see them everywhere. It’s a common sight!
But to see a man that is devoted to God in the face of his trial, that man is an unusual man. And God purposed to bless Job and to glorify Job. He took away everything that he had and He afflicted him sore. And in it all Job magnified the name of the Lord, and God said, "That is My best demonstration of heaven and heavenly influence, the Holy Spirit’s working in the human heart. That’s it. That’s it." And Job is worth looking at. And Job is worth getting acquainted with.
Tell me, he had three comforters, and I would suppose that all three of those comforters were somewhat as affluent as Job. But who would think of looking to Eliphaz or Bildad or Zophar? All their lives they were men without burden, and without trial, and without toil, and they lived and died in the nest. But Job is a comfort to any man who seeks the will of God in the pilgrimage here in this weary world.
God had a purpose in it, and I speak of the third and the last one. And God purposed to reveal His own goodness, and His own tenderness, and His own sympathy in the trials and patience of Job. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and is full of tender mercy" [James 5:11].
It would have been a false pity had God left Job in his nest. But it was because the Lord was pitiful, because the Lord is sympathetic and understanding, and it is because God purposes for us the best things in life that He put a thorn in the nest of Job, and He tore it up, and He pushed him out. Just like the great eagle with her eaglets. When the time comes for them to fly the eagle tears up the nest, and the eagle pushes the little eaglets over the cliff. Why? Because the mother heart has lost its tender sympathy and interests in the little ones? No, because of a greater love and a greater sympathy and a greater interest.
And so it was with Job. God did these things that Job might grow in stature, and might be great, and might be worthy, and might be noble in the earth and before heaven. How many times does God do that?
John Bunyan was a wonderful preacher, a gifted man, an eloquent man, but, God flung him in jail for twelve years. While he was in jail twelve years, just for the preaching of the gospel, he wrote that allegory of Pilgrim’s Progress that, next to the Bible, has blessed mankind more than any book that has ever been written. It came out of the fire, and it came out of the trial, and it came out of the fury, and it came out of the furor. And all of the great blessings of life do so come.
The purposes of God in the affliction that is grievous to be borne, and in the sorrow that breaks the heart in two, the purposes of God are always infinitely best, and infinitely good, and infinitely wise.
May I close with a little thing of a little boy, a little crippled boy? The streetcar was just about to pull on down, and the motorman heard a little child’s voice holler, "Wait up, Mr. Conductor! Wait up for me! Wait!" So he opened the door of his streetcar, and waited, and soon in climbed the little crippled boy, and spoke to the conductor, and thanked him so sincerely, and put the little coin in the box, and went back and sat down by a man. And the little fellow with his crippled feet was so happy and so bright that the man especially noticed him. And he said to the little boy, very openly and bluntly, he said, "You seem so happy. And you seem so bright. And yet, you are so crippled. How is it you are that way?"
When the little boy replied, he said, "Well, mister, my daddy tells me that God always gives us what is best. And my daddy says that God felt that what was best for me was to have my crippled feet. And the little boy added, "And should I not be happy with what is best?"
It stayed in that man’s mind and I’m repeating it today. It stayed in my mind. God chooses what is best, and if it’s the fire or the flood or the flame shall I not be happy with what is best? And it’s in His hands. If it’s to live then God has said, "That’s best." If it’s to die then God has said, "That is best." If it’s to be in health and strength, God has said, "That is best." If it’s to lie in affliction and invalidism, God hath said, "That is best." "And ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord" [James 5:11] that what He did, He did because our Lord is pitiful to us-ward, and of tender mercy.
I may be a poor illustration of the sermon I preached this morning, but maybe the sermon is preached because I need it myself, to be patient before the Lord, and to wait upon the Lord and to leave the issue to God. We all do. And when God achieves through us what He purposes, it is blessed and precious indeed.
Now while we sing our song of appeal and invitation, in the throng in this balcony round, somebody you give his heart to the Lord, would you come and stand by me? On this lower floor, somebody you give his heart to Jesus, into this aisle and down to the front, would you give your hand to the pastor? "Pastor, I give you my hand. I give my heart to God." Is there a family to come into the fellowship of the church? Is there one somebody you that the Lord bids respond today? While we make this appeal, would you choose now? "God helping me, God be with me, God see me through, here I come and here I am." While we make the appeal and while we sing the song, on the first note of the first stanza, would you come? "Now, this morning, I decide and here I am," while we stand and while we sing.