The Patience of Job
November 10th, 1974 @ 8:15 AM
THE PATIENCE OF JOB
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-10-74 8:15 a.m.
On the radio we share with you, prayerfully and gladly, our First Baptist Church early morning hour. And this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Patience of Job. In our preaching through the Book of James, who wrote this epistle, and who was pastor of the mother church in Jerusalem [Acts 21:18; Galatians 2:12], we have come to chapter 5. And the text to be expounded is from verse 7 through verse 11:
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman, the farmer, the sower, 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.
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, blessed, who 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.
He writes here, “We have heard, and we have seen, the patience of the Lord” [James 5:11]. We are prone to forget. We have a tendency not to remember. So we need to be reminded of these things that God hath said and things that we have heard.
Faith is born in our hearing; “Faith cometh by hearing, hearing the word of the Lord” [Romans 10:17]. And faith is the insight, the eyes of the inner soul. So we have insight of faith when we hear the word of God. That is where it comes from. It is born in our hearing, our being reminded of the truth and the revelation of God. And he says we not only have heard, but we have seen the end of the Lord in the story of Job; that God is good and kind and gracious [James 5:11]. The consummation of the work of the Lord is always good and kind and gracious. The Lord always purposes some fine and better thing for us [Hebrews 11:40]. Even in the creation, when God had finished His work, He looked upon it and said, “It is very good” [Genesis 1:31]. So in the life of Job, a man who was cast into the very fire of trial, yet we have seen the end, the telos, the purposeful consummation of God in his life; that it was very good [Job 42:10].
Now he precedes this appeal that we look at the life and example of Job with a triplet of exhortations. “Be patient therefore, brethren,” in verse 7 [James 5:7]; and in verse 8, “Be ye also patient” [James 5:8]; and in verse 10, “Look at the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience” [James 5:10]. We need the admonition, all of us do.
In this pilgrimage from earth to heaven, we are not like plants in a greenhouse, shielded from the frost, but we live in world of trial. Sometimes we face fierce endurance. And the admonition of the Holy Spirit in our hearts is always, “Patience.” The admonition of the Holy Scriptures is always, “Patience.” The admonition of our heavenly Father is always, “Patience.” And the admonition of our blessed Savior is ever, “Patience.” So this pastor of the church in Jerusalem, writing to the flock, and writing to the Diaspora, says to us, “Ye have heard and you have seen the patience of old patriarch Job, and have known the end of the Lord” [James 5:11]: that in his patient endurance, God wonderfully blessed him [Job 42:10-13].
Job lived a long, long time ago. He lived in the days of the patriarchs. He lived in the days of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. In the story of the Book of Job, there is no hint or approach to the law of Moses. There is no reference to a single Jewish institution. All of the references are contained in the Book of Genesis and nothing beyond that first book.
Job will refer to the creation; that’s in [Genesis 1-2]. Job will refer to Adam; that’s in [Genesis 4]. Job will refer to the Flood; that’s in [Genesis 6-8]. But nothing beyond. He lived in a long, long ago day, back in the days of Genesis, and even the sacrifices that are referred to in the Book of Job are always offered by the father as the head of the house and never by a priest. He lived long, long time ago. And he was a man who was greatly and fiercely tried. He lost all of his fortune, all of it. And he was a most affluent and wealthy man. He lost all of it, all of it. He lost all ten of his children; seven sons and three daughters [Job 1:13-19]. And he was personally, in his physical frame, attacked and afflicted [Job 2:6-8].
It is very easy for us to bear the illnesses and the sorrows of others. It’s easy for us to look upon them and to endure their agony. But when it comes to our own bones and our own flesh, it is another and a sad story. Job was afflicted. He had blains and boils and sores, and he sat on a dung heap in the ashes [Job 2:7-8]. Every piece of his body was a province of anguish. And every nerve in his physical frame was a road over which armies of pain did travel. Job was greatly afflicted in his physical body.
He was no less afflicted in mental anguish. His wife accosted him in his poverty and in his affliction, and said, “Curse God, and commit suicide” [Job 2:9]. No hope from heaven, no better tomorrow, no looking up in quiet assurance that God will do something good and gracious; his own wife said to him, “Curse God, and commit suicide, die.”
He had three comforters who came to see him [Job 2:11-13]. And the attitude of those men has given rise to a sarcastic reference that we use today: “Job’s comforters.” As Job sat in his misery and in the ash heap [Job 2:7-8], the three comforters said to him, “You are a great sinner, and the evidence of the vileness of your sin is found in the depths of your suffering and affliction. You are a great sinner; therefore, you suffer this great trial” [Job 4:7-8]. They rubbed salt into his wounds. They threw dust into his eyes. And they crowned his misery with anguish.
Job’s trials were real. They were not fleeting or imaginary. He was no dyspeptic. He was no hypochondriac. He was no hysterical groaner of imaginary evils and hurts. He didn’t lose one child; he lost all ten of them [Job 1:3, 18-19]. He did not lose a few dollars; he lost his whole fortune [Job 1:14-17]. He was not somewhat ill; he was afflicted in misery and in anguish [Job 2:7-8]. How do you account for an affliction like that? This is the question raised by the psalmist in the seventy-third Psalm:
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.
They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
Truly, verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me,
Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood.
[Psalm 73:2, 3, 5, 12-14, 16-17]
When the psalmist got up high enough, then he could see far enough, and then God showed him, and he understood. That is the rest of the that seventy-third Psalm [Psalm 73:18-28].
Now in just these few moments that remain for us, we’re going into the sanctuary of the Lord, into the temple of the Great High God. And we’re going to try to get up high enough that we can see far enough and look on the purpose of God in our affliction and in our suffering. “Pastor, I don’t suffer. I’ve never been afflicted.” Don’t worry, don’t you be proud or removed. It will come. In your day and in your time, you also will cry, “My God, why?” [Matthew 27:46]. So we all need to rise to that height where God is, where the throne of the Sovereign Almighty is, and to see what God purposes in our affliction, and our torment, and our misery.
First: God is in it all. You’d never think that particularly, as you read the Book of Job. The evil one is so in the forefront, and what he does so covers the life of the patriarch, from horizon to horizon. He is afflicting. He is denying. He is interdicting. He is robbing. He’s burning and he’s slaying.
And we see the evil hand of Satan from one side of the sky to the other. But what we don’t see is that back of it all is the sovereign purpose and presence of the Almighty. Satan can go just so far, and no further; just so far in the permissive will of God [Job 1:12, 2:6], in the permissive will of God. The chain around his neck is never removed. He is a dog of hell that can bark and snap and growl, but the chain that holds him is in the hands of the omnipotent God, and it is never released, never.
The Lord said to Simon: “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may thresh you, sift you, thresh you like a wheat harvester [Luke 22:31]. You say that you love Me more than anything else beside [Matthew 26:33]. And you tell Me that, “Though the whole world deny You, I would never deny You’ [Matthew 26:35]. Well, Simon, Satan wants to try that just a little. He is going to sift you just a little, just to see if that is true” [Luke 22:31].
Fine, that’s Satan. But at the same time the Lord put a limit on it. “But Simon, Simon, I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not” and the end of it, “and when it is over, Simon, and the trial is passed, and you have come back, you have turned, you have converted, strengthen your brethren” [Luke 22:32]. And the Lord did thresh them. Judas was threshed clear out [Matthew 27:5]. And Simon cursed and denied that he ever knew Jesus [Mark 14:71]. But just so far could Satan go with him [Luke 22:32].
And after the threshing, and after the sifting, and after the trial [Luke 22:32], you look upon a different Simon Peter. He’s another man. He is the man that wrote in 1 Peter chapter 5, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due season: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” [1 Peter 5:6-7]. Can you imagine Simon, boastful Simon, writing those words? When Satan was done with him [Luke 22:31], he was another man. He had another heart, another spirit, another understanding. So it is in the trials of our lives. We’re not alone. The Lord is present and He sees, and He watches, and the chain that collars and binds Satan is in God’s hand. And he can only go so far and do so much.
So with Job; Satan attacked him, but he never lost his witness to the goodness and grace of God. He was faithful [Job 1:21, 13:15]. Satan cast him on a dung hill [Job 2:8], a manure pile, a dung hill, but Job made it, under God, a throne. Satan afflicted him with blains, and boils, and sores [Job 2:7]. Each one of them was a medallion. It was a medal. It was a citation before God. And Satan, in the presence and in the hands of Job, had to eat his words. Satan had to come before God and admit, “I’m a liar” [Job 8:44]. Isn’t that an amazing thing? But we must hasten.
Number two—not only in the trial is God present, and not only does God chain and collar the hound of heaven, this dog of damnation, but number two: God purposed to give Job a double portion of everything that he had, everything [Job 1:2-3, 42:10-12]. Satan purposes so and so; God also has His purposes. And God purposed to give Job double everything that he had. Now to double his wealth, to double his affluence, to double his sheep and camels, and flocks, and herds, and lands, and fields, was easy. That was easy to double what Job possessed.
Some of you have even been able to do that in your own genius. You’ve been able to take what you have and to double it. That was easy; easy for God especially. But to double his grace, and to double his experience, and to double his tenderness and kindness and sympathy, and to double his devotion, and to double his trust in the Lord, that took pain, and blain, and boil, and misfortune, and suffering [Job 2:7-8]. And that was the purpose of God to double it all, to make Job twice the man that otherwise he might have been [Job 42:10].
That’s why I had you read this marvelous conclusion to the experience of Job, when he said, “Lord, Lord, I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, afar off; but now I see You, mine eyes seeth Thee: Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” [Job 42:5-6]. He’s a new man. God has double for him, grace and glory.
And that leads me to the third thing. God was in it all; second, God purposed to double everything that he possessed, not only in his physical affluence, but in his heart and his soul, to be not only a soldier of the golden fleece but a soldier of the iron cross; number three: God purposed to bring Job to a glory and a state he otherwise would never, ever have known. Tell me, tell me honestly, had Job just been another rich man who used his riches for God, who purposed in his heart to serve the Lord, had Job been just another rich man and just another good man, would you have ever heard about him, would you?
I dare say that his three comforters, his three friends who came to visit him in his affliction, Bildad, and Eliphaz, and Zophar [Job 2:11], I dare say they also were affluent men. But did you ever hear anybody referring to Eliphaz or Bildad or Zophar? I never did in my life, and I never expect to. But I hear Job often referred to. It was the purpose of God to bring him to a glory he otherwise never would have known. And how does God do that? He does it in trial [James 1:2-4].
That’s why Abraham was so marvelous a patriarch, and in the Bible he’s the only one ever called “the Friend of God” [James 2:23]. Why? Abraham took his only son, born of the womb of Sarah, bound him, laid him on an altar, raised a knife to plunge into his heart [Genesis 22:1-2,7-12], believing that God could raise him from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19]. In the trial, great faith, great character, high and noble stature is born.
Last: and God intended that the experience of Job should bring assurance and comfort and strength to us in our pilgrimage and in our day and in our trial [Romans 15:4]—the Lord God put a thorn in his nest. The Lord God broke it up. The Lord God pushed him out just like an eagle does her eaglets. Over the cliff, hundreds of feet below, but the little things must learn to fly, and they mustn’t stay in the nest of ease and luxury forever. And when the little things mount up on wings they come to be real eagles.
That’s what God intends for us. Sometimes He puts a thorn in the nest. He puts a hurt in the heart. He puts an anguish in the soul. He puts tears in the eyes. He puts crying and lamentation in our mouths, on our tongues. Why does God do that? Why does God allow that? Because He purposes some better thing for us [Hebrews 11:40].
God put John Bunyan, who was a fine preacher, a fine preacher, an excellent preacher a noble preacher, already, God put him in Bedford jail twelve years, that he might write the most glorious book ever penned outside of the Word of God, Pilgrim’s Progress. God put Paul in prison, practically all of his ministry, that he might write for us these letters of the New Testament [Philippians 1:7].
And God nailed Jesus to the cross [John 3:16]. In agony did He die [Acts 17:3], that out of that death might come life [Romans 14:7-9], out of that suffering might come salvation [Isaiah 53:4-5], and out of His burial [Matthew 27:57-61], might come the promise of a better resurrection [1 Thessalonians 5:10].
Lift up your heads, my fellow pilgrims, God does not forget us. “Yea,” did he write in the text, “we have heard,” we have, Lord, “and we have seen,” we do see, Lord, “that the end of the Lord is gracious, and good, and blessed, and precious for those who place their trust in Him” [James 5:11].
We must sing our song of appeal, and while we sing it, a family, a couple, or just you, thus to give yourself to the goodness of God, thus to accept the grace of the blessed Jesus, to put your life in the church, to trust Him as Savior, to answer God’s call pressed to your heart by the Holy Spirit, on the first note of this first stanza, come. When we stand up, stand up walking down that aisle, coming down this aisle, “Here I am, pastor, I make it today. I’m coming now,” while we stand and while we sing.
THE PATIENCE OF JOB
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. We have heard and seen the patience of Job(James 5:11)
1. We are prone to forget, and need to be reminded
2. Let us hear again, for faith cometh by hearing (Romans 10:17)
3. Telos – the consummation of His purpose
a. When the Lord is done His work, it is always good (Genesis 1:31)
B. Triplet of admonitions concerning our being patient(James 5:7-8, 10)
C. The example of Job(James 5:11)
1. He lived long ago, patriarchal days of Abraham
a. Life of Job never goes beyond age of Genesis
2. A greatly tried man
a. Wealth taken from him; lost all his children
b. Personally physically afflicted
c. Mental anguish(Job 2:9, 4:7-8)
3. His trials were real
D. Why? How is it that a good man suffers?(Psalm 73:2-18)II. The Lord was in it all
A. Less seen than the evil one, but nevertheless present in it all
B. Sovereign Lord God(Luke 22:31-32, Matthew 26:31-33, 69-74, 1 Peter 5:6-7)
C. Job in the hands of Satan, and Satan in the hands of Job (Job 2:9)III. The Lord purposed a blessing for Job through it all
A. The Lord purposed to give him twice the abundance(Job 42:12-13)
1. To double his earthly possessions easy
2. To give him twice the grace, experience, knowledge of God, tenderness of character – this took suffering(Job 42:3, 5-6)
B. The Lord purposed to bestow upon him an everlasting glory
1. Without the trial there is no glory(Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23, Genesis 22:1-13, Hebrews 11:17-19)
C. The Lord purposed to bless others through Job – and us