Job Meets the Lord God
July 26th, 1981 @ 7:30 PM
JOB MEETS THE LORD GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Job 42:5, 6
7-26-81 7:30 p.m.
And thank all of you who by the thousands are sharing this hour of worship with us in the First Baptist Church in Dallas. On KRLD, the far-flung radio of the Southwest, and on KCBI, the Sonshine station of our Center of Biblical Studies, we welcome you. With us here in the auditorium of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, I hope you will have in your hand a Bible. We are going to do something tonight, and if you have a Bible, it will doubly be meaningful to you. If you do not have your own Bible, in the pew there will be one. And I pray that at home you have a copy of God’s Word close at hand always. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church delivering the message entitled Job Meets the Lord God. We are going to read out loud as our background text the first six verses of the last chapter of Job, Job 42; Job 42:1-6.
Now a previous word concerning what it is we are going to do; all of my life, as I am sure all of your life, if you have been in Sunday school, or in Bible study, or if you have gone to church, all of your life you have heard it referred to that the Book of Job concerns an answer to why do the righteous suffer. I have never heard any exception to that in anything I have ever read or from any discussion to which I’ve ever listened. Why do the righteous suffer?
That is supposed to be the theme of the Book of Job. Well, taking that for granted, I read the Book of Job. I read it, and I reread it, and I read it no telling how many times, and there is no such a thing as an answer to that question in the Book of Job. Why do the righteous suffer? It is never discussed. It is never answered. If that is the theme and if that is the purpose of the writing of the book, then it never approaches it, much less to answer it. Well, wouldn’t you then try to find out what it is that lies back of the inspiration that wrote this book? Why is it here? There are many scholars who believe that the oldest book in the Bible is the Book of Job. It certainly concerns the days of the patriarchs, back yonder in the days of Enoch, or Noah, or Abraham. It has a marvelous message; I just never have heard anybody refer to it, nor have I heard anybody discuss it.
Now we’re going to do that tonight, and you’re going to need an open Bible to look at it. The whole summation is this; the Book of Job reveals to us how a man is to meet God. That’s the theme of it. That’s the discussion of it, and you’re going to see it when we look at these inspired words, how it is that we meet the Lord God. And, of course, the record here is how Job met the Mighty Master, the omnipotent God who made heaven and earth and made us [Genesis 1:1, 26].
Now let’s read it out loud together, Job 42:1-6, out loud together:
Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
I know that Thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee.
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
Hear, I beseech Thee, and I will speak: I will demand of Thee, and declare thou unto me.
I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee.
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Now let that resound in our hearts, the cry of Job when he says, “Wherefore”—before God—“wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” [Job 42:6].
We turn now to the first chapter of Job. Turn to Job chapter 1; Job chapter 1. Now remember that cry of this patriarch before God: “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” [Job 42:6]. All right, who is it that has said that? Had Cain said that, I would not be surprised. Would you? Had Lamech, the first polygamist, said that, I would not have been surprised, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Had Pharaoh said that, I would not have been surprised. Had Saul said that, from whom God withdrew His Spirit, I would not have been surprised. Would you? Had Judas said that, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes,” had Judas said that, I would not have been surprised. Would you? Had Nero said that, I would not be surprised. Had Hitler said that, I would not be surprised. Who is this man that has said that, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes”? [Job 42:6].
All right, first, who is that man who said it? The Bible says—now we read Job 1:1—“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” That’s what the Bible says about him. Now you look at verse 8, and let’s see what God said about him. Job 1:8: “And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and cannot bear the presence of evi?” That’s what God said about him.
The Bible says he’s the best man in the earth. That’s what the Bible said [Job 1:1]. And God said about him, he is a perfect man, and an upright man, and one that cannot bear the presence of evil [Job 1:8]. Now that is the man who is crying before God, saying, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” [Job 42:6]. Now that is what Job is about. Why is it that this man, who is described by the Bible and described by God Himself as being the best man in the earth, why is it that he cries now at the end of the book, saying, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes?” All right, the answer is in the book. That’s what the book is about. It is true that Job was the best man in the earth, but there wasn’t anybody in the earth who knew that better than Job. Brother, did he exalt in his superior righteousness.
All right, let’s turn to chapter 29. We’re going to turn to Job chapter 29. Now, this is what Job thinks about himself. This is Job’s idea of Job. This is his appraisal of himself, Job chapter 29. Now we’re going to start reading at verse 7. Now you look at these “I’s” and what Job thinks about himself and what he says about himself:
When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up.
The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.
When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:
Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
Can you imagine a man saying that?
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; and my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.
I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth…
My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.
Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.
After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them.
And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain.
“I chose out their way,” verse 25, ”and sat as chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners” [Job 29:25]. Did you ever hear a man describe himself like that in your life? Did you? He was the best man in the world, the Book says, the best man in the world, God says, and nobody knew that better than Job.
Look at the first verse of chapter 30: “But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock” [Job 30:1]; gives you a good idea of Job. All those other people around him, he looked upon them with disdain as he would have the dogs in his flock!
Now, Job was rich, and Job was famous, and Job was the greatest man in all the East, and he was the best man in the world. And nobody knew it like Job, and he looked upon all the other people around him as though they were dogs. That’s Job. He was proud, and he was lifted up in his righteousness. He was good, and he knew it.
All right, we’re going to look at one thing again about this man Job. Turn to chapter 13. Turn to chapter 13. Now you look at verse 3 and at verse 22. Well, let’s start off with verse 1. Now we’re looking at chapter 13. “Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it. What you know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior to you” [Job 13:1-2]. Whatever you can do, I can do better. Didn’t I ever hear a song like that? “What you do, I can do better,” and then it goes over a whole lot of things. “What you think you can do, I can do better.” That’s what Job—“What you know, the same do I know: I am not inferior to you” [Job 13:2].
Now look as he speaks that to God. Verse 3: “Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God!” [Job 13:3]. All right, look at verse 22 now. “Then call Thou, O God, and I will answer.” I’ll tell You what You do not know. “Or let me speak, and answer Thou me” [Job 13:22]. I want to reason with God, and whatever You say to me I’ll answer. Or, “You let me speak and ask You questions, and You answer” [Job 13:3, 22]. Did you ever hear a proud soul like that? So God deals with Job, and that’s what the book’s about.
Now, how does God deal with him? All right, let’s turn over here to chapter 38. Turn to chapter 38 and we’re going to see how God deals with Job. Now he’s just said, “Let me speak to the Almighty, and let me reason with God, and if He wants to ask me, I will answer Him, or let me ask Him and He answers me” [Job 13:3, 22].
All right, now chapter 38: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said” [Job 38:1], and there follows—and we don’t have time, I wish we did—there follows something like a hundred fifty questions that God asked Job. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” [Job 38:4], and then follows after [Job 38:4-39:30]. And did you know, sweet people, after two thousand five hundred years at least, we haven’t been able to answer but maybe one of those one hundred fifty questions that God asked Job? Ah, brother! Now turn with me to chapter 40, chapter 40.
When God got through talking to Job, this man who says, “You just let me reason with You” [Job 13:3, 22], and this man who walks in his integrity and in his pride, and this man who says to God, “If You do not answer me, I will answer You” [Job 13:3,22], now you look at Job in chapter 40, verses 3, 4, and 5 [Job 40:3-5]. “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile” [Job 40:4]. Goodness, can you believe that? Did you just get through reading what Job thought of himself? Now look at him.
Behold, I am vile; and what shall I answer Thee?—I cannot answer Thee, O God—I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice: but I will proceed no further.
Now, my text.
I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee.
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
How a man meets God, how a man stands before God, however righteous he may be, and however blessed he may be, and however exalted he may be, when a man meets God, his place is on his face. It’s in the dust! It’s in the ashes! It’s in repentance and confession and commitment. That’s how a man meets God, and that’s what Job is all about.
Now may I preach on it just for a moment, that we might see it in life? What can you do with the Pharisee, who is the most righteous of all of the citizens of ancient Judea? What can you do with him? All you can do is say, “Yes, that’s right, that’s correct. Yes, indeed. Yes, sir,” for he stands up, and he looks up into heaven, and he says, “I thank Thee, God, that I’m not like these other dogs. I walk in mine integrity, and I live righteously every day of my life. I pay my debts. I am faithful to the laws and the commandments. I’m not like these dirty dogs, like that publican there. Thank God, I’m not like him” [Luke 18:11].
So when the man talks to you about his righteousness—and I’ve talked to ten thousand of them, literally—all you can do is say, “That’s right. That’s right. Yes, sir. Yes, sir, you’re a wonderful man. You haven’t murdered anybody; that’s right. You haven’t robbed a bank; that’s right. You pay your honest debts; that’s right. You make a living for your family; that’s right. You’re as good as anybody else; that’s right. And you say you’re going to stand on your own righteousness when you stand in the presence of God; amen! That’s right!”
That’s all you can say to him; “That’s right. Yes, sir, you’re the best man in the city. You’re a model citizen.” That’s all you can say; “That’s right. I congratulate you on your integrity, and I warmly commend you for your righteousness.” That’s all you can do. But say, brother, what possibilities are in the public who will not so much as lift up his face to heaven, but he beats on his breast and cries, saying, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner” [Luke 18:13].
Man, what a message I have for him. “My brother, Christ died for you [1 Corinthians 15:3]. He didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He didn’t come to heal the well, but the sick” [Matthew 9:12-13; Mark 2:17]. What a message I have for the publican. “Great God, he’s the man God’s looking for, and he’s the man for whom Jesus died.” What a message I have for that publican [Luke 18:13-14].
Or look again. What can you say to the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son? [Luke 15:11-32]. He comes before his father in righteous indignation, and he says, “Never at any time did I ever transgress thy commandment. I have been here by your side through these years, and I have worked, and I have been true, and I have been faithful in all things” [Luke 15:29]. What can you say to the elder brother? “That’s right, son, that’s right. You’ve never transgressed your father’s commandments. You’ve stayed here through all the years, and you’ve labored and worked; that’s right. That’s right. You’re the best boy in the world; that’s right. You magnify the cause of goodness, and justice, and honor, and integrity; that’s right. That’s right, son. That’s right. That’s right.” That’s all you can do.
But say, man, what a message I have for the prodigal boy. What a message I have for him. Man, the sorrows of conviction have laid him in the dust. Even sitting on the corral fence watching the hogs eat, he fain would fill himself with the husks that the swine were devouring [Luke 15:16]. He’s low. He’s down. He’s confessing! He’s repenting! He’s dying that he might live again [Luke 15:17-21].
And now the father can say, “Bring hither the ring and put it on his finger. And bring hither the finest shoes and put them on his feet. And bring hither the beautiful robe, and clothe him, and take off these rags, and let’s kill the fatted calf and rejoice: For this my son was dead, and he is alive again; he was lost and is found” [Luke 15:22-24]. That’s what the gospel is about. That’s what Job is about. “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” [Job 42:6].
Or take just once again—and I don’t want to belabor the point—just take once again: when Jesus was crucified, on one side of Him was one malefactor, an insurrectionist, they’re called robbers in our nomenclature, and on the other side was another just like him. In their insurrection, they’d been guilty of murder. They were terrorists, we’d call them today. They were guerillas, we’d call them today. And they were righteously sentenced, and they were crucified by the Roman government. They had washed their hands in terrorist blood. So the three are there on the cross, and the man on this side who’s being crucified with Jesus, he turns to the Lord and he reviles Him. “If You are so good, then why don’t You save Yourself, and us? [Luke 23:39]. We haven’t done anything worse than You or anybody else.” And you just hear that malefactor on that side flinging words into the face of Jesus about his own justification, and his own righteousness, and his own right to live, and on and on and on. You can imagine what these guerillas and terrorists would say in defense of their lives. We read it every day in the paper. He was one of them. You can hear him say every word of that.
Now what are you going to say to him? “That’s right. You have a great cause; that’s right. And you’re offering your life in behalf of what you believe is right; that’s right. And you’re suffering for the great freedom cause of Judah; that’s right. That’s right.” You can just agree with him: “That’s right.”
But this man on the other side, he turns his head and he speaks to that man on the other side, on the far side, a fellow murderer and a fellow insurrectionist, and he says to him, “You and I are receiving our just deserts. We’re murderers and insurrectionists. We’re lost. We’re sinners, but this Man has done nothing amiss” [Luke 23:40-41]. And God gave him faith and insight, and turning to Jesus, he said, “Lord, when You come into Your kingdom, remember me” [Luke 23:42].
What a message you have for that man. In his repentance, and in his confession, and in his need, and in the judgment to come, what a message you have for him. And the Lord turned and said to him, “Sēmeron”—this day, not some other time—“today you will be with Me in Paradise” [Luke 23:43]. And at three o’clock that afternoon, arm in arm, Jesus and a repentant terrorist walked through the gates of glory [Matthew 23:44-46]. Think of it: how a man meets God—nor do I know an exception to that. We don’t meet God face to face. Our place is in humility and in confession, down on our knees: “Lord, I’m not worthy to stand before Thee” [Luke 5:8]. I say all of the saints are like that. Abraham was the friend of God [Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23], and when he prayed, do you remember what he said? He said, “Lord, behold, I have taken upon myself to speak unto Thee, I who am but dust and ashes” [Genesis 18:27]. Abraham, “I who am but dust and ashes.”
In Serampore, in India, right up one of the tributaries of the Ganges River from Calcutta just eighteen miles, I visited the place of the labors and ministry of William Carey. I’d just gone through the library. I couldn’t believe the labors of that man. He opened the gospel to 300 million people. He wrote a grammar, a lexicon, translated, preached, built the school; William Carey, our first modern missionary.
He’s buried there on the college campus. So I stood there and I read that bronze inscription. My brother, my sister, I couldn’t believe what I read. This is one of the greatest saints of all time. He could well have written a twenty-ninth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. And I looked there at his tomb, and I can’t believe what I read. You know what it is? After his name, after the dates of his life, there’s a quote from him. It is this: “A poor, miserable, helpless worm, on Thy kind arms I fall.” One of the greatest saints of all time, “A poor, miserable, helpless worm, on Thy kind arms I fall”: William Carey.
“Wherefore,” Job says, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee” [Job 42:5]. I’ve met the Master. I’ve met God! Then the sentence, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” [Job 42:6]. And the door of heaven opens, and the message of Christ rings in true salvation. It’s in humility, it’s in repentance, it’s in confession that we come before the great God and our Savior, and we ask His healing and we ask for His life and salvation [Romans 10:9-10]. When we come like that, all heaven conspires to lift us up, and to bless us, and to save us, and to give us a place by the very throne of Almighty Himself. Bless His name forever that He just allows us to speak it, to touch Him, to meet Him, to be saved in His grace [Ephesians 2:8-9].
Now may we stand together? Our Lord, if ever we are tempted to justify ourselves, as though in our righteousness we walk into the presence of God, that in our goodness we save ourselves, if ever, Lord, we are tempted to be self-righteous or to exalt ourselves, or to lift up ourselves, dear Lord, may the lesson we’ve learned in the life of the old patriarch Job bring to us how great God is and how our place is at His feet [Job 42:5-6]. And our Lord, help us to realize that we could never be good enough to save ourselves, never rich enough to buy our salvation, never work hard enough to work our way into heaven. It’s by grace that we’re saved, not of our works, lest we should say, “See, I did it” [Ephesians 2:8-9]. It’s all of Jesus, and we come humbly in confession, in repentance, in humility, and ask God to forgive our sins [1 John 1:7, 9], to stand by us in the hour of our death [Psalm 116:15], to write our names in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27; Luke 10:20], and to open heaven’s gate to us someday [John 14:3].
And while our people pray and while we stand before the great God and our Savior the Lord Jesus, somebody you to open your heart to Him: “Tonight I receive Him as my own Savior. Not by works of righteousness which I have done, but according to His mercy, save me, Lord Jesus [Titus 3:5]. I cast myself upon His goodness and grace” [Ephesians 2:8]. Come, come. A family you to put your life with us in this dear church, a couple you, as God shall speak, answer with your life. And our Lord, in this moment that we pray and wait and sing, thank Thee for the sweet harvest, these who come in confession, and contrition [Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 57:15], and humility before Thee tonight. And be Thou to them a great God and Savior. Thank Thee for the answered prayer, and the sweet harvest, and for what Jesus is able to do for us [Hebrews 7:25]. In His saving name, amen. While we sing our song, welcome. Welcome. Come.
JOB MEETS THE LORD GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. Strange language of Job 42:6
II. The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind
III. Job humbled
IV. First call of God is repentance
V. God insists that we repent
1. Key to the heart and life of man
2. It is the way back to God