I Will Come Forth as Gold

by LA UBF   08/31/2008     0 reads


I Will Come Forth as Gold �

I Will Come Forth as Gold 

Job 1:1-42:17 

Key Verse 23:10 

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. 

Welcome to the study of the book of Job. Tonight we would like to think about the purpose of the difficulties and hardships that come to the lives of those who are in the Lord. 

In reading the book of Job one thing that no one will miss and feel aghast about is the level of difficulties and hardships Job underwent. 

As described throughout the book, Job reached a high level of success in terms of the true meaning of the word "success". None of us here have reached the same level of prosperity that Job arrived at. Think about the blessings the Lord blessed Job with, such as the number of children, grand-children, material possessions and integrity. Job reached such a great level of success that, along with Noah and Daniel, the Lord God has listed him as an example of a saved soul, for in two places of the Bible the Lord mentions Job whose righteousness resulted in salvation (Ezekiel 14:14,20). 

Invariably, however, those who are considered truly successful undergo troubles and ordeals that are compatible with the level of success they are allowed to reach. When Joseph Cho was involved in a car accident all of us were greatly afraid of losing him. We still remember the time when Joseph was lying unconscious in a bed at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. Two Saturdays ago we had a beach party at Hermosa Beach. After the sun set Shepherd Daniel Tourn came out playing guitar. Working with him was Little Joseph, holding a pad for musical notes and singing together with him. He sang so well and looked so happy. Upon seeing him one person I know exclaimed to himself, "Oh, praise the Lord. Life is so beautiful." So the difficulties we had in regard to Joseph have become a source of constant joy for all of us. 

The book of Job begins with the account of Job's prosperity and ends with the account of his prosperity. It first describes how successful he was and yet how much he ended up losing, and later how much more prosperous he ended up becoming. Of the 42 chapters assigned to this book, in between the first chapter of prosperity and the last chapter of greater prosperity come the 40 chapters of ordeals where Job had to go through an inexpressible level of difficulties. During the fiery trials he agonizingly searched for the meaning of his sufferings. In fact in the book of Job the word "why" is repeated 28 times, and many of them are used to ask why the Lord hits men with so many horrible ordeals. 

Why then does the Lord allow or even use such challenges as disasters, troubles or disorders as an order of our life? With this question in mind, we would like to study the book of Job in three parts. 

Part I. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble (2:10)? 

When disasters hit Job and his family waves after waves, finally Job's wife had enough and said to Job: "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" Then Job replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Notice the expression: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Here Job exhorts us to "accept" not just good from God but also "trouble". Here the word "accept," which is gabal in Hebrew, is related to positive actions, such as "pick" or "choose". When Job said, "Shall we not accept trouble?", he also meant, "Shall we not pick or choose trouble?" The positive meanings of the word “accept” indicate that when a trouble or troubles hit us, we must "accept" them even with many thanks knowing that God is good--and good "all the time," in good times and bad times, in sending us what is good as well as what is troublesome. Notice the phrase, "from God," for Job understood that what comes from God is not just "good" but also "trouble". 

So we admit that we need to accept trouble from the Lord. We also know that God is good. The logical conclusion for us to live by and ponder upon is all that we have in life have a good purpose. In Romans 8:35-37, the Apostle Paul gives us a list of what we have in life, that is: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, life, angels, demons, the present, the future, powers, height, depth, or anything else in all creation. First on the list is "trouble", and the last item on the list is “anything else in all creation" – the catch-all category. Right in the middle of the list is "life". The list indicates that all creation, particularly, the creatures that have life in them, have to go through tons of troubles. This is particularly true with man. Thus, Job says, "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble" (Job 14:1). In the same way, upon leaving this mundane world, our Lord Jesus said to his disciples, "In this world you will have trouble." Jesus added, "But take heart! I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33). But this does not alter the fact. Even though Jesus overcame the world, there is still trouble. And we are to overcome the world which is full of trouble. 

Part II. Why did I not perish at birth? (3:11) 

This leads us then to another question: "Why does God allow or even send troubles and hardships to man?" We are told that God is good, so that as the Good God, he must have had a good reason and purpose in ordering man's life in this world to be so. What then is the purpose? This was the question Job kept asking and was looking for an answer to. Did he find an answer? 

I think he did. And what is it? We can find an answer to this question in Job 23:10. "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." In Job 22 ,Eliphaz said to Job, "Are not your sins endless?" In response Job said, "But [the Lord] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." Here Job affirmed the notion that the Lord God indeed tests his children just like how any instructor at a school puts his students through exams such as quiz questions, a mid term or a final exam. Similarly, in Job 7:17-18, Job argues: "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?" Here Job used the word "every" twice, first to talk about every "morning" then every "moment". Here "every morning" or "every moment" refers to every morning and every moment of one’s entire life, not just the mornings or moments in which a man suffers from a special ordeal for a specified period of time, such as when he is serving a prison term or lying down on a hospital bed. In Job’s mind the whole of life’s journey itself, and every moment of it, represented a series of tests from the Lord. This view of life kept Job alert. And he was alert from Monday to Sunday. Eventually, it became his lifestyle. Speaking of his lifestyle, Job 1:4-5 reads, "His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, 'Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' This was Job's regular custom." 

The Scriptures abound with examples testifying to the truth that our life in the Lord (which is filled with hardships and difficulties) represents a series of tests from the Lord. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden serve as a case in point, for in Genesis 2:9 and 2:17 the Lord commanded Adam not to eat from the forbidden tree. Why did the Lord put the tree in the middle of the Garden except for the purpose of testing him? Abraham in the book of Genesis is another example. When the Lord God called Abraham, Abraham did not have a son. The Lord God promised to make him into a great nation. Since then the Lord put Abraham through ten trials (or examinations or tests if you will). And the final test was this: to sacrifice his one and only Son Isaac as a burnt offering, as Genesis 22:1 puts it, saying, "Some time later God tested Abraham." 

The question that comes to mind then is this: Why does God need to test his children? Isn't God omniscient? Doesn’t God already know all of us inside out, left to right, and top to bottom? Didn't Job say, "The Lord knows the way that I take"? If the Lord knows, why is it necessary for him to test him? The answer to these questions then is obvious: that is, God does not need to test us because he does not know what he needs to know on us. There is nothing which he does not know. Yet he tests his children to help them know what they are lacking. This is like a teacher who already knows the subject matter he is teaching. Yet, for the benefit of his students he gives them tests so that they would know for sure what they ought to learn. 

What then does God want his children to learn? In other words, what is the purpose of the test? We can find the answer to this question by considering what caused the test to become necessary, that is, the fall of man. God is the God of economy. He does not do what is not needed. The need for God to test arose due to the fall of the first man Adam. The net effect of man’s fall is to become less than perfect in God’s eyes. When we look at God’s creation, all that God does is perfect. The way the flowers bloom, the way sun rises and sets, the way the seasons change, and the way the constellations move all testify to God’s perfection--and God is the God of perfection. What God does for his children reflects who God is. As God is perfect, he works to bring about his perfection among his children. When Jesus came he shared the same vision for his children when he said to his followers: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 

How then is he going to keep his children disciplined in regard to the areas in which they need God’s perfection? It is through putting his children through a series of tests. And everything we have in life (either good things or bad things) comes to us as the means for God to test his children, and these tests are aimed at leading his children to perfection. 

"I know the way that I take; when he has tested me I will come forth." Here the word “gold” has the meaning of “royal perfection”. It also has the meaning of kingly character, for as used in the Bible, gold primarily stands for what is royal. 

In Job's case, after the Lord put him through a test, noble fruit came out, that is, helping Job realize that he is not a man of perfection. At first he insisted on himself being totally righteous. But by sending not only disasters such as drive-by shooters or stormy winds, but also human friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, plus one more, Elihu), and by way of the Lord speaking to him out of stormy winds at God’s right time, the Lord helped Job to admit that he is a sinner, needing the Lord’s touch of perfection. Let us read Job 42:1-6 to see the fruit the Lord bore on Job by putting him through trials. 

Why is the knowledge and understanding of the Lord’s purpose in sending difficulties such as death or even putting us through a journey (or process) called “life” important? What purpose does this knowledge serve? It serves many practical purposes. First of all, this knowledge helps God's children to save lots of unnecessary troubles. In the case of the Israelites, because they did not understand God’s purpose, they kept rebelling against the Lord. Then the Lord had to train them more. But being ignorant of, or intentionally ignoring, the Lord’s purpose they rebelled further. In this way the vicious cycle continued. This kind of unnecessary cycle can be avoided only when God's children fully understand God’s purpose in keeping them alive. In addition, the knowledge of God’s purpose helps his children willingly and joyfully participate in God’s work of perfection. This knowledge then prompts his children to grow up each and every day both in good times and bad times. Since Job knew this purpose, he drew up the strength in times of great hardship – the strength to keep his integrity as a man of faith. 

Part III, I know that my Redeemer lives (19:25) 

The remaining question for us then is, “How can we successfully pass the test?” The Bible abounds with verses that answer the question: faith in the Lord. First, John 5:5, for example, reads, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” In the book of Hebrews, especially in Chapter 11, we meet warriors of faith who, all by faith in the Lord, went through powerful challenges and came forth proving that their faith was genuine. They passed the Lord’s tests all with an A+. 

Job was not an exception, for in the book of Job we find evidences that he had faith in the Lord. Chapter 14, especially verses 14-17, and in particular, Job’s statement of faith in verse 17, attest his faith in the Lord’s sin-forgiving love. Job professes his faith that the Lord not only forgives the sins of his children but also blesses them with a resurrected (or renewed) life. Job’s faith in the Lord’s redeeming love shines forth particularly in his statement in Job 19:25-26. “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Thanks to his faith he was able to endure hardship. This faith enabled him to not sin before God with the words of his mouth. 

In conclusion, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me I will come forth as gold.” Again the book of Job begins with Job’s prosperity and ends with his greater prosperity. In between the great victories in life we find Job going through moments of testing. Thanks to his faith in the Lord, Job came forth as a man of integrity, shining as gold. Our life’s journey comes with many challenges. As we go through what is good and what is bad, may the Lord bless us to remember the Lord’s purpose in putting us through life’s journey, so that as we work on the Lord’s purpose, we would be able to come forth as gold. 

One word: I will come forth as gold 

Class Exercise: 

1. Job was a Gentile. True ( ) False ( ) 

2. Eliphaz asked Job, “What do ____ know that ____ do not know?” He also said of Job, “Are not your sins _______?” 

3. Bildad said that man is but a ______ and a son of man is only a ______. 

4. Zophar said of a proud person, “he will perish forever, like his own ______.” 

5. In his discourse Job said, “The fear of the Lord – that is _____, and to shun evil is ___________.” 

6. According to Elihu, neither age nor advanced years teach wisdom, but it is _______ in a man, the _________________ that gives him understanding. 

7. In his discourse Job said, “[The Lord] suspends the earth over _______.” 

8. The Lord was angry with: 1) Eliphaz; 2) Bildad; 3) Zophar; and 4) Elihu. True ( ); False ( ) 

The end 

The heavenly tribunal where Satan came up and had a conversation with the Lord reveals that it was Satan who inflicted Job with calamities and bodily illnesses. He incited the Lord against Job to ruin him "without any reason". Job 2:3 But still it was the Lord who approved Satan's action.