The Bible, The Ocean, and Coronavirus – The Comfort of Job

Worship Service; Faith Presbyterian Church, Quincy, IL; April 5, 2020

TRANSCRIPT

Good Morning, Brothers and Sister!

When was the last time you were at the beach? For some of you, it may not have been that long ago. I love the beach. I’d love to be there right now, if I could! Isn’t it amazing to look out over the ocean. To stand on a seashore in the sun with bare feet, feeling the waves kiss ones toes, with water as far as the eye can see?

The Bible has something to say about the ocean. Now those of you now know me know that I don’t typically preach topical messages, but today I think we need to hear what God says about the ocean. In fact, I believe the ocean holds the key to the real problem we have with the Coronavirus. No, I’m not talking about finding a vaccine among the seashells, nor do I think we all need to move into houseboats. But I do think that what God has to say about and through the ocean is what the world needs to hear today as we face the coronavirus. Have I peaked your curiosity? Keep listening.

Do you remember Job? He was a worshipper of God who lived long before there were any children of Israel. He feared, worshipped, and served the Lord, and God blessed him with a large family and a great deal of wealth. The lessons God taught Job are so important that a whole book of the Bible is devoted to the testing of his faith. Perhaps you know the story. In the first two chapters of Job, God shows us what is going on in heaven. Satan visited God, now don’t ask me how that works, I have no idea, but somehow God allowed Satan to have a conversation with Him. Let’s listen in on their conversation in Job 1:6-12:

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason?Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (ESV)

CREDIT: https://www.cagnz.org/God-s-grace-from-Job-s-story.html

So Satan destroyed all Job’s possessions, and killed off his family, except his wife, and Job found out about it all in a matter of moments. So how did Job respond? Listen to verses 20-22:

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (ESV)

And if that’s not bad enough, basically the same things happens in chapter 2, except this time Satan is allowed to inflict sickness on Job. So we find Job covered in painful sores, sitting in the ash heap, scraping himself with a broken pot.

Then his friends show up. From Job 2:11 to Job 37, Job dialogues with his 4 friends. After 7 days of sitting with him in silence, all of them rebuke Job. Basically, from day 8 onward, none of them are very helpful. Job suffered great pain, great loss, and great grief. And while Job started off on the right foot, refusing to curse God, but only worshipping the Lord, yet he eventually called upon God to stand trial. He asked God how he could be righteous in allowing so much suffering in Job’s life when Job had been so faithful to serve the Lord. 

Beloved, Job was brought to the end of his rope. He lost everything. He was in miserable pain. Even his friends turned against him. He felt that God had been unjust with him.

God did not condescend to submit to Job’s trial. Nor did God tell Job about his conversation with Satan. Instead, God questioned Job. Listen to God’s opening words in Job 38:1-11: 

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” (ESV)

Ah, now we get back to the ocean. God went on at length in his questioning of Job. He displayed for Job His majesty, glory, power, and authority in all of creation. And Job was humbled to the dust. Job realized what we need to realize, that we exist for God’s glory. He does not exist for us. And yet God is good, God is faithful, and God is just. 

Beloved, today I want to remind you of just one truth. No matter what trials you face, God is faithful. He will not allow you to be overwhelmed. He will preserve you through this trial. Just as God spared Job’s life, and later in the book we learn that God blessed Job with twice what he had before, so God will preserve the lives of every one of his children. We will all lose everything one day. The day we pass through death into the presence of God. But we can trust Him because like Job, God will bless us with more on the other side. And whatever trials we face between now and then, we know this, God controls them all. They are under His control. 

God tells the oceans how far up on the seashore they may come. I love standing on that line, you know the line where the wave ends, where the water changes directions, where it ceases to climb the shore and returns to the depths. Why do I love to stand there? Because before me is the mighty ocean. It stretches for hundreds of miles. Indeed, more of the earth is the ocean than the land. And yet God controls the waves. As a small man a speck on the globe, I can stand on the seashore confident that the waves will not overwhelm me because God is faithful. He has indeed told the waves how far up on the shore they may go and no further. God’s faithfulness extends to you and to me in the same manner. He tells the coronavirus how far it may go and no further. And for for those of us who know the Lord, we can stand face to face with this terrible virus, confident that it cannot truly hurt us, for God sets it boundaries as well. 

Let us pray…


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