Note: This series and some portions of sermon notes are sourced from Discipleship Ministries, an agency of The United Methodist Church.
Faith is not our ticket to heaven. Faith is our trust that God will not leave us or forsake us in this world and in the world to come. Faith is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Faith expresses itself in trust-filled dependence that the God of resurrection, the Father of Jesus Christ, is present to us through the Holy Spirit and that our relationship with the Triune God is defining to the core of our identity.
Early in John Wesley’s life, the notion of faith was almost exclusively synonymous with intellectual beliefs. Through a series of crises (including feeling as though he would drown by shipwreck), Wesley grew in his understanding of faith to include trust and assurance in God’s grace. In Wesley’s later writings, he began to talk about “degrees” of faith. For Wesley, when faith and assurance were joined, the result was a heart filled with love of God and neighbor. That’s why, for Wesley, faith could not help but result in holy “tempers” or holy habits, such as acts of mercy (compassion and justice) and acts of piety (devotion and justice).
Job learns that although God can be trusted (and encountered), God cannot be manipulated or controlled. Likewise, it is not that our faith is rewarded with heaven or is our ticket through the heavenly gates. Faith, also, does not protect us from the chaos that persists in this world. Whatever trials or suffering we experience here, our hope is that the God of resurrection will be at work in all things to bring ultimate redemption (Romans 8:24-28).
Job 42:1-6, 10-17 (CEB)
1Job answered the Lord:
2I know you can do anything;
no plan of yours can be opposed successfully.
3You said, “Who is this darkening counsel without knowledge?”
I have indeed spoken about things I didn’t understand,
wonders beyond my comprehension.
4You said, “Listen and I will speak;
I will question you and you will inform me.”
5My ears had heard about you,
but now my eyes have seen you.
6Therefore, I relent and find comfort
on dust and ashes.
10Then the Lord changed Job’s fortune when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord doubled all Job’s earlier possessions. 11All his brothers, sisters, and acquaintances came to him and ate food with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him concerning all the disaster the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a qesitah and a gold ring. 12Then the Lord blessed Job’s latter days more than his former ones. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14He named one Jemimah, a second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15No women in all the land were as beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave an inheritance to them along with their brothers. 16After this, Job lived 140 years and saw four generations of his children. 17Then Job died, old and satisfied.
Consider these questions:
- How would you feel if you were Job after your encounter with God and the restoration of your property and relationships?
- Do the abundant gifts given to Job make up for the trials he endured? If not, why do you think God blessed Job with so much?
- How do you think Job’s understanding of God has enlarged since the adversary first encountered him?
- What might we learn from Job about what it means to trust God in all situations?
Post-Sermon Update on 11/27
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
Concluding our Job series, we finally come to a place of resolution and restoration. Job is not only reconciled with God, but is able to experience peace and hope. And in acknowledging God’s ultimate power, Job’s vision and understanding are broadened in profound ways.
This journey through Job has been challenging, and many resources have been at play in bringing insight and theological depth. A list of books are noted below that were referenced during Questions of Faith and the sermon. Resources such as these help us broaden our understanding of complex texts and ideas.
CEB Navigation Bible … ISBN 978-160926-214-3
The Jewish Study Bible (2nd ed) … ISBN 978-0-19-997846-5
The Jewish Annotated New Testament (2nd ed) … ISBN 978-0190461850
Books on Biblical Scholarship
What They Don’t Tell You: A Survivor’s Guide to Biblical Studies … ISBN 978-0664222208
Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World … ISBN 978-0-06-201129-9
To Each Its Own Meaning … ISBN 978-0-664-25784-2
Books on Religion
The River of God: A New History of Christian Origins … ISBN 978-0-06-066980-5
Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian … ISBN 978-1-85168-963-7
Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? (Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World) … ISBN 978-1-4555-1395-6
Books on Practical Theology
Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People … ISBN 978-1-60142-755-7
Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith … ISBN 978-1-5064-0859-0
Cloud of the Impossible: Negative Theology and Planetary Entanglement … ISBN 978-0-231-17115-1
Consider these questions
- Take a moment to imagine, draw, or search online for an image that depicts restoration for you. Does the whole image depict restoration? Or just part of it? What made you choose this image? What does this tell you about your idea of restoration?
- Re-read verses 1-2 (above). This means that Job talked to God, acknowledging God’s power and God’s miracles, and understands that God is in charge. Can you think of a way that God has had direct influence on your life? Was this some kind of miraculous (big or small miracles) kind of influence? Was it mysterious or unexpected?
- How has this overall series affected your reading/understanding of the book of Job?