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Hold Firmly!

“Hold Firmly!”

Job 23:1-17

Hebrews 4:12-16

At the beginning of the book of Job, we’re told that Job was “blameless and upright.” In fact, we’re told there was no one on earth - at the time - like Job.

Of course, as the larger story goes... Satan accused Job of insincerity. He said the only reason Job was good, the only reason he was faithful to God... was because God blessed him, that God had protected him, that God had hedged him in!

So Satan, made a request of God… to challenge Job’s faithfulness, by taking Job’s things, his blessings, away.

As the story continues, and the discussion between God and Satan expands… Satan takes away all of Job’s riches… all of his blessings… even his children all die. Yet - despite all that - Job refuses to curse God. Instead Job says, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

So God says, “you see Satan, I told you Job was righteous!” (Job 2:3). But Satan wasn’t convinced... so he demanded, “skin for skin! Let me touch his flesh and make him sick, then we’ll see how faithful Job really is.” (Job 2:4).

So Satan afflicted Job with sores all over his body... Job was in misery! If anyone had reason to lose their faith on account of their physical and emotional turmoil and suffering... it was Job! Things were so bad that Job’s wife told him to “curse God and die.” But Job refused... saying, “should we receive good at the hand of God and not bad?” (Job 2:10).

It’s a fascinating story… One of the oldest in the Bible, if not the oldest in the Bible. It leaves us scratching our heads at times. The injustice of it all. The in-equity. That a good, honest, righteous man should suffer as Job did.

But then, that’s primarily why this story is so relatable, and so enduring. We’ve all been to the point of despair, and felt we’ve been done wrong, at some point. Right? Who hasn’t felt that God was no where to be found?

Of course, I doubt very seriously that any of us here today I’ve suffered quite as much as Job suffered. But we’ve all faced loss, and difficulty... we’ve experienced unfairness. We’ve all felt that we’ve received (at times) things we didn’t deserve, be they good, or bad.

In other words we’ve all asked, “Why me? Why this? Why now?”

Now... as I look out across the congregation today, I’ll be the first to admit that none of us may be quite as “blameless as Job”… but I’m pretty sure we’re all above average.

Most of us here, try our best, to live our lives according to God‘s will. With God’s help we try to love our neighbor… we try our best to turn the other cheek… and go the extra mile. We’re not always successful. Sometimes we fall short, we make mistakes… BUT we are trying! There are a lot of people in the world I don’t even do that.

Yet bad things still happen to good people. Righteous, upright, loving people suffer from disease, heartache, despair. Life is still life, joy is still joy, and pain is still pain… for all of us.

Of course, the good news is we serve a God in Christ, who knows how we feel. The book of Hebrews says that Jesus is our great high priest who empathizes with our lives.

Of course, I’ve mentioned this before, but in the old days of the temple in Jerusalem, the high priest was the only one who was allowed to visit God in the holy of holies. It was literally believed to be the area where God lived, he habited the holy of holies.

Once a year the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrifice, to present it to the Lord on the half of the people. The High Priest was powerful… influential... it was a sought-out position. Many people would yearn for it because of its power. In Jesus’ day it had become a position that was manipulated, passed down… or sold for profit… not unlike many political appointments today.

But Jesus is not like that. He didn’t become high priest in order to get position, or rank, or power. In fact, he gave up his position in heaven to become our high priest. He sacrificed his very life… To become THE offering… the propitiation for our sins. Christ’s sacrifice once-and-for-all appeased God, and atoned for our sins... forever!

But like the priest of old… Jesus does go before God, on our behalf, not in an earthly temple, but in heaven itself… before God‘s very throne… to present the blood of the sacrifice that he made on the cross, for the sins of the world.

We’re told in our scripture, “since then we have a great high priest that has past through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”

In Christ, we have a God… a Savior… a high priest… Who knows our pain. He knows our disappointments. He knows our feelings. Our weaknesses. He knows that we all waiver and falter at times… at least I do.

Jesus understands pressures that we face in this life. Because he’s been there. And he overcame, temptation, disappointment, heartbreak, and even death itself… To give us the strength to get through our trials, difficulties and tribulations, too.

The Word of God goes on to tell us that since we have this great high priest, who empathizes with our weakness, that we should approach the throne of grace with boldness! We have no need to fear. Don’t be afraid to open up to God and tell God what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. That’s exactly what Job did. Job’s fear, his terror, his difficulty... led him to cry out to God! Job refused to be silenced by the darkness!

He expressed his concerns, his heart aches, his frustrations, his disappointments! And through it all, he never lost faith in the One who loved him first and loved him most. Job knew of God‘s grace, despite the pain that this life can bring… And he trusted that God‘s grace would see him through all of those disappointments, all of the grief and pain.

And you and I, as children of God, and as followers of Jesus Christ… We know of God‘s grace, too. We’ve experienced the grace of Christ, lavished upon our lives… In good times and in bad.

And that’s why we boldly profess, that both in life and in death, in both times of plenty and in want… in both our joy and in our grief… we too, can overcome. We, too, can declare, and profess, along side Job, “the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord!”

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