Guest Speaker Seminarian, Jordan Bence delivers a sermon entitled “Let God Be God” based on Job 38:1-11 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, October 22, 2018
There can be times in our lives where we give advice to people that really don’t need it. I remember my uncle telling me a story about a beer festival he went to not too long ago. While they were there, he and my aunt were walking around from tent to tent trying the latest and greatest new brews. About halfway through the day they stopped at the Leinenkugel’s Brewing tent to try out their new summer shandys. They asked the bartender to pour them one and waited. As the bartender went to the cooler he pulled out two bottled beers, set the glasses on the bar top and proceeded to pour the beers at a 90 degree angle producing an obscene amount of foam. My aunt, who is not shy whatsoever, quickly blurted out, “Holy cow buddy, who taught you how to pour beer? You tilt the glass so that doesn’t happen.” The bartender chuckled and said to her, “Funny you say that, because I’m actually Jake Leinenkugel. I’m the one that makes the beer.” I remember my uncle telling me how red her cheeks were. My aunt, someone who has never brewed a beer in her life, giving instructions to the owner and brew master of a multi-million dollar brewery.
I remember back to one of the first times I tried to advise someone who didn’t need it when I was younger. Growing up my mom always made the best breakfasts. In particular, she always made the best egg bakes. She would make them sporadically throughout the year but would always make them on holidays. Christmas and Easter in particular. One particular Christmas I asked my mom if I could help her make the egg bake. As we were weighing out the measurements to put in the recipe the time came to add the dry ingredients. One by one I carefully measured out the ingredients until time came to add the dry mustard. My mom instructed me to add one teaspoon to the mix. I looked at her with a big smile on my face and said, “You can never have too much mustard, mom. Better add a little more.” In my great wisdom, I proceeded to add 2 table spoons to the mix instead. There wasn’t a person at the breakfast table who was pleased that I helped mom make the egg bake that year. I absolutely ruined it. A recipe my mom had practiced and perfected since before I was born and I thought she could use my advice. How foolish that was. As foolish as it was for me to try to advise my mom or my aunt to advise Jake Leinekugel how much more foolish it would be to try and give advice to God. But that doesn’t stop our sinful nature from trying. There are times we see the events in our lives unfold and we think we know better. We think that we have a greater plan. As we open up to our reading for today and as we take a look at the book of Job as a whole we find company in this foolish task from Job and his friends. They all thought they knew what was best for Job. For almost 37 chapters we hear them spew their wise thoughts. For 37 chapters God is silent. In our text for today God speaks and they listened. In our text for today God speaks and we listen. In our text for today we learn to let God be God. Knowing he does all things well, and knowing that he does all things for our benefit.
Before we take a look at our text for today lets take a look back and see what brought us to this point in the book of Job In this book we are introduced to a blameless and righteous believer named, you guessed it, Job. His wealth was amongst the greatest in all the land. He worshipped God day and night. One day Satan asks God to send trial into Job’s life to test his faith. Satan believes Job is only faithful because God has blessed him beyond belief. In one day Job loses his thousands of cattle, his wealth and all of his children. But Job remained faithful. Therefore Satan comes back a second time and tells God that because he still has his health Job is remaining faithful. Take that away and he will flee from God. God allowed Satan to bring down a life-threatening skin disease that took over Job’s entire body. Job was so sick he had to move away from society and live on his own. There his so called “friends” came and visited him to discuss his situation. These men too turns belittling Job and pointing to his immeasurable sins that must have caused these misfortunate events. Job joins in from time to time in this discussion as well. Finally, God has had enough. He has heard enough complaints, criticisms and crude comment. Now is time for these sinful men to be quite. Human wisdom is silenced, true wisdom now speaks.
He does all things well
We are told that God comes to Job in a storm and says to him, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” I can’t imagine Job’s knees weren’t shaking like crazy. God is calling him to the carpet. As God goes on he doesn’t mention the crummy counsel his friends gave, he doesn’t even mention Job’s words, he has some questions of his own. God asks Job where he was when he created the earth’s foundations, the sea, morning, rain, stars, clouds and animals. Job has been asking God for chapter after chapter, “Where were you, God?” God counters by asking Job, “Where were you when I did all these things?” The answer is nowhere. Job had nothing to do with all of these things yet they still came to be. God has a perfect knowledge and control over the universe because he created it. Did Job create the universe? Does he govern it? Does he provide for all the animals and creatures that inhabit it? No way. With these questions God is basically asking: “Job, have you forgotten who you are talking to?” Job, a sinful human being, cannot come close to comprehend the wonders of the universe. Yet Job wants to go beyond even that and try to comprehend the one above them: God. God goes on for over three chapters asking Job these probing and cutting questions in order to show him just how foolish he has been. Although God is very blunt with his words he is also loving. He is patiently trying to show Job how ridiculous this truly is. He is trying to remind Job that he has all things under control. He is proving to him that he does all things well.
God’s words here remind me of Jesus’ words from the sermon on the mount when he said: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? These words echo the truths that the Heavenly Father is speaking here. Job has looked at the terrible sufferings that were going on in his life and began to question if God truly was the right guy for the job. God shows Job that just as he meticulously created the world and governs it so also he is in control of Job’s life. Not a single thing that was going on in Job’s life was out of God’s hands. God is clearly telling Job with these words: “Let me be God, Job. I’ve had it in the past, and I’ve got it now.”
Are there times we can be like Job? Times we can question God’s control over our lives. When things fall apart where is the first place we often turn? We look past our own flaws, the flaws of others, the sinful world in which we live, and place our glaring eyes on our perfect God. These thundering words from the storm are not only for Job but for us too. These questions are for us too. For every time we have challenged God and his control in our lives he thunders down with his justice demanding that he be heard and proving that he reigns supreme. During those times God says to us: “Let me be God.”
He does all things for our benefit
To be completely honest the majority of the book of Job has a dismal feel to it. As you read through the book it can be easy to question what God’s intentions are with these trials in Job’s life. It isn’t until the last chapter of the book that we see the outcome of God’s servant, Job. Verse 12 says: “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” Job’s cattle and wealth were restored in even greater number than he had before. He had seven more sons and three more daughters. God truly was working all things out for Job’s benefit. But was the greatest blessing that Job got out of this experience an increase in his wealth? Most certainly not. Could God have proven to Job and us that he was doing all things for his good if he hadn’t restored his wealth? Absolutely. In his great suffering, pain and sorrow Job grew ever closer to God. As Job went through the greatest trials that this life could throw at him he was living breathing proof that God is great enough to guide us through all things. The strength that came in knowing his savior would come led Job through his darkest times. Although he wasn’t sure what curveball life was going to throw at him next he proudly proclaimed in the midst of it all: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.” Job knew that although his earthly wealth and health could be taken away God would never take away his promise of salvation that would come on the cross. This was what gave him strength to face what was ahead. Because Job knew for a fact that these trials would come to an end. There would come a day when he would see his savior face to face and everything going on in his life in the meantime brought him one step closer to that day. Even in the worst of times Job was encouraged to let God be God.
In our dark days we too are encouraged to do likewise. I’m sure you would agree with me that that is easier said than done. I think about the tough times in my own life where I struggled to do this. Days where hear the results that read that my father’s cancer is back once again. Or the times when I received news that family members had miscarried another baby or delivered the child and lost it not far after. Or the news that a dear friend had passed away far too young. Or the news that another family member has denied the faith and left the church, denying their kids be baptized or have any interest in church. It is easy for me to admit the most difficult thing to do during those times is to let God be God. I’m sure in your own difficult times you can admit the same. During those times the easiest thing for us to do is put God on the stand. To point the finger in God’s face and show him every instance where he has erred. To go on this rant showing God how our lives would be better if this would happen or if this didn’t happen. And as we go on talking and talking, teaching God a lesson on doing what he does best the time comes where our stomach drops, our lips stop moving, and we come to the realization of what we’re actually doing. In humility we fall to our knees having questioned our almighty God. But in his abundant love God does not leave us there. In that moment he lifts us up, and carries us to the cross. Where we see his son dying for us all. In this moment he leans down and says to us, “My son, my daughter, let me be God.”
As we take a look at the universe we are truly amazed at the work of our God’s hand. As we look back at events in our lives we truly realize that God knows whats best for us. All these things add to our understanding on why we should let God be God. The ultimate reason why we let God be God is because he took care of our greatest need. A need we could never earn on our own. That need was the right relationship with him that his son won for us in full. Where were we when this happened? Nowhere to be found. This was won for us in full by Christ.
You know just as well as I that there are still dark days ahead. The consequences of sin still reign in this world and affect us every day. During those times the devil and your sinful flesh will want nothing more than to question God and his capability at doing his job. When those times come look nowhere else than to the cross. Their hangs our savior paying the price for sin and showing once and for all that he is God. As you and I leave the cross and go into our own lives we do so trusting God.
You know just as well as I that there are still dark days ahead. The consequences of sin still reign in this world and affect us every day. During those times the devil and your sinful flesh will want nothing more than to question God and his capability at doing his job. When those times come look nowhere else than to the cross. Their hangs our savior paying the price for sin and showing once and for all that he is God. So when those times come when the devil whispers in your ear, “He can’t possibly be God. He can’t possibly be doing all things well..” You know where to go. Go to the cross.
As I think back to my aunt giving advise to Jake Leinenkugel on beer and myself giving advise to my mother concerning her perfected egg bake I shake my head seeing how foolish those things truly are. But as I think back to the times I tried to give advise to God, my head doesn’t shake, instead my heart breaks. How foolish I truly have been. But as I open God’s Word I hear the voice of God reminding me that Christ had not come to save perfect people who perfectly trust in him. He came to save a world full of people who constantly failed to trust in him. He did all this in order that he might turn sin filled hearts of distrust into new hearts of righteousness that trust in him and his will. These new hearts that live in each and every one of us let God be God. Knowing he does all things well, and knowing he does all things for our benefit. Amen.