The Truth About Suffering – Part 1

We need to realize the importance of having a clear unclouded revelation of who God is.

Matthew 16:13-18 NKJV When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (14) So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (15) He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (16) Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (17) Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (18) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

The main question that Jesus asked the disciples was who do you say that I am?

Jesus did not tell Peter that the church would be founded upon him but rather the church would be built upon the revelation of who Jesus is.

God is never going to build His church on the frailty of human flesh.

The church is built upon the rock of the revelation of who God is.

  • To the degree that you have a clear revelation of Who God is, your life will be built in God and the gates of hell will not prevail against you.

All of this depends on a clear revelation of who God is.

The subject of human suffering is probably one of the greatest stumbling blocks or obstacles to a clear revelation of God.

The issues of human suffering do more to shape the theological perspective of God that most people have of Him.

Most atheists or agnostics base their refusal to believe upon the suffering of humanity.

“When someone like myself points out the rather obvious and compelling evidence that God is cruel and unjust because he visits suffering on innocent people of a scope and scale that would embarrass the most ambitious psychopath… God is mysterious.

Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes, he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick and choose wisely.”

– Sam Harris

Christians are also faced with some of these same questions: who is behind the suffering, is it my sin, the devil or is it God?

The unbeliever looks at these things and says there is no God, and the believer looks and says, “why?” and “how do I properly relate to and handle these things?”

We will base our study on the book of Job because it is the most concentrated case in the Bible on human suffering.

If human suffering does more to shape our perspective on God, then without a proper understanding of the book of Job, we will not have a proper perspective of God.

Very few have read through the book of Job but even those who have still have questions that go unanswered.

Helpful Bible Interpretation Tips:

  1. You must always be aware of who is doing the talking and how credible they are as a source of information.

The Bible is not literally true in the sense that every statement is a statement of truth.

The Bible is inspired by God and is truly stated but it is not a book where every statement in it is truth. You must consider the source.

  1. Some things are truly stated in the Bible, but they are not statements of truth.

Example: The Pharisees said that Jesus was a blasphemer; Satan’s throne will be exalted above God’s throne.

Job and his friends are the most un-credible sources of information about God imaginable.

  1. God always has the best idea the first time around.

When you can establish a principle of truth in the Bible, it will remain throughout the rest of the Bible. It will not change as the Dispensations change. It is based on the immutability of God.

  1. You cannot use a minor revelation from the Bible to interpret a major revelation.

You may begin interpreting the New Testament in light of the Old Testament.

    • When you interpret the Scripture, you always use the greatest light you that have to bring light on that particular subject.

As we uncover principles in the Old Testament, they should hold true throughout the entire Bible unless the New Testament gives us more revelation on the subject.

For Example:

Job 1:21 NKJV And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

John 10:10 NKJV The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Since the book of Job was written, we then have all of the books of the Old Testament after it and then of course the New Testament. What most of the Church does, however, is interpret the rest of the Bible in light of the Book of Job, including the New Testament.

We are trying to interpret the entire character of God in the New Testament based upon the very first book written in the Old Testament, the book of Job.

With this in mind we are going to begin interpreting the Book of Job in light of the New Testament:

James 5:10-11 NKJV My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. (11) Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

  • These verses tell us to be inspired by Job’s patience, perseverance, and endurance, and the mercy and grace of the Lord that brought great deliverance.

One thing he never did do was to curse God (what the devil was after).

He did continue to worship God in the midst of the pressure, and this eventually enabled God to bring his deliverance.

Facts About Job:

Job 1:1-3 NKJV There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. (2) And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. (3) Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East.

Be sure that you understand the big picture when you look at this background:

  1. Because Job is the oldest book in the Bible, he had no written record to learn about God.
  2. Even though he lived at about the same time that Isaac and Jacob lived, he was not part of God’s chosen covenant family.
  3. Job was an extremely wealthy man even according to today’s standards.
    1. His ranch was probably over 500,000 acres.

In May of 2016, the W.T. Waggoner Ranch was sold for $725 million dollars and is 510,572 acres or 798 sq mi. (Largest ranch under one fence) The ranch specializes in raising horses and has 14,000 cows as well as 500 horses. It also contains 160,000 acres of oil property as well as 26,000 acres of cultivated farmland producing wheat, oats, and hay. There are approximately 120 workers on the ranch.

    1. Total number of people to run the ranch could seasonally be around 500-1000 full-time staff people.
    2. Total asset value could have been $1 billion dollars with an annual income of $40-50 million dollars.
  1. His trial lasted about six to nine months and he lived anywhere from 200 to 250 years.

Job 42:10 NKJV And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.