Gambling is not even a possibility for God: he already knows the outcome of every competition, the answer to every question. But there is a moment in the Bible when God makes a bet with the Devil! It’s found in the most ancient book of the Bible when Satan taunts the Almighty and questions the sincerity of a holy man named Job. The devil insists that upright man of faith doesn’t seriously love God but simply plays along for the benefits. In fact, he’s so convinced that he makes a wager: take away all blessings the guy has enjoyed and he will quickly walk away from his faith. The sudden deaths of all his children and the loss of all his possessions leave Job’s walk with God completely intact.
So Satan makes a second wager. “Okay, but take away his health and I guarantee you he will curse you to your face!” God permits his faithful servant to be physically afflicted within an inch of his life because He places so much confidence in Job’s personal allegiance. Wow!
People are wrong when they suppose the story of Job is written to explain why bad things happen to good people. Neither Job nor his friends could have ever understood why he was stricken: the reason was a wager in heaven they could not have detected or explained! The real question raised by Job’s story is this: Who wins the bet?
The answer comes in Job 2:10. When Job is covered from head to toe in agonizing, oozing, festering boils, his agony leaves him writhing in pain day and night. What’s more, the mysterious condition costs him his respected status in the community. Friends turn their backs and abandon him. His grieving wife encourages him to curse God and die. And to all of this, the man of God replies, “Must we receive only good things from God and never anything bad?” The narrator then summarizes, “In all of this, Job did not sin.”
So God wins the wager- of course! In all his misery and disgrace, Job clings to his confidence that God is good and loving. Yes, he complains; but in all those cries of frustration, his concern is only that God doesn’t understand. He pleads for some way to stand before God and make his case; to clarify anything God has somehow misunderstood!
Job’s tireless pursuit of God answers the other big question raised by the story: do believers really love God or do we just play along for the blessings? There is no doubt that Job’s faith is fourteen karat, the real thing. And ours?
Sometimes you and I make Satan’s case. We are attracted to popular titles and slogans that promise faith will make us happy: God’s Best for You; Your Best Life Now; Every Day a Friday! We seize upon the fantasy “If God is in this, everything will go smoothly!” When friends enjoy prosperity, we slap them on the back and say, “You must be living right!”
Except that Job was living right. So was the Apostle Paul. So was Stephen, the first martyr; and William Tyndale, who translated the New Testament in hiding; and Lottie Moon, the missionary who died of malnutrition because she gave her food to orphans during a famine in China.
The first and best blessing from Heaven is God Himself. It is He who gives us life, meaning, and purpose. It is Christ who holds the forces of the universe together by the power of His Word. And it is He who makes Heaven heavenly, ensuring that all those other wonders of eternity can satisfy us.
In the face of a life seeming to collapse all about him, Job insists, “God is enough.” Whatever happens here, he confesses, when the skin worms destroy my flesh, in my flesh I will see God! Job is one of the first people in the Old Testament to truly understand resurrection. He’s also one of the very first to truly understand faith. Blessings are just a by-product of faith: the presence of God is the prize!
To hear Pastor Cole’s compelling message, click Is God Enough.
And lift up the Cross!