“Is My Strength the Strength of Stones?”
Mike Bullmore / April 29, 2018
BIBLE PASSAGE FOR THIS SERMON
Eliphaz Speaks: The Innocent Prosper
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2 “If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? Yet who can keep from speaking? 3 Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. 4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. 5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. 6 Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?
7 “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? 8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. 9 By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed. 10 The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion, the teeth of the young lions are broken. 11 The strong lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
12 “Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it. 13 Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, 14 dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. 15 A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. 16 It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice: 17 ‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? 18 Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; 19 how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like[c] the moth. 20 Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. 21 Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?’
5 “Call now; is there anyone who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn? 2 Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple. 3 I have seen the fool taking root, but suddenly I cursed his dwelling. 4 His children are far from safety; they are crushed in the gate, and there is no one to deliver them. 5 The hungry eat his harvest, and he takes it even out of thorns, and the thirsty pant[e] after his wealth. 6 For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, 7 but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
8 “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, 9 who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: 10 he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; 11 he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. 12 He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. 13 He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end. 14 They meet with darkness in the daytime and grope at noonday as in the night. 15 But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth and from the hand of the mighty. 16 So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth.
17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal. 19 He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you. 20 In famine he will redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. 21 You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue, and shall not fear destruction when it comes. 22 At destruction and famine you shall laugh, and shall not fear the beasts of the earth. 23 For you shall be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you. 24 You shall know that your tent is at peace, and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing. 25 You shall know also that your offspring shall be many, and your descendants as the grass of the earth. 26 You shall come to your grave in ripe old age, like a sheaf gathered up in its season. 27 Behold, this we have searched out; it is true. Hear, and know it for your good.”Job Replies: My Complaint Is Just
6 Then Job answered and said:
2 “Oh that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances! 3 For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea; therefore my words have been rash. 4 For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me. 5 Does the wild donkey bray when he has grass, or the ox low over his fodder? 6 Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow? 7 My appetite refuses to touch them; they are as food that is loathsome to me.
8 “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope, 9 that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off! 10 This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One. 11 What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient? 12 Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze? 13 Have I any help in me, when resource is driven from me?
14 “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. 15 My brothers are treacherous as a torrent-bed, as torrential streams that pass away, 16 which are dark with ice, and where the snow hides itself. 17 When they melt, they disappear; when it is hot, they vanish from their place. 18 The caravans turn aside from their course; they go up into the waste and perish. 19 The caravans of Tema look, the travelers of Sheba hope. 20 They are ashamed because they were confident; they come there and are disappointed. 21 For you have now become nothing; you see my calamity and are afraid. 22 Have I said, ‘Make me a gift’? Or, ‘From your wealth offer a bribe for me’? 23 Or, ‘Deliver me from the adversary's hand’? Or, ‘Redeem me from the hand of the ruthless’?
24 “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray. 25 How forceful are upright words! But what does reproof from you reprove? 26 Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind? 27 You would even cast lots over the fatherless, and bargain over your friend.
28 “But now, be pleased to look at me, for I will not lie to your face. 29 Please turn; let no injustice be done. Turn now; my vindication is at stake. 30 Is there any injustice on my tongue? Cannot my palate discern the cause of calamity?Job Continues: My Life Has No Hope
7 “Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand? 2 Like a slave who longs for the shadow, and like a hired hand who looks for his wages, 3 so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me. 4 When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I arise?’ But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn. 5 My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh. 6 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and come to their end without hope.
7 “Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good. 8 The eye of him who sees me will behold me no more; while your eyes are on me, I shall be gone. 9 As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up; 10 he returns no more to his house, nor does his place know him anymore.
11 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. 12 Am I the sea, or a sea monster, that you set a guard over me? 13 When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ 14 then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, 15 so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones. 16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath. 17 What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, 18 visit him every morning and test him every moment? 19 How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit? 20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you? 21 Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be.”
Mike Bullmore is preaching from Job 4-7 in a sermon he has titled, “Is my strength the strength of stones?”