Ernest Robinson - Job

God obviously esteemed Job very highly. I have been thinking quite a bit of Job and enjoyed studying through the book. I am sure that others have found exactly the same thing at times.

We heard in prayer that we sometimes cannot express how we feel. I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, I’m sure you have, I hope you have, that sometimes when you just don’t know how you feel and you cannot express what’s in your heart. We feel terrible. We feel miserable, we feel wretched. We don’t know how to pray, what to say. We don’t know how to express how we feel. Then we open this book and we find that a man who lived 3,700 years ago is telling me exactly how I feel in words that I could never express myself, so accurate that it absolutely frightens you. He’s telling you exactly how you feel. Exactly. You couldn’t put it in better words yourself. Have you had that? You know that’s an amazing thing and it tells us a few things. It tells us that this battle has never changed in 3,700 years, and a lot more. It’s never changed, this Spiritual battle. It still costs the same. It also tells us that we are not nearly as unique in our experiences and in our feelings as what we thought we were! It also tells us that the Way of God has not ever changed one iota. The people of God experienced and it felt in their struggle exactly the same, thousands of years ago, as we do today, so much so that they can explain our feelings now that we don’t even know how to explain ourselves.


In the beginning of this book, we find it almost looks like a challenge by Satan and that challenge was met. But there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s not only proving that Satan was wrong but there’s a lot more to it than that. This book gives us a wonderful shining example. It also answers some very difficult questions. We’re very glad for that. I’m sure that we would be very much poorer, our Bible would be very much poorer without this book of Job. Something that was quite remarkable to me was, after all that Job had said and his friends had said, and Job had said and his friends had said over and over again, at the end when God Himself spoke, you’ll notice that for a full four chapters God was talking to Job about the wonders of nature. That was how He answered him. He said, “Now you look at all these things. Do you understand them?"


Can you figure out how it happened, how it works? These from the littlest creatures - He spoke about the universe, He spoke about animals, He spoke about plants. He told Job to consider these things. Job said eventually, “Well I put my hand on my mouth, I was talking of things that I knew nothing about. I understand so little and I was saying so much.” Do you know what it shows me? I think it’s a good idea because this is what God Himself was saying It shows me it is a good idea for us to take a little more notice of the marvels, the wonders of nature. It’ll increase our faith. Some of us don’t know very much about it. There are amazingly interesting things, marvelous things to be seen in nature. It also shows us just a little about the character and the nature of God. Then it shows us something very important - how little we really understand, how little we really know. This brings me to something that has always been a help to me. It has been for many years already. That is, one day when I made a little decision all on my own, that was that I am not going to be so foolish as to doubt simply because I do not understand. That has been a help to me for a long, long time.


That is really what that is all about - just to help us to understand. That in effect is what God said to Job - you know so little and you’re doubting so much and it’s only because you don’t understand. If we could only know the greatness of God! The question is put in this book regarding suffering, misery, pain. That’s why I said there are some very difficult questions that are answered in this book and we are glad that they’re here. There is something else. You know, these "friends" of Job, when they spoke to him, they were so sure that everything that happened to him was because he had sinned so much. Really they had reason to think that way, because of what we read in the Old Testament. God had promised that His people would be healthy and that if they didn’t obey Him they would be afflicted with disease and so on. So really they did have some reason, but they had actually never seen these things that they had accused Job of doing. They just assumed it! You know, the Devil very effectively uses people who jump to conclusions! He uses people like that to sow misunderstanding, to sow trouble and to bring unnecessary sufferings - people who jump to conclusions, and I am one of them! Sometimes it looks so obvious. It’s a dangerous thing to assume people’s motives! Even if it looks obvious. Things are not always what they seem. Many a time, perhaps most of the time things are not what they seem. It is good to remember that.


Just a few thoughts in this book. In the 1st chapter 11th verse, Satan said, “Put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he hath and he will curse Thee to Thy face.” The devil thought that he would and God knew that he wouldn’t. This tells us that the devil doesn’t know us as well as God knows us. God knows us better than what the devil knows us. The devil thought he would and God knew that he wouldn’t. When he finally wouldn’t the devil even tried to use his wife, to prod her and said, “Tell him to curse God and just end it all. Curse God and just finish his life.” But we know what Job answered his wife when she started with that. Not only does God know us better than the devil knows us but God knows us a lot better than we know ourselves. He knows what we are able to take a lot better than we know ourselves. Sometimes we think we can’t take it, that we wouldn’t be able to take a little bit more. God knows we can. We think we can’t but He knows we can, but He also knows what He is doing through that suffering and pain in our lives. He knows that even though we feel we cannot take it now, but in all we are going to be ever so thankful for it when we realise what He’s done through it. That’s the thing that we so easily forget. Then God said to Satan, “Alright, he’s in your power, only upon himself put not forth thy hand.” This was the first, and each time God put a condition. I like that very much, so the devil couldn’t just do what he liked either. He was limited by what God allowed. The devil is limited. He can do a lot but he is only limited to what God allows. God is Almighty and He said to Abraham, “I am your shield,” and if God is our shield, we can be absolutely certain that not one single thing is going to come to us unless God allows it. If He allows it, He knows it may hurt but He also knows it is going to be good for us in the end. We read toward the end of that first chapter:  it says that Job rent his mantle and he shaved his head and he fell down upon the ground, but then he said, “I came naked out of my mother’s womb, naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” A marvelous, solid attitude. We heard about attitude today. What a marvelous attitude but it was not without terrible distress. This is not possible unless we are very, and continually conscious of God. He said that the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, I think that helped him to bear the loss. If somebody comes and steals your car that you’d paid a lot of money for, you’d feel pretty bad about that, but if somebody lends you a car and he comes tomorrow and he says he needs it back, you’ll not feel so bad. He’d only lent it to you anyway and I do believe that it is going to help us a lot when we suffer some terrible losses in this life, if we just remember, “It’s all lent to me anyway! Someday I am going to lose everything, natural possessions and also all natural relationships.” They are all going to be gone. If it doesn’t happen now it is going to happen sooner or later anyway. I think it helps us to take it a bit better if we realised that we are only losing a little earlier what we are going to lose anyway. Sometimes by losing it a little earlier, it does us a lot of good. It’s very hard for us sometimes to keep our eyes lifted up. 

   

When his wife said to curse God and die, Job wanted to die. In the next chapter he said, "Let the day perish wherein I was born." He cursed the day in which he was born and later in that chapter, he said, “Wherefore is life given to him that is in misery and life unto the bitter in soul which long for death but it cometh not. I dig for it more than for hidden treasures. I’d rejoice exceedingly and would be glad if I could just find the grave.” He was just longing to die, he couldn’t stand it any more…BUT he didn’t commit suicide! I wonder if this is a little bit how that demoniac felt when he was amongst the graves? I wondered sometimes why he was amongst the graves. Maybe he felt like this too, “If only I could die.” He was so miserable and so wretched, wishing to die and being among the tombs. Maybe envying these people that are lying there … but HE didn’t commit suicide either. Job still had enough of the fear of God in his heart that he felt he couldn’t put forth his own hand to that thing. Very, very fortunate and we can be very thankful and Job will be for all eternity, that he didn’t put his own hand to that in spite of his terrible misery. He spoke in the 23rd verse of the 3rd chapter, “Why is light given to a man whose way is hid and whom God hath hedged in.” He felt, “Doesn’t matter what I do, it is wrong on every side no matter which way I go, it’s just misery and disaster. Nothing works out. I am just hedged in on every side.” In another place, he said, “I feel like God has set me for a target and He’s just throwing His arrows at me.” He felt that God was against him. It seems that he really felt that God was against him. Even in spite of that he kept true. You remember what Naomi said? She also said, "God is against me," so she said not to call her Naomi but to call her Mara, bitter, but you know in spite of that she kept true.


In the end of the 4th chapter we read - I will read it in my revised version which is in my margin, speaking about those who were destroyed, “Is not their tent cord plucked up with them?” Do you know what that made me think of? I didn’t hear it first hand, I heard it second-hand. I think it was in America, quite a long time ago. A worker spoke about an experience at a certain convention and it was a place like this where they had tents at the convention. During the convention there was an old man who had lived there all his life and he came along and he said to the worker responsible for the convention, he said, “I can see that we are in for a bad storm. You had better double-stake your tents!” The worker took notice of the old man and they double staked the tents. Do you know how you do that? Afterwards the brothers will explain it to you, if you ask them. They double-staked their tents and that storm came up and he said it was a terrible storm. The worker said that they were glad that they had double-staked the tents. Then he spoke and he said, “There may be a terrible storm coming up for some of us after we leave this convention, we don’t know." All he said was, “You had better double-stake your tent!” If you read the beginning of the book of Job, then you’ll be able to see that Job was a man who double-staked his tent. That was why, no matter how the storm came, no matter how fierce the tempest was, no matter how it “rukked” and “plukked” at his tent, the cords were not pulled out. That’s why that tent stood.


I noticed some words in chapter 7 and verse 6, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and are spent without hope.” Sometimes one feels like that. You know that the weavers shuttle just going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Sometimes we feel that our lives are just going by a day at a time and very quickly too. You know the weaver’s shuttle is going back and forth, and back and forth, but it’s leaving a thread that’s weaving a cloth. Our days are going back and forth and back and forth. Sometimes seemingly, as Job thought here, without hope, without much to be seen for it, but you know, as the days go back and forth they are leaving a thread that is weaving our testimony. I noticed in the 20th verse of that chapter he said, “I have sinned. What do I unto thee?” Look in the margin again. Even if I sin, what do I do to God, He is so great and I’m so small, how can I do anything to harm or to hurt God? Well I suppose, come to think of it and the greatness of God, we can never comprehend it and I suppose in comparison we can hardly comprehend how small we are. One would be inclined to think, “Whatever could I do to hurt God or to bring Him loss?” Do you know that there is something that changes this. That is simply the fact that God loves us. You know very well that it is the person that you love is the person that has the power to hurt you. That is the reason why we can hurt Him. He loves us and that is why we little mortals have the power to hurt Him.


Then in the 9th chapter I saw in the 16th verse where Job said, “If I had called and you’d answered me, yet would I not believe that He had hearkened to my voice.” He was feeling pretty low to say words like that. Even if He spoke I wouldn’t believe that He’d answered me. You know it would be too bad if we got so discouraged and so down in ourselves, that we wouldn’t even recognise when God does speak. We can say this…maybe we come to convention with a heavy heart when we think of what we are and what we have been. No victory and we’re feeling miserable and we feel well, “I’m sure God won’t speak to me. How can I even expect Him to speak to me.” We need to be careful not to get into such a state that we won’t recognise it when He does speak. We need to have an open ear. Do you know what is a danger? Sometimes God chooses a certain person, it may well be in one of your testimonies, to say the very thing you need to hear, and you could miss it because your mind is wandering, thinking of something else and missed it and that was the very thing that God had for you in this convention. It doesn’t matter what the past has been, what the present is even, but if we really have a desire in our hearts, “If only God will speak to me, I am going to do what He says.” If you have that kind of spirit we can assure you that God WILL speak. It’s hard to get that thing settled in our hearts. A few verses late in the 20th verse, he says, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me.” This reminded me of what I heard many years ago also. I have never forgotten it and it has been a help to me many times. I don’t remember who said it. “NEVER justify yourself. If you’re in the right you’ve got no need to do it, and if you’re in the wrong, you’ve got no right to do it!” so NEVER justify yourself, just leave it to God. That’s wonderful advice.


In the 9th chapter in the 29th verse, he says, “If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?” In the margin, it says, “I am going to be condemned so why then do I labour?" In other words he felt, “Well, I’m finished anyway. I’m condemned anyway. God’s condemned me so what am I still struggling for?” That’s a very dangerous thing and fortunately it was only in a short moment of terrible despair that Job said that. You can see later on that that was not his general attitude at all. That would be another terrible thing too, to give up hope for ourselves when God still has hope for us. 


It’s a dangerous thing to be our own judge. Better to leave that to God. I’ll tell you another little secret, that’s another thing that helped me long ago. Just a little choice or shall I call it a decision, a resolution. I decided that if I’m going to go lost someday it’s going to be because God gave me up, not because I gave up. I made up my mind about that. Doesn’t matter how terrible I feel but I’m not going to give up. If I’m going to go lost someday it’s going to be because God gave me up, not because I gave up myself. I’m still going to hope in His mercy, I know it is greater than the measure of man’s mind. It’s far better to let God be the judge.


In the 12th chapter and the 3rd verse he said something a little surprising, “I’m not inferior to you.” That’s what he said. You see Job did not have a inferiority complex, but he WAS a humble man. We can say that because the two are VERY different. Humility makes for a very loveable person but an inferiority complex makes for a very difficult person. Inferiority complex is unfortunately a very difficult thing, it reacts so differently. A person that’s humble and corrected, of course they feel hurt, their pride is hurt too and they feel ashamed … but they get down to it and they realise, “I have got to get down to it and I have got to correct that. That’s all.” That’s a humble person, but you know a person with an inferiority complex, they immediately respond, “I can’t do anything right. Everything I do is wrong. I’m no good.” They take offence and they withdraw more into themselves than ever. You cannot get near them. They put themselves beyond help. They become a difficult person. Of course people like that, they react strangely and they don’t realise it themselves. An inferiority complex makes people react in a strange way and that causes them to be misunderstood. When they are misunderstood the inferiority complex grows bigger and it becomes a vicious circle. It is very different from humility. Job was a humble man but he did not have an inferiority complex.


I noticed the 12th verse. There again in the margin it says, “Your memorable sayings (this is Job talking to his comforters) are proverbs of ashes.” In other words… all very nice words but all burnt out old sayings. I was in a place one time and just by coincidence where there was a lady lying very sick. She was not one of our friends and while I was there a minister came in and oh my, I don’t know when I had heard such smooth, beautiful words that he said to her. It was like decorated ice cream. His words were beautiful but you know you could just tell…it was like a little recitation and he had obviously said the same thing dozens of times by different bedsides. It just came out so beautifully. Beautiful words can sound very hollow but words that are simple and sincere, genuinely from the heart, can be very beautiful.


Then in the 13th chapter in the 26th verse, he says, “Thou makest me to posses the iniquities of my youth.” You know, for a child of God there is only one thing that is going to bring back past iniquities. Only one thing, that is if we are not prepared to forgive a brother or a sister. If we’re not prepared to forgive then our own iniquities come back on our own head and that is what the Lord Jesus said Himself. A dangerous thing but that is the only thing.


In the 16th chapter in the 2nd verse, he said, “Miserable comforters are you all.” When they first arrived there where Job was, it says that they sat there for seven days and seven nights and they did not say one single word. They realised that his suffering was immense and then they were wonderful comforters. They didn’t say a single word, they just sat there feeling with him, wonderful comforters, but then they opened their mouths and started talking a lot, thinking that they were saying the right thing. Well if you read what his friends said, a lot of it was true and a lot of it was very good BUT it was the wrong thing! The wrong time, the wrong place, that was the problem. 


Sometimes we just think we have to say something, in some circumstances, and we blurt out the wrong thing. If we just kept quiet and were with the person then maybe it would have been a lot better. I like so much what I read about a little girl. She had just come back home from visiting next door where her little friend had died. Her father said, “Where have you been?” “Oh,” she said, “I’ve been next door to comfort Mrs Smith.” Her father said, “What in the world could YOU do to comfort her?” “Oh,” she said, “I climbed up on her lap and I cried with her.” I liked that. Now there was a comforter.  


In the 1st verse of the 17th chapter, he said (excuse me going to the margin which is the revised version but it is just that I liked that), “My spirit is broken.” You know what that made me think of? I’d like to remember it too. It was what Willie Pollock told us, (a brother who laboured in Panama who is from Ireland). He said that discouragement breaks down our spirit and it opens the way for other wrong inclinations to come in. Very true! I just noticed in the 22nd chapter there that Eliphaz was talking about all the wrong things that he had thought Job had done, you can read it yourself. Verses 6-9, he accused him of quite a lot of things that Job had never actually done but he imagined it and he probably thought he was quite right.


You know sometimes we imagine what the situation is and we feel quite smug and we are quite sure we are accurate in our assessment of it, but we can make some terrible mistakes. A long time ago, there was two workers who were using a post office box and one day one of our friends was going to go in that direction and they gave him the key and asked him to please collect their mail. So this person went and opened the box and got the mail out and there was the mail for the workers and amongst it there was also a letter for a young professing man in that place. So this person that collected the mail, afterwards he gave the young man this letter and he said to him, “You’ve got a cheek! Using the workers’ post office box for your own use! Quite a cheek you’ve got.” Well the young man didn’t say anything but that person who spoke to him did not know that it was that young man’s box that he was letting the workers use. Sometimes we guess and we feel so smug and we think that we’ve got the right assessment but we can make some terrible mistakes and make awful fools of ourselves. One has to be so careful, as I said, not jumping to conclusions, not assuming people’s motives. It might look obvious but we can make some terrible mistakes.


I think my time has gone but anyway I wonder if I might just mention one more little thing. In the 26th chapter, he said, “Whose spirit came from thee?” This is what Job was saying. You know, when it comes to talking with people, winning an argument or convincing people is not so important as the spirit that we show. This man said a lot of things but Job just said to him simply, “Whose spirit was that?” You know sometimes I have had to ask myself, “Now Ernest, after this little thing that we have had, whose spirit was that now? Was that the spirit of Ernest Robinson or was that the spirit of Christ?” That made me feel pretty bad. “Whose spirit came from you?” Sometimes we may feel bad when we get into an argument with some of these people who know their Bibles backwards like the Jehovah Witnesses and so on. We find that they get us into a corner and we can’t answer and we feel terrible. We think, “Surely if I had the presence of God, I should be able to flatten them. I should be able to answer them,” but you know, that’s not the way it is. Don’t worry about that. Do you know that Jesus said when He sent His disciples, He said, “I am sending you as lambs among wolves.” If we could win every argument and flatten everybody in every argument we would not be lambs among wolves at all, we would be lions among wolves. That is not how we were sent. It’s a matter of showing the spirit of the lamb that’s far more important. There was a young Jehovah Witness in one place that visited one of the workers. Came to the batch where the workers were and was arguing his head off. This verse and that verse, but later that man was disappointed in what he had, even though he grew up in it. He came back and he wanted to hear more. Later he professed and I am sorry to say that he is not going on. He hasn’t gone back to the Jehovah Witnesses but this money bug, making money, is what got him. Anyway one thing I’d like to tell you. He said that man that I’d met would NEVER have convinced me with any argument. The thing that brought me back when I was disappointed in the Jehovah Witnesses was just that I had never met a man with a spirit like that! He himself said, “Don’t think that you are going to help any of those people with argument.” No you won’t do it that way. He said, “What brought me back was, I had never met a man with a spirit like that!”


The time has gone but I like thinking of Job and because of that I like thinking of the words of a hymn. It’s not in our book.

“Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in the Better Land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears
And then, someday, we’ll understand.”