Prayer is Trusting God’s Will

Job 16:15-22

Prayer is to adjust our perspective rather than change our circumstances.

Trust God on High

Humble Yourself Before God

Job 16:15-17, NKJV

15 “I have sewn sackcloth over my skin,

And laid my head in the dust.

16 My face is flushed from weeping,

And on my eyelids is the shadow of death;

17 Although no violence is in my hands,

And my prayer is pure.      

            Job was a man who lived through pain, loss, and suffering the majority of people in developed countries will never come close to experiencing, but situations people in underdeveloped countries endure through their lifetime in some cases. The destruction of all his children, the loss of all his material possessions, and enduring the disgrace of false accusations from friends that happened in a few days would be enough to bring the most optimistic person to their knees in defeat. Yet, Job maintained his integrity and refused to speak evil of God even while giving full verbal expression to his emotions (Job 42:8).

            In the verses leading up to the passage listed above, Job is responding to the verbal abuse he had been receiving from his friends. These friends came with the intention of comforting him, but quickly turned to blaming Job for bringing all this devastation upon himself because of secret sins he had in his life of which they had no evidence of at all. They assumed God was punishing Job due to the severity of the suffering Job was enduring. Job even calls them, “…Miserable comforters are you all!” (Job 16:2, NKJV).

            Job verbalizes how he believes God is working against him in the same ways many have used as excuses to avoid turning to God or to deny God’s existence altogether. Job shares with his friends that God has, “…worn me out…desolated all my company…shriveled me up…tears me in His wrath…gnashes at me with His teeth…delivered me to the ungodly…turned me over to the hands of the wicked…shattered me to pieces…set me up for His target…pierces my heart…breaks me with wound upon wound…” (Job 16:7-14, NKJV).

            If only one of these things was done to someone it would a person to avoid and refuse to be around that person. Job does something that is quite opposite. He put on sackcloth and put dust on his head. This cloth was either made from the course hair of camels or goats and was normally black in color. Sackcloth is similar in texture of modern day burlap which is made from Jute or Hemp. The abrasive material would be worn against the skin and ashes poured over oneself to signify mourning and sorrow. I caused the one wearing it to feel uncomfortable externally as much as internally.

            Job ran to the Lord instead of away from Him in his hurt and distress. He embraced the pain he felt by giving verbal expression to the reality he was experiencing as he presented his case to the Lord in prayer. The final words of verse seventeen reveals Job’s sorrow and frustration before the Lord in the posture of humility and not in anger when he says, “…And my prayer is pure” (Job 16:17, NKJV).

            Job’s prayer was his continued dialogue with God as he was directing his speech directly to God even while he spoke with his visitors. Prayers are more than words that are spoken by a person to God. Prayer is also exhibiting trust in the Lord’s will by accepting what is transpiring in life at the moment regardless of whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. Job’s prayer was pure before the Lord due to his honest submission to God by enduring the pain and turning to the Lord alone for comfort even though Job felt it was God who was the One afflicting him.

            Job humbled himself before the Lord accepting what he was going through, embracing it through mourning, and turned to the Lord as the only source of his comfort. Every day there are people around the world in every economic and cultural status level possible suffering with no clear explanation of why they are going through the things they of which they are dealing. The difference between those who understand what prayer is and those who have a misconception of prayer can be seen in how they respond to the struggles and heartache they are enduring. There are examples of both found in Scripture, but none as clear as the response of King Jehoiakim of Judah and the Jeremiah the prophet.

1 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: 2 “Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day. 3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”…

16 Now it happened, when they had heard all the words, that they looked in fear from one to another, and said to Baruch, “We will surely tell the king of all these words.” 17 And they asked Baruch, saying, “Tell us now, how did you write all these words—at his instruction?”…

23 And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. 24 Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. 25 Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them. (Jeremiah 36:1-3, 16-17, 23-25, NKJV)

            King Jehoiakim lashed out at what God had instructed Jeremiah to write to get him to acknowledge his sin and repent in order to avoid the destruction that was prepared if he refused to humble himself before God. The leaders around the king were afraid of what God had to say, but certainly not enough to acknowledge their sins and repent of it with great mourning. This was because they mistakenly thought prayer was nothing more than a religious practice meant to make oneself feel better and attempt to get what they imagined they desired for themselves.

            Many people respond to correction and hardship with denial, ignoring the reality of what is taking place, or being angry at those who speak the truth. The king and his leaders responded in this manner as well and found themselves coming under the judgment of God. Yet, there were others like the widow who lived in Zarephath who simply embraced the reality of her destitution and found that God had sent her the Prophet Elijah to provide all she needed for her and her son.

8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

12 So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ ”

15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:8-16, NKJV)

            The widow did nothing wrong, but was enduring the drought which came about through the word of the Lord through Elijah. She humbled herself and accepted the future as far as she could see and trusted the Lord’s word through His prophet and cared for Elijah as he asked. King Jehoiakim and his leaders were warned about the coming destruction they would suffer but ignored God’s warning through His prophet, even if it caused them to be fearful for a short time.

            Job humbled himself before God and turned to Him for comfort even though Job believed God did all the horrible things to him which he was suffering. The humility Job exhibited was his prayer to God accepting it was the Lord’s will for him to endure these things. Prayer is trusting God’s will through humility by enduring longsuffering that is either the result of consequences of sin or simply a reason that may never be known by God’s child who is enduring the suffering. There are times when no clear answer or reason for suffering is given to the one who suffers. It is best to stop looking for the explanation and focus more on what God is teaching us through the hardship being faced and on His power that sustains when everything else has failed.

            Prayer is trusting God’s will by accepting the authority of God and humbly enduring with peace and patience the present circumstances of life. If sinful choices or selfish decisions have brought about the situation presently, repent and once again submit to the Word of God and obey Him. God is faithful and will see His people through difficult times because He is merciful. If what is being suffered at the moment is the result of circumstances beyond a person’s choices or have been brought on by the sin of others, take heart and be encouraged that nothing is a surprise to God. The Lord is faithful and will see His people through the darkest of times. Praise God and allow the actions and words of each day to be spoken in confidence of the faithfulness of God’s will to do what is righteous and just.

Trust God on High

Job 16:18-22, NKJV

18 “O earth, do not cover my blood,

And let my cry have no resting place!

19 Surely even now my witness is in heaven,

And my evidence is on high.

20 My friends scorn me;

My eyes pour out tears to God.

21 Oh, that one might plead for a man with God,

As a man pleads for his neighbor!

22 For when a few years are finished,

I shall go the way of no return.  

            Prayer that trusts God is consumed by heavenly things and not visible results; it is looking toward the Lord and His good pleasure above all else. Job prays that nothing on earth would be able to silence his cries from which he refuses to stop speaking. There is much Job has suffered; he has endured beyond his ability to withstand such anguish and now gives full vent to his cries to God. Job refuses to be silent even though God appears to be doing him this harm. This is due to the facts Job points out in Job 16:19, “19 Surely even now my witness is in heaven, And my evidence is on high” (NKJV). Job is calling God as his witness and proclaiming the truth is residing with the Lord.

            We have to look back to where all this started to see that Job is speaking truth instead of things that he merely wishes were true. “1 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” (Job 1:1, NKJV.) Job lived an exemplary life before the Lord. In one of his exchanges with his friends he said,

12 …I delivered the poor who cried out,

The fatherless and the one who had no helper.

13 The blessing of a perishing man came upon me,

And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.

14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;

My justice was like a robe and a turban.

15 I was eyes to the blind,

And I was feet to the lame.

16 I was a father to the poor,

And I searched out the case that I did not know.

17 I broke the fangs of the wicked,

And plucked the victim from his teeth. (Job 29:12-17, NKJV)

            Job trusted his integrity to God rather than the opinion of other people. He was certainly not perfect or sinless, but God considered him to be upright and one who shunned evil. This is high praise coming from God who judges the intentions of people along with their actions, words, and thoughts (Hebrews 4:13). The testimony of people can be denied and easily dismissed for one reason or another. God’s declaration of a person’s character is what really matters in the end. God will be the One who all will stand before in judgement one day which the writer of Hebrews was inspired to proclaim, “27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, NKJV).

            God is the One who must be trusted above all else. There was no one else Job really had to turn to in his life at this point. God was the only One who could comfort Job in his current state. In reality, God is the only One who can comfort anyone, regardless of their circumstances. Job knew this in his heart more than he had evidence of it in writing. Those who worship God today have thousands of years of history and examples of how God works, His trustworthiness to keep His promises, and instruction from prophets, apostles, Christ, and even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within them.

            Job knew the evidence of his integrity was on high because that is where God resided. Long before Jeremiah was inspired to record these words of God, “10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10, NKJV). Job’s friend Eliphaz used what God revealed about Himself in creation to accuse Job of sin rather than allow God to be the Judge and Revealer of truth. Eliphaz was trusting in his wisdom to make judgments about others and the world when he said to Job,

8 Even as I have seen,

Those who plow iniquity

And sow trouble reap the same.

9 By the blast of God they perish,

And by the breath of His anger they are consumed. (Job 4:8-9, NKJV)

            God reveals Himself in creation clearly, but mankind often will take what God reveals and twist it to accommodate their selfish desires. The revelation of the Lord is made known to change the hearts and minds of people to conform to the truth of God. Far too often individuals will violently force God’s revelation through His word or in creation to justify what is right in their own eyes. Job refused to conform God to his image as Eliphaz was doing by using God’s revelation in the world to condemn Job.

            Job knows that God is merciful and kind as well as righteous and just. Eliphaz is promoting a works based salvation while Job is proclaiming a salvation that is based entirely on the grace of God long before Christ came into the world to die for the sins of mankind. This is clear by other things that Job has said, “25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth” (Job 19:25, NKJV). Job trusts God to be his Judge as well as his Deliverer. This is the perfect explanation of Christ who is God in the flesh but also is the One who offers His flesh for the salvation of others as the Apostle Paul so clearly announced,

8 …God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:8-11, NKJV)

            God came into the world to satisfy His wrath on sin personally on behalf of all people. It is through the death and resurrection of Christ that we have been reconciled with God the Father. The only place anyone can run to in order to find forgiveness is to the God that has been sinned against. The only way to have strength to endure all that is experienced in life is to trust in the only true God who is sovereign, righteous, and just in all that He allows into a person’s life.

            Job’s friends were gloating over his suffering and falsely accusing him of wrong doing because in their minds God fit into their understanding, and their understanding convince them God only allowed horrible things to happen to horrible people. Unfortunately, some of the most horrible things happen to those who are some of the most righteous in this world. The perfect example of this is Jesus who was perfect in every way, but suffered throughout His life and died the death of a criminal.

            There was much about Job’s suffering that can be seen in the life of Christ. Job’s friends scorned him and tears poured out of his eyes to God. In the life of Jesus, tears flowed out of Him to the Father as well when He wept at Lazarus’ tomb, over Jerusalem’s future, and in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-34; Luke 19:41-44; John 11:32-36). There is a confidence seen in Job that God would make a way to satisfy justice and still redeem those who were hopelessly trying to live a pleasing life before the righteous God of all creation. Jesus lived the perfect life before the Father to be able to do for mankind what they could not possibly do for themselves; His innocent death brought atonement to all who would accept Christ’s death on behalf of their sins.

            The last portion of Job’s prayer to God expresses the importance of making the decision to place faith in God for the forgiveness of sins before physical death. “22 For when a few years are finished, I shall go the way of no return” (Job 16:22, NKJV). There is no return to life as we know it physically. This in no way discounts resurrection because we know Christ was raised from the dead, but Christ’s body was not the same after resurrection as it was before His death. Jesus rose from the dead immortal, never to die again. Those who were recorded to be raised in the Old Testament and by Christ all experienced physical death later on. All who Jesus healed physically eventually died of something else since that resurrection did not change their physical make up.

            There is no opportunity to accept Jesus once we take our last breath upon this earth for the final time. The rich man found this out too late in the account Jesus shared recorded in the Gospel of Luke 16:19-31. Therefore, it is crucial for a decision to accept the atoning death of Christ on behalf of sin be made now since no one knows the day of Christ’s return or the day of their death.

            Prayer is trusting God’s will since it is more than words spoken to God; it is living daily with an eternal perspective of what is to be rather than what is visible presently. The very life of God’s child ought to be a continual prayer of praise and acceptance of the will of God. This means that what is seen currently that is contrary to what God has promised is recognized as sin’s effect upon the perfect creation of God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is why God tells His people to live by faith, not be sight.

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