October 4, 2009
Proper 21
Job 1:1; Job 2:1-10

When we hear about the city in Job 1:1, we think of Frank Baum’s classic. For Uz sounds to us like Oz. But Uz was not make-believe. It could not have been more real.
This most ancient of Scriptures deals with theodicy: the problem of evil in the presence of a Holy God. Elie Weisel wrote:
“I rarely speak about God. To God, yes. I protest against Him. I shout at Him. But to open a discourse about the qualities of God, about the problems…of theodicy, no. And yet He is there, in silence…”1
In Job there is silence yet revelation. God shows us Uz because we all live there. And what would God say to us here?

I. In the land of Uz we may be blessed today and burdened tomorrow (1:1).
“There was a man…” is not “Once upon a time…” This is history. Job was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”
Job wasn’t perfect. He was a believer.
As a pastor I see such people every day. They go to work and raise families; but most importantly they live as Christians, with ordinary lives, even sunny, prosperous lives. They are like Job in 1:1. Walk with God in such sunny days that you may hold on to God in darker days.

II. In the land of Uz there are powers at work around us (2:1-9).
Behind the veil in Uz, there are powers at work that are shaping our lives. In Job, we are shown that trials may come through the Evil One. Satan is real.
He is the accuser of the saints before God. The scene is given to us without explanation. Thus we see the Scripture, yet we cannot see through it (Hans Urs von Balthasar). There are also powers at work in others around us. The attack of Job’s wife on her husband in 2:9 reveals that the inexplicable sorrows of life can shake even the most pious of families. But let us also see that there is the power of God, which is greater than all other powers. He is absolutely sovereign, and He is absolutely good. He guards our lives though He may allow evil. This is Uz, where we live. Powers surround us, powers for evil, but there is a greater power for God’s glory and our good.

III. In the land of Uz there is power at work within us (2:10).
Job told his wife, “‘Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (2:10).
What is the source of this theology of suffering? Well, we have to go back to the beginning, to Job 1:1. Job “feared” God. The Hebrew word is yaœreœ, reverent. And in weakness Job is strong because of this living faith (2 Corinthians 12:9).

IV. Conclusion
This is the mysterious land of Uz: “the best of times and the worst of times,” sickness and health, joy and sorrow-the place where we live. But into this Land of Uz came One who Job looked to, the Man, Christ Jesus! Listen as gospel faith breaks forth like the dawn after a stormy night: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).
So there on the cross, “the emblem of suffering and shame,” we see the enigmatic mixture of sovereignty and evil become the clear message of our only salvation.

?1. As quoted in Robert Andrews; Mary Biggs; and Michael Seidel, ed. The Columbia World of Quotations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

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About The Author


Michael A. Milton is a theologian, pastor, broadcaster, author, professor, U.S. Army Reserves chaplain, and musician. He's founder and president of Faith For Living, Inc. a North Carolina religious non-profit engaged in Christian discipleship, education, and communication. He is also the author of several books.

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