July 19, 2020
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church July 19, 2020
Church Service Notes
Scripture: Exodus 20:15
Exodus 20:15 says “Thou shall not steal”. When we think of this verse, we may think of something like armed robbery. With this concept of stealing in mind, most of us could say, we do not steal. I want to look at a few different verses this morning that may make us think of stealing in a different way. These may be things we have done but we do not acknowledge as theft. Ephesians 4:28 opens with the command do not steal, and if you have stolen before do not do it anymore. The rest of the verse shows us two ways we can acquire money and possessions properly: first by working and second by gifts. I want to point out some things this verse does not say. As a nation, we seem to be confused about how to acquire things. There is a portion of society that feels they are owed things. If you have watched the news lately, you have seen rioting and looting. The people doing these things feel that because of something that happened to them, they are owed something in return and can take whatever the want. This is not what this verse says. We are called to holy and righteousness. The Bible is clear we are not to steal. The Bible does not give us an excuse to steal.
If we look beyond the act of theft by taking, which most of us would say we do not do, are there things we take and excuse as “only a minor thing”? What about taking a pen home from work? Is that stealing? The company paid for the pen, not you. That may be a small thing, but if it does not belong to us, are we guilty of stealing? How about a time card at work? If you show up to work at 8:05, do you take the full paycheck? Do you stay until 5:05? What about the personal business we attend to? Maybe you have a lunch break for 30 minutes or an hour. Are you using that time for personal business? Is so, and you run the errands for the full break and then bring their lunch back to work to eat after the lunch break is over. Is that stealing? Does your boss know it is happening? Did you talk to him/her about it? We may assume it is ok, but would our boss agree? We have to take a hard look at how we are interacting with our time on our jobs. Another example of the taking things we have not paid for is when we cheat a system. Consider a salad bar, we think: “My kid is not going to eat a full salad bar, why should I have to pay for it?” We excuse these things in ourselves with thoughts like “this is overpriced so I am going to give some to my kids”. The Bible tells us to be above reproach and above accusation. If we are excusing these little things, we are not above accusation. What about on your tax return? How many of us are filling out things as a business charge that did not get used for a business? How many of us are writing things off as a loss when there was no loss? People notice what we do, God sees everything, and God has called us to be above reproach.
Leviticus 19:11 tells us we should not deal falsely with others. All through Scriptures it tells us the Lord despises dishonest scales. In ancient times, scales were used to determine monetary value. Some would cheat the scale and charge people more money. These businesses were stealing from the people. We can all probably relate to going in for a service for one thing and being told there are a lot of additional unexpected charges. When those extra charges are not legitimate it is stealing from people by false dealings. Zacchaeus is an example of this. He was working as a tax collector to collect taxes from the Jewish people for the Roman government. Zacchaeus, like many of the tax collectors, increased the charges and took the excess. After meeting Jesus, he admits this and returns the money. Another false dealing is when business owners steal from their employees. We have looked at the Scripture in the past where the business owners hired people for work and did not pay them their fair wages. If you are taking advantage of customers or employees, you are guilty of stealing.
Another thing to consider is if we borrow things without returning them? If we do not return something borrowed or repay a loan, is that not stealing? I have heard testimonies of people outside of the church dealing with Christians who borrowed from them and not repaid monetary loans or not cared for the borrowed items. If you are borrowing money and have no intentions of paying it back, be a person of honesty and tell the person you are not able to pay it back. We have to be honest in our dealings with other people. It matters to the witness of God and to our ability to witness to others. False dealings disqualify our message regarding the Gospel. If we are stealing why would someone listen to the Gospel from us?
We have to examine ourselves to find any areas of our lives where we may be guilty of breaking this commandment. All of these examples look at our relationships with others, but now I want to look at our relationship with the Lord and this commandment to not steal. We can disobey these commandments and have an impact with our relationship with God. Malachi 3:8 addresses stealing from God. During Malachi’s time, there was a law of how the Jewish people were to tithe. They were to give the first 10% of their income to support the Levites and the priests who were not in a position to work typical jobs because they were assigned by God to perform the work of the temple. God ordained for them to be supported through the tithe. This was the system God ordained for the people of Israel. God tells the people through Malachi they were robbing and stealing by not supporting these tithes because when they did not give their 10%. The Bible tells us in the New Testament that we are still to give to the church. The New Testament may not have a specific command for 10%. But 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us to give bountifully and cheerfully. God owns everything and He does not need our help. We need to recognize God’s ownership and give back to Him. The more we support our church, the more the church can do. If you are not giving to the Lord, for whatever reason, you may be missing out on blessings. In Malachi, God tells the people if they will start giving the tithe again, their storehouses will be full. If you are not trusting God with your finances, try it. Try allowing God to take control of all those things. Do not let greed cause you to steal from God. We are called to be generous with the blessings we have. The Lord sees when we are not. God knows our heart and our mindset. We have to be mindful how we are loving the Lord and our neighbor in this regard.
If you are in a situation we have mentioned, maybe you need to make a phone call and make it right. Maybe you need to fix your business dealings and make them right. Maybe you need to not rob from God. We are called to not steal.
Tonight we are going to start with an introduction to the book of Job. We will look at the background and themes and some references to Job throughout the Bible. I want to encourage you in the days to come to make reading Job a part of your daily routine, and we will start studying through the book of Job on Sunday nights. In James 5:11, Job is given as an example of suffering for us. James wanted to bring that example to the people who were experiencing the persecution and who had fled Jerusalem for safer areas. James points them to Job in the midst of their troubles. The people who were alive in James’ time had knowledge of the book of Job. Another passage of the Bible talks about Job, too. Ezekiel 14:12-21 foretells judgment that will come in four ways. Ezekiel proclaims that even if the revered saints, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were alive and in the land, the people would not be spared by the presence of those men. This is the height of esteem that Job has gained. He is looked upon as a person that was very righteous before the Lord and of great faith. The verses of Ezekiel suggest that people thought Job was so righteous that if he lived in your city, your city might be spared judgments. This is how well known Job is to the Israelite people throughout the Old and New Testament. He was a model of having faith through suffering. We can learn from his example.
The book of Job starts describing Job as very wealthy, faithful, and righteous. There is a meeting between Satan and the Lord, when Satan suggests the only reason Job is righteous is because God has given him everything and made him rich and healthy. Satan suggests if God would take away the things He had given Job and made him poor, Job would curse Him. God replies that Job would not lose faithfulness and permits Satan to attack Job in this way. Job loses everything and experiences significant loss and suffering. Job never curses God but maintains his faith in God. If you study the book of Job, you find back and forth conversations between Job and his friends about why he is in the circumstance he is and what it means. Then there is a conversation between God and Job. We will study the ins and outs of that over the next weeks.
I want to cover a few questions tonight and leave you to begin reading the book of Job. Who was it that wrote Job? God is the One who writes all Scriptures. He inspires the human authors to write the story on paper. We do not know the person who put the pen to paper. There is speculation it was Moses or Job, but we do not know. It does not make the Book any less important or valid. We accept that God inspired all Scripture. If you look at church history, you see controversy over the canonizing of Scripture regarding which Books to include in the Bible. Some Books’ inclusion have been challenged. However, Job is not one that has ever been seriously critiqued. It has always been an accepted part of the Bible.
When did Job live? The book of Job does not give us a specific date. There are some theories of when it was written. Job is considered a book of poetic wisdom. As such, some scholars date it around the time of Solomon. I do not believe that is an accurate position. The assumption I hold to is that Job lived prior to the exile of the Israelites from Egypt. When you look at Job, there is not any mention of the ceremonial laws of the Jewish people. The temple is not mentioned. We might conclude those things are not mentioned because they did not exist yet. A lot of Bible scholars, for that reason, think Job was alive prior to the escape from Egypt. Another reason this may be true, is because Job is regarded as a wealthy individual and his wealth is described in terms of livestock. This description is similar to how the wealth of Abraham and Jacob and those during that time period are described. This leads me to conclude Job was alive early in history.
Was Job a real person or a parable or fairy tale meant to teach a lesson? While most people do not question the inclusion of the Book of Job in Bible, there have been people who questioned if Job was a real person. I think the fact that Ezekiel and James both reference Job as a real person allows us to accept Job was a real person. Ezekiel mentions Job alongside Noah and Daniel, who we know are real people. This is important because it is easy for some to consider a parable and think it is an ideal that is unrealistic to actually obtain. If we acknowledge that Job was a real person and maintains his faith, we recognize we can live that same way.
The reality of life is that all of us will experience suffering at some point in our life. In the book of Job, we find an example of how to live through suffering and see some of the questions we have. A lot of the questions we have may not be answered the way we want them to be in the book of Job. Some of our questions may not be answered at all. The story of Job ends with restoration on earth and the things Job lost being returned. That ending is unique to Job. There are many people in Scripture who remained faithful to God and had a loss that was never returned to them and some would be even be martyred. We have to guard against studying this book to get the “playbook” on how to get life fixed. For us as Christians, we will receive complete restoration and healing in eternity, but how do we live through the dark moments we may encounter on earth? That is a question Job is going to help us answer.
There are some themes in Job we are going to look at in our study: following God only because there is a benefit, suffering, trying to understand the heartaches and despair in life. Another theme is what we do when the principals and theology we have relied on no longer makes sense – what do we do? The question of how to reconcile a loving, just God allowing evil and suffering in the world. As we study these themes, we may wonder how we can have faith through all of these things. That is a question many religions have tried to answer. Job is going to help us understand that from the Lord’s perspective.