June 27, 2021

Rev. Mark F. Bartels



Epistle Lesson; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Psalm of the Day; Psalm 46

Gospel Lesson; Mark 4:35-41                            

Sermon Text; Job 38:1-11


This is from The Old Testament book of Job, chapter thirty eight, verses one through eleven.


Then the LORD responded to Job out of a violent storm.  He said:  “Who is this who spreads darkness over my plans with his ignorant words?  Get ready for action like a man!  Then I will ask you questions, and you will inform me.  Where were you, when I laid the foundation of the earth?   Tell me, if you understand anything about it.  Who determined its dimensions?  I am sure you know.  Who stretched out the surveying line over it?  What supports its foundation?  Who set its cornerstone in place, when the morning stars sang loud songs together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Who locked up the sea behind doors, when it burst out of the womb?  When I clothed the sea with clouds, when I wrapped it with thick darkness as its swaddling cloths, when I broke its power with my decree, when I locked it up behind barred, double doors, said, “You may come this far, but no farther.  Here is the barrier for your proud waves.”


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.

Lord, bless the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, so they may be pleasing in your sight. 

We pray this in Jesus' name.



Before I went to seminary, I went to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana to get a Master's degree in philosophy.  I announced to some of my friends, before I went there, that I was going to go, and get this Master's degree in philosophy.  Some of them warned me, and said, “You know, you better be careful when you go, and get a degree in philosophy, because there probably are going to be a lot of atheists there.  And, they are probably going to try to take your faith away.”
I thought, “They are paranoid.  That is not going to happen.  I am only going to be there for a year.”
Anyway, I showed up to the Purdue campus.  It was my first day on campus, and had never been there before.  I walked in to the office of the Philosophy Department, where I met the secretary, who was a wonderful lady, and very nice.  She helped me get registered, and was extremely friendly.  Then, she introduced me to a number of the professors, who happened to be walking by, in the office.  They were all very welcoming, very nice, and friendly. 

As I was about to leave, a grad student walked in.  She said, “Oh.   Hey, this is Mark Bartels, and he is new to the graduate program.  Would you mind, if you have time, taking him around, showing him around, and helping him feel welcome here at Purdue in the Philosophy Department?”

I thought, “Boy, is this ever a friendly place!  This is great!”
So, this grad student was walking around with me, showing me the different classrooms, and explaining what happens in the Philosophy Department. 

As we talked, I started to realize we had some really close connections with one another.  I asked him where he was from.  He said, “I am from St. Peter, Minnesota.”
I said, “St. Peter?  That is only twelve miles from Mankato, where I have been going to school for the past four years!”

He said, “Yeah, I come from a Norwegian background.”
I said, “Wow!  Our synod has a Norwegian background.”  Then, I explained I was going to go to a Lutheran Seminary.

He told me, “I grew up going to a Lutheran Church, as a kid in St. Peter, Minnesota.”
I thought, “Wow!  This is amazing.  Here, God brings me to this guy who has all of these wonderful connections with me.”  I thought, “Here is a great opportunity.  OK, he is from the same area I am from.  He is Lutheran.  And, he grew up going to church.”  So I asked, “Where do you go to church here in West Lafayette, because I am looking for a place to go to church.”
He looked at me, and said, “I don't go to church.”
I asked, “How come?”
I can still see, almost crystal clear, the look on his face, when he said the following.  “Mark, my mom and dad loved going to church.  They took me every Sunday.  They were faithful, faithful church goers.  They worked hard for church.  It meant a great deal to them.  But, one day when I was in high school, I got a phone call that my mom and dad had been horrifically killed, both of them.”
Then, he looked at me, and said, “Mark, I don't believe, I don't believe that a loving God would let something like that happen, especially to people who were so faithful in going to church.  So, I don't believe in God, and that is why I don't go to church.”
Well, my friends were right.  My faith was going to be challenged, when I got to Purdue University.  But, my new found friend was struggling with a question that has been asked for centuries, and centuries, and millennia.  It is known as, The Problem of Evil.  The problem is this: 

“How can there be bad, really bad things that happen in this world, if God is all-powerful, and if He is all-loving?  How can an all-powerful, all-loving God let really bad things happen?”

For example, I just had somebody a couple of months ago ask me, called me up on the phone, and asked, “Pastor, if there is a God, how could he let six million people, innocent people, be killed in the Holocaust?”

That is a great question.  How could an all-loving, all-powerful God let a little child get cancer, and die of cancer?

Those are really deep questions that the world struggles with, and has struggled with for centuries, and centuries.  That is exactly the question the book of Job deals with.  The book of Job is a really profound book that deals with the whole question of what we call, The Problem of Evil.

So, Job was a real person.  He lived about two thousand years, BC.  Here is what we know about Job.

        -Number one, we know Job was what we call an Old Testament believer.  He is the one who said,

“I know that my Redeemer lives.

And in the end, He will stand upon this earth. 

And even though my flesh has been destroyed,

yet with my own eyes I will see Him,

I, myself, and not another.”

So, he believed in a coming Redeemer.  He believed he was going to rise from the dead, someday.  He was an Old Testament believer.

        -The Bible also tells us this about Job.  He was an upright man.  He was blameless, and he shunned evil.  So, he lived an outwardly God pleasing life.  He was an exemplary Christian, Old Testament Christian.

        -We also know he was extremely blessed, almost unbelievably blessed.  If you read Job one and two, (which kind of sets the stage), you discover something.  He lists all of the different livestock he had, and how much livestock he had.  So, I just googled this, just out of curiosity.  I googled: largest farms in the world.  I believe Job's farm probably would rival maybe the top ten, or twenty farms that exist today.  This man was like a billionaire, many times over.  He had all of this livestock.

        -And, the LORD had blessed him with a good family.  The Bible tells us he had seven sons and three daughters.  They had grown up, and were close to one another.

        -Then, The Bible tells us that all in one fell swoop, all of that, all of that was gone.  One day some servants came to Job.  They explained to him, one after another came, and told him that his livestock had either been killed in calamities, or they had been taken by marauders, by marauding bandits.  And, all of his servants been killed as well.  He literally, literally lost all of his possessions.

So, the book of Job is for anybody who has gone through any financial loss, any financial trouble, who has maybe lost your 401 Plan, your retirement.  Or, maybe you have lost your job, and you wonder, “Why would God let this kind of bad, evil stuff happen to me, especially because I am a believer?”

        -But, that is not all that happened to Job.  That same day, after he got all of that news, another servant came, and told him, “Your ten children were all together in a house.  A terrible wind storm came, and the house collapsed, and all ten of your children are dead.”

So, this book of Job is for anybody who has gone through that type of loss, anybody who has lost a loved one, especially if you lost a loved one, tragically.  Job did too, and he was a believer.

        -But, that is not all.  It does not stop there.  Shortly after that, The Bible tells us Job was afflicted with these terrible sores from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head.  They were so terrible that he would scratch himself with broken pieces of pottery.  And, he smelled terrible.  Worms even got in to these sores.  So, this is for anybody who has undergone any type of physical ailment, and wondered, “Why would God let that happen to me, to me, who is a believer?”

        -But, that is not all that happened to Job.  After all that happened, Job's wife looked at Job, and said, “Curse God, and die.”
Wow!  Can you imagine your own wife saying that to you?  So, this is also for anybody who has gone through the loss of a dear relationship, where somebody you love dearly has forsaken you. 

So, Job went through all of those things.  And, that is what the book of Job is about.

What is The Bible's answer to that?
Job had three friends, who tried to help Job wrap his head around, “What is God doing, and why is God doing this?”

These three friends were firmly convinced, number one, that God exists, is all-powerful, is all-loving, and He is a just God.  So their conclusion is, “Job, if these things have happened to you, and God is all-loving, all-powerful and He is just, the only explanation is you had it coming.  You did something really bad that you are not admitting to, and you deserve this.”

You know, that can happen in our hearts.  There have been a number of times when I have walked in to a hospital room, and somebody has undergone something really difficult, and they looked at me, and asked, “Pastor, what did I do?  What did I do to deserve this?”
The question is, “Is that what is going on?  When somebody goes through tragedy, trial, loss, suffering, and evil comes in to their lives somehow, external evil, does it mean they are worse than everybody else, and they are getting what they finally deserved?

Jesus addressed that one time, when the tower fell on those eighteen people a Siloam, and killed them, (just like we had the collapse of a condo down in Florida, and killed a number of people.  Well, the same thing happened in Jesus' day).  He asked, “Did that happen to them, because they were any worse sinners than any of the rest of you?” 

Jesus' answer was, “No.  That is not why it happened.” 

So, according to scripture, it is not because you deserve it, that terrible things might happen in your life.  If that were the case, we would all have terrible things happen all of the time, because we all deserve nothing but terrible things to happen.

Well, Job listened to his friends try to explain this to him.  He kept telling them, “I don't believe that.  I don't believe I have done something so terrible that all of this is a result of some terrible thing I have done.”
Job knew he was a believer in God.  He trusted in the coming Messiah, the coming Savior.  He trusted in the resurrection.  He tried to live a godly life.  And he kept saying, “That is not what is going on here.”
But then, Job began to shake in his faith, a little bit.  Job began to wonder this.  He began to think, “Ok, if there is a God, and He is all-powerful, and He is all-loving, and I am one of His followers, and I try to live for Him, why would He, why would He let this happen?”
He started to come to the conclusion that maybe God is unjust.  God is not fair.  Look at this Bible verse.  Here is God speaking to Job.  He said, “Would you discredit my justice?  Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”  In other words, God is saying to Job, “You are accusing me of being unjust, because this stuff has been happening in your life?”
So, the question is, “Why would God let something like that happen to somebody like Job?”

Now, I am going to tell you something.  In the book of Job, God never tells Job why.  He never tells him why He let it happen.  But, He does tell us.  If you read Job one and two, God explains to the reader exactly what was happening.  Job does not know it, but here is what was happening.  The devil appeared before the LORD one day, and God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  He is upright and blameless.  He avoids evil.  He shuns evil.  He does good.  There is no one like him.”

 The devil responded to the LORD, “Well, does he fear God for nothing?  Does Job fear God for nothing?”
Then, the devil said to God, “The only reason, the only reason he believes in you, and tries to live a godly life is because you have blessed him so much.  But, he is a phony.  He is a fraud.  If you would take away all of those things from his life, and you take away his possessions, and his health, and his family, you would see, God, he is a fraud.  He is a phony.  He only believes in you, essentially, because he is getting good stuff from you.  But, if he does not get good stuff from you, then he is not going to believe in you, anymore.”

And so, the LORD permitted Satan to bring those troubles in to Job's life. 

Now, here is what the LORD knew.  The LORD knew He was going to refute all of Satan's accusations that Job was a phony, and a fraud.  In fact, He knew that through these trials, He was going to use them to actually strengthen, and increase Job's faith, and draw Job closer to Him.  But, Job did not know that.  He was asking the question, “Why?  Why would God let this happen?”

So, God begins to answer Job.  Job, chapters thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty, and forty-one, comes the LORD's answer.   It is a really interesting answer.  Essentially, the answer is, “Job, I am God.  I am God.  I am so far above you.  My ways are so far above yours.  Trust me.  Trust me.”
There was a lady, some years ago, who wrote a novel that was based on her life.  It is a novel, and it is fiction, but basically it is based on what happened in her life.  This woman was a Christian.  She had decided to literally give up everything, because in her heart she wanted to go to this remote, little, village down in South America, to some people who did not know anything about Jesus.  They did not have The Bible.  She wanted to translate The Bible in to their language, so they could come to know about Jesus. 

So, she gives up everything, and goes to this little, remote village.  She takes years to learn their language, and put it down in writing.  Then, she translates The Bible for them.  She tells them about Jesus. 

After all of this happened, she accidentally, accidentally kills somebody in their little village. 

The villagers are so outraged over what had happen, that they take all of her writings, all of her Bible translations, and they throw them in to the river, and it is all gone.

So, here she had done all of these godly things, and this terrible, terrible result ended.  Listen to what she says in this novel, as she looks back over what happened.

“Now, I see in the clear light of day that God, if He was merely my accomplice, had betrayed me.”
I am going to come back to that little phrase, “...if He was merely my accomplice...”
“I see in the clear light of day that God, if He was merely my accomplice, had betrayed me.  If, on the other hand, He is God, He had freed me.  For God is God.  If He is God, He is worthy of my worship, and my service.  I will find rest no where but in His Will.  That Will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notion of what He is up to.”
What is an 'accomplice'?  An 'accomplice' is 'an assistant'.  So, as long as you see God as just your assistant, you are going to struggle, when difficult things come in to your life. 

So, there she is saying, “If I see Him as just my accomplice...”  But, she said, “I had to learn to see God, not as my assistant, but as who He really is.  He is God.”

Jesus is not just your assistant.  The Bible tells us,

“He upholds all things

by the power of His hand.” 

Now, that is not just an assistant.  He is God.  He upholds the stars, the universe, and everything.  The Bible says that nothing that was made, was made without Him.  Jesus is the King of all creation.

So, as the LORD begins to speak to Job, He begins to use this evidence, real evidence to show Job, “Job, I am God. I just want you to pause, and think about what I know, that you do not know.”
Listen to the questions He begins to ask Job. 

“Where were you, when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you understand anything about it.  Who determined its dimensions?  I am sure you know.  Who stretched out the surveying line over it?  What supports its foundation?  Who set its cornerstone in place, when the morning stars sang loud songs together, and all of the sons of God shouted for joy?  Who locked up the sea behind doors, when it burst out the womb?”

The LORD says, “Just look around you.  Look at nature.  Can you call the lightening bolts from heaven?” 

God says, “I can.” 

“Do you even know how to make a lightening bolt?  Were you there when the world was created?  Could you do it yourself?  Do you know how molecules work, and protons and neutrons ?” 

Even physicists today cannot figure all of that out.  But, God knows all of that.  The LORD was telling Job, “Job, let me be God.  Trust me.  Trust that I know what I am doing.”
Now, here is my question to all of you.  “Why should you trust God?  Why should you trust Him?”  

I am going to go to a statement that the LORD made to Job, in Job forty, verse eight.  This is written two thousand years BC.  He said to Job,

“Would you discredit my justice?”

In other words, “Are you saying I am unjust, if I let suffering come in to your life?”
Now, look at this question. 

“Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” 

Do you know what the answer to that is? 


That is exactly, exactly what happened on the cross. 

God was condemned

so that we could be justified,

so we could be declared not guilty. 

God answered this world of suffering.  God suffered in ways you and I cannot even begin to comprehend.  God was willing to come to this world, with all of its trouble, all of its suffering, and take suffering upon Himself, by taking your sin on Himself.  God was willing to be despised by enemies, betrayed by friends, beaten, mocked, suffer the wrath of God, and be nailed to a cross.  God was willing to suffer in ways you and I cannot comprehend, suffer the torments of Hell, itself.  He was condemned so that you, you might be justified.  God in His heart looked at you, because of what Jesus, His Son, has done, and He declares you, for Jesus' sake to be not guilty, to be holy in His eyes, for Christ's sake.  He loves you dearly for Christ's sake.  His relationship with you is a relationship of a loving Father, for the sake of Christ. 

Now the question is, “Can you trust Him?”

The absolute answer is,


The book of Romans says,

“If God spared not His own Son,

but freely gave Him up for us all,

how shall He not also along with Him,

freely give us all things?”

It goes on and says,

“All things

work together for good

for those who love God.”

So, if God spared not His own Son, and His Son suffered immensely to pay for your sins, and God in His wisdom, in His wisdom permits trouble, and sometimes deep trouble comes in to our lives, we can trust Him.  We can trust Him, because of what He has done for us in Christ.