NEW YEAR’S EVE
December 31, 2020
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Job 1:20-2:10
2020: MAY THE NAME OF THE LORD BE PRAISED!
Job 1:20-2:10 (NIV 1984) “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. 2 On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth, going back and forth in it.”
3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” 4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
I’ve heard a lot of sentiment about 2020 expressed as we’ve gotten closer and closer to a new year. Some of the TV New Year’s Eve shows ask you to join them in saying “Good-bye and Good Riddance to 2020” or “Let’s close the door on 2020 and never look at it again!” It’s cliché but you have probably heard it too. “2020: Worst Year Ever!” or “I can’t wait for this year to over.” To be sure there were plenty of negative aspects to 2020 that people complained about, maybe we complained about as well. With the coming of the coronavirus we went through shutdowns of businesses, in person church and school. People lost jobs and their businesses. Students lost graduation ceremonies. Sporting events ended. Mask mandates became the norm. Mental health has taken a huge hit. Then there were the race issues and everything that accompanied them. Protests, some peaceful, some not. Friends becoming enemies as they became as polarized on issues as the rest of the country. And of course politics in America did not get any nicer or more civil. It’s no wonder folks want to close the book on 2020.
But brothers and sisters, our purpose tonight is not to complain but rather to worship and praise God for 2020 and to look forward with confidence. As Paul reminded us “If God is for us, who can be against us?” As Jesus urged us, “Stop worrying about your life.” That gives us a different perspective on 2020 than most Americans. We say “2020 May the name of the Lord be praised.” To see why we look at the life of one our brothers in faith, our brother Job.
When we first meet Job in the 1st chapter of the book that bears his name “he had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants.” On one single day Job got the following news. His oxen and donkeys were stolen and the servants guarding them killed, fire fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and killed the servants watching them, his camels were also stolen by raiders with more servants killed and then the worst news of all, his seven sons and three daughters were all killed when the house they were in collapsed. And we want to complain about a bad year?
Job’s response? “He fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” No way Job is going to get a newscasting or entertaining job in America today with an attitude like that! Where did that come from? Job is described as a man who feared God and shunned evil. Job respected God. He knew and trusted God’s wisdom and power. So when bad things by anyone’s standard happened to him he worshipped and praised God, trusting that everything God did or allowed had not just a reason but a good reason.
His troubles continued. Some things we don’t know a lot about. Angels presenting themselves before God. Satan also allowed. Satan given permission to try Job’s faith some more. “So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” You all know how it is. It is easier to deal with setback and hard times when you are rested and feel good. But when your health is bad, and you can’t sleep…How do you sleep with sores all over your body? And then your closest companion encourages you to turn on God. Job’s response. “He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” What no “Good riddance 2020 BC!?
Now there are some truths here we can take directly over into our own lives. We know where Job’s troubles came from, Satan. At the time Job didn’t. And yet they were allowed by God. And that gives us an insight into what was really going on here. This is a battle between God and the Devil. The Devil trying to make God look bad. The Devil trying to get God’s people to turn on Him and turn away from Him. God defeating the Devil’s plots and working good.
I’ve heard the theories on coronavirus. No dispute it came from China. Was it by worker accident or a part of a much bigger sinister Chinese government plot? I don’t know. Maybe we’ll find out some day. You can pretty easily identify the nastiness in America over elections and race issues as stemming from people’s sinful natures, no doubt egged on by bad old Satan. But can you see the bigger picture, brothers and sisters? Did Satan present himself before God talking about you and me. “You’ve made their life so easy, no wonder they follow you. But take those things away and you will find out who their real god is. Will they be more upset over cancelled sporting events than worship services? Will their eyes be glued to their screens when sports return but not to their screens for online worship? Watch them turn on each other instead of showing love for one another.”
Troubles are a test and a chance for us to show the Devil and others we trust what God sends our way because He’s already sent His Son our way. Just look at all the good God brought out of the troubles of 2020. Many churches, ours included, got a whole lot better at getting God’s word out through technology. Many Christians, us included, got better at devoting ourselves daily to God’s word and taking the time to pray. Many Christians, including many Jacobians found extra ways to show love to others and help in time of need. I have never seen the level of donation to our Almoners Fund which helps members in need. People stepped up at church and school to keep the mission going online. People spent more time with family. Kids learned to appreciate school. Parents learned to appreciate teachers. We also were taught that box office hits and professional sports really aren’t essential. You can come up with many more. What do we say to that? 2020 May the name of the Lord be praised.
And 2021 too. The difference between one year and the next temporally is really just one second. Some of you will be awake when that happens, some not. But while we sleep or countdown God will continue to be where He has always been and doing what He always does. He will watch over us and protect us. He will only allow what He knows and plans to work for good. He will continue to pour out on us His love. He will continue to thwart the Devil’s plans. And because, like Job, we respect God and his goodness and trust His wisdom and power, our view of years old and new is the same: May the name of the Lord be praised. Amen.