James 027 – Perhaps Today!

James 027 – Perhaps Today!
James 5:7-12 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 12, 2021 • James


James 027

Perhaps Today!

James 5:7-12

Dr. Andy Woods

James 5:7, time permitting, we will look at 5:7-12.  James, as you know by now, is a book about practical righteousness.  Their positional righteousness is assumed, and the book is about how to allow your practice to catch up with your position.  The first part of the book is about walking by faith, which involves developing God’s mindset on trials, obeying His Word, not showing favoritism, allowing our faith to manifest itself in good works and taming the tongue.  I said earlier that we hope to finish James in three weeks, but the fact of the matter is that you never finish James because these are all life lessons that take our whole Christian lives to learn and relearn.  Amen?  So, we may get to the end of the book of James and then when we reconvene in the fall, maybe we will do it backwards?

The second part of the book is essentially about walking by wisdom, as James defines it is knowledge applied.  After defining wisdom, he applies it to our spiritual lives, commercial lives in terms of not planning as though God doesn’t exist, and as we saw last week, he applies it to use of wealth.   This is where James condemns not the wealthy but the wealthy oppressors — people who got wealthy through oppressing others.  It is there that James issues a strong condemnation of these wealthy oppressors; his audience is believing, but he is using an example from the unbelieving world, and there he says that when the Lord comes back, your flesh will be consumed by fire; you will weep and wail for the miseries coming upon you.  It is a lot of judgment talk related to the Second Coming.

All these paragraphs that he writes are interlinked with one another.  I think the reality of the coming judgment upon the wealthy oppressors in 5:1-6, now brings to James’ mind the imminent return of Jesus.  We have been talking about coming judgment in prior paragraphs, and this, I believe, stimulates his thoughts towards the imminent return of our Lord Jesus Christ for us, His church, and how we are supposed to live in light of it.  James 5:7-12 is about wisdom applied to waiting for the Lord’s return.

Here is our outline for the coming verses 5:7-12.  We have the:

  1. The Example of the Farmer — 5:7
  2. The Impact of Imminency — 5:8-9
  • Two Old Testament Examples of Patience — 5:10-12

Notice what James says here about the farmer, and notice also, 5:7, “Therefore be patient [I hate that word, don’t you? Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now] … brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  [Notice ‘brethren,’ and if you look at verses 5:9,10,12 you will notice the word ‘brethren.’  We have argued that ‘brethren’ is a reference to only the Christian.  You can jot down Matt 12:46-50 where Jesus says, ‘Who are my brothers, my sister, my mother, etc, are they not the ones that do the will of my Father who is in heaven?’  You will notice also in 5:7 that James mentions the coming of the Lord.  Notice how as he mentions the coming of the Lord, that he doesn’t first say that the Antichrist will come because as we have been teaching in our Sunday school hour in the rapture study, the opposing rapture views that are floating around, put some sort of prophetic event that must happen first.  In fact, one person wrote a book called, First the Antichrist, and we at Sugarland Bible Church, reject that; we believe that there is nothing that must happen before Jesus can come at the rapture.  We believe that the correct view is the Pretribulation Rapture; the other views teach some prophetic sequence first.  You can listen to or look at our rapture studies to get up to speed on that.  Here is a classic verse on imminency, which basically means the any moment appearance of Jesus.  There is absolutely nothing that must happen before the rapture can occur.  It can occur before I get my next sentence out.  That is what is meant by imminency.  All the other views are always waiting for something; some kind of sequence first, but we don’t find those to be biblical beliefs.

Notice with all of these second advent teachings that the Lord says, “…I will come again and receive you to Myself…” Notice in John 14:3, again, when the Lord says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself…”  Notice that the Lord doesn’t set up any prophetic sign that must first happen before the rapture can occur.  Notice the same thing in 1 Thess 5:15 where Paul says, “For this we say to you by the world of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.”  Notice there that there are no prophetic sign(s) that must happen before the rapture.  There is a harmony in all of these verses.

In 1 Cor 15:51, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” Never does he say that the Antichrist comes first.  The focus of the New Testament is that Jesus is coming back next.  These are what we call imminency passages.  Titus 2:13, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”

In 1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  And everyone who has this hope… [What hope?  Seeing Jesus] …set on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  Again, you don’t see any reference to an Antichrist coming first.

The question is that this teaching on imminency, (what we are getting into here tonight), is if waiting for the Lord’s return in wisdom, imminency, that is, if the idea that Jesus can come back in the next split second is actually practical?   Does this matter to daily life?  Here we will see in James 5:7-12 that it does matter to daily life.

I would like to use this quote from my professor, J Dwight Pentecost who communicated this in one of his books, “A short time ago, I took occasion to go through the New Testament to mark each reference to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and to observe the use made of that teaching about His coming.  I was struck anew with the fact that almost without exception, when the coming of Christ is mentioned in the New Testament, it is followed by an exhortation to godliness and holy living.”  So, whenever there is a presentation of the any moment return of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, it is always linked to daily life.  Your prayer life, patience under trial; here in this passage, it is linked to patience and strength, so don’t think that the imminent return of Jesus is merely pie in the sky that has no impact on daily life.

Back to 1 John 3:3, “… everyone who has this hope [the hope of when He appears] …set on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” There is nothing that will improve your daily practical sanctification than thinking that every day could be the day of the rapture.  If you live every day that way, it will change your choices, attitudes, conversations, everything.  It is a lot like when your boss says, ‘Ok, I will be gone for two months and check up on you.’  We know how that would end.  You won’t be only a little sluggish at the workplace.  But if your boss says, ‘I’m leaving and I could check in at any moment,’ that would change your work habit constantly.  That is what the imminent appearance of Jesus does for us all.

I like to use this passage in Matt 24:46-50, and I agree that it does relate to Israel in the Tribulation, but you can still make an application to us via imminency and a change of behavior.  Jesus says in Matt 24:46-50, “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.  Truly I say to you that he will put him charge of all his possessions.  But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ …[the evil slave doesn’t believe in imminency, in other words] … “and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and he eats and drinks with those habitually drunk; then the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect, and at an hour that he does not know.”  So, the slave that does not have eschatology (the study of the end) that says that every day could be the day and has a prophetic scenario that must elapse first, is an evil slave and his life moves into fleshly activity since he doesn’t have an incentive for daily holy living.

This is sort of a crash course on imminency; we go into much more detail on it in our Rapture Series.  But I only bring this up because this is the heart and soul of James 5:7-12:  that the Lord is returning; He can come back at any second in the rapture, and believing that as we should, then it changes the way we live.  We can prove that we believe it, not because we checked off a box on a doctrinal checklist, but because if we truly believe it, it will change the way we live.  That is the natural impetus of the any moment appearance of Christ.  That is what you see in 5:7.

James 5:7, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.”   [The coming of the Lord is linked to patience; ‘Gee, I don’t have any patience with people, in traffic, with my family or friends.’  Here is the remedy:  think on the reality that today could be the day of the rapture, and you will start having patience with all kinds of people.  Even with those whom you don’t really like, you will find you are being patient because you don’t want the Lord to come back and find you in an impatient, carnal state].   Verse 7, “Therefore be patient, brethren, [‘brethren’ being an application only to the Christian.  An unbeliever doesn’t know of anything about the imminent return of Christ]…until the coming of the Lord.”  Examples of patience?  … “The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.”

Speaking on the subject of patience, James intends to go on for an entire paragraph about it because he must think that we need this lesson on it.  Amen?  He says that if you want an example of patience to look at the farmer.  We are living in non-agrarian society; I was raised as a city boy basically, so I don’t know enough about farming, but those who are farmers understand it very well and James’ audience was of an agrarian society who understood this background concerning farming.  One of the things about it is that it requires patience because putting a seed into the soil, doesn’t yield a tree within the next 15 seconds, right?  It isn’t like how the microwave oven works; putting my cup in, hitting the button, and I am happy.  It doesn’t work that way in farming because it is a process that takes time, and if you aren’t someone who handles long segments of time well because you lack patience, then you will be a terrible farmer.  This is why James uses farmers as an example.  Farming also takes faith that the process is working properly since there is no instantaneous result.

James is writing to the agrarian culture who understood farming, and he says to look at the farmer for an example of patience.  He also mentions in James 5:7 the early rains and the latter rains.  To reiterate, James is writing to a Jewish audience, the twelve tribes of Israel, who understood the land of Israel very well, which is why in some of the unique features of his book, James provides a lot of illustrations from nature and daily living.  Those of us who are rather removed from farming need to study these things so that we can understand them, but James’ audience would immediately have picked up on the meaning of the early and latter rains; it is very common in farming in the land of Israel going back to the first century.

Waiting in wisdom for the Lord’s return, is the example of the farmer.  Then in 5:8-9, James moves to the impact of imminency.  Imminency is the belief that Jesus Christ can come back in the next split second which should have an impact [if we believe it] on our strength (5:8).  It should also have an impact on (and this one hurts), complaining (5:9).  Don’t show the Lord that you believe in the imminency of His return because your prophecy chart is filled out correctly.  Show the Lord that you believe in the imminency of His return because you are no longer a complainer, and here, James specifically talks about complaining against your fellow brethren in Christ.  In 5:8, related to strength, (do you feel tired, defeated, depleted, exhausted?).  There is a remedy for this, and it is thinking about the soon return of Jesus.  In 5:8, James says, You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near [engizō]…” Notice in 5:8 when he says, You too…,” he is drawing from the example of the farmer in 5:7, ‘Look how patient the farmer is; how he walks by faith; he doesn’t see an instantaneous result, so they are people of patience and faith.’  James is imploring them to be like the farmers.

You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near [engizō]…” Notice the reference here to the impact of imminency, which will be described in the second part of 5:8 on patience and strength.  Again, notice that imminency is linked to patience and strength; not a pie in the sky doctrine, and right there in 5:8 at the end of the verse, is one of the most powerful statements on imminency found anywhere in the Bible.  It says, You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near [engizō]…”  The verb used here is engizō which basically means, ‘at hand; at any moment.’  Later on, he will say that the Judge is right at the door to reinforce the point in 5:9.  The best illustration I can think of is those plastic balls that we used to play with as kids that had Velcro and when throwing it onto the ceiling, it stuck.  It doesn’t let you know when it is going to fall; only when it begins to wear off.  As you are looking to anticipate its fall, you know that it can fall at any moment, but not exactly when.  This is like the doctrine of imminency; what the Holy Spirit wants every generation of Christians to believe for the past 2,000 years.  If you think that any moment that ball can fall off the ceiling, by way of analogy, that Jesus can come back in the rapture, it revolutionizes your life.

It is the same parsing, engizō, that we studied in our Kingdom Series, where the offer of the Kingdom as preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the twelve apostles and the seventy.  Remember the expression, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’— engizō, the same verb and the same parsing.  It was preached by John the Baptist in Matt 3:2; by Christ in Matt 4:17; by the twelve in Matt 10, and by the seventy in Luke 10:9.

At least in the Matthew passages, it is always engizō, ‘at hand,’ and when we were in that series, I tried to make the point that when the Bible says to first century Israel that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, it wasn’t saying that the kingdom is here; that’s a misunderstanding of all these texts.  It is saying that the kingdom of heaven is not here, but near.  It was within their grasp.  All they had to do as first century Israel was to take Christ and enthrone Him as King on His terms, and the Millennial Kingdom would have begun!  We know how that story ended that this offer was rejected, and consequently, the kingdom is not cancelled but postponed.

We are not in the kingdom age now because that offer is off the table, but it was very much on the table when Jesus was on the earth.  They could have fulfilled Deut. 17:15, which says ‘to enthrone the King of God’s choosing.’  Had they done that, the Millennial Kingdom would have started.

Matt 11:14, Jesus said about John the Baptist, “And if you [Israel] are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.”  There is a prophecy that Elijah will come back in Malachi 4:5-6.  In that passage there is a prophecy that Elijah will come back before the great and terrible Day of the Lord.

As the offer of the kingdom is on the table, Jesus said to the Jews, ‘If you are willing to accept it, John the Baptist will fulfill that prophecy.’  It shows you the actual nearness of the kingdom, and it is saying engizō in these passages, and that’s exactly what is being described here in James 5:8 when it says that the coming of the Lord is near; at hand.  It isn’t saying that it is here but that it is near.  The Second Coming has not happened yet, but the rapture could occur at any second; that is how the Lord has set things up.  Again, that isn’t pie in the sky doctrine, but it is designed to change our lives. It changes our strength (5:8).  We have strength for the next day when we live as if today could be the day.

It has another effect on us as it starts to get rid of the amount of complaining that we do.  I know that you don’t complain about anything, but I can be a complainer; ask my wife; I am a glass-half-empty person; it is never half-full, but always half-empty.  I could complain all day long, from sunrise to sunset, and I’m quite good at it.  Complaining is one of the few things that I have excelled at.  So, 5:9 is for me because it says, “Do not complain, [ouch!], brethren [he is speaking to believers], against one another,” …[He doesn’t say not to complain about the stock market or who is in the White House, but not to complain against fellow Christians, specifically.  We are good at critiquing each other, aren’t we?  I can critique each one of you up one side and down the other, and you could do the same thing to me.  James says not to do that].  “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.”  Notice the imminency here.

Looking at James 5:9, “Do not complain.” If you want to know what God thinks about complaining, read the book of Numbers where there is some harsh complaining occurring and how God showed His total displeasure with it in Numbers 14:2, “All the sons of Israel grumbled [complained] against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt!” … [When you brought us out here to die out here in the wilderness.  Who do they take it out on? — God’s leaders, and the people grumbled and complained].

Notice it says here in 5:9, ‘brethren,’ so James is speaking to Christians, and he says, “Do not complain against one another,” …  We can complain vertically and horizontally.  Often, we complain against God.  Numbers 1:11, “Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.” This is scary, but it is because they complained in the hearing of the Lord.

Numbers 16:41, “But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron…” [Notice they’re complaining vertically against God and horizontally against fellow members of the community, in this case against God’s leaders].  So, to complain against God’s leaders unjustifiably, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that leaders are somehow above criticism; that isn’t true as we are all held to a biblical standard, but complaining against God’s installed leadership unjustifiably says that we are actually complaining against Him as He is the One who installed the leader, in this case Moses and Aaron.

James goes on in 5:9, “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged;” … [‘You mean to tell me that God judges complaining?  Again, there is a good book on this, the book of Numbers, and it deals with this entire subject, the children of Israel, as they came out of Egypt and were making their way to the Promised Land.  So, you can take the children of Israel out of Egypt, but it is harder to take Egypt out of the children of Israel.  They complained because they didn’t know where they were going as they were learning to walk by faith.  Then they said that they preferred to be slaves again in Egypt because they at least got ‘three hots and a cot’ back in Egypt.  ‘Yes, I was a slave and whipped all the time, but at least life was stable, now I have to trust God, I don’t like this, it is hot out here!’  My friend, Randy Price, says that there is a reason that it was hot out there, and it is because it is hot out there in the Sinai Peninsula.  Spend some time out there and see why the people were rising up all the time against Moses and Aaron.

Numbers 16:11 when the children of Israel were making their way from Mt Sinai to Kadesh Barnea, there were giants in the land, and then God began to work with the younger people.  They were making their way through the Trans Jordan in the east, and that’s where you have Korah’s uprising.  Num 16:11, “Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him?”  In essence, they were grumbling against God’s leaders.  Remember what happened to that group?  It is known as Korah’s rebellion in Num 16:31-35, “As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions [Korah was leading the rebellion].  So, they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol [death]; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.  All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!”  Fire also came forth from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.”  So, this situation happened in the Trans Jordan essentially because of their complaining.

James, of course, the first New Testament book, is not quoting Paul; he is reaching back into the Old Testament expecting us to understand what God says about complaining.  (Sound interrupted here).  The situation here was that people complained and came against God’s established leaders, and He just opened the ground and the complainers disappeared.  This is what happened.  What if God did that kind of thing today?  Talk about church attendance decreasing; how many churches would be left with that going on?

That becomes the background or the basis for not complaining. So, when James says, “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged,” this is the background for what he is explaining.  I believe that the Numbers story to this Jewish audience would be foremost in their thinking.  Why should we not complain against one another?  Because of imminency.  “…so that you yourselves may not be judged…”  We know that God judges people for complaining per Numbers 16 in Korah’s rebellion.  ‘Yeah, but that is just Old Testament stuff that I don’t have to worry about, right?’  No, the doctrine of imminency tells us that “the Judge is standing right at the door.”  In other words, He can come back in the next split second, and it would be embarrassing at the Bema Seat Judgment if he was to catch me in a mindset of perpetual complaining.  So, the idea that this is merely Old Testament stuff that you don’t have to worry about…well, you do, because of the doctrine of imminency or the any moment appearance of Jesus.

James continues on.  By the way, why should we not complain against and judge each other?  Because God will do that; God will take care of all things.  In 1 Cor 4:5, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”  So, I don’t have to put myself in the position of trying to evaluate the motives of other people; I do always want to evaluate their doctrine, because as a Christian, I am supposed to.  But when we put ourselves in the position of judge, jury, and executioner, judging people’s; motives, we should not want to do that type of thing because that is God’s business; He will do the judging.  He can do the judging any second because of imminency; He can appear in the next split second and get down to business related to that.

Again, notice how the doctrine of imminency is connected to life:  patience, strength, and not complaining.  ‘Well, James,  I am having some struggles with this issue of patience; do you have any further examples?’  James says that he has two Old Testament examples in James 5:10-12.  The first example of patience that we should follow is the example of the Old Testament prophets.  In 5:10, “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”  Notice again in 5:10, number 1, ‘brethren;’ number 2, ‘patience,’ and number 3, ‘an example.’  The first example he gave to us was the farmer.

Now the example James is giving us are the Old Testament prophets.  They provide, I think, a powerful example of what patience really is because they had a hard job.  What was the function of an Old Testament prophet?  Prophets arose after God established the office of the king.  Remember the first king, Saul, then David, then Solomon, and then after Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided between the north and the south?  The function of a prophet was to call the king back to God’s truth.  When the kings heard the message, they said, ‘This is great; I’m so happy that you gave me some tips for life.’  No!  Most of the kings were rotten to the core.  The northern kingdom had 19 kings and how many good ones were there?  Zero—0 and 19 is not your best season.   God had a little bit more grace for the southern kingdom.  They had 20 kings, and how many good ones were there—eight.  And even they were good only some of the time; they weren’t good all the time; they did a few things that were right.  So, the prophets would arise and publicly challenge the king, and call the king back to God’s covenant.  The king essentially didn’t want to hear a thing that they had to say because he didn’t like being exposed as an evil doer.  So, the king would crush the prophet to death.  Prophet after prophet after prophet died during this arrangement because their job description was not politically correct.  So, the prophets became a powerful example of patience.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Matt 5:10-12 says, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; …” [Do you rejoice when people slander you? The Bible says that we should rejoice because we will have a great reward if we are being slandered for the cause of righteousness] “…for the in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  You are just fitting into the pattern of the Old Testament prophets.  This is why most of the Old Testament prophets were killed.  Matthew 23:35 says, “…so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the Temple and the altar.”

When Jesus said, “…from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah,” what He is saying is ‘from the first prophet to the last one.’  Abel is recorded in the book of Genesis, and Zechariah (not the Zechariah you are thinking of in the big book of Zechariah in the Old Testament, but there is another prophet named Zechariah, and his story is recorded in Chronicles because the Jews didn’t have first and second Chronicles; they only had one book:  ChroniclesChronicles is the last book of the Hebrew Bible; just as Genesis is the first book of the Hebrew Bible.  So, when Jesus said, ‘Abel to Zecharia,’ he is basically saying that all of them (these prophets) were murdered; they met untimely deaths; they didn’t die of natural causes.  Most of them were murdered:  from Genesis to Chronicles; from the first book of the Hebrew Bible to the last book.  From Abel to Zecharia; it would be like our saying that we believe the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  That is the Jewish way of saying, ‘all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah’.  Jesus says to study them out, and you will see the common thread of how they were persecuted, mistreated, slandered and rolled right over by the king who didn’t want to hear what they had to say.  These prophets got into trouble because in James 5:10, they spoke in the name of the Lord.  That got them into trouble.

It reminds me of 1 Kings 22:8, a guy I can’t wait to meet when I get to heaven.  “The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, [In other words, they’re looking for a prophet, ‘Get me a prophet, the king says, ‘Ok, who should I get?]  The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.  He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”  But Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.”  ‘We need a prophet, guys, the king says, but don’t get Micaiah because he never has anything nice to say about me.’   That was the attitude of the kings against the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord; this is why they were all persecuted.

By the way, what is our calling as Christians?  To give our own opinions?  We are also to speak in the name of the Lord.  It isn’t just a calling for the prophets, but your calling.  In 1 Peter 4:11, “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; …”

So, my point is that we will also get into trouble with people, not because we are lude, crude and obnoxious, but because we represent righteousness in satan’s world.  When you get into trouble for doing nothing other than representing Christ, think about: (a) the imminent return of Jesus, (b) your reward because He says to rejoice in that day and to be glad when they slander you; and (c) the examples of the prophets.  This happened to all of them; they were all mistreated — from the beginning of the Hebrew Bible to the end.  James 5:10 is a wonderful source of strength for us.

The second example that James gives of patience in the midst of affliction is Job.  James 5:11, “We count those blessed who endured.” The person who is blessed is not merely the person who is persecuted or who suffers, but the one who endures through suffering.  So, if you are in a situation where you’re being treated unfairly and bearing up under that over an extended period, the Bible says that you are blessed.  In fact, James 1:12 indicates that such a person is going to be given the Crown of Life at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.  James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; …”  It doesn’t just say ‘Blessed is the man or woman who experiences a trial; it is the one who perseveres under it…’  “… for once he has been approved, he will receive the Crown of Life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  So, you must be approved to receive this Crown.  This is not salvation; you already have that; this is a reward above and beyond salvation; a Crown that God wants to give to you at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ for persevering under unfair treatment.

Examples of those who did that?  Yes, the prophets in James 5:10; also, Job, you have heard of the endurance of Job, so he is the example.  We studied the Book of Job; we know about all the bad things that happened to him, yet through it all, Job’s speech was above reproach.  After he lost everything; health, wealth, family, and he probably wished that God had killed his wife because she had nothing positive to say.  She even said to him, ‘Why don’t you just curse God and die?’  ‘Gee, honey, thanks for the moral support.’  What does it say in Job 1:22, “Through all this, Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”  Why is James bringing him up?  Because he is dealing with complaining.  If anyone had an opportunity to complain, it would be Job, but he didn’t.

Then in Job 2:10 when his wife suggested that he curse God and die, “But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  When things are going well, we are ‘Praise the Lord, I’ll go to church and raise my hands, praise Him, praise Him…’ but it is different when everything falls apart.  Can we worship when everything is falling apart?  The one who can worship when things are falling apart, is the one who is rewarded and blessed.  “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  In the end, God vindicated Job.  We count those blessed who have endured; you have heard of the endurance of Job (James 5:11) and you have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.  What happened to Job at the end?  Job 42:12, “The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had 14,000 sheep and 6,000 camels and 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys.”  They measured wealth in that period by livestock.

By the way, Job is a historical figure because there are a lot of people.  Many will say that he wasn’t really a person; it is the big idea of suffering that is important.  No!  He was a real person.

The book of Ezekiel 14:14,20 mentions three men:  Noah, Daniel and Job.  So, if you want to start playing games with Job and dehistoricize him, then you have to do the same with Daniel and Noah.  The Old Testament itself, forgetting the New Testament, in the book of Ezekiel 14 tells us that Job was a real character; a real person; not a jokster.

Then in James 5:12, “But above all, my brethren, … [speaking to Christians] … do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”  Where is James quoting from here in his book?  The Sermon on the Mount.  He is quoting the Sermon on the Mount before the Sermon on the Mount was even captured in written form in Matthew’s gospel because James is the first book, so James as the half-brother of Christ, I believe, was there when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.  If he wasn’t there, then maybe Jesus told it to him as a bedtime story or something.  But James had a great knowledge of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount because in Matt 5:33-37, see the exact same statement quoted almost verbatim.

So, speaking of complaining, James transitions into ‘Don’t swear.’  Speaking of foolish speech, don’t say foolish things.  One of the foolish things that we can say is to complain or we can foolishly give ourselves to rash oaths.  A lot of people who are legalists will look at 5:12 and state that you can’t serve in the military because you must take an oath to your country.  You can’t be a witness in a court of law because you must take an oath in order to be a reliable witness.  You can’t be in the Boy Scouts (when I was growing up, there was a scouting oath, and I don’t even want to know what they’re doing now with the Boy Scouts if it even exists, but there was something), because the book of James says not to take an oath.  That is not what it is talking about.

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matt 5:33-37, He is not saying to never take an oath.  He is saying not to swear by something greater than yourself to convince the other person that you are reliable.  Matt 5:33-37, “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE Lord.’  “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING.  “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no;’ anything beyond these is of evil.”

Looking carefully, He isn’t saying not to join the Boy Scouts or the military or be a witness in a court of law if you have to take an oath.  That is a legalistic interpretation of this that isn’t dealing with that at all.   It is saying that when you make a promise to someone, do not swear by Jerusalem or by God’s throne because your word should be so reliable and your character so trustworthy that you don’t have to swear by something greater than yourself to convince someone that you are telling the truth.  For example, ‘Ok, I make you a promise, and I swear on my mother’s grave that I will keep my word.’  Why should I have to swear on my mother’s grave if my character is reliable?  If my character is reliable, and I am trustworthy, then I don’t have to swear on my mother’s grave.  Saying that would be redundant; all I have to say is that this is what I am going to do, and my character is so reliable and dependable that you can trust it.  That is what James is saying here as he is getting into foolish speech.  Don’t swear by something greater than yourself; just tell someone what you will do, and they will see your reliability and know that you will execute it.

Ephesians 4:25, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.”  To convince you that I am telling the truth, I should not have to swear by Jerusalem, or by God’s throne or by the black, gray, hairs of my head, etc.  James and the Sermon on the Mount are saying, ‘Why are you doing that; it is foolishness; just be a person of your word and you won’t have to swear by something bigger than yourself.’  James works this in at the end because he is dealing with the subject of foolish speech and complaining.

Wisdom and waiting for the Lord’s Return:

I           The example of the farmer (5:7)

II          The impact of imminency (5:8-9)

III          Two great OT examples of patience under fire:  the prophets of old and Job himself


Look at all of the verses we covered.  We may be able to cover James 5:13-20 in two weeks!  ‘I swear on my mother’s grave we will.’  (Said in jest)