Shaking Out the Rug

Job 38:12-13


          Over the course of my ministry, and I’m sure Pastor Meyer could say the same thing, I can sit or stand in front of my computer, read books, read devotions, read sermon help files and still struggle to come up with an idea or develop a sermon.  But yet there are other times when sermon ideas just pop into my head.  For me, these ideas pop in there at the most random and sometimes the most inopportune time.  I’ve had ideas come to mind while I’m driving, while I’m lying in bed at night, when I’m in the shower, in the middle of listening to a sermon, or in the middle of reading the Scripture lessons during a church service.  This last one is what happened to me a couple of weeks ago.

          As I reading the Old Testament lesson from Job, something in that reading just kept popping out at me.  Of course, when I’m in the middle of the reading I can’t just stop and say, “hey, wait a minute everyone. I just got a sermon idea and I need to write it down so I don’t forget.”  You would be like, “really Pastor Mike?  Aren’t you suppose to be focusing on what you’re doing and not thinking about a future sermon?”  Yes, but sometimes the Spirit moves in mysterious ways.  Besides, I obviously didn’t forget it as those verses are the basis of our sermon this morning.

          Our Old Testament reading from Job 38 are those verse which kept popping out at me a couple of weeks ago.  God, responding to Job and his friends at the end of the book of Job says, “Have you given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?” (38:12-13).  As I read that, I kept getting this image in my head of one of those jobs I had to do as a kid.  Whenever we cleaned the floor in the laundry room, the kitchen, or in the bathrooms, we had to take these rugs, rugs which my grandma made on her loom, roll them up, and take them outside.  We would then unroll them, grab them by edges and shake the dirt out of them.  Or in light of our reading, we would shake the wicked out of them. 

          As my brother and I shook the dirt or the wicked out of the rugs, we always aimed for one thing.  Yes, we wanted to get the dirt out of them but that wasn’t the goal.  The goal was to see who would have the loudest crack.  So in order to do that, you not only had to have your timing right, but you had to have a good grip and a good shake.

          Now, let’s think about this in light of our sermon text.  God says to Job and his friends, “Have you given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?” (38:12-13).  What is God talking about here? 

          Well, what happens in the morning?  Yeah, the sun comes up.  When the sun comes up, the sun shines its light and it slowly but surely brightens our world.  As the sun shines, the darkness begins to fade.  Shadows slowly start to disappear and soon everything is exposed.

          Everything is exposed.  This means that the light which chases away the darkness brings to light all the evil things which are done in the dark.  You probably don’t have to think to hard about the type of things which usually happen in the dark or happen in secret to know what is good and godly and what is not.  All you really need to do is look at the Ten Commandments and each of us should be able to see where it is we have fallen short.  But since those are pretty broad at times … Paul in the New Testament, in a couple of different places actually, gives these quick lists of what is considered sinful.  Listen to this one from Galatians 5.  “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (5:19-20).

          Ouch!  Between the Ten Commandments and that list … I’m sure there is something which you and I can find which we’ve done which we were not suppose to have done.  And even though you and I and others know what is sinful … we can’t seem to help ourselves from going back to them.  Our sinful nature says that it’s okay to take just one more look, it’s okay to hate that person who wronged you, it’s okay to worry only about yourself and no one else.  But the thing is, according to God’s command … it’s not okay.  And because it’s not okay to do these kind of things … these sinful things are usually done in the dark, they are usually done in secret.

          But the light exposes the things in the dark.  Every morning on the news, they cover all the horrible things which happened the night before, things which happened in the dark.  Every morning, you and I wake up from our slumber and get ready for the day.  We put on our “good” self, come out of the quiet security of our homes, and venture out into the public eye.  People may be able to hide what they do in dark and private settings of their homes … but the light of God is able to pierce through the darkness and the walls we set up.

          Jesus tells the Pharisee Nicodemus, who comes to Jesus in the middle of the night, in the darkness of dark … this should tell you something right away about Nicodemus.  Anyway, Jesus tells Nicodemus that even though the Light, Jesus, has come, men love the dark because “their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19b-20).  Whether we are willing to admit it or not … as fallen sinful beings … our sinful self would rather live in the dark and keep our sins to ourselves.

          With that being said, let’s look again at our text from Job 38.   As poor sinful beings, as people who would rather live in the darkness of night, who would rather live in the secret of our sin … what is the deserved result of our actions?

          God commands the morning to come, the light to come, grabs the earth by the edges and gives one good solid shake.  As God gives that one good solid shake, what happens?  He shakes the wicked out of the earth.  If God shakes the wicked out of the earth … who remains?  No one.  No one remains for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  Even Job, who really just finds himself in a bad game between Satan and God, who really doesn’t deserve all that he went through in losing his health, family, and possessions.  “All” God says are sinful.  “All” are wicked.  “All”, you and I included, deserve to be shaken out of the rug of the earth.

          That is … if we continue to walk in the darkness of our ways.  John says in our second reading this morning that if we are willing to expose ourselves, if we are willing to step out of the darkness and into the light of God, “we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  If we don’t expose ourselves, if we don’t step out of the darkness thinking that there is absolutely nothing which I’ve done wrong … then we will be shaken off the rug of God’s creation and cast into the utter darkness forever.

          If, however, “if we confess our sins, he {God} is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 ESV).  After Job got done listening to all the things which God has power over … Job’s response … “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you” (Job 42:2 NLT).  And then Job repents, he confesses his sins, and God blesses him.

          The same is true for you and me.  If we confess our sins, if we expose ourselves and step out into the light of God … He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us.  Not just because we confessed that we have royally screwed up and have been disobedient to God, but because of His agape love, His selfless, His sacrificial, His steadfast love He promised to us.

          In the darkness of Good Friday, in the darkness of the crucifixion of Christ … when Christ breathed his last breath … God took the corners of the earth and shook it like a rug.  God, shaking out the rug, flung the sin of the world, your sin and cast them into the utter darkness.

          And on the day in which Christ returns, he will once again, grab the earth by the corners and for the very last time, shake out the rug of the earth.  When he does, sin, death, and Satan will forever be shaken out and we will be blessed.  Blessed more than Job was because we will be living in the new and perfect creation with our gracious and forgiving God.  Amen.

          The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever.  Amen.