The Bible is quite candid about the consequences of denying the Lord. The Book of Romans begins by explaining that God will reveal His wrath against the unrighteous and ungodly. Those who deny the Lord and the grace He offers through the forgiveness of sins according to the Gospel, will suffer eternal consequences. The Bible is also helpful to explain that eternity is not the only time that unbelievers will suffer. Though many non-believers try to paint their lives as happy and satisfying, the scriptures are candid to expose the truth. The scriptures are clear to explain that, whatever the outward appearance may seem to be, the consequences of wickedness are exceptionally vexing internally. We can’t deny God, His holiness, His goodness, His righteousness, His, mercy, grace, and love, and expect that everything will just be okay. No matter how we try to fill our lives with distractions, the Bible is clear to show that the wicked will suffer greatly, in this life and the next.
The testimony of Job 15:14-35 makes this point very clearly. Here, the Bible documents the response of Eliphaz to Job’s previous complains and to his prayer. Eliphaz, still figuring Job to be an unrepentant hypocrite, let Job know the truth about what happens to such people. Eliphaz was convinced that Job’s suffering was on account of the wickedness that was in his heart. Eliphaz felt that God was punishing Job in the manner that He punishes all of the wicked, and so he sought to remind Job about the fate of the wicked so as to scare Job straight. The problem is that Eliphaz was wrong. Job was not harboring hypocrisy in his heart. Job was not a wicked man as a non-believer rejecting God. Job was confused and in pain, but not a blasphemer and enemy of God. His suffering was not punishment for specific sin. Eliphaz spoke truth about the wicked, but did so presumptuously as if he was wise to know the heart of Job. Eliphaz spoke as if his wisdom of God’s judgments was sufficient to give him special insight concerning Job. Eliphaz was wrong about Job, but right about the wicked. Thus, it is important to consider the statements made.
Eliphaz began his point by asking a simple, yet critical question: What is man, that he could be pure?
Is it possible for a person to stand pure before God on the basis of their own merits? Is there a such thing as a perfect person? Even by self-righteous standards, most people are willing to admit that they are not perfect. If none are perfect, then who is pure by God’s standards of purity? Eliphaz pointed out that God doesn’t even place trust in His angels. Recall that Eliphaz testified that he was visited by an angel in a vision so that an angel confessed that their ability to serve before God’s presence was based on grace that humans require. In other words, while angels might have greater authority and power to some degree, they are not more righteous so that their service to God doesn’t require His mercy, grace, and love. Even angels in heaven are dependent on God to serve in their capacity according to the perfect standards of God. Eliphaz also pointed out that God doesn’t even consider the heavens pure. Here, Eliphaz makes a profound statement that has prophetic implications. The testimony of the Book of Revelation explains that God will create a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem. The Apostle Peter explained that before doing this, God will purge the heavens and earth with great fire so as to remove impurities. This shows that God considers, not only earth, but also heaven, impure to a certain degree. He will create everything new so that no trace of corruption, decay, or darkness exists in His presence ever again! Eliphaz somehow understood this concept long, even before God established the patriarchs of Israel!
If this is true of angels and the heavens, how much worse are people? If angels require grace to serve the Lord, how much more people? If God will purge the heavens to start fresh, what does that say about the effects of our own hands that we’ve produced in this earth? Clearly, no one is pure in the sight of God so that we cannot stand as just before Him, thereby making ALL people wicked in the eyes of God, requiring supernatural intervention to address the issue on our behalf. Knowing this, Eliphaz sought to share the things he had learned over the years; things he learned from wise men before him, from men whose experience and integrity was not corrupted by vain philosophies.
Eliphaz stated that the wicked, who will not confess their impurity before God, have dreadful sounds in their ears. They hear things through the filter of corruption. The issues of this life bring panic and fear of loss and decay. Though they may have outward prosperity, there is fear that “the destroyer” will come and take it away. Thus, everything is considered a threat so that the prosperity of the unrepentant wicked cannot be enjoyed. They might have increase, but no joy with it. The reason for this is because deep down, the unrepentant wicked know that when death comes upon them, they will be in darkness and cannot escape. The Book of Romans explains that God revealed the principles of His righteousness by implanting certain convictions about His judgments into our conscience. When we are born, we know that there is a supreme Judge. We have some basis of understanding of right and wrong and have an idea about severe consequences, though we might not understand the details. Those who do not seek the Lord and His mercy as the Judge, remain with that conviction deep down. No matter how hard they try to hide or suppress the truth, the Bible teaches that the wicked know that darkness awaits them.
The outward appearance of those who live according to wickedness are vain and aimless. Eliphaz stated that they wander about looking for bread and cannot be satisfied. Their whole lives are consumed by the pursuit of earthly resources that do not satisfy. Whether rich or poor, the wicked continue searching and seeking that which satisfies the flesh, not the Lord. They seek to over-indulge because they know that there is an inevitable end that cannot be avoided. The more they get a fill now, they figure the lighter their fate will be. Yet, they know this is not true. Trouble and anguish bring fear into their lives in many ways. Those who refuse to seek God’s mercy and grace for forgiveness are consumed with fear and panic over loss, and the finality of life on this earth. This is what happens when people deny God. Running stubbornly against God, as if there is escape, as if we can hide, as if we can shield ourselves from His judgments, causes deep internal anguish and anxiety that can only be addressed with repentance.
Eliphaz explained that, though the wicked might try to make their lives appear to be satisfying and happy, it is not true. They cover their face with “fatness” and make their “waist heavy with fat.” This means that they seek to indulge as often as possible, feeding the flesh in hopes that it will make the sting of wickedness go away. It doesn’t. The Bible teaches that though there might be the appearance of prosperity now, there will not be in the end. They will not be rich. Wealth will not continue. Their legacy will not spread in the world. Those who do not turn from the darkness that identifies their lives will be consumed in the end, and the truth of this coming judgment will have consequences in this life too. Eliphaz encouraged Job not to trust in futile things, knowing that those who do will wither like branches and unripe fruit. The wicked may appear for a time to be useful and fruitful, but in the end, produce nothing of substance in the eyes of the Almighty God.
Eliphaz explained that hypocrites are lonely people. They may be surrounded by people or in isolation, but inside, they are alone and barren. Their hearts will be consumed by fire because their self-righteous manner of living produces trouble and futility. The effects of their hands produces lies that permeate into the world, making it seem as if there is hope for those who live separated from God, unwilling to confess their wickedness. This is why God will reveal His wrath upon those who refuse to repent and trust in the provision of His righteousness according to the Gospel. Everything that Eliphaz said is absolutely right – validated by the scriptures and the events of human history. Though Eliphaz’s words were misapplied to Job, they were generally true. Eliphaz was wrong to consider Job a wicked and unrepentant man, but was helpful to all people nonetheless, reminding us all that our natural condition requires us all to humble ourselves before God, confess our wickedness and inadequacy, and seek His forgiveness according to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
As children of God it is important to remember the limitations that we continue to possess even as heirs of His eternally unconditional promises. Our justification and forgiveness of sins doesn’t make us righteous in this life. Our possession of the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean that we become like God, having His wisdom, His power, and His authority. The Spirit of God convicts us of the testimony and righteousness of Jesus. The Spirit of God is the means by which God Himself works through us as instruments and vessels. The Holy Spirit doesn’t make us super human so as to suddenly possess certain powers or quality of wisdom based on instinct. This means that we need to continue to walk in humility, meekness, lowliness and gentleness. While we might be Christians, we are still depraved human beings. This means we still have weaknesses, we still have issues, and we still have sinful tendencies requiring us to remain dependent on the Lord and His righteousness and wisdom. Our attitudes should reflect this understanding.
The testimony of Job 15:1-13 shows that Job’s friend Eliphaz had forgotten this principle. Sometimes when we as people get caught up in circumstances, conversations, and express our opinions, we can do so from a position of authority that resembles deep rooted pride. Eliphaz felt that his physical condition and circumstances compared to Job’s, somehow made him a better person, more worthy, wiser, and better equipped to speak about Job’s issues than Job himself. It is often easier for the observer of circumstances to speak as authorities and experts concerning all things, often times speaking well beyond our means and beyond our true understanding. Eliphaz spoke as if he knew the heart of Job and so continued to accuse Job of faults that Job was not guilty of. Thus, Eliphaz’s contributions to the situation ended up being poisonous, even though some of the things he said were true in concept.
When Eliphaz responded to Job, he immediately responded against him. Job had stopped addressing his friends and simply addressed God directly in prayer. Job had given up on trying to get his friends to understand the extent of his suffering and confusion. Job had given up on trying to explain his integrity and innocence regarding the hypocrisy they accused him of. Job felt he would receive greater comfort from God Himself, and addressed Him alone. Still, Eliphaz took it upon himself to criticize Job’s prayer to God. Eliphaz felt he was qualified to examine and pick apart the statements that Job made to God in his plea for eternal mercy and restoration. Eliphaz complimented Job by stating that he was once known to be a wise man, but did so by stating that Job had since lost his mind. Eliphaz felt that Job used to be wise, but as he prayed and spoke about his suffering, he had become a fool. Eliphaz felt that Job was only saying foolish things that were an offense to God, further proving their accusations of hypocrisy.
Eliphaz did state an important truth in his response. Eliphaz noted that those who don’t fear the Lord in repentance, and speak as fools to God, actually restrain their prayer. Prayer that is prideful in presumptuous is not prayer at all. Prayer that does not come in fear and reverence of God’s holiness, righteousness, and supreme glory, is prayer that falls on deaf ears. The Bible teaches that prayer is not communication to God that should reflect all of our personal interests and opinions. Prayer should be conducted in the Spirit of God. This means that the Holy Spirit should actually be communicating the will of the Father according to the model of Jesus to us, so that His will is being planted into our hearts and uttered out of our mouths. Prayer is where God’s desires become our desires. If our “prayer” is simply reflective of our desires and complaints without consideration of God’s purposes and promises, then our prayer is not effective. Eliphaz was right in this regard: When prayer is seasoned with pride and self-righteousness, it is not prayer that God will consider and our prayers are restrained by our flesh.
Still, this was not Job’s issue. Eliphaz’s hypercritical examination of Job caused him to be in error and speak presumptuously. Eliphaz spoke to Job without considering anything that Job expressed about his pain and suffering; without considering anything Job said about his confusion; without considering anything Job said about his innocence, and without giving Job the benefit of the doubt based on the history of Job’s integrity and current state of grief. Eliphaz was still an accuser, and simply stated that the complaints coming out of Job’s mouth were proof of his inward rebellion against God. Eliphaz went so far as to say that Job’s mouth was actually condemning him. Eliphaz was so confident in his opinion that he felt Job’s heart was corrupted causing his mouth to speak out of the abundance of his heart, thus explaining Job’s gripes and complaints and confusions. In other words, Job was confused about God’s purposes for his suffering because his heart had distanced him from God. As if all people who are right with God have perfect understanding of God’s will at all times. This simply isn’t true.
Eliphaz then began to attack the attitude of Job while exalting his own personal integrity. He asked Job if he was the first man ever born, being the only one to have the wisdom of God. Were the things Job said about God known only to him? Job never said that. When Job prayed to God, he never did so with a pompous attitude so as to exalt himself. In fact, Job’s address to God was quite the opposite. Job addressed God confessing his sin and seeking a merciful release from his suffering so as to be better connected to God in eternity. Job never sought to exalt himself above his friends or speak as if he had hidden wisdom from God. Yet Eliphaz took offense in this way and sought to justify himself. He cited his age as proof that he too was wise. Eliphaz assumed that age guarantees wisdom concerning the things of God. This is not true either. In fact, the manner in which Eliphaz spoke against Job is proof that, while age can provide experience and knowledge, it does not necessarily guarantee wisdom concerning the things of God. Many old people have died not knowing anything about God.
The reason that Eliphaz spoke in such a way to Job is stated by Eliphaz at the end of his statement in Job 15:1-13. Eliphaz assumed that Job was despising God’s mercy that God had expressed thus far. Here, it is reasonable to think this considering the tone of Job’s remarks to his friends and to God. It did seem as if, at times, that Job was not considering the mercy and grace of God that He was giving, even though Job was suffering. Though Job suffered greatly, it actually could have been worse! Still, that didn’t give Eliphaz the right to harp on Job and attack him. Eliphaz jumped to the conclusion that Job’s inability to articulate the extent of his pain was a sign that Job had turned his spirit away from God. This was not so. The Bible never says that Job turned his spirit against God. Job wanted his spirit unified with God through understanding and the release of his pain. It was the presumption of Eliphaz to think that he already knew the cause and conclusion of Job’s circumstances that caused him to assume the condition of Job’s heart. The Bible clearly says that we are not qualified to know the hearts of people, and so we always need to be careful so as not to make assumptions about the heart.
We are never to examine and criticize people’s relationships with God and assume that they are condemned. We do not know what people are really going through, especially in their time of suffering. We never know what God is actually doing with the people He works through. We cannot assume to know the outcome of God’s work in people. We cannot pretend to understand all things concerning God’s works and how people should appropriately respond to Him. While the scriptures do provide standards of what is right and wrong concerning our attitudes, works, and words, we are not to criticize others assuming to be professionals and authorities about these things as if we are able to execute God’s righteousness ourselves, otherwise we end up being the hypocrites we accuse others of being.
Death is such an extreme subject that it can have a severe effect on how we perceive God. It is not just death that can have influence on our perception of God, but also the manner in which it comes. Many people feel that God is unjust to allow death, and also to allow it to come in the manner that it so frequently does – suddenly, violently, and sometimes to those who have not lived long. People often develop their own perceptions of how they think things should be. Unfortunately, these opinions are often based off of self-righteous standards, not taking the truth of sin into consideration. The Bible is clear to explain that, as people, we don’t see things the way God does. We don’t have all the facts and details. Perhaps more importantly, our relationship to death makes it seem like loss of life here is the end of life altogether. Since we are not eternally self-existing and self-sustaining like God, we often forget to consider the eternal components and purposes of His plans, especially when death is involved. Knowing these things, it is important for the people of God to reserve judgment about death and the manner in which God uses it. God did not bring death into the world. The sins of mankind brought death into the world. Hence, our opinions of God should not be based on the consequences of our weaknesses, but in how God is willing to provide mercy and escape despite our weaknesses.
The testimony of Job 14:15-22 shows that sometimes, our pain and grief can cloud our minds and cause us to say things that are offensive to God and untrue. The pain of our circumstances can sometimes cause us to dwell on the issues we experience now, so that we forget the magnitude of God’s grace and the hope He provides. When Job spoke about life and death, he spoke truthfully. When Job explained his heart concerning God’s relationship to life and death, he spoke amiss. Job was right to explain that God has sovereign charge over life. He is the one that determines the extent of our life. He not only numbers the days in advance, but Job also explained that God numbers our steps too! This is the extent of God’s supreme control. God doesn’t just set the schedule of time for us to make our own decisions. He also has directed our steps within the time He has allotted. God ensures that we are where He wants us at all times in order to fulfill His eternal purposes. For Job, this meant that his suffering and the extent of it was by the administration of God. This is true. While God was not the cause, God most certainly led Job to a place of extreme difficulty. This was true even of Jesus Himself. Recall that immediately after Jesus was baptized, He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil. God led His Son there because that was the manner in which Jesus would be validated as the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. Job did not understand why he was suffering, but understood that God was the One that had charge over his steps to lead him into the pit of misery.
Acknowledging the extent of God’s control, Job also confessed the extent of God’s knowledge and wisdom. Job didn’t fight God for directing his steps into suffering because Job knew that God saw everything in his heart. Job knew he was not guilty of the hypocrisy his friends accused of, but he knew he was still a transgressor. Job knew that iniquity of various kinds was still in his heart. It didn’t matter what kind of sin he had, Job knew that God was just to lead him into suffering. The suffering Job experienced might not have been for hypocrisy, but Job understood that there was enough evil in his heart that was well-deserving of suffering of any kind. Job confessed his sin. Job confessed his depravity. Job hated his suffering, but could not complain against God’s righteousness to administrate it. Therefore, he hoped that God would not continue to hold whatever sin against him. Job couldn’t identify the specific sin that God was punishing, but hoped that God would relent soon.
Here is where Job missed. Job hoped that God would not “watch over” his sin. In other words, Job didn’t want God to seek out Job’s sin and dwell on it so as to mock Job about it and condemn him with joy. Job didn’t want God to look at his sin like a bully, and continually bring up Job’s faults and weaknesses to add insult to his injury. Job also pleaded with God not to put his sin in a bag as if to store it for later to bring as an accusation against Job to a greater magnitude. Job felt as if God was seeking Job’s faults out and storing them in a box to be presented as evidence against Job in the day of judgment. Job assumed God was exercising His omniscience and omnipotence to come down on him as a harsh and condemning God. Job’s attitude shows that he felt God was using death as a toy to cause harm against transgressors unto His pleasure and exaltation. The pain of Job’s suffering caused him to think that God was excited by the future destruction of Job and enjoyed the slow death Job felt he was suffering. Though Job knew that God could restore and looked forward to the hope of that restoration in eternity, he saw God as using the pain and suffering of coming death to flex His power and superiority by belittling the souls of humans.
Job’s justification for this manner of thinking was based on simple observations that he made. Job recognized that this world is in a constant state of decay. Mountains crumble daily; maybe not to be completely flat, but rockslides, erosions, and other forms of leveling happen all the time. The wind wears down roads. The waters break down rocks. Rivers wash away parts of the earth all the time. When considering the magnitude of the earth, the rocks, and the mountains, what chance does mankind have in this life? If God continually uses wind, water, and gravity to enable the decay of things like mountains and plains, how can a weak and pitiful man stand up to the decay of this world? Thus, Job concluded that God destroys the hope of man. Job felt that since the suffering of decay causes people to change in dramatic ways, God has it out against people. It is true that God uses decay to change people, but not maliciously as Job implied. Job said that God changes the countenance of people by decay. This is true. Sickness can change the way we look. Death changes the look of a person’s face all the more. The change that decay causes often effects the mind as well. Job explained that a suffering person often loses concern for things that would have moved them had they not been suffering. Family challenges or successes can seem like irrelevant matters when personal suffering is great. Things that might have excited us or frightened us might seem to be nothing if death is so close to us.
Still, after all that Job expressed, despite some of his points having merit, his opinion of God was false. God is not malicious. God does not destroy the hope of man. God is not holding our sins in a bag to swing against us later. The Bible teaches that God is merciful in nature. In Psalm 103 the Bible teaches that God actually DOES NOT punish people to the full extent that we deserve. It is true that God uses death as His instrument according to His purposes, but not at the expense of His mercy, grace, faithfulness, and loving kindness. His use and control of life and death is never at the expense of His eternally unconditional promises to offer forgiveness of sins and eternal life by His own righteousness. God doesn’t uphold His righteousness to burry and condemn. While many will be condemned, it is only because of their rejection of God’s grace to share His righteousness according to faith. God took the form of flesh to die on behalf of our sin. God doesn’t take away hope as Job purposed. Without God there would not be hope! Though Job knew a lot of these things, the pain of his suffering had caused him to respond emotionally from time to time so as to say things that were simply not true of God, and contrary to Him. Seeing this human tendency, we need to be sure that our circumstances don’t corrupt our perception of the truth about God. The scriptures explain the truth of God and they are true no matter how we feel. Our opinions about God’s work in our lives doesn’t change the nature of God. Therefore, we would be wise to ensure our opinions don’t pervert our understanding and remembrance of truth.
The Bible teaches that it is appointed for a person to die once, and then the judgment. History proves this concept as true. History shows that everyone dies. It is a gross reality of life. The manner in which a person dies or the time in which a person dies is hardly the issue. The issue is how we leverage this life to prepare for death. It might seem like a morbid endeavor to live just to prepare for death, but since death visits at times that usually don’t fit into our personal schedules, we must always be sure to be prepared. The Bible explains that death is final. After death, there are no other chances in this life to make changes, make gains, or change course. When we’re done living here, that’s it. There is no more opportunity. Thus, it is important to understand the truth of death and how the Bible provides the only source of hope concerning the end of things on this earth.
The testimony of Job provides a good example of the proper attitude that a believer should have about death. Job suffered greatly, and so death was looked at as a sweet release from his pain. Job believed in God. Job understood the eternal greatness of God. Though Job felt that he was an enemy of God for some reason, he figured that death could be the means by which his relationship with God could be restored. Job had hope in death. He was more depressed about his current condition rather than the condition he would experience in death. This shows that, while Job suffered, and even though Job was confused about God’s work in his life at that time, he knew that death for a blameless and upright man was nothing to fear. To Job, death was just the next step in God’s work concerning people, at which point a change occurs so that God can complete the work He desires to do with that person.
In Job 14:7-15 the Bible provides great insight concerning the finality of death. This is perhaps the issue that scares people about death. When death comes, there is no second chance here. Other world religions have tried to promote the idea of reincarnation and other forms of a second existence, but the Bible emphatically disagrees with these ideas. The reason that some people have false ideas like this is because nature kind of hints that there might be a form of regeneration for people. Job attacked this principle with a contrast. It is true that a tree can appear as dead. Job pointed out that a tree can be cut down to just a stump, but if its roots remain, only the scent of water might be enough to bring life back to that tree. The tree would be dead for a time, but the cycle of natural life on this planet can bring the tree back to productivity and fruitfulness in time. Some religions believe that this principle holds true to people too, that we might not come back in our same human form, but experience another quality of life that is also productive in this world. This is not so.
Job actually contrasted human nature to the tree, showing that even a tree is more hopeful in this life than a person. Though a person is more cherished by God than a tree, the tree has more ability and opportunity than a human being. When a human being dies, that person is laid away. A person takes their last breath, and God does not provide any more breaths for that person in this world. Of all the people that have lived, there were only a handful of people that God raised up from the dead to function with a restored body, and only to prove His authority and power over life and death. Once the point was proved and God stated the case about His power and authority, God did not continue to raise the dead. Job compared human life to water that evaporates. Where does the water go when it evaporates from the sea? Is it put back into the sea to be used the same way, or does it change form to be used in unrecognizable ways? When a parched river or creek becomes dry, does that river or creek have the ability to fill itself up again? Unless God changes its condition, that river or creek is done! The river or creek cannot, of itself, restore its original condition. This is also true of those who die.
This is why Job plainly stated, when a person lies down to die, they don’t get up again. This is what makes death so hard to deal with. We grow accustomed with people being in our lives, and when death visits them, it becomes difficult for the brain to understand that they are not coming back here. We won’t see them in the same manner that we have grown accustomed to in the past. It is not until the resurrection preceding God’s final judgment, that people will rise up from the grave, unless of course they are able to escape death altogether by inheriting eternal life by the grace of God according to faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus promised that those who trust in His testimony, work, purpose, and promise, though we die, will actually never die! The Lord does not speak of death concerning His people. The Lord speaks of sleep, at which point our souls experience a radical change. The Lord promises the distribution of new bodies that will never decay or expire, clothed with the glory of His own righteousness. Thus, for those who trust in the gift of God found exclusively in Jesus, death is not morbid, final, or scary. It is simply a necessary step to the fulfillment of God’s eternally unconditional promises. To the child of God, death is merely the vehicle we take into the presence of God’s glory where we are separated from the corrupted and painful things of this life.
Though the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not documented in the form that we have today, Job understood some of the principles of the Gospel nonetheless. He understood the value of death as it relates to the fulfillment of God’s promises. Job sought death, but as a means to embrace the glory of God. He asked God to “hide” him in the grave. Here, Job refers to death as a form of protection against worse evils. This means that Job considered the suffering of this life to be worse than the finality of death. Death was a deliverance from him and a means by which he could escape worse evils in this life that God will administer by His wrath. Job understood that sin causes issues in this world that God will address in His wrath. He acknowledged God as a just Judge many times already. However, Job also trusted God as merciful, able to deliver him from the coming wrath. Job had suffered enough. If God was going to express greater wrath in anyway, Job didn’t want to be a part of it. Therefore, death was a means of escape of greater calamity since he trusted God as Deliverer and Savior of life that transcends the breaths we take on this earth.
Job asked a simple rhetorical question that summarizes the issues of death and the promise of eternal life. Job asked, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” The point is simple. When a person dies in this life, their time on this earth is over. They will not live again. They will not come back in another form. They will not raise up from the dead to be restored as previous. They will not have the chance to do anything in this world anymore. To those without eternal life, this is a frightening thought. Job already established that life on this earth is continually decaying and expiring. We don’t get closer to life but death as time goes on. This scares people to the extent that they go great lengths to distract themselves from this reality. Still, no one escapes the inevitability of death, and for those whose lives expire here while being enemies of God, the next life only gets worse.
Since we cannot come back to life to try and please God once we face death and realize the truth of His identity and judgments, we must be sure to pay close attention to His promises and purposes concerning eternal life. Since death here resembles the end of our opportunity to please and serve the eternal God, we must make good use of the time we have here to ensure we are pleasing to Him. We won’t get another chance otherwise. In Luke Chapter 16, Jesus told the testimony of a rich man that treated people poorly, especially a poor man named Lazarus. When the rich man died, he suffered greatly and pleaded his case to have another chance to change his ways. He was unable, and thus, stuck suffering the consequences of his sin for all of eternity. This might scare the non-believer, but Job was hopeful. He knew death resembled the end of our time here, but ultimately resulted in a change that God does. This change is fruitful and profitable as a blessing to God’s children. This change resembles the fulfillment of God’s promises. The weaknesses and issues of this body and this life are removed forever. Job’s boils and sores would be gone. The pain of the loss of Job’s family would be gone. Job expected this change to result in the restoration of his relationship with God. Since Job thought he was God’s enemy in this life, death would correct his sin and restore him to God according to the forgiveness God offers to the faithful. Job expected his connection to God to be restored because his pitiful nature would be healed, and thus, be able to approach the glory of God with a new and better form.
What is to fear in this? What is to despise about this hope? Is there anything on this earth that compares to such a thing, that is more valuable than this promise? So then, what should keep the people of God from cherishing the promise of eternal life? What is there to fear of the finality of death if we truly cherish the value of God’s glory in eternal life? If death is only final concerning the things of this world, then why should we despise the death and the departure of this world if we genuinely prize God’s presence and promises?
There are some who say that life is short. There are others who contend that life is the longest thing we’ll ever do. The truth of this matter must be examined through the lens of the truth concerning eternal life. Compared to the fate that all souls will experience, life is short. Life on this earth is not the longest thing we will ever do. The soul will either live eternally in the presence of the glory of God in His kingdom, or suffer eternally separated from the love of God. However, for those who don’t believe in these truths, then life can seem long. Without the hope of a better life in eternity, life now can seem to drag on forever in a relentless manner, bringing continuous challenges, trials, and little breathing room in between. Whether a believer or non-believer, there are some basic truths concerning life that are stated in the Bible, and are undeniable. These things are true of the believer and the non-believer. All people are forced to deal with these sorts of issues. Those who approach these issues with faith in the Gospel can navigate through life with hope. Those who don’t have faith in the Gospel will live without hope, and a mess of terrible thoughts, fears, concerns, and stresses that can be consuming.
The testimony of Job 14:1-6 addresses these basic truths of life. First, Job explained that all people were born of a woman. We all have mothers. This means that all people are born of the same nature. Our mothers, whether faithful to God or not, are corrupt in nature, having the same spiritual and genetic make-up as the mother of all human life – Eve. Recall that it was Eve who was deceived in the Garden of Eden. She was the first to take the fruit of knowledge of good and evil and consume it, making sin a part of her life, and passing that on to all human life through childbirth. The Bible states that since one man sinned, referring to Adam, then all people sin. This is true because all people are born of the woman that sinned with Adam, thereby giving all people a corrupted sinful nature. Eve suffered the consequences of her sin, involving pain, labor, and eventual death. Since we inherit her nature being born in the same likeness, we all suffer the same consequences from sin with the same weaknesses according to our humanity. This is why Jesus emphasized that our hope requires us to die to self in this life in order to be born again by the Spirit of God. If we remain as we were born, we will die in the same condition – cursed by sin. However, if we are born again by the Holy Spirit according to faith in the Gospel, we are regenerated into a new condition, thereby able to escape the misery of our curse and live according to the hope of God’s mercy and grace found only in Jesus Christ.
Since we are born in this corrupted state, our days are few and full of trouble. Life is full of difficulties of various kinds. We are forced to deal with physical, emotional, and mental strain and stress. There are pressures and expectations in this life that can consume us. Sometimes, just getting by with the basic needs of life can be a tall task, and when our responsibilities concerning others grows, the tension just intensifies. The days are few in that, compared to the amount of days people lived before sin fully consumed the world in the days of Noah, we have far shorter life spans. Men and women used to live in excess of 900 years before the global flood. Since then, lifespans have shrunken significantly! Again, compared to eternal life, our lives now are like vapors. They are here one moment, but suddenly gone, with mostly trouble consuming the moments of our lives in the meantime.
Job compared our life on this earth to a shadow. As time goes on and the sun rotates around earth, the form of our lives begins to dissipate. We begin life with dreams and ambitions, and in time may make good progress towards those desires. However, as time progresses, our lives seem to lose shape. The bounce in our step fades. Our memories become blurry. Our drive and intensity and passion can sizzle out. The longer we live, the more we resemble our infant selves, which were fragile, aimless, and weak. Like shadows, our lives don’t continue on forever, but eventually blur into the horizon, becoming indistinguishable forms that just blend in with surroundings until their gone.
Realizing the morbid nature of this lifetime, Job wondered why God pays any attention to people on earth. Why should such a holy and glorious God spend any time considering such a pitiful, weak, and decaying creature? King David wondered the same thing. In Psalm 8, he began by writing, “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you consider him?” Why should the Most High God, the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth, pay any attention to a creature compared to shadows, made from the dust of the earth? Why should such a God who dwells above the eternal plane of the heavens, look down upon the swiftly decaying factors of this life? It is amazing that God takes any consideration for any human being. This is why Job wondered if God would gaze at the pitiful and shameful condition of humanity forever. Will God just look down upon all life here and just shake His head in shame? Will He hold His glory above all people so that we all are forced to live in embarrassment until we die, and then that’s the end? This is why Job pleaded with God for mercy to restrain His judgment. Indeed, we are pitiful creatures. We are shameful compared to the eternal glory of God. We are weak, decaying, miserable people when we acknowledge the truth of our entire lifespan. Who then can measure up to the glory of God? What then should be our judgment when we, as people whose lives are a mess, when we face the impeccable and majestic Lord God Almighty? Is that really a meeting we want to have in our current state?
At the same time, it is important to recognize that, since God does pay attention to our corrupted condition, it must be only to ensure that our lives have some sort of use for His eternal purposes. God does not put His eyes on corrupted creatures so that they can remain corrupted. God’s aim is to address the weaknesses and pity of our lives now to give us purpose in ways that glorify His eternal nature. Thus, while we might be pitiful and weak until the end of this life, God’s intent is not to let things remain that way forever! In order to receive the benefits of God’s intents though, we need to come to terms with one of the most fundamental truths that Job uttered. Job plainly stated, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!” Can a diseased tree produce good fruit of itself? Can a polluted stream produce clean water of itself? Can darkness make itself brightness on its own? It is a fundamental principle of life that everything reproduces of its own kind. Since we are all alike, being born of women, all having corrupted natures, we are all together cursed. We all fall short of the glory of God. Together, we have become unprofitable to God, and we are TOTALLY unable to change our condition. We cannot summon up the will or power to be different. We cannot suddenly within ourselves, learn to do works that are valuable and pleasing to God’s eternal purposes. If we are born corrupt, we will remain corrupt, and will inevitably produce corruption. How then can we have a fruitful life for God’s purposes, and the hope of a better future unless someone besides God change our condition from unclean to clean?
This is why the Gospel is the hope of our lives. The Gospel teaches that it is the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world that cleanses the soul. It is faith in the identity, purpose, and promise of Jesus Christ that allows us to be cleansed according to the mercy and grace of the Father. We do not perform in order to impress God and receive His cleansing that way. Instead, we confess who we are – unclean and hopeless within ourselves – at which point God will cleanse the soul, fill us with His Spirit, and supernaturally empower us to produce His own cleanness. Our lives then become evidence of God working through us according to His holiness, righteousness, and glory. Without His involvement in our lives to this degree, we remain unclean, without genuine purpose, without hope, and condemned to a bitter end.
Lastly, Job reminded himself of one of the most important truths of this life. All of our days are numbered. It is said that we will all die right on time. God is sovereign and providential. He has supreme control and authority to number the days of every life that has ever lived. He has the power to produce and fulfill His plans concerning all lives until the fulfillment of His purposes. Job mentioned that our lives are measured by the day, not by the month or year. When we wake up, we don’t know what the outcome can be. There are numerous variables in life that can swiftly bring our lives to an end, and we have no control over these factors. The truth is, God has numbered each and every day for us, and we cannot add to them nor take them away. God is the One that appoints the limits, and this is true for both believers and non-believers. To the non-believer, this is a frightening thought. A day in the hands of someone else without purpose of hope can be a terrifying thing. For the believer, this is a glorious revelation. Praise God that our days are in the hands of He who is omnibenevolent, righteous, and wise. Praise God that the misery of this life will come to an end one day so that we can inherit the promises of eternal life, being freed from the bodies of death and corrupted minds that consume us now.
This is why Job sought the Lord to just put an end to his life. Job pleaded with God to make his suffering like that of a day-laborer. As a laborer goes to work, his shift ends at a certain point. When the workday ends, so too does the worker’s strain. The worker then gets the benefit of rest for the remainder of that day. Job longed for that kind of rest. Job longed for the end of his “workday” so as to be freed for the labor of his pain and suffering. Since God is the One that numbers days, Job hoped that his number would come up soon so as to get rid of the weakness of his body, the burdens of this life, and hopefully inherit something far greater from the God who is supremely great.
The Bible teaches that the emphasis of God’s promises is eternal. Consider one of the most famous verses in all of the Bible, John 3:16. There the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” The aim of God is to provide everlasting life. The product of God’s love is based on producing an eternal benefit. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any benefits to be received in this life. Still, often times Christians feel entitled to certain benefits in this life when following Jesus. This can lead people to expect God to do things that He never promised. Sometimes as Christians, we can feel entitled to certain benefits and comforts in this life. Yet, God’s promises are not predicated on the circumstances of this life. God’s focus is to produce a favorable outcome for the next life, and sometimes that requires us to go through difficulties now in preparation for our eternal blessings. God alone is wise and able, so we are called to trust Him even when times are tough. However, that trust shouldn’t be seasoned with discontentment and bitterness because we don’t feel a close connection with God. Our feelings concerning God are seldom reflective of the truth of God’s connection to us.
The testimony of Job explains this principle. In Job 13:20-28 the Bible documents Job’s pleas to God for mercy from his suffering. Job confessed that, regardless of God’s response to him, Job would remain faithful. Even if God killed Job, he would not stop trusting God, hoping God would preserve His soul in light of the destruction of his body. Job asked God for two things. First, that God would withdraw the weight of His hand against him. Job felt that he had endured enough of his pain and suffering. Job felt that he had reached his capacity. Job felt that he had endured all that he could. Feeling like an enemy of God, Job felt that if the weight of God’s hand were to continually press against him, he would be crushed into an oblivion. Job felt that if God were to relent just a little, he would be able to approach Him without shame. If Job could get just a breath of fresh air, he wouldn’t have to be so afraid of further offending God and could boldly approach the throne of grace to find mercy and grace in his time of need.
Job felt that if God were to relent in the pain He was inflicting, the intimacy of his relationship with God could be restored. The open line of communication could be better used. Job could call on the Lord with confidence rather than fear, and God would respond to Job with clarity rather than confusion. The truth of the matter is, Job was never severed from connection with God. The truth is, our internal feels don’t determine our connection with God. God’s mercy and faithfulness is what assures our intimate connection with God, whether we “feel” it or not. The Lord promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. God promised that He would be the God of His people who diligently seek Him and trust Him. God promised that if we seek, we will find; if we ask, we will get a response. While God may seem distant at times, it doesn’t mean that He is. His promises don’t allow Him to be.
Still, Job felt like he was an enemy of God. He felt like a leaf blowing in the wind. He felt weak, disconnected, and useless, yet wondered why God would continue to allow suffering for such a pitiful condition. Job felt like he was like dry stubble. Why would God continually press on someone so weak and worthless? This is why Job sought the Lord in desperation to know his sin. Job asked God to reveal his iniquities, sins, and transgressions. Though Job’s premise for his inquiry to God was wrong, the humility he demonstrated in his inquiry is noteworthy. Job was not an enemy of God. Job was not getting pounded by God. Job was not a loose leaf or dry stubble to God. God permitted Job to suffer, but was not the cause of his suffering. Yet, it was good that Job sought to know his faults. He understood that God is indeed holy, and if he were an enemy, even if he didn’t know why, he trusted God was right nonetheless. God cannot be wrong in His work. If Job suffered for a particular wrong, then Job desperately wanted to know the wrong to immediately repent. This should be the attitude of all God’s people. When the “feeling” of disconnection from the Lord arises, it is never a bad idea to seek the Lord to know of any faults that might have caused such a feeling. Whether there is specific fault or not, it never hurts to check with the Lord and humble ourselves before Him, recognizing that there is always a possibility for our fault because of our natural depravity.
Job explained that it seemed as if God was hiding His face from him. Job felt like God was taking purposeful time to authorize and decree certain things against him. Sometimes life can bring a pile of adversity that makes it seem like God has an agenda against us. This just goes to show that, whether believer or non-believer, there are seasons where life is hard. Job was considered blameless and upright in the eyes of God, yet God let Job feel this sense isolation and confusion. God will do this. God will allow His people to be confused. God will allow His people to feel disconnected. Why does God do these sorts of things like He did to Job? The Bible teaches that God uses these instances to teach us things about Him. Though Job was confused about the reason for his suffering, he was learning humility and dependency on God. He was learning about and expressing the righteousness of God. His faith was being expressed in ways that wouldn’t have been otherwise. Would Job have said, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” when he enjoyed the fruit of his prosperity? Yet history proves that Job’s statement is one of the most compelling and encouraging statements in the entire Bible!
Consider the type of affliction that God allowed. Job felt like he was paying for sins of the past. He couldn’t think of anything recently that warranted such punishment. He wasn’t guilty of the hypocrisy that his friends accused of. Job proposed that maybe the accumulation of sins committed in his youth were finally catching up to him. Perhaps certain instances were being recalled in his mind. This goes to show that, though a sin might have been committed long ago, time doesn’t excuse it. God was not punishing Job for past sins – at least the scriptures don’t say that He was. Yet God did not keep Job from thinking that past sins might be catching up with him. God let Job ponder that possibility. The Bible shows that sometimes the sins of our past will be brought to mind in the present to remind us of our depravity, of our offense against God, of our imperfections, and of our failures. This is not so that we can wallow in depression, but instead, remember that we are unrighteous by nature and in desperate need of a Savior that can correct the issues of past, present and future. Who but God is able to do such a thing? Thus, our past can be a good way to propel us into repentance in the moment as we humble ourselves, remembering that, though our faults have been forgiven, they are still faults to be dealt with by God.
Job felt like his feet were put in stocks; like he was a prisoner of God’s for some sin he was unaware of. Here, Job confesses God’s sovereignty to control the steps of our walk. He is able to sway our journey, to stop our walk, and to restrict our progress altogether. God is supremely sovereign and in control of all things. It is an easy thing for Him to bring life to a halt with distresses of various kinds. Job felt that God was expressing His sovereignty against him this way. This is true, but not for the reasons that Job thought. Job explained that all people decay like rotten things; things that are moth-eaten. Part of God’s control extends to the work God does to limit people unto rotting and decay. It is appointed for a person to die once, and then the judgment. Again, God’s focus is spiritual and eternal. The condition of the body in this life is never an indication of what God will do in the next. God causes the body to rot in the manner that He does to show that He is supremely in control. He is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining. He never changes, which means that His holy nature never deteriorates or decays. He never experiences corruption of any kind. This is such a contrast to the hopelessness of human life on this planet. Job knew this was true, but figured that he was just a tool God was using as an example to prove His sovereignty. Job knew the right things about God, but was wrong about God’s motives simply because Job forgot that God is not a respecter of persons and that our feelings have no bearing on God’s position or promise. Life isn’t always sunshine and butterflies, but that doesn’t mean that God has departed from us.
The Bible teaches that the quality of faith that God’s people should have is not something that can be conjured up from within. Many people mistakenly feel that Biblical faith is something that we summon up from within. This is not what the Bible teaches. The Apostle Paul plainly wrote that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. The Bible is the source of faith. Since the Bible outlines God’s revelation of Himself through the Son of God, Jesus Christ His Messiah, then our faith must come from the understanding of the testimony of who God is as He has revealed in Jesus. This is the only way faith comes. Our pursuit of God through the scriptures, to know His character, His nature, His purposes, and His promises, is the means by which faith comes. This means that faith is produced and distributed by God Himself according to His mercy and grace. This is why those who possess strong faith in the Bible appear to be so super-human. It is not that they are super-human, but are influenced and controlled by God who is supernatural. Thus, to desire to be like these men and women is good, but is only possible if God provides the ability to do so.
This means that our trust should not be in our ability to believe, but in He who provides faith and the reasons for it. Where is our faith to be directed in? What is it about God that we should trust? The testimony of Job helps provide substance and clarity to those questions. In Job 13:13-19, the blamelessness and uprightness of Job really shines through. Job first asked his friends to be quiet for just a moment. He desired that they would keep from speaking so as to let him speak freely the fundamental basis of his faith and assurance. His friends had spoken quite a bit already, and each time they opened their mouths, accusations and lies came out. They spoke true of God but wrong of Job. They were of no comfort to him at all even though they went to Job to offer him comfort. Job stated that it would provide comfort to him if his friends were to just shut up and let him speak. This shows that sometimes, it is better comfort to those suffering to just shut up and listen to them. Those suffering aren’t always in need of a hero who can say the right words to make everything perfect. Sometimes people just need to be heard, and especially for those suffering, who might feel like God Himself has drawn a deaf ear to them, the compassion of God is best communicated to the afflicted by staying quiet and hearing them out.
When Job spoke in this portion of scripture, he was able to explain the true nature of his perspective. Job’s past speeches were filled with confusion, dismay, and pain. It is not that any of those things went away, but obviously Job’s points were confusing to his friends. Just because Job was in pain and confused as to why, didn’t mean that Job was spiteful against God. Just because Job desired death to be freed from his suffering, didn’t mean that Job was forfeiting the spiritual and eternal integrity of his relationship with God. Job hoped that his friends would have given him the benefit of the doubt when he first expressed the intensity of his pain. However, Job’s friends figured Job to be a non-believing hypocrite that was venturing into the abyss of hell unless dramatic changes and repentance were undertaken. This was not true, so Job took the moment to explain what was true of his faith.
Job explained the intensity of his pain again to his friends. He reminded his friends that the intensity of his pain was such that he was “taking his flesh in his teeth.” In other words, his pain was such that caused him to gnash his teeth. Recall that his skin had flared up with boils and sores. By this point, those issues of his skin were likely oozing out fluids and burning sensations and deep layers of skin became outwardly exposed. It is common in Jewish culture to tear one’s clothes when suffering deep anguish as an expression of the intensity of the pain. Job had already expressed that pain when he learned of the deaths of his sons and daughters. However, Job’s skin was now being torn from his body. If the tearing of clothes resembles the intensity of suffering, how much more the tearing away of flesh? This was the extent of Job’s pain and suffering. It wasn’t just emotional and mental because of the loss of his family and resources. His pain was also physical, and the three facets of his pain worked together to war against his spiritual health.
In spite of all of this, Job made a PROFOUND statement: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Even though Job suffered so greatly, he was not losing hope in God. Job was confused as to the reason for God’s work, but didn’t despise it. Job was concerned about God’s work, but did not consider God to be evil. Job felt like an enemy of God because of the weight of his burdens, but never at any point accused God of being terrible. In fact, in the midst of all Job’s complaints, he continually spoke well of God’s sovereignty, power, wisdom, and judgments. Job simply sought a reason for his suffering. Job wanted to know, if there was sin in his heart that caused such things, which was it, so that he could swiftly repent. The things he was being accused of as the cause of his pain, weren’t true. Since God knows all, Job sought the Lord to know what was true of his own heart because he was confused in himself. Nevertheless, in spite of his confusion, his emotional instability, his frustrations, and his pain, he would not stop trusting God as the Great God of glory, wisdom, strength, and righteousness.
If there was ever a statement to prove the devil wrong, it is this one! Recall that the devil sought to attack Job because he felt that the affliction against his life would cause him to curse God. Here, Job takes a definitive stance in saying that even if God Himself were to be the cause of pain (which He wasn’t) until the point of death, Job would not stop putting his trust in the goodness and righteousness of God. Job might not know why God is right, but would continue to trust in God’s righteousness despite His understanding. This is the quality of faith that God desires. This is the quality of faith that only comes from God. This is what the Word of God is intended to do to the human heart – assure the people of God that, no matter how things look to us, God is always right because He is always wise, always powerful to respond according to His wisdom, and is always able to produce good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
Why did Job feel this way about God? Why was it that Job could suffer so greatly, yet remain so confident in God? Job explained that he trusted in God to be faithful unto the deliverance of two things: salvation and justification. These are two critical components of life that come only from God, specifically from our faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah. Jesus alone is Savior. Jesus alone is the One who justifies the guilty; and the scriptures are clear throughout that the just shall live by faith. Job was confident to defend his cause before God because he knew that he wasn’t a hypocrite. Job felt that there was one type of person that is unable to stand justified before God, a hypocrite. In many ways, Job is right. Hypocrites will not stand before God as justified unless they repent and humble themselves before the righteous and mighty hand of God. Since Job was confident that he was not a hypocrite as his friends accused, he was confident that God would provide the benefits of His promises. Fundamentally, Job hoped for the promise of God’s salvation. He knew that if he died in this life, he would be saved from his suffering in the next life. Though Job felt hopeless for restoration and rejuvenation in this life, he was confident that God could restore his soul in eternity. This is what it is to have faith. We are to trust in the eternal and spiritual nature of God’s promises. Though the affections and matters of this life look grim, how do we feel about God’s focus and ability concerning eternal life? If our hope is limited to the concerns of this life, then we have denied God’s wisdom, power, and faithfulness to do what He said concerning eternal life. God’s work on the soul is what matters most, and that was the perspective that Job never lost.
Job also trusted in God for justification. The concept of justification in the Bible is not just a technical term for theologians to know. It is the essence of God’s promises. Without justification, there cannot be salvation. Salvation refers to God’s removal of His people from the dangers of His judgments against evil. Justification refers to God’s forgiveness of the guilty so that they CAN be removed from the dangers of His judgments. Since the Bible teaches that the just shall live by faith, the Bible explains that there isn’t anything we “do” to escape God’s judgment to prove ourselves “not guilty” of offending God. All fall short of the glory of God. Recall that Job confessed himself to be a sinner, just not a hypocrite. He knew he couldn’t please God and didn’t strive to do so by his own works and merits. Job had faith that God would be willing to excuse and forgive his faults based on God’s own faithfulness and righteousness. Job trusted that, even though it seemed God was being rough with Job, He would ultimately show mercy on his soul because God is naturally merciful and compassionate, gracious and faithful. The scriptures teach that those who have been justified are not made righteous by God, but declared righteous because of the faith He implants in their hearts.
Remember that God considered Job to be blameless and upright. This was because God gave Job the faith he would need to live in a manner pleasing to him. This was made evident by the statements of Job’s humility and dependency on the Lord. Job didn’t seek doctors in desperation to heal his body, seeking solace in the mending of his body. Job was confused by God’s work, but content with it because he knew God could and would restore the soul. Job was willing to endure the sufferings of this life trusting that God’s greatness transcends this life to preserve the soul and strengthen it unto glory. The contention of Job’s friends seemed to pull the worse out of him, but in the end, the essence of Job’s focus and faith was sufficient to please God so as to build confidence in Job’s heart about the real issues of life – the soul. This is the benefit that comes to God’s people: That when circumstances look grim and dire, our hearts and souls are strengthened from within to endure immense pain, looking to God as the healer and restorer of things weightier than the things of this life.
Presumptuousness is a terrible thing. The Bible commands against it and discourages God’s people from thinking this way and speaking this way. The scriptures repeatedly explain that, as people, we are severely limited in knowledge. Wisdom alone comes from God, and unless God is providing wisdom according to His purposes, we don’t have it. As human beings, we are carnal creatures, but all things are influenced from a spiritual plane of reality. Therefore, our perspective about the truth of things and the resolution of things is distorted by what we see. Knowing these things, we are not called to speak as if we have perfect and clear understanding. We are not to walk with confidence as if we know what is going on in our lives. We are not to parade around like we understand circumstances, present or future. The truth of the matter is, we don’t know, and so we shouldn’t boast in arrogance as if we do, especially concerning the circumstances of others.
The testimony of Job is a great illustration as to why we should refrain from being presumptuous. The testimony of Job documents the responses of several men that tried to identify what God was doing as if they knew God’s work and motives. They were terribly wrong, but went on speaking, sure and confident that their opinions were reflective of God’s own mind. At the end of Job’s testimony, God indeed humbles all of the presumptuous men by revealing the truth about Himself, His superior wisdom, sovereignty, and power. It was God’s revelation of Himself that shut the mouths of men who thought they knew better. Seeing that God will ultimately shut every mouth that thinks they know, it was good wisdom from Job when he advised his friends to keep quiet.
In Job 13:1-12 the Bible shows that Job addressed the arrogant remarks of his friends. They originally went to visit Job to offer comfort in his affliction, but when they spoke, they spoke false accusations and lies. They questioned Job’s personal integrity and motives. They accused him of being a hypocrite. They tried to prove to Job that the deaths of his children was just judgment from God. They tried to get Job to confess and repent of things that he didn’t do. All this to say, Job’s friends weren’t very comforting. They felt like they were being used as God’s chief instruments of righteousness, but their arrogance showed they were more effective tools of the devil as accusers of the brethren.
In Job 13:1-12, Job finally had enough of the “help” his friends offered. His friends spoke to Job true things of God, but in a condescending manner as if Job didn’t know who God was. In this way, they questioned Job’s relationship with the Lord as if they could examine his heart and know that his relationship with God was illegitimate. Therefore, Job explained that he knew God too. His relationship with God was genuine. He knew about the superior wisdom and strength of God. Job knew about the absolute sovereignty of God. Job articulated his knowledge and understanding of God’s supreme power, control, and understanding. His friends were superior to him in this way. Even though Job’s friends talked down to Job, he explained that their pride was unwarranted. Job explained that, even though his circumstances looked pitiful, those men were no better than him. Here, it is important to recognize a compelling Biblical truth. Just because one suffers and another doesn’t suffer, doesn’t mean the one not suffering is better than the other. The scriptures frequently express God’s perspective about this. His aim is to exalt the lowly, restore the poor, uplift the widows and the orphans; not the proud and self-righteous who measure their approval of God based on the outward appearance of their life.
It was for this reason that Job wished he could speak to God Himself. Though Job understood that God was ultimately responsible in some way for his suffering, he felt that God would be more merciful and understanding of his circumstances than his friend. Often times, it is the servant that is harsher than the king, even though it is the king that has the authority. The servant often responds with harsh authority pretending to be in charge to uplift their own egos at the expense of those around them. Job preferred to speak with God Himself, who has legitimate and pure understanding of our hearts. When we are in pain, He knows why, can properly diagnose the cause, and administrate the cure. When we are confused, God alone knows why, can identify and reveal the truth, and move us in the direction of His light. When we are without strength, God alone is able to provide according to the excess of His own power and might. God is everything we need Him to be when we desire to live according to His eternally-centered purposes. He is our sufficiency, and so it is always good practice to seek the Lord directly rather than the people around us. While God certainly uses the people around us to serve our needs from time to time, it is always best to consult the Lord directly first! Recall that the Book of Hebrews commands the people of God to boldly approach God’s throne of grace where we will find mercy and grace in our time of need.
Job then went on to explain why the counsel and service of his friends was so worthless. They were forgers of lies. They weren’t men that simply lied to defend themselves in fear. They weren’t men that lied by impulse. They were men that took time and effort to “forge” fabrications about who Job was. Their false accusations were more than mere misunderstandings. They were lies. God saw Job as a blameless and upright man. Job’s friends continually boasted in their confidence of Job’s hypocrisy. Their presumptuousness caused them to not only be proud men, but liars. For this reason, Job said that as “physicians” their service was worthless as well. They went to offer comfort to Job, but they worsened his condition. They added mental frustration and emotional anguish to the physical pain of Job’s boils. They didn’t make anything easier for him. The more they spoke, the worse Job felt. This is why Job told them to shut up. He plainly stated that, if they wanted to prove how wise they were, they would keep their mouths shut. Here, the Bible shows that people often speak well beyond their means, and far beyond what we know. Therefore, the wise person will keep quiet before exposing the true depth of our natural foolishness. As flawed creatures, the more we speak, the worse things get, especially when we speak according to our own opinions and influence.
Instead of just slamming his friends, Job offered counsel of his own. Job sought to warn his friends that their presumptuous attitudes were running them the risk of judgment they assumed Job was getting. While they counseled Job with arrogance, they were blinded to their own hypocrisy. Job asked his friends if they were so prideful that they felt they were God’s chief instruments of communication and justice. They spoke as if God’s word was falling to deaf ears on Job, so by the superior nature of their service, they could clear up that which God could not cause Job to hear. They felt as if their words were God’s own words according to His supreme appointment to come down on Job. The Bible teaches that God’s Word doesn’t need help. God alone is Judge and doesn’t need help administrating His justice and righteousness. Jesus, the Lord’s Messiah, is the One called, “The Lord Our Righteousness.” God did not say that His Messiah would be called “Bildad Our Righteousness,” or “Zophar Our Righteousness.” Yet these men spoke as if they felt God had called them to this degree of ministry; as if God’s Word and counsel needed help. The scriptures clearly teach that if no one understands and praises God, even the rocks and the heavens will do so. He doesn’t need us like many people think…
The scriptures show that Job’s friends were speaking lies about Job’s character, yet they felt that if they put God’s name and explained their head-knowledge about God, their lies would be justified. This is never true, and Job warned them of this mistake. If our motives are wrong, it does not become beneficial and good to say, “It’s for the Lord.” If our intentions are good but our words and attitudes are wrong, God does not accept our service just because we meant well. Good intentions are not sufficient to justify or sanctify God’s people through unrighteous speech, action, or attitudes. God’s Word is sufficiently true. He doesn’t need us to bend the truth to make His truth better. He doesn’t need us to exaggerate or lie about things concerning Him to make Him seem better to others – or more appropriately, make ourselves seem better to others. God is not pleased with this. He doesn’t excuse wrong when we do wrong, but do it passionately as if it was for the Lord. We are not called to do evil so that our perception of good can come out of it. This is what Job’s friends were guilty of, but couldn’t see it, having their vision distorted by their presumptuousness. Job tried to get them to see the truth.
Job’s friends had slanted their opinions as if they were God’s truths. They made flawed assessments with limited understanding, but spoke in such a way as if their opinions were the declarations of God Himself. Their confidence and outward piousness might have fooled some people, but it didn’t fool Job and he questioned his friends to see if they thought they could fool God. Just because we might be able to put on a show to make ourselves look good in front of others, doesn’t mean God is fooled. Just because we can get people to approve of us as good people or wise people, doesn’t mean we gain God’s approval. God does not show favoritism and doesn’t consider the responses of other towards us when He judges. Therefore, Job asked his friends if they were so confident in their accusations that they would feel comfortable with God examining their hearts. Were they so confident that they were right, that they could call on God to look at their hearts and agree? Were they so confident in their position with God that God would come down and agree with their claims concerning their wisdom and righteousness? Here, it is important to remember that, God will ultimately judge the hearts of all people. We should always be questioning whether God would be pleased with the contents of our hearts. If He were to reveal and make public the things that are in our hearts concerning the ways we serve Him, would He be pleased? Would He approve? Would it match the manner and temperament of His Son?
All people run the risk of error here. Job simply wanted to remind his friends that their presumptuousness was putting them at risk. They were men with flawed thoughts, that when they inevitably died, their opinions would soon be forgotten, not cherished and revered like they presumed. The only thoughts and opinions that are lasting are the ones that come from God in true wisdom, but it is only those who fear the Lord in humility that gain such wisdom – not the ones who think they already know it all.
The superiority of God is hard to understand, but easy to validate. There are claims in scripture that seem outrageous, and since God is transcendent, it’s our job to try and understand the outrageous as true. Still, as outrageous as some of the claims of the Bible seem concerning the extent of God’s power, wisdom, and mercy, there is an overwhelming abundance of historically validated proof of God doing the things the Bible says. The Bible isn’t a book of fairy tales or tall tales. The Bible isn’t a book of pure hyperbole. The Bible uses hyperbole to make God’s transcendence comprehensive to some degree. However, the Bible is mostly historical narrative and testimonies of God’s influence over people to prove His transcendence. For every wild claim that the Bible makes about God, there are several instances in the Bible where it testifies of God’s tangible work that proves the wild claims as true.
An example of this principle is clearly outlined in the contents of Job 12:13-25. There, Job gives an amazing explanation of who God is, describing the magnitude of His supremacy over all things. This is one of Job’s better moments in his dialogues with his friends. Rather than complaining, he speaks well of God. His purpose was to prove that he was also well-informed about God and His attributes to his friends. Job wanted to show his friends that he knew things about God too. He also wanted to explain the supremacy of God’s sovereign control to digest the reality that his own circumstances were out of his control. Even if Job were to recognize some sin in his heart and repent of it, there was no guarantee that his circumstances would change. God’s wisdom, power, and glory is far greater than the efforts we make to appease Him or refute Him.
In Job 12:13-25, Job begins by speaking of the wisdom and strength of God. He states that both wisdom and strength come from God. It is not just that God has wisdom. He is the source of wisdom. He is the cause of wisdom. While some argue that wisdom is simply the application of knowledge, the wisdom that comes from God is different and deeper. In James 3:17 the Bible explains that God’s wisdom is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and yields the full mercy and goodness of God without favoritism and hypocrisy. These are effects that only God can produce. To gain this sort of wisdom and see these sorts of benefits, God must be the cause, the motivation, and the means by which the wisdom is expressed. Additionally, Job explained that God is also the source of strength. Thus, it is not just that God is wise, but is also able to do that which must be done rightly according to the perfect wisdom He has. There are some who know what to do in a situation, but lack ability. There are some who have ability, but lack wisdom. God is not weak in this way. Just like He is the source of wisdom, He is the sole source of ability. All things live because of God, and with Him, there is no life, no functionality, no ability, no purpose.
How do we know these things about God are true? Job provides some insight and application to these things that we can observe in real life. Job said that God’s wisdom and strength is seen in the power He has to break things down. Things that are broken down by God cannot be built back up. For example, though the world sought to deny God’s purposes in Genesis Chapter 11, God put an end to their efforts. The world sought to rebel against God and build their own way into heaven by the Tower of Babel. The scriptures say that mankind at that time was able to do almost anything they put their minds to. Yet, when God intervened, their work was ruined, never to be built up again. God destroyed their work and there has not been another Tower of Babel since. Consider the nation of Babylon itself. God promised to destroy Babylon and has done so. Though men have tried to dig up its remains and build it up again, there has not been another Babylonian empire or city. The same could be said of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Job said that if God imprisons a man, there is no escape. The testimony of Luke Chapter 16 proves this statement as true. There, a rich man is sent into torment in Hades and recognizes another man he knew in this life across a “great gulf fixed” where there was not torment. The man he recognized was a poor man named Lazarus, and the people on the side of Lazarus were comforted by the words of Abraham. The rich man however suffered greatly and sought to be where Lazarus was, but he was unable. The great gulf fixed prevented him from escaping the torment of Hades. God’s punishment and judgment was final, just as it will be for those who face Jesus at the Great White Throne judgment seat. Those condemned will not be able to rebel against God’s perfect judgment. When Satan is locked up for 1,000 years during the Millennial Reign of Jesus on earth, he is not able to escape and foil God’s purposes. That which God decrees in judgment is final and there is no escape. This is the way it has been, and this is the way it will continue to be.
Job explained that God’s wisdom, strength, and supreme control over all things stems into the way the world and nature work as well. If God wants to cause the rains to cease to judge by drought, He is able to do so. He did so according to the judgments proclaimed by the prophets, and Jewish history supports the claims of those prophets as true. God warned that the disobedience of His people would cause judgments by droughts, and sure enough, God was able to withhold rain and was wise to execute His judgments to preserve the integrity of His promises. The ability that Elijah had to withhold rain is also good proof of God’s ability to withhold rain. Job also stated that God can unleash torrents of water and rain at His will and command. The most compelling example in history that proves this true of God is the global flood that took place in the days of Noah. God caused it to rain, but actually flooded the earth by bursting open the storehouses of water from the oceans and seas. He did this at the exact time that He proclaimed, showing that His power and strength indeed work together perfectly.
Job said that God is the sole possessor of “strength and prudence.” The original Hebrew word for “prudence” is an interesting word. It is often coupled with the English word “sound” to form the phrase “sound wisdom.” It describes a quality of wisdom that substantiates knowledge. In other words, that which can be known is upheld by the quality of wisdom that God has. His wisdom is the foundation of all knowledge. The “soundness” of His wisdom emphasizes His omniscience. He knows the “who, what, why, where, when, and how” of ALL things! The prophecies of the Bible prove this as true. When Jesus walked the earth and spoke things that reflected the secret thoughts of men (much to their surprise), Jesus proved to have this same “prudence.”
Job explained that God’s strength is so great that He has possession and control of both the deceived and the deceiver. God is in charge of the righteous and unrighteous. God is in control of that which happens in the light and the dark. The full testimony of Job proves this true. Recall that while the devil sought to torment Job, he was restricted by the parameters that God set upon him. The devil could not do whatever he wanted. The devil had to report to God and was subject to Him at all times. When Jesus walked the earth, He repeatedly proved His authority over demonic entities by giving them commands that they obeyed with the same degree of zeal and fear as His own disciples. There is nothing outside of the realms of God’s authority!
Job then explained how God’s wisdom and strength is sufficient to spoil and foil the authority and knowledge of rulers in this world. God is able to make counselors and judges appear to be fools, though they might have seemed wise at one time. This was true of Israel’s judges that judged unrighteously. They advised the people to do things that seemed good in their own minds, but led to calamity for the people because their words were not from God. This was especially true during the days of Babylonian captivity. God is able to loosen the bonds of kings, take them captive at His will at any time, plunder princes, and overthrow the mighty. God did this throughout the scriptures. One of the most compelling examples is Israel’s early history. God utterly destroyed the influence and rule of the Egyptians over His people. He later destroyed the armies of Og and Bashan with men that were ill-equipped fighters coming out of slavery. Then, during the days of Joshua, God enabled the children of Israel to overtake the mighty nations of Canaan according to His promise, beginning with the mighty destruction of Jericho. God has done this same type of thing for His people since, many times over, eliminating the Assyrians, the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. By these works, God was able to put His people in the Promised Land, enlarge their boarders, and keep His people there according to His promise.
Job explained that God’s wisdom and strength is so great that He is even able to deprive people of speech. Consider the testimony of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. Since he did not believe the testimony of the angel that proclaimed the works of God concerning his son and the birth of Jesus, his mouth was shut until the day of his son’s birth, at which point he uttered one of the greatest praises to God in the entire Bible. God did similar work with the prophet Balaam. He was hired by the wicked king Balak to speak curses against Israel, but was only able to proclaim praises to God and blessings towards His people.
Lastly, Job explained that God is able to uncover deep things of darkness and bring the shadow of death to light. In 2 Kings Chapter 6 the Bible explains that God revealed secret plots against Israel to the prophet Elisha, enabling the children of Israel to prepare for attacks and foil the conspiracies. The king speculated that Elisha had someone secretly hiding in his bedroom because he could not understand how Elisha was able to know his plots. Jesus was able to demonstrate the same sort of wisdom, making public the deep things of men’s hearts. One of the most compelling examples was when Jesus began writing in the sand, convicting men’s hearts that sought to condemn an adulterous woman. God proved His wisdom and strength over the shadow of death by the resurrection. Elijah was able to bring a boy back to life. Jesus brought several people back to life, including Himself! Thus, with all of these examples that validate the supremacy of God’s sovereignty, control, power, wisdom, strength, and glory, what can we do but fall at His feet to praise Him for who He is, hoping for His mercy and grace so as to receive the benefits of who He is, rather than the consequences of rejecting Him.
The eyes can play tricks on the mind. It is easy to see things that aren’t really there. It is easy to feel things that aren’t really true. It is easy to think things with confidence, but be totally wrong. This is true of many things, but especially concerning the will and purposes of God. While the scriptures clearly outline God’s work to reveal His glory and majesty, making an end to all things in this world in order to make all things new by His goodness, the details of His work are very difficult to understand. For example, we know that Jesus is coming again, but we don’t know when. We know that things will get darker before Jesus restores all things, but we can’t imagine how dark things will actually be. More fundamentally, we know that Jesus commanded His people to make disciples of all nations, but we don’t always know the specific ways to do that. There’s a lot of ways to disciple people. Which way has God selected for each of us today?
Sometimes we can be sure and confident about God’s will and purposes one moment, just to end up confused and in disarray the next moment. This is because our perspective towards God’s work is limited. God knows all things. God sees all things. God has already accounted for all things. God is currently, somehow, working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. This principle teaches that all things will equal and resolve as “good” in the end, but we have no idea how God will arrange the variables of life to come to that conclusion – there are too many variables for us to consider with any sort of understanding. Knowing this, it is important to approach life with humility, not presumptuously. We should not approach situations and circumstances as if we know what’s going on and we know what God is doing. The truth is, we don’t often know what God is doing. Things may appear to be the work of God’s hand in one sense, but history has provided enough evidence to show that we seldom know what God is up to. Therefore, it is often best to just keep quiet and trust in Him, even if others are provoking us to speak.
The testimony of Job provides a good example of how this works. In Job 12:1-12 the Bible shows that Job felt compelled to respond to the speech of Zophar. Zophar began his speech with some harsh accusations, but also communicated some compelling truths about God as a good reminder for all people, not just Job. Job felt that Zophar was “preaching to the choir” in a sense. When Job responded to Zophar, he criticized Zophar by saying that, all the things that he said were obvious truths about God that everyone knows. Job became sarcastic with Zophar, stating that he and the rest of his friends that spoke out had all wisdom like God. In other words, Job was calling them know-it-alls. They spoke so eloquently about who God was and spoke from such a position of authority and blamelessness. Job told his friends that “all wisdom would die” with them. In other words, they had all the answers; they knew all things; they clearly knew the details of God’s plans because of the arrogance they spoke with concerning Job’s issues and God’s character.
Job also confessed to know a thing or two about God as well. However, in trying to defend his own integrity, he proved himself to be ignorant of God in many ways. Job wanted to defend his knowledge of God so as to shut his friend’s mouths. Job wanted comfort from his friends, not criticism and judgment. Job felt he didn’t need people to remind him about things of God that he already knew. Here, it is important to see that our personal suffering can sometimes cause us to be arrogant in our own hearts. The arrogant tone of Job’s friends was infectious to Job as well, causing him to think that he didn’t need to be reminded of the basics about God’s judgments. The truth is, there is never a time where we don’t need to be reminded of God. Throughout the scriptures, God implores His people to remember who He is, meditate on His Word, and keep His promises and judgments in our hearts. Job brushing off his friends who spoke the truth about God as if he’d heard it before and wasn’t in need, was just as arrogant as the tone of his friends who confidently accused him of being a hypocrite.
Recall how Zophar spoke about the incredible wisdom of God and how unsearchable it is. Job felt that he was already aware of God’s unsearchable and incomprehensible nature, but spoke in such a manner as if he had clear understanding of God’s work and purposes. This is how human emotion can be so easily provoked. Job didn’t like that his friends were falsely accusing him of hypocrisy, and rightly so. Job was upset and stated a fundamental truth that, it’s easy to speak wisdom against those who are suffering when our own circumstances are comfortable. It’s easy for those who are well to speak proudly against those who are down. It’s easy for those who are able to criticize those who are not, as if their ability provides them greater wisdom, perspective, and authority. Job’s point was that, his friends were not being very helpful. They were mocking him rather than building him up. They were falsely accusing him, not encouraging him. Even though Job’s friends were speaking truth about God, they were speaking down to Job as critics. How easy it is to do so when we examine the pain of others, as if the absence of pain for us justifies our attitudes.
Job was right to be upset with his friends. They weren’t of any service to him – physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Still, Job’s frustration was untampered, causing him to become defensive for his own situation as if he knew what God was doing. Job went on to state that it was obvious to everyone that God was judging Job. Job was not in disagreement with his friends that his suffering was according to the sovereign hand of God. Job also agreed that his pain was inflicted by God for punishment. Job simply didn’t agree that his punishment was on account of hypocrisy. Job didn’t know why he was being punished. He stated how his suffering was obviously the work of God’s punishing hand, that even the animals and the earth itself could see that. Job thought that, even a dummy could look at Job’s circumstances and see that he was being punished by God. Yet, Job was wrong.
Job spoke so confidently that he was being chastened. Job spoke in arrogance about his “punishment” from God, that he said even the birds of the air knew of God’s sovereign ability to judge. However, God was not punishing Job. Job wasn’t in trouble. He wasn’t guilty of hypocrisy. He wasn’t guilty of any particular sin. The Bible never says that God punished Job for a certain wrong doing. The Bible never says that Job’s suffering was on account of judgment. The Bible teaches that God wasn’t even the one that was the cause of Job’s pain. God sent the devil to cause suffering. Job’s suffering was by the hands of the devil, not God. God didn’t send the devil to punish Job, but to prove the devil wrong. God sent the devil to torment Job to prove His own strength. God wanted to show that His sovereign control over all things is far greater than the maximum punishment the devil can inflict; that even though the devil brought such severe pain against Job, he could not make Job deny God, and could not separate Job from God. This was not punishment.
While Job spoke to his friends, he was so convinced that he was God’s enemy for something, he just didn’t why. Job didn’t know what he did wrong. He confessed that God’s wisdom is supreme, and if there was wrongdoing, God alone knew. Job wouldn’t confess to the hypocrisy his friends accused of because he wasn’t a hypocrite. However, in his efforts to prove himself to other men, he made himself a fool concerning God. Since Job was truly blameless and upright before God, he didn’t need to defend himself among other men. So long as we stand humble before God, the opinions and accusations of others make no difference. It is when we take it upon ourselves to make ourselves seem better to others that we fail before the Lord. Job didn’t know what God was doing even though he spoke as if he did. Job didn’t understand what God was doing in his life even though the circumstances made it look like God was doing something terrible. The point is, we don’t know what God is doing and how He’s going to use the circumstances of our lives to glorify Him. Even when thing certainly look one way, we often find out that we were wrong and God was doing something else. Rather than seeking to uphold our own integrity by boasting of what we think we know of God, we should just walk quietly and meekly before the Lord in humility, letting Him do what He does, trusting that it’s right and true, no matter how it appears.