When God provides, He does so with eternal and spiritual purposes. He intends for His provision to be used for purposes that result in His glory. Thus, while God is known as “the Lord Who Will Provide,” it is important that we recognize, honor, and cherish the hand of God that forms and delivers rather than getting stuck on the things which God gives. For example, in the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote that the unrighteous and ungodly worship of the creation rather than the Creator. There is a tendency that we have as people to get fixated on the good things that God provides in place of the goodness of God Himself. We have a bad habit of honoring and valuing the gifts of God as if they are more valuable than God Himself who gives freely according to His mercy and grace. The Bible brings these things to our attention so that we can recognize our faults, and refocus on that which matters most – the Lord.
A great example of the proper perspective comes from the testimony of Job. In Job 29:1-6 the Bible explains that Job continued in his discourse to his friends, and reminisced about the good old days before tragedy overwhelmed his life. However, the things that Job mentioned as he remembered what his life was like before, had little to do with the abundant prosperity, worldly comfort, and influence that he had. Job cherished God and the quality of his relationship with God more than anything. While there were certain things that Job reflected on, Job’s focus was on how God used those things to reveal His attributes and glory. That is what Job valued the most.
Job began by acknowledging that he enjoyed better days when God watched over him. Here, Job expressed that he valued and cherished God’s providential protection, guidance, and the sovereign safety that He provided. It is important to recognize the time reference of Job’s recollection. Notice that Job acknowledged God’s protection before the devil was sent to torment him. Though Job lived in prosperity during that season of his life, he knew that it was only on account of God’s protection. Job knew that his life was comfortable for a time because God was the cause. Job didn’t take his comforts for granted. Job didn’t revel in the prosperity that God gave, but in the protection that God gave so that he could enjoy the increase God provided. It is true that God’s protection was exceptional for Job. Recall that when the devil approached God, even he knew about the exceptional hedge of protection that God had cast around Job. Job reflected on the days when he could clearly see the sovereign hand of God in his life; especially since, at that time, Job felt that God had departed from him for some reason, and felt abandoned. Job remembered when the comforts of God’s hand was clearer because He cherished being close to the Lord, not just the comfort that He provided.
Job remembered the days when God’s lamp was like a light shining upon his head, even during times of darkness. This shows that Job recognized, appreciated, and highly valued the revelation of God’s Word and wisdom. Apparently, God spoke to Job directly, much like He spoke to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, David, and others of this sort. Job cherished that quality of communication from God. Job loved the Word of God. Job had a hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness as it came from the breath of His mouth. To Job, God’s revelation was like a light to his life. Later in the psalms, David wrote, “Your Word is like a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” In other words, it was the Word of God that defined the boarders of David’s life, provided direction for his life, and wisdom to know which way was the right way to live. Job valued God’s Word for the same reasons, even during times of darkness. This is a key point to acknowledge. Though Job lived in exceptional prosperity for a time in his life, he still had moments of darkness. Job still had trials during his time of comfort. Though Job loved the light of God’s revelation, there were still times in Job’s life that seemed dark. He trusted God to provide direction, clarity, and comfort through those times. Job missed the days when God’s light seemed brighter than the way things were at the present time for him. Job missed the days when he could hear the Word of God more clearly; when the darkness of his difficulties wasn’t so intense that it made God’s Word and wisdom seem so distant and dim.
Job also remembered the days of his youth – the days of his prime. Still, Job didn’t reference the quality of health that he had. Job didn’t mention the freedoms and fun that he had. Instead, Job reflected on the quality of fellowship that he had with the Lord. Job referred to his relationship with God during the days of his prime, as days when God provided “friendly counsel.” God was like a friend to Job that provided proper insight and direction for Job’s life. Thus, while Job prospered, it was clearly because of the manner in which God led him. Job’s comforts were clearly the result of God’s leadership, providence, and sovereignty. Job delighted in God’s counsel. Job didn’t rebel against God to do his own thing. Job didn’t despise God’s counsel as if his commands were restrictive and oppressive regulations. Job trusted the goodness of God and valued Him as a best friend. Job remembered the days of his prime when his relationship with God was the most intimate, meaningful, and impactful. It is true that when Job was younger, he likely had more energy, more ambition, more strength, and more freedom, but that’s not what Job really cared about. The “good ol’ days” to Job were the days when he was closest to God through fellowship with Him on account of the revelation of God’s Word.
When Job began to remember the days of his prosperity, he wasn’t fixated on the things that God gave. Instead, Job was more appreciative of the usage of God’s provision. Job didn’t obsess over the riches that he lost. Job didn’t even dwell much on the family that he lost. Rather, Job was appreciative of God’s provision and the purpose He ordained for it. It was true that God provided great increase for Job and that he prospered a ton. However, Job recalled how God enabled him to share that increase with his family. Job missed the days when his family was around him and encircled him to partake of the increase that God provided. It was one thing to have abundance. It was another thing to take that abundance to serve the needs of others. To Job, he missed the days when he could serve the needs of his own family by the gracious hand of God. Job referred to the extent of increase that God had provided as if it were overflowing. Job remembered that his increase was so great that it was as if he could butter the steps of his house with the overflow of precious dairy. It was as if the rocks around him were spewing valuable oil. However, Job didn’t horde those things to himself. Job had an abundance of gold and silver too, but cherished the provision of nourishment that God provided, which was used to serve the needs of those he loved.
The scriptures show that Job cherished God Himself far more than the things God provided. If not for the goodness of God, there would be no good to enjoy. Job understood that clearly. With the extent of suffering that he had experienced, he missed the days when physical pain didn’t distract him from hearing the clear voice of God. Job missed the days when his fellowship with God was purer, clearer, and more fulfilling. Job’s sufferings had made him feel as if God was distant. Job felt as if he had become God’s enemy. Job longed for the days when he could be God’s beloved again. There are many that seek after God with bad intentions, desiring only that which they can have for selfish gain as if God is some sort of genie in a bottle. Job didn’t think that way. His desire was to be as close as possible to God, which was why he desired death, hoping that death to his body would bring restoration to the fellowship he had with God by his soul. This is the manner of true faith. This is what God’s children should long for. This is how God’s people should value and cherish God above all things, loving Him with all that we have.
The Bible explains that true wisdom is from God. Some teach that wisdom is simply the application of knowledge; that is, the ability to know right and wrong, and then when to do what is right or wrong. The wisdom of God is far more than that. There is more to God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom certainly deals with His standards of right and wrong, but His standards are eternal and spiritual in nature. His standards are heavenly. The Bible teaches that God’s ways are far beyond ours and are past finding out. Part of what makes God who He is, deals with the fact that He knows everything and is the source of all genuinely good knowledge that is profitable for eternity. Since we are not eternal in nature as people, how can we identify what is profitable for eternity? How can we know how to apply certain facets of knowledge in ways that will provide eternal benefits?
Proof of our weakness concerning the wisdom of God is displayed in the testimony of Job. In Job 28:1-28 Job explains how it is impossible to attain the wisdom of God by our own efforts. Job’s argument is sound and valid based on the context of the book up to chapter 28. For 26 chapters, Job and his friends had been arguing and debating the issues that deal with how God addresses and judges wickedness. Job’s friends proposed that God deals with the wicked with swiftness. They speculated that God judges the wicked with quickness and severity. This is true, but only in some cases. Job on the other hand, explained that God sometimes waits to judge the wicked. Sometimes God lets the wicked go on living in prosperity until He judges them in eternity. This is also true in some cases. So then, how can we tell what God will do? Can people measure righteousness by the manner in which God deals with them if both the righteous and the wicked suffer trials? Can a person measure the movements of God to know what He’s doing or going to do next? One of the greatest challenges for the believer and non-believer alike is that we really don’t know what God is doing. This truth creates uncertainty, anxiety, and frustration. Thus, our weakness concerning the wisdom of God is made quite clear.
In Job 28:1-28 the Bible explains the true dynamics of God’s wisdom compared to human effort. There is nothing we can do to earn wisdom, gain wisdom, or develop wisdom on our own. First, Job explained how mankind is able to labor and create for the increase of wealth, but an increase in wealth has not added wisdom to anyone. In fact, the scriptures show that our constant pursuit of riches is counterproductive to our need of wisdom. Job explained the monumental difficulties that mankind has undertaken to pursue riches of this world. The acquisition of gold, silver, precious stones, and strong metals has required a great deal of work! People have dug deep holes, built great mines, developed elaborate pumps and machines of various kinds, and pulled out hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of precious and valuable materials over the years. People went into dark places, deep places, and dangerous places to pull out the materials this world has valued. The pursuit of the riches of this world has not been easy!
Consider this truth however. When mankind brought sin into the world, God cursed mankind and the ground that we walk on. God showed mercy to allow us to continue living, but our survival comes by the sweat of our brow. In other words, it is exceptionally difficult just to gain the basic needs of life to survive. Yet, history proves that mankind has worked diligently to add onto the burden of life. We have placed a heavier load on ourselves by pursuing riches, enduring the difficulties that come with that pursuit. Though it is hard just to survive, people have embraced brutal challenges and risked much in order to receive greater gain. What does mankind have to show for as a result? Have these risks provided any more clarity concerning the identity of God and His eternal purposes? Have our pursuits and gains of riches in this world helped us understand what God is doing? Consider the foolishness that Job presented. The human race has spent so much time, energy, effort, and focus trying to gain that which is located underneath our feet, hidden in dark recesses of our planet, and in regions that are often uninhabitable. The riches of this world have been placed in places that are beneath us, beyond us, and in the end, do little for us. Though these treasures might be valuable for a time, the more we have, the less valuable they become. Yet we spend our lives trying to get more and don’t know any more about God, His ways, or His purposes. This is the essence of counter-productivity.
After Job explained these truths to his friends, he asked a simple question that all people should be asking, “Where can wisdom be found and where is the place for understanding?” The pursuit of riches of the world in deep and hidden places proves that wisdom doesn’t lie in those regions. We have ventured into the depths of the earth to find precious metals and valuable stones, but did not find wisdom. We’ve ventured into the depths of the seas, rivers, and lakes, and have found valuable resources, but not wisdom. We’ve gone into the air and even into space and have made amazing discoveries. Still, none of those discoveries contained the wisdom of God. The accumulation of resources and experiences has not caused us to understand the works of God any more. We still don’t know the end of our days. We still don’t know what God will do today or tomorrow. We still don’t understand the basic principles of God’s judgments. We still don’t know why God lets some prosper and some suffer. We still don’t know how God will work all things together for good. This proves that wisdom cannot be found, earned, bought, or gained by any human means. With all of the time and effort we’ve spent on self, we as people still ask the same questions about God. Solomon, perhaps the richest man that ever lived, and also the wisest man that ever lived, admitted that his wealth had nothing to do with his wisdom. He acknowledged that his wisdom came from God, and God alone, in spite of his other pursuits and acquisitions.
Thus, the wisdom of God comes only from God. This means that our understanding of God, His ways, His purposes, and His promises, only comes according to God’s divine revelation according to His will. No matter what we do, our understanding of God and His will only come based on the quality of revelation He provides. Only God understands His ways. Only God knows His place. God is the One that has established the factors and sciences of this universe. He didn’t need counsel from anyone. He didn’t need to consult people to form the heavens and the earth, and they all seem to work fine according to His purposes. God alone declared what is wise. Thus, wisdom is the effects of God’s work and His purposes for it. Who but God can know these things? Therefore, God explained the manner in which we receive His revelation for wisdom. God said to fear Him. Our increase in wisdom is based on our fear of God’s sovereign control and power, and His providential planning and superior understanding. When we humbly fear God, He reveals the things of Himself, His purposes, and understanding of those things.
By extension, the fear of the Lord produces a pursuit of holiness. As we fear God and receive His revelation, His revelation causes us to desire His purity so that we are motivated to flee from sin and unrighteousness. This, in effect, causes us to see the revelation of God more clearly, thus provoking greater understanding. Our developing understanding of God causes us to value Him more highly, investing more of our bodies, minds, and souls into the pursuit of God according to His revelation by the Word. This is the manner in which wisdom comes. This is how we gain understanding of God.
The world is filled with darkness. Even things that seem to be good at one point in time, can manifest some difficult characteristics later in time. In this regard, the Bible teaches that the devil can make himself appear as an angel of light. Though the Lord is supremely in charge of all things, the devil does have authority over this world for a time, making things exceptionally difficult. Often times, it can seem as if darkness has utterly consumed light (though this is not so). Often times, it can seem as if injustice is supreme. Often times, it can seem as if wickedness is the chief standard that thrive in this world. In fact, there are several instances in scripture where God’s people pleaded to Him, wondering why the wicked seem to prosper. Many people throughout the Bible have questioned why things are the way they are. Thankfully, the Lord is not afraid to answer these questions. He provides candid responses to explain how He deals with darkness, wickedness, injustice, and evil.
The testimony of Job is one of the places where God explains Himself, but through the mouth of His servant Job. In an effort to explain his innocence of the hypocrisy his friends accused him of, Job gave an incredible discourse to explain how God ultimately works with the wicked. If Job were wicked as his friend accused, he would be dealt with in the manner that he described. Job’s point was that, since he knows how God deals with the wicked, he knows the consequences the wicked will experience, and is thus, afraid to deal with those circumstances, and is highly charged to abstain from wickedness. In the testimony of Job 27:11-23 Job told his friends that he would provide simple explanation of how God deals with the wicked.
Job began his discourse about the wicked, letting his friends know that he would instruct them about the truth of evil in this world. Job’s introduction to the subject shows how important it is to pay attention to the teachings of God’s principles, no matter who the teacher is, so long as they are teaching true standards according to God’s Word. Though Job’s life was in a pitiful state at that time, it did not hinder him from speaking truth about God. No matter his physical appearance or the difficulty of his circumstances, Job was a man prepared to speak truth. Thus, those who seek to hear truth should not be concerned about the appearance of the teacher. Since all people deal with difficulty to some degree, the personal circumstances of a teacher should not prohibit their instruction if filled with the Spirit. Likewise, the personal circumstances of the teacher should not deter people from hearing that which the Lord will speak through that teacher. The integrity of God’s Word is not compromised by the appearance of the messenger.
This is why Job said that he would not conceal anything that God had revealed to him. God was gracious to reveal His truth to Job even in spite of his physical condition. Though Job suffered greatly, he was still afforded the opportunity to speak truth. Job understood the special treasure that was given to him by God, and so was a responsible servant and steward of that treasure to share it with others. In this way, Job was like the wise man that took the goods of his master and multiplied them to the glory of the master. This shows that those who have received God’s truth should be responsible to share that truth with others when the opportunity arises. Though Job’s friends didn’t ask Job to share these truths, Job took the opportunity, being ready in and out of season, to correct errors that were previously stated about God, and to ensure that those who were willing to listen for a time, knew the truth about the principles of God’s righteousness.
Job began by explaining that, things aren’t what they seem. The heritage of the wicked might seem to multiply and go on forever, but the manner in which that heritage exists isn’t all that great. Throughout history, evil dictators and rulers had many children, making it seem as if the wicked are the ones that prosper. However, according to Job, the multiplication of descendants from wicked people only sets up calamity for those later generations. Children are multiplied, making it seem like a blessing, but those children often suffer consequences as they learn to live according to wickedness from their parents. This is not to say that God judges the children of evil people. Every person is accountable for their own sin. Still, when an evil person teaches their children to live as an offense to God, He will ensure that the children pay their fair share of consequences too. Job explained that, though it might seem like the wicked prosper in this sense many children have been destroyed by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. An evil person might have a house full of children, signifying prosperity to onlookers, but death will find every person at some point in time. Many wicked people move on with their lives, but their children are killed through violence. Many wicked people pass on prosperity to their children, but their children are unsatisfied, or squander their inheritance. Many wicked people have managed to keep their children safe during their lifetime, but later those children were swallowed up by some disease or other unfortunate circumstance. The point here is that, God knows how to administer consequences for evil, and since all people will face death one day, He will never miss, no matter how prosperous things might appear for a time.
Job explained that wicked people may seem to pile up riches and resources for a time. The wicked might seem to have access to estates and comfortable living circumstances. Still, God knows how to deal with these circumstances too. Sometimes those riches spoil during the lifetime of the wicked. Sometimes the riches don’t spoil, but the wicked never get to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Often times the rich will increase in material gain, but not in satisfaction, making their riches worthless. All of these consequences are judgments from God. In the end, Job assured his friends that the wicked who happen to prosper in this life, are being dealt with in one way, shape, or form. Their material resources will not last in their hands. Job made a compelling prophetic reference by saying that it is the righteous, the just, the faithful that will one day possess the increase of today’s wicked. Jesus taught through the Sermon on the Mount that the meek shall inherit the earth. Those who are willing to die to self in this life, forsaking the self-righteous things of this world in order to live by faith in Jesus Christ, might be poor and suffer now, but will rule and reign with Jesus Christ in this world for 1,000 years later! Though God’s faithful children suffer now, He will remove the increase of the wicked and give it to those who serve Him. This may happen in this life; it may happen in the next life. Nevertheless, Job was sure to point out the certainty of God’s dealings with the wicked.
Job also explained that there is an eternal consequence that is often coupled with the material consequences of God’s judgment against the wicked. The wicked will lie down in death just like the righteous. However, where Jesus promised that those who believe upon Him will never die, the wicked will face a different outcome. They will lie down in death, but Job explained that they will not be gathered up. They will be a part of the second resurrection in the end, but only to face Jesus in final judgment unto eternal condemnation. Their resurrection is not unto life, but unto the second death! Job explained that, though the wicked will open their eyes to see the results of their death, it will only to be to see the One that judges them unto their eternal suffering. There is no hope for the wicked. There is no second change. The testimony of Lazarus and the rich man found in Luke Chapter 16 shows that God’s judgment of the wicked, and their conscious suffering is final. There is no escape. This is true whether they experience hardships in this life through loss of their wealth or influence, or if they die in material prosperity. Regardless of how their lives appear to end, the matter in which Jesus deals with them in eternity is the same.
Thus, Job concluded that, though the wicked might appear to prosper in one sense, they are weak and pitiful in reality. Whether in this life, or the next, or both, God will deal with the wicked in His time, in His manner, as though the wicked were leaves in the wind. The consequences that the wicked face will be like a storm. They will suffer physical loss, mental anguish, emotional distress, spiritual death, or everything at once based on God’s determination. They will be carried away as by the east wind; swept out of place as dust on a broom. That which appeared to prosper or live in contentment will be washed away as nothing at some point in time. In addition, Job explained that God will make the judgment of the wicked a public spectacle at some point. The shame of the wicked will be exposed to the world so that the world will mock those people, either to their face, or towards their supposed legacy. Either way, God will expose the shame of wicked living. This is sure and true. This is how God will deal with those that oppose Him, that deny His righteousness, or that live as hypocrites. Job’s explanation of these truths shows that he clearly understood that hypocrisy was a great offense against God, and was afraid of suffering such a fate, as we all should be. Though it might seem like the wicked get away with their evil for a time, God has sworn to administrate justice in some manner at some point in time.
When Jesus spoke to the Jewish religious leaders of His day in Matthew Chapter 23, He made the following statement several time, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Previously, Jesus had taught on the Sermon on the Mount that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will, by no means, enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus revealed that the supposed “righteousness” of the scribes and Pharisees was mere hypocrisy. It was merely the appearance of righteousness. They looked good and religious in front of people, but God could see their hearts and knew they were far from Him. Jesus saw that most of the Jewish religious leaders were more affectionate for the concerns of this life and the approval of men and women, and their genuine affection for God was far distant. Though the Jewish religious leaders appeared to be committed to God’s Law, having it memorized and seeming to build their lives on its principles, they figured themselves to be superior over others for their outward performances, assuming their works were sufficient to please the holy and righteous God. They were not. Jesus plainly said that He demands a greater form of righteousness than hypocritical righteousness in order to enter His kingdom.
According to the Bible, the only righteousness that God will accept to permit entrance into His kingdom is His own righteousness. The only way to gain God’s own righteousness is by His Spirit. According to Isaiah 57:15, the Spirit of God dwells in the hearts of the humble and the contrite; that is, those who do not profess themselves to be good people, but recognize the superior righteousness of God and humble themselves before Him in repentance. For all others who feel they can do things that are pleasing to God on their own, woe to them! The testimony of Job speaks often of hypocrites and the fate of those who live by hypocrisy. This is because Job’s friends figured that Job was being punished for hypocrisy. Knowing how much hypocrisy offends God, they figured that Job’s suffering was clearly a form of punishment from God. Job’s suffering was severe because hypocrisy is a severe offense. However, this was not true, and Job was committed to proving himself right. In the testimony of Job 27:7-10, the Bible shows that Job tried to plead his innocence by explaining the fate of hypocrites. Explaining the miserable consequences that all hypocrites face, Job hoped that his friends would see that he wanted no part of those woes.
In Job 27:7-10, Job explained that the fate of a wicked hypocrite is the type of thing that a person wishes upon their worst enemies. Job was not wishing his enemies to be judged by God. Job was not referring to his friends as his enemies, hoping they would burn in hell. Job simply referred to a common saying and concept. Regardless of what actually happens to our worst enemies, it is commonly understood that most people only wish terrible things on their enemies. The worse the enemy, the worse the consequence people often desire. Job used this common way of thinking to express that the consequences of hypocrisy are the types of consequences that a person would only wish upon the worst of their worst enemies. In other words, it would be better to be destitute, poor, naked, homeless, and suffering the most intense physical pain all at once rather than suffer the fate of an unrepentant hypocrite! Job made this point so as to explain to his friends that, he knew about God’s dealings with these sorts of people. He did not desire this judgment and his fear of this judgment was one of several factors that kept him from being a hypocrite.
Job explained that unrepentant hypocrites have no hope. They go through life trusting in the affections of this world that are corrupted and decaying. They seek the pleasures of this life that are vain and meaningless. They pursue relationships to gratify the flesh, which can never be satisfied. They only desire to please people for the sake of self-gratification and personal gain, thereby leaving them hallow and isolated. The Bible teaches that the hypocrite labors to please self and others, not the One True Living God that provides the breath of life in this world and the next. This is why the Lord explained that when He meets hypocrites in judgment, it is “woe to them!” Jesus will not say, “Well done good and faithful servant,” because the hypocrite only pretends to be a good and righteous person. They are not truly righteous and good in the eyes of God because they only seek to serve self, not Him. Thus, Jesus explained that many will face Him in the day of judgment and He will say, “Depart from Me you who practice lawlessness. I never knew you.” Notice that Jesus “never” knew the hypocrite because the hypocrite is determined to live for self, and is willing to sacrifice a relationship with God in order to do so. What hope is there for this kind of life?
Job confessed that many hypocrites are able to receive great gain. The efforts and labor of hypocrites often produces the appearance of prosperity. The Jewish religious leaders that Jesus condemned were rich and had great influence over the people. This is why so many figured they were so pleasing to God. Their outward prosperity seemed to be an indication of God’s approval. This is not how it works. A hypocrite might be able to gain much in this life, but God will take that life away – if not in this world, certainly in eternity. Recall that God is the One who has life in Himself. He is not dependent on the hypocrite for anything. He is not obligated to applaud the labor of the hypocrite. The prosperity of the hypocrite doesn’t impress or intimidate God. The prosperity of the hypocrite comes by the mercy and grace of God. Thus, when God’s mercy and grace has reached its limit, God will respond according to justice and righteousness, at which point the prosperity of the hypocrite will come to an end. The good days will be gone. The comforts of this life will be gone. The happiness that seemed to be abundant and never-ending, will indeed come to an end. Blessed and happy are those who trust in the Lord. Not those who trust in self.
The scriptures explain that the attitudes of hypocrites have a profound effect on their relationship with God. Since the hypocrite is not affectionate and humble towards God, He will not hear their prayer. When they call to Him, it will be in pretense, not in humble and repentant sincerity. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. The hypocrite doesn’t approach God with humility, but with self-entitlement and arrogance. Thus, God resists them and their words. God will not hear them when they cry out to Him unless it is with genuine brokenness, humility, and repentance; depending on Him for righteousness rather than seeking to please self. Job understood the temperament of hypocrites, that when trouble comes, they might appear to call out to God, but are not sincere.
Here it is important to notice that Job said, “when trouble comes.” Job did not say, “if trouble comes.” This shows that trouble will certainly come to the hypocrite as surely as it comes to the humble. God is not a respecter of persons. This dynamic shows that God uses trouble to validate and expose the hypocrites and the humble. God exercises His sovereign control to show who the hypocrites are, and who His humble servants are. When the hypocrite has their trouble, they might call on God for a moment, expecting to be bailed out of their inconvenience. Yet, when things seem to be good, will the hypocrite call on God then? Will the hypocrite depend on God when things seem to be normal? When the circumstances of life transition from troubling to tolerable, will the hypocrites cry to God remain constant, or will they go back to self-seeking? Job pointed out that those who are truly humble will not waiver in their affection, pursuit, and dependency on God. Those who truly desire God’s righteousness will humbly pursue Him, depending on Him whether life is troubling, normal, or prosperous.
The point of all this is that the hypocrite doesn’t delight in the Lord. The hypocrite doesn’t have affection for the Lord, especially compared to the affections of this world. The hypocrite doesn’t take pleasure in the Lord compared to personal ambitions or desires. It is the personal pleasures of this life that are built up as idols before God so that a person only pretends to love God, but loves this life more. The God of heaven and earth knows. The God who has life in Himself knows. The Almighty knows. Job understood this truth and so was terrified of being a hypocrite and the consequences of hypocrisy. Job explained these things in hopes that his friends would see his fear of hypocrisy, and see that he indeed was innocent. Here, the Bible provides sound wisdom. It is a good thing for us to be terrified of hypocrisy and the consequences of it. If Jesus says, “Woe to you,” it is good for His people to be terrified to resemble the characteristics of that type of person. Let that fear motivate us to conduct our lives as contrary to hypocrites as possible, depending on the Lord and His righteousness, through humble repentance, to abstain from this evil.
The Bible teaches that God is fair and just. He is not a respecter of persons, which means that He doesn’t play favorites with people. The scriptures state that God brings rain on the just and the unjust. In a positive sense, this means that God brings opportunity for growth and prosperity to both the believer and non-believer. In a negative sense, God brings calamity and misfortune to both the believer and non-believer. Whether a child of God or not, all people are forced to deal with the consequences of our flesh and the world. The flesh is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. This means that as people, we cause problems. God is merciful to soften the blow of sin’s consequences, but all of us have consequences to deal with. If we aren’t dealing with the difficulties associated with our own unrighteousness, the unrighteousness of others can often have an effect on our lives too, thereby complicating things. Likewise, the world is corrupt, meaning that there are factors of decay, change, and danger that we have to deal with as well. Everyone has to wrestle with these realities of life, making life difficult in various ways.
God is not obligated to keep His people from the consequences of life on this planet. He did promise to protect the integrity of the soul. He did promise to keep the souls of His people from corruption, decay, and eternal condemnation. However, since God is transcendent above all things, He is able to preserve the soul even though the body and mind take a beating in this life. The Bible candidly teaches these truths so as to settle our minds on reality. God’s focus is eternal, and ours should be too. Hence, our attitudes about the difficulties of this life should not sway our attitudes about God Himself. Just because things seem bad in this life doesn’t mean that they will result in destruction if we are children of God. Therefore, the Bible encourages God’s people to persevere without complaining, remembering the eternal nature of God, His promises, and His purposes.
Perhaps one of the greatest Biblical examples of having the right attitude about life’s difficulties comes from Job. Job suffered greatly, and the Bible explains that God was the cause in one sense. Some speculate that God was simply the One that “let” these things happen to Job. Job felt differently, and the scriptures prove there are some merits to Job’s perspective. The testimony of Job begins with Satan looking for targets to cause trouble. If not for God’s suggestion, Satan never would have gone after Job. It was God who offered up Job. Even though God set parameters for the devil to follow, and restrained the quality of evil Job would experience, God opened the door of suffering. It is true that Satan was the one that actually inflicted the pain and caused the circumstances that Job dealt with, but it was all under God’s administration, control, and wisdom. God had divine purpose to reveal His righteousness through His dealings with Job, but that truth didn’t make things any easier for Job in the moment.
The testimony of Job 27:1-6 explains that Job had some recognition of God’s nature, authority, sovereignty, and providence, but was submissive to God’s purposes whether he understood them or not. Job didn’t like his suffering, but he never let his suffering sway his fear, honor, and affection for the Lord. This is the mark of true faith! In Job 27:1-6, the Bible explains that Job took full advantage of his opportunity to speak without interruption. Before, Job had tried to express the truth of his circumstances to his friends, but was frequently interrupted by their accusations and self-righteous explanations. Now that his friends had nothing to say, Job had the chance to speak with authority and confidence. The scriptures state that Job continued in his “discourse.” The KJV of the Bible says that Job spoke a parable. This doesn’t mean that Job told stories in the form of analogies, metaphors, or similes. Instead, the original language explains that Job spoke from a position of superiority, with authority, as one giving true wisdom. Thus, the things that Job spoke about his attitude concerning God’s work is a standard meant, not only for Job’s friends to honor, but for all those who read.
Job began his discourse by acknowledging God’s aseity and omnipotence. Job recognized that God is the eternally self-existing and self-sustaining God. He referred to God as the God that lives. This doesn’t just mean that God is alive, but that God uniquely has life within Himself. Job recognized that God is separate from all other creatures in that He doesn’t depend on anyone or anything to exist or function. God is the Existing One. He just is. He is the only One that has life within Himself to a degree that it is eternally constant and unchanging. He doesn’t decrease in power, ability, wisdom, or intent. Since life exists within God, He is unaffected by other living things. God lived well before life came into anything else. These truths mean that God is FAR superior to all other living things. Though Job spoke with authority and superiority above his friends, it was only in regards to God’s basic nature and character.
Likewise, Job spoke of God’s power. He acknowledged that God is Almighty. In fact, He is “THE Almighty.” God is the only One with real power. There is not another with power and ability like God that rivals God. When God spoke to the prophet Isaiah, He said, “Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared [it]? You [are] My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed [there is] no other Rock; I know not [one].' " As the sole source of life for all things, God is able to know all living things. He knows whether there is a creature or concept that rivals Him. Having examined all things from His supremely exalted position, He has confirmed that there is NOTHING that rivals His power, wisdom, and sovereign control. Job understood this truth of God and surrendered to the idea. Job didn’t like his suffering. Job didn’t like the contention with his friends. Still, Job understood that the God Most High was obviously doing some work through his suffering and frustrations that was good in His sight. Since God’s supremely exalted position makes Him the standard of goodness and righteousness, Job yielded to God’s work.
When Job spoke, he stated that he felt like God was using His superior control and power against Job. This is true in one sense, but Job’s tone made it seem like God was picking on Job. This is not true. God doesn’t pick on people. God has divine righteous and holy purposes for ALL work that He does, whether with believers or non-believers. Job was right in the sense that God was in control of his suffering. If justice had been taken away from Job, God did enable that reality to take place. Job’s soul was obviously bitter, and God did enable the events that caused his bitterness. This does not mean that God is to blame, and Job was not suggesting that. Job was simply surrendering to God’s sovereign control to do as He pleases, trusting that God had good purpose for his difficulties. It is not often easy to see how God can bring good out of the perception of injustice in our lives. It is not often easy to feel encouraged when our souls are embittered by trials. Still, our attitudes about God Himself should not waiver.
This is where Job’s testimony becomes a heroic example unto God’s glory. Job felt he had justice taken away from him, yet was adamant that he would not curse God. Job felt that his soul was caused to be bitter because God would not provide relief. Yet Job emphatically stated that he would never speak an evil or wicked thing against God. This is an amazing demonstration of faith – a quality of faith that only the sovereign almighty God can provide Himself. Job acknowledged this reality as well. He stated that his breath was the breath of the Almighty. Job’s breath was God’s own breath. Since we are all filled with the breath of life that comes from the Almighty God who has life in Himself, then our breath is His breath. Knowing this, Job ensured that his words were words of praise to the God who gave him breath, no matter how difficult it was to breath. Job understood that, if his breath was from God, then the air that filled his lungs was holy and righteous in nature, and should be used for purposes deemed good by God. Therefore, no matter the difficulty Job endured, he was committed to ensuring that his life was a testimony to God’s goodness, righteousness, and holiness.
For this reason, Job was able to live with a quality of confidence that only comes from God. Though his friends continued to accuse him of hypocrisy and condemn him, Job was confident to state that, as long as God was giving him breath, he would not let his integrity fail. He would prove his faith in God’s goodness by speaking honestly about himself and his God. Job would not lie about suffering. Job would not lie about his knowledge of God. Job would not lie about his confusion concerning God’s ways. Job would not allow lies to enter his mind concerning the condition of his heart. Job would not let the lies of his friends affect the convictions of his heart that were stirred up by God’s breath. Job was going to hold tight to the convictions of righteousness that God placed in his heart no matter how bad things seemed to be. Regardless of how he felt physically, mentally, or emotionally, Job would hold fast to the justification of the Lord who sits high above all creatures as the One True Living Almighty God.
This shows that, the faith of the believer is based on the confidence we receive about who God is according to the convictions He places in our hearts about His own righteousness. Our position with the Lord has nothing to do with the opinions or speculations of others. Our position with the Lord is according to the declarations He makes according to His supreme authority and power. Therefore, the hearts of God’s people, though we suffer too, should not grow weary when it appears God is making things harder than we’d prefer. Instead, we should remember who God is, holding fast to the eternal nature of His promises, standing fast on the truth of His righteousness, goodness, and love. Job previously said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Even though things continued to be difficult for Job, he understood that his compounding difficulties didn’t change the character of God, and so he continued to speak well of Him.
However much we think we know of God, it is critical to understand that we really know very little. If we were to add up all of the insight, knowledge, and understanding of every great theologian throughout human history, it would still fall FAR short of explaining the full depth of who God really is! The scriptures proclaim that God is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining. This is a principle and concept that is simple to explain, but is impossible to understand. We as people cannot relate to this truth of God. As people, we are dependent on so many factors for our existence. We are dependent on so many variables to be sustained. All of these factors and variables are governed by God individually and collectively all at once! How can you quantify that kind of power? How can you explain that sort of wisdom? How can you level with that sort of glory? Therefore, no matter how much we might learn of God, we must always remember that we haven’t even scratched the surface. For that reason, we should praise Him and thank Him for any sort of revelation and understanding He provides, not boast in the things we think we know.
The testimony of Job 26:5-14 provides some insight into the depths of God’s being. When Bildad addressed Job for the third time, he spoke as if his understanding and declarations of God were the final word about God. Bildad had some understanding of God and stated a few things that were true of God. Bildad stated some things about God that were deep, but they were not reflective of all there is to know about God. Therefore, Job responded against Bildad’s arrogance. Job wanted to explain to Bildad that, the truths he spoke about God were not helpful to his suffering. Bildad’s words about God were not helpful because the depths of God are so rich, simply stating any fact about Him doesn’t necessarily apply to a particular human need. God’s depth is so rich, that there are many things that could be said of God, and in order to provide help and service, we must seek to know His full character and nature.
Job explained that he knew some things about God too; and the things Job knew were so unexplainable, that it proved Bildad’s “service” was weak. First, Job explained the extent of reach, control, authority and influence that God has over the living AND the dead. God is not just the God of the living, though He is the Provider of life – eternal and physical. The Bible teaches that God is also in charge of the dead! This means that even those who die remain under the control, influence, and authority of God in some capacity. Though the dead have no functionality in the material world any more, God still administrates some sort of existence for the dead – existence unto eternal life in His presence, or eternal condemnation. God is in charge of both. Job explained that the dead tremble no matter where they are. Thus, whatever attitude someone might have against God in this life, they will tremble before Him in the next. There will be no arrogant arguments trying to disprove God. There will be no attempts to rebel against Him. Both the faithful and the unfaithful will tremble before God when life on this planet is over! How does that work exactly? Only God knows…
Job also explained that Sheol is naked before God. Sheol is the Old Testament reference to hell, though it doesn’t just speak of the dwelling of the unrighteous and the ungodly. The Bible describes Sheol as a sort of waiting room for all of those who have died as believers before the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. It is also a waiting room for those who die without faith. The dead will wait in Sheol until two different resurrections take place. God will raise up those who are righteous by faith first and reward their faith with eternal life, having new bodies and all of the eternal blessings of God. God will later raise up the unrighteous who did not have faith, and judge them at His great white throne judgment seat unto eternal condemnation. Job explained that “Destruction” has no covering there, referring to the chief of the bottomless pit that appears in Revelation 9:11. Though that demonic spirit causes pain, suffering, and torment on the earth at that time, God is in charge the whole way through. God’s control and influence over Sheol shows that He is not only aware of its existence, but of each and every heart that dwells in there. God is able to see the righteous and the unrighteous, differentiate one from the other, and then deal with them as Judge at the time He has proclaimed by His Word. How do you explain this? Only God knows…
The testimony of Job 26:5-14 explains God’s control and authority over planet Earth, everything in it, and everything beyond it. Job stated that God stretched out the north over empty space. God is able to provide direction out of nothing. Where things seem to be an empty abyss, God is able to provide direction, purpose, and the means to bear fruit by that purpose. Job explained that God hung the Earth on nothing. Though Job likely lived during the days of Abraham, he understood that Earth was floating in space. Science confirmed Job’s understanding much later. This statement not only proves the wisdom of God given in the scriptures, but also explains the depths of God’s power and control. Science explains that planet earth is 13,170,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds! Yet, God is able to make something this heavy float in space. How do you explain this? Only God knows…
Job described how God is able to provide purpose, functionality, and excellence by the breath of His mouth. He puts water in thick clouds. Though airplanes can move through clouds, they are somehow filled with water at the same time so as to water the ground according to God’s purposes. When those clouds are filled, they don’t burst. They release water according to God’s declarations. He uses the same types of clouds to control the revelation of His glory. Job acknowledged that God uses clouds to conceal His glory in His kingdom. He places a dark cloud before His throne. He covered Mount Sinai with a dark cloud when He gave Moses the Law. He filled the tabernacle and the temple with a dark cloud when His presence filled them. When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured, they were engulfed by a dark cloud that said to them, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” God uses whatever He wants according to His purposes to determine how much we see of Him at any given time. How do you explain this? Only God knows…
Job marveled at God’s appointment of the horizon. He explained that God drew a straight line to separate light from dark. The horizon is a clear separation of the start of day and the end of night, and vice versa. This shows that God is able to separate light from dark. He is the One that divides and separates one from the other. He determines when the light comes and when the darkness comes, and created the processes and time for which each appears. The horizon exists by God’s determination, and according to the Bible, these things were made manifest by the Spirit of God. According to Job, God adorned the heavens with His Spirit. The account in Genesis explains that God spoke, and His will was made physically manifest. Thus, it is the Breath of God (the Spirit), accompanied by His Word (the Son) that made all things come to be as we know them. How do you explain this? Only God knows…
Job then explained the extent of God’s power and authority in the spiritual realm. While it was the Spirit/Breath of God that filled the heavens (the universe) beyond the earth, it was the hand of God that takes care of the issues that plague earth. Job explained that God’s hand is set to pierce the fleeing serpent. If there was ever an awesome prophetic statement in the Bible, Job made one clear! In Genesis 3:15 God declared judgment upon the instigator of sin in the world – the devil, the serpent in the Garden of Eden that temped and deceived Eve. God promised that He would provide a solution to the issue that sin caused through His judgment of the devil. He promised to provide a Seed to be born through a woman. This Seed/Child would be bruised and wounded on the heel by the serpent, but this very wound/bruise would be sufficient to squash the head of the serpent unto his destruction. This promise refers to the incarnation of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah. The bruise that Jesus took refers to the crucifixion. This wound was painful, but not sufficient to utterly destroy Him, which is why it is referred to as a mere bruise to the heel. However, it was the crucifixion of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, that crushed Satan and the effects of His work. Since Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay for the total penalty of sin, the devil can no longer stand as an effective accuser of God’s people unto their condemnation. Jesus’ death took away the sting of sin’s consequence so that those who believe upon Him will never die, but have eternal life!
Notice that the serpent is a fleeing serpent. The devil seems to have authority and power in this world, but that power is in check as clearly evidenced by Job Chapter 1. Notice that it is the hand of God that causes the serpent to flee in terror. The devil is not God’s equal. The devil trembles at the hand of God just like everything else. Scripture later explains that it is specifically the right hand of God that brings justice and judgment to darkness. The Bible explains that it is Jesus Christ that sits at the right hand of God administrating the judgments of the Father unto perfection and unto His glory. Thus, it is Jesus that brings an end to the devil. In 1 John 3:8 it states that Jesus came into the world specifically to destroy the work of the devil. Jesus came as God in flesh, possessing the holy, perfect, and full righteousness, glory, power, and authority of God the Father. He came to fulfill the promises of the Father, such as those declared in Genesis 3:15. How does God do this? Only God knows…
These are the sorts of things that boggle the human mind. It is easy to proclaim the truths that the Bible states, but understanding them is much more difficult – in some cases, impossible. Job stated that these things about God don’t even scratch the surface to describe the full essence of who God is! These are some pretty deep truths that explain God’s nature, character, and eternal purpose, and yet, doesn’t come close to describing the full nature, character, and purpose of God. According to Job, these things are the mere edges of God’s full glory and majesty. When we hear God or receive revelation from Him, it is like a small whisper compared to the power that truly exists in His voice. So then, who can really understand God? Who can really know the depths of the Gospel? Who can really grasp the depths of His Word, His purposes, and His promises? Bildad spoke as if he had everything figured out. Job proved that no one will ever have God or His Word figured out. So then, we continue to pursue understanding with humility, rather than speak in arrogance.
The Bible teaches that God’s people should be slow to speak and quick to listen. This is good sound wisdom. Often times, people will talk beyond their expertise and wisdom. Many times, people will speak on things on which they are not qualified to speak, having little understanding and insight. Often times people will make proclamations based on opinions or flawed perspective. When these sorts of habits are used to administer words of comfort, often times those words are not very comforting. Many times, people will try to speak words that stir the heart, change the mind, inspire the soul, and cheer up the hurting, but with little consideration of the person. When people try to comfort those in need, it is common that people will just say things that really have no substance and application for the person in need. The Bible shows that it is even possible to speak the Word of God to people in such a way that it provides little to no value to the person in need, because the person speaking is not really considering the need. Many times people are more concerned with their efforts being heroic rather than actually serving the needs of those suffering. Thus, the right words come at the wrong time because the Holy Spirit is not the motivator of the comfort being given.
The testimony of Job shows that this is a common issue unfortunately. In Job 26:1-4 the Bible shows that Job was not at all comforted by the words that Bildad previously communicated. Job was not impressed. Job was not comforted. Job was not overwhelmed with joy. Thus, Bildad was not the hero he figured himself to be. Bildad was not the profound communicator he thought he was. Bildad was not the enlightened mind that would bring peace and rest to Job’s suffering. More importantly, Job’s response to Bildad shows that. Bildad, though he spoke truth, was not motivated by the Holy Spirit to do so. His words were true of God, but not the words intended for Job from God. This goes to show that God is not interested in His people simply saying things that are true of Him, but also depending on Him to ensure that the right truths are spoken at the right time, with the right motives to serve the needs of others for His glory; not to glorify ourselves by feeling we are the change-agents that God needs to uplift His people. When we think more highly of ourselves and our words than we ought, then our words will not have the impact we think they should, and in the end, no one benefits.
In Job 26:1-4 Job begins by asking a simple question: How have you helped him who is without power? This could be a two-fold question. First, it was clear that Job, a man without power and strength, was not helped in any way by Bildad’s words. Bildad spoke succinctly and confidently about God’s majesty and the fear of the Lord, but that was not helpful to Job. Job was a man in pain, suffering greatly from a number of things. Though it is true that God is supremely glorious and majestic, that truth is not helpful to a hurting soul, especially one that already knows and confirms this truth. Though it is true that God is awesome and to be feared, that’s not the truth of God that a suffering soul needs to be comforted. If Bildad truly wanted to uplift Job’s spirit by depending on the Lord, he would have been wiser by speaking of God’s mercy, grace, and love. Did Bildad help anyone by showing off how much he knew of God’s majesty and terror? The Bible says that knowledge of God without love for God is like a clanging cymbal to His ears – horrible noise. According to Job, the same is true to us. When we hear God’s truth communicated without the love that comes exclusively from God by His Spirit, those words become more irritating than helpful.
The second part of Job’s point could also refer to Bildad’s common character. Has Bildad ever been of much help to anyone in need? Has Bildad ever been one to get his hands dirty in the sincere and genuine service unto others? Has Bildad ever been one to share the burdens and hardships of others by humbling himself? It is possible that Bildad was like a person that has opinions and suggestions from a distance, but was not willing to embrace the difficulties of functional service himself. It is possible that Bildad was like a person that merely shouted suggestions from a distance, never undertaking the difficulties associated with lending power and strength of his own to those who didn’t have any. It is easy to make criticisms and state truths from a distance, but it is hard to know what words are really needed to strengthen and encourage unless we find ourselves in the same need. The Book of Hebrews teaches that of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Though Jesus is the God Most High in fleshly form, He did not merely shout commands from a distance as One who could not relate. Instead, He took the form of flesh, and came into this world to bear our burdens. Our Great High Priest is not so distant that he cannot relate or understand our pains and griefs. He came into this world and was tempted in all ways just like we are, but abstained from sin while carrying the burden that condemns.
For this reason, Job continued to question Bildad’s true intents. Job asked, whose arm had been strengthened by Bildad’s words; who had profited from the wisdom that Bildad was offering; whose spirit was uplifted from the words that Bildad spoke and the manner in which he spoke them? Apparently, Bildad couldn’t answer these things. This shows that, though Bildad spoke powerful truths concerning God’s majesty, it wasn’t really helpful to those he spoke to. Though Bildad spoke about human depravity, it wasn’t fruitful to those who heard. Though Bildad knew things about God, he obviously did not know how to apply his knowledge of God to be used in functionally powerful ways that actually provided a service to God’s people unto God’s glory. Job’s tone against Bildad shows that Bildad spoke with arrogance and presumptuousness, which explains why the truth Bildad spoke had no potency or helpfulness. Bildad’s attitude about his knowledge of God made the truth he spoke to be rendered useless to those who heard him.
Bildad spoke as if his words were the supreme points of God. Bildad spoke as if the truths he communicated were the absolute and final truths of God’s revelation. It is true that God is supremely majestic; but the things that Bildad said about God’s majesty hardly explained the full depth of His glory. It is true that God is “greatly to be praised”, feared, and that no one compares with God. However, the short details that Bildad uttered were far from the full scope of God’s terror and exalted nature. According to Job, Bildad spoke as if he was one of God’s chief communicators and was an exceptional asset to the Lord God Almighty. Job’s point was that, not only was Bildad useless to his own comfort, but he was weak as a communicator for God. The things that Bildad said of God were obvious to those who knew God. The things that Bildad said of God were true, but basic. Bildad wasn’t stating any life-changing, deep, profound truths of God that were going to change Job’s life. The things that Bildad said were things that Job already knew, and then some. Had Bildad truly considered Job, he would have known that Job already knew those things of God, was already considering those things about God, and needed to hear about God’s other attributes that were more helpful to the need of his hurting soul.
Bildad felt sure of himself. Bildad felt highly of himself because of the things he knew and said of God. However, God was not impressed, and neither was Job. This goes to show that, when our attitudes are like Bildad’s we might as well not say anything at all. When we feel that God needs our service because of our refined understanding, God will humble us to show that our refined understanding produces no tangible effect. When we feel that God needs our service because we assume no one else will do what we are willing to do, God will humble us to show that our deeds produce no tangible fruit. We might walk away from our good deed as if we’ve done some good, but when our attitudes are like that of Bildad, then no good will come from us. The truth is, no good can ever come of us. If we are not dependent on the Lord 100% of the time, not only to know what is true of Him, but also to know which truth to speak at which time, and then dependent on the Holy Spirit to administer those words with the right temperament, we are like a clanging cymbal to both God and those who we think we’re helping. We might feel differently about the situation, but the Bible clearly shows what is true concerning those who feel their words can change people without depending on the Lord with a humble heart that matches the compassion of Jesus Christ.
The world is full of disputes. People argue all of the time about numerous things. Often times these arguments are pointless and harmless. However, perhaps just as frequently, there are arguments and disagreements that are damaging and cause tragic consequences. The question was posed many years ago, “Can’t we all just get along?” The question is compelling. Is it possible for people who have passionate disagreements to get along? The Bible shows that it is possible. The Bible explains that disagreements and contentions can be distilled quite simply. Thankfully the Bible shows exactly how we can end disruptions that take place on account of contrary thoughts and opinions. The Bible shows exactly how we can bring peace into relationships that are volatile. The Bible shows that when we accept the truth, the truth will set us free from the hardships of conflict.
The solution to this issue is documented in the short testimony of Job 25:1-6. This portion of scripture shows Bildad’s response to Job’s previous statements about how God deals with the wicked. Job’s points were true and Bildad didn’t seem to have any issues with Job’s statements. Previously, Job’s friends were quick to contend with everything Job would say. They didn’t like Job’s points, his tone, or his basis. In Job 25:1-6, Bildad doesn’t refute Job at all. Bildad doesn’t speak one point that was contrary to Job’s. Somehow, the argument that had gone on for twenty-four chapters of scripture, suddenly stopped for a break. Finally, Job and his friends (at least one of them) agreed with something. What was it that caused the contention to end?
The scriptures show that Bildad stopped talking against Job and for himself. The argument stopped because Bildad didn’t try to make his point seem better than Job’s point. Bildad changed the focus of the conversation so that his statements were pure truth. He stopped trying to be right. He stopped trying to prove Job wrong. The truth that Bildad stated is that God, and God alone is right. By extension, mankind is wrong. When people can consider this truth and speak words that exalt the greatness and glory of God in humility, then there is nothing to contend with. When people stop trying to speak well of themselves, there is nothing to be offended with. When people speak the truth about God and acknowledge the glory of God as true, then there is nothing to debate. Rather than find words of Job to criticize in hopes to exalt his position, Bildad just started speaking about the glory of God. When opposing viewpoints seek to just honor God, there is nothing to oppose, and believers will find that they have more in common than petty arguments.
Bildad first spoke about the dominion and fear of God. He simply stated that dominion and fear belong to God. The word “dominion” is first used in Genesis 1:18 to describe the dominance that light had over darkness on the first day of creation. When God said, “Let there be light,” darkness was immediately removed. Light was absolutely superior over darkness so that the revelation of God’s essence as light resulted in the absolute removal and destruction of darkness. As a result, the Bible says that “God saw that it was good.” The effects of God’s word and revelation produced the declaration of God’s approval. This happened because God was in charge. God had dominion to see darkness and address it with a fruitful solution. God had authority and power to do what was right and good and there was nothing that could oppose His purposes. This is the extent of God’s dominion. There is nothing in heaven and earth that is outside of the bounds of God’s control. His control is supreme in all planes of reality. Whether we like it or not, God is the authority of all things. When people can agree on this fundamental truth, we can move in a direction that places God high above our personal points of view that cause issues with others.
As a result of God’s control, He is fearful. The Bible explains that God is “terrible” in this sense. In other words, the extent of control that God has is scary. Consider Job’s previous point about his own suffering. He acknowledged that he was innocent as a hypocrite, and was a faithful child of God. Yet God did not hide Job from darkness or suffering. God did not keep Job from difficulty. Job even acknowledged that God appointed Job to suffer long before Job was born. If God’s mind was made up about Job before Job was born, Job’s suffering was evidence of the extent of God’s control. Job’s previous prosperity didn’t affect God’s decision for Job’s suffering. Though the devil was the tool that God used to administrate suffering, the devil did not exceed his bounds. Such a God that has such control to do as He pleases at any time can be a frightening concept. Thankfully, God is good. Thankfully, God is able to take the difficulties of life and produce profit from them unto His glory. God’s aim is not to use His power and control to cause us to fear Him as an oppressive slave-driver. Instead, God reveals His power and control so as to humble us, thereby causing us to honor and cherish, not just God’s power, but the way that He uses it. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God as His enemy knowing the extent of His power. However, it is a wonderful thing to know that God will use that same power to administrate blessings for those who trust His goodness, righteousness, and submit to His glory. When God’s people can stand humbly before God, considering the extent of His power, control, and wisdom, then our points of contention become small issues. Our personal differences become petty compared to the awesome nature of God and the frightening ways He can use His power at any given time. The humility that this thinking produces doesn’t make room for personal disagreements.
Bildad confessed that God makes peace in His high places. There are two major points here. First, it is God who makes peace. It is God who is called “Jehovah Shalom,” the Lord Our Peace. God and His Messiah are called the Prince of Peace. It was the Old Testament manifestation of Jesus as Melchizedek who came as the King of Salem (Peace). It was Jesus who gave peace, not as the world gives, but as from heaven. When we desire peace between people, God must be the author. No matter how hard we might strive to remove content between two people or two million people, God must be the cause because He is the source. When God’s people stop worrying about which person is right, and look up to Him in humility, confessing His dominion and fear Him, He is able to produce peace. Peace comes by the effects of God’s hands, and only His hands.
This concept is proved by the evidence of where peace can be seen. There is no true peace in this world between people, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t peace. Bildad said that there is peace “in the high places.” There is no conflict or contention before the throne of God. Even when the devil approached God at the beginning of the Book of Job, there was no argument. There was no disagreement between God and the devil when the devil was given his orders and parameters of work. Who can contend with God who has dominion over all things? Since God has absolute control and dominion, no one can contend, argue, or rebel. The rebellion against God’s will now is by God’s admission and permission. However, in the end, that rebellion will be done. Even when the wicked are judged, there is no rebellion. Everyone will agree. The angels of God worship Him day and night in perfect agreement concerning the glory and majesty of God. The saints and servants of God bow before Him in perfect praise. Even the elements of space operate in peace. Galaxies don’t collide. Destructive elements don’t affect life on our planet so as to foil God’s plans. When the skies produce storms and violent winds, they are at peace when Jesus speaks a word and rebukes their force. Clearly, that which is higher than the ground and the people who walk on it, is in peace, proving that we are the problem, and God is the solution.
Bildad explained that God’s armies are without number. God has the angels of heaven that fight on His behalf. God has the stars of the universe that speak to His sovereignty. As Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, God is able to demonstrate absolute control over any military force on this planet, and has even used elements of His creation to fight on His behalf. The prophet Joel spoke of locust as God’s army, sent to cause destruction as part of His judgment. The plagues of Egypt show that God can use frogs, lice, and flies in the same way. God’s control over world empires such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans show that every world power is just another tool that God uses for His purposes. When we recognize the extent of power and control God has over these sorts of forces, how can we as individuals compare? What chance do we have to prove ourselves right and worthy before God? While we might seek to compete against others to prove ourselves right, what good will it do in the end when it is just us and the One True Living God on the day of judgment? Will a God with so much power and authority consider arguments that we’ve won as impressive to Him?
Bildad then asked the simple question: How then can man be righteous before God? Can we compare to God? Is there anything we can do that will impress God? What ability or wisdom do we have that didn’t first come from God? What is to stop God from exercising His dominion from ending our lives or changing our circumstances? God did such a thing for Job, and Job was one of God’s most faithful men in history! If we are all born of women, and women are human beings that sin, how can sin produce purity? Can our unrighteous mothers and fathers that have flaws and impurities produce righteous DNA? Consider the miracle of Jesus’ birth. He was not conceived by a man, but by the Holy Spirit of the Almighty God. Can any other person make such a claim? Since this is true of all people, what makes us differ from one another? Whose point is better than another’s? Whose opinion is more substantial? When we recognize who God is and who we are by comparison, our personal points should seem to be trivial matters not worth considering.
Bildad explained that the moon and the stars aren’t even pure in God’s sight. The moon is far bigger than any person. The moon is an important part of life on this planet, affecting more lives than any particular human being, let alone the personal perspective of that human being. The moon has been around for much longer than any person, yet has weaknesses that cause God to see the moon as impure. The moon has dark spots. The moon is dark in certain seasons, unable to produce light in it of itself. The stars are the same. Stars shine for a time, then die. Some feel the mention of stars refers to the mention of angels. This is true of angels too. Though angels don’t die like stars, they are not pure before God. The angels worship God and spend eternity confessing God’s superior glory and refuse to share His glory in any capacity. How much lesser are we compared to angels?
In the end, Bildad states a bitter truth about our humanity. We are but maggots and worms in the eyes of God. The Hebrew word for “maggot” refers simply to a creature that is bred out of putrefaction. Our nature is corrupt. As we age, we prove that we were born of decay. Our bodies fail and turn to dust in the end. This is how God sees us. It is our true nature. The scriptures state these things to remind us of our true nature. We are too often prone to think more highly of ourselves, which is what often causes contentions between people. We think we’re better than we are, but we are mere maggots that came from corruption and will end in decay. When we remember this truth, what do we have to argue about? Does it matter which maggot is right?
The Bible teaches that we are like worms in the eyes of God. We are creatures that dwell in the dirt. We don’t dwell in the glory of God’s presence in the heavens. We don’t dwell in the presence of space where God’s celestial elements are in submissive harmony. We don’t dwell in the sky where God’s charge is used for purposes that exalt His glory without contention. We dwell on the ground of the earth that has been cursed by sin. We dwell on the floor level of God’s work – the basement where darkness and evil seem to dominate. Though God still has dominion over this world, the way that we live shows that we are indeed like worms, inching around in filth. Praise be to God that He is able and willing to change our form and remove us from such a place. Praise be to God that He is able and willing to exercise His dominion to bring peace into our lives, thereby closing the distance that separates us from Him. Praise be to God that He prefers to use His power to build us up rather than send His armies against us as we deserve. Praise be to God that, even though we are pitiful compared to His glory and righteousness, He doesn’t treat us as maggots and worms. Instead, God took the form of flesh to die so that we can be transformed into the likeness of His own glory! When our minds are fixed on these things, what is there to argue about?
The Bible teaches that God’s ways are not like our ways. His thoughts are not like our thoughts. The context of this teaching deals with God’s mercy. God’s nature and character is based on mercy. This is contrary to human nature. People love vengeance and justice based on self-righteousness. God loves mercy and compassion. His mercy endures forever and His mercy is renewed every morning. One of the most dramatic examples of this truth is seen in the testimony of Jonah. There, God sought to extend mercy to the wicked Assyrians of Nineveh and Jonah despised God for it. Jonah, a Jewish prophet, had seen the Assyrians oppress his people for a long time and had grown to hate them. He wanted God to come down on them with anger and violence. Jonah didn’t want the Assyrians to be forgiven and saved, he wanted them judged and condemned for all the pain they caused. This is why Jonah rebelled against God’s command to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Still, God exercised His sovereign power and brought Jonah to the Assyrians, and over 120,000 people were saved and spared from God’s wrath! Jonah was bitter and despised God’s willingness to forgive. Thus, the testimony of Jonah ends by showing that Jonah was just as evil as the Assyrians he despised. Both Jonah and the Assyrians were spared by God and not immediately destroyed as they all deserved, and as some might have desired.
This makes God’s work hard to understand. Are the wicked getting away with what they do wrong? Certainly not! Are the oppressed deprived of justice? Certainly not! God’s mercy makes things confusing. Human hate and self-righteousness makes God’s mercy hard to understand. The issue is that the nature of God is in contrast to human nature. We don’t think alike. We don’t work alike. We don’t have the same objective. We don’t have the same methods. Therefore, we are unqualified to make assessments and definitive statements about what God is doing. We don’t know what God is doing because we can’t, since our ways are so contrary to God’s. This is a truth that Job understood and tried to remind his friends about so that they would stop making assumptions about his situation. Job’s friends figured that his suffering was a sign of God’s judgment against some terrible sin. Job’s point was that such an assessment is impossible to make. God is merciful and just, which makes the timing of His work hard to understand. God doesn’t immediately judge the wicked making it seem as if God is indifferent. God allows His people to suffer as if they’re being punished even though they’re not. God will judge the wicked, but in His time, which usually is much longer than the time we would wait. God will allow His people to suffer and won’t take that suffering away until His time, which is usually much longer than we would prefer. So how can anyone know what God is doing or why He is doing it?
In Job 24:1-25 the Bible shows that Job explained how God will often deal with the wicked. Job reminded his friends that the ways God often deals with the wicked is contrary to the ways we think the wicked should be dealt with. Job explained that there are plenty of wicked people out there who do whatever they want to prosper and succeed. They take advantage of the weak. They steal and do things unjustly in secret. They impose their will on others. They parade about as if there is no consequence. Job explained that there are plenty of people out in the world who make up their own standards of righteousness and have no true understanding of good and bad. They feel that, so long as their personal ambitions are being fulfilled, everything is okay, regardless of how others might be affected. There are plenty of people who live by selfish philosophies that as long as they are happy, their manner of living is okay, no matter the cost to others. Job understood that this type of thinking is evil in the eyes of God. God does not desire for the weak to be taken advantage of or bullied. God does not want violence and scheming. Still, there is plenty of this sort of evil going on in the world. If God is Judge of all these things, what is He waiting for?
This was the point that Job was trying to make. Obviously, there are an abundance of evil people in the world. Obviously, there are weak, poor, and under-privileged people being taken advantage of. Still, this injustice goes on every single day. Job explained that if it were up to him, the wicked would pay for their evil quickly. They would die swiftly and in a public manner so that others could learn that evil doesn’t bring prosperity. Job explained that if things were left to him, the families of the wicked would be cut off as well so that evil would not be perpetuated to the next generation. Job explained that if it were up to him, he would cause the riches and resources to be swiftly taken from the wicked so that they would not have an opportunity to recover. In other words, if it were up to Job, he would absolutely burry and utterly destroy the wicked with swift justice. Job’s brand of justice didn’t make any room for mercy or forgiveness. This is typical of most people, but this is contrary to God.
Job understood that God’s ways were different. After letting his friends know how he would do things, Job went on to explain how God actually does things. He explained that there is a great contrast. God draws the mighty and wicked away with His power, explaining that God’s power is greater than that of the wicked, no matter how things appear. It might seem like the wicked are getting away with their evil, and that their strength is supreme in this life, but it’s not. Job admitted that God sees what’s going on. God’s eyes are on the wicked as well as His own people. Though the wicked and the proud wake up every day figuring to do as they will, their lives are in the hands of the Almighty. They might not know this, but God can take their life at any moment, and administrate His judgment at any time. The wicked have security in the strength of their own minds and hands, but God’s influence is ALWAYS supreme. His waiting on account of His mercy and forgiveness is not a sign of His weakness and indifference.
Job explained that when God is ready, when His mercy is exhausted, when His patience has reached its measure, God will judge. The wicked will be here for a time, but then they will be gone, left to deal with the One True Living God who is Judge of the living and the dead. Those who build themselves up in this life – especially at the expense of others – will be brought low, but in God’s time. The wicked will be removed from this life, but in God’s time. Those who live by self-righteous standards will be dried out, but in God’s time. God will give everyone mercy and freely offer forgiveness for a time. However, no one knows how much time that is. Thus, we see the wicked continue living as if God is indifferent. He is not. His timelines and His purposes in time are much different than ours.
Therefore, who can know what God is doing? Clearly God will not offer forgiveness to the wicked forever. Their opportunity to take advantage of God’s grace is limited, but no one knows for how long. Thus, time elapses until God is ready to manifest His power as Judge. The same is true of the suffering of the righteous. God allows His people to suffer, and it goes on as long as God feels that it should – until His purpose for that suffering is fulfilled. Since we don’t know how God will make good of suffering, or when God will render judgment, how can we judge the lives of others? How can we look at the lives of others and make criticisms about God’s work in their lives as if we know God’s position concerning them? Job knew that God’s ways are far different than ours. Job confessed that he would do things much differently than God was doing. Still, Job did not despise God’s work. He trusted God. He only wished that his friends would learn to trust God the same way instead of making accusation about his relationship with God based on their flawed interpretations of God’s work.
The Bible teaches that God is not a respecter of persons. This means that God doesn’t show favoritism of any kind to any person. He is merciful to all people based on when He wants to show mercy. He is gracious to all people based on when He wants to show grace. Evidence of this truth is profoundly shown in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Apostle John taught that His blood was shed, not just for the lives of believers, but for all people at all points in human history. This means that, though God knew that many people would reject His favor, He gave them favor anyway and died for their sins. This doesn’t mean that non-believers will get the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice, but plainly shows that God will do what He pleases and His desires are not based on our character or performance. Jesus died while we were still sinners.
The same principle applies for contrary circumstances. God shows favor to all people no matter the type of person, but God also subjects people to suffering no matter the type of person. This is where people get confused. Since we often examine life through a physical perspective, people often think that the appearance of difficulties is a sign of God’s displeasure. The Book of Job emphatically proves that this is not true. This is a very flawed way of thinking, and it’s our understanding of God’s nature that helps us get out of that kind of thinking. If God doesn’t show favoritism, is He obligated to remove His people from all the difficulties of this life? Consider the truth of scripture. The concept of “justification,” which is the basis of our salvation, is predicated on God’s “declaration” of our righteousness, we are not yet made righteous while in this life. God has made His declaration about our righteousness even though we still sin and fall short of His glory. God makes this declaration because He’s confident in the work He will do in eternity, at which point we will be made righteous. Since we continue to live as His children with flaws, why should God remove us from all difficulties. We still offend Him. We still pervert His purposes. We still rebel against His glory. Remember, our salvation is based on faith He provides, not our sudden change in character based on internal resolve and motivation.
This makes things quite humbling for the people of God. If God is not a respecter of persons, He is not obligated to restrict us from any sort of difficulties or suffering. If God is not a respecter of persons, He is not obligated to restrict non-believers from any sort of success or prosperity. The same is true of the opposite. So, what is God going to do with each of us? This difficult question is what made Job afraid. In the testimony of Job 23:13-17, Job expressed a great deal of fear and concern, and rightly so. While responding against Eliphaz again, trying to defend his personal integrity, he admitted that he was just as concerned about his suffering as his friends. Though Job knew that his suffering was not on account of hypocrisy, his suffering was a concern. Job felt like he had offended God in some way, but couldn’t identify how, and God wouldn’t tell him. Job confessed that, in reality, he didn’t ever fully understand God’s work, whether it dealt with suffering or not. Job admitted that when God moved, he couldn’t see where. When God worked in one way, he couldn’t always perceive it. Job did his best to trust God, clinging to the revelation of His Word and hoped that God’s Word would resolve in goodness, whether he understood how or not.
Thus, Job recognized that God is unique. In Job 23:13-17, Job stated that God was “One.” Here, Job used the same word that God used to describe Himself as “One” in Deuteronomy 6:4. However, the context of Job’s mention of God as “One,” describes His uniqueness. There is no one like God. God doesn’t work like we do because He doesn’t think like we do. God doesn’t desire what we desire because He is not of our nature. God is uniquely eternally self-existing and self-sustaining. He is the Creator of all things; the cause of all things, the sustainer of all things, the beginning of all things, and the end of all things. The LORD is the Most High God, is almighty, knows all things, and in Him all things consist. He is not subject to anyone or anything. He is the cause and source of all goodness and righteousness. He is not only unique in this sense, but He is sovereign and transcendent, meaning that outside influences don’t affect Him. Outside influences don’t change God’s nature. Outside influences don’t sway God’s mind. Outside influences don’t change His perspective. Outside influences don’t cause God to change His purposes and promises. He is totally immutable. God said Himself that He doesn’t change!
This was concerning to Job. Whatever God wants to do, He does. Job realized that God does what He wants, not what we want. No matter how much we might want something, or how genuinely we might ask, God will do what He pleases, and since He alone is righteous and good, His ways are always right and good. God does not consult with us to gain our approval for His purposes. God doesn’t seek the endorsement or support of people before He makes His moves. Like Job previously said, He works, and often times, we can’t even perceive it. He is in full control of all things, whether we like it or not. Additionally, Job recognized that God works in our lives in ways that were previously appointed. He doesn’t make things up on the fly. God doesn’t call audibles or make sudden changes. His plan was formulated before the foundations of the world, and our life experiences are merely the recognition of that which God ordained long before we came into the world. This is the extent of God’s sovereignty. This is the extent of God’s control.
To many people, this is offensive. People often refute these sorts of Biblical teachings because they feel as if they were mere puppets in the hand of God; that God gave us free will and this teaching is contrary to God’s decision to let us choose. As great as free will sounds, it simply isn’t taught in the Bible. In fact, in Romans Chapter 3, the Apostle Paul wrote that all people – Jew and Gentile alike – are “under” sin. This means that sin is a slave master to all people. Thus, if a person is not a “puppet” of God, they are a “puppet” of sin, and destined for condemnation in hellfire! Job understood this truth, yet was concerned about what God does with those who are His. Even though Job was an upright and blameless man, he suffered, and the sovereign hand of God appointed Job to this suffering. Even though Job was a man of faith and sought to live by God’s righteous standards, God appointed Job to intense pain and misery. Even though Job tried to walk in the footprints of God’s path, God exercised His power, authority, control, and wisdom to ensure Job’s life was filled with pain and frustration at this point in his life.
Job confessed that God made his heart weak. For this reason, God terrified Job, and rightly so! Job, even as a child of God, was not cut off from suffering. He was not excused from pain. He was not dismissed from frustration. He was not hidden from darkness. Does this mean that God was angry at Job? No. Does this mean that God is mean and unfair? No. This simply shows the point that God sought to make since the beginning. He doesn’t play favorites. God brings rain on the just and the unjust. He lets the wicked prosper and suffer just like His own people. The point is, while we are in this world, we are all still corrupt. Our connection to God as His children is based on God’s gracious declaration of our righteousness based on faith in His work as the Son of God and Messiah. Right now, we are the same sinful people that we were before we started to believe in God. Since we are still an offense, who are we that we should feel entitled to a life of pure prosperity and comfort? Who do we think we are that we feel God should keep us from all trouble?
Job understood that God alone is righteous and holy. He is not obligated to do any more than what He has already declared. God’s promise is that He will remove His people from condemnation. This means that God will keep us separate from His eternal judgment. This means that God will preserve our souls and give eternal life. The condition of this life has no effect on God’s ability to fulfill the spiritual and eternal nature of His promises. Thus, sometimes God’s people suffer greatly. Sometimes God’s people have intense pains and trials. Since we are still sinners in decaying bodies living in a corrupted world, why shouldn’t these things come into our lives? It is sobering and humbling to remember that God will often let His people endure trials of severe magnitude because that suffering doesn’t restrict His ability to provide eternal life. Job was afraid of God for good reason. Since God has so much control and such great power, we should fear God. If God will allow and cause His own people to suffer as Job did, consider what He might do to those who are not His children! Rather than despising God for the difficult manner of His work, we should do as Job: Humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God, and trust in the Word of His promise to preserve our souls from eternal suffering on account of His own work by the Gospel.