The Bible teaches that the quality of faith that God’s people should have is not something that can be conjured up from within. Many people mistakenly feel that Biblical faith is something that we summon up from within. This is not what the Bible teaches. The Apostle Paul plainly wrote that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. The Bible is the source of faith. Since the Bible outlines God’s revelation of Himself through the Son of God, Jesus Christ His Messiah, then our faith must come from the understanding of the testimony of who God is as He has revealed in Jesus. This is the only way faith comes. Our pursuit of God through the scriptures, to know His character, His nature, His purposes, and His promises, is the means by which faith comes. This means that faith is produced and distributed by God Himself according to His mercy and grace. This is why those who possess strong faith in the Bible appear to be so super-human. It is not that they are super-human, but are influenced and controlled by God who is supernatural. Thus, to desire to be like these men and women is good, but is only possible if God provides the ability to do so.
This means that our trust should not be in our ability to believe, but in He who provides faith and the reasons for it. Where is our faith to be directed in? What is it about God that we should trust? The testimony of Job helps provide substance and clarity to those questions. In Job 13:13-19, the blamelessness and uprightness of Job really shines through. Job first asked his friends to be quiet for just a moment. He desired that they would keep from speaking so as to let him speak freely the fundamental basis of his faith and assurance. His friends had spoken quite a bit already, and each time they opened their mouths, accusations and lies came out. They spoke true of God but wrong of Job. They were of no comfort to him at all even though they went to Job to offer him comfort. Job stated that it would provide comfort to him if his friends were to just shut up and let him speak. This shows that sometimes, it is better comfort to those suffering to just shut up and listen to them. Those suffering aren’t always in need of a hero who can say the right words to make everything perfect. Sometimes people just need to be heard, and especially for those suffering, who might feel like God Himself has drawn a deaf ear to them, the compassion of God is best communicated to the afflicted by staying quiet and hearing them out.
When Job spoke in this portion of scripture, he was able to explain the true nature of his perspective. Job’s past speeches were filled with confusion, dismay, and pain. It is not that any of those things went away, but obviously Job’s points were confusing to his friends. Just because Job was in pain and confused as to why, didn’t mean that Job was spiteful against God. Just because Job desired death to be freed from his suffering, didn’t mean that Job was forfeiting the spiritual and eternal integrity of his relationship with God. Job hoped that his friends would have given him the benefit of the doubt when he first expressed the intensity of his pain. However, Job’s friends figured Job to be a non-believing hypocrite that was venturing into the abyss of hell unless dramatic changes and repentance were undertaken. This was not true, so Job took the moment to explain what was true of his faith.
Job explained the intensity of his pain again to his friends. He reminded his friends that the intensity of his pain was such that he was “taking his flesh in his teeth.” In other words, his pain was such that caused him to gnash his teeth. Recall that his skin had flared up with boils and sores. By this point, those issues of his skin were likely oozing out fluids and burning sensations and deep layers of skin became outwardly exposed. It is common in Jewish culture to tear one’s clothes when suffering deep anguish as an expression of the intensity of the pain. Job had already expressed that pain when he learned of the deaths of his sons and daughters. However, Job’s skin was now being torn from his body. If the tearing of clothes resembles the intensity of suffering, how much more the tearing away of flesh? This was the extent of Job’s pain and suffering. It wasn’t just emotional and mental because of the loss of his family and resources. His pain was also physical, and the three facets of his pain worked together to war against his spiritual health.
In spite of all of this, Job made a PROFOUND statement: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Even though Job suffered so greatly, he was not losing hope in God. Job was confused as to the reason for God’s work, but didn’t despise it. Job was concerned about God’s work, but did not consider God to be evil. Job felt like an enemy of God because of the weight of his burdens, but never at any point accused God of being terrible. In fact, in the midst of all Job’s complaints, he continually spoke well of God’s sovereignty, power, wisdom, and judgments. Job simply sought a reason for his suffering. Job wanted to know, if there was sin in his heart that caused such things, which was it, so that he could swiftly repent. The things he was being accused of as the cause of his pain, weren’t true. Since God knows all, Job sought the Lord to know what was true of his own heart because he was confused in himself. Nevertheless, in spite of his confusion, his emotional instability, his frustrations, and his pain, he would not stop trusting God as the Great God of glory, wisdom, strength, and righteousness.
If there was ever a statement to prove the devil wrong, it is this one! Recall that the devil sought to attack Job because he felt that the affliction against his life would cause him to curse God. Here, Job takes a definitive stance in saying that even if God Himself were to be the cause of pain (which He wasn’t) until the point of death, Job would not stop putting his trust in the goodness and righteousness of God. Job might not know why God is right, but would continue to trust in God’s righteousness despite His understanding. This is the quality of faith that God desires. This is the quality of faith that only comes from God. This is what the Word of God is intended to do to the human heart – assure the people of God that, no matter how things look to us, God is always right because He is always wise, always powerful to respond according to His wisdom, and is always able to produce good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
Why did Job feel this way about God? Why was it that Job could suffer so greatly, yet remain so confident in God? Job explained that he trusted in God to be faithful unto the deliverance of two things: salvation and justification. These are two critical components of life that come only from God, specifically from our faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah. Jesus alone is Savior. Jesus alone is the One who justifies the guilty; and the scriptures are clear throughout that the just shall live by faith. Job was confident to defend his cause before God because he knew that he wasn’t a hypocrite. Job felt that there was one type of person that is unable to stand justified before God, a hypocrite. In many ways, Job is right. Hypocrites will not stand before God as justified unless they repent and humble themselves before the righteous and mighty hand of God. Since Job was confident that he was not a hypocrite as his friends accused, he was confident that God would provide the benefits of His promises. Fundamentally, Job hoped for the promise of God’s salvation. He knew that if he died in this life, he would be saved from his suffering in the next life. Though Job felt hopeless for restoration and rejuvenation in this life, he was confident that God could restore his soul in eternity. This is what it is to have faith. We are to trust in the eternal and spiritual nature of God’s promises. Though the affections and matters of this life look grim, how do we feel about God’s focus and ability concerning eternal life? If our hope is limited to the concerns of this life, then we have denied God’s wisdom, power, and faithfulness to do what He said concerning eternal life. God’s work on the soul is what matters most, and that was the perspective that Job never lost.
Job also trusted in God for justification. The concept of justification in the Bible is not just a technical term for theologians to know. It is the essence of God’s promises. Without justification, there cannot be salvation. Salvation refers to God’s removal of His people from the dangers of His judgments against evil. Justification refers to God’s forgiveness of the guilty so that they CAN be removed from the dangers of His judgments. Since the Bible teaches that the just shall live by faith, the Bible explains that there isn’t anything we “do” to escape God’s judgment to prove ourselves “not guilty” of offending God. All fall short of the glory of God. Recall that Job confessed himself to be a sinner, just not a hypocrite. He knew he couldn’t please God and didn’t strive to do so by his own works and merits. Job had faith that God would be willing to excuse and forgive his faults based on God’s own faithfulness and righteousness. Job trusted that, even though it seemed God was being rough with Job, He would ultimately show mercy on his soul because God is naturally merciful and compassionate, gracious and faithful. The scriptures teach that those who have been justified are not made righteous by God, but declared righteous because of the faith He implants in their hearts.
Remember that God considered Job to be blameless and upright. This was because God gave Job the faith he would need to live in a manner pleasing to him. This was made evident by the statements of Job’s humility and dependency on the Lord. Job didn’t seek doctors in desperation to heal his body, seeking solace in the mending of his body. Job was confused by God’s work, but content with it because he knew God could and would restore the soul. Job was willing to endure the sufferings of this life trusting that God’s greatness transcends this life to preserve the soul and strengthen it unto glory. The contention of Job’s friends seemed to pull the worse out of him, but in the end, the essence of Job’s focus and faith was sufficient to please God so as to build confidence in Job’s heart about the real issues of life – the soul. This is the benefit that comes to God’s people: That when circumstances look grim and dire, our hearts and souls are strengthened from within to endure immense pain, looking to God as the healer and restorer of things weightier than the things of this life.