When Jesus spoke to His disciples, He made an incredible promise concerning the burdens of this life. Though Jesus calls for those who believe in Him as the Son of God and Messiah to deny self, pick up the cross, and follow Him, He doesn’t expect His people to perform works of spiritual superiority to impress Him or others. He doesn’t call for His people to strive and labor to gain His approval. Denying self and picking up the cross doesn’t require us to undertake tasks to burden ourselves with the work that Jesus has vowed to do Himself. He will use us as He sees fit. Jesus’ promise was this:
"Come to Me, all [you] who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke [is] easy and My burden is light." – Matthew 11:28-30
There, Jesus promised to make the weight of life lighter for us. This means that the burdens of life will not be sufficient to bury us when we put our trust in the Lord. This doesn’t mean that problems will go away, but we will be able to bear them as if they are not as heavy as they truly are. Jesus promised that our focus on Him, our trust in Him, our dependency on Him will provide a quality of peace that makes the issues seem lesser, enabling us to persevere unto the glory of the Father. Keeping the mind stayed on the glory, majesty, righteousness, holiness, and great sacrifice of our Savior is enough to fill the mind, distracting it from the trials and pains that life can bring. When we fill our minds and hearts with the things of the Lord by faith, He is merciful, gracious, and faithful to provide comfort despite trouble, peace despite chaos, and hope despite despair.
Zophar’s response to Job elaborated on this principle of God. Though Zophar began his address to Job in a harsh manner, he finished his address by providing the truth of God’s restorative power, providing Job with an opportunity to receive hope. Zophar gave good insight concerning the power and faithfulness of God. Though Zophar still felt that Job was likely guilty of sin as a hypocrite, the truths that he spoke concerning God would have been helpful to Job either way – whether a hypocrite or not. In Job 11:13-20 Zophar reminded Job that our humble pursuit of the Lord’s mercy works wonders! When our minds acknowledge the weaknesses of our flesh to seek the awesome mercy of God’s forgiveness, H eis faithful to provide the benefits that Jesus promised.
Zophar exhorted Job to prepare his heart and stretch out his hands toward the Lord. Still figuring Job to be guilty of hypocrisy, Zophar was encouraging Job to get rid of his hypocrisy and submit to the Lord’s righteousness in humility. Even though Zophar’s thinking was wrong, his advice was still good. Even though Job wasn’t guilty of hypocrisy, it would have still benefitted Job to prepare his heart and stretch out his hands. The preparation of the heart refers to purification. No one can purify their own hearts, but to “prepare” the heart refers to the work of confession and repentance that enables God to purify the heart. This preparation requires self-examination, self-denial, and a pursuit of God’s righteousness. This mindset takes our thinking off of the pain of our trials and circumstances as we bow the head and lift the hands unto submission unto the Lord and His purposes. In that sort of spiritual posture, we should anticipate the work of God, trusting in His faithfulness to cleanse our hearts and add unto us the ability to serve His needs. We should surrender our lives unto God, remember His eternal nature and sovereign control for eternally-centered and spiritually-centered purposes.
Zophar told Job, that if iniquity was in the hands that he was lifting up, to let it go and walk far away from it. This is a very important concept. Jesus taught that if we have an offense with another person or a quarrel, to resolve it before giving sacrifices, because the spite and malice in our hearts will corrupt the offering, making it useless to God. In other words, our service, prayer, and pursuit of the Lord needs to be without sin. We cannot bring sin with us to the altar and expect God to receive our offerings. We cannot bring sin to the conversations we have with the Lord in prayer and expect Him to hear us. We cannot harbor sin in our hearts and expect to draw closer to the Lord. God is holy and pure; He is glorious above all creation. When we seek Him, we need to remember who He is, and approach Him with the understanding that no corrupt thing will be able to enter His presence. It is by the grace of God through the blood sacrifice of Jesus that we have access to God just to know Him and thank Him. If we lift our hands in surrender to God, we cannot also hold our personal ambitions and sinful habits and expect God to produce the promises He swore. To seek God requires us to forsake sin. We cannot have both. Though Job was not guilty of hypocrisy, this was good advice nonetheless.
Zophar continued in that point by exhorting Job to ensure that his house was purged clean of sin too. Here, Zophar might have taken a small jab at Job again, accusing him of fault against God. It was already stated that Job’s friends felt that God destroyed Job’s family because of some sort of sin that was dwelling among them. This was not true. It is true that Job’s family were sinners like all other people, but scripture never states that they were killed as consequence to specific conduct. Still, Zophar’s point is a good one. In order to receive the benefits of the Lord during times of suffering, we need to ensure that our homes are as clean as our hearts. Often times we may desire to do well within ourselves, but have possession of many things in our home that cause us to stumble and fall. If we don’t get rid of these things, it doesn’t matter how strong our resolve might be to do well. We are setting ourselves up for failure when we don’t seek to cleanse our homes of corrupt things like our hearts. Our unwillingness to purge the home is an indication that we are still harboring desires for sin deep within our hearts. God knows, and this will corrupt our connection to Him and the benefits He seeks to provide.
Zophar then spoke about the benefits that come to those who are willing to make their life’s purpose about a pure pursuit of the Lord God Almighty. First, Job would be able to lift his face without spot. Those who humbly seek the Lord, confessing inadequacy and fault, are able to receive the forgiveness of God, which comes by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse the soul, turning our crimson clothes into clothes that are spotless and white as wool. If that is true of our garments, how much more our face and the expressions of it! When we seek the Lord in faith, acknowledging the extent of His holiness and righteousness, the assurance of God’s forgiveness provides a quality of hope that lifts our heads beyond our circumstances. When we trust in the sufficiency of God’s cleansing of the soul, what difference does it make concerning our physical condition?
Zophar assured Job that he would be made steadfast and without fear. Recall that Job felt like he was an enemy of God, wishing he had never been born. He felt that he was despised by all and the most pitied on the earth. A pure pursuit of the Lord enables God’s people to remain strong in the faith, not wallowing in self-pity. God enables His people to endure without fear. Again, if God’s forgiveness, cleansing, and mercy is sufficient to cleanse the soul, what do we have to fear? Is death really that terrifying if it brings the fulfilment of God’s eternally unconditional promises? Is pain really to be despised to the point of depression if it enables us to relate to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, having the opportunity to walk in His shoes to bring Him glory? How bad can it be to identify with the Son of God in some capacity?
Zophar encouraged Job, that he would forget his misery and remember them as though it was just another season of life that comes and goes. Resting in the grace and mercy of God allows the mind to consider the eternal and spiritual nature of God’s promises so that our physical infirmities seem less. We realize that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that awaits us. Why? God is glorious and faithful to do what He promised to those who seek Him! Zophar tried to comfort Job by reminding him about the restorative power of God. He is able to restore well beyond our imagination. Sometimes that happens in this life. It will certainly happen in the next! That is for God to determine, but history shows that God is able to do far beyond our expectations. Job expected to be buried by God to the point of his utter ruin. Yet the truth of the matter is, those who pursue God’s mercy by faith, seeking His glory rather than focusing on our issues, are able to receive His restoration. Zophar was confident that god could cause Job to shine brighter than he did when he was prosperous; that he would have more influence and favor with people than before; that his darkness would be far brighter than the brightness Job had before Satan waged war upon him. The end of Job’s testimony proves that Zophar was absolutely right about God!
In the end, those who seek the Lord humbly, rather than wallowing in circumstances, complaining about difficulty are restored by the hope and confidence that God gives by His Spirit. The Bible shows that God doesn’t need to change circumstances to provide hope and confidence. The Apostle Paul was beaten, imprisoned often, and persecuted all of the time. The difficulties of his ministry only intensified over time, all the while dealing with “a thorn” in his side. Still, Paul remained hopeful and increased in confidence. The touch of God’s mercy and grace comes from within so that our hope and confidence in Him transcends the circumstances we might deal with. Job would receive the rest that he desired at night. He would feel secure instead of feeling like an enemy of God. He would be engaged in the service of the Lord to “dig around,” enjoying the fruit of his labor and service with confidence in God’s protection and peace. This goes to show that when we pursue the Lord this way, the means by which we experience the goodness of God’s mercy and grace through forgiveness, is by laboring for His purposes, by which He produces fruit and satisfaction. It is that satisfaction that builds our confidence and hope in Him.
Lastly, Zophar also mentioned the contrary situation. Job had the opportunity to receive the rest and peace of God if he were to forsake his complaints and humbly pursue God’s mercy and forgiveness. Still, thinking Job to be guilty of hypocrisy, Zophar warned Job that if he didn’t repent, those who are wicked will fall. There is no hope and no escape for those who refuse to seek the Lord. There is no light for those who deny the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness. There is no life for those who pursue death, figuring their lives to be worthless and purposeless in the eyes of God. There, Zophar laid out two options for Job. Job could try to change his perspective and seek the Lord in humility instead of complaining and defending himself, thereby receiving the benefits of God’s goodness. Job could also continue in his misery, focused on the pain of his life, and forfeit God’s benefits. Job was a blameless and upright man, so he was not going to perish as condemned like Zophar suggested, but that doesn’t mean that Job couldn’t also forfeit the benefits that God could have given at that time.
The Bible is a tricky source of information. It is God’s Word – plain and simple. In it, is the revelation of God. God makes Himself known through the Word He declared. He used His Spirit to take control of certain men throughout history to pen things about Himself that help us to understand God’s identity, purposes, and promises. There is much to be learned of God in the Bible! However, the Bible itself teaches that God is unsearchable. While Jesus promised that if we seek God we will find Him, our pursuit does not guarantee that we will come to know the fully glory and majesty of the eternally self-existing, self-sustaining Lord God Almighty. We can know God, but only to a certain degree in this life. As much knowledge as we think we can gain of God, it will always be the vast minority compared to all the things there is to know of God.
This is why God often appeared in different forms throughout the Bible. For example, the scriptures say that Moses enjoyed a unique benefit with God. In Exodus Chapter 33, the Bible says that Moses had such an intimate relationship that he spoke to God “face to face.” Yet, in the very same chapter, God told Moses that no one can see His face and live. How do these two ideas reconcile? While it is impossible to know the exact degree of revelation that Moses received, we can rest assured that Moses saw God in a way that was unique, profound, and exceptionally glorious. This does not mean that Moses saw all that God is. This does not mean that Moses saw the full splendor and majesty of Yahweh Elohim. The revelation that Moses saw was tempered by God and restricted by God to a large degree, yet it was still sufficient to change the physical complexion of his face, making it glow!
Consider Jesus Himself. Jesus told Philip at the Last Supper, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Does this mean that the physical appearance of Jesus was the full revelation of God’s glory? Of course not. In fact, the testimony of the Transfiguration of Jesus proves this point. When Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transfigured, it was so overwhelming for them that they eventually passed out. Yet, only Peter, James, and John were privileged to see Jesus in glory. Nevertheless, it was not His full glory, which is why John saw Jesus appear differently in his testimony of the Book of Revelation. The point being that, whatever we think we know of God, there is infinitely more to know of Him. However well we think we know God, we don’t have a clue. The things He’s revealed to us are but the smallest percentage of the true magnitude of His identity.
This principle is taught clearly in the testimony of Job 11:7-12. In Job 11:7-12 the Bible continues to document Zophar’s rebuttal against Job’s speech. Though Zophar started his rebuttal against Job as a sharp accusation and verbal attack against Job, the points he makes about God are 100% true! This just goes to show, that while we may know things about God, it does not automatically ensure that we will conduct ourselves like Him. Zophar knew about the unsearchable glory of God, but communicated these truths in a manner that was hurtful, unmerciful, and arrogant. Zophar said these things about God that were true, thinking that he would be a helper to Job and a service to his friends, but instead, was a hindrance to Job’s comfort and contrary to God’s nature. It was Zophar’s own forgetfulness about God – the words that came out of his own mouth – that caused him to be hurtful instead of helpful.
Zophar asked Job a rhetorical question: “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find the limits of the Almighty?”
The obvious answer to these questions is, no, you cannot. Zophar went on to state that deep things of God and limits of His power are higher than heaven and deeper than hell. Consider even the limitations of knowledge that we have on this planet to gain perspective. When we look out onto the ocean from the coast, it is true we can see the water, but can we see its end? Can we see its depth? There are plenty of resources available that enable people to look into space. We can see the light of stars, but can we see their end? Do we know how far they all go? This principle proves that, just because something can be seen or known to one degree, doesn’t mean that we have all knowledge and understanding of that thing. Scientists have not been able to explore every inch of our ocean’s floors. If we can’t even get to that which is in front of us, how much less are we able to know “the deep things of God?” Scientists haven’t even come close to scratching the surface concerning their understanding of space. How much less understanding then do we have of the One who holds the universe in the span of His hand while also sitting high above it in a plane of reality we can’t see?
This is an important principle to consider at all times. It is the remembrance of this truth about God that should cause us to approach Him with humility. For all that the human race thinks it has learned and accomplished, it is nothing. For all that theologians and Bible teachers have said about God, it is not even close as to what is TOTALLY true of God. This truth calls for the people of God to approach God with great caution and humility. This is why we are to fear God. As unsettling as it is to look into an abyss in the sea and not know what lies at the end, so too we respect the immeasurable glory, majesty, splendor, power, wisdom, and holiness of God. Remembering this truth should keep all of God’s people from speaking presumptuously, especially about God, and the details of His purposes and works.
The immeasurable and unsearchable nature of God also lends to the indescribable control and power God has. We know that God created the heavens and the earth by separating light form dark, who is to keep God from changing that condition? God separated the waters from the dry land in creation, but then showed His power to bring the waters back up to consume the dry land in the flood of Noah. Who was able to stop Him? Though God gave the world 120 years of warning, was anyone able to prevent the global devastation? In the end, all died but eight people as God swore. This proves that no one can contend with God’s power. When God passes by and declares judgment, no one hinders him. The Egyptians could not escape the Destroyer on the night of the Passover. The Assyrians didn’t even know what hit them when the Angel of the Lord passed through their camp to destroy 185,000 soldiers. If God desires to change the course of life in any way, can anyone stop Him? When God decided to restore Job from the devil’s attacks, did the devil have any power? When Jesus was sent to the grave, did the grave have any control to keep Jesus in the tomb? This is the power of our God!
Thus, Zophar reminded Job that God knows all things and deals with them accordingly. Though Zophar was stating this as an accusation against Job, falsely accusing him of hypocrisy, the principle is true of God anyway. Deceitful men might be deceitful to other men, but God sees the heart at all times and knows what’s going on. That which is hidden from people is never hidden from God. God sees wickedness, deceit, perversion, corruption, and all darkness even though it might not be visible to us. It might seem like God doesn’t see it because He takes His time to address it, but the scriptures are clear: All things are naked and open to Him Whom we all must deal with! There is nothing that catches God by surprise. Therefore, that power and wisdom that we can’t understand, will be used in equally incomprehensive ways to address these issues. All this to say, as people, we don’t really know what God is doing, and so we should reserve judgment and opinions about what we think we know of God.
Lastly, Zophar made a pretty comical remark about the true nature of mankind compared to God. He said, “For an empty-headed man will be wise when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man.” In other words, when a wild donkey can give birth to a man, then a foolish man can be wise. Obviously, this is impossible, showing depth of foolishness of mankind concerning the things of God. Consider the comparison that Zophar made. Zophar didn’t compare our foolishness to just any animal, but a wild donkey’s colt. This is not just any animal, but one of the dumbest of all animals. The donkey that Zophar referred to is not a trained donkey, but a wild one. A trained donkey is stubborn, but useful in some sense. A wild donkey cannot be trained. When a rider sits on it, the donkey, being overpowered and overruled will still try to go about its own way. This is a pretty good description of mankind. Though God be far above us, in control of all things, we like wild donkeys, seek to go our own way as if we can. We are the most stubborn and foolish concerning the things of God, and yet somehow feel that we can reproduce something of value and goodness for God? How can this be?
When understanding these truths, it is critical to remember that these are the very reasons why the just shall live by faith. This is why no person will be justified by the merits of their flesh; by the works of their hands; by the thoughts of their mind; by the words of their mouth. This speech from Zophar, though misdirected and misused, is true to show that ALL people fall short of the glory of God because God’s glory is incomprehensive. Thus, it is a privilege for anyone to have any degree of revelation of God in any form true to His Word. Still, that revelation is not meant to pump up and inflate the ego, but instead to break and humble the heart, producing the denial of self, repentance from self, and submission to the eternal and incomprehensive purposes of God by faith.
The Bible teaches that God’s people are to refrain from judging. This means that God’s people are to refrain from doing God’s job as Judge. This requires us to abstain from trying to figure out the motives of people. We are not to try and look into the intents of the heart. We are not to become examiners of other people’s relationship of the Lord and the quality of it, so as to determine within ourselves whether they are approved of God or not. We are not to be hypercritical of people’s actions and speech, comparing them to motives as if we know what people are all about. The truth of the matter is, all people, Christians included, are sinners by nature and suffer from the same issues. The faults that we might examine in others, we can be sure are issues for us as well. Every person that has favor in the eyes of God only has favor on account of grace.
Therefore, God calls His people to express mercy to one another. We are not to harp on each other’s shortcomings and faults as if we are supremely better. We are called to recognize that we too have our issues, and when we see others struggling, are not to condemn and beat down, but instead, gently reach out to build up in the manner that God has with us. God has equipped us with His Spirit to ensure we are able to reach out with the temperament of His own compassion and grace so that the we can serve the spiritual needs of others, helping one another through our struggles. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Sadly, Christians are often the chief accusers of the brethren, fulfilling the role of Satan rather than our Savior. It is too easy to see the weaknesses of others and exploit them, charging others for their failures and weaknesses; and often times when we take this approach towards others, expose the darkness of our own hearts.
The testimony of Job 11:1-6 shows that this was true of Zophar. After Job expressed his pain and grief to his three friends, Zophar took it upon himself to answer Job in a way that he thought was fit. First, it is important to remember that Job’s points were valid. The things that Job said were reflections of his exceptional suffering. Though his statements were passionate, they were candid. Job spoke honestly about his pain and was open regarding his thinking of how God might be dealing with him. Job’s speech reflected ignorance and confusion, not blasphemy and accusation. Job came close to misspeaking against God, but overall, his doctrinal belief’s about God were correct. Job was open to express the extent of pain he felt, the confusion he had concerning God’s purposes, and even his own faults while defending himself against the hypocrisy he was accused of. In other words, Job hadn’t done anything wrong in his speech while expressing the intensity of his pain and misery.
Zophar didn’t agree with any of Job’s words. The testimony of Job 11:1-6 shows that Zophar took no consideration for Job’s pain and suffering. Zophar made no attempt to consider Job’s anguish and showed no mercy towards Job concerning the intensity of Job’s words. Zophar first criticized Job for the amount of talking that he was doing. He attacked Job with the question, “Does continuous talking excuse a person’s guilt?” Zophar’s words were accusations. He assumed that Job was guilty of the hypocrisy that Eliphaz and Bildad mentioned. He was confident that Job was just trying to talk his way out of guilt. In Zophar’s mind, he was convinced that Job was deserving of the pain that God permitted, and Job’s speech was just vain excuses.
Not only was Zophar wrong in his assumption, but he was merciless in his approach. Even if Job was guilty of hypocrisy, Zophar’s tone makes no attempt to nurture Job into repentance. When Eliphaz spoke, he spoke gently, having good intentions. When Bildad spoke, he spoke a little more harshly, but his speech concluded with his hope that Job would be restored. Zophar on the other hand, leaped with an attack, seeking to chop Job down. This is hardly representative of someone who seeks to spiritually restore a brother back to the Lord. How can a brother repent if the words of another continue to bury the brother in condemnation, making hope seem so far off? Even if Job was guilty of hypocrisy as accused, Zophar would not have been helpful to the cause. Though he might have had integrity and faith as a believer like Job, he was a more effective tool of the devil at this moment, stripping Job of any hope or encouragement about God’s promises to those He considers upright and blameless.
Zophar expressed that he felt he was justified in his tone. He felt that Job’s speech warranted a harsh response. Zophar felt like he was doing the people a just deed by responding against Job in such a manner as if Job were speaking the nastiest blasphemies against God. He accused Job of mocking, either God or their friends. This was not true. He put words into Job’s mouth. Zophar accused Job of saying, “My doctrine is pure.” Job never said such a thing. Zophar accused Job of saying, “I am clean in your eyes.” Again, Job never said such a thing. In fact, Job said quite the contrary. Job explained his confusion about his suffering, admitting that he was a sinner, but stating that he wasn’t a hypocrite. Job never said that his words and wisdom concerning God were perfect, pure, and complete. Most of Job’s distress was on account of his lacking of knowledge about God’s purposes, which Job clearly stated. Job admitted that he had faults. He simply defended himself against the accusations of his friends. Job only confessed that he was innocent as a hypocrite as he was accused, nothing more. Yet, Zophar’s words continued to be accusatory as he claimed that Job painted himself to be a perfect man, undeserving of punishment and pain. This is not true.
As Zophar spoke, he expressed such confidence that he hoped that God would speak out, being sure that God would side with his perspective. Zophar felt so strongly that he was right about Job that he urged God to speak up, feeling that God would repeat the very words that Zophar spoke. In reality, Zophar and God were on opposite sides of the spectrum. Zophar was foolish and had no understanding of the true meaning of God’s work. He figured Job to be an enemy of God and a fool for being unwilling to admit it. Zophar felt Job’s pain was deserved and that Job was lucky God didn’t levy more pain on account of his blasphemous words. In reality, God saw Job as a blameless and upright man. God saw Job as an instrument of His righteousness, currently being used to spite the devil and prove him wrong in order to exalt His own righteousness and glory. When God finally does speak, He actually speaks against Job’s friends, not in favor of them as Zophar was so confident He would.
The first part of Zophar’s response against Job shows that it is best to keep our mouths shut. Notice that when Job’s three friends first arrived, they were of better service to him being silent with him. When each started speaking their opinions based on limited understanding and self-righteous perspectives, contention stirred up and Job’s suffering intensified. This is why the scriptures command us to refrain from jumping to conclusions about people. We are not called to dissect the reasons for God’s work. We are called to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. If we approach the Lord with this humility, we should approach one another with the same humility, handling one another with the understanding that ALL of us fall short of the glory of God. Thus, if we desire to help one another, our aim to be to match the temperament of Jesus, who was gentle, meek, mild, and compassionate with those who sought Him. Though Jesus knew the hearts of everyone, He was not the accuser. He has reserved judgment for Himself for a later time. Until then, we would be wise to keep quiet about what we don’t know, and speak words that the Bible tells us are sufficient to build up and restore the soul according to the hope of the Gospel.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he was in prison because of the work of his ministry. Preaching the Gospel had gotten him into great trouble. Yet still, it was to the Philippian church that Paul wrote, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” This he wrote while in prison! Paul felt that life on this earth was all about living like Jesus Christ, who surrendered Himself totally to the eternal and spiritually-centered purposes of the Father. Jesus came into the world, not to seek pleasures and comforts, but to die to Himself for the spiritual benefit of others. Jesus was a Man acquainted with sorrow and grief. He came into the world and the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own and His own rejected Him. He was despised because of His purpose, but stuck to the plan until the point of death. It was Jesus’ purpose that brought about His death. In fact, the scriptures teach that Jesus came into the world specifically to die for the sins of the world in order that those who believe could be forgiven by the grace of the Father. Paul sought to model his life in the same fashion as a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Thus, Paul knew that he would suffer. Paul knew there would be pain. His imprisonment was not a surprise to him, nor did it discourage him, because he knew that this was the same manner of life that the Son of God lived Himself.
Though there is pain associated with doing the will of God in this life, Paul also wrote that death brings gain. It is hard to think this way. This is a quality of thinking and conviction and faith that only the Holy Spirit can provide. Paul knew that this life was all about the labor of the Gospel and enduring the difficulties of it. To die, meant rest from that labor: the striving against his own flesh, the contention with opposing people, and the discomforts of the worldly environments that surrounded him. So long as we live in this life, there is sin and the effects of it. God cursed the world with labor because of sin. Sin brings corruption, decay, and death, which requires people to strive and grind continually. Paul, knowing what awaited him in eternity according to the hope of the Gospel, knew it was better to die and be in the presence of his Savior in heaven, than to go on in this planet. It is in death that we receive the full benefits and rewards of God’s eternally unconditional promises and goodness. While we are here, we can expect difficulty. When we are greeted by our Savior in His kingdom in heaven, we can expect peace and rest. Hence, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
This was a principle that Job didn’t quite understand. Though Job was considered a blameless and upright man in the eyes of God, his responses to his suffering are a dramatic contrast to the responses of Paul and his suffering. It is true that their manner of suffering was much different. Each man had a different attitude, not because of the quality of suffering, but because of where their focus and hope was. Paul’s hope was clearly on the eternal facet of God’s purposes and promises. Job struggled to remember God’s eternal nature and was dependent on seeing God’s grace in more tangible and material ways. These differences are likely on account of the extent of revelation each man received. While we don’t know how Job was able to know God and to what extent, we do know that he was not a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the magnitude that Paul was. Therefore, we can see that, the better understanding of the Gospel and of Jesus that we have, the more likely we are to have our minds focused on the eternal principles of God unto His glory.
The weakness of Job’s understanding is revealed in the testimony of Job 10:14-22. After Job exalted the Lord as his Maker and as the Creator of all things, he proceeded to state his opinion about God’s purposes as the Creator. Job still felt like God had created him just to abuse him. Though Job had just marveled and rejoiced in the glory of God’s power as Creator, he also expressed a certain amount of discontentment for God’s sovereignty and purpose in creation. This is a common human weakness. We often marvel at the power of God, but many times disagree with the manner in which God uses it if it doesn’t immediately benefit our personal desires and expectations. This is not right, and this is where Job was in great error.
In Job 10:14-22 Job first acknowledged the omniscience of God. Job understood that God knows everything and is always aware of what’s going on. Job knew that if he sinned, God would be on top of it. God knows even when others don’t. In fact, God knows, even when we don’t! Job knew that God would mark him as a sinner at that very moment of sin. God accounts for sin. Though God freely forgives, He doesn’t simply ignore sin as if it isn’t a factor. How could the blood of Jesus Christ, which paid the total cost of all sin, be considered so supremely valuable if God was not accounting for the debt in which His blood paid? Job understood that God doesn’t just acquit sinners. God doesn’t just excuse sin like it’s not a big deal. Sin is a big deal and it is highly offensive to God, regardless of how we might downplay certain transgressions. God sees sin, accounts for sin, and is righteous to ensure that the debt of sin is paid in some way, shape, or form: either by the blood of Jesus through faith according to His grace, or in eternal condemnation in the second death.
Job understood that if he were considered a wicked man, woe to him! To sin is one thing. Even the righteous fall seven times. Job was considered blameless and upright, but stated some things about God with an attitude that was definitely offensive to Him. Yet, the Bible never describes Job as a wicked man. All people sin and fall short of the glory of God. To be wicked is to continue in that sin as if God will not judge or cannot judge. Job was right. Those who live in such a manner – woe unto them! Job recognized that his suffering was horrific; possibly beyond his limits. Yet that suffering was nothing compared to the suffering he feared if God considered him to be wicked. The loss and pain that Job experienced is nothing compared to the loss and suffering that comes upon those who are declared wicked by the Almighty Creator of all things!
These things that Job remarked about God were true, but he wasn’t seeking to make trivial statements about God. Job was emphasizing the power of God’s wisdom and strength to impress his point that his life was hopeless on account of the suffering he was enduring. Job went on to state that, even if he were righteous before God, he would not be able to lift up his head because he was full of disgrace. Once again, Job shows how he was overly focused on his physical condition as if it had a bearing on the condition he would be in while in the presence of the Lord. It is true, Job’s sores and boils likely made him look like a physical disgrace. It is possible that his pain was such that he couldn’t physically lift his head. Still, if Job were considered righteous by God, then would a merciful, gracious, righteous, holy, and loving God allow His people to remain in such a condition while in the eternal presence of His glory? Wouldn’t the One who created the heavens and the earth also be able to heal the body, if not create a totally new one, fully restored and equipped to dwell in the glory of His presence? It is true that even those that God deems as righteous are only declared righteous because of faith, and cannot stand proudly before God. The scriptures show that all of God’s people fall on their faces before His presence. In a spiritual sense, it is true that none are able to lift the head to God because He is so superior in glory, majesty, holiness, power, wisdom, and so forth. Still, the thought of being bowed in the presence of God should far exceed our desire to lift our heads physically.
Job felt that if he were to somehow heal, God would hunt him down like a lion to bring him down again. This sentiment is just silly. God is not the one described as the lion, seeking whom He may devour. God is described as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who uses His power and strength to take authority back from sin, death, and hell so that He can fulfill His eternally unconditional promises to Israel and the world. God is not a hunter of the weak to bury them. God does not take joy in the pain of His people. If God were to further inflict pain on Job, it would only be to cause greater spiritual benefit. God is okay with destroying the body if it produces profit for the soul as exemplified by the work He did Himself in the form of Jesus Christ. He came into the world for the purpose of suffering unto death, knowing the extent of spiritual benefits that work would provide. This shows that God doesn’t require any of His people to endure anything that He Himself hasn’t also endured. So, when it feels like God is just provoking pain, it is critical to remember that God’s purpose is to produce spiritual profit unto His glory.
It is at that moment where Job questions why God formed him again. Job again expresses his desire that he had never been born. Job felt that if he had never been born, he would have never experienced his pain and been so pitiful before others. While this might be true, there are other factors to consider. If Job had not been born, he would not have had the opportunity to be used as an instrument of God’s righteousness. He would not have experienced the mercy and grace of God in the manner that he would learn in the end. He would not have been used as a very unique and special tool that God used to prove the devil weak and wrong. While Job felt that his suffering was to his shame, the full context of scripture shows that Job’s suffering was unto his glory because God was glorified by his life and the way it was used to thwart the works of the devil. Did the devil cause Job to ever curse God? He did not! This means that, even in the extent of Job’s weakness, God made Job strong to overcome the vicious attacks of Satan himself, proving that when we are weak, He is strong!
In the end, Job just wanted a little relief. After his irreverent complaining, he figured that his life was coming to an end soon. He was wrong. Still, he hoped that his pain would relent just a bit, figuring that the only benefits to be had were limited to the circumstances of this life. He described death as the shadow of darkness. He felt that death would take him to a land of darkness where even the light is darkness. How morbid life would be if those considered blameless and upright by God had this to look forward to! Once again, Job did not see as Paul saw. To live is Christ – life is HARD! Nevertheless, to die is gain, not to go into a deep dark pit and abyss of hopelessness. In fact, in death, we finally get to see light in its purest and brightest form with eyes that will be fashioned for us to behold the splendor of our Savior in His true form! How can we despise that hope and promise?
The Bible frequently refers to God as the Creator of all things with great purpose. God’s identity and power as Creator is often stated in the context of His promises. God frequently referred to His past work in creation in order to remind the children of Israel of the power He has, thereby assuring Him that He is able to fulfill the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, no matter what the circumstances appear to be. If God was able to create all things out of nothing by the power of His Word, then what is to keep Him from doing the work that needs to be done to fulfill His promises? This is an important concept to understand, especially when circumstances appear to be grim. Since God is Creator, He has power and charge over all things – spiritual and eternal. He is able to do as He pleases at any time, and only needs to speak a word to fulfill His purpose. While circumstances might be overbearing for us, they are not that way for God. He is the eternally self-existing, self-sustaining Lord God Almighty!
Another important attribute that must be considered during times of trouble, is that God is eternal. This means that the nature of God’s work in creation has eternal intentions. Since God is eternal, His purposes and promises are eternal. Though God uses temporal facets of this life to do His work, it is with the purpose of achieving results that pan out in eternity. Therefore, the ways things appear in this life aren’t always representative of how things will be in the end. This is especially important to remember when circumstances are difficult. The testimony of Job shows that, while Job knew of God’s power as the Creator of all things, he forgot God’s eternal nature. Job understood that his suffering was the result of God’s supreme authority and power in some way, but didn’t quite understand God’s reason. God seemed to favor Job and expressed that favor with great prosperity, but suddenly in a day, everything changed and Job didn’t know why. While it was impossible for Job to know the dealings between God and the devil, Job’s forgetfulness about God’s eternal nature made his suffering all the more difficult and confusing.
In Job 10:8-13, the Bible shows the extent of Job’s understanding of God’s sovereign control as Creator. Job first confessed that God was the One that made and fashioned him. Though Job was brought into the world by the physical actions of his mother and father, Job recognized that God was the actual cause of his existence. God was the One that gave Job limbs and functionality. God was the One that gave Job intellect and purpose. Job even marveled at the quality of God’s creative power. He confessed that God’s work was so intricate and beautiful. When examining the way the human body works, it is true that God’s creation of the body is a marvel. How does God fit so much complexity into various frames, and then provide power and strength to think, speak, and do? Job recognized that his life was the work of God’s hands. God didn’t just passively and mindlessly form Job, but took great care with His own hands as a potter does with clay. Still, Job forgot the nature of those hands. The hands of God are eternal and create with eternal purposes. God forms people with the aim to satisfy a purpose that is primarily spiritual and eternal in nature. Therefore, the manner in which things appear in this life doesn’t always represent the full scope of the work of God’s hands.
This is why Job was confused about his current condition. He wondered why God would take such care to form any person, but then seek to destroy them. Job felt that his physical suffering was an attack against his soul. On the contrary, the physical pain that Job was suffering was actually refining his soul and proving God superior over darkness. Job knew God to be the Creator, but did not understand how God’s hands are able to use the suffering of this life to produce profit for eternal life unto His glory. Job figured that the extent of his suffering, and the suddenness in which it came, was a sign that God was suddenly an enemy. Job had a hard time trying to reconcile this in his mind. His thoughts were flawed from the outset. Job’s prosperity was not necessarily a sign of God’s favor since even the wicked prosper in seasons. Likewise, Job’s suffering was not a sign of God’s wrath since it is necessary to suffer many tribulations in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. The dramatic swing in Job’s circumstances was confusing, but confusion caused deeper anguish because Job lost perspective of God’s eternal and spiritual focus, in which the condition of the physical body is not a factor, whether it be in good shape or bad.
Confused by God’s work, Job pleaded to the Lord for mercy. Confessing the Lord to be his Maker, he asked the Lord to remember his weak frame. This is a statement of Job’s humility. Job confessed that his body was weak. Job confessed that he, of himself, was unable to change his circumstances. Job didn’t seek medical assistance or other worldly remedies. Job simply called out to the God of all creation in hopes that God would see Job’s pitiful state and show mercy. Confessing his weakness, Job hoped that God would deal with him gently, and that in His compassion, he might be able to catch a bit of relief. Job didn’t try to will himself to have strength by his inner will and conquer his own circumstances. Job did the right thing by admitting to God that he was only a lump of clay, and hoped that the Potter would bring a renewed form to his life, rather than grind him into dust. Either way, Job admitted that God had the power and control to do either. Job just hoped for a more favorable outcome.
Job hoped that his life would return to the manner that it was. Considering the prosperity and peace that Job had, who wouldn’t desire to return to that quality of life? Job appreciated the care that God took when He formed him. Job said that God poured him out like milk and let him perfectly age like curdled cheese when he was formed in the womb. Job didn’t just say that God threw him together like a rushed outfit, but took time to cloth him with skin, flesh, and join his bones together properly with ligaments and tendons. In other words, God not only made Job, but gave him functionality and purpose. Job wondered, was his purpose just to be destroyed and die miserably?
To the one that forgets God’s eternal nature, this end might seem pitiful and terrible. Why would God create someone just to destroy them with suffering like Job was suffering? This would only seem sad if we figured the total essence of God’s work in creation to be physical and material. If God were merely a potter, then the destruction of His vessels would be sad. However, God has merely fashioned vessels as containers that hold the real treasure of the human soul. The body is merely a clay pot, so that if God desires to grind it back into dust, it is only returning to the original condition from which God started His work. However, the condition of the vessel DOES NOT affect the condition of the treasure that God keeps inside! God is spiritual, eternal, and almighty. He is able to preserve the soul unto eternal life in spite of the condition of the vessel. This is the power of the hands that formed all things! This is what Job forgot, and so he longed to return to better days in this life as if that was the best that God could do.
Job recognized that at one time, God showed circumstantial favor. Job’s life was good at one point. Job’s life was favorable at one point. Job realized that God had shown care and preserved His spirit at one point. Suddenly and quickly, Job’s circumstances changed. Job admitted that only God knows why. The purpose for Job’s prosperity at the beginning was hidden in God’s heart. Only God knew why Job was prosperous at that time. The purpose for Job’s suffering later in life was also hidden in God’s heart. Only God knew the real reason for Job’s suffering at that time. God’s purposes often remain with Him, which can make things very difficult for us because we don’t think like Him. God can change things on the fly, and seemingly without cause. Still, the changes in life that God allows and enables have no bearing on our connection to Him. If our circumstances increase, it does not make us more blessed or more saved than we were before. God is not better for bringing increase because we’re enjoying life more. God is always supremely good. Conversely, if our circumstance change so that we experience suffering and pain, that also has no bearing on our connection to Him. It does not necessarily mean that God is angry with us. It does not mean that God is discarding us. It does not mean that we are rendered useless for God. God is still good. Knowing that life brings these types of confusing changes, we must try to keep in mind that the focus of God’s work is spiritual and eternal, and always resolves in goodness for His glory. We must trust that God’s promises to us are not compromised because our lives swing from one direction to another. While life changes often, God remains constant, and on task to that which He set out to do from the beginning.
The Bible teaches that everything reproduces of its own kind. This is also true of attitudes. When the Bible shows that people have the joy of the Lord, it is usually infectious so that others have the joy of the Lord too. Likewise, when the Bible shows that there are some who are selfish, that attitude breeds more selfishness. The Bible shows that one of the most contagious attitudes is pessimism, discontentment, and complaining. These things are some of the easiest tempers to spread, and are also an offense to God. God withheld an entire generation of Israelites from entering the Promised Land because their “complaints” were so common, reflective of their unbelief and discontentment in God’s purposes and promises. When one person introduces complaining to a conversation, it is easy to see complaints take over the conversation and snowball into a conversation that becomes poisonous. This is why it is important to recognize when we get caught up in these issues. The circumstances of life can easily bring about discontentment, often with God, so that after stating one simple opinion, we can quickly venture into words that are offensive to God.
The testimony of Job shows how easy this is. In Job 10:1-7 the Bible shows that Job sought the opportunity to really speak his mind about his pain. Apparently, up to that point, he had restrained his true opinions about his suffering. Job had said a lot already, and while his suffering was great, that suffering was causing him to speak with a lot of human emotion rather than Godly wisdom. He had already been treading the thin line of blasphemy when trying to explain his innocence in regard to the accusations of hypocrisy his friends had made. Still, Job, caught up in the wind of his own emotion, continued to speak and ventured deeper into the realms of complaining. He was no longer complaining about his suffering. Job was complaining about God. While trying to understand why God was doing what He was doing, Job questioned God in ways that were very irreverent. Job did not curse God like the devil intended, but Job wasn’t speaking well of God either. This is not good, but this is what our suffering tends to cause us to do.
In Job 10:1-7 Job flat out said that he was going to speak more openly and without restraint about his grief. Here, it is important to understand that, while Job sought to prove his point to his friends, it wasn’t worth it considering the course he took to prove himself right. While trying to prove himself right to his friends, he ended up proving himself wrong to God. There is never really a time when we as flawed people should speak without restraint, especially concerning our complaints. The Bible teaches that the tongue is like a poisonous snake and spits fire as set by hell itself. This is how our mouths are naturally. If we allow our mouths to go without restraint, this is what we can expect to come out – poison and hellfire! Job told his friends how he would address God if he had the chance. Though Job knew and admitted that God is transcendent and holy, Job felt that he had the right to speak his mind as he was. Job felt that his words and opinions were falling short of reaching God because he did not have a mediator to stand between him and God to enable his words to effect in God’s ears. Yet, Job figured the audience of his friends would suffice. This is all wrong, and Job was allowing his emotions get the best of him. Job was not seeking the Lord and the fruit of His Spirit to properly deal with these issues, and his irreverent complaining and questioning was the result.
Job questioned the goodness of God. He wondered how God could be good, but yet allow such suffering. This is a common opinion for those who suffer or witness suffer. Still, the commonality of this opinion doesn’t make it right. God is good regardless of what we think of His work! With such limitations in our perspective and understanding, who do we think we are to question the works and purposes of God? Can we see the conclusion of God’s work to know what each step of His work will produce? Are we wiser than God to know that pain is senseless and useless? Job wondered why it seemed good to God to oppress him. This remark amplifies the ignorance of the human heart and reason. God is not an oppressor. God was not the cause of Job’s suffering. It is true that God gave Job over to Satan, but if Satan were not a destroyer then Job would not have an adversary causing pain. The devil was Job’s enemy, not God. Additionally, God doesn’t take pleasure in the suffering of any person, especially His own. In Job’s mind, suffering was bad and reflective of someone that is despised by God. Who taught this to Job? Did God ever say that pain in our lives shows that we’re His enemies? Where in the Bible does it say that suffering is a sign that God is against us? Where has God proclaimed that God considers it good when His people are in turmoil? Job might have felt that his venting was helpful to his friends to understand his perspective, and a relief to his own soul, but his words were an offense to God!
Job also asked why Go would despise the work of His own hands. Here, Job was referring to himself as the work of God’s hands. Job admitted that he was the creation of God. Job knew that God has purpose for His creation. Yet Job could not connect God’s purpose to his issues. Was God’s purpose to destroy that which He created? Did God just make Job so that he could suffer later? Again, while it seems like these are common questions, it is important to remember who God is. If God is indeed the Creator, that makes us the clay. Who is the clay to question the work and purpose of the Creator? Does the clay ever say, “Why have you made me this way?” As people, we have no right to question God’s purposes for creating us. Even if He had created Job just to destroy him, God is the Creator and has the right to do that! The truth is though, that Job was wrong again. God did not despise Job. Job was God’s creation, but Job’s suffering was no evidence that God despised him. When has God ever said that the suffering of His people is an indication that He despises those people? When has God ever said that, when we suffer in life, it’s because He hates us and created us just to see us in pain? Though this is what people often think in times of difficulty, the Bible NEVER teaches this about God.
Lastly, Job questioned God’s wisdom and understanding. He asked himself if it were possible that God were actually flawed, having eyes like a human with limited perspective. This is highly offensive against God! While Job ultimately knew that God is supreme in wisdom, knowledge, ability, power, and control, his emotional outburst and complaining kept him from selecting better words to state his cause. So, the words that actually came out of his mouth were awful! Job’s words made it sound like he thought God was wrong. Job’s friends, having limited human perspective, assumed Job was guilty of something that he wasn’t. Since Job continued to suffer, to Job it seemed like God had this same flaw in perspective. In other words, Job felt himself so innocent, that he deemed himself unworthy of this sort of suffering. He had taken the role of judge to judge himself. Seeing that he was not a hypocrite in the manner that his friends accused, Job felt that he should be dismissed from his suffering. Who are we to make such declarations? If as believers in God’s holiness and glory, we believe that we fall short of His glory and deserve condemnation for it, how can we criticize God when far lesser suffering comes into our lives as if we don’t deserve it? Doesn’t our natural depravity qualify us for suffering of any kind? It is the greatest gift of all to receive the grace of God, which removes us from the suffering we REALLY deserve – eternal hellfire. How can we admit to deserving hellfire, but try to justify ourselves against lesser suffering? This doesn’t make sense, but this is what the flaws of human emotions breed when we speak without restraint.
Jesus taught that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. Therefore, the things that Job was saying were emotions and attitudes that existed in his heart long before his suffering. It is impossible to fire a gun rapidly unless the bullets are already loaded. Job was able to fire off all of these complaints because he had been allowing them to fester in his heart until this point where they spewed out like destructive volcanic ash. If Job was innocent, his silence about the matter would have proved a better point. When Jesus was charged with crimes that He never committed, He never sought the opportunity to defend Himself. He didn’t have to. He knew He was innocent before the Father, and that in it of itself was sufficient. Job on the other hand became personally offended at the accusations of his friends, and let the opinions of his friends transcend his relationship with God. This caused Job to speak things that even he knew weren’t true. Job understood that God knew he wasn’t wicked. Yet, the pain of his flesh was bringing out words of the flesh. Job had even called his friends wicked in the process of his venting, now personally offending them. Though they were wrong in their assessment, they weren’t wicked warranting judgment from God.
This is the type of poison that can come from an unrestrained mouth. This is what happens when we decide we want to allow the power of complaining to run free without the restraint of the Spirit. This is what happens when we allow the pain of our circumstances to cloud our perspective on who God is; allowing the matters of this life to transcend the hope of eternal life. Though Job never cursed God, his good witness was certainly compromised. This is not something that a child of God should be okay with. As Job should not have allowed his suffering to cause forgetfulness about who God is, neither should we.
The Bible clearly shows that a life that has no knowledge or understanding of the Gospel is a hopeless life. How can there be the expectation of something legitimately good if there is no knowledge of how to gain access to the source what produces all that is good? If there is no access to God and the goodness He provides, how can anyone have true confidence and expectation in the revelation of good in a world filled with so much darkness? This goes to show that the communication of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is paramount in life. The only real way to bring hope into a dying world is to speak of the means by which the Creator of all things provided access into His glory. The only real way to have joy and peace is to hear the good news that God provides concerning the access He grants to those who will trust in the supremacy of His goodness and the exclusive means by which it is available. Those who reject this testimony can’t possibly have any real hope, joy, or peace.
The testimony of Job proves this as true. The testimony of Job shows that, even someone who was considered blameless and upright before God could be without hope when circumstances overwhelm the soul and the mind. This shows that it is not only important to hear the Gospel once, but to be continually reminded of it, always developing understanding of the hope God provides so that we can be properly prepared to deal with the adversity that life frequently brings. Job was not so well prepared. In his defense, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not made known to him in the manner that it is to us today. Still, his forgetfulness of who God really is caused him to fall into a dark abyss of intense depression. Seeing Job’s response to his suffering, we should be warned. Job was sad, but composed when he sat in silence for a week. It was when he began to speak complaints that his heart gushed out things that were irreverent to God and damaging to his own mind. When we open the door to complaining, the Bible shows that it is easy to quickly let a flood of complaints come that cannot be easily reversed, thereby taking the mind into some dark places. Unless our minds are filled with the truth of the Gospel and the value of it, this dark place is too easy to go to, even for the best of people such as Job.
In Job 9:25-35 the Bible shows that Job felt that his good days had expired. Job didn’t feel like he was going to see good and prosperous days ever again. This is how it can feel when we allow our poor attitudes to vomit complaints. One complaint can cause a flood of others so that we become bitter and pessimistic about all things as if the whole world is against us. This is how Job felt, and it simply wasn’t true. It was not long after this that God fully restored Job and increased his prosperity even more than before. Though God is not obligated to guarantee good days every day (from a human perspective), it does not mean that God is focused on ensuring suffering for His people all of the time. The presence of one trial, even if its extended, does not mean that God will not bring prosperity ever again. No one knows what God is doing, so we are unqualified to make the sort of assessment that Job did – that all good days are gone for good.
There is one true thing to note in Job’s depression. He mentioned that his good days were swifter than a runner, were swift like ships, and swooped in and out like eagles attacking prey. This goes to show that, when we do experience prosperity, it is not for long. When we have good days, they tend to come and go quickly. The presence of trials makes it seem as if we never had good days at all. No matter how extensive our prosperity used to be, it comes and goes quicker than the time it took to gain our prosperity, making it seem as if it wasn’t ever worth it. King Solomon complained that everything is vanity, and chasing prosperity is like chasing the wind. Even if you feel like you’ve grasped it for a moment, something in life is bound to happen to change things so that our grip seems like it was never as tight as we first thought. Therefore, it is wise to refrain from indulging in the pursuit of prosperity and “good days,” and simply appreciate the ones God provides with fear and trembling: knowing that circumstances could change at any moment, so as to enjoy what we have in the moment, and hopeful for the lasting goodness that awaits us in eternity so as to not get stuck on circumstantial increase.
This caused Job to think that it was useless to pursue any change of his situation. He thought it would be useless to smile for God would bring more pain to cause him to frown. He thought it was useless to wash himself for God would just throw him in the pit of the sewer so that he would despise himself even more. These things were untrue and were an offense to God. God is not in the business of burying people that are already in the pit. God desires to raise people up out of the pit and the miry clay. God is not in the habit of stripping people of peace. God has a quality of peace that transcends what the world offers and desires to give it freely and abundantly. Job was wrong about God and his attitude was irreverent towards God’s true character, nature, and purpose. When our attitudes start out bad, these are the types of things that happen, and why it is so important to keep the Gospel fresh in our minds at all times.
There was the problem for Job. He confessed the essence of his problem. He knew God was not a man. God is not like man. God is highly exalted above all creation. He dwells in unapproachable light. No one can look at God and live. How then could Job speak to God and reason with Him about his circumstances? How could Job gain access to God to plead his case about the intensity of his suffering? The truth is, God is going to do what He pleases at all times. Additionally, God knows the hearts and minds of all people. He doesn’t need to have personal conversations to know the desires of His people. Still, Job knew there was disconnect and distance between him and God. He desired to have a mediator that could stand between him and the Lord God Almighty to which he could express his grief, and that communication be translated in an honorable and righteous manner to the ears of the Father. Job did not know of such a mediator and so continued to feel as if God were his enemy and feared his future as a result.
The truth is, God has indeed provided a Mediator – Jesus Christ. He is our Great High Priest that sits at the right hand of the Father, continually making intercession for us. Without knowledge of this truth and faith in it, we are like Job – hopeless and afraid. Jesus came into this world to fulfill the righteousness of the Father’s Law on our behalf so as to break down the wall of sin that separated us from the Father, keeping our pleas to Him distant. When Jesus died, He paid for the consequences of our sin and offered forgiveness. When Jesus rose from the dead, He validated the supremacy of His work and the promise of eternal life. When He ascended, He took proper position to show that He indeed is our Mediator that can connect us with the Most High God. When He gave the Holy Spirit after His ascension, He provided access to that mediation so that we don’t have to wallow in fear and complaining attitudes. Instead, we can know that we have an advocate that pleads our case to the Father; not that the Father is against us if we don’t, but to make our communication to Him effective and fruitful. By the mediation of Jesus, we are able to boldly approach the throne of grace and find both mercy and grace in our time of need. Had Job known the Gospel as it has been made known today, he likely wouldn’t have complained as he did, and could have maneuvered through his trials with a better testimony in hope.
When people suffer pain or distress, it is common for people to think irrationally. Our emotional capacity doesn’t often do well with suffering and grief. We are often susceptible to buy into certain ways of thinking that, under normal circumstances, we would dismiss, but in our pain, seems acceptable and valid. Often times, the chief target of our pain is God. People often question God in times of suffering and grief. People often question His motives, His purposes, and His righteousness. Under normal circumstances, people might be willing to confess that God is perfect in all His ways. People readily admit that God is wise and always does the right thing. People confess that God alone is righteous. Yet, when our circumstances change, those basic truths we know of God are challenged. Because we suffer, has God’s nature changed? Just because things seem bad to us, has the Lord God Almighty gotten it wrong this one time? The Bible reveals that this is a common swing for people when things get hard. It is important to make note of this truth so as to ensure we immediately recognize and repent of this issue when we recognize it in our lives. God is who God is regardless of what we think.
An example of this human flaw is exposed in the testimony of Job. In Job 9:14-24 the Bible shows that Job’s grief and sorrow was starting to get the best of him. The false accusations from Job’s friends, that he was a hypocrite, were starting to get to Job. As a result, Job started to say some crazy things, that if he were not suffering, he likely would not have said. Though Job never cursed God as the devil had hoped, he did speak wrongly about God and blasphemed His name in other ways. The testimony begins by Job asking the question, “How can I answer God?” This point is true. Who can stand as innocent before God? Who can match God’s righteousness so that any pain He might allow inflicted on us can be proved as injustice? Job knew that, while he was not guilty of being a hypocrite like his friends accused, he was not totally innocent before God. Job knew that he had no valid defense and excuse before the supreme righteousness of God. How could Job reason with God if God alone is wise? Job knew that if he spoke with God, it would only be a matter of time before his words proved himself to be a fool compared to God, thus warranting any suffering the Lord might allow.
Knowing that he had no excuse to be dismissed from his suffering, Job admitted that if he had the chance to call out to God as “the Judge,” he would beg for mercy. The sad truth is that Job could have called out to God for mercy at any time. However, being focused on the issues of his pain, he had forgotten the merciful nature of God. Job had figured that the extent of his pain was an indication that God had discarded Job, even though the basis of God’s faithfulness promises that He will never leave nor forsake His people. Job confessed that, by this point, he felt like God had turned a deaf ear to his cries. This might have been only because Job’s cries were towards his friends in complaints rather than to the Lord for mercy. Though we cry, it doesn’t mean that we cry the right way so that God will hear. Complaining in self-righteousness is not the type of crying that God wants to hear. The children of Israel “cried” throughout their forty years in the wilderness, and God kept them from the Promised Land for it. The Bible does NOT teach that God ignores His people. Instead, the scriptures show that there are issues within our own hearts that cause our words to fall short of His throne because of our attitudes about God Himself.
Though Job never cursed God like the devil anticipated, Job did begin to accuse God of being unmerciful. Job felt like God was the cause of his suffering. Though God suggested and authorized the devil to inflict pain, God was not the direct cause. Job was wrong. Job felt like God was multiplying his wounds without cause. Once again, God was not the one inflicting the pain, so He could not be the one multiplying the pain of the wounds. Additionally, Job previously confessed that, though he was innocent of hypocrisy in one sense, he was not innocent as a sinner. If Job suffered, how could his suffering be without cause if he admitted to guilty of being a sinner? His suffering might not have been for a cause he understood, but a cause nonetheless. Still, God was not punishing Job. Job’s pain was not for a specific offense. Job’s sinful nature qualified him to suffer in a general sense, but God indeed had purpose for Job’s suffering that had nothing to do with fault. Again, Job was wrong about God.
Job also suggested that God’s purposes were excessive. Job didn’t feel that he needed to suffer to the degree that he did. Job accused God of not allowing him to catch his breath on account of the pain, possibly directly related to his throat. However, had Job remained quiet from his complaints and useless defense of himself, he would not have had to use the voice that he complained about. It was his own determined will that complicated his suffering, not God. Job confessed that if God were trying to prove certain things about Himself, the points were proven long ago, and God’s lessons were overdue. If God were strong, Job agreed that the Lord had already proven Himself Almighty. If God were righteous and just, Job agreed that the Lord had already shown that, though he was innocent of hypocrisy, his heart still had issues. Job continued to confess that superior righteousness of God even though he didn’t agree with the way God was showing it.
As a result, Job continued to speak about himself. Job despised God’s work so tried to console himself. Job again, said that he was blameless, referring to the accusations of his friends that he was a hypocrite. He was not a hypocrite in the sense that his friends said, but the more he spoke, was proving himself to be hypocritical in other ways. His pain was drawing out the fleshly desires to oppose God and His righteousness, and his mouth was making that clear. To Job, it made no difference that he was innocent of the specific hypocrisy that his friends accused of. Job suffered either way, so he despised his life and what it had become. Job felt that God was one to destroy the blameless and the wicked. This is not true. Job felt that God was one to laugh at the plight of the innocent. This is also not true. Job made it seem as if God was one that took pleasure in destruction, even of the wicked. Yet, the Bible makes it clear that God doesn’t even take pleasure in the destruction of the ungodly. He is just to do what He must, but is not entertained with suffering and loss of life as some people accuse.
The Bible shows that Job’s suffering had caused Job to respond according to his flesh rather than the Spirit. Job might have suffered an exceptional amount, but God was not to blame. Job might have experienced great loss, but that doesn’t mean that the nature of God had changed. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever more! Our suffering does not affect His character or nature. Just because we suffer doesn’t mean that God’s mercies aren’t renewed every day. In fact, one could make the argument that God was showing mercy to Job at the moment Job made false accusations about God, sparing Job from worse suffering and final judgment. Our suffering doesn’t change God’s gracious nature. Job indeed suffered greatly, but was restored and reward beyond his comprehension in the end, and not because he handled his trials so well. God is still patient when we suffer. God is still compassionate when we suffer. Remember that the nature of our Savior was well acquainted with sorrow and grief of His own on our behalf! Remember that Jesus subjected Himself to temptations of all kinds so that our Great High Priest could sympathize with us, in order to properly and effectively intercede for us.
Job felt that God allows the wicked non-believers to rule the world and causes the faithful to suffer greatly. It certainly feels that way sometimes. The prophet and musician Asaph wrote a whole psalm about that feeling (Psalm 73). The prophet Habakkuk felt the same way as well. However, just because the sentiment is common, doesn’t mean it’s right. God does not let the wicked and guilty run free in the world at our expense. God is not the cause of our pain so that He can be gratified by our suffering. God did not take the form of flesh to place our chastening on Himself because He loves to see us grieve. Though pain might cause our minds to wander into some dark places, it is critical to remember who God REALLY is according to the truth of His Word, not our opinions that are governed by our emotions.
The Bible teaches that there is a great difference between knowing about God, and actually knowing the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The problem is that we are of two contrary natures. God is light and there is no darkness in Him. We as people are conceived with a heart of darkness that desires to oppose and dispute God’s glory. God is holy and righteous. We as people are corrupt, decaying, and unable to do right in the eyes of God. God knows everything, sees everything, and hears everything, and He alone is wise. The Bible explains that as people, we are spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb. And there is the chief issue. God dwells in a spiritual plane of reality while we dwell in the physical world filled with flaws, deception, and confusion. God is able to know us, and does indeed intimately know and understand every person He’s ever created. We are extremely limited in how we are able to know God. Unless God works profound miracles to reveal Himself to us, we would never know God at all.
This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to know God. The Bible shows that God made Himself known to people in miraculous ways throughout history in very intimate ways. For example, the Bible calls Abraham “a friend of God.” The scriptures also state that Moses met with God “face-to-face.” Still, it was not as if these men could explain the details of all of God’s workings. It was not as if these men were suddenly better than everyone. It was not as if these men were testaments of perfection, standing high above all others, freely hanging out with the Creator of all things. The Bible is candid to show that these men continued to make mistakes, fail in faith, and remain confused about God’s work and the purposes of His work. No matter how well we might know God in this earth, His ways continue to be incomprehensive and past finding out because God’s greatness and glory is incomprehensive and past finding out.
Though Job didn’t understand what God was doing, he at least understood this fundamental truth about God. Job knew that God’s glory and majesty was unapproachable, incomprehensive, and immeasurable. When Bildad accused Job of being a hypocrite, citing several examples of different types of hypocrites and the ways that God deals with them, Job had a compelling rebuttal. In Job 9:1-13 Job simply asked, how can anyone stand righteous before God? If we boil it down enough, we’ll come to find out that the Bible describes ALL people as hypocrites! Who isn’t a failure in front of God? Who is able to stand as equal and approved with God? How is it possible for a person to stand as “righteous” before God? Who can measure up to God and freely stand in His glory, in the midst of His holiness and righteousness? Though Job was not a hypocrite in the manner that his friends accused him of, he was not denying the truth that he was worthy of the punishment that a hypocrite receives, because in the end, none are righteous before God.
Job made the point that no one can contend with God. When God makes decisions, who changes His mind? Was Noah able to convince God to keep from flooding the earth? Was Peter able to convince Jesus to avoid the cross? Job explained that if a person had one thousand opportunities to speak to God, he would not be right even one time. In other words, we can’t contend with God because God is always right. We as people wouldn’t even know what “right” is if it were not for God revealing His righteousness. Thus, when God makes a declaration about our corrupted character and nature, He is right, and no matter how we try to dice things up, we do not have an excuse. In this way, Job was right – all people are deserving of the judgment of hypocrites. Since God is wise to know the hearts of all people and strong enough to do what He knows is right, we would be wise to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God, seeking His mercy for our own forgiveness rather than criticizing the issues and causes of other people’s lives. It might be true that they are guilty of offending God in some sense, but according to the truth that Job spoke, so are we all!
The problem is that this fate is unavoidable. Job made the point that no one has opposed God and won. No one has rebelled against God and prospered. While some hypocrites might seem to flourish here for a season, their end shows that hypocrisy does not have a glorious end. Bildad explained that those who stand prideful and self-righteous always have a season in life where things seem to be fruitful and prosperous. However, history proves that those seasons always come to an end, even more so in judgment when each and every person will have to face God to give an account for their lives. At that time, it will be certainly clear that self-righteous people who refuse to humble themselves before God, will not prosper. That truth was known even as long ago as the days of Job.
Job compared the strength and power of God’s judgment to the sovereign control and authority He has over His creation. Since God is Creator, He is supreme in authority and control over all things that He created. Since God is supreme in authority and control over all things, He is powerful and strong to deliver harsh punishments to those who oppose Him. Job reminded his friends that God is able to “remove mountains” and the mountains don’t even realize it. Here, Job wasn’t only referring to literal mountains, but those who prop themselves up and boast of their authority and accomplishments. God humbles the proud, and often times, it happens without them even realizing that they have been humbled. They often realize that the superior position they thought they had, is suddenly gone. God is able to smash mountains and overturn them in His anger in a literal sense, and is able to humble the proud that exalt themselves highly like mountains in a figurative sense. He will do both in the day of judgment.
Job explained that God is able to shake the earth out of its place so that the pillars of the earth tremble. This reference also has two-fold meaning. God will literally shake the foundations of the earth when He judges the sin of the world in the end, before the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Since God has the supreme power to do this work, He is also able to do more personal work in the lives of the proud and self-righteous. Those “hypocrites” will have their world shaken by God so that the foundations they put their trust in are disrupted. God has continually disrupted and destroyed the world systems that people develop because they are the place where people put their trust. People put their trust in governing systems, financial systems, and cultural practices. God has shaken “the world” of many civilizations throughout history so that the foundation of their culture was put out of place, and the place of their trust was shown to be brittle and weak. God exposes the world for what it is, showing that those who place value and trust in worldliness based on the proud workings of the flesh, will end up confused and miserable when their system comes crumbling down.
Job then compared the power of God’s judgment to His control over the sun, moon, and stars. Job reminded his friends that God commands the sun. God seals the stars. God spread out the heavens, and even referred to constellations in space long before other figures of ancient history knew of them. Job knew about Orion and Pleiades because he knew the God who formed them. God was not only the Creator of those things, but also maintained charge and possession of them. This is important to recognize because many of the ancient religious systems were based on the sun, moon, and stars. Many ancient civilizations took God’s creation and created other gods and idols as representatives of those things. Most ancient civilizations created chief gods based on the sun because they believed it was the cause and center of life. The Bible teaches contrary. God is the cause of the sun. Therefore, while proud and self-righteous people place their trust in the gods and idols formed with their own hands, their gods and idols are merely the bi-product of God’s work. God did not make these idols, but Job acknowledged that Yahweh Elohim is the One True Living God. Though people have made false gods and idols out to be superior creatures, God has charge over all of those things.
Job confessed that these things are true, but hard to understand. When we study the Bible, we know these things about God, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have a full understanding of who God is. Job proved convincingly that God is past finding out. God’s miracles are countless. We can’t even understand how He spoke the worlds into existence, let alone how He has kept them going. Job remarked that, if God were to go by him, he wouldn’t even know. God is invisible. If God moved past Job, would he know? If God wanted to move Job, could he hinder God? Who can question God by saying, “What are you doing?” as if we have greater authority to explain a better way? This is the truth of who God is. Who can compare to such a God? Who can stand as equal with Him? In this regard, who is right in the sight of God?
When we compare one to another, it is easy to try and see that we are better than another person in our own eyes, but God’s judgment will not be His comparisons of us, one to another. In essence, God will compare us to Him by His Son – Jesus Christ! Who else has fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law? Who else has commanded the seas, multiplied food, and raised the dead? Who else has raised themselves from the dead? Job stated that God will not withdraw His anger from those who are proud and self-righteous; as Bildad and Eliphaz put it, hypocrites. Those who boast in themselves are far beneath God, and in their end, God will ensure they end up there. Knowing this, who can boast to be righteous before God? Who is not a proud, self-righteous, hypocrite? Since none are righteous, no not one, we should all fall down before God, seeking to know the extent our faults in humility, seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
The scriptures explain that God’s people should, under no circumstances, “judge one another.” Unfortunately, this is a heavily confused subject, in and out of the church. The English translation of the Bible makes this concept difficult to understand at times. The original Greek language of the New Testament uses three different words that are all translated into the English word “judge.” This means that, while the original language meant three different things using three different words, the English translation makes it seem as if God is against all forms of judgment. Jesus instructed His disciples to “judge with righteous judgment.” Since we do not have our own righteousness, the context shows that Jesus was simply giving the command to discern, not to “judge” in the manner that He will according to His righteousness. Jesus alone is Judge of the living and the dead because He alone is wise. He alone is able to know what is truly right and wrong, having clear and perfect understanding of the intents of the human soul. This is what makes Jesus’ righteousness unique. He is able to uniquely do right because He uniquely has all of the information to know what “right” really is!
We on the other hand are severely crippled in this regard. As people, we often don’t know our own motives, let alone the motives of others. We don’t know all of the purposes of the Father. We don’t have insight into the spiritual plane of reality to know what’s going on there. We don’t understand who people really are and can’t see others as God sees. Therefore, how could we render a verdict concerning the character of another person? How could we come to conclusions about why certain things are happening to people? How can we know what God will ultimately do with any person at a given time? Do we really know whether God will send a person to heaven or hell if we don’t know what their heart is really like? If we often question our own faith, how can we be so certain about the faith of others? This is why we should not look at others and assume we know what God is doing in the lives of others. This is why we should not look at others to make accusations about them as if we can see and know as God does. The Bible shows that when people do these things, they set themselves up for failure, making themselves out to be the fool.
The testimony of Job shows how people of God can often become chief offenders of hypocrisy and judging. It is often the things we know about God that lead our corrupted souls to think that we share the wisdom and authority of God to make declarations and take charge of people. The Bible commands the people of God to serve the needs of others, not seek to lord over them as if we are better or know better. The Bible says that we are to esteem others as better than ourselves, not ourselves better than others and superior authority figures. In Job 8:8-22 the Bible shows that Job’s friend Bildad had a hard time understanding this truth. When he spoke to Job, he confessed that his knowledge and wisdom was limited. Bildad confessed that his understanding was limited because he had not been on this earth for long. This goes to show that our wisdom is limited by the time we spend on this earth, and since our time is short, it speaks to how little we really know. Bildad was humble to make this remark, but his confidence to speak down to Job came from another place.
Though Bildad admitted that his understanding of the details of Job’s situation was like “a man born yesterday,” he figured that Job’s circumstances could be explained based on a close examination of history. Bildad didn’t understand what was happening in the moment, but figured he could make sense of the present by examining the things of the past. So, instead of having Job listen to his own words, Bildad urged Job to take a diligent account of the past to see that their accusations of Job’s hypocrisy was for a just cause. In other words, looking at God’s past dealings with hypocrites looked a lot like what was happening to Job. Therefore, Job must have been a hypocrite. Bildad showed that he had a good understanding of God’s past work with hypocrites, so his explanation continued on as an accusation against Job, who was in fact innocent of hypocrisy.
Bildad compared the hypocrites of times past to three different examples. Bildad compared hypocrites to papyrus reeds, spider webs, and large green trees. Bildad explained how a papyrus reed grows in the muck and mire of the delta banks. It grows out of mud and doesn’t take deep root because of the marsh that surrounds it. Those plants don’t last long and are easy to pluck up. Bildad explained that papyrus doesn’t have to be cut down like grass because grass takes deep root. Instead, the papyrus simply withers away while it is green. It doesn’t need to be cut off with forceful judgment, but will die of itself while it looks to be prospering because its foundation is brittle and shallow. Bildad said that hypocrites are just like this. They are shallow in their pursuits and don’t often take deep root in anything. They seldom need to be cut down with forceful judgment because they wither within themselves, having no true substance in their lives. A hypocrite might look good outwardly, but has no spiritual root or substance, and so the normal elements of the world cause them to weaken and shake and die even while it appears that things are good. Bildad’s general assessment of hypocrites is correct in this regard, but these circumstances didn’t match Job’s circumstances, regardless of how things looked to Bildad.
Next, Bildad compared hypocrites to spider webs. Spider webs are spun from the butt end of the spider. They are the dwelling place for the spider, and the spider alone. They are the dwelling place of the spider, and the trap for others. The kind of web that Bildad referred to is a sort of cobweb, so it is not a web that is left standing effectively for long times. A cobweb is a nuisance and is easily swept away when the house is cleaned. In this way, the web is brittle, serving purpose for a short period, but is easily taken away when its futile nature is discovered by the homeowner. The hypocrite is like this sort of spider web too. The Bible is true to describe hypocrites as self-serving individuals. The Bible indeed describes hypocrites as those who look out for self, laying traps for others so as to gain their personal affections. However, this manner of living also has no substance. Those who live for “self” will swiftly be swept away by the Lord when it is time for His judgment. When the Lord decides it is time to “clean house,” those cobwebs that dirty the house and have no purpose will be easily removed and thrown in the trash. This is certainly true of what the Bible teaches about hypocrisy, so Bildad’s general assessment of hypocrites is true. Still, this was not true of Job and his specific circumstances.
Lastly, Bildad compared a hypocrite to a large green tree. This person is not like the papyrus reed. In fact, they would swear that their foundation is strong and their substance in life is worthy of praise because of the appearance of fruit. Bildad said that this sort of hypocrite appears to be a flourishing tree, with branches spreading out across the whole garden. The trees roots are wrapped deep in the ground and around the rocks, so its life within itself seems strong and self-sufficient. This sort of hypocrisy mirrors the sort of hypocrisy of Nebuchadnezzar, who had dreams of himself being a huge, fruit-bearing, life-giving, tree. However, the end of this tree is more violent and forceful. Though the tree doesn’t wither from within, it is cut down in its time so that the ground in which it was planted doesn’t even remember the tree was there. This speaks to the manner in which the Lord will bring down the hypocrites who are proud in their self-righteousness. Like Nebuchadnezzar was swiftly chopped down from his place of boasting, and made a lunatic for some time, the Lord will do this with all hypocrites. This is a truth proclaimed throughout all of scripture. Those who trust in self and point to the things they think are the effect of their own efforts, will stand in harsh judgment against God and will be cut down. Yet again, this was not true of Job.
At the end of Bildad’s explanations, he sought to encourage Job with hope. His remarks about God’s judgment of hypocrites was true in history, was true at their time, and continues to be true today, but was not true of Job. Job was not a hypocrite. Job’s suffering was not because of self-righteousness. Either way, Bildad reminded Job that the Lord will not cast away those who are blameless. Instead, God will uphold His people that are faithful servants, shut the mouths of mockers, and fill the hearts of His true people with joy and restoration. If Job were truly blameless and repentant before God, Bildad reminded Job that he would not be destroyed like the hypocrites. On the other hand, Bildad reminded Job that if he is a hypocrite, and is unwilling to confess his issues, God will indeed make a swift end to him as He has in times past. These things are generally true about God’s manner of judgment, however Bildad was not qualified to determine Job to be one or the other. It is true that God upholds the blameless, but who are we to determine who is blameless to know who God will uphold? It is true that God will make a quick end to hypocrites, but who are we to determine who are the hypocrites to know why certain people are suffering certain ways? Just because we know general principles about God doesn’t mean we have all of the facts that God has. Therefore, we would be wise to keep from making assessments, declarations, and determinations about people and their character lest we become the person we are criticizing.