There is a larger lesson to be found in Job that I hope that you’re seeing as we read through — apart from the verse by verse things that I’ve been commenting on. Job’s friends, as misguided as they are with their misunderstanding of the meaning of trial and troubles, are at least doing right in confronting Job. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, the friends were indeed wrongly concluding that Job had sinned, because so much disaster had befallen him; but at least they cared enough to try to help by calling him to repentance — even if they were seriously mistaken.
Today’s world is so fearful of “judgment” that it often simply turns a blind eye to sin and even denies that the obvious consequences of sin could possibly be any sort of judgment from God — a God who is so much a loving, grandfatherly being that He couldn’t possibly punish anyone. What a false notion of God! What a cowardly and uncaring friendship! God is most definitely interested in bringing wrong-doers to justice; and a “friend” who would allow another friend to continue down a path of sin and destruction is really more an enemy than a friend.
The proper balance between Job’s friends who were too quick to assume the worst and accuse him wrongly of sin and modern notions of non-judgmental friendship is found in having a biblically informed understanding 1) God, 2) God’s nature, 3) the role of trial and trouble in God’s scheme of things, and 4) what true friends will do to protect one another. So don’t read the book of Job and conclude that confrontation of someone else is wrong; the Scripture teaches us elsewhere:
“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” Galatians 2:11, NAS95.
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Galatians 6:1, NAS95.
“Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” 2 Thessalonians 3:15, NAS95.
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19, 20, NAS95.
Those things having been said, then, let’s look at a few other verses and their lessons.
The power of God — For most of us reading the Bible, there is no doubt that God is indeed powerful — He’s the creator of the universe! But 12:13-25 contains a distilled tour de force of what God can and does do. And God’s actions of the sort described by Job are not confined to the ancient world; He’s alive and well and intervening in affairs of men even today. No, He’s not doing miracles today, by His own choice (we’ll take more about this in a future post); but He still makes nations great, then destroys them (v. 23a), answers prayers of His people, and also brings His promises and prophecies into fulfillment. God is not the God of the Deist, who has merely wound up the world like a clock and watches it unwind as it will; He is active and engaged and must never be factored out of the equation of history and current events.
I know that I will be vindicated — Is it possible to know that you stand innocent before God? Job certainly seemed to think so, although he does seem to open the possibility of some unknown thing he might have done: “How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin.” Job 13:23, NAS95. He even entertains the possibility that he was paying for something done in his you: “For You write bitter things against me And make me to inherit the iniquities of my youth.” Job 13:26, NAS95. But nevertheless, Job is confident that he will be vindicated. This probably has everything to do with Job’s confidence in God’s real forgiveness and his deliberate efforts at being obedient to the LORD. Job, as the earlier chapters showed, was very conscientious about making sacrifices for himself and his children, lest any of them might have offended God. Sometimes we, however, carry about an uncertainty about our forgiveness and our spiritual condition before God. But if Job could be so correctly confident — a Gentile, living before Christ, operating on limited information gained from the innate knowledge of God and moral knowledge (see Romans 1 and 2) — can’t we correctly find confidence in having the one truly effective sacrifice for all time (Jesus on the cross), the guidance of inspired Scripture, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?
Short-lived and full of turmoil — Now, isn’t that the truth?! Job in his misery and looming mortality is considering the ultimate questions of life. The wise writer of Ecclesiastes said, “It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, Because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2, NAS95. Those ultimate questions are all too seldom asked, but Job did in Job 14 as he tried to plead with God to have mercy on his frail human frame. Consider it yourself; it’s sobering.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.