Meditations in Job : 68. A Final Comment
Job 1:1, 2:3, 42:7 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil… Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”…… the LORD .. said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
So, we have come to the end of what has been quite a long and difficult book. The first two chapters were all-important to our understanding; they show us the reason why Job was suffering – and it wasn’t anything to do with his sin. In the arguments that follow the three ‘friends’ declare again and again that it must all have happened because of Job’s sin. Their arguing is like the waves on the shore, coming in one after another and trying to encroach up the beach. But Job won’t have it. He looks back and he is certain in his mind that he has done everything he possibly could to be righteous: “I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.” (Job 27:6)
In this he surely challenges those of us who are modern Christians, for rarely does one hear this being spoken about, this possibility of living a righteous life where we can be called ‘blameless and upright’. The New Testament is clear on its teaching, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” (1 Jn 1:8) and that is all most of us hear! Righteousness doesn’t deny that we are sinners, but it does declare that we can be all out for God and, as much as we are that, we are living according to His will and are righteous. Righteousness, Paul tells us, is believing God, not living according to the rules but in harmony with God: “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law.” (Rom 3:20) and “God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” (Rom 4:24). In one of the meditations in this series we concluded that ‘the righteous’ are those who walk with God and follow His ways and are morally upright. From our New Testament perspective they are those who walk with God in a clearer relationship than ever before because of the coming and the work of Jesus on the Cross on our behalf.
The battle that is seen in Job is whether he will hold on to the truth or whether he will be diverted and curse God. Twice Satan maintains he will be able to get Job to curse God and once Job’s wife exhorts him, “Curse God and die!” (2:9) but instead we read, “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (2:10). The worst Job can eventually be chided for is speaking into a situation that he did not understand: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” (38:2). Neither he nor we know what is going on in the courts of heaven. Sometimes we would do well to heed Solomon’s wise counsel: “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Prov 10:19). Moreover, it is probable that our words are never perfect and we come short in understanding. The lesson is very clear: when we do not know what is going on, may we just continue to be faithful. If we cannot see the way ahead or we do not understand what is happening around us, let us simply declare the foundational truths that we who live in New Testament times should know: God loves me, Jesus died for me, and God is working in all that happens for my good. There may be many more things we can give thanks and praise for, but those are always foundational basics that we should be declaring.
Job did not live with the revelation that we have and so it makes it all the more wonderful that in the midst of his anguish and in the midst of fending off the guilt inducing comments of his friends he can declare some amazing truths: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (13:15). That is a great statement of trust. But see what follows: “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend.” (16:19-21). In heaven there is one who will speak up for him. How could he known about the Son of God???? But he continues: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another.” (19:25-27) What an amazing declaration of truth of his eternal destiny was that! These are some verses that almost defy our understanding. They appear as pure revelation. They are absolutely true but come in a time when no such knowledge was available. As such they remind us that when we are living in relationship with the Lord, He will share things by His Spirit that can be known in no other way than directly from heaven.
If you are like me, the complexity of the words and the arguments are so great that you are left thinking, what was that passage all about, and that simply means that we will need to go back over and over this book until we are familiar with it. I think it will be well worth the effort. Enjoy – again and again. For myself, I am left feeling very much aware that what I have written through this series needs rewriting again and again for there is so much more to be seen. So, of you come back here in six months time, the words may be different, but isn’t that what learning is all about. May Job challenge us to be learners, going to new depths of understanding. Amen.