Meditations in Job : 28 : Created and Condemned
Job 10:8,14 Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? …… If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished.
Understanding your ‘world view’ is very important. It is the overall picture of how the world is and, for believers, how God is. I suspect that if you asked many Christians about some of the main characteristics of God they might say He is Creator, all-powerful and holy, all of which are true, but actually there are other characteristics of God that are even more significant when it comes to a personal relationship. Listen to how Moses described God and ask yourself if this is how you think of the Lord: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (Deut 7:9).
When we speak of the ‘old covenant’, do we speak of it as “his covenant of love”? That was what the old covenant was, an agreement between God and Israel whereby the Lord could show His love to His people Israel; it was all about love and blessing. But maybe you are a person who focuses more on verse 10 of Deut 7: “But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction.” There are some of us who focus more on what happens when we get it wrong than when we get it right. That is one part of the truth – that those who hate God will find that He steps back and leaves them to their own devices so that their sin comes down on them and destroys them (see Rom 1). When He sees that they will never heed Him He may, on occasion, remove them from the earth. Yes, this is the fruit of ungodliness and unrighteousness and indeed “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:3a), but why focus on that, why not focus on what follows, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:3b). It was somewhat understandable that Job focused on the negative side of the coin, feeling as he was, rather than remember all the positive things, but some of us make an art form out of being negative!
Job continues, first of all considering that God had made him. Verses 8 to 12 could be summed up, “I am of your making.” Consider those poetic sounding verses: “Your hands shaped me and made me….. Remember that you molded me like clay…. Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” (v.8a,9a,10-12) There, that is fairly straight forward: you made me and you blessed me with provision and protection. Why does he say it? Is it a psalm of praise? Well, no. because in it he inserts two questions: “Will you now turn and destroy me? ….Will you now turn me to dust again?” (v.8b,9b). He’s reminding the Lord that He made him so what was the point of doing that if He was now going to destroy him.
This is rather like Moses’ appeal to God when the Lord has threatened to destroy Israel for their idolatry at Sinai: “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, `It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.” (Ex 32:11,12). It is a good appeal to the Lord. It says, Lord, don’t let your previous activity be wasted so that people will question your name.
In verses 13 to 17 Job reveals his legalistic mentality which is more concerned with law and justice than love and forgiveness in a relationship with the Lord. He’s looked at what has happened to him and wrongly concluded that all along God has a judgmental attitude towards him: “But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind: If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished.” (v.13,14) i.e. you were constantly watching me to find fault with me! Actually Job, no, that’s not how it was. The Lord is looking to encourage us, build us and help us overcome, but perhaps you need the revelation of the rest of Scripture to see this.
He continues with a sense of condemnation: “If I am guilty–woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction. If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave.” (v.15-17) i.e. with all that has happened to me, I feel I haven’t a leg to stand on, I can say nothing, for I’m obviously guilty otherwise you wouldn’t have done all this to me, and these ‘friends’ only confirm all this. Well, you’re not guilty Job but yes, you cannot escape from God’s power and, yes, these friends are out to condemn you, but that is only a part of the picture. You are going to become a byword in the world for one who suffered and learnt the wonder of God. This is far bigger than your sin – which isn’t the issue here!
Sadly Job can’t see that at the moment and so in the remaining verses of the chapter, verses 18 to 22, he asks, “Wouldn’t it have been better if I had not been born, why can’t I just die?” See: “Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!” (v.18,19) There was that earlier lament repeated, why was I born? It continues, “Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and deep shadow, to the land of deepest night, of deep shadow and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” (v.20-22). i.e. leave me alone so I can quietly die and go to wherever it is I’m to go to! When we allow the pain and the anguish to overwhelm us it is only the negative we are left with. Do you remember what Paul taught: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6) Two key words to help us are “with thanksgiving” i.e. remember the good as well as presenting the bad, get a truer perspective. Yes, it may be bad, but look for the good and give thanks in it all. Don’t let the dark side overwhelm you and skew your perspective!