Meditations in Job : 34. Security in God
Job 13:13-15 “Keep silent and let me speak; then let come to me what may. Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him”
There are religious people who get upset at any wrong word spoken before God. The God they know is harsh and judgemental and who will strike out at anyone who says a word out of place. That is not the picture of the God of the Bible. I have always marvelled at Moses’ willingness to argue with God. His two-chapter dialogue (Ex 3 & 4) is an amazing example of someone making excuses before God, but then his knowledge of the Lord is very limited so he gets away with it. But after all the Exodus happenings, the deliverance from Egypt, the journeying to Sinai and the revelation received at Sinai, you might think Moses has learnt to hold his tongue before an Almighty and Holy God but when the Lord threatens to destroy the makers of the golden calf, we find Moses arguing with God not to do it. As a young Christian I was always fascinated by preachers speaking of Moses ‘importuning’ God. It means soliciting Him or persistently pressing Him. It becomes clear that this is exactly what the Lord wanted of him. When God comes in the flesh in the form of His Son, Jesus, there are lots of interactions between Jesus and his disciples, especially Peter who was always opening his mouth to put his foot in it. Having observed that at length, I conclude that Peter felt utterly secure in Jesus’ presence and felt quite able to speak his mind. When we come to Job, we find something very similar.
See how he starts out in this next part of our study: “Keep silent and let me speak;” (v.13a). Come on, guys, give me space, allow me to say what is on my heart, is what he is saying. But note how our verses above continue, “then let come to me what may.” (v.13b). Wow! In other words, let me speak my heart and I’ll take whatever comes. Now those are either words of careless folly or they are words spoken out of immense security, and I suggest it is the latter. In one sense, perhaps, he’s already received so much suffering and sorrow that perhaps he thinks there is nothing more that God can do, but the words that follow seem to have more assurance behind them than that somewhat negative and fatalistic view of it. He asks a question about his actions: “Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands?” (v.14). He realises that speaking rashly before God is a dangerous and foolhardy business, but then he speaks out words of immense confidence in the Lord: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (v.15a).
Those must be some of the great words of this book. God can take my life if that is His desire, yet I will trust Him for whatever comes after that, I will hope in Him, I will put my entire future into His hands and feel utterly secure in what He will do with me. Some of these Old Testament saints were incredible! I always marvel at the way the writer to the Hebrews spoke about Abraham being willing to offer Isaac, “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.” (Heb 11:19) These men shame our often weak faith. Job has such confidence in the Lord and his relationship with Him that he is not afraid to say, “I will surely defend my ways to his face.” (v.15b) To His face? Job is willing to look God in the eye and defend himself!
But his confidence goes on and on: “Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him!” (v.16). This will turn out for my deliverance? In this he trusts in God’s loving goodness and His faithfulness to what Job knows about Him, and then also in his own godliness. It is not pride to be able to look the truth in the face when it is about yourself. The apostle Paul taught, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Rom 12:3). Humility is the ability to see yourself as you are, to see your limitations AND to see your grace that God has given you. Job knew that he had been godly and wasn’t ashamed of it, and so also trusted that God would honour that godliness. In fact as he goes on, he builds on that certainty: “Listen carefully to my words; let your ears take in what I say.” (v.17). I’m happy to enlarge on this, is what he infers.
He continues, “Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated.” (v.18). I’ve thought about this, is what he is saying, and I trust God and trust what I know about my own motivation and actions, and I believe I will be vindicated by Him. Indeed, when we come to the end of the book, as we’ve noted before, the Lord declare to the three friends, “you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7). Job concludes his case, “Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die.” (v.19). Look, he says, as I look back over my past life, I have examined myself and I am not conscious of having stepped out of line and having sinned, therefore you won’t be able to find anything legitimate to say against me; you can make these generalisations about me being a sinner, if you like, but I challenge you to find specific wrong things that I did. That is an amazing claim. It is similar to Paul’s claim to the Thessalonians: “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” (1 Thess 2:10). It’s not a pride thing to be able to say this. It is a simple statement of truth spoken in humility. We should not be ashamed to say, “With God’s help I have been righteous this day”. Job actually has some lessons in humility for us. May we heed them!