AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH December 13,   2009

Continuing the work of Australian Presbyterian (Union 1901),
following
the Lord without Compromise
 and the Bible without Qualification
by Faith

THE FORGOTTEN CLAUSE

"Though He Slay me, yet shall  I trust Him ... " Job 13:15

Though He slay me, yet shall I trust Him...!" - a remarkable statement from Job, that one. But it is not this which is the "forgotten clause," for in any case, it is two clauses.

This however, as with the pointers  to the Southern Cross in the skies of this land, points us to it. It is found, the one in mind, in Job  40:2, nestling in the dual clauses:

"Shall the one who contends with the  Almighty correct Him ?"

"SHALL THE ONE ... CORRECT HIM!"

The one ? which one ? ANY one!

WHO CAN CORRECT  THE  LORD ?

THE EXTENT OF THE TEST

This is the pith in the sentence above,  in the MAIN clause, set in a rhetorical question! That is, the answer is in context obviously NO, he shall  NOT correct the Lord. Indeed, the rebuke to Job that follows is powerful!

When  fields and folds,  precious and prized  possessions and human associates are suddenly gone, YET shall I praise Him! says Habakkuk, except  that it is even more than this, for the text is this (from Habakkuk 3:17-19). :

         "Though the fig tree  may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
though the labour of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food,
though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
and there be no herd in the stalls -

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength..."

Now let us be fair to Job who, though scolded and reprimanded by the Lord, was  ALSO honoured by Him in the end, appointing him to pray for his tormentors (former friends) who virtually accused him of being a dirty old man, a hypocrite, a vain strutter, hiding his sins in his pride. He as wronged by them, the Lord directed, should  pray for them, and they make a sacrifice for themselves, a burnt offering, expiatory and dedicatory, since all the calamities which befell Job were in fact,  NOT in themselves, a rebuke to Job. As we see in Job 1, they were a test appointed in exalted  circumstances to SHOW that Job's heart was set on the Lord in loving zeal, and not as an indirect way of achieving riches, or contentment or satisfaction, using God simply as a means.

Tear from him his booty, his wealth, his  natural bases of contentment and he will curse you to your face! That was the challenge of the devil. The Lord was willing for this,  since it must be realised once and for all, He is not hidden in His ways (except where presumption and folly put on  the  glasses that blind them to reality, and  crinkle what they see), but manifest (cf.  Romans 1:17ff.).  It was to  show to all, the realities of life, of faith, of  love that the test was made, and in it once for all is the answer to those who like to make of every Christian a religious hypocrite so  that they themselves can practice evil, and yet pretend  to be  good, as good as anyone ever is.

That is where the real hypocrisy lies.  The test, so  painful  to Job,  was  to  show the integrity of faith and the reality of love, of reverence, of worship,  of truth, and being freely joined to it with zeal, to know at the end, the power of God:

         "The LORD God is my strength..."(from Habakkuk 3:19).

It is NOT, repeat NOT, anything to do with rewards and satisfaction, though these things are pleasant: for these are not in themselves the point. It is GOD who, as with Abraham, Himself, is our shield, our rock,  and our exceedingly great  reward. We are NOT, repeat not,  who are Christians, who have personal knowledge of God (John 17:1-3),  like 'gold-diggers' who 'marry for money'. That has nothing to do with it. With Job, indeed, the following were taken from him in  fairly fast sequence: his wealth, his children, the  love and  even respect of his wife, his status in life, his standing, while his friends acted as vile enemies, using their  friendship of yore virtually to abhor him. He was left bereft.

WHO WILL CORRECT THE LORD!

THE INTENSITY OF THE TEST

I  WILL  TRUST HIM THOUGH HE  SLAY ME! and THE LORD HAS GIVEN, THE LORD HAS TAKEN AWAY, BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD. These were Job's responses at the first, and indeed as things progressed. Yet as we see in Job 10, there was a wrestling in his smitten soul. He acknowledges to God, here, that  "there is no one who can  deliver from Your hand" (9:7), but protests, "Your hands  have  made  me and fashioned me, an intricate unity, yet You would destroy me"- 9:8. He pursues his theme

"If I sin, then you mark me, and will not acquit  me of my iniquity.
If I am wicked, woe to me; even if I  am  righteous, I cannot lift up  my head.
I am full of  disgrace.. If  my  head is  exalted, You hunt me like a fierce lion, and again You show Yourself awesome against me."

Indeed,  in 13:23-24, he  asks,

"How  many are my iniquities and  sins  ? Make me know my transgression and  my sin. Why do you hide Your face and regard me as Your enemy ?"

to complete the rumination  with this,

"He has made me a byword of the people,
and I have become one in whose face men spit!" (
17:6).

Only to his Redeemer will Job flee (19:23-27), and here is his only rest, past doings and wrong doings,  at peace in the incarnate God whose he is. "Can anyone teach God knowledge!" he cries (21:22), being  well aware of the exaltation of the  wicked  before their day of  doom, and the trials of the  saints of God (21:11ff.), not least in this, that the wicked progress  and prosper in pomp and vile  violation  of the ways of the Lord, even while saying "Who is the Almighty that we should  serve Him!" (21:15).

This world is not all, but a test; yet the supreme test  given Job at times almost overthrew him. Not even the present intimacy of glorious liberty in the Lord, the blessing of His face, the wonder of His fellowship, nothing seemed to remain for him.

Either he  feared and loved God for the manifestations of power  and presence, and other things  for  their pleasantness, the  whole a nice configuration  in life, or else he LOVED GOD for His own  sake, trusted Him though He should slay him (as he said), and consequences had nothing to  do with it, provided the chief thing was there, God Himself, unchangeable in His ways,  reliable in His grace,  prodigious in His mercy, the Father of spirits and the friend of sinners.

Yet Job found the very severity of the test  frightening,  and on  some  moments, wandered in his speech, despite the manifest underlying faith. Thus while he rests his case with the Lord by faith (Job 19) as Redeemer, thereby acknowledging himself a sinner in the hands of God Almighty, yet he mistakes and declares this, "He tears me in His wrath, and hates me..." (16:9), and indeed in 16:11, his experience is set in terms reminding us of the desolatory forsakenness of Christ!

But this is to show the reality of sin, its incomparable  horror, its impossibility as a mix or  governor; and why Christ had so  to suffer. It is not unjust to expose any and every sin, and the sin of character underlying, the propensities of the flesh and their end, before it comes, so that at last it might not come. In a way, Job was an  evidence for the  necessity of Christ.

Yet God did NOT hate Job, and in this he erred; and while God may allow those innocent of gross and obvious sins to  suffer,  it is not as a delight (Ezekiel  33:11). On the contrary, it can be used as a roll-call attesting the  desolation of damnation that threatens man, not in part but in whole,  and  an exhibit of the price of  treason  against the Almighty that cruel malignities and artless collisions appear; for God hides nothing and  all is revealed, even the necessity of the  exceeding care  of  the  Lord and the value of His testings.

Thus in eternity there is always to be seen if it were necessary, the horror of sin and its gross cruelty;  for God is the God of  light, and not of darkness, and  He  demonstrates as well as remonstrates, and shows  to man what is in  his heart,  that he might seek the mercy he needs, without works (and Job was FULL of  good works). This is gained through faith in God alone,  by love unmixed, in grace alone, with gratitude for the death of Christ for our sins, accepting its necessity, relishing its redemption and rejoicing in the power of His purity, bodily to rise, rupturing even death (Acts 2:23-24, Romans 10:9). 

In his worst tremor, before as in Job 28, Job exalts in the wisdom of God with delight, attributing to Him the unique glory of really knowing all and having sound ways in all things, writhing, he actually declares this, "The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. He  covers the faces of its judges. If it not He, who else could it be ?" (Job 9:24). This, amidst his ruminations is a search for the reason  for the very profundity of the allowances of the Lord for  liberty in man, that He even lets  them close their eyes,  lest they should see and try to turn aside those who might  come to God, as Christ  directly charged (Matthew 13:15ff., Luke 11:52).

Yet for all his ramblings amidst his ruin, he  still exalted the ultimate wisdom of God (Job 12:16-13:4,19:23ff., 28:1-28), and found rest not  at all in any of his own  works, though he refused to be  wrongly judged by his shallow  and superficial friends. As to that, it would be ONLY in the Redeemer of Job 19, Him for whom he longed, both in principle (Job 9:32-34) and in practice (Job 19:21ff.). Nevertheless at times, his sufferings  led him  to speak out of tune with the  truth, and to rely for the moment, on  appearance. When God therefore challenges  Job at length, as the test  concludes, He  asks, "Would you condemn Me that you  may be justified!"

Those subsidiary waverings in Job were like those of people who say,  I will not believe in any God who allows the innocent to  suffer! But WHO are these innocents, since as in Psalm 51, we are born in iniquity, and as in  Romans 5,  we are constituted sinners as members of a fallen race, from the first! If God therefore  LETS  the sin first shown in Eve, of  listening to the concept that God is  somehow amiss and man should  take power and do  his own will as in Genesis 3, proceed to manifest itself,  with its results, in this  world, is man to  judge this folly! Is experimental evidence  nothing ? Is  truth to be  mere authority! Not at all, God tests and tries  man, and all things are brought to the light, even in His own love on the Cross, and the cost of purity and pardon. 

WHO WOULD CORRECT THE LORD!

THE POINT OF THE TEST

What then of this desire to rule without God,  to be the final judge and source, which is so rampant in  man, as in the UN for  example, even now!

In history, its nature is totally exposed in its  folly, pride and self-will in oblivion to truth; and for man who loves  to  TRY IT OUT, TAKE IT  ON, DISCOVER THE TRUTH, to his own satisfaction, the come-uppance of his downfall is made plain. There in history,  progressive in its regression,  is provided his own living commentary on the  state of his heart; and this world is now a veritable megaphone concerning the "EXCEEDINGLY SINFUL" character of SIN (Romans 7:13). Like beauty in reverse,  overwhelming to adoration, so sin by contrast is munificently underwhelming, overcast like a black sky radiating rays of death. The exercise is NOT between nice people with nice manners in nice places having nice discourse, but between sinners and their Creator, whatever may be their pretensions, guile or pride.  The realities must declare themselves in the light; and how they do!

Let then the  godless judge God and cry, seeking  to attribute to  HIM their own sin, and to HIS rule, their own misrule, ignorant of liberty and its meaning,  assuming themselves the final judge, and  let man ignore the God who made him and tell Him what to allow and what not, and pose as the great poseur, exalting himself to heaven that he might fall, wings collapsing, to hell: let them  do this.

Yet it is mere  pride, arrogance and blind autonomy mixed. Darkness IS hell for the soul, when its inveterate follies insist on it (John  3:19,36); for man is made for the light;  and that, it is from the Lord who IS LIGHT, the light of the heart, inspiring truth and understanding, knowledge and wisdom,  love and purity, the latter costed in blood, that of Christ (Titus 3:3-7).

Man  does not  do well as God, never  did and never will, for he is made, and His Maker is not, Himself being eternal that anything  might ever be at all! To seek  to judge, attributing this or that wrongly to God who made us whole and is ready to restore through redemption,  and to do this when God Himself has taken upon Himself all the judgment that Job experienced in showing the reality of the  fear and  love of God, this and more, not for one but for all who receive it, doing this in Jesus Christ, the incarnate  Word of God: what is this ? What is this,  man's sally into the suit of judge ? Why, it is a horror of immorality, a holocaust of truth and a blatancy past all bearing.

Let us then remember Job and Habakkuk, and learn to praise God whatever, because of WHO He is and WHAT He  has done, a prodigy of participation, a work of splendour in Jesus Christ crucified, and yes risen even rupturing death for His own. Let us do this, and not make our personal equations,  our own book-keeping for life, the measure of eternity, but rather have God as  our measurer, and not be like those who are "measuring themselves by themselves" so justly condemned by Paul (II Corinthians 10:12).  Let us rejoice with Habakkuk and being tested if need be with Job (I Peter 4:1ff., 4:12ff.), not fire at the fiery trial, but let it consume the dross which is no loss,  and being enabled, rejoice in God our Saviour!