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PHASES IN JOB
A whole volume has so far been written on Job. In this addition, the intent is to make the coverage specialised in terms of phases, to compare phases and gain more comprehension from that comparison. Beyond all, in Ch. 1 you find the elemental meeting, Satan challenging God in terms of his subversive, sinuous, cynical, blown-mind, reductionist ramblings: How COULD Job be sincere ? Rich yes, rewarded, yes, but just an exploiter, in this case, of God, for very selfish interests! Such was the tenor of the spiritually bilious satanic blast.
We see once more behind it all, in the majesty of the everlasting God, as if one were sharing the perspective for a blessed time, the operations of the mutually challenging participants in the account of Job's test, and at last again, the word of God who deals with those arguing, and delivers Job who, despite his weaknesses, is as sincere as the mountain stream may be pure! If there are pollutants, yet they do not show insincerity, so much as the need of a more acute realisation of the splendour of the provisions of God, ones which should be USED to the uttermost, for they are costly to produce, just as man took divine work, to make! Man is as dependent on the GOODNESS of God for his salvation, as upon the power of God for his creation!
A The Princely Proposal
The feeling of this phase is well seen, amid Job's vigorous trials, in such passages as this in Job 31:35-37:
Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is,
that the Almighty would answer me,
and that my adversary had written a book.
Surely I would take it upon my shoulder,
and bind it as a crown to me.
I would declare unto him the number of my steps;
as a prince would I go near unto him.
You cannot well conceive a more masterly approach to God Almighty than this, or a more miserly outlet for humility! It must at once be conceded that Job was under enormous pressure, not only from physical suffering but from mental torment, in this, that he had lived a life of almost outrageous charity and helpfulness, kindness and mercy, and was being tested. The point was to refute the normal type of Satanic slyness, which seeks without grounds to impute merely a more enlightened form of self-interest to those who love God ... if that! If then Job suffered, even from undignified sickness, debilitating troubles, property losses, family disunity, what then ? Would he still hold fast to the God of his salvation ?
He did (as in Job 13:15 - "though He slay me, yet shall I trust Him"), but with restraint all but routed by the evil insinuations of his friends, not least that as secret sinner he was really simply bringing these judgments on his hypocritical self, and would do better to confess his sins and be forgiven, he became somewhat assertive!
Thus we find Job at his most eloquently dynamic, envisaging himself (alack, he felt, that it could not be done, since the Almighty is not available for such treatment - Job 16:21) coming, striding like a prince into the divine presence. With what then would be so come ? It would be with a book, which he would hope to gain first, one listing the accusations being set against his name. Yes he would mark the passages of what was held to be directed against himself, and take great pride in this book, since he had no doubt that it could not possibly be justified in such assertions as would relate to his now so debased condition. Like a prince, he would soon attest himself, refuting all assaults on his name, directly before God.
It was not that he thought of himself as perfect (Job 9:30-31), freely acknowledging that God has knowledge, power and justice, truth and reliability; but he demanded proof of the ground for his vast and unhappy humiliation (Job 12:13ff., 21:22ff.). It was communication and justification of charges which he sought, charges imagined in certain ways, in a rather limited and sometimes derogatory ambit, and presented by his friends!
Underneath it all, we who read know, because we have been already told in Chapter One of Job, that there is a secret test going on which, if divulged, would be ruined. It is to see whether REALLY, when words pass into deeds, Job DID or DID NOT worship God because worship is right and good and seemly, and not because it pays! After all, he was both rich and highly regarded.
As he squirms in what he imagines are inexplicable or worse degradations of his life and personal affairs (showing he is by no means unaware of action in those fields, for good or for evil), Job at times cracks like the well-worn tail-plane in an aircraft, troubled with fatiguing metal. Yet it does not break right off, and he continues flying in the faith, for all his creaking noises.
B The Wandering Words
At odd moments, we see how great is the strain. Thus we find a number of remarkable remarks which, seen in context, are not as exotically blatant as they at first sight appear; yet even in context, overall, they are inclined to be horrendous, if merely outbursts.
Thus on the milder side, we have Job 23:2 (and note the italics added):
"Even today my complaint is bitter;
My hand is listless because of my groaning.
"Oh, that I knew where I might find Him...
I would present my case before Him,
And fill my mouth with arguments.
I would know the words which He would answer me,
And understand hat He would say to me.
"Would He contend with me in His great power ?
"No! but He would take note of me.
"There the upright could reason with Him,
And I would be delivered forever from my Judge."
The sting here is in the tail of his tale. Job
conceives the divine meeting in which he is thoroughly vindicated, and to be
sure, justly so because God, he continues to believe despite the odd outburst,
IS just and the only original and reliable reality in that field who exists!
(Job 28:20-28, 12:13ff.)*1. Even if there
were some imperfection, where is the balance of deed to suffering! (Job 19:4 -
"And if indeed I have erred,
My error remains with Me!"). It is not uncharacteristic of his griefs and concerns, that even here he adds words of no mean elevation:
"These ten times you have reproached me,
you are not ashamed that you have wronged me...
If indeed you exalt yourselves against me,
And plead my disgrace against me,
Know then that God has wronged me,
And has surrounded me with His net."
Even this degree of distraction is not the end of that portion of the matter, of this phase. Thus it is in this very passage where vexed to distraction, Job is saying that IF the friends WERE right then God would be WRONG. KNOW THEN ... , that is, in that case. He is insistent that if some kind of case against him could be reasonably made out from the divine perspective, such that his adversaries, former friends, were justified, then God would have wronged him. In this, he has some justification, not in the soaring principle of self-confidence but in the facts of this particular case.
THEIR so ostensibly friendly attacks constituted not mere suffering, as if from physical or financial pain, but moral assault; for at times, they were making of him a hypocrite wildly refusing to admit the sins which brought on the maelstrom. His suffering, was one line of critical thought against him, were only due and should lead to repentance in all sincerity. However, the diagnosis did not fit, for this was in fact, primarily a test of his integrity in love of God, and in no way as such, reflected on his integrity. The interesting aspect is this, tht it came to TEST the very thing he was so outraged to find brought into question, and it was no mean test. Indeed it led to considerable spiritual advance for Job, as a side-effect! Better still, the way God brought fresh vision to him, has served for generations to stir and revive, comfort or instruct many. More of that, however, comes anon.
In the end, in Job 41ff., we find the critical friends WERE wrong and Job at divine request, had to pray for them! Yet he also was wrong, though not in the gross fashion imagined.
This brings us to the utterly marvellous light in the divine mercy suddenly shed on Job.
It was needed.
After all, he did go so far as to say this (Job 9:24):
"The earth is given into the hand of the wicked.
He covers the faces of its judges.
If it is not He, who else could it be ?"
Moreover, he added this (Job 27:2):
"As God lives, who has taken away my justice,
And the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter ...
My lips will not speak wickedness..."
'Taken away justice ...' !
Alas, such a false attribution was implying evil in God, and though in assigning a service for Job to perform, not justice but love was the point, yet there was nothing unjust in so creating the opportunity to serve the kingdom of heaven. He was not conscripted into it (Psalm 110). A careful balance of good given and trouble suffered was not to the point, and who can detract from the infinite gift of God!
Thus an imbalance for a specific purpose had happened, and this was precisely what had happened, but not for evil but good. In other words, he WAS being subjected to hard realities, by divine permission to the Satanic challenger, but for a good purpose, to illustrate his own sincerity, and this became a due instruction to multitudes as an act of service.
Moreover, the nature of the case, suffering to bring
good, brought out some elements of the coming sacrificial work of Christ, in
appearance though not in redemptive reality, since Job being a sinner and not
God could never redeem anyone, even himself! You see something of this in Job
16:9-10, which has some parallel to the Messianic Psalms (cf.
Ch. 6 above).
" They gape at me with their mouth,
They strike me reproachfully on the cheek,
They gather together against me.
God has delivered me to the ungodly,
And turned me over to the hands of the wicked."
Thus he was a stimulus to understanding to come, and his case had wave-like good effects.
Let us not however forget his error. As for Job, was not God's sincerity, in fact, that came to be in question, but his own! This reminds us that when we are most self-assured, it is possible to fall into the very fault of which we are falsely accused, or one unhealthily bordering on it. It is of the Lord that the greatest boldness is to be used, as we fearlessly cast down imaginations (II Corinthians 10:5, Acts 4:13). Paul made this distinction clearly in his remonstrance found in II Corinthians 11:16ff.).
Though Job did indeed err here, in making such a statement as that just quoted above, yet it was a matter of reluctant admission, in admitted conflict with what to Job was in reality, an undeniable FACT: that God is totally trustworthy. So much is this so, that even if He killed him, yet he would trust him, he declares (Job 13:15).
What then ? You see here a writhing where Job WILL not abandon faith in God, but neither will he abandon faith in his good record; and so he seethes in this swirl of contentious querulousness - MOST understandable but entirely wrong, since his is a test situation, not beyond the nature of being under the sovereignty of the God whom one TRUSTS. Remember what he would do with the book, bound on his shoulder, and the result!
But what ? As the divine light breaks through the smog of his smouldering soul, utterly committed to God but insisting on due performance and availability on being sought, he makes an utterance so magnificent in inspiration, so insurgent in understanding, so precise in illumination and outline, that it has stood for thousands of years, in total conformity to the unchanging teaching of the Bible, and the decisive deliverance of the doctrine of deliverance to man, in the divine plan of salvation. It is a gem at a jeweller's!
His concerns about no one who could mediate for him with God (Job 9:29ff.,19), are suddenly met. There is ultimately no need for Elihu to undertake that role, as he offers (Job 33:1-9), though Job's lurches suggest its possible usefulness. Indeed, Job even goes so far as to say that God would destroy the blameless and the wicked, and to ask why he should labour in vain if he is routinely and unanswerably to be condemned, without knowledge or known cause. Indeed even if he were to wash in snow, yet he would be plunged into the pit (9:30).
He is out of his depth, concerned for his life. It is not a matter of profit that is his main concern, as if to ask what it cost and what he gets; but it is one of reason. If detachment from the adorable God (Job 28, including v.28, 13:15, 9:5-15) is the only way to proceed, and this simply leads to condemnation without hope or knowledge of sin, what then is the reason of the thing ? It is not a matter of profit and loss, but of wisdom and understanding. God is, to be sure, infinitely worthwhile; but if one is to LOSE Him, what is the point! It is not that He is not infinitely above all else, but that the whole point is to KNOW Him! What is the point if one is bound to be disappointed and merely appointed to exclusion.
Job's instinct is right, for God is not harsh or less than longing for man (John 3:15ff., Ezekiel 33:11, Luke 19:42ff.); but his abstraction is wrong, for it allows as conceivably relevant, a God who would do such a thing. The God of truth does not exclude by whim, caprice, or unknowable desire, but is on record as desiring not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved, not to have the death of the wicked, but that he should turn, not to ladle out large areas of humanity without concern, but to have actually come to man in order that, as man, He might so bear the penalty of sin for any who receive His remedy, that exclusion is PRECISELY that from which they would then be FREELY be delivered! (Romans 5:1-11).
Yet God in His wisdom and love, did not leave Job in the dungeon of his restless thoughts, refusing either to give up trust in God or to cease his own evaluation of his own record.
Out of the darkness, came light, and out of his extremity came an insertion of light so intense that its brightness still shines.
Thus the answer comes to him, received BY FAITH and with conviction. How can one know, find out ? he asks. But that is followed by this (Job 19:23-27):
"For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
"How my heart yearns within me!"
Here is the assurance of faith for the enquiries that were formerly felt to be baulked. Here is the detailed delineation, the scene and the scenario alike. Not only is God willing to hear, He is active, and has the power of redemption. Not only is this there, but it was already been accredited to Job, who thus already HAD set to his name, "my Redeemer." Moreover, not only is this provision available to faith, for He will actually COME to this earth, and be viewable, in an individual manner, as a sheep might view a shepherd. There is to be no question of vicarious identification, as if one could not see Him for oneself, and had to trust in some non-divine intermediary. Not at all. There would be a vicarious coverage of sin by the Redeemer, yes, but interference with direct vision and knowledge, no, a thousand times no! He would see Him for himself!
Indeed, so vast is Job's total and absolute assurance on this point that he warns his tormentors, his moral quasi-superiors who falsely accuse him, slanderers in fact:
"If you should say, 'How shall we persecute him ?' - since the root of the matter is found in me,
Be afraid of the sword for yourselves,
For wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
That you may know there is a judgment, " Job 19:28-29.
This is not the total of Job's utterances, but it is the self-defining summit of them!
Thus before this monumental statement of the majesty, truth, justice and grace of the glorious God, whom it is the criterion of life into eternity to behold and know (cf. John 17:1-3), Job declares in what way he desires a record to be made of the facts of his Redeemer. How then (19:23-24, before 25-27 annunciation):
“Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
For the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you persecute me as God does,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?
Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!"
Thus God IS the glorious truth and the LORD is the source of justice. He does NOT hide either the sins of those who feel themselves virtually morally invulnerable or who distrust His mode of dealing with them.Yet He may indeed not by a device, but through the actual Saviour provided. He may be found not with less, but with more than a mere mediator, as if some mere agent, in human terms a go-between, commissioned and authorised to make clear the way to peace with truth. Freely provided and personally come is no less than God's only begotten Son, sent from Eternity (Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45).
No mediator ? far MORE than mediator, but not less, is this divine gift. It is the triune God Himself who is the Mediator (cf. Isaiah 48:15ff., Hosea 13:14), and it is He who has come, not merely assigned someone.
HIMSELF the REDEEMER! Small wonder Job wanted this written with lead ink and iron pen on rock, so that it might endure, like a flag put up in some mount of discovery, by an explorer!
WHY God is so devastating to Himself as in such a coming to earth as Redeemer, payor, Job might not realise, but that God is both just and justifying, this he now learns, and his depth is increased as the ocean above a lake! HERE is the eternal answer to the historic problem of man, indeed as foreshadowed in Genesis 3:15.
The Redeemer therefore was then ALREADY receivable by faith, and He would, as He did, even come to the earth in the most testable, investigable, assured and visible fashion, forever glorious, never lost, to redeem the lost to whose hearts He comes as He sealed the matter with Job! Indeed Thomas had this most direct opportunity to s ee for himself, without mediator for this purpose! That apostle served, being involved empirically with the mode of personally testing (John 20:24-29), directly and incontestably. In fact, Thomas' procedure, leading to his total conviction of Jesus' bodily resurrection, came to represent a universal element of faith.Thus the issue that Thomas met, was with direct verifiable evidence; but it is to this same point, same issue, same doctrine, that many would come, without having that kind of direct test. Thus the issue is an unextractable part of saving faith (John 20:27-28).
See for oneself indeed, and see well! But that was then, in the saving milieu. When Christ returns (Acts 3:19ff., 1:7ff.), then will that finale of wonder be found, where the regal realities will shine in celestial glory, yes and that on this very earth! Like the atomic bomb, it would come to earth, whatever the source in thought: it could be and would be seen, and realised incontestably.
What then has the Lord done as Redeemer ?
He has redeemed sin (II Corinthians 5:17ff.), covering illimitably all that it can do (II Cor. 5 :21). Do what it may, and in Him, there is plenteous redemption, so that His post as Redeemer will be overpowering of all contention to the end, His personal bond immovable. It is AS his Redeemer that Job will see Him. Broad enough for all is His payment (cf. I John 2), and narrow enough to reach only those who receive it is His redemption (Isaiah 53:1-6, Romans 8:32), the saved the very ones also healed in heart, "by His stripes", whose iniquity so departs. The alternative indeed exists (John 8:30), for some prefer to die with their sin; but it is not the character of the love gift, nor is love accusable because it is not desired, despite its intensity in the One who sends His gift with it!
Such was the glorious entry of Job into large areas of solemn truth and wonderful deliverance.
C A Pithy Point
There were questions which, in the practical case, needed an answer, for in faith's arrival at that level, there were residues of error, and light exposes darkness. Job had not only the positive presented, but the negative, the erroneous decommissioned!
Thus while this heightened understanding becomes the cardinal answer to the Job test, yet there had been errors in his defence of himself, which needed correction; and there were areas which demand personal cleansing within himself. Conviction of sin is part of conversion (John 16:8ff.). In Job's new and deeper realisation, there is no sleaze or ease concerning truth: the wrong is not only paid for but corrected!
After Job's three friends have finished their often shallow and invidiously presumptuous findings concerning Job, Elihu, another, decides to speak. While his utterance is not without blemish, yet he makes a centrally valid point in challenge to Job's basic error. Elihu raises himself to the post of pro tem counsellor (33:23ff.), adviser, saying that he is not difficult to know, and that he can represent Job in a splash of words about his alleged mistreatment. While he is not deep in his assessment of Job's violations, he does reach a central point impossible to ignore, and certainly the assessing post he assumes, is only temporary.
Thus Elihu asks this:
"Do you think that this is right ?
Do you say, 'My righteousness is more than God's?' "
While Job, overall, has not actually made this contention, yet some of his words, taken separately, are hard to differentiate from such an implication. He covers the faces of judges ? If it is not He, then who is it ? Remember such words as these ? Again, striding in with the book of charges on his shoulder, he would stride out, justified, he conceived, "delivered" forever from his Judge! Recall that also.
Is he then more just than God is ? Admittedly, he at the same time insisted on God's righteousness AND his own, as in Job 13:15-19. It is true that he would be vindicated, but not on those absolute as if sinless terms, or allied to such unassessable heights! In fact, he fails to control his tongue as he declares this,
"I know that I shall be vindicated! Who is he who will contend with me ?"
Such height for such a blessed being is this! Such assurance, but alas it borders intimately on self-assurance; for he is not the truth, but assessable by the One who is.
The case is indeed deep. Firstly, we learn from Job that he will trust God though He should slay him. There is trust without limit, conviction without cease, and that test is passed. To be fair, the terms of reference just here concern the specific charge of 'hypocrite' (13:16), and in that he will indeed be justified, for that is not he. However, he does not limit his discourse on his innocence. "I have prepared my case. I know I will be vindicated."
Of that charge ? but assuredly. Indeed, it is far better still, "He also shall be my salvation," (Job 13:16), Despite all appearances to the contrary, the just and glorious God, the wise and faithful God WILL IN FACT BE his salvation, constitute it, in Himself provide alone this solution to his life and its troubles. He may have some heart fibrillation, but it does not stop beating.
"If now I hold my tongue, I perish." Job adds.
This shows that he feels cornered, falsely accused, and if he should not speak out against all the false accusations and assessments that were made by his friends, against himself, he would be immersed in a silence of horror, while their horrid tongues nailed his name to a garbage container, sent to moral oblivion. That, he could not bear. This is so, EVEN THOUGH it is the case that if he were even slain, yet he would trust the Lord. This did not remove his equal intention: yet "I would defend my ways before Him."
Indeed, as in Job 23:6-7, he exhibits no lack of address in his claims:
" Would He contend with me in His great power?
No! But He would take note of me.
There the upright could reason with Him,
And I would be delivered forever from my Judge."
An everlasting deliverance by presenting his case to his divine Judge ? Is he not only to get an eternal certificate, but one based on what HE HIMSELF presents on his own behalf! and is it to be classed as an "escape"!
Here is not the sinner simply found and so not confounded. Here is one who accepts the necessity of salvation but is NOT going to have slander about his neck, or a silence infected by the turgid yeasts of mouldy mouthings against him, made by those who misconstrue. HOW they misconstrue, or what, is only part: it is that they do it so assuredly and with such sweeping knowledgeability, as if to impress the angels!
Moreover, these slanders are invidious and vicious in their intemperate denunciations: this he knows full well. His life has quite simply been other than they imagine. But what of his assertions now!
Despite then the somewhat wooden condemnation by Elihu, concerning what Job is alleged to have said, the point remains, that in implication Job at times is SO insistent of his deliverance from accusation that it appears that ALL would be silenced, and everything, so that he becomes as if more righteous than God! God has been cruel to him, he has asserted! (Job 30:21)!
Astounding as this assertion is in view of Job's revealed awe of God and relish of His reliability, there it is. While these propositions are declared, we hear one more, from him. Job is going to be vindicated. Thus he lurches into a set of statements of vast disrelish and with all the accoutrements of self-righteousness of a special kind: he CANNOT be faulted in this contest, and if it were needful, then God would have to be. Thus he lurches into such slackness on occasion, and is to be corrected. How could it be other! The severe test made some excuse, but not justification.
Alas, not only is this situation of Job's construction not so, but Job's thrust of self-defence flings his innocence at God as if He had to answer for it, and there was simply NO way that he could be so treated in any conceivable justice. If it is not He, recall, then who is it that does these things ? Thus Job had foolishly challenged.
He was right in one aspect. It was not a matter of justice as such that he suffered. It was a test to SHOW that he did not value God chiefly for what He got from Him, but for Himself, This is clearly shown in Job 1, and in his life and words. But in the process his self-justification even when the name of God repeatedly suffered in the process - though more broadly it was cleared of all evil - he exhibited a certain pre-occupation with his own righteousness which failed to take account of the fact that we are all sinners, and fall vastly short of the glory of God.
Did we appoint us or did He ? Do we love Him who so made us ? Then do we allow challenges to His name to arise, even under torment ? Is not His great wisdom (Job 28 admits it, in its infinite place) such that suffering is not a matter for judgment of Him, but acceptance that He has a part, a place, a challenge for us, each one who is His, a work to do, a responsibility to perform, as do soldiers in the defence of their country, athletes in representing their cities! (cf. II Timothy 2:2-5). Are we not spiritual soldiers, who face the world with His light, abhorred by it in its darkness.
Is this not an invitation to suffering, whether as examples or in any other way ? (cf. Acts 5:41). Let not justice be the question, when love is the criterion.
D The Divine Answer
But even if justice be selected apart, what sort of justice would be levelled against one who deserves this charge from the Lord (Job 40:8):
"Would you indeed annul My judgment ?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified ?"
Such movements from the tongue of Job had occurred in his exasperated squirmings, and though his "root of the matter" was indeed there, correction was necessary. In one sense, THEREFORE, the trial of Job was not only a testimony to the world but a course in spiritual therapy, though this was not its initial thrust. It duly came through the meeting of Satan's challenge, in the way the Lord appointed. What it does show is that the wisdom of God is indeed as total and perfect as Job declared, and IN this very wisdom, He may accomplish many tasks in one episode, even using one test, to establish a fact, while deploying it to establish a correction. It is always unwise*1 to call God in question, but not at all unwise to come before Him with questions and concerns (Philippians 4:4-6, Ephesians 1:17-19), even detailed, and with faith.
This faith is not as a substitute for reason, but an application of the biblical truth which reason itself requires (cf. SMR, TMR), an exhibition of a trust well founded, to bear with what is brought and follow what is taught (cf. Let's Be Reasonable, for God is! Ch. 2).
The athlete does not always understand the workings of the mind of his coach, though in due course when in self-discipline he has met the rigours, he may come to do so; but if he attends to them (in our analogy it would be a perfect coach), then results accrue naturally.
The Redeemer, when He came to earth in order to suffer far more than Job ever did, and this vicariously and specifically to bear the sin of others, used the parable of the vine. We are to ABIDE as a branch does in the vine plant, and so bear fruit. A branch does not tell the plant how it is or should be made, but being made as an expression of the vine, it closely and neatly fits into its beautiful and fruitful nature, and SO bears fruit (John 15). If a branch be what is called a 'sport', that is something which is not linked to the very nature of the vine, but in orcharding would be a reversion to some underlying type, then of course it would have to be cut off. It is in the VINE one is to abide, and not in some seemingly vigorous substitute (as these 'sports' often are - and they can be quite useless cf. II Corinthians 10:12,11:13).
It was He, and not Job, who could RIGHTEOUSLY and without limit utter a better challenge than that of Job, though its full force is shown readily as one considers what Job said. That (Job 13:18) was this:
"See now, I have prepared my case.
I know I shall be vindicated.
Who is he who will contend with me ?"
Christ, with no need for any limits, thrust home the contention from infinite innocence, righteousness and divine status, challenging:
"Which of you convicts Me of sin ?
And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me ?"
Could they FAULT Him ? If not, where is the ground of unbelief! They could not do so,
in argument, or
in multiple clamant claims against Him, or
in matters of His power and purpose,
identity and identification,
work and healing,
stature and spirit,
mastery and humility (Zechariah 9:9), or
in the domain of any of the personal and essential
attributes of deity,
Indeed, the standard here is fitted to such a standard bearer as Jesus Christ, though it was not so with Job; for all his works, after all, could do nothing for him, not even establish him before slanderers. It was salvation he needed, not as an additive to his approbation as a going-concern, but without it. In the human debasement of beings susceptible to sin, blindness, self-preoccupation, skewed vision, self-regard, his 'works' (cf. Job 29) would only hinder, and indeed these with the soul who wrought them, Job in his grievance, just in much, cried for redemption itself. In the clarity of light itself, his yearnings became his highly explicit findings, bound for ever by grace alone, grace itself, from the wealth of heaven's gift.
Contrary to all such invalid representations and hopes, as Job at times began to imply or suggest, things based on self-assessed acceptability for man to stride in before God, God provided something else. It was a gift in grace as far better as heaven than earth. It was this that was needed, then heralded and received with incandescent delight by Job. It was this that was donated not only to him, but to all who love God in His righteousness, grace and initiative of salvation, who receive it without impediment, qualification or quibble, one to elevate and render man acceptable IN heaven, not as earthy but celestially wrought and bought.
THIS has been provided, and Job way back then, found it at length. As redemption, came freely from God. The concept that man can judge God is as wise as a flea being sought to write a lecture on dogs. It is inept, does not fit, makes the derivative outdistance its source, even when that source is that of all the very capacity of thought, of systems and creation!
To confront your Source with spiritual sauciness, this is often the way with man, and Job in his extremities, not lightly but in a virtual ecstasy of grief, allowed his grievance, in much just, to thrust him intemperately toward this dynamic misdirection. Yet he saw, realised and repented!
When this Provider and Creator is absolute , eternal and all-over-arching in splendour and wisdom and its ultimate and supreme cause and basis, both, it is for man, any man amidst the entire creation, merely an arrogance without limit, and an irrationality taken with intoxication so to launch judgment on the Judge. The redemption, the mediator which Job saw so clearly, is required, all such restitution and restoration, indeed regeneration (Titus 2-3) coming from the same source as mankind (cf. Colossians 3:10).Toying with that source, like a tempest trying totoy with meteorology or the weather it depicts, and contriving to do so on such a matter is like a teddy-bear trying to toy with its head-shape.
If it were possible, it could scarcely be more ridiculous. Liberty is not power; love is not untruth; grace is not a gift for disaster; nature is not manipulable for good, but only regenerateable for restoration (Acts 3:19ff.).
We can think; but out-thinking the thought of the One whose own thoughts made our own an institution from His own meta-thought, what is it like ? It is like water arising to return in contest with the clouds. Redemption is free, given and unalterable; even our genes, deteriorating as they are, being unavailable for total replacement, merely for assiduous intrusion. The genes made by divine meta-genius, are but a form, a format, an instruction manual for our physical construction and visible provisions; it is the spirit of man*2 which counts, the pianist and not the piano, and the music chosen, and the way it is played, the spirit of its enterprise, and where needed as always in principle, the fidelity of the performance.
Here are limits of form and equipment, through what is presented in discernible commands, in fact already laid out for us to inspect and try to copy in DNA, but so astute in functional formulation that man struggles even to envisage their overall, integrated, uni-language complexity, let alone come even near to the degree of sophisticated miniaturisation apparent in the entire information input which gives to man the infant, the boy, the girl, the man and the woman, inscribed, vitalised, the total ensemble endowed and endued in body and mental apparatus, for the functions of his divinely declared spirit.
Of what then is the inscribed information in man's genetic structure an attestation? why of the massive information causally covering the entirety that noiselessly constructs our bodies from mini-cell originals, into maxi-cell marvels, in few months, and not only this, but in a form with inherent, singular totality. Even that, in turn, is but base for the making of persons, not just equipment, beings with flair, imagination, concepts and conceptualisation, review and overview, analysis and synthetic thought, wilful rebellion in arrogant arrogation of what is not available, senseless intrusion into the realm of the divine, provoking and puerile, but seized by evil, where not turning to the Creator-Redeemer, to its downfall.
If the totality which is each person in mankind, is beyond our creative resources as a totality, being both bound (in format) and free (sin apart) in spirit, endued and given liberty in love, how much less is our God available for arrant contest without knowledge! (Job 38:2, 42:3). The desire to be above our station, even high as it is in spirit, is biblically referred to in this way:
"Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge ?"
What then can man work, in making his own redemption, his own cover of the need of pardon, purge, purification and restoration to the God who engineered the information, constructed the commands and construed the outcome, including man's misuse of the grand and original gift of liberty which leads to the very thought of teaching God some other way, or else the significance of becoming insignificant as man promotes himself to spurious glory, and wallows in a claim to wisdom so fatuous, that the misdeeds of every day stagger thought. This they do, though such outrages are repeated with significantly increased venom, as the world surges into riot mode, in larger and larger expanses, even where totalitarian presumption acts in ludicrous crassness, to preserve itself, and little else.
Can the leopard change its spots ? It is time for the works of God to be found not only in body, but for the mind and the heart, from its source. This is inscribed, not in flesh, but in a more direct testimony, in the Book of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 34:16), the Bible, itself so minute in coverage, expansive in explication, so precise in pronouncement, fulfilled in prediction, confirmed in principle, indefeasible in income of wisdom and outcome in history, that it has no competitor (cf. LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST).
Man is no foundling, and being found without God, needs resumption with reality, from which in spirit he has so vigorously divorced himself (cf. Romans 5:1-12,Ephesians 2, 4:17-19), restoration to the vitality and spiritual truth of his Creator, without rebellion. This way back, by divine fiat, manufacturer's handbook, is based as in creation, on the work of God Himself (as in Job 19:23-27). THIS, said Christ when asked what they should do to work the works of God, in the midst of His spectacular and staggering deployment of divine power, "is the work of God, that you should believe on Him whom He has sent!" (John 6:28-29). The saving work of God ? can they manufacture it ? find a secret formula for it ? aspire to do it ? What is this work of God, what is the place to find it, they are enquiring of Christ after His miraculous feeding of the 5000, how is all this done!
THIS is the work, this is what you need, this is the way for you. It is not formula or fighting. It is that you should BELIEVE ON HIM WHOM GOD HAS SENT. Here is the key, here the path, the door, the right way, the place of repair, return and restoration, a recasting of your very spirit, a cover for your sins, a knowledge of God through the sent Mediator, the Servant who saves, Jesus Christ. It is not up in some intellectual or space station, platform, or secret knowledge. It is the knowledge of God which is necessary, through Him sent as foretold, and fulfilled to the last detail; and this is obtained by believing in and receiving Him. He is not an imprint in the body; it is an impact on the spirit.
It is no scrap of paper to be stored, but the redeeming work of Christ, the sovereign who sacrificed Himself, which needs IN HIMSELF - for He lives - to be received. Is there no receptionist there to acknowledge Him ? Then if you so desire, turn; and if you seek truth, receive Him whose ways alone vindicate the claim. If not, then do not complain, for this is your own non-compliance, and there is no cost that Christ would not pay, to secure you.
But of your own recipes and ramifications, desires and desiderata, philosophies and presumptions, dreams with abandon and self-centred pushings and hopes, your own works of mind or spirit or heart or body, forget it. God is not drafted by you, but you by Him. There are NO works which relate to initial acceptance by God, and you are saved by no works, with one exception. It is the WORK OF CHRIST which saves. THIS is the work of God, that you should believe in Him whom He sent. It is to this One that Job's eyes were opened perhaps three and a half millenia ago, and it is here that one's eye and heart must rest, if rest at all is to be found (as foretold in Isaiah 11:10, and told in Matthew 11:27ff.).
It is this fact which is a chief emphasis, for Job had to suffer a divorce of his own works from his self-estimation altogether, before any question of justification could as much as arise. Sinners have to be redeemed, before they even exist, other than as condemned for sin. Redemption must precede all, and all is of grace, there being no scope for boasting on the part of any such as we are! (Romans 3:24-5:1).
Thus just before making His own justified challenge (and Christ was illimitably justified! - Isaiah 50:7-9, serving as Saviour, as the very BASIS for others), Christ stated WHO He was (and is), and declared this (John 8:42).
"If God were your father, you would love Me,
for I proceeded forth and came from God;
nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me."
As children of the devil (John 8:44), some of them COULD not listen. They were like a phone booth, not available because otherwise engaged with someone else! Such can happen (II Thessalonians 2:10), when truth is not received, and folly sharpens its wits with flummery.
In Isaiah 50, we find that just as Christ is infinitely justified before his flummoxed false accusers, so those who find trouble and darkness about them, should TRUST in the LORD, and stay upon this, their GOD; for in Him is perfect wisdom and knowledge, requiring no squirming whatsoever. Indeed, HE as distinct from Job, was not only free of all sin so that He was perfectly justified in His challenge to them to convict Him of it, but so victorious in vicarious atonement that He could justify believers in Him, each in turn, as well. Having completed the redemption, He was free to apply it where He would (as in Matthew 11:27 - where He reveals the Father to whom He will, as the Greek has it). What a marvel, no mere tonic, but truth, is the provision for His people.
How beautiful are those words in Isaiah:
"Who amongst you fears the LORD ?
Who obeys he voice of His Servant ?
Who walks in darkness and has no light ?
Let him trust in the name of the LORD
And rely upon his God."
Others may live by the sparks of their (religious, philosophical, political) fire, but such as these, says this verse of Isaiah (50:11), "shall lie down in torment." The darkness resumes. The man, the woman, the child of God lives by faith in the One sent, even Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the projected, predicted and prevailing Servant who suffered that we might have sufferance, who died that we might live, who rose that because He lives, we might live also, and that forever, sin cancelled, life abounding, unlimited over time, unavailable for further rupture. It is indeed with Him, as Paul was moved to write in his second epistle to Timothy. It is He
"who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works,
but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus
before time began, but has now been revealed
by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death
and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
For nothing less did He come, and for nothing less do we go to Him, to believe in Him, and receiving Him, receive that immortality which disrupting death, comes as Spring rains to the parched earth.
Darkness is not our home as a race, but the correlative of the hideous deformity of unbelief in the God of formation, of information, of command and rule, of redemption and pity, of love, mercy and grace. Darkness does not comprehend, being without light to see.
But the light has come (John 1, 8:12, 9:4). Let us glory in it, in Him, the Redeemer whose coming to earth is now far nearer than it was, in that, His blessed ruling phase, where His plenteous mercy is seen in plenteous power: He, the cheer and joy of Job and of all whom He has redeemed.
APPLICATION FROM JOB
How aptly does this case of Job lend itself to understanding. How many are appalled at the apparent lack of control, of direction, or protection in this wayward world! How many suffer in shambles of shame from unspeakable veterans of totalitarian evils, whether the culprits be nations, employers, unions, clubs, groups, ideologues or whatever else, from slanderers and reputation crunchers, from assailants ... With some, it is precisely as Psalm 1 portends. UNLESS the Lord is your own, what ground do you have!
This was set as with lights in the sky in the case of Job. In this case, a believer is to show that NOT ONLY is God good, but His goodness is its own reality a testimony to One for whom there is no substitute, no equal, for whom trust is the normal necessity. It is not just results in kind, but in spirit which count.
With Job, he was chosen to serve apparently in an inglorious and painful way; but in fact, as with the apostles (Acts 5:41), it was a choice opportunity for one who loved God, to endure as a testimony of His lovable mercifulness, upright integrity and entire trustworthiness, transcending lordship and depth. In this so famous case, despite the rigour of the test, the lessons showed and show themselves reasonable, righteous, fruitful to thousands if not to millions, and a good use of a soldier whose very case forbad that he should know in advance what was happening to him. Indeed, with Job, it was a case of trust being under test for good reason. At that, Job being the Lord's, limits were set and relief was provided at the end (Job 1:7-12, 19:21ff., 42:1ff.).
Yet without the Lord by His own appointed information in the Gospel, and execration in Christ, on our behalf who believe, and as offered with heart to all (Colossians 1:19ff.), without Him as trusted Lord and Saviour, why should there be some protection ? If you hate umbrellas, why complain if your piece of plastic thrown over your head in fact leaks!
There are degrees, but only two ultimate categories. Some hate God, some misrepresent Him with vulgar and simplistic presumption, as did Job's friends (whom he very justly warned of this very fault - Job 13:8-13), some mock Him, some turn from Him amid superficial cultural banalities which hold no speck or scintilla of reason. They differ; but in ALL, there is one common feature. It is this: they are not at peace with Him, do not receive His revelation, or have trust in Him, and are critical, as if one should criticise the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy, as applicable to our present globe. Criticising it neither changes it nor shows wisdom. The point is simply what you do with it, granted that it is there
With God, it is far more so in this, that in the very process of engaging in these various divergences from Him, you are in the midst of an inter-personal relationship; for the laws are from the Lord, not from lawlessness, a rather ludicrous thought in complete self-contradiction. Thus in various ways, various results variously come, and without Him, the case is like chaff in the wind. To be sure (as in Romans 2), God may act with prevenient mercies, knowing before all time, who are His in His own willingness for all but violence to none; but this is an additive.
Even Christians as shown in Isaiah 50:10-11, may find a time when the customary illumination, invigoration, enablement, comfort and cherishing of God our Father seems distant; and this is a test. Seeing Him who is invisible through all this, you may see elements of the Job-adventure present. That part of the word of God has voluminous ministry therefore to our souls, whether as soldiers to do a work, though it involvement suffering, spiritual athletes, to run a race though the way be grievous, or as those caught up in self-pity, to be purged early lest its development like a large and malignant cancer, becomes ominous indeed.
The FEAR of the Lord, that delightfully effectual aspect of Christ life as in I Peter 2:17, is like an ocean breeze in Summer, hastening refreshing and stirring, so that one lift up one's eyes to the beauty and majesty, this time not of the ocean, but of the Lord Himself. STAY on Him. He does not depart, merely test for a time as He did Hezekiah, merciful and remarkable King though he was (II Chronicles 32:31).
STAYING on the Lord, relying on Him, leaning on His power and purity, knowledge, concern and provisions, promises and priority, it is a lovely thing, because He is there, and the rebound is a thing of relish! It supports. It is like staying, when a child, in the arms of a vast oak tree, with all its intimate beauties of its very own. There was to be no doubting it, then, as the Lord now! How wonderful (as in Job 33:27-29), to reflect on the wonder of it all ... GOD has redeemed one's soul, gratuitously, without the slightest additive of merit or quality on one's own part, and whereas it might have been a case of accounting with fearsome negatives, since one can blunder without but small realisation of what one is doing without Him, there is instead a better way, a path of peace. It is that of the joy and the vitality, the restoration and the profundity of truth and the power of living with SUCH a Father as this one!
In Job at this point, we see someone in dire trouble, but someone is found, a mediator, who provides a ransom (cf. Matthew 20:28 where the only effectual one is found - cf. Acts 4:11-12). In this case in Job 33, then instead of dire results, there is a change. As to the sinner, suddenly his way is changed, his help is present, and he can say with delight and surprised exultation, as he gazes upon men,
" 'I have sinned, and perverted what was right,
And it was not set to my account!'
Indeed, goes the reflection following, concerning the change:
"He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light.
Behold, God works all these things."
As Job showed, there is far more than this, though the principle or idea was right. GOD indeed not only does such things, but DID once and for ever, the infinitely costly redemption work in the person of His incarnate Son, so that mercy can smile in the face of judgment, and if we suffer, it is not in vain. Instead, we live in the ambit of mercy, as children of the everlasting God. Job had the question, and even as he strove about it, we from Chapter One had the answer. In the midst of his stresses, and stretchings, Job found the everlasting answer, and we have found Him, we who believe His report and in Him (Isaiah 53:1ff.), who IS that answer.
Praise God the trial time is nearly over ( Answers to Questions Ch. 5), yet look.
It is a great thing even to suffer for the Lord, for to know HIM surpasses anything, for it is then that the truth that one knows, the glory that is revealed, the point that is received, the purpose that is apparent. the kindness that is experienced and this above all, KNOWING Him becomes more radiant than the sun, wondrous than the stars. This is in itself the ultimate for any man, explaining all, providing all, what is meant and best for the soul, adequate in all things as nothing else even begins to be. He has made us for Himself, sent to bring and win us to Himself, and discontent merely finds folly in mouthings against Him, whose mouth has spoken and whose power has accomplished for His creation, a work and a wonder set apart and secure (Isaiah 29:14,18ff.), available and elicitive, even Jesus the Christ, who meets the ultimate need and due desires of their heart. Yet more also, it brings what is not fully realised until it is found!
Elihu in 37:23-24 pursues a line found earlier in Job (28), adding "but He does not oppress." God is righteous so that a man's permutations of adverse thought against Him, in the end, merely blight himself.
It is true that to propose a fault in God is irrational, as shown repeatedly (cf. Sparkling Life Ch. 4, Barbs ... 6 -7, SMR). Once you see the necessity of the biblical perspective, then the concept of having more wisdom and morality and personality penetration and moral fibre and understanding than our Maker becomes an additive to arrogance so vast as to remind one of a slithery snake-pit. Cause ? ground of such esteemed magnificence surpassing the ONLY ONE who from Himself created ALL that there is, including accelerators and brakes on thought and being ? It is a deadly failure to differentiate. A pious genius is but a slither of His making.
Once one comes, as Job did, to realise that the very basis of one's life is owing to God (cf. Job 10:10,28:1ff.), as that the source of all the wisdom that renders us even possessed of (but not BY) a constitution, then the efforts to impugn or disregard the Maker of all, and to do so by using His own creativity as imparted to our spirits, becomes a dream, itself being roasted in a searing pit. Trying to overcome reliance on Him, with the understanding in the miniscule amount accorded us in nature, that is as derivative beings, becomes a proud fiasco, ad adventitious adventure of a spark, flinging itself to the skiesi in the night, as if it had invented all, because in a whimper of light, it saw space.
What then ? Such endeavours are vain, empty and deceitful, figs from thistles, bark without tree, effect without cause, magic like organic evolution, with no rational ground but the unverified outpourings of irrational imagination (cf. Deity and Design ...
Peace does not come from perverse pseudo-piety or magical theories alike. For peace in its reality and its profundity, you need truth, and for that, its source, in whom all knowledge is, and the One from whom it may come, when one finds and verifies the way chosen for its dissemination, in Him who came a ransom, redeemer that one should know God. It is the great verification that this One DOES provide, and in all is verified and validated is the presentation.
LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST
WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES
AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS
Bible or Blight, Christ
The Comprehensive Resolution of Man's Intractable Problems
is Found Only in the Bible, the Word of God.
On the spirit of man and related functions, see:
Glory, Vainglory and Goodness Chs. 1-3,
Dizzy Dashes ... and the Brilliant Harmony of Inevitable Truth Ch. 6,
Prospect, Retrospect and Reality Ch. 3, including *1A,
SMR pp. 348ff, Repent or Perish Chs. 7 and 2.