JOB 7:1 – 9:35 and ROMANS 4:1–25
Job takes a look at the natural course of life and wonders why he should be deprived of its simple pleasures. When he does lie down he is not sure when he will arise since he tosses and turns through the night. I know we all have those tossing and turning kind of nights but think of what it must have been like for Job. His condition was deplorable as he was clothed with worms along with his skin that was broken and full of sores. The hope and despair that was shared in the previous chapter is echoed afresh. He feels that he will never ever see good again in his lifetime. It is helpful to get the account of Job deep into our spirit. It can serve as a wonderful reference when going through times of despair in our own life. His account gives all of us hope of an expected end (Jer 29:11). Several of his expressions (vs 6-7) resemble the words of Solomon when he wrote Ecclesiastes at the end of his life. There is a difference however; Solomon’s lament can be understood for violating the law of kings. Job’s case is hard to explain; what did he do? He now goes to the extent of saying that God’s eye is no longer upon him. He sees himself like a cloud that appears and vanishes away, never to be resurrected again. One can imagine Satan relishing at the prospect of Job stepping over the line in cursing God. Let us again call to mind the suffering that God would be going through in all of this.
Job is finding it increasingly difficult to refrain from complaining. Slowly but surely there are sediments of his nature beginning to surface. Look at the amount of suffering that is entailed to bring this out. Let’s keep in mind that God is taking a righteous man, a man who has no equal in the earth and bringing him through a process that will make him even greater. Along the way we are beginning to see a deeply embedded element of Satan. If Job never had these tormenting challenges that leviathan within him would never surface. God is able to demonstrate through Job just how concealed our foe can be. When man sinned against God in the garden he took on the nature of Satan. He is a liar and full of pride. This period of suffering is allowing light to penetrate in areas that no other circumstance could touch. Once again it is foolish (in my opinion) to suggest that Job brought his trial on because of some sort of ill confession (Job 3:25). It dishonours Job and it dishonours the glorious work that God is bringing forth through Job. His three friends help to serve as reminders of how the church functions and views such situations. Moses knew the ways of God, Israel saw his mighty acts (Psa 103:7). God is inviting us to come and know more of who He is. The account of Job does help to point the way.
It appears that Job finds little relief when he does lie down to sleep. He has recurring visions and dreams that only add to his terror. Is there any relief for him? It is no wonder why he tosses and turns at night and thinks about having his life taken away. He again goes back to some statements that resemble Solomon at the end of his life (vs 16-18). The complaining is now becoming a bit more direct. Let me try and paraphrase what he may have been saying:
How long will you continue this? Can’t you just go away? Okay already, I have sinned now what do you want me to do? Are you really a preserver of men? By the way, why am I becoming an enemy against myself? Can’t you just pardon my transgression, take away my sin, whatever that might be, and just leave me in the dust. When you look for me in the morning this man will be gone.
You can imagine that after Job’s anguished complaint that this would prompt one of his three friends to respond. We will pick up Bildad’s response to Job in chapter 8.
Bildad, the 2nd of the three comforters now speaks to Job. He takes exception to the responses of Job and his repeated references of wishing to never be born etc. His antagonism towards Job is seen from the onset. He likens Job’s comments to that of a continuous strong wind. He then postulates in verse 3 that God is not a perverter of judgement or justice. True enough, but Bildad is assuming the position of judge and jury. He is making a statement that is true but without the “big picture” understanding of what is taking place between God and Job. His view is a narrow one, a view that is natural and native to common man. This results in counsel that only adds to the wounds while exacerbating tensions between Job and his friends. God’s ways are not man’s ways; if we do not understand this we then will misdiagnose certain occurrences which in the end can do more damage than good. God’s dealing with Job was at a level that was beyond his three friends. This is why they could never get to the core of what the true issues were. It is like trying to diagnose the period in David’s life when he was fleeing from Saul. It did not make sense in the natural but God had a higher purpose. Who else would be able to look at King Saul, who by the way was trying to kill him, as “God’s anointed”? What we are seeing here in these discourses are Job and his friends who are at two very different levels. Job himself was struggling to come to terms with all that was happening which made these interactions with his friends all the more difficult.
Bildad makes some very strong statements to Job in verses 4-6. He speaks of his children as sinning, implying that God renders justice fairly. Bildad and the others felt that Job was complaining against God for unfairly taking the life of his family. They may have felt that Job was offended in this area and could not get over the loss of family. He then exhorts him to seek the Lord afresh, like in times past and that He would be heard. If your heart is pure and upright God would restore your righteousness and favor. Once again, he is missing the mark because he is addressing Job from a limited scope. Let’s take a look at verse 7:
Job 8:7 Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.
These words are very true and can be applied to Job. Bildad does not realize how prophetic he is in making this statement. The increase that will one day come to Job will be beyond anything that could be imagined. This verse is a Biblical benchmark. The Bible says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can then move mountains (Luk 17:6). It is a beautiful verse that gives comfort and encouragement. It may be that Bildad cannot identify with the trial that Job is enduring yet this verse is right on the mark in giving right perspective to his situation.
In verses 8-13 Bildad gives solid advice in what every Christian should do in ones walk with God. He exhorts to go back to the old paths and take note in how God interacted with our fathers. He rightly states that there is so much that can be gleaned and learned from the past that can help us today. In forgetting God we soon become hypocrites and people who could lose hope. This is a great lesson for all of us today but there is a problem in Bildad’s message to Job. He is implying that Job has forgotten the God of his fathers which has resulted in his current plight. This was not the case with Job. Can you see how the Book of Job is shaping up in these initial dialogues? The three friends make many very good statements and give the foundations for solid messages. The problem is in how they seek to apply it to Job’s suffering. Once again, the reason is due to Job and his friends being on two very different levels. Secondly, the three friends do not know the “ways of God” as He allows Job to go through this dark valley. Job may not yet know the ways of God but he is becoming more acquainted with each passing day. The closing verses of chapter 8 are also very true. The primary point I seek to make is that they are expressed through a man who has a “limited” understanding of who God is. We are all limited but ones understanding can grow when we allow God to be able to access the depth of our heart. Job will prove to be such a man.
As we progress through this narrative we begin to see a pattern develop in the way Job and his three friends interact. Job immediately concurs regarding many of the things that Bildad said concerning God. One gets the sense that Job is saying to him “Look, I get it, you are not telling me anything that I have not already known” In verses 2-12 Job seemingly builds upon many of the things that Bildad shared in his discourse. There are many beautiful truths presented in these verses that are worthy of meditation and reflection. As Job continues to communicate concerning the mysteries of God he begins to slip back into his mode of complaint that is seen in previous chapters. From verse 12 onwards we begin to see a shifting or seguing into the reality of his pain as expressed in his forthcoming words.
As believers we need to recognize that we are tri-partite being. We have a body, soul and spirit. The soul is the seat of our emotions and is easily governed by the circumstances and environment around us. There is nothing like having a joyous and buoyant soul that is filled with the joy of the Lord. It is not hard to praise God and rejoice in His presence. What happens when things do not go well? The emotions and circumstances can affect the soul resulting in its becoming downcast and suppressed. The recent events that have encompassed Job have been anything but joyful. There is no natural attraction that the soul can lay hold of to help bring joy and satisfaction. His family has been destroyed, his wealth and means of income is gone while suffering greatly in his body.
We can also add that his wife was not being all that supportive as well. What is there to look forward to; is there any anchor of hope that Job can latch onto? Our body also consists of a spirit. The spirit of a man can be influenced in one of three ways. We each have our own human spirit. It is fed and influenced by either an evil spirit, God’s Spirit or by our natural surroundings. What we have in Job is a man who is being contended over by both God and Satan. God singled out Job and said is there any man like him in all the earth? Satan said he loves and walks with you because you have blessed him and preserved him. These are the reasons why he serves you. Satan was also asserting that God was not fair, that he was partial in His favouritism. He challenged God to take away his hedge of protection and blessing and then see if he (Job) will still serve you. God allowed it which has resulted in the dire condition that Job is currently going through. His soul is heavy and greatly affected by his ordeal. Job is struggling and in his confusion he does make complaint but he never loses his integrity. His soul sees no relief and means of future hope. The time has come where he does express his complaint before God but he never gives up on God. This is the point! His three friends come alongside him with good intentions but they are not in a position to speak to his spirit man. They can only render counsel from the depth of their own experience. They have not walked where Job is walking so there is very limited understanding and life that they are able to bring to him.
Job is going down a very solitary path. You and I have had people come alongside us who have paid a price in certain areas of their lives. We can draw from their experience and be encouraged that God can do the same for us. There is something about embracing and becoming a message. When you have walked through a trial you have something to give. The reason is because a price has been paid. Too many today flock after “Cheap Christianity”. They can be likened to the 5 foolish virgins who scramble at the call of the bridegroom and miss out in that window of opportunity. What distinguished the wise from the foolish virgins? The wise paid a price beforehand! (Math 25:9) Job was paying a very heavy price, a price very few could appreciate but one that was producing eternal riches. If we allow God to work in such a way in our lives the Spirit man becomes stronger. It has the ability to not be moved or affected by the whims and emotions of the soul when difficulty comes. Such a person has the ability to “encourage themselves in the Lord” in the midst of their respective Ziklags (1 Sam 30:6). It is good to parallel Job’s experience to that of David’s when he was fleeing from Saul. There are times when David seemed similarly despondent but somehow was able to maintain his integrity through it all. To summarise, the spirit man of Job is being developed and strengthened. He does not yet know the scope of what God is doing but he never gives up on God. Job is struggling at the end of chapter 9 as he still sees no end to his trial. We are beginning to see some self-justification come forth in his statements as summed up in the following verses:
Job 9:21 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.
Job 9:22 This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
He is essentially saying that God destroys the perfect because he sees himself as one that has not done wrong. He feels that God has forgotten him and just links him with the wicked that are also destroyed. We are beginning to see something that God is after in Job’s life. This deep dark trial is getting at a root, a root that embodies the character of Satan. It is so deeply embedded within man that only a trial of such great magnitude can penetrate its fortress. We will come to appreciate the greatness of Job all the more as we progress forward.
Paul now transitions to a different approach as the journey through Romans continues. In our tour let’s think of the bus taking a direct right turn off the path that it had been on. The first three chapters were filled with expressions of how sinful man is and that there is nothing within man that can be seen as good and justifiable before God. This is shaking the Jewish mentality as they were prone to justify their lives by their exterior works. Does this mean that good works are not important? Of course not it’s just that good works in of themselves does not save anyone. I think that it is safe to say that Paul was able to drill this point home. He now takes a turn and begins to speak concerning a man that all men revered. Abraham was the recognized father of the faith. Was he not a good man before God in the things that he had done? Paul makes the case that he was a good man but that was not the basis of his salvation. His salvation was based on his belief in God. It was not due to his works (vs 2). Everyone knew Abraham to be a good man but his justification with God came by way of faith; believing and obeying God. In doing so, God accounted it or imputed it to him for righteousness. It was not earned but came by way of faith. Paul goes on to quote Gen 15:6.
Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Paul then gets into the subject of imputed righteousness. This has been discussed earlier when we looked at chapter 1. That portion is included again below:
There are two forms of righteousness that are seen throughout scripture. There is the imputed righteousness and then the imparted righteousness of God. I will give a brief definition here seeing that these two categories of righteousness will be clearly defined in subsequent chapters.
- Imputed Righteousness-This is the righteousness of God that is given at the time of salvation. As a sinner who comes to Christ, we are acknowledging our sin and unworthiness. As we accept Jesus into our lives by Faith, His righteousness is “imputed” or accounted to us. In the eyes of God we are deemed righteous, because of the righteousness of Christ and not our own. God is seeing us through the covering of His Son’s garments of righteousness.
- Imparted Righteousness-This is a “worked out” righteousness whereby the righteousness of Christ is developed and worked within the fabric of a believer. This is the righteousness referred to verse 17. It is worked out as we grow from “faith to faith”. It requires a dying to self and a willingness to “put on” the attributes of Christ. The result is that the righteousness of Christ has been worked into the life of a believer. When God looks upon such a person He sees a person who is indeed righteous. It comes by way of a progressive walk with the Lord. Here are two other verses that helps to put this truth into greater light.
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
There is a choosing required in growing from faith to faith into true righteousness. The true righteousness is alluded to in the above verse (Rev 19:6) when speaking of the bride of Christ.
Paul makes the statement in verses 9-12 where he asks the question regarding Abraham’s experience. Was his being counted righteous in his believing brought forth as being part of the circumcision or uncircumcision? The Jews revered Abraham and they of course are of the circumcision. Paul makes the case that Abraham was of the uncircumcision when this event took place. He received the sign of circumcision while not yet being circumcised (vs 11, Gen 17:10). Paul was an obvious student in Genesis because he says very similar things concerning Abraham and Melchizedec in the Book of Hebrews. (This is one of the reasons why we can safely say that Paul is the author of Hebrews)
Paul then adds that the promise given to Abraham and his seed did not come by way of the law but through the righteousness of faith (vs 13). This was the whole point of Paul’s exhortation in the first 3 chapters. He was hammering home the point that we are not saved by the law, by ordinances or by any good work. That point being established now allows him to share that it is through faith as illustrated through their beloved father Abraham. Paul is a genius in knowing how to minister to different groups. After he hits them hard about no one being righteous he then brings in the esteemed Abraham. It allows him to make the point that his greatness stems from his simple obedience by faith not by his circumcision. It allows the distinction to be made so that they would be in a better position to see that true justification comes by faith and not by works. Can we appreciate the methods of Paul and how he ministered? This is a gift and an anointing.
Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Paul is speaking on justification by faith in this chapter as well in chapter 5. The above verse is setting the stage for a more comprehensive understanding of what the purpose of the law is, the true definition of grace and ultimate consequence of sin. Paul wants to be clear that the Law does not save us but it is not to be dismissed. We are saved by faith. The Law is what brings sin to life; it fleshes it out into the open so that we can acknowledge our unworthiness. That is what Paul was establishing in the first three chapters. Now that we see who we really are there is the blessing of being justified by faith and having His righteousness imputed to us. Romans chapters 4 and 5 could never be fully appreciated without the revelation of sin and man’s unworthiness through the first three chapters. Paul goes on to put further focus on Abraham as the father of the faith. Abraham, who preceded the circumcision and the given law became great because of his obedience. God bestowed many promises upon Abraham and he believed God for every one of them. He did not stagger but was strong in faith (vs 20). His belief in God resulted in the righteousness of God being “imputed” to him. We see this elaborated upon in the Book of Hebrews (Heb 11:8-10). If this is true for Abraham then it is true for us as well. May the Lord help us to say yes and Amen to His promises for our lives.