JOB 10:1 – 12:25 and ROMANS 5:1–21
Job continues his lament and complaint to God. He expresses hopelessness in seeing that his condition will never change. We are getting some hints in to what is really in his heart by nature of some of the questions he is now asking of God. He asks the Lord to show him his fault and to the reasons why God is contending with him (vs 2). He then challenges God as to why he oppresses the upright while favouring the ways of the wicked. He attributes God’s reasoning and judgement concerning himself to the way that man would operate. You can hear Job saying something like the following: Lord, why are you consumed in dealing with me in this way; you know I am not a wicked person (vs 5-6).
Job then reminds the Lord that it is He who created and fashioned him; that he was made as the clay and that he would one day return to dust. He obviously had a strong scriptural view for a man of his time however he is unable to reconcile the events taking place in his life. He is acknowledging God’s creativity and genius in His creation and how he has experienced favour and safety up till this time (vs 9-12). Job was well aware that if iniquity were to be found in him it would bring a certain judgement and it would be warranted. He is confused; there is no precedent or point of reference that he is able to draw from. In Job’s mind he felt that he was living a worthy life, a life that was pleasing and honourable before God. He recognizes that his days are few and that he is slipping into greater confusion, frustration and complaint. He also knows that if he continues down this path his attitude and frame of mind will only deteriorate resulting in his being in a worse place. This is a road he does not want to go down. He would rather be left alone so that he would not further charge God.
In reading Job’s responses we do see that he had a presence of mind in several areas. True, he does not understand all that God is doing but he is very conscious of God’s involvement in his trial. He speaks of God’s constant oppressing against him (vs 17). In other words he seems to know that God is present in all of this. He is constantly asking God to leave him alone. I think this is important because we do not see him charging the devil for his plight. Is this not the tendency of many when difficulties come; to blame the devil? If we always take this position we can miss a unique work of grace that God may be looking to produce in one’s life. Job knew God as a creator, a protector and defender of men and one who dispenses grace and favour in abundance. He knows these things so why are these things happening to him? In writing these brief commentaries I cannot even begin to scratch the surface of what he was going through. I also am beginning to see how the mental anguish and confusion may be superseding his physical torment. This is so inconsistent in how the God He knows and loves would function. Losing his family, wealth and health is devastating enough but losing his sense and understanding of who God is is now taking its toll. Is there some relief and perspective that will now come from his comforters? Zophar is up next; perhaps he will be able to bring encouragement.
Any hope of relief or understanding is quickly dashed as we look into the response of Zophar. For Job, the piling on of insult and confusion will continue to grow. He accuses Job of lying, mocking justice and purifying himself in his own eyes. Let’s speak for a moment of the trial of being misunderstood. It is obvious that this is the case involving Job and his friends. Job himself does not even understand. It is here where the enemy’s attacks become more vicious and aggressive. He feasts on opportunities where there is misunderstanding. We looked at this in some detail when we examined some background involving Hannah (1 Sam 1). In the midst of her trial Satan was at work. In her barrenness he moved through Penninah to try and provoke Hannah to become bitter. No one was there to understand. In her longing for a man-child she was misunderstood by her husband. Was the appointed priest (Eli) able to help her and understand her anguish? Nope, he thought her to be drunk. What did she do, where could she turn? How did she fight off the taunts and provoking’s of the adversary? She somehow was able to bring her cry to the Lord in the form of a consecrated prayer. Hannah did suffer greatly in her longing to bring forth a man-child but it cannot be compared to all that Job had been going through. Still, we can glean much from her example as it shed some insights and keys in understanding Job’s dilemma.
As believer’s we will experience those times of being misunderstood. The trial is even worse when it involves people we are close to. Sometimes those people can involve the ones we submit to as spiritual overseers in our lives. It is one of the key tests in the life of a believer and it provides the enemy of our soul an opportunity to damage us and take us out of the way of God’s purposes for our life. WE MUST UNDERSTAND THIS! We must be able to recognize the serpents bite at such times and not give in to the temptation of becoming bitter. These opportunities also provide us an opportunity to grow in grace. Speaking of grace, this is the meaning of Hannah’s name. Job is at a critical moment. He is confused and in despair of all that is taking place, he has no support from his friends and his wife and he feels alienated from God. He must hold steady and not fail at this moment. Will he grow bitter as he continues to hear inappropriate counsel from the likes of Zophar or will he overcome? This moment is a defining one and perhaps we can identify to some extent a taste of Job’s dilemma.
“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Heb 12:15)
Zophar continues his dialogue with Job by speaking things that are absolutely true. He speaks as to how God does not punish us to the extent that our iniquity deserves. This is true but it is being conveyed by a man who has no clue to what Job is going through. There is a difference between speaking a true message and actually being that message. You can say the same thing but its impact will vary based on the depth and internalized Word that has been developed in the life of the messenger. In fact if you compare some of the words of Zophar with Elihu later on you will see similarities. The difference is in the messenger. The spirit and temperament of Elihu is far different from that of the three friends. Job has to endure some of the condescending remarks of his comforters. It is God that is allowing all of this to happen and it is for a purpose and reason. Job is not able to see or discover that reason as of yet. Thankfully, even in the midst of his complaining he is not allowing a root of bitterness or offense to take hold.
The balance of Zophar’s words to Job is to essentially come clean, to prepare his heart and turn back towards God (vs 13). These words of Zophar are a bit more to the mark. He seems to soften his tone by saying that if there be iniquity in thy hand then be sure to have it far removed from thee (vs 14). He then goes on to say that the Lord would lift up His face, keep him steadfast and will no longer be in fear. His closing remarks are true and encouraging but it comes after his initial assertion of making him out to be a liar and overly self-righteous. I again want to reiterate the theme of being misunderstood. This chapter brings this subject front and center and it must be understood. It must be confronted and overcome. It is a huge weapon in the arsenal of the enemy. Understanding this will go a long way to being a true overcomer. Job will pick up the conversation in chapter 12.
Job now responds to the comments of Zophar. With each passing bit of counsel and observation from his friends must come an increasing weight of frustration for Job. Still, Job feels the need to respond and does so to Zophar here. Here is a quick sarcastic paraphrase;
Yes, wisdom is with you guys above all others, I guess it’s best for me to keep quiet and just listen to your advisements, sorry for my lack of understanding and for doubting you.
We can develop this thought a bit deeper since we have the terms wisdom and understanding in Job’s initial response to Zophar. We have been saying that Job and his friends are on two very different levels. The three friends say many right and appropriate things but it comes from a level that cannot touch or speak to Job’s plight. Job was not inferior to Zophar and friends (vs 3) and yet he is the one being mocked, maligned and misunderstood. When we mention the terms wisdom and understanding we are talking about 2 of the 7 spirits of God as referenced in Isa 11:2-3. We also know that the 7 spirits of God are represented by the golden candlesticks of Moses Tabernacle. The candlestick contained 7 candles and was positioned in the Holy Place. The Tabernacle of Moses had three divisions that represent three different levels of believers. If we were to put Job’s situation into the context of Moses Tabernacle we could say that the three friends were ministering to Job from the position of the outer court. The spirit of wisdom, understanding and knowledge were Holy place anointing’s so the insight and counsel that came from these men was limited. They were speaking into a situation that they could not appreciate. If we as believers live our lives in the realm of the outer court we will have limited perspective of the big picture, we will be limited in our understanding of what God may be doing. We will also be limited in the quality of counsel that can be given, especially to a saint who is pressing into the holiest of all.
Psa 77:13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
As believers we start young and experience the truths of the outer court. The Lord desires to lead us onwards into the holy place and then unto the holiest of all. It is a choice but sad to say the majority of the church chooses to remain in the comfortable confines of the outer court. What does this mean? Basically, it speaks of a people who serve God on their terms. True wisdom, understanding and knowledge are costly and require a commitment. Daniel and his three friends paid such a price by being intentional in their relationship with God (Dan 1:8). The fruit of their commitment was wisdom; knowledge and understanding that exceeded all the other so called wise men. Daniel and his three friends were functioning from a different level than all the others and so it is with Job and his friends. I mention the above to try and help distinguish between Job and his friends. Job was not inferior to anyone but his dire situation made it difficult for him or his three friends to appreciate the work that God was doing in Job.
In progressing through chapter 12 Job again brings up the terms wisdom, understanding in addition to strength and counsel (vs 12-13). Since Job was probably written prior to the days of Moses he alludes to two other spirits of the golden candlestick. (Strength and Counsel) The truth of this Holy place anointing keeps resonating in the study of this chapter. It is becoming evident that God is doing something profoundly wonderful in the life of Job and it is not yet being perceived by anyone, let along Job himself. The depth of work that God is doing in Job is not totally perceived by Satan either. Let’s look at this from another angle.
God created man sometime after Satan sinned in heaven. Satan was successful in inducing man to sin along the lines of where he fell. The consequence of sin was huge but the end result is that man, through the sacrifice of Christ actually has the capacity to become like Christ as His bride. Let’s make no mistake; it was not God’s intention for man to sin so that he could become more like Christ. He knew man would sin but it was not His will. The cost was immense for our redemption seeing that it required the sacrifice of the son of God. There is a similar comparison that can be made concerning Job. Here is a man, a good and upright man who is going to be taken through an earthly hell being stripped of wealth, health, family and dignity. It is a price that is costly beyond measure; yet what comes forth will be a man that is doubly blessed and highly favoured. What we see in Job is an example and picture of Christ. In both cases Satan is the biggest loser. He is the instrument that God uses to bring forth something far more precious than that which was seen at the beginning. The 1st Adam though created in innocence can become holy and like Christ as the bridegroom. The Job we see in chapter one is far different than the Job we see in chapter 42. In both cases Satan is exposed and defeated. In both cases extreme prices were paid but when measured against eternity it is price worth paying. Paul could see and understand this:
2Co 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
The death of Jesus on the Cross and the trial of Job were no light afflictions. But if we allow the Spirit of wisdom, knowledge and understanding to be our portion we can get a glimpse and insight into the ways and purposes of God. Job could not appreciate this while going through his trial and the three friends certainly could not speak to it. The Apostle Paul however does help to give perspective by looking at trials through the lens of eternity. He certainly is qualified in being able to make such a statement. Jesus also alluded to this same truth as seen in the following verse:
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We will pick up on some of the comments that Job makes in his response to Zophar in chapter 13. It is hoped that the truths of the 7 candlestick anointing is better understood and appreciated in the context of Job’s situation. It is true, “Thy way O God is in the sanctuary” (Psa 77:13).
Paul continues his theme of our being justified by faith. Another benefit is that we now can have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not have to strive or seek to work our way into the kingdom. It does require our obedience in believing what God speaks to us. This is the quality of Abraham. He learned to believe God at the various junctures of his life. It starts with simple obedience that then develops and grows stronger. This is why Abraham had the faith to obey God when his son Isaac was required upon the altar. This is also why obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22). When one obeys God, even in simple things it opens the door for Him to introduce greater opportunities for us. It is by faith that we can access this “grace” this gift that God has given. It cannot be earned by human efforts. We get a picture of the depth of Paul’s understanding of God’s ways by his comments in verse 3.
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience:”
Paul was able to see God working good even in difficult situations. He could see how his tribulation and trial was producing and bringing forth the fruit of patience. This is seeing life from a bigger picture. This truth helps us to better understand the Book of Job as well. This is also why Paul could make statements in how all things work together for good for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:28). The fruit of patience then produces experience and experience hope. Paul is very clear in stating that we are justified by faith but he also is very clear that life will not always be easy. If he were to leave his teaching here it would end up being a lopsided gospel. This is the problem with much of Christianity today. It comes easy and stays easy resulting in a cheap gospel that redefines Grace, the Law and Sin.
Paul then goes back to the sinful condition of man and shares on the great love that God has for all of mankind. It was while we were deep in sin that the Father sent his son to die for all of us (Rom 5:8). What greater demonstration of love could there be? God so loved man while he was yet steeped in sin. Once this revelation is understood in our lives it helps our ability to love others because God’s love cannot be contained. Paul then proceeds to contrast the two Adams to help bring his message into clearer focus:
In verse 12 he talks about sin entering into the world by the first Adam and how it contaminated all of mankind. Each of us were in Adam when he sinned. Paul makes the point that sin was in the world from the time of Adam to Moses but it cannot be imputed without the giving of the law (vs 13). The Law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai but there was no clear law prior to the time of Moses. Does that mean that there was no sin between Adam and Moses? No, Paul addresses this in verse 14 by saying death still reigned from the time of Adam to Moses. The law helps to bring sin into greater focus. The New Covenant is the establishing of God’s Law upon the hearts of men (Jer 31:33). Paul brings this out because he will be addressing the attributes of the Law in forthcoming chapters. To understand Christ in a more comprehensive fashion we have to know Him as the one who fulfilled the Law. This will become clearer in chapters 6-8.
Paul then makes the following point: If the sin of one man can affect the whole of mankind so then the gift of grace through one man can be obtained by all (vs 15). He reinforces this contrast in verses 16-19. One man (1st Adam) sin through all. One man (last Adam-Christ) salvation to all, provided this gift of grace is obtained by faith.
In the last two verses Paul picks up on the subject of the Law. This thought provides the lead-in to some of the most pertinent chapters (Rom 6-8) in the whole of the Word of God. Paul speaks of the Law as an instrument that helps brings sin to life, making the offence to abound. The more you embrace the Law the greater awareness one will have of sin because it brings it alive. Paul then makes the point that where sin is abounding that there is a grace that can counter. It is a grace that does more than impute the righteousness of God to us as sinners at salvation; it is a grace that can produce and impart the righteousness of God into the very fabric of our lives. The past two chapters (4-5) have introduced the passengers of this tour to the blessings of being justified by faith. It speaks of how the imputed righteousness of God can come upon a believer. The next few chapters (6-8) is going to speak as to how we are justified by works. Wait a minute; isn’t that a contradiction of what was just expressed in chapters 4 and 5? Ah, the genius of the Apostle Paul as a tour conductor is about to be taken to a whole new level.