JOB 13:1 – 15:35 and ROMANS 6:1–23
Job continues in his response to Zophar. He reiterates that he is not inferior and then makes charges to him of forging lies and being physicians of no value. I cannot help but think of many church leaders who put titles after their names but really have no ability to minister to the true spiritual needs of people. In short, the church is full of Dr. Zophar’s and other such leaders who put more emphasis in upholding their title and accomplishments as opposed to true pastoral ministry. Job even went so far as to say that it would be wisdom on Zophar’s part to say nothing at all. You can feel the level of frustration rising in Job as this trial continues. Job now seeks to turn the tables on Zophar by speaking to him (vs 6).
Will you speak wickedly for God and act deceitfully on his behalf? Do you think that you should be searched out? You seem to think its ok to mock me so then do you mock him (vs 7-9)? Job is trying to allow Zophar to taste of the medicine that he has been dishing out to Job. He makes accusations towards Zophar in much the same way it has been done to him. You can sense the momentum in Job’s words as he keeps coming at Zophar. His words in verse 15 are worthy of note:
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him (Job 13:15).
Do those words sound a bit familiar? Remember Peter when he said he was willing to die for the Lord. Peter was certainly well intended and he did come to the place where he would one day lay down his life for His saviour. Peter made an ill-advised declaration at that time and he was tested on it. Job was well intended in his retort to Zophar but it was not made in a right spirit. It was still out of a self-justification mode. We do see the development of a future capacity to have this realized in his life. In recent chapters we have looked at Job and contrasted him with some other known Biblical figures. It is for the purpose of better understanding the magnitude of this great man. Right now the trial is intense and it is getting worse as these discussions with the comforters goes forward.
In the ensuing verses Job begins to turn his attention to the Lord. He pleads with God to no longer hide himself from him. Here is another brief paraphrase:
If you call me I will respond. Perhaps then you can show me where I have done wrong. You can then let me know how many sins I have committed and make known my transgressions. Why Lord, why are you hiding from me, I really want to know what are the issues you have against me (vs 20-24).
He finishes with some rather strong charges against the Lord. His assessment is that the Lord is allowing him to rot like a garment that has been eaten by moths. We made some observations earlier about the kind of thoughts that those who contemplate suicide must go through. It is a spirit and it is a very strong and powerful one. It is a spirit that we must never succumb to because it gives victory to the enemy. There are times when Job expresses the desire to have his life be taken but he never initiates it himself. This is a big difference. It is the Lord who gives and takes away. The enemy thrives on hopelessness and he works overtime in seeking to get people to give up. This is why the promise is always to the overcomer (Rev 2-3). The Bible says that in the last days that even the young men shall faint and be overwhelmed (Isa 40:30). We must press forward in our walk and speak to every mountain that stands in our way with the words of “grace, grace unto it” (Zech 4:7). We are very much indebted to Job for setting the standard of enduring through impossible situations. We know his end but he did not while going through his valley of suffering. His trial was an extremely costly one but it establishes a precedent that we can all draw from in our respective trials and challenges. May Job’s example serve as an anchor and benchmark for each of our lives.
The laments of Job continue but now he takes his situation and applies it to man as a whole. It is reminiscent of Solomon’s comments at the end of his days as seen in Ecclesiastes. He sees that the days of men are few and equates them as being days of trouble. He starts off well like a flower but then is soon cut down. Job is now looking beyond his friends and directing his complaints to God alone. He seeks to be treated as a hireling for they at least can have some respite from the heat of the day. He puts nature above man in seeing that a tree that is cut down has the chance of coming to life again. It can taste the water that it can allow for the budding forth of branches to again be seen. But to Job, man is not like this. He dies and wastes away never again to be found (vs 8-10). Job’s world and viewpoint continues to be narrowed down as a result of his extreme trial. He has no way of reconciling all that is happening to him. What he has is breath and an ability to speak and his words are reflecting the deep frustration and confusion of his sorry condition. We can assume that the enemy is using every opportunity to further inflame those passions within Job.
Why is God allowing Job to be brought to such extreme measures? The answers will be seen as we near the end of this book. Let me share a personalised example that may help put this into some perspective. The purpose of Job’s trial was to take a good and upright man and make him even greater. We have to see that God is the initiator and Satan is the instrument that will be used to bring it to pass. The following example that I will give is a simple one that is not meant to equate in any way what Job went through but it may help shed light and give perspective.
I worked in the selling profession for a number of years and did fairly well in my places of employment. In the last company I worked for before going overseas as a missionary I had a boss who was unlike any other. He treated me differently than other previous bosses that I had. He worked me hard, was very demanding and was overly particular about everything I did. It was hard and at times unbearable. There were times where he was unreasonably disposed against me compared to others. The day came when I had enough and looked to find other employment. The Lord intervened and made clear that this is where I was to stay. In short, God was using this man (my boss) to get at something in my life. This boss was able to flesh out something in me that no previous boss could touch. My boss was not happy with me being “good” he saw something more and he worked to bring it out of me. It was a difficult period for me but this experience was so needed. I became a better producer in business but most important was the preparation it provided so that I could be my best on the mission field. I nearly forfeited that work of grace by exiting from that job prematurely. With the advantage of years I can clearly see its benefits but when going through that period it was anything but bliss.
Job continues his comments to God asserting that He (God) does not really take note of man, that He is disconnected from His creation. I guess we can say that this is a picture of what Abraham came to know in his horror of great darkness (Gen 15:12). It was a time when the Father and Son were establishing a covenant while Abraham was helpless. He had to be because God was establishing a unique work that would play out through the time of their sojourn in Egypt and beyond. Abram was helpless and could do nothing. God was at work through Job’s trial; it was filled with pain, anguish, confusion and uncertainty. Job was a spectator to his own plight and suffered greatly not understanding what was taking place. There are very real times in any believer’s life when God seems distant and unconcerned as to where we are. The truth is He is very close in ways we cannot perceive. This is why we must have the cry within us to know His ways as Moses did (Exo 33: 13). The ways of God are beyond that of natural man. It is a spiritual man who seeks and pursues after God. Many of us are familiar with the verse from Romans where Paul talks about the ways of God being unsearchable and His ways past finding out. Perhaps his inspiration for this verse came from Job.
Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Job 9:10 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
Eliphaz is now going to make his 2nd speech to Job. He has heard the words of his friends and the subsequent responses of Job. He more or less says to Job that he should know better than to keep speaking noisy and blustery words like the North wind (vs 2). He reminds Job that such talk does not accomplish anything good either to Job or to those who hear his words. He charges Job with having no respect or reverence for the things of God with such talk. Eliphaz charges Job with condemning himself by his own talk and the words of others. It is clear that the frustration level is very high between Job and his friends. Any good intentions that were expressed to Job at the beginning of his trial now seem to be a distant memory. They are not connecting and they only seem to be drifting further apart. In fact, that is indeed the case. The friends of Job assumed that he had some hidden and unconfessed sins and all that he was doing was vindicating himself. Job on the other hand knew that their primary assumptions were false yet had difficulty convincing them otherwise. He then had to bear with their accusations and self-righteous assertions.
In verses 7-8 Eliphaz makes similar statement that we will see later in Elihu when he will demand of Job answers to certain questions. In verse 9 he chides Job by saying what makes you so special, what do you know and understand that we do not know? He reminds Job that we have a sampling of different groups of people of varied ages. Eliphaz was seeing Job as elevating himself above all the others. He then asserts that Job was elevating himself above God by the responses that he was giving (vs 11-14). Eliphaz then comments about the sinful state of man in contrast to the greatness of God. It is futile to think of oneself as an equal or coming up against God. He speaks to the level of deception that can come over a man; something that will be clearly seen in the last days. There is one verse that should be given some added attention:
Job 15:34 For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.
This statement is absolutely true. Eliphaz’s charges against Job as being a hypocrite are not applicable to him but this comment needs to be known. God despises a hypocrite; one who positions themselves publicly as being upright but living a totally different secret life. Jesus had very much to say concerning such people. A quick reading of Math 23:13-29 will indicate clearly how the Lord sees hypocrites. Another loathsome tendency in some churches is the perverting of justice. This is often achieved by bribes. It is not always about the passing of money but it can also be the exacting of illegal leverage to gain a certain objective. Such activities come down to one’s motives. A person who has a pure and upright heart will always choose a path that in the end will lead to life. Eliphaz was speaking right words but it was pointed towards a man who was in the crucible of God.
We are now about to enter into the heart of the Book of Romans. It is more than just the heart of a book but it is a portion that gets to the heart of the heart. In our introduction to Romans we commented on how the church in the last days is going to divide. It is already taking place. What is the basis of the separation? It will primarily come down to doctrine. If you want to dig deeper it will come down to a heart condition. Doctrine speaks to the heart and brings a heart to a decision. This is clearly reflected from what is seen in the Book of Revelation (Rev 3:16, 22:11). Paul also makes clear in his closing letter that in the end times men will not endure sound doctrine but will allow their hearts to gravitate to messages, churches and ministers that tickle and feed its desires. How does this happen? What are some of the issues that put people into one of these two camps? I believe they are contained in chapters 6, 7 and 8 of Romans. Let’s consider the following verses that help to bring this distinction into clearer view:
Mat 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
These verses are best applied to believers, not the unchurched. We have seen in the previous two chapters how we are justified by faith. In choosing by faith to accept Jesus into our life we receive the gift of salvation and his righteousness is then imputed to us. We are now at the foot of chapter 6 of Romans and a choice is required. Will we choose to go straight into Romans 6 and its subsequent chapters? If we do we will have to come face to face with the Cross. We are going to see what is really in our heart. If by the grace of God we continue the journey through chapter 6 we will then come face to face with sin and its power. Now what are going to do; will we turn back and seek for an easier way, a way that avoids these paths of difficulty? Let’s spiritualize on this a bit more. Do you remember John 6 when we saw the multitudes following Jesus at the beginning and only a few when we got to the end? What happened in between that brought about the separation? It was primarily the message of the Cross. It was a message that did not sound good, was not palatable so many decided to go no further. We can say that these “disciples” took a detour or an easier way. There are so many other Biblical examples that can be given to help make this point. I am approaching these chapters from the perspective of our bus tour down the Roman Road. The signposts are there and there are two paths that can be taken. There will be the road through the heart of the Romans Road or a by-pass that conveniently circumvents the rough and challenging issues which I will soon identify. In our tour we will have both roads join together as one from chapter 9 onwards. You will have people who will be travelling together down the same road but people who are markedly different. The difference will be based on whether there has been an appropriation of the messages contained in Rom 6-8. So what are the issues and messages that are addressed in these three chapters? They will be as follows:
1. The Cross
2. The Law
In the next two days I will be presenting the above subjects from a study and teaching I am putting together on the theme of the Two Streams. This will be a way of covering chapters 6-8 which will be different from my usual commentary mode. It is hoped that our Christian walk will come into clearer view and that we see a bigger picture regarding the church. The church today is dividing; it is determined by the doctrines we embrace and the core of those doctrinal issues can be found in the heart of the Book of Romans. We are about to journey into the heart of Romans which has as its primary objective to get to the issues of our own heart. That is what God is after.
Pro 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
May God put within each of us the desire and cry that Moses had; to know his ways and His glory. (Exo 33:13, 18)