JOB 22:1 – 24:25 and ROMANS 9:1–33
Eliphaz, who was the first to respond to Job takes up the discussion a third time. Many feel that he was the oldest and perhaps wisest of the three friends. He makes the point that God does not profit in any way from man. This is pure human logic that is being presented to Job. Eliphaz took note of Job’s constant reference to his own integrity and that God was somehow beholden to Job for living a life of holiness and righteousness. Once again these words are true especially when you consider the writings of Paul to the Romans when he says that all men are sinners and that there is not one who is righteous. The prophet Isaiah comments that we are all unclean and that our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). These true statements are misapplied to Job. In verse 3 Eliphaz asks the question; Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? Let’s address this question because it may help to distinguish the work that God was producing through Job in this trial.
God takes pleasure in a man who lives uprightly but is not dependent upon man to be so. In our study through the Book of Romans the point has been brought out about the two kinds of righteousness; imputed and imparted. We are saved by believing and confessing that Jesus died for our sins. This act of faith enables us to know the “imputed” righteousness of God. We are not righteous in of ourselves but rather deemed righteous because of Jesus. In other words the heavenly Father sees us through the righteousness of His Son. What God is doing through Job’s ordeal is producing the “imparted” righteousness into the fabric of Job’s being. It is a work and process that the three friends can in no wise relate to. It is a work and process that Job himself does not yet understand.
Eliphaz is addressing Job from the position of what we would term “imputed” righteousness. We are doing a parallel study through the Book of Romans as we go through Job. There are some interesting comparisons and observations that can be made. At the foot of Romans chapters 6-8 we make mention of the message of the Cross, the Law, Sin, Grace and Choice as primary themes. We also refer to a term known as the “Romans By-Pass” which simply means a circumventing of these key chapters. When one takes a by-pass they take a route that does not take them through the core of a city but a way that goes around it. This way they do not have to deal with high traffic and realities of city life.
True Christianity requires us to go down and through the path that God has ordained. True Christianity requires us to come face to face with the Cross, to come face to face with the issue and plague of sin and so on. It is through this process where we get a very real glimpse of who we are as sinners. It also provides us the opportunity to really know who God is. If we learn to walk this road, embrace its message by God’s grace we will be changed. There will be a righteousness that is worked out, developed and imparted within our being. God will not just have a people who know the “imputed” righteousness of His Son but will delight in a people who have “chosen” to pay the price, by His grace in becoming more and more like Him. I feel that the Romans 6-8 by-pass thought is an appropriate way to distinguish Job from his friends. Job is allowing God to take him through the heart of the Roman Road of chapters 6-8 while the three friends can be likened to those who know the way of the by-pass. This is why their counsel does not connect or relate to Job. It is no different today. Job and his friends are on two completely different levels.
Eliphaz makes many very true and good statements in chapter 22 while at the same time making observations which are hurtful and untrue concerning Job. Looking at Job and his friends through the lens of the Romans By-Pass may help to better define the existing gap between them. Eliphaz has made assertions in past discourses of Job’s sin but he is about to give some specifics to back up his claim. In verses 6-7 he speaks of taking a pledge of a garment of a poor man without any recompense in addition to not giving water to those who were weary. It sounds like a charge towards a rich person in not properly looking after the poor. His charge to Job sounds akin to the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:20-25). Such would not be the case with Job. Eliphaz further asserts that he has sent widows away empty and neglected the needs of the fatherless. There may be cases that could be aroused that would give this appearance but it was not attributable to Job. Once you have the mind-set that anything evil or unfortunate that comes upon a person is due to sin you seek for ways to validate your opinion. This is what we see here. Man cannot reconcile that God would allow such things to come upon a person who was innocent.
As before, Eliphaz exhorts Job to reacquaint himself with the Almighty and all will be restored (vs 21-30). Job will provide his response in chapter 23.
Job again takes up the dialogue in his response to Eliphaz. Job cuts right to the chase in wanting to take his complaints and condition to God. He feels that God would vindicate him after he orders his words before Him. Job is allowing an inner pride to come forth because he is indicating that he can make demands upon God to make explanation about his plight. He sees himself as a righteous man who can argue before God and then be delivered (vs 7). He expresses frustration in not being able to find God in his quest. He looks front and back, left and right, up and down but cannot find Him. In verse 10 he makes a statement that will later be found to be true in his life.
“But He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (vs 10)
Indeed, these are true and enduring riches that God looks to produce in our lives. This will be the fruit of Job’s suffering but he still is not clear regarding the work God is forging within him. Job follows up by saying he hath kept his steps and not turned away from them and that he has kept his commandments. He also comments on how he has esteemed the words of his mouth as his necessary food. By all accounts this was in fact true concerning Job however his thoughts concerning God are still filled with confusion. He in effect is saying that God is God; He can do whatever he wants concerning me. His voice has hints of sarcasm which still indicates elements of self-vindication. He expresses fear of God, not in reverence but as if God were becoming an enemy to him. He has no ability to reconcile God’s actions towards him and why he is constantly being subjected to friends who only add to his misery and woe.
Have you ever felt as if God is against you? We can understand it if we are knowingly participating in some kind of sin or living a life that is not pleasing to God. How does it feel though when you are living for God to the best of your ability and yet things seemingly deteriorate around you? These are times when God’s ways are past finding out.
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!
We do not look at such experiences as being enriching however time will reveal the truth of all things. How would you answer the following question, Do you want to be more like God? I assume the response would be a resounding yes. Yet, to be like God, to know God and become acquainted with God would require measures of pain and suffering to enter in being a portion of your life. How can we know betrayal unless we have been betrayed? How can we know the long-suffering of God unless we go through the trials and pain of suffering? Job’s journey is indeed painful and filled with suffering but will prove enriching beyond measure. The fruits gained will not only benefit the remainder of his earthly existence but will be carried through all of eternity. At the moment Job cannot see the end of the trial; it has the semblance of an eternal judgement that will have no relief. A casual assessment of what God is doing with Job would cast God as being unfair and selective in his dealings with Job. The truth is exactly the opposite.
Job is wondering why God seems to turn a blind eye to those that truly know Him and seek His ways in contrast to those who are blatant in their lifestyle against God. He seems to be saying that God is not being fair. In verses 2-16 he cites many devices of wicked men who seem to not draw the attention from God for their practices. They carry on with their wickedness and go to their graves to be eaten of worms and forgotten (vs 20). Job is equating his lot as being like them. He sees himself as one that is lifted up for a season and then cut down, judged severely during the rest of his earthly life and judged like the wicked for all of eternity (vs 24). In essence he is saying what is the use of living a godly existence if that is all there is to life? Is God not one who will vindicate and judge righteously in the end?
The discourses that Job is bringing forth are now directed towards God although we still see his friends still in close proximity to him. Once again Job has not pointed any accusatory finger towards the devil but his complaint is with God, seeing Him as sovereign. We know that from the beginning of the account of Job that his afflictions were allowed by God but implemented by Satan. Though Job makes many wrong statements towards God he still sees Him as sovereign which is very important. It allows his focus to be directed towards the one who is allowing this trial and process. He has every opportunity to be offended and be brought to the point of cursing and total abandonment of God. This is what Satan was banking on and trying to move Job to do. Satan sought to move through the circumstances, through the words of his wife, (Job 2:9) and even through the comforters by provoking job to become offended. Job through his entire ordeal always held onto God by acknowledging His Sovereignty. This is a key for all of us. We must always remember that God is over all and there is nothing He does not see and nothing He cannot do. He is also over all of the devices of the enemy, even when he comes forward like a flood and roaring lion. God sets the boundaries!
What Job is not yet able to see is the measure of love that God has for him and the eternal message that is being produced through his life. His life will represent one of the benchmarks of Christianity that people throughout the generations will be able to glean and learn from. Job, as a man became acquainted with God and his ways at a tremendous cost. If we ever become mired in confusion and uncertainty in our walk with God we can always draw from this man’s journey. His life helps to give greater insight into who God is; insight as to how we can learn to live in the midst of adversity; and insight into the devices and depths of Satan’s entwined hold on one’s life. Job is truly a very great man but at the same time is a man who is going through great suffering and seeking to come to terms in his relationship with God.
Our tour down the Roman Road is now half completed. The group all started together as the tour embarked on this journey. The first part of the journey was unexpected as all of the travellers came to know the horrors of sin and the truth that all men are sinners with no one being exempt (Rom 3:23). After chapter 3 the journey took a new turn as the Road took a turn down the road of chapters 4 and 5 to the discovery that all men can be justified from their uncleanness and sin by faith in the one and only Son of God. The example of Abraham was cited as one who was counted righteous by believing God. God spoke and Abraham obeyed and it was accounted unto him for righteousness (Gen 15:6, Rom 4:3). We then came to the entrance of Romans 6 where a distinct decision needed to be made. The members of the tour had the opportunity to ponder over one of two choices as to how to proceed. There was a very narrow Road that had the name of chapters 6, 7 and 8 upon them. The highlights of the trip in going that route were messages that involved the Cross and the crucified life, the Law and its true meaning, Grace and its true meaning, the power and reality of Sin as well as the signpost of Choice. The other Road was broad and had all the other signs of Christianity however it looked to be a brighter path and one that was void of the challenging issues of the narrow Road. What was interesting was that there were voices advocating the two respective paths. By far, the more popular option was the by-pass; those buses filled up quickly and took off rounding the corner to avoid the narrow road with its intimidating path. There were fewer voices advocating the narrow path but there was something peculiar about them; they were passionate and filled with a presence of love and yet deep concern. We are now coming to chapter 9 of the Romans Tour. It is a time where there is a reunion of all passengers; the ones who took the by-pass as opposed to those who went the route of the narrow Road. All the passengers are happy to reunite but there is a certain distinction and difference between the two groups. It is not yet clear but it is evident that something between the two groups is different. The journey now continues.
In verses 1-3 we see the heart of Paul being expressed as a leader. Paul was carrying a burden for his people. It is similar to that of Moses as seen in Exo 32:31-32.
Exo 32:31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
Exo 32:32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
Paul is not just giving them instruction as he leads this tour he is expressing his heart and everyone bears witness to his burden. The people are not just hearing a message but they are seeing it on full display in the life of Paul. The elements of true leadership are seen in Paul. His example helps people to identify with the burden and love that Christ had in his willingness to lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
In verses 4-5 he establishes the 7 privileges that have been given to the Jews. They are Adoption, the Glory (Isa 60:1-2), the Covenants (Eze 36:26), the giving of the Law (Deu 4:6, Neh 8:8), Service of God (Exo 19:6), the Promises and Fathers (1 Cor 4:5). Remember, the Book of Romans is addressed to both Jew and Gentile. In this portion Paul is identifying with the Jews and letting them know the honor and privilege that has been given to the Jew throughout the ages.
In verses 6-8 Paul makes the point that Abraham had many children but it was through Isaac that his seed would be called and blessed (Gen 17:19). This helps us to understand the distinction between Ishmael and Isaac.
In verses 9-13 we see the account of the two children or nations that were in the womb of Rebecca. We see the subject of foreknowledge in this account because it was said that the elder shall serve the younger even before they came forth out of the womb. We are also introduced to the subject of “The election of God”. God elected Jacob over Esau because of his foreknowledge of what these sons would do. God can make these statements due to His foreknowledge of knowing what choices men will make. We must be very clear; God is fair and is not being partial here. He loved Jacob and hated Esau. It is not selective favouritism but a reflection of knowing what Esau and Jacob would do. When we stand before God we will give an account of the choices we made and the opportunities that God had presented to us (Mal 1:2-3). It is God that shows mercy and compassion and it is God who chooses to be the recipients of it. God moves and administrates towards men based on His foreknowledge. His election is also reflected and derived from His foreknowledge.
Paul continues on this point by making a statement about Pharaoh in verses 17-18. God had to have a Pharaoh in order for iniquity to be ripe so that God’s power could be displayed. Pharaoh had opportunity to respond to God’s overtures via Moses but he chose to continually harden his heart. Likewise the Lord needed to have a betrayer which we see in Judas. DO NOT think that Judas is a victim here; his heart was that of a thief, he was a man who was exposed to the finest teaching and yet chose to allow his heart to be hardened. At the appointed time Satan was able to place within his heart the seeds of betrayal (John 13:2, 27).
In verses 19-21 Paul laments that his audience is not acquainted with the ways of God. He chastises them for making foolish statements to God, challenging Him for doing what He does.
Heb 3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
Paul then goes on to the subject of how God allowed the gospel to go the Gentiles which was proving to be a stumbling block to many. Can you see how he was making the case how Israel had every advantage in coming to know the living God? Is it any wonder then that God would open a door to the Gentiles who would embrace the opportunity that Israel has rejected? Paul is making a very strong case before the people as to how Christ is the saviour the Son of the living God. The Gentiles received the message which was obtained by faith. He points out in doing so that they become the righteousness of God. Israel on the other hand who makes its boast in the law of righteousness has not attained unto it; Christ became a stumbling stone of offence which will result in Israel looking towards the antichrist in the last days. It is a heavy hitting rebuke that Paul is presenting to his Jewish brethren but he makes no apologies.