13 ¶ Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will. 14 Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand? 15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. 16 He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him. 17 Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears. 18 Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified. 19 Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost. 20 Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee. 21 Withdraw thine hand far from me: and let not thy dread make me afraid. 22 Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me.
Again, Job tells his friends to hold their peace. He wants to speak without interruption and he’ll be responsible for the consequences of what he says. Why, the meaning of wherefore, does Job risk his life with what he is saying? Even if God kills him, Job will trust in God, which is a very important statement and similar to the passage in Daniel.
Daniel 3:14 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
But, Job finishes that statement with the insistence that even though he will trust in God even unto death he’s going to go to his grave insisting upon his own righteousness. Remember King Hezekiah’s statement;
2Kings 20:3 I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
In this dispensation of the church age the early Baptists of the seventeenth century, when the first churches that called themselves Baptist came into being, it was understood that there were fundamentals to the Christian life. These were found in Hebrews, chapter 6. (23) One of the prominent fundamentals for the early Baptist was repentance, but not repentance as most Independent Baptists of today believe. It was not, “repent of your sins,” but repenting of what you were depending upon to justify yourself before God, your works.
Hebrews 6:1 ¶ Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Job’s insistence upon justifying himself and saying that he will trust God unto death all the while insisting upon his own righteousness would not save him today from Hell, nor will it save you. We must turn from what we are trusting in within ourselves to save us and turn to God, doing the work that He has set forth for us.
John 6:28 ¶ Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Just as the Jews were called by John the Baptist to turn from their vast assemblage of extra-scriptural rules and regulations to justify themselves and turn to God so must we. Read the passages in the gospels where John the Baptist is preaching at the Jordan and consider these verses in Hebrews. Repent from your dead works you insist are for God and turn to God.
Job continues to demand a hearing of God. He continues in his error of wanting to argue his case before God.
(23) H. Leon Macbeth, The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1987), Kindle edition, ch. 2.
23 ¶ How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin. 24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy? 25 Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble? 26 For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth. 27 Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks, and lookest narrowly unto all my paths; thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet. 28 And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.
Job is challenging God to tell him how many sins he is guilty of and to explain exactly what Job had done wrong to deserve this treatment. If Job’s friends are so certain that his suffering is because of a wicked life then Job wants to know from God, not them, what the sins are for which he has specifically been devastated.
The contrast Job makes between himself and something so weak and meaningless as a leaf or dry stubble shows his feeling of being picked on by someone so much more mighty than himself. God has restrained him and Job has no more value than a rotten, moth-eaten piece of clothing.
Proverbs 18:14 ¶ The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
Psalm 130:1 ¶ « A Song of degrees. » Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. 2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. 3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
Man can certainly receive God’s judgment for his sinful nature and the Christian who turns his or her back on God may have a painful awakening as David cried.
Psalm 38:1 ¶ « A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance. » O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2 For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. 3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. 4 For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. 6 I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. 9 Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. 10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. 11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.
As Ezra told the Jews.
Ezra 9:13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;
But, always remember when you are reading Job that he is not being punished for his sin but used as an example of faithfulness in time of testing. The Hebrews were told through Moses;
Deuteronomy 4:30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; 31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
But God told us through the wisdom He gave Paul;
Romans 5:1 ¶ Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
The Jews were promised a prosperous happy life on earth if they believed and obeyed God. If they sinned they were to expect punishment. If they turned back to God they were to expect mercy. The Christian is not promised a life of ease without suffering whether he is obedient or not. In fact, he is told that tribulation can come. In this, we do not have Job’s ignorance. We are told in advance, given advance warning and notice. When pain comes to the Christian, specific pain for no particular reason he can understand, he or she should not even be questioning, “why me?” The purpose is already stated, laid out to us in God’s declarations through the wisdom given to the Bible’s writers.
So, let’s review. This isn’t about you getting lung cancer because you are a smoker or having a child run wild because their soul was wounded by your marriage breaking up when they were young. This isn’t about getting arrested for drunk driving or losing your job because you willfully disobeyed your employer. This isn’t even about you being persecuted for your faith. Job was not troubled because of anything he did wrong. We can suffer without seeing a correlation to our specific sins. God comforts us through His word and we are to comfort others. Tribulation cannot separate us from God’s love. And tribulation educates us and draws us closer to God.
Will you glory in the tribulation that God allows to come upon you or will you be like Job? Don’t think too badly of Job. At least you have been warned.