Friday, November 7, 2014

Job, chapter 24 comments: the wicked seem to get away with it

1 ¶  Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days? 2  Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof. 3  They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge. 4  They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together. 5  Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children. 6  They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked. 7  They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. 8  They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. 9  They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor. 10  They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; 11  Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst. 12  Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.

Job expands on his former argument that the wicked are not always punished in this life and we often don’t see what happens to them. It is incorrect to say that good always wins and bad is always punished. People are aware of God’s standards and judgment and still continue to do great evil.

Job lists some things that were issues in a world of herds and flocks and land.

Deuteronomy 19:14 ¶  Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.

Proverbs 23:10 ¶  Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

Taking something that was put up as a guarantee against a loan from a poor person, if it was his or her livelihood or needed for their survival, was wrong by God’s standard.

Deuteronomy 24:6  No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge…12  And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: 13  In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the LORD thy God.

The point is of this passage in Job that wicked men do all of these wicked things and often get away with it, or seem to, as, “God layeth not folly to them.” It is naïve and foolish to have a old-fashioned Saturday morning children’s television show view of the world in thinking that the good always win and the bad are always punished in this world.

    13 ¶  They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof. 14  The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief. 15  The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face. 16  In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light. 17  For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.

No further explanation is needed of this passage from a literal standpoint. Many verses throughout the Bible speak of how the wicked lay in wait for the poor. The wicked person often makes his fortune by deceiving and manipulating the poor. Sometimes he just commits outright murder. One characteristic of both the murderer and the adulterer is believing that under the cover of darkness no one sees them.

Psalm 10 is a plea for judgment against these people.

  1 ¶  Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? 2  The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. 3  For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. 4  The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. 5  His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. 6  He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. 7  His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. 8  He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor. 9  He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. 10  He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. 11  He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.

    18 ¶  He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards. 19  Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned. 20  The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree. 21  He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow. 22  He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life. 23  Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways. 24  They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn. 25  And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?

Like a flood the wicked descend on their prey. They hold in contempt the honest labor of the vineyard. They do no one any good. Even the mighty are drawn into his influence and no one’s life is certain or safe when he is about. Here, Job remembers the eventual demise of the wicked who profit for a short time but then descend into the grave. Job knows the things that his friends have been telling him and does not deny that even though the wicked seem to prosper for a time they will all come to the same fate. If Job is not speaking truth he dares his friends to argue with him.

We have, in these verses, many interesting things to note about the mark of a wicked man. He cares nothing for honest labor and is always seeking an advantage over others which is something forbidden to the Christian. He does no good to those who are lacking as the Christian is called to do good. No one is safe in his presence which is the opposite of how people should feel around a Christian. The Christian does not care to influence the powerful but by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It has been said that life on earth is about power. We are fascinated by the boxer with the most knockouts, the baseball player with the most home runs, who is the wealthiest, the most influential, the power-broker in politics, the nation with the mightiest army. In our personal relationships there often appears to be a struggle for who gets the most attention, who gets what they want, who is in charge.

Wicked people want to control others. They want to be in charge. They have a pathological need, a lust, to tell others what to do and how to do it. They can disguise their wickedness by saying that it is for a good cause, even for Christ. They will exploit and manipulate those around them. The Christian does not seek to control others. He seeks to be an example, a testimony of faith, and submission to God’s will. He leads by example and draws others to Christ. He does not drive them like a slave overseer with a whip.

Here, Job is expressing what we all know, that wicked people do great harm with seeming impunity, and go to their graves without fear. Often, their wickedness is forgotten after them and we remember them as being good, even as philanthropists or Godly men and women.

History is replete with great men who were incredibly evil men who abused the weak and the poor, which God repeatedly says He hates, and yet are called into public memory as great political leaders, generous philanthropists, brilliant generals, captains of industry, captivating thinkers, and men of renown. These individuals are burning in a sinner’s Hell now for their rejection of Christ and worship of Self but we remember them as great ones. They exist at every level of humanity, on every layer of success, and in every government office building, every school, every church, and in every family. And they seem to get away with their wickedness.

A famous quote made about leadership in history was; “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” (29)

(29) John Dalberg-Acton, “Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887” published in Historical Essays and Studies, edited by J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907).

Job will go on, after he is interrupted, to lift up his own righteousness and to proclaim that he is not one of the wicked but a just man, sorely treated.

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