1 ¶ Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, 2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. 3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said, 4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. 5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
God asks Job if Job thinks he can give God instruction, if he can critique God. We, today, often challenge God with our statements and questions. “How can a just God allow [name the event] happen?” Of course, the age-old, “why do bad things happen to good people?” comes to mind. When a terrible typhoon or hurricane makes landfall Christians are curious as to how many Christians suffered or died because in our business bargain with God we want assurances that bad things won’t happen to His people. Atheists and agnostics will say they can’t believe in God that would let [name the event] happen. We are always trying to tell God what He should or shouldn’t do, should or shouldn’t allow. Even when we pray we not only ask God for something but we want to tell Him how to give it to us, what color wrapping paper and how to fold the ribbon.
Job acknowledges in his awe that he is vile. Vile is trash and unworthy in 1Samuel 15:9. It is base in 2Samuel 6:22. A vile person in Isaiah 32:5,6 is a churl, speaks villainy, his heart works iniquity, he practices hypocrisy, speaks error against God, and does not relieve the suffering of the hungry and thirsty. To be vile is to be rotten in Jeremiah 29:17, like bad fruit.
Job is going to put his hand over his mouth and shut up. He realizes there is nothing he can say against God and that he has already said too much. He’s done. Job, like you and me, is a wicked sinner with imperfect knowledge and finite understanding. There are things we must understand about our natural condition, apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jeremiah 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Without Christ, the believer is absolutely incapable of getting past these barriers.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
We have no basis with which to challenge or question God. In the 20th century alone mankind killed more than a hundred million of his own, let countless millions more die because of greed, and drove millions from their homes. If a person wanted to ask God why He allowed such things, God would be justified in asking the person the same question. Mankind is utterly vile without Christ as his Lord, His teacher, His example, His Saviour, and His reason for being. One of the problems with much of Christianity is that rather than follow Christ, live with His attitude, and pay heed to His words we have opted to talk a lot about Him and accuse other people of not doing what we’re not doing.
Christians would do well to talk less about how holy they are and act like Christ more.