Job is tired of hearing the cliched thoughts, and of being a laughingstock for maintaining his faith in the LORD (1-4). It is foolish to read too much into one’s circumstances, or what is seen of others. He knew of robbers at ease, secure with their handheld idols (5-6) The other creatures know what sinful man seeks to suppress in unrighteousness (7-9a) – “that the hand of the LORD has done this. In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” (9b-10) With age normally wisdom comes (11-12), which is found with God, the sovereign over all things (13-16), even “the deceived and the deceiver are his.” (16b) He can and does bring about the opposite of what sinful man foolishly and blindly puts their trust in (17-22), including nations and their leaders (23-25). This is the God who is intimately involved with his people.
[A special Note to any ‘weak’ ones visiting my blog or FB pages.]
When I led a College & Careers group in Bethel CanRC, I was asked by a former RCC if I thought that husbands own their wives. [Note: the CanRC don’t let the wives vote in ecclesiastical matters.] Like those who approached Jesus with the hopes of destroying his work, I have gotten used to this sort of approach. My response was ‘yes’, and the wife owns her husband.
“For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (I Cor. 7:4) Therefore to commit adultery is a form of theft, as is refusing conjugal rights, and coveting a neighbour’s wife is the same generalization used as also applying to a wife being deprived of her husband.
Not only this, but Paul stated emphatically that it was permissible to fast, as it were, if both partners agreed, and this not for any “irreconcilable differences,” but only that they might “by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer…coming together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (v. 5)
Therefore, it is no surprise to me that Paul preferred to be single, as the LORD had given him this gift, but only so that he might give himself completely to the LORD’s ownership of him – as we all are. “All things are lawful…,” in this context – sexual activity (6: 12-20), but also other matters within the body of the church (6:1-11).
To commit adultery, or fornication, (including prostitution – v. 17), is to sin against God’s ownership, your own self, and others, especially (in the human context) a marriage ‘partner’. What would have been obvious, and still is among many, is that it is also the same with homosexuality – as contrary to a creation ordinance, and the law-word of the covenant (v. 16).
Sexual sin, as Paul so clearly laid out, has its own pernicious fallout. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person (man or woman) commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person commits is outside the body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God. You are not your own.” (v. 18-19)
“For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Ours is a culture that states quite emphatically, in word and deed, that sexual activity is on a par with eating and drinking. I am 60 now, and became a Christian at 17, and by God’s grace have never crossed this line, which is why people either do not believe me, or think I am ‘queer’, by which I mean both senses.
Another single man once taught that this teaching on marriage, and entrance into its covenantal structure or paradigm, is not for everyone, for all time (Mt. 19:10-11), that there was a place for singles in his kingdom and church (v. 12). I could go on to note the existence of children (13-15), but this would be to digress.
J. Gresham Machen was The Leader, under the grace of Almighty God, and his LORD, to oppose the liberal apostacy of our previous generation, known worldwide for his mastery of Greek etc., both classical and biblical (also Latin, German etc.) I have a copy of his lecture questions to accompany his Greek text (rare). He never married, and John Murray until 62, and had 2 children. I rest my case.
Zophar accused Job of ‘empty talk’ in need of a rebuke, which he proceeds to give (1-3). Job’s ‘doctrine’ was not that he was sinless, but rather that he could not see what specific sin or sins he had committed to call what he was going through judgment or wrath from God (4). Zophar wishes that God would rebuke Job, but then assumes that He would have him do it (5-6). Zophar is right to affirm that God is omnipresent and omniscient, that He has exhaustive complete knowledge of all things He has made and governs, that his judgment cannot be opposed, but he assumes to know that this is why Lob is suffering (7-12). Zophar is sure that all Job needs to do is confess said wickedness and he will be restored (13-20).
Job’s beginning rhetorical question affirms that no one can stand as righteous before God based on their own merit (1-3). Those who think they can, are described as ‘hardened’, thinking that God owes them (4). God’s sovereignty is subject to his own character, which is wise and all-powerful, even in his anger (5, 13). What some define as natural laws of the universe are just God’s normal way of governance, which he can override as he has done in history several times – nothing is mechanically predetermined, as though operating above his will, nor are things governed by chance – which is an inherent contradiction (6-9). Many of his wonders are past finding out, showing that we only know what we know because of what he chooses to reveal to us (10). His presence is to us invisible (11), but there can be no mistake about who gives and who takes away, and in Job’s case using the devil to do so (12-13 cf. 1:12).
Choosing what to say to the LORD is a thought-provoking exercise, one not to be taken lightly. He calls us to reason with him, but not on the basis of our own righteousness, though some may seem more righteous than others among men (14-15). Job is not convinced that even if he heard a voice responding to his prayers, that he would believe it to be God answering him, because of his current condition. Sadly, this seems to be where Job begins to slip in his faith, for it suggests that God has abandoned him because he took away what he had given (16-18). He is right to affirm the total depravity of all, that in God’s court, no one can justify themselves, that is, gain an acquittal based on their own righteousness. However, he seems to begin to stumble in agreeing with his friends that he is suffering for some particular sin(s) (19-20). Yet, he returns to a better understanding, that God can do as he wishes, quite apart from any particular sins (21-23).
Job gives an answer that should silence those who affirm some so-called free-will to human, such that God is not. Either God’s will is absolutely sovereign, or man has a greater power. Who governs the affairs of the humans and the universe – God, humans, or something else? Satan is more powerful than anyone standing alone without God, but even he is subject to God. The absence of true leaders, judging and governing according to God’s law, is a judgement on such societies (24ab). “If it is not He, who else could it be?” (24c) For Job, time seemed to fly as each passing day increased his suffering (25-26). There is no way he could forget his complaint. To put on a smile in such circumstances is less than sincere (27). Job cannot understand how he can wash himself of particular sins he may have committed, and still suffer as he does (28-31). Again, he repeats that no one is on an equal footing with God in His court of law (32).
Job understood the idea of justification in God’s law-court. No one can stand acquitted based on their own righteousness, but rather, one must plead for mercy (14-15). Not only so, but he also knew that a mediator was needed as a go-between, one whose righteousness could stand on equal footing, and able to act on one’s behalf (33). Job finds it impossible for him to pray, because in his mind he is suffering for some particular sin(s) that no mediator can absolve him of. So, Job continues his complaint, not to God as prayer per se, but to any who would hear (9:34-35-10:1). His question to God remains why he is contending with him, even though it is the devil who is contending with him (2). He slips on this very point, for he accuses God of lacking just judgement (3). He asks God why he apparently cannot see the injustice of his situation (4-7).
Although he acknowledges God as the giver of his life and the blessings thereof, he seems to be slipping on the point made earlier – that the LORD gives, and also takes away (8-12 cf. 1:21). Job again reiterates that his own righteousness is not able to justify him in God’s presence (13-15. If we are exalted, he can easily bring us low, as he has done with Job (16). He seems to accept his friends’, and perhaps others’ words about him as God’s witness bearers against himself (17). Again, he wishes that he had never been born (18-19). This is but one side of the suicide coin, for it is a wish to not have been born to fulfill the ultimate purpose of anyone conceived – to glorify God, and to enjoy the LORD for his covenant children – no matter how young one may be. Job also sins in doctrine now, for he suggests that a covenant child of the LORD, such as he was, would upon his death go to a place of darkness, such as the Roman cult teaches (20-22).
Bildad seems convinced that Job and his family have committed sins which they refuse to repent of, and that Job has some nerve to be complaining as though this were not the root cause of his present distress. Job was suffering because of God’s just recompense. His sons, whom he would pray for regularly, in case they had offended God (1:4-5), according to Bildad, were “cast away for their transgression.” (8:4) Despite Job’s previous words, Bildad still believes that Job had not yet been earnestly seeking God (5). For Bildad, Job could only be suffering because he was not pure and upright. Apparently God is supposed to always prosper those who take refuge in him (6-7), past generations proving this for Bildad (8-10). Job was a hypocrite, who was getting what he deserved.
Job poses an old and oft repeated question, to “the watcher of men” (20): “What is man, that You should exalt him.” (17a cf. Ps. 8:4, 144:3; Heb. 2:6) Job himself will repeat this question, with a twist, closer to the end of his book at 22:2. A man may be profitable to himself, but it is a God centred question: “Can man be profitable to God?” It is certainly not a righteousness or goodness of our own making (35:7; Ps. 16:2; Lk. 17:10). Yet, at the core of God’s being, his heart, he has set it on us (17b). One needs to let this great contrast set in – it is an unconditional love. We know it in the morning, and as his adopted children, we also know it in the tests he sends our way “every moment.” (18)
Knowing the above, Job therefore asks God how long he will turn away from looking upon him in his current state – all alone, drinking his own saliva (19). Job finally asks God what his friends were assuming: “Have I sinned? What have I done to you, O watcher of men?” (20ab) He wonders why he has been made a target, so that he is a burden to himself (20cd). Job knew God as one who forgives, but he wondered at such unmerited favour or grace, such that would also take away his iniquity (21ab). Job felt himself returning to the dust from which we are all made (21c). Soon his human audience will seek for him but not find him, and the consolation in his sorrow was in knowing he would be with his God in a special way.
Job challenges Eliphaz to point out where he is supposed to have erred. He welcomes just criticism, but they must be right words, and Eliphaz was just arguing nonsense. What is more, whereas he should have provided comfort, giving Job the benefit of the doubt, instead he only undermined his strength. Job was no liar, and he expected the same from his friends. At no point had Eliphaz been able to charge Job with any injustice spoken. With the fall the condition of all is hard service, hoping for both shade and wages. However, Job’s current lot was to suffer in body and mind. He is painfully aware of the frailty and brevity of life, believing he stood at death’s door, soon to be forgotten. Job’s complaint stems from his bitterness of soul, even sleep escaped him with terrifying dreams and visions. He prefers death than this continued suffering – which may be a just wish.
Job utters/writes a simple truth: “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” (14) In other words, even those outside the covenant know this (cf. Prov. 17:17). Instead, Eliphaz, and later his other ‘friends’ suggest that Job could only be so afflicted because he had sins unrepentant of. These men were ‘brothers’ in the covenant (15). They are like one’s need for water, but it is either frozen over in winter, or evaporated in summer (16-17). Their ways condemn one to perish (18). Again, those with whom Job once conducted business with, are confused about his current state, but his ‘brothers’ are sure they know the cause (19-21). His business associates are confused because they knew Job as a man of integrity, who never accepted bribes, or even ‘protection’ money (22-23). Something more must be going on.
Job 6:14-23 If You Could See Me Now.
Job believed that even a person who had no fear of God should show kindness to an afflicted friend, but he believed he was suffering from those within the covenant – speaking and acting deceitfully (14-15). They are like trying to find water frozen over in winter, and dried up in the summer (16-17). “The paths of their way turn aside, they go nowhere and perish.” (18) Job’s usual interactions with caravans and travellers will be disappointed when they saw him now (19-21). They become confused and afraid, because they knew Job to be a man who could take care of himself – he did not need to resort to bribes, or ask for military support (22-23).
Job wishes that if he is indeed suffering because of some personal and particular sins, that these would be exposed – ie., weighed in the balance, only to be surely out of balance in guilt against him (1-3). “For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;” and in this case then his “words have been rash.” (3) For in this case it would be right for him to cry out for his need. Job alludes to other creatures for examples – such as the wild donkey, or a domestic ox not crying out if fed (5), and not satisfied with tasteless food without salt to bring out any flavour – for this is no better (6). Taste buds were given by God so that we could discern what to eat and not eat, and enjoy (7).
This is why he is crying out, because he cannot see how the tasteless events and condition of what has come upon him are seeing a good purpose or hope – therefore death would be better. Here Paul said the same thing – only he finally also realized what that purpose was – to live is Christ ie., the promised Messiah, and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). Job: “this would be my comfort” [10a), who was there at creation and gave God’s word to Adam and those who followed (Cf. Heb. 1:1-4), like Job and all who followed (8-10). Just look at 10bc – he would gladly “exult in pain…for (he had) not denied the words of the Holy One – that there is but one God, and that He is holy.
He rightly confesses that he does not have the strength to endure if he cannot see some purpose in it (11-13). This is also why the Westminster fathers were right when they wrote that man’s chief end or aim is to totally enjoy and glorify God forever. Job and his friends, and all who follow, must understand that suffering is not always as a result of some personal or particular individual or corporate sin, as the word of faith name-it-and-claim-it heretics proclaim. Everything – good or adverse, is all to his glory – including the reprobate as objects of his wrath. It is my opinion that vv. 14ff will carry forward this line of reasoning.