A change of heart

Job Sees The Light - Forty-first in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

In Job 40 the omnipotence and holiness of God are front and center. How terrible it would be if God were all-powerful but not holy— how useless if he were holy but not able to enforce his ways.

If he were not also a loving God, we would fear to come before him. But he is approachable, and we soon forget who we are in comparison. He knows exactly when we have overstepped his bounds and for our own good, corrects us, at times calling us up sharply, demanding the worship he deserves.

Give God the glory! (1 Chr 16:29; Ps 29:1-2)

Job 40:1-2 NIV Chapter 40 begins with God's challenge to Job to consider his words.

Let us look back at some of Job’s words, to understand why God has been offended. And yes, God has the right to be offended when we question his ways, even when he knows we have been severely tested. He is God.

  • Job 7:16-21 — Job questioned God’s purposes.
  • Job 9:30-31 — God, you don’t care! You hate me!
  • Job 10:1-7 — God, you don’t understand how I fee! And you know you’re in the wrong and no one can save me from you!
  • Job 10:20 — Go away, God.
  • Job 13:15-16 — I am godly, therefore, I can present my case to him.
  • Job 13:20-23 — We should examine how we enter the courts of the Lord.
  • Job 14:19 — God, you have destroyed my hope! Shame on you!
  • Job 21:7 — God, why don’t you give the wicked their just deserts?
  • Job 23:1-7 — Job tells God how wonderful and innocent he is.
  • Job 27:1-2 — God is unjust!

In summary, the faultfinder believes man is due a reward for his good behavior and good attitudes. God owes man! He ought to deliver the innocent if he has any sense of justice or fairness.

Job 40:3-5 NIV Job recalls his words, and repents.

As we were reading the book of Job, perhaps his complaints seemed very small in respect to his agonies. We would have cried out much more loudly and angrily. It would not have seemed wrong. We would have expected that God would overlook our complaints, and for a while he probably would.

Yet, in his divine purposes for those who belong to him, he requires more. And we have every reason to trust without seeing. God is not in the business of defeat. (Rom 8:28) What purpose is there in a trial that has no positive outcome?

Was it wrong for Job to protest his innocence and maintain his integrity before his friends? Some will say we should follow Christ’s example and be silent in the face of false accusations and insults as he was at the end. However, Christ did defend himself against detractors. (e.g. Mat 12:25-26; John 10:32)

It was not wrong for Job to refuse to wear the mantle of shame as his friends demanded. However, we now see that the effect of his strenuous defense of his own character was to vaunt himself and in his distress to doubt or blame God. The Lord warns against outbursts of anger and encourages calm and balance in our outlook. Stress increases our tendency to overreact, leading us to sin. (Phil 4:6 et al)

Satan did not win, and he misjudged Job. Job did have a soft underbelly, but it was not greed or even presumption, that is, he did not take for granted his wealth and did not miss it as a man who measured himself by it would have.

However, his strength of character did require the toughest blows to reform his mind. His devotion to God had blinded him to God’s economies, that when weighed in the balance, we can never deserve God’s acceptance through our personal righteousness and good works. Satan’s attacks through his friends and even a mere bystander caused him to more and more stand on his merits and refuse to be thought of as evil. Thus were his impurities drawn to the surface so that God could remove them, and see his own image in Job.

Job had known it would be so: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

Job 40:6-8 NIV The Lord will now reinforce his disciplinary words because a strong reprimand is needed to effect permanent change.

Job 40:9-14 NIV A vexing question: Are we so vile that we would blacken God so that we might appear superior? Yes, we would. (Jer 17:9)

Job 40:15-18 NIV Man has no voice like the Lord’s. How incapable we are of ruling over men in a way that maintains humility as a standard for behavior. Would that even occur to us? Is the glory of the Lord important to us? Do we truly worship God?

Job 40:19 NIV Some commentators believe the Behemoth (a plural word) to be the dinosaur; some think that he was the now-extinct seahorse, or a rhino or hippo.

Job 40:20-24 NIV The Lord is jousting with Job. Yes, man was made in God’s own image, but he was not first in the line of creation. Other creatures more powerful, much larger and not subject to him, preceded him by God’s design.

In our trials we at times question God’s intelligence and purposes. We believe he is not observing our needs and that we could better manage our estate. If you do, remember Job, and put your hand over your mouth.

Job's Revelation

The consolations of God - Second in a series

The phrase consolations of God is found in the Bible only in the book of Job: Are the consolations of God small with thee? (Job 15:11).

After losing his children, servants, livestock, camels, health and appearance, as Job sat and scraped the boils that covered his body, three friends came to comfort him. Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad sat with him for seven days in silence, mourning his losses.

Then Job spoke: Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. (Job 3:3)

Eliphaz, alarmed for his soul, said, Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? (Job 4:7) He shared a vision he had been given: A spirit had stood before him and said, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust… (Job 4:17-21)

This counsel seems to have assisted Eliphaz in his own relationship with God, as he testified: Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole… (Job 5:17-27)

Job objected to Eliphaz's exhortation. Job was a man who knew good from evil and endeavored to do right in all ways. What he had experienced was not a chastisement but a decimation! He needed much more than a clucking disciplinary word from an older friend. But the jabs continued, with Bildad and Zophar joining in.

At one point, Eliphaz reminded Job, What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us? With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father. Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee? (Job 15:9-11)

There, we see the phrase in context. A careful reading of Job 15 makes clear that Eliphaz felt that the vision and insight he shared with Job (see above) ought to have consoled him by ministering to his need for guidance. Job would have realized this, had he not been rebellious, vain and perhaps hiding a sin. Yet, it is not the word or vision that another considered so special in their life that can minister to our specific circumstance. Each of us needs his very own consolation of God.

In the end, Job was led to confess that he had considered himself to be God's equal, even to the point of challenging God's wisdom. He had been a man who thought he could be just or acceptable to God by his lifestyle. Indeed, he had worked hard every day to demonstrate his righteousness to God.

He had wanted God to explain why nearly all his possessions and loved ones were destroyed, but instead he was given a new way of seeing: Then he exclaimed, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (Job 42:5) He understood that he had been presumptuous. One cannot approach God as an equal. Isn’t this what Eliphaz tried to say?

After Job’s change of heart, God called on him to intercede for his friends. They had not been loving. Job obeyed and then God restored his life.

The Lord's own exhortation (found in Job 38-41) deeply consoled Job for his immense losses because it led to a repentance that opened his heart to see God in His glory— things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. (Job 42:3) Neither let God's consolations be too small for us nor his exhortations too great.

Turn your back on the past

Twentieth in the Solomon Series

The life story of Solomon in the Bible is a land of contrasts. From the mountaintop of his earnest prayer in the newly built temple, he descended to the starkest desert where he built high places for the worship of Chemosh and Molech, the abominations of Moab and Ammon. These were gods with strange rituals, even passing children through fire, or much worse.

From being the wisest of all rulers to attempting the murder of the rival God raised up to "tear the kingdom" (1 Ki 11:11) from him, Solomon rode down the steepest of paths, to the brink of hell. Perhaps you will ask, "How can we say that he ended in a level place, and that he remained beloved of God after his sinful exploits?"

We will now look further at Ecclesiastes. In the 18th post we covered Chapters 1 — 8.

At the end of chapter 8, Solomon acknowledged that God's ways are higher than man's, beyond our discovery. Then, at the start of chapter 9, he states he has determined to declare his conclusions: that the righteous are known by the Lord. Matthew Henry's commentary is worth reading to penetrate the first verses of Ecc. 9:

The great difficulty which Solomon met with in studying the book of providence was the little difference that is made between good men and bad in the distribution of comforts and crosses, and the disposal of events… Before he describes the temptation in its strength he lays down a great and unquestionable truth, which he resolves to adhere to, and which, if firmly believed, will be sufficient to break the force of the temptation. This has been the way of God’s people in grappling with this difficulty. Job, before he discourses of this matter, lays down the doctrine of God’s omniscience (Job 24:1), Jeremiah the doctrine of his righteousness (Jer. 12:1), another prophet that of his holiness (Hab. 1:13), the psalmist that of his goodness and peculiar favour to his own people (Ps. 73:1), and that is it which Solomon here fastens upon and resolves to abide by, that, though good and evil seem to be dispensed promiscuously, yet God has a particular care of and concern for his own people: The righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God, under his special protection and guidance; all their affairs are managed by him for their good; all their wise and righteous actions are in his hand, to be recompensed in the other world, though not in this... He lays this down for a rule, that the love and hatred of God are not to be measured and judged of by men’s outward condition.

The living are better than the dead: once you die it is too late to repent (Ec 9:4, 5). Enjoy your life now, for today is the day that the Lord regards your work (vs7).

Ecclesiastes 9:8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.

Solomon was clad in white (JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 8:7,3); hence his attire is compared to the "lilies" ( Mat 6:29 ), typical of the spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ, which the redeemed shall wear ( Rev 3:18 7:14 ). ointment — ( Psa 23:5 ), opposed to a gloomy exterior. (ibid, Faucett)

It would be nice to see more people in our society and churches dress and appear more refreshed and respectful.

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that [is] thy portion in [this] life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. (vs 9) Solomon here acknowledges his failure.

To reach a level place, we must confess our sins and failures.

But is "vanity" a good description of our lives on this earth? Perhaps so. We are dust (Ps 103:14) For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. (1 Pe 1:24) The grass withers, the flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever. (vs 25)

To honor God, we should do our work with heart and zeal, for we will not have this opportunity after we die (Ec 9:10).

Again, Solomon considered life's arbitrary ways and the fact of injustice, yet concluded, Wisdom [is] better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good. (vs 18)

Wisdom has the power to deliver nations, families and individuals from destruction, but a lone sinner can destroy himself, his family and an entire kingdom. Solomon had reason to be discouraged.

A level place in one's life is not devoid of times of depression and halting steps, but it is a place where we rest in Christ by his help. We will not go back.