718.) Job 23

“Job,” by Leon Bonnat, 1880

Job 23 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

Job’s Eighth Speech: A Response to Eliphaz

1Then Job spoke again:

2 “My complaint today is still a bitter one,
and I try hard not to groan aloud.
3 If only I knew where to find God,
I would go to his court.
4 I would lay out my case
and present my arguments.
5 Then I would listen to his reply
and understand what he says to me.
6 Would he use his great power to argue with me?
No, he would give me a fair hearing.
7 Honest people can reason with him,
so I would be forever acquitted by my judge.
8 I go east, but he is not there.
I go west, but I cannot find him.
9 I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden.
I look to the south, but he is concealed.

An old Puritan writer quaintly observed, in commenting on this, ‘Job, you have gone forward and backward, and you have looked to the left and you have looked to the right. Why don’t you try looking up?’

10 “But he knows where I am going.
And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Eliphaz had heaped up words twice already and Job must have been very weary of him.  Eliphaz takes it for granted that Job has left God and therefore is suffering, and will continue to suffer till he returns to Him.  But how can one return who hasn’t gone away?  Job’s greatest griefs came when he was very near his God.  His children were feasting, and at such times it was his custom to rise up early to pray for them.  Thus did Job continually (Job 1:5).

So all through Eliphaz’s beautiful talk runs a thread of untruth.  He did not speak the thing that was right.  He wounded Job by his cruel misunderstanding of the whole perplexing set of circumstances.

It is good to see how Job turns from the misunderstanding of man to the perfect understanding of God.  He cannot see Him or find Him, but — glorious “but” — He knoweth the way that I take.  And in the end Job did come forth as gold.

_________________________

Music:

This song, “Refiner’s Fire,” by Brian Doerksen, invites the Lord to do whatever it takes so that we, like Job, shall come forth like gold.

_________________________
11 For I have stayed on God’s paths;
I have followed his ways and not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from his commands,
but have treasured his words more than daily food.

In the previous chapter, Eliphaz tried to condemn Job by listing some secret sins that Job may have committed.  Job insists here that the Lord understands his heart and his ways.  Can we ever be sure that we are entirely free from sin?  God’s standard of holiness is far beyond our reach.  But — glorious “but” — Christ on the cross did all that was was required to forgive all our sins!

Romans 5:1 (New International Version)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:1-2 (New International Version)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

And when our thoughts and emotions cause us to doubt the truth of this, we have God’s kind assurance that we can be confident in his promises and in his goodness towards us.

1 John 3:19-20 (New International Version)

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:  If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.  

_________________________

13 But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind?
Whatever he wants to do, he does.
14 So he will do to me whatever he has planned.
He controls my destiny.
15 No wonder I am so terrified in his presence.
When I think of it, terror grips me.
16 God has made me sick at heart;
the Almighty has terrified me.
17 Darkness is all around me;
thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere.

John 1:4-5 (New International Version)

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Bonnat.  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ZoBU_40yxL4/S8SnX4EGTTI/AAAAAAAAAE0/EdhveFv5Kbo/s1600/Job.jpg
He knows the way I take.  http://www.worldofthebible.com/images/hk-purple-lg.jpg
Nahum 1:7.   http://oneyearbibleimages.com/nahum_god.jpg
cross in the light.   http://inspiretomorrow.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/cross-light.jpg
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