Learning from Job 29-42
Don’t forget to remember! In his time of darkness, Job remembers: ‘when His lamp shone upon my head, and by His light I walked through darkness’. When God seems so far away, Job remembers: ‘when the friendship of God was upon my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me’(29:4-5). What are we to do when ‘the days of affliction come to meet’ us, when our days are full of ‘mourning’ and ‘weeping’(30:27,31)? We must remember the good times, the happy days. When you find yourself wondering, ‘Why are these bad things happening to me?’, think of something else - ‘Why has God blessed me with so many good things?’. This will help you when everything seems so dark, when God seems so far away. Remember to thank God for His good days. It will help you to trust Him in your bad days.
For a summary of all that Job says here, we may go back to the very beginning of his story: ‘Job...was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil’(1:1). He is a fine example of the kind of godly living which Paul made his ideal: ‘I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man’(Acts 24:16). How many times we fall short of this ideal! Again and again, we must come to God with our confession of sin . We ‘have sinned’. We ‘fall short of the glory of God’(Romans 3:23). How can our sins be forgiven? How can our guilt be removed? There is only one way. It is through ‘the blood of Jesus’. Through His blood, ‘our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience’. Confess your sins to God. Let ‘the blood of Jesus cleanse you from all sin’(Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 1:9,7).
‘The Bible is the Word of God’- What do we mean when we say this? Two statements from Elihu may help us to think about this question. (a) ‘Understanding’ comes from ‘the breath of the Almighty’(32:8). (b) ‘God does speak - now one way, now another - though man may not perceive it’(33:14). ‘The breath of the Almighty’- This is where the Scriptures come from: ‘All Scripture is God-breathed’(2 Timothy 3:16). God has spoken. He has breathed out His Word. ‘God does speak - now one way, now another’- There is great variety in the Bible. We have our favourite passages. Let’s not forget the more obscure and difficult passages - He speaks through ‘all Scripture’: ‘now one way, now another’. When the doubters fire their questions - remember: ‘God does speak...though man may not perceive it’!
Things are going well. We say, ‘Thank You, God’. We rejoice in the Lord. We give praise to His Name. Everything seems to be going so well - but we need to take care! In the good times, our praise and thanksgiving can go stale. We take God’s blessing for granted. Our rejoicing in the Lord becomes a superficial thing. Things start going badly. We blame God. We say, ‘Where are You, Lord? What are You going to do about this?’. What we must remember is this: The Lord is with us - even when we’re going through hard times. He hasn’t stopped loving us. He hasn’t gone away and left us. He is there beside us, every step of the way. He wants to bring us closer to Himself, to give us this powerful testimony: ‘He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light’(33:28-30).
‘If you have sinned’(35:6). Let’s think about Job, Jesus and ourselves. (a) ‘Job feared God and shunned evil’(1:1). He was not being singled out for special punishment - because he was much more sinful than anyone else. This does not mean he had never sinned (7:21; 13:26). (b) There is only One Man ‘without sin’- our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Did this mean that Jesus did not suffer? No! - ‘He suffered for us...He bore our sins...He died for us...He died for our sins’(1 Peter 2:21-24; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3). (c) There’s no ‘if’ about it! When we sin - What are we to do? Like Job, we must trust in our ‘Redeemer’- the Lord Jesus Christ (19:25). He gives ‘quietness’ and ‘songs in the night’(34:29; 35:10). ‘Be still and know that He is God. Shout for joy to Him’(Psalms 46:10; 98:4).
‘God is mighty, and does not despise any’(5). God is great - great in power, great in love. How sad it would be if the God of great love had no power to save us! How terrifying it would be if the God of great power had no love in His heart for us! What a joy it is to to know that He is both the God of great power and the God of great love! He is ‘abundant in power’- and He loves us: ‘He heals the brokenhearted and...lifts up the downtrodden’. What can we say about this God of great power and great love? - ‘Praise the Lord!’. Let us ‘sing to the Lord with thanksgiving’. Let us ‘make melody to our God’. “It is good to sing praises to our God’(Psalm 147:1-7). ‘How good is the God we adore! Our faithful, unchangeable Friend. His love is as great as His power and knows neither measure nor end’(Mission Praise, 244).
‘The Almighty is great in power and...He does not oppress’(23). God’s power is loving power. His love is powerful love. In Jesus Christ, we see God’s power - ‘He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him’- and God’s love - ‘I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me’(Hebrews 7:25; John 6:37). In our world, the love of power has become a very destructive thing. In Jesus Christ, we see something quite different - the power of love. He uses His power to show us His love. He shows us His love when - through His mighty power - He saves us. As you think of the Lord Jesus Christ - His loving power, His powerful love - , let ‘His love and power control all you do and say’: ‘More love, more power, more of You in my life’(Church Hymnary, 432; Songs of Fellowship, 392).
The Lord has listened long enough! He’s listened to a lot of ‘empty-headed words’. He has listened to a long, heated debate. There’s been a lot of heat and not much light. Everything seems to be as clear as mud (2). Now, it’s His time for speaking! What does God have to say? He invites Job to look at the bigger picture. Being preoccupied with our own problems doesn’t really solve anything. ‘Why has this happened to me? Why did it not turn out that way? Why this? Why that?’- We go round in circles, thinking about these kind of questions. We don’t have all the answers. There are plenty of things we don’t understand. Even when we don’t understand what’s happening, we can still say, ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’(Psalm 121:1-2).
‘I am unworthy - how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth...I have no answer...I will say no more’(40:3-5). God speaks to us about our sin: ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. He tells us that ‘all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’. Why does God speak to us like this? He speaks ‘so that every mouth may be silenced’(Romans 3:23, 19; Isaiah 64:6). We must stop talking about our own righteousness and start listening to what God is saying to us. He speaks to us of ‘His love’. He tells us that, ‘while we were sinners, Christ died for us’. This is Good News - ‘the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’. No more excuses - ‘I’m not such a bad person. I’m really quite good’! Let’s ‘confess our sins’ and receive God’s forgiveness (Romans 5:8; 1 John 1:7-10).
‘Who can stand before Me?’(41:10). God puts this question to every one of us. God’s Word gives two answers to this question. The first answer speaks to us of our sin. The second answer speaks to us of our Saviour. The first thing God says to us is this: ‘There is no-one righteous, not even one’(Romans 3:10). The question is asked, ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy place?’. The answer is given, ‘He who has clean hands and a pure heart...He will receive blessing from the Lord’(Psalm 24:3-5). We read these words, and we wonder, ‘Is there any hope for us?’. Our situation seems hopeless - until we look to Jesus, the Man ‘without sin’, the beloved Son with whom God is well pleased’, the Saviour who ‘died for our sins’(Hebrews 4:14-16; Matthew 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:3).
After so much suffering - a happy ending! Job has been brought closer to God (5-6). His ‘friends’ have been forgiven by the Lord (7-9). Everybody is happy about the way things have turned out for Job (10-11). Is there always a happy ending? In this earthly life, we will never reach a stage where there will be no more problems and everything will be just fine. For God’s people, ‘redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’, there will be a happy ending - but not until ‘the last time’! For now, we must face many ‘trials’. Beyond our ‘little while’ of suffering there is a happy ending - ‘salvation ready to be revealed in the last time’. We must pray that our ‘faith, more precious than gold, will be proved genuine and will result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed’(1 Peter 1:3-7,18-19).
Back to top