Job In Bitterness: Chapter 13
By now, Job has had it up to “here” with his friends and their “holier than thou” attitude. It was already like adding insult to injury, as he pleaded to be able to reason with God.
The same bitterness that caused Job to wish for an end to his life also led to an extremely hateful response to the accusations of his friends here as well. While we can surely feel sympathy for his situation, we know, too, that we are called to a higher standard.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.Romans 12:17
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:1 Peter 2:21-23
Accusations Towards His Own Friends
Job’s friends didn’t seem to have the least problem in speaking for God. The problem was, what they actually said wasn’t the truth. And in speaking that way, they were misrepresenting him.
In a way, they were trying to be like lawyers who spoke on God’s behalf. But since their representation was in error, Job had a right to ask if it would be well when God searched them out.
Job didn’t mince words when he warned them against lying, even if they used amazing and eloquent speech to do it. If they were going to dare speak for God, they’d better be right!
He spoke about the rebuke that would surely come through their partiality to their own selves. Would they want to BE treated in the same way that they were treating Job?
What Foolish Wisdom
These friends of Job, they claimed to be wise, and they sought to sound wise through everything that they said. But Job dismissed them and the advice they offered because there was no sustenance in it at all.
They argued as if defending God, but they had false information and very little knowledge of the real situation. And their unjust treatment was the result of that, whether they knew it or not.
It was likely that these friends had interrupted him about this time. Maybe they were protesting what he was saying or trying to talk over him. Instead of allowing them another moment of words, Job stook up a demanding stance as he sought to speak his peace
And then, he said what is likely the most monumental statement in this whole book: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him:” (Verse 13). It was this very attitude that saw Job through his crises.
Even though his understanding was limited, and he really believed God was against him for some reason, he still managed to assert his trust in God, no matter what.
He knows that the only dependence he has is in God. He knows that even if God allowed this affliction to destroy his life, he could hope that he would come out on the other side as gold, that had been tried in the fire.
Dependence Only On God
It wasn’t likely Job’s intent, based on the words he chose while speaking to his friends, but he was giving an answer to both the friends as well as satan.
There’s no way Job could have known how satan taunted God, accusing him of protecting Job from everything. He told God that if Job weren’t so coddled and protected, he would curse him.
And God allowed that theory to be put to the test.
There are many lessons to be learned in this. For instance, we must remember that God only disciplines His children, not the world at large. Another is that tests and affirmations of our own faith will come.
In these times, that seem so barren and lost to us, times that seem like nothing good could possibly come from it, that’s when we grow the most. That’s when our profession of faith stands out for what it really is.
Job: Blameless & Upright
We see it, right off the bat, as the book starts, the state Job was in:
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?Job 1:1 & 8
Prior to the trauma, Job was perfect and upright. He adhered to all that he knew to be right throughout everything that had happened to him, through all of his loss, and through all the pitiful accusations from his friends. He wasn’t being arrogant. The truth is, he was being real.
In all of this, Job really felt the loss… not only had he lost everything he HAD, but he had lost his connection to his own spiritual health as well. Now, he was left with God’s Truth, and to “hold his tongue” made him feel like he would simply die!
An Appeal to God
After a while, as we all do, Job started thinking that this streak of bad luck might actually be related to some sin. In fact, he asked God to tell him if that’s what it was. He even goes so far as to plead that God would not remove his hand from him. Because, after all, he had realized that God’s hand was with him, even in the midst of the worst of it.
It’s obvious that Job placed true value in his connection with the Almighty God. He feared that what was going on might threaten that and he did not want to lose that communication.
So, he did the one thing not many of us do, especially when things are bad to start with. He asked God to tell him of his sin. Yes, he had maintained his innocence because, as far as he knew and could tell, he had not done anything that would warrant such a devastating blow from God.
However, at the chance that he might be wrong, he cried out to be shown if he was wrong in that assumption. He cried out, in much the same way that David (a man after God’s own heart) later did.
Search me, O God, and known my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139:23-24
The Frailty of Life
We feel even more of Job’s agony as he questions God about why He would hide his face from him, and think of him as an enemy. And again, when he tells God he feels like a leaf, lost in a massive gust of wind. He even considered that God might be charging him with the iniquities of his youth. (Haven’t we all been there as well?)
But he goes on to speak of men as frail, rotten things that are much like a moth-eaten garment. He is being somewhat poetic in relating humanity in all their “smallness” while meditating very well on God’s GREATNESS.
Considering Death & What Comes After: Chapter 14
Chapter 14 opens up with Job continuing to speak of man’s frailty. He says that life only seems like days, and most of them are trouble-filled. Like a shadow that grows tall and then disappears, life may not even continue, he thinks out loud.
Job wonders if God even sees him, frail as he is, locked in the grip of complete torment. He begs for a merciful look from God, which we can assume means that Job knows how little it would take for God to lift him up out of his present circumstances.
Job then begins to fear that perhaps God is asking him to be completely and perfectly “clean”, something he knows is impossible. He even admits that he is not entirely clean before God in the flesh.
In verses seven through twelve of this chapter, Job fears that there may be nothing beyond death. I guess that’s a fear that flits through many minds, at least once, and Job is certainly no different.
At first, he mentions the fact that new life can sprout from a dead tree, but when a person dies, they are simply laid away. And where do they go? This is a sleep, he says, from which the person cannot wake up.
Job’s knowledge of the afterlife is lacking, especially when considering the fact that Jesus brought immortality to a much clearer understanding through His own resurrection. In the Old Testament, this theory or principle was not very easily understood. We have a much better understanding of these things, based on the New Testament, than those who actually lived in the Old.
God challenged Job later by reminding him that he could not presume to know anything at all about life after death.
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?Job 38:2 & 17
Job Hopes for Death & Something After It
While Job admittedly had no idea what death was like, he had to assume that it was better than the misery he was going through at the time. But he still questions, “If a man dies, shall he live again?”
The question is a huge one. Even today. But we must remember that the only answer to it has been given through Jesus and the Gospel. In fact, Jesus answered Job’s question so completely, there is absolutely no room to doubt it any further.
Even if God did kill him, he continued with his thought process, perhaps it would be that Sheol would be more like a temporary place of hiding. And he’s sure, it seems, that even if God is not answering him right now, then surely he will when he’s dead.
A Renewed Relationship
Job hoped that his relationship with God would be renewed to that of a joyous one after death. He seemed to have given up the hope that there would be any kind of restoration in his own physical life. But yet, there is positivity in his words and statements as he considers the afterlife.
At the same time, he pleaded with God to cover his sins and watch over them. It’s likely he also wanted his friends to know and understand that he had never thought he was perfect. And never claimed to be.
God’s Unfailing Power
Job imagined that a crumbling mountain or a sweeping flood must have been what it looked like when God swept away man’s hope. There’s nothing he can do, he reasons, against that kind of Godly power and he knows that.
For all the poetic leanings of chapter 14, Job still ends it in complete despair. But one should never think that Job uses our own Western logic, as we know it. There is no talking through an argument, step by step, until a recognizable conclusion comes about.
Job was more than likely speaking in the poetic form of the day, where the jist of the speech comes in the middle, with opinions that he does not accept placed before and after.
Summing It Up
It might be easy to read along and think that Job isn’t nearly as “spiritual” as he should be. But then, we have to focus on the fact that Job is speaking from a place of great agony. When compounded by the fact that he doesn’t understand why these things are happening, it makes it all the worse.
Job’s emotions, and the outbursts that went with them, are completely understandable on the one hand. On the other, we, the reader, know that the truth is completely hidden to him.
Be sure to check back for the next installment of Blogging Through The Bible to check out the next verses!
It never ceases to amaze me how, even in the very mire of despair, Job is able to put words to his grief. His doubts. His fears. What would you do in a situation like this? Would you consider whether or not God was still with you? Or whether there was actually anything there after death? It’s hard to say what we would do, isn’t it?
Father, we thank and praise You that we have Jesus’ example and His Words! We thank You that we do not have to doubt what comes after death! And we thank You for grace that goes far beyond anything we could possibly deserve. Help us to ingest Your Word and to understand it, and we ask it all in Jesus mighty Name! Amen!
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