From Job 8-10
Job laments his current situation. He believes he is innocent and his suffering is unjust. But he recognises that even were he to present his case against the LORD, the LORD would always win. Today’s passage reminds us that compared to the LORD no one is in the right. We need someone to forgive us our sins, someone who is truly innocent.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Bildad the second of Job’s friends chimes in. He still operates on the same logic his friends are using against Job. They assume Job has sinned and the LORD has punished him for it. In light of their assumptions Bildad urges Job to seek God and plead with him for mercy knowing that God restores. He warns against forgetting him (Job 8).
9 Then Job answered and said:
2 “Truly I know that it is so:
But how can a man be in the right before God?
3 If one wished to contend with him,
one could not answer him once in a thousand times.
4 He is wise in heart and mighty in strength
who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded? (Job 9.1-4)
Job speaks about the futility of contending with the LORD. None can stand against him. None can challenge him and prove him wrong. The LORD is too big, too awesome. The LORD will always be in the right.
In the context Job has suffered and had everything taken away from him (bar his life). In part he is operating on the same logic as his friends.
The good are rewarded, the wicked are punished. But what about those who suffer unjustly?
Because Job has no awareness of the challenge Satan has presented God and correctly believes himself to be innocent. He perceives what has happened to him is unjust and reflects upon God.
None the less Job recognises that no one can contend with the LORD. Even himself. The LORD is always right, the LORD is always just. He would always be proven to be in the wrong if he were to try and argue the case. So Job acknowledges any attempt to question God’s actions is an exercise in futility.
Look at how great the LORD is.
5 he who removes mountains, and they know it not,
when he overturns them in his anger,
6 who shakes the earth out of its place,
and its pillars tremble;
7 who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
who seals up the stars;
8 who alone stretched out the heavens
and trampled the waves of the sea;
9 who made the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
10 who does great things beyond searching out,
and marvelous things beyond number. (Job 9.5-10)
Job recognises the creative and sustaining power of God. God orders the universe. Compared to the sheer power and majesty of God. Compared to the universe he has created. Job’s issues are insignificant.
11 Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not;
he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
12 Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back?
Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ (Job 9.11-12)
God works in both visible and invisible ways. Here Job emphasizes the doings of the LORD that pass by him without his knowledge.
The LORD is doing many wonderful things close by in secret.
Like the tip of an iceberg all people see is what is above the water. The majority of God’s works, sadly, go by unnoticed. We have only a glimpse of his glory and power.
Not only are God’s actions sometimes unobserved. They are not subject to our questioning. ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.’ (Prov 19.21) What the LORD will’s will come about. In Job wrongly believes God is expressing his displeasure in him.
13 “God will not turn back his anger;
beneath him bowed the helpers of Rahab.
14 How then can I answer him,
choosing my words with him?
15 Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him;
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.
16 If I summoned him and he answered me,
I would not believe that he was listening to my voice. (Job 9.13-16)
God is not expressing his displeasure in Job. The opposite is true. Job’s suffering is a result of God’s pleasure in him. But Job believes he has no right to question the LORD even though he is in the right.
17 For he crushes me with a tempest
and multiplies my wounds without cause;
18 he will not let me get my breath,
but fills me with bitterness.
19 If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty!
If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?
20 Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me;
though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse. (Job 9.17-20)
‘It this is a contest in strength, behold he is mighty!’ (Job 9.19) The Psalmist pleads, ‘Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.’ (Ps 143.2).
No one is as righteous as the LORD. Before him no one can compare.
Job recognises this. Despite his innocence (Job 1.8; 2.3), before the LORD, he cannot compare.
21 I am blameless; I regard not myself;
I loathe my life.
22 It is all one; therefore I say,
‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
23 When disaster brings sudden death,
he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
he covers the faces of its judges—
if it is not he, who then is it? (Job 9.21-24)
Job lapses into a kind of fatalism. Being blameless and innocent do not matter. They too will experience destruction, disaster, and calamity.
Job continues for the remainder of the chapter in the same vein of thought. In chapter 10 he says given the opportunity to speak to the LORD he will ask for mercy and question why he was born if only to endure this suffering. Sobering words (Job 10).
Story of Jesus
Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the LORD. Job’s words are true of all. None can stand before the LORD. Even though we feel we may have just cause, He will always stand above us.
Thats why we need Jesus. He alone can stand before the LORD. He alone is truly innocent. Look at what he did while on the cross.
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. (Lk 23:32–49)
We are all like Job. No one can contend with the LORD. No one is perfectly righteous before him. Except Jesus. In the gospel Jesus forgives the guilty and he alone is the innocent one. Trust in him.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.