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HOW CAN MAN BE JUST BEFORE GOD?
Job's reply to Bildad occupies two chapters, 35 verses longer than Bildad's arguments had taken. But Job acknowledged, "Truly, I know it is so," that is, he knew that what Bildad said of the end of the hypocrite was true, not the way in which Bildad inferred that Job might be a hypocrite. Then he asks a question of deepest significance, "But how can a man be righteous before God?" (v.2). Comparatively speaking, Job knew that he had been righteous before men, and God Himself had confirmed this in speaking to Satan (ch.1:8). But only the New Testament answers Job's question satisfactorily. It , is said of believers, "you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). The work of Christ in His sacrifice on Calvary has accomplished a righteous basis for our eternal salvation, so that by faith in Christ we are counted righteous before God. Of course Job could not understand this at the time, for Christ had not yet died for us.
But Job acknowledges in verse 3 that even if he wished to argue his case with God, the odds against him were at least 1000 to one! There was evidence enough that God was wise in heart and mighty in strength. If one hardened himself against God he would certainly not prosper. God could remove mountains by an earthquake, shaking the earth and causing its most stable influences to tremble. Also, high above the earth, He could command the sun not to rise, that is, so far as our vision is concerned. Of course He does this by placing clouds in the sky, so that the stars too are sealed off from view. He "alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea." Whether the earth or sky or sea, He is in perfect control. There is a precious New Testament confirmation of His control of the sea, when "Jesus went to them, walking on the sea" (Matthew 14:25), a clear proof that Jesus is God.
"He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades and the chambers of the south" (v.9). All the constellations of the stars are His workmanship. Notice, at this early date these astronomical facts were known. Job could speak knowledgeably of the greatness of God just as effectively, if not much more so, than Bildad. As he says, God "does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number" (v.10). In fact, God's movements are such that Job could not see Him in action, though God can accomplish what no one can hinder (vv.11-12). He will not withdraw His anger from anything contrary to Him, and those who identify themselves with the proud will be prostrated under His feet.
JOB FINDS HE CANNOT DEFEND HIMSELF
What words does Job have with which to answer God? He feels unable to choose words that might have any effect. However righteous he may be, he felt hopelessly unable to make any impression on God by his speaking. He feels he could only beg for mercy from Him whom he calls, "my Judge," but even then he doubted that God would listen to his voice (vv.15-16). For instead of God listening, Job saw Him as crushing him with a tempest and multiplying Job's wounds without any actual cause (v.17). This seemed so incessant that Job felt God was not giving him time to even catch his breath, so that he was filled with bitterness.
If Job thought of strength (of which he had none), it was borne upon him that God is strong; and if of justice, of course God has both strength and justice on His side, but Job felt he was not even allowed a day in court to plead his cause. In fact, if he were given this privilege, he felt that though he was righteous, just opening his mouth would prove his undoing: even though blameless, his mouth would prove him perverse! (v.20). What does he mean? Is he not saying, in effect, that no matter how blameless he is, just his speaking proves to his friends that he must be dishonest and perverse?
THE BLAMELESS SUFFER LIKE THE WICKED
Job insists that he is blameless (v.21), yet in spite of this he was brought down to despise his life (v.21). He was, put on the same level as a wicked man: "it is all one thing," that is, the righteous and the wicked were lumped together in the way God dealt with them. "Therefore I say, He also destroys the blameless and the wicked" (v.22). It is true that this appears to be the case more often than not in our present life. How different however in the long run!
But Job goes too far in verse 23, "If the scourge slays suddenly, He laughs at the plight of the innocent." Job felt that God was practically laughing at Job's distress, as though it was no matter for Job to complain about at all. Thus Job felt utterly in the minority, for the earth seemed to be given into the hand of the wicked, with God covering the faces of its judges, since judges were unreliable men. If God was not in control of these things, who else could possibly be in control, he argues (v.24). When we see everything on earth in confusion, it seems to many people that there is no God in control of things at all. In all of these things, if we depend on our own understanding, we shall be left in utter confusion; and thus Job needed the verse that was written much later in history, "Trust in the Lord with all, your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).
PURITY IMPOSSIBLE AND NO MEDIATOR
Job felt his days swiftly passing with nothing accomplished: "they flee away, they see no good" (v.25). Could he force himself to put off his sad face and wear a smile? How could he do this when his painful sufferings left him in fear? He feels that God does not hold him innocent or he would not be suffering as he was (v.28). Why did he labour to do what was good if this only led to his being condemned? If he had done his best to wash himself with snow water and cleanse his hands with soap, this energy was proven worthless, for God plunged him into a pit of mud, so that his own clothes would be insulted if he put them on (vv.30-31). What value was there therefore in his labouring to maintain purity?
Where could Job turn in such a case? For, as he says, God "is not a man as I am." that is, God is so much higher than Job that he could not expect God to come down to his level, as in a law court, so that there could be an understanding between them (v.32). "Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both (v.33). Thus Job recognised the need of a mediator between God and men, and this verse surely anticipates the coming of the Lord Jesus as seen in the New Testament, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). The Word of God insists that Christ is "The Man," who can lay His hand upon men, and being also "God manifest in flesh" He can lay His hand upon God. Job did not know this, but later on when the young man Elihu spoke (ch.32-37), his words were much like a mediator, for he is a type of Christ.
Meanwhile, however, Job pleaded for God to withdraw His rod of correction from him, for he felt his dread of God to be terrifying. If God would only do this, Job might not be afraid to speak to Him, but as he says, "it is not so with me" (vv.14-15).
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 9". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19