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Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty.
Great crimes not always followed by great punishment in this life
I. Great crimes have prevailed on the earth from the earliest times. Amongst the crimes specified in this chapter there is--
1. Theft. There were those who stole from others their lands and flocks, and robbed the widow and orphan of their food and clothing (Job 24:2-8). There is--
2. Cruelty. “They plucked the fatherless from the breast,” made “men groan out of the city.” There is--
3. Murder. “The murderer, rising with the light, killeth the poor and needy.” There is--
4. Adultery. “The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight,” etc.
The fact that these crimes prevailed in Job’s land and times implies--
1. That in those distant scenes and times the same standard of morals existed that we have. They esteemed theft, cruelty, murder, and adultery wrong; so do we.
2. That in those distant scenes and times men had the same sinful propensities as they have now.
II. That although the great God is cognisant of those crimes He does not always visit them with punishment in this life. Job begins with the question, “Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know Him not see His days?” The meaning is, Why, since crimes are not hidden from the Almighty, do not His friends see His judgments? He shows that these great criminals fare as well here, both in life and death, as others. Why is this? Not because the Almighty is ignorant of their crimes, or because their crimes are not abhorrent to His nature. Whatever the cause, the fact is undeniable; and this fact Job brings out here to refute the doctrine of his friends, namely, that great suffering implies great crime. (Homilist.)
Consideration for others
“I would rather be a year or two longer in effecting my purposes than reach them by trampling on men’s hearts and hearths.” (J. Ruskin.)
Men groan from out of the city.
The groans of the city
The truth is, man as he walketh upon the surface of the earth, seeth but the surface of its inhabitants. Well is it that we see no more. Were we able to go under the surface, though it were but slightly, our knowledge might make us go mad. It ought to do so. The thought is terrible in its wonder, and astonishing in its terror of the knowledge which the “God of the spirits of all flesh” necessarily hath of the mighty aggregate of the earth’s depravities,--embracing in His boundless vision every iniquity that is, or ever was, meditated or executed, from the first entry of evil into the sphere of His dominions, to the last accent of defiance that shall be hurled at His throne. The shudder of such a thought sometimes affrighteth saintly souls. It seems here to have been laying hold of the patriarch. His plea is that, though men “groan in the city,” God, the judge of all, appears at present to be calling none of these to account for their misdeeds. With one of the moderns we might exclaim, “It is very startling to see so much of sin with so little of sorrow” (Dr. Arnold). But is Job altogether sceptical as to their punishment? Far from it. He is leaving Eliphaz to the inference, that if his reasoning be correct that a man must be guilty because he is afflicted, these evil-doers must be innocent because they are not afflicted. Did we, however, know the world as it is, not as it seems,--could we go under the surface of society, we might become acquainted with secrets of wickedness of which some of the wicked never dreamed, and with torments the existence of which the virtuous would scarcely believe. What misery would be revealed, where we see only the emblems of delight! Yea, what an empire of spiritual death in a universe of natural and artificial life! The patriarch’s description of the city is as true and as fearful in its truth at this hour as in the day that he uttered it. As true of London or Paris now as of Babylon or Nineveh of old. The city is a place “from out of which men groan, and the soul of the wounded cry out.” “The whole creation,” through the apostasy of man, is represented by the great apostle as “groaning”; but the city being ever a vast concentration of guilt, what is true of the whole earth is preeminently true of it. In the city, transgression is a species of item--an enormous sum, indeed, in its daily concerns. All great cities are guilty of great sins. Those who inhabit the city are denizens of a place in which every day and every night multiplied iniquities are all but sure to be perpetrated, as surely as night and day succeed each other. Dreadful in the city are the groans of conscience. True, the world looks gay and thoughtless. Bright eyes and merry lips offer their enchantments on every side. Notwithstanding, it will be found that the awful verities of the eternal state have a stronger hold upon the majority of men than is generally imagined. Amongst the groans of the city are the groans of such as have dishonoured a Christian profession by open offences; groans these which for years may be without response but their own echoes; wounds inconceivably painful, blushing as they do with the crimson tide of God’s Lamb “crucified afresh.” Among these groans of the city are the groans of saintly men and holy women for the sins of those around them. Think of the world as it is, and withhold from it a groan, if you can. Hence doth the Christian groan in spirit for the sins of the world; being afflicted for Christ, as Christ was afflicted for him. (Alfred Bowen Evans.)
Rebel against the light.
Light used figuratively
Light may be considered in two ways. Either properly or figuratively.
1. We may understand the text of light in a proper sense, and some insist chiefly on that. They rebel against the very light of the sun, or the ordinary daylight. Wicked men love darkness; they hate even natural light, the light of the sun, because it seldom serves, but often hinders, their occasions.
2. Take light figuratively for the light of knowledge. So it is more true that wicked men rebel against it. The light rebelled against is rather an internal light, that light which shines into the soul, than that which shines to the eye; and there is a two-fold internal light, against which wicked men may be said to rebel.
(1) The light of nature, or natural internal light; there is a light of the natural conscience, which every man carrieth about him, concerning good and evil, or what is to be done and what is to be left undone.
(2) There is a light of Divine revelation, which shines into the soul from the Scriptures or written Word of God. Divine truths inspired and dictated by the Spirit of God are there written as with the beams of the sun. Yet the wicked man rebels against the clearest and fullest discoveries of the mind of God.
3. Some understand by the “light” here, God Himself, who is light. The very reason why the light of nature and the light of reason are rebelled against, is because the former hath somewhat of God in it, and the latter much of God in it. For as God is light, so all light is of God. (Joseph Caryl.)
Rebelling against the light
These evidently had the light, and this should be esteemed as no small privilege, since to wander on the dark mountains is a terrible curse. Yet this privilege may turn into an occasion of evil. Most of us have received light in several forms, such as instruction, conscience, reason, revelation, experience, the Holy Spirit. The degree of light differs, but we have each received some measure thereof. Light has a sovereignty in it, so that to resist it is to rebel against it. God has given it to be a display of Himself, for God is light; and He has clothed it with a measure of His majesty and power of judgment. Rebellion against light has in it a high degree of sin. It might be virtue to rebel against darkness, but what shall be said of those who withstand the light? resisting truth, holiness, and knowledge?
I. Detect the rebels. Well-instructed persons, who have been accustomed to teach others, and yet turn aside to evil; these are grievous traitors. Children of Christian parents who sin against their early training; upon whom prayer and entreaty, precept and example are thrown away. Hearers of the Word, who quench convictions deliberately, frequently, and with violence. Men with keen moral sense, who rush on, despite the reins of conscience which should restrain them. Lewd professors who, nevertheless, talk orthodoxy and condemn others, thereby assuredly pronouncing their own doom.
II. Describe the forms of this rebellion. Some refuse light, being unwilling to know more than would be convenient; therefore they deny themselves time for thought, absent themselves from sermons, neglect godly reading, shun pious company, avoid reproof, etc. Others scoff and fight against it, calling light darkness, and darkness light, Infidelity, ribaldry, persecution, and such like, become their resort and shelter. Persons run contrary to it in their lives; of set purpose, or through wilful carelessness. Walking away from the light is rebelling against it. Setting up your own wishes in opposition to the laws of morality and holiness, is open revolt against the light. Many presume upon their possession of light, imagining that knowledge and orthodox belief will save them. Many darken it for others, hindering its operations among men, hiding their own light under a bushel, ridiculing the efforts of others, etc. All darkness is a rebellion against light. Let us “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.”
III. Denounce the punishment of this rebellion. To have the light removed. To lose eyes to see it even when present. To remain unforgiven, as culprits blindfolded for death, as those do who resist the light of the Holy Spirit. To sin with tenfold guilt, with awful wilfulness of heart. To descend forever into that darkness which increases in blackness throughout eternity.
IV. Declare the folly of this rebellion. Light is our best friend, and it is wisdom to obey it; to resist it is to rebel against our own interest. Light triumphs still. Owls hoot, but the moon shines. Opposition to truth and righteousness is useless; it may even promote that which it aims to prevent. Light would lead to more light. Consent to it, for it will be beneficial to your own soul. Light would lead to heaven, which is the centre of light. Light even here would give peace, comfort, rest, holiness, and communion with God. Let us not rebel against light, but yield to its lead; yea, leap forward to follow its blessed track. Let us become the allies of light, and spread it. It is a noble thing to live as light bearers of “the Lord and Giver of Light.” Let us walk in the light, as God is in the light; and so our personal enjoyment will support our life work. Light must be our life if our life is to be light. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Hatred of the light
The devil fears the light, and this is one reason why we should keep it always burning. A governor of the Bahamas, who was about to return to England, promised to do his best to procure from the Home Government any favour the Colonists might desire. And what think you was their unanimous reply: “Tell them to tear down the lighthouses--they are ruining the Colony.” The men were wreckers, and they hated the light! And the devil so hates the light that he would tear down every spiritual lighthouse in the land if he only could. (Sunday Circle.)
The terrors of the shadow of death.
Scripture speaks of death in two ways. Job calls death “the King of Terrors.” Of a saint and martyr it is said, “He fell asleep.”
I. What is it that makes death terrible?
1. It is the rending asunder of what God has joined together. Body and soul. What life is, and what death is, we know by marked outward signs; but what the soul is, whence it comes, whither it goes, who knoweth, except so far as God has taught us?
2. It is the passage to judgment. “After this the judgment.”
3. It is the breaking up of all we love, and desire, and care for here.
II. Turn to the other side of the picture--what is it that makes death peaceful?
1. The body and spirit shall again be joined. “In Christ shall all be made alive.”
2. The judgment will be the “judgment seat of Christ.” Judgment is terrible where sin is; but sin washed away in the blood of the Cross has no sting, no terror left.
3. The Christian’s treasure is above, his hope is full of immortality. Death to the Christian is the sure and certain hope of a better life. (Alfred Port, B. D.)
Yet His eyes are upon thy ways.
God observes the ways of the wicked
To call them to account for them. We have here a threefold act of providence about wicked oppressors, whom yet God suffereth to prosper.
1. That God’s eye is upon them, to mark all their debordings.
2. That after their exaltation for a little while, they are cut off.
3. That yet this is done but in an ordinary way, as befalls all others. As the tops of the ripe ears of corn are cut down and gathered in.
1. Outward safety is in itself a mercy. Therefore men ought to improve this mercy aright, and should be sensible of their ill-improvement thereof, when they are deprived of it.
2. Safety is from God, and gifted by Him. No man can secure himself without God.
3. God in His long suffering and indulgence may set the wicked in safety for a time, for a snare upon them.
4. It is a plague upon the wicked that they rest and secure in the enjoyment of outward mercies.
5. It is, in particular, a plague upon the wicked, that their outward security and safety quiets all their fears, so that they have no doubt of God’s favour, or of their own good estate, so long as they are in such a condition.
6. God does not give safety to wicked men because He approves of them or seeth not their wickedness; but He hath an eye upon them all the while, and particularly notices how they abuse these providences.
7. Albeit the Lord be not still punishing the wicked, yet this is sad, that He is still observing and marking all their ways, to call them to account for them in a day of reckoning. (George Hutcheson.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 24". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27