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Dominion and fear are with Him.
Ideas of God and man
I. Most exalted ideas of god. He speaks of Him--
1. As the head of all authority. “Dominion and fear are with Him.”
2. As the maintainer of all peace. “He maketh peace in His high places.” Who maintains the order of the stellar universe? He is peaceful in His own nature, and peaceful in all His operations.
3. As the commander of all forces. “Is there any number of His armies?” What forces there are in the universe, material, mental, moral!
4. As the Fountain of all light. “Upon whom doth not His light arise?” He is the Father of lights.
5. As the perfection of all holiness. “How then can man be justified with God?” In this chapter Bildad gives--
II. Most humbling ideas of man. He represents him--
1. As morally degenerate. “How can he be clean that is born of a woman?”
2. As essentially insignificant. He is a “worm.” How frail in body! He is crushed before the moth. How frail his intellectual powers! Morally he is “without strength.” Conclusion--
1. The glorious light of nature. There is no reason to believe that Bildad had any special revelation from God.
2. The unsatisfactoriness of religious controversy. What has been the effect of all the arguments on Job? Not correction of mistakes, but great irritation and annoyance. (Homilist.)
How then can man be Justified with God?
I. What justification is. The being accounted righteous though we are not so. When brought into a justified state we are treated as if we were altogether righteous. Whose is this righteousness? Whence is it derived? Not from ourselves or any remaining excellence in human nature. We must be accounted righteous, and justified with God, by other merits than our own. It is to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are indebted.
II. How a man cannot be justified.
1. Not by repentance.
2. Not by amendment of life.
3. Not by our sincerity.
4. Not by any works whatever of our own.
III. How alone he can be justified. We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Why does faith alone, faith without works, justify us? Because faith is the only medium by which we can receive Christ.
IV. Why a man can be justified in no other way than the way in which he is justified.
1. It is God’s determination that “no flesh shall glory in His sight.”
2. God has determined that His Son alone shall be exalted in the justification of a sinner.
3. It is God’s determination to magnify His name and word above all the philosophy and traditions of men.
4. It is a merciful God’s gracious determination to afford grounds of the most abundant consolation to the humbled and believing sinner. (W. Mudge, B. A.)
An all-important question
I. The all-important question which our text proposes. “How can man be justified with God?” It is a matter of some consequence to stand well with our brethren, to bear what is called a good character before our fellow men; but to stand right with God is a point on which our heaven depends.
II. The difficulties it suggests.
1. The extreme holiness of God. The text says that there is not in any of the shining orbs of heaven, there is not to God the beauty that we see. So it is also with respect to moral excellency and spiritual perfection. Characters that we call shining actions that we count pure, exalted, are not in His eyes what they are in ours. In this Book it is said God “chargeth His angels with folly,” and “the heavens are not clean in His sight.” How can man be justified before that God who is so pure, so holy, so requiring--who sees dimness in the moon, imperfection in the stars, folly in His saints?
2. Then another difficulty is the extreme unholiness of man, his miserable baseness and corruption. Man is here called a worm. It is the very proverb in our lips for weakness and for helplessness; a thing that every foot may crush. But look at the place--the dunghill--where the worm is found. Look at its vile habits and propensities. It is the emblem of spiritual baseness and corruption. Man is spiritually vile in the sight of the most holy God. Put the two statements of the text together. God so holy that the very moon and stars have no glory in His eyes. Man so polluted that the filthy worm which crawls upon the dunghill is considered a just emblem of his case and character. Then how can man be justified with God?
III. The only way in which so difficult a question can be answered. The Gospel supplies it. In Christ alone is the question entirely satisfied. The answer is ready--by coming unto Jesus; by casting the whole soul upon the Saviour’s merits; by ceasing from that hopeless work of endeavouring “to establish our own righteousness,” and by submitting ourselves unfeignedly to that which Christ hath wrought for us. Are we doing this? Are we making Christ the “Lord our Righteousness,” by looking only unto Him for recommendation in the sight of God? (A. Roberts, M. A.)
1. The natural man builds his hope of justification at the day of final reckoning on the law. The moral law contains the sum of our duty toward God and toward man. If the law give life, it can do so only to those who fulfil it in all its requirements. The law is exceeding broad. We stop not to inquire whether it is possible for human strength to fulfil the law even in its letter, but we ask you to reflect whether you have fulfilled it in its spiritual extent. Many, finding that they cannot be justified by a law thus spiritual in its nature and extensive in its requirements, go about to establish a righteousness of their own upon a ground just as untenable. They conceive that a law of such perfection is fitted only to perfect, sinless creatures; and that to beings imperfect, and in their nature now inherently and habitually sinful, it must relax its strictness, and lower its requisitions, and accept of sincere, instead of complete obedience. But this is absurd as well as unscriptural. Do the laws of human governments vary with the endless variety of their subjects whose social relations they are appointed to direct? The laws of heaven cannot stoop, because they are founded upon the immutable basis of their truth and rectitude.
2. Repentance is the next ground to which the sinner betakes himself in the persuasion that though the law of itself cannot give life, yet with this addition it may do so. But is there anything in repentance, when considered by itself, which can really form a ground of hope to the violator of the law? To the eye of reason, apart altogether from revelation, there certainly is not. The law is broken, and sorrow for its breach no more repairs the evil, than sorrow for an injury done to a fellow mortal actually repairs that injury. Repentance does nothing of itself to repair the breach which has been made by transgression. Our repentance, so far from annulling law, can only be regarded as a testimony, on our part of the justice of the Lawgiver in demanding that atonement which blood only can supply. The sinner has no ground in revelation for supposing that repentance of itself can atone for transgression.
3. A vague dependence on the mercy of God. Can anything be conceived more impious or evidently delusive than such a hope as is here entertained? What idea must they form of the character of God when they can derive from it an excuse for past and a motive for future wickedness? Has God no attributes but those of mercy and goodness, or are the other parts of His character negatived by these?
4. The true answer is given by Jehovah. We are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Christ is the fountain of all our hopes. By the perfect obedience of His life He has magnified and even honoured the law, which had been dishonoured by man’s transgression; He has satisfied its justice by the death of the Cross. (J. Glasson.)
Man contending with God
Bildad in this place doth not speak of justification in that strict Gospel sense as it imports the pronouncing of a man righteous for the sake of Christ, or as if he supposed Job looked to be pronounced righteous for his own sake. Bildad speaks of justification here, as to some particular act; as for instance, if any man will contend with God, as if God had done him some wrong, or had afflicted him more than there was need, is he able to make the plea good, and give proof of it before the throne of God? There is a four-fold understanding of that phrase, “with God.”
1. If any man shall presume to refer himself to the judgment of God, shall he be justified? In this sense it is possible for a man to be justified with God; and thus Job was justified by God at last against the opinions and censures of his three friends.
2. To be justified with God is as much as this. If man come near to, or set himself in the presence of God, shall he be justified? Man usually looks upon himself at a distance from God; he looks upon himself in his own light, and so thinks himself righteous; but when he looks upon himself in the light of God, or as one that is near to God, will not all his spots and blemishes then appear?
3. Can man be justified with God? That is, if man compare himself with God, can he be justified? One may compare himself with another, and be justified. But how can man be just or righteous compared with God, in comparison of whom all our righteousness is unrighteous, and our very cleanness filthy?
4. To be justified with God is against God. That is, if man strive or contend with God, in anything, as if God were too hard and severe towards him, either by withholding good from him, or bringing evil upon him, can man be justified in this contention? Will God be found to have done him any wrong? Taking the words in a general sense, observe that man hath nothing of his own to justify him before God. There are two things considerable in man. His sin, and his righteousness. All grant man cannot be justified by or for his sins; nor can he at all be justified in or for his own righteousness. And that upon a two-fold ground.
(1) Because the best of his righteousness is imperfect; and no imperfect thing can be a ground of justification and acceptance with God.
(2) All the righteousness wrought by man is a due debt. How can we acquit ourselves from the evil we have done by any good which we do, seeing all the good we do we ought to have done, though we had never done any evil? When we trove done our best we may be ashamed of our doings, we do so poorly. There is, however, a two-fold justification. The justification of a man in reference to some particular act, or in his cause. And the justification of a man in his person. When Job said, “I know that I shall be justified,” his meaning was, I shall be justified in this case, in this business. I shall not be east as a hypocrite (for he always stood upon, and stiffly maintained his integrity); or I know I shall be justified in this opinion which I constantly maintain; that a righteous man may be greatly afflicted by God, while in the meantime He spareth the unrighteous and the sinner. A man may have much to justify himself by before God, as to a controversy between him and man; for he hath nothing at all to justify himself by, as to his state before God. (Joseph Caryl.)
The Jews have a legend that Satan accuses men day and night the whole year round, except on the day of atonement, and then he is utterly silenced. The legend becomes fact in the atonement of Christ. This silences the accuser ever, for it is “God that justifieth,” and who can condemn? They (the saints) “overcome by the blood of the Lamb.”
Man, that is a worm-The worm
1. With peculiar emphasis we may say of the worm, it is “of the earth earthy.” Springing out of it, boring into it, and feeding on it, or on that which grows upon it,--it is a singular image of man, who was formed out of the dust of the ground, and is destined to return to it, and who, alas! feeds on it. All men may not be equally represented by that which belongs to the extremely gross in character.
2. In the naturally repulsive character of a worm we have an illustration of sin. The only thing that repels God from man is sin. To man’s weakness, ignorance, poverty, and sorrow, the Creator can and does graciously draw near; but from man’s sin He recoils. What sin is to God, it should be to us--a repulsive thing--that which we should hate and flee from.
3. The carrion-worm and canker-worm afford us an illustration of the injurious character of man as a sinner. What are the ravages of war but the dread results of human carrion-worms revelling in human blood? What are the restless activities, passions, and pursuits of men, but the ceaseless gnawing of pride, envy, ambition, lust, anger, malice, deceit, and suchlike things--the canker-worms of the soul, and the carrion-worms of the body?
4. Learn a lesson of humility from the different classes and pursuits of worms. Some are great and some small; some attractive and some unsightly.
5. Worms are not without their use in the world, and some--such as silkworms--are of great value. (Anon.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 25". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27