Job was in an awful predicament: from his perspective, all his troubles – the loss of all his net worth, the deaths of all his children, the assault on his very health – they all had God’s fingerprints on them. Job’s initial commentary – Job 2:10 “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” What Job desperately wanted to know was “why, what purpose is there in my affliction? where can I find hope, where can I find real comfort?”
Saw friends coming, experienced their silent comfort, and then… quickly comes to understand Eliphaz didn’t get it. Had a lot to say, none of it helpful. To make it worse, Bildad and Zophar didn’t jump up to defend Job; might have made it clear by expressions Job couldn’t expect any help from them. Mrs. Job had already showed she had great need and few resources. No sign of any other help – neighbors, folks from church, the usual sources of counsel and help. Job’s emotional and spiritual pain so intense, couldn’t go on without some kind of answer.
When Eliphaz lectured Job, made it clear what he believed about two important principles: A just and good God could never bring serious affliction on a truly righteous person. If it looks like someone is being punished by God, they must deserve it. He said, in so many words:
God cannot afflict a righteous man. Job is severely afflicted. Job is not righteous. (He must be a great sinner or great hypocrite.)
Job didn’t buy the argument, the standard answers to the questions. But here’s the problem: to whom could he go for answers? Job knew condition of his life and conscience, knew what he was experiencing, the last place he could go for help would be God. God seemed to be his enemy and so far God wasn’t saying much! But what other options did he have – take wife’s advice, satisfy Satan’s desire – neither one something Job seriously considered. He rejected all options natural man would choose, did only thing left – appealed to his silent enemy for understanding and comfort.
Even before considering what Job said, an important lesson here: even though at that moment Job could hear nothing from God, Job didn’t stop talking to God. Took his confusion, frustration, pain and sorrow, did his best to find a solution in God. Didn’t always speak as carefully as he should, but was speaking to right person.
A. life is tough for everyone v.1-11
Job begins to identify with other sufferers
life is a battle – “hard service” (1)
Eliphaz tried to convince Job life could be like a fairy tale: just do the right thing, God will bless, everyone lives happily ever after.
Job disagrees: even under best circumstances life is still hard work; all the stuff we get to deal with, living in sin-corrupted world. Not without its rewards, but… let’s be objective
if you’re in Job’s shoes: tempting to ask God: wasn’t life tough enough already? did you really have to do this?
but it has an end (2)
even guy on bottom of the pay scale gets a break – if not before, end of the day would come when wages are paid
as awful as slave labor might get (making bricks without straw), was at least some periodic relief
was God treating Job worse than a harsh taskmaster? with no relief even at the end of the day?
my suffering doesn’t have any reward (3)
slave, day-laborer could look back over day, point to what had accomplished with their labor
one who worked could expect rest at end of shift, not simply time off from labor but restoration of strength
Job could find no meaning in his days, no relief in his nights – empty days, restless nights that only added to weariness of body and soul
Job puts God on a schedule
no rest (4)
nights that once provided refreshment for mind and body through sleep now drag on and on and on
tossing and turning and trying to get comfortable, counting sheep, reciting alphabet backwards, is it time to get up yet – morning comes, more fatigue, less patience, fewer answers than day before
even worse: time of day that often serves well for spiritual refreshing – meditating on God’s Word, prayer, communing with him in stillness of the night – filled with cries of afflicted but only silence from God
no relief (5)
aren’t given timeframe for Job’s suffering; clearly more than just a few days, at least several weeks
trend of his physical affliction – Job’s assessment: not getting any better, no sign that it will; seems to heal up some, then starts over again, gross and disgusting by any measure
no hope (6)
just like movement of shuttle is monotonous – back and forth with no change in routine – so his days: an endless cycle of sameness
no change in motion until suddenly, end of the thread – no hope for better condition until sudden end of life
take pity on me (7)
ever been on excursion, perhaps through store, almost running to keep up with other person; finally tug on their sleeve, when you get your breath back: “slow down, will you; remember I’m twice your age” or “your legs are way longer than mine”
Job here tugging on God’s sleeve: “remember who I am, what I’m made of”; in later generation David confidently stated:
“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Ps. 103:14) – Job wasn’t so sure God remembered
Job finds no meaning in further life
any good that might come will be too late (8-9)
God is watching him in his misery; but,… when God comes looking to do him good will be too late
feels like God’s eye is not on him in a good way, his only hope for escape from it is in death
to be gone is to be forgotten (10)
may not be remembered but at least he will be free of his affliction; God, is that what you really want?
I have nothing to lose (11)
in for a dime, in for a dollar; gone this far, no turning back now; going to keep pleading with God for response
As Francis Andersen reminds us, “Job makes his way to God with prayers that are sobs. Narrow and inhuman is the religion that bans weeping from the vocabulary of prayer.”
B. God must have a reason v.12-21
Job continues passionate struggle for answers – far from losing faith in God, persists in appealing to God as sole source of answers
am I a threat to heaven? (12)
was necessary for God to set boundaries, to “shut in the sea with doors” so it behaved; felt like God was treating Job the same way, setting up confining boundaries around him
why do you terrify me? (13-15)
call them night terrors when a child has them; perhaps another aspect of Satan’s assault on Job – psychological warfare, attempted brainwashing, goal of destroying his faith
so vivid and realistic and terrifying that Job preferred death to thought of enduring more of horrid dreams
can’t you just leave me alone? (16)
once again, Job heads down spiral of despair and depression – super important to see: Job may hang his head, may speak rashly, may even suffer from what we call clinical depression
BUT, he never stopped trying to understand God and his purpose for Job; when human counselors fail, never looked other than to God for his answers
Job struggles to understand God
why does man even matter? (17-18)
Job had a right view of God as lofty, majestic; of the immeasurable distance between Creator and creature
since Job couldn’t see God’s purpose, couldn’t fathom why God didn’t get tired of tormenting him
how long will this go on? (19)
no let-up to the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual torment: his disease; abuse, neglect, etc from his wife and friends; absence of answers to his questions; only animosity, not friendship from God he loved and served
what have I done to provoke you? (20)
God is the cosmic policeman, standing with nightstick at the ready; what’s on the rap sheet so I’m your target?
implied: if Job knew what he had done wrong that aroused God’s anger, would repent and seek restoration; problem is no one’s saying (accurately and truthfully) how he sinned
why won’t you forgive me? (21)
if God won’t tell him what his sin is, why doesn’t he just forgive Job anyway and bring him back into fellowship? Job had right desires, would confess, repent, sacrifice, all God required.
long pause in middle of the verse. . . . . . . silence from God; Job’s closing statement: “all right, I’ll just lie down and die.” Once again at the bottom of the pit of despair.
When God doesn’t speak, when he doesn’t answer, how should you feel, where should you turn for comfort?
“What sort of God is He? He’s a God who sometimes veils Himself in darkness. He’s a God who lifted up his rod and smites his Son on Golgotha, not sparing him. When his Son asked, “Why have you forsaken me?” God didn’t tell Jesus why.” Geoff Thomas
Can say to friends “you don’t understand” but never to God. Go to the one who does understand: Lord Jesus understands what affliction is like; what unjust treatment is like; what God’s silence is like! Are you one of Jesus’ sheep?
John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
Rest in assurance you are safe in God’s hand, whether he is silent or not. Salvation purchased by blood of Christ is your inheritance if you are born from above by his Spirit.