Have joked about challenge facing person who shops for clothing, especially items identified by size and not measurement. If lug nuts were sized the way sneakers are, you’d never keep the wheels on your car. So we can be reasonably safe in our vehicles, so you can get replacement parts from NAPA that really fit, manufacturers are expected to follow standards. Standards can be a good thing – for making nuts and bolts, dimension lumber, for navigation, dispensing fuel, telling time, radio broadcasting, translating books.
Are important in other parts of daily life, too. Standards for math or english homework, manners, medical care, and much more. Of utmost importance – choosing the right standard. Pick answer sheet for wrong lesson, handy guide to manners for wrong culture, somebody’s gonna be embarassed. Pick the wrong standard for living, you’ll be disappointed in your eternity.
Too often people pick other people as a standard. Thank God I didn’t have to deal with what she did. I’m glad I got this duty instead of his. I wish I had a family room like theirs. (quietly) They’ve done some pretty awful things, stuff I’d never think about doing. Preacher said at his funeral he was in heaven the second he died; uh-huh, given his track record I’ve got no problems! Job didn’t think that way although his friends did, to an extent.
So far, both Eliphaz and Bildad have considered circumstances to be evidence of meeting the standard: if you are prospering, God is happy with you; if you’re suffering, God is mad at you. The best Bildad could offer was
Job 8:20 Behold, God will not cast away the blameless.
In our text today Job responds
Job 9:2 I know, …but how can a man be righteous before God? – it’s an impossible standard
Before the end of this chapter, Job came really close to the answer even though he may not have realized it. Job has no problem understanding God’s greatness, did have difficulty with God’s goodness; acknowledged God is righteous because of who he is, not because of what he does – source of God’s righteousness is his character, not his actions. Here in chapter 9 Job responds to Bildad, chapter 10 directs his challenge to God.
A. I’m not an idiot v.1-3
I hear what you’re saying, you didn’t answer the question (2a)
know all that, say something I don’t know; how many times do we do like Bildad – don’t really have a good answer, maybe not any kind of answer so… offer up the Christianese sound-bite quote a Bible verse response
not a sin to say “I don’t have a clue”; better to be honest in ignorance than unhelpful or even hurtful
also,… not a sin to help other person recognize they’re asking the wrong question
Job’s questions of “why me”, “what did I do to deserve this”, “what must I do to change my circumstances” not good ones
this question, one here in verse 2, the most important question known to man since the Fall
not a “yes or no” question, it’s a “life or death question” and it covers eternal destiny; no question has any higher stakes, any greater consequences if answered wrongly
second question of nearly equal importance: who decides the answer to the first question and where do I find that answer?
do we or other humans get to decide what the standard is and if we’ve achieved it?
if so, then be good and try hard, God probably grades on a curve; if that’s true, how do you explain Job?
and that wasn’t Job’s idea of an answer: he believed God had already determined those things – God has set the standard and God judges pass/fail
how can I achieve God’s perfect standard (2b)
if it depends on inherent righteousness, we’re all doomed (except Jesus) – Job struggling with same concept Martin Luther did centuries later:
“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the justice of God,” because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him.” Luther
Job’s question gives a hint of an as-yet unspoken distinction, let me explain
Job knew based on what he had done, didn’t deserve his suffering; so far as he knew, sins he committed had been atoned for by his sacrifices
question goes beyond what Job had done to who Job was – what was his nature, his character, his inner man like
to paraphrase Luther: Job, an impeccable leader of the community, stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience
I have no answers to God’s demands (3)
less than 1/10 of 1% chance of being able to give God a satisfactory answer to His questions, his demands!
as best he could given experience to that point, Job grasped God’s holiness – “means that he is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor”
was beginning to grasp the distance between creature and Creator – not talking geography here, talking about character and essence, nature of being, particular his moral character
B. God rules v.4-13
wise and strong (4)
in spite of appearances at times, God is sovereign over all his creation; he governs all things wisely and ultimately (big picture) what God has decreed is what takes place; no one can stand up to God and win
does what only God can do (5-9)
the scope of God’s power and authority is vast, spanning the universe; laws that govern how chemistry and physics and all other branches of science work – God designed and instituted them; God has the prerogative to overrule those laws at his pleasure for his glory and good of his people
Red Sea parted, sun stood still, water turned to wine, Jesus lives again, all by power of great and good God
wise beyond our comprehension (10)
brilliant minds by the thousand labor for lifetimes trying to figure out how different aspects of creation work, barely scratching the surface; God himself is even less comprehensible to our finite minds
lives in another dimension (11)
God is there, I know it, but beyond the range of sense organs to detect; he’s present but transcendent
God is not accountable to anyone or anything outside himself; no higher authority to whom God must answer
C. no one can stand up to God v.14-22
I have no answer (14-15)
again, Job speaks more wisely than perhaps he knew; could not contend with God on equal footing, could beg for mercy
“The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious” (Ex. 34:6) – he can be merciful because of the Substitute
I have no claim on him (16-19)
when God chooses to be silent or invisible, no one can make him speak or appear; it works the other way – God calls man to account
my situation is hopeless (20-22)
not guilty enough to deserve this by man’s standard, not righteous enough to argue with God by his rules
this is the way it is: whether blameless or wicked, life stinks, I’m ready to die
D. God must have a reason v.23-35
he must be in charge (23-24)
if God isn’t ruling over all, who possibly could be? v.24 – Crimea, N. Korea, Malaysia flight – fate? Satan? don’t even go there
present circumstances give no hope (25-28)
nothing to indicate it will get better any time soon, can’t just say to self “don’t worry, be happy”
judgment day is coming and there’s nothing to give confidence things will turn out well; would have to be major plot twist to make a happy ending
a real hypocrite wouldn’t struggle this way (29)
if Eliphaz & Bildad really were right, if really uncaring sinner, why agonize over trying to figure God out
I cannot achieve God’s standard (30-32)
response to v.2b – God will easily demonstrate that attempts at self-cleansing aren’t even skin deep; what God reveals will be far worse than what we even suspect – our own clothes will want to be on someone else
my only hope is a mediator (33-35)
“Who may lay his hand on us both” – think about what Job is saying, his cry for someone who can bridge the immense, silent, terrifying chasm between him and God
someone who can act as an equal with God on the one side and bring God nearer to him; who could act as equal with man on the other side and compassionately reconcile him to God
and one more thing – someone who can remove the rod of God’s anger out of his hand
Mediator of a better covenant: see Heb. 8:1-6 – aren’t you glad you live now instead of the good old Job-days? “We have a High Priest, …seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, [who is] Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”
We know who that Mediator is, the God-Man, Jesus himself; he took the rod of God’s anger out of his hand at Calvary. Jesus is the link between God and man, the one with a hand on us both, drawing us together as friends.
“If you have a true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This it is to behold God in faith: that you should look upon his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness.” Luther
If you have trusted in Christ, rejoice in your perfect Mediator. If you haven’t, come to him today; he will receive you.