Thursday, March 16, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 12, Job Answers Bildad, Part One

Job's friend Bildad said some cruel things in yesterday's passage. He not only suggested Job is a sinner, but that his children were also sinners and that they lost their lives because of it. Today we study the first part of Job's answer to him. He agrees that much of Bildad's doctrine is sound: that the one who forsakes God reaps the consequences, that God is able to restore joy to the one who returns to Him, that God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked (although the reward is not necessarily prosperity in this life as Bildad believes). In his answer Job agrees with the parts of Bildad's speech that are correct, and he kindly passes over the harsh words about his children.

"Then Job replied: 'Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God? Though they wished to dispute with Him, they could not answer Him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, His power is vast. Who has resisted Him and come out unscathed?" (Job 9:1-4) Job says, "Even if a man could gain an audience with God, how could he ever win an argument with Him? I believe in my heart I have not brought these tragedies on myself, but God's wisdom is so far above mine that I wouldn't even know how to speak to Him if I stood in front of Him."

"He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in His anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; He seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. When He passes me, I cannot see Him; when He goes by, I cannot perceive Him. If He snatches away, who can stop Him? Who can say to Him, 'What are You doing?' God does not restrain His anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at His feet." (Job 9:5-13) If Job got his wish and could stand before God to plead his case, what could he say to the One who causes avalanches and earthquakes, who covers the heavens with clouds, who walks on the waters, who created the constellations, who is invisible, who is all-powerful, who gives life and takes life away?

Job's words remind me of those of David when he considered the vastness of the heavens and the intelligent Creator of them. David felt very small in comparison. "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?" (Psalm 8:3-4) I grew up out in the country where there were no streetlights and I spent many a childhood summer evening sitting outside gazing up at the stars. The incredible and unknowable vastness of the universe filled me with a sense of awe, but it also reminded me how small I am in comparison. And it made God somehow seem so utterly different from mankind. How can we know the mind that spoke worlds and suns into existence? How can we commune with an intelligence so high above ours? How can we find common ground with the One we cannot even see? Yet this God who is so superior to us, so holy and righteous, loves us and desires fellowship with us. It's more than the human mind can comprehend.

"How then can I dispute with Him? How can I find words to argue with Him? Though I were innocent, I could not answer Him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy." (Job 9:14-15) Job says, "If I saw God face to face I believe His majesty would overwhelm me. I could not speak a word. If I could see God in all His glory, I would also see myself in all my weakness, and there would be nothing I could do but throw myself on the mercy of the court." Job has the righteousness that comes by faith, but he is not sinless. Though in Chapter One we learned Job is the most righteous man on earth in his days, he is not perfect. The innocence he speaks of is the confidence he has in knowing there has never been such a sin in his life that would cause him to deserve all that's happened to him.

Job says something in verse 15 I don't want us to miss. "Though I were innocent, I could not answer Him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy." Even if Job had perfectly kept every law of God, he would still stand trembling in fear before such a holy Judge, because even at our best "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags". (Isaiah 64:6) Even if we perform all that is asked of us "We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do." (Luke 17:10) When we see God in all His glory we will see ourselves in all our weakness. When we view His perfection we will be faced with our imperfection. And what is there to do? We can only plead with our Judge for mercy. But thanks be to the God who loves us, He made a way for us to receive His mercy. Though we are so far beneath Him, the perfect Son of God gave Himself for us, so that when we who have believed in Him stand before our Judge, Christ Jesus stands there with us. He is our mighty Defender who says to the Judge, "I have paid the penalty. I have taken this one's sins upon Myself. For My sake, You must declare this one not guilty."

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