The Book of Job-Chapter Sixteen:
"Confusion becomes Clarity"
Job still isn't buying most of Eliphaz's arguments. It's hard to hold out for the the truth when you're not quite sure what that truth is. But Job has been showing a good general sense of things. Listen to how emphatic he can still be:
Verses 1-3: "Then Job answered and said, I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? "
If you are a sufferer, like Job, people expect certain things from you. Certain predictable responses. It may be quite different from your normal one, but you will still have a social and a spiritual role to play. I think Job is starting to realize that his "comforters" or friends are disappointed in him as a sufferer. So he tries in his own way to reach out to them:
Verses 4-5: "I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief."
Why are they not trying to really help him feel better, as he would for them or anyone should for another person in need? I think Job knows that something is very wrong and it's not just his suffering.
Verse 6: "Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased? "
Still ignorant of important aspects of human suffering, like Satan's specific identity and role, Job is, I think, starting to see beyond himself in all this. To know that he will FIND ONLY INSUFFICIENT HELP FROM MAN in the state he is in. And so he turns again to the Lord:
Verse 7: "But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company."
There may be NOTHING at all WRONG with Job's friends (or ours) in the end. The Lord is, I think, forcing Job to look ONLY and ULTIMATELY to HIM for comfort. This could happen to any of us today. And we mustn't be too fast to blame others, our friends, pastors, or our doctors or police or emergency workers. We must, sooner or later, take our complaints directly to the Highest Level. That's were Job is headed right now, so let's follow.
Verses 8-9: "And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face. He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me."
He's still bitter and raving, but isn't this different from we have heard from Job before? Job is now sensing an enemy apart from God, Whom he has been totally blaming up to this point. There is certainly a new element in this text, just listen:
Verses 10-12: "They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me. God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark."
O, we're breaking some new ground, beloved. God has not caused Job's problems. He has somehow allowed it in, but God is not the evil thing that is attacking Job and all that he has. Ancient Job is looking more and more to me like a modern man and I am feeling closer to him in my own suffering than ever before. There is something very familiar to the New Testament in this speech of his. Can you hear it, too?
Verses 13-20: "His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground. He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant. I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust. My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure. O earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place. Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God."
YES! This ancient book has quickly become very relevant for me. For Job has discovered (SOMEHOW) what we believers WILL and MUST discover today when we arrive at the seat of our personal suffering: THE SEAT HAS ALREADY BEEN WARMED BY CHRIST. I'm not sure how the details play out for Job, but surely we recognize God's Son as our example of how suffering can be sanctified and used for good by God. How could Jesus suffer so at Calvary? How could it happen? be allowed? be sanctioned? be preordained? Yet, how could it not (for that would condemn us all)? Then how could we who follow Him (and who are all created by Him) never have to minister through suffering? I'm sure Job is giving us another Messianic Prophesy here. He seems aware of it, too, and of the significance of it:
Verses 21-22: "O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour! When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return."
Christ is your neighbor. At least He wants to be. That's why He came to live here over 2,000 years ago. He can plead your cause to the Father right now. With Him, NO sin is unforgivable for the repentant. And no suffering is foreign to His direct knowledge and experience. Yet He is as fully at home in any corner of Heaven as He is with each of us. If you are beyond the help of earthly friends, modern science, and everything else we are offered by this life today, you still have a Neighbor in Him. And He knows what being a Neighbor really means (see Luke 10:29-37). Though His real specialty is Joy and Peace, at some point personal suffering became His absolute domain. If you are open and willing, you will find Him Very Open and Willing to COMFORT YOU and to plead your case at the Highest Level right now.
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