The Book of Job-Chapter Twenty-Three:
"Seeking and Searching"
Many years ago, when I first started appearing in public to share God's Love in Christ with anyone and everyone who might be present, I was very easily discouraged and harmfully distracted by even minor displays of unbelief and/or indifference. As time has gone on I've become more open-minded about that. The Lord calls people from all walks of life and stages of spiritual awareness (ALL people, really) to hear His Word and message (yep, even from me, sometimes!).
In this chapter (and the next) Job is going to reveal that he is still falling critically short in his basic understanding of God. He's STILL infected with some of legalism that yet is running rampant among his friends. But I admire his efforts anyway. Like I do many of those distracted (and often distracting!) people that I've tried to sing, and preach, and minister to over the years. Some unbelief or wrong belief does seem to totally quench the Spirit and make real worship difficult or impossible. But some who are in error can be viewed as honestly seeking and searching for the Truth. Hey, it's so easy to relate to because that is where we all are in one sense or another before the Lord. This is where we find Job right now, diligently and honestly seeking and searching:
Verses 1-3: "Then Job answered and said, Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!"
When you see someone sincerely reaching out to God like this, even though they may have problems--some perhaps self-inflicted, some external--well, I get a very hopeful feeling for them. If they can just persist and all the while be willing to grow and change, there is real hope. You know, just because you're willing to read this little study I'm thinking very hopefully about you!
Verse 4: "I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments."
He isn't referring to prayer. He'd already experienced prayer. He wants two-way, direct access to The Lord of All:
Verse 5: "I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me."
Job is predicting that God, face to face, would not only make things comprehensible for him, but even comfort him:
Verse 6: "Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me."
You know, later in the rest of the Scriptures this is kind of confirmed, at least in my opinion, by all those "Fear not!" statements made to individuals who speak to or see the Lord or a Divine Messenger (often an Angel). This is how Abraham was summoned. At Bethlehem the shepherds hear this same salutation, as had the Virgin Mary. During Christ's life this was not usually necessary as He might just put His hand on a person's shoulder and ask them to take a walk and chat, or invite them to eat dinner with Him. Those were some precious times in the relationship between God and mankind. Did you know that if you will, this very day, open up your heart and fully Love Christ and accept Him by Faith for Who He is, Jesus will have dinner with YOU tonight and if you really give Him your whole heart, every night thereafter (breakfast and lunch included, also--trust me on that!!). I think Job has shown a good sense about this aspect of reaching out to the Lord.
Verse 7: "There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge."
Ooops! This is an error, at least based on what I have seen in the rest of the Bible (which Job did NOT have written out for him, of course). You or I can't really justify ourselves before God. Job may be kind of thinking out loud here, thinking this thing through. Back in chapter 9 he had already realized that it would require a Holy Mediator to take his case this high. I think immediately he remembers how impossible verse 7 would be. Listen:
Verses 8-9: "Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:"
Job IS truly growing and changing. Satan wanted to use this man as a missile pointed directly at God's heart, but look how true Love is softening the heart of this man. That ice cold legalism is starting to melt away. This isn't panic. He's not really lost, he is just realizing that his religious efforts can't "conjure up" the Lord at every whim or moment of need. But, look at this:
Verse 10a: "But he knoweth the way that I take:"
I know Job is from a long by-gone world, but what a statement of FAITH! O, if only today...with all our so-called information, and hindsight, and attention-stealing technology...if only we could have more believers like Job. More true seekers. He has discovered what so many are TOTALLY ignorant of in our times. Namely, that even when it feels like you can't find God- and those times come to ALL- HE CAN AND WILL COME FIND YOU. Now if you are saying, "That just isn't true in my life," then I need ask you a personal question: how hard are you trying to hide from Him and push Him away? I did that for years, but I know now that He never lost sight of me even as I ducked and ran all that time. He knows right where you are too, friend--wherever that may be right now.
So how is life different when you accept His companionship and embrace it? I think Job says it well:
Verse 10b: "...when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Are you getting this? Here is a guy who's family, home, and wealth have all been destroyed. AND he is ill. The gold he's talking about can't be just the restoration of his money. Surely he would refer to restoration of family before wallet. No, it must represent something more. I think he means no matter what happens to me while on the earth, the Lord will finally restore me 'better than ever' in Heaven.
Job hasn't been forgotten by God. Only waylaid by unknown forces. WE know, of course, what those forces are as it was revealed to us earlier that Satan bet the house (he did eventually lose his home in Heaven!) against this one man's faith. He's betting right now against ALL of us who seek to believe.
But Job is actually winning this battle. No longer trying to be perfect all the time, he's moving forward. Closer and closer than ever to God. He's seeking and searching. More and more, he knows to stop trying to LEAD God around. He's becoming a FOLLOWER of God!
Verse 11: "My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined."
Maybe not eloquently stated yet, but he's getting there. If Satan was right about Job: that he only followed God for the earthly rewards, well, you see that's what makes this last verse so important. If it was all about greed, then WHY is Job STILL following? I'm not sure if Job feels it yet, but he is actually winning. Can you start to taste some of that victory of his? We are told that often with the Lord, the last are first and the first become last. This hasn't been much of a book for hope up to this point, but things are slowly starting to change.
By the way, if not careful I am still very capable of trying to get God to follow ME today. But life just plain won't work that way. It didn't for Job and his friends and it won't for us either, beloved.
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