The Book of Job-Chapter Twenty-Four:
"True Lot of the Unrighteous"
So far in Job's story he has been figuring out many things. He has come a long way and done well by my way of measuring. Like all of us he has farther to go and more to learn. And I hope to travel and learn along with him as our study of the Book of Job continues and eventually concludes. Previously Job had realized that a stark reality of this life is that righteousness before God does not guarantee the absence of suffering and pain. In light of that, Job will now try to take a newly informed look at the nature of unrighteousness.
Verse 1: "Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days? "
Here is a plaintive opening statement. Satan said that by this point, Job would be cursing God. Thankfully he isn't doing that. However, he continues to openly and honestly ask some very serious questions of the Lord. I think what he means in verse one is: "God, if you know it all, why don't you just reveal it ALL to ME right NOW!" And before I get to high and mighty here, let me say that I have often felt this way myself. And if this type of thought ever troubles you, all I can say is that somehow part of trusting the Lord is to accept the fact that you cannot -at least on this earth- be fully privy to all that He knows. One thing that helps me in this area is to remember to be very grateful for that which He does reveal to me and to TRY to be patient about the rest.
Verses 2-4: "Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof. They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge. They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together."
One thing Job observed about the wicked was that they often prosper by taking from anyone who can't protect or defend themselves. They create a "class of the oppressed" in their wake who must ever attempt to hide from them. This trend definitely continues into our day. Christ may have indicated that this will always be the case on this earth when he said in the New Testament: "You have the poor always with you."
The unrighteous just take whatever they want, whenever they can, from whomever they can. And that's not all they do:
Verses 5-6: "Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children. They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked."
They often seem to succeed in life! Discarding any need for true righteousness and taking on an animalistic (survival of the fittest) approach to living may actually work out in some ways. It can seem a very efficient way to get results. Just look around -if you'll forgive me for saying it- we have a lot of "wild asses" running loose in our world today (sometimes I think I've still got one running around somewhere inside of me!). One of the main things that kept the unrighteous from Jehovah in Job's day and from Christ today is the fact that what they are doing brings some success in life.
One BIG problem with this kind of prosperity, though, is that you have to constantly feed it by victimizing your fellow man:
Verses 7-9: "They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor."
This must have been as painful for Job to watch then as it often is for us to see repeated daily in our news feeds. And if we who are guilty ourselves can notice and be appalled, surly the Lord must take notice. Yet for all this, Job has observed, unrighteousness too often seems to go unpunished:
Verses 10-12: "They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry; Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst. Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them."
Job wanted to be ever rewarded in this life for his diligence in religion and righteousness, but he wasn't. Now he seems to me to be almost saying to God: "Well if you can't immediately reward righteousness, couldn't you at least swoop down promptly on the wicked with their punishments?"
A big question for Job at this point and for any believer at any time is: Do you envy the unrighteous? That's a big one for me. Loving the Lord and ever-trusting in His Son, these are not pursuits that often seem to bring quick and efficient prosperity or gratification in the worldliest sense. And it's easy to lose patience. Job may have struggled with that, but what he says next shows a lot of insight and spiritual maturity:
Verse 13: "They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof."
The unrighteous life may have some temporary advantages, but it takes a real toll. At some point you begin to realize that the animal you are becoming is more like a cockroach. A bug that must scatter when the lights come on in the room. Listen:
Verses 14-16: "The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief. The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face. In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light."
We're getting away from the "white collar" sins now and deeper into where unrighteousness wants to take a person. Way down into the dark. Let me insert a word about Christ here: Jesus said in the New Testament that He was going to be hated and killed because He brought Light into the world. And that those (and some were quite religious) who needed to keep their true lives hidden in the dark would now have no way to cloak their sins. And so they got together and decided to kill the Son of God.
And, you know, that is still going on today. Still in very dramatic fashion. Every person today has a choice. They either accept Christ as their personal sin sacrifice for all time and follow Him through this life OR invariably and ultimately they attempt to do away with Him in whatever way they can. They need to avoid at all costs that Light that He brings to life. O, I'm not talking about another literal Mt. Calvary, but aren't many today trying to do away with His Word, the mention of His name, or trying to erase Him from history and culture? I think I mainly used to simply try to ignore Him to death. From all those years ago, beloved, Job is telling us why:
Verse 17: "For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death."
So, yes, the righteous do sometimes suffer and the wicked do sometimes prosper. And it is hard to understand why. But when you get beneath the surface of things the true lot of the unrighteous is NOT to be desired. It's nothing to be jealous of. Not if we look as closely as Job did. The wicked ALL fall in the end. Even if they were to make it out of this life unscathed, they will be punished ultimately in the grave in ways that will never touch a person who has been made righteous before the Lord:
Verses 18-19: "He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards. Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned."
Prosperity through man's aggression and unrighteous living may have worked down here. But this life ends, and then the next world comes. There only the righteous stand (and that just barely, we are told- see I Peter 4:17-18).
Verses 20-23: "The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree. He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow. He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life. Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways."
As out of step and naive as true righteousness may have seemed in the daily grind of this world, even more so unrighteousness in the land of final judgments.
Job's friends have spoken already about the curses of the wicked, but they were trying to say that Job or anyone having troubles in this life must be a bad person. That is not the context here. Punishment may actually be slow in coming. That doesn't mean a person's life or lifestyle has gone unnoticed by the Judge of All. It doesn't matter how much they may have impressed or intimidated other people. God can see through every smokescreen a person can try to put before Him. I'll tell you he's seen through all of mine. His Light penetrates any darkness and there is in the end no real hiding place from it. And that's as it should be if He really is THE Living God. And we are clearly told that in our day His Light is found only in and through Jesus Christ (read I Cor. 1:30).
Job is getting it so very right in this chapter:
Verse 24: "They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn."
If he was becoming jealous of the wicked in his adversity, he is over it now. Better to be righteous in this life- even if you must suffer.
Maybe feeling a little too confident, Job ends by taunting his friends and I cringe to think how they will respond in chapter 25:
Verse 25: "And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?"
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