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"God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves!"
(Job 11)

Instead of breaking down this chapter verse by verse let's just sum it up with Zophar telling Job he has a whole bunch of sins that are being denied by Job. But with all Job's denial or ignoring his sins, Zophar assures Job that nothing is hidden from God and God knows the extent of Job's sins. If only Job would repent, his life would be "brighter than the noonday" and he "would lie down and no one would make [him] afraid."

Zophar is a straightforward man, no beating around the bush with him. He tells it like it is and doesn't hold back, no matter how hurtful it sounds and more importantly, no matter how wrong he is.

There is one conclusion Zophar makes that I would like to focus in on: "Know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves."

Previous to this statement, Zophar is quoting Job as saying, "My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in your eyes." He then adds, "But oh, that God would speak, and open His lips against you, that He would show you the secrets of wisdom! For they would double your prudence." Zophar then concludes with, "Know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves." (Job 11:4-6. In other words, If Job could see what God sees, he would see how vile he really was. He would see his great sins and that God has excused some of his iniquity and Job is getting less punishment than he deserves.

Amazing! Just imagine this: Think of a friend who has lost a child or one who is suffering with severe physical pain. You go visit them and they say, "I don't know why this has happened." And you shoot back with, "It's because you are a terrible sinner and God is punishing you. You are so terrible that you deserve a greater punishment than this, but God is merciful so He is holding back."

Imagine if you were the one who is sitting in the funeral home with your child in the casket and a good friend "comforted" you with these words. Imagine if you were in a hospital bed in such pain that the morphine drip didn't even begin to ease your suffering and a friend visits and blasts you with these words.

Imagine Job laying in the anguish of fever, painful, itching rotting flesh, grieving the loss of ten children, and wondering what part his Creator has in this and have a friend say, "You are getting less than you deserve." While it is true that all men are sinners and none of us deserves the great mercy from God, Zophar was so far off by not only judging Job to be such a detestable sinner that he deserves more horror in his life, but to speak for God and to say that God's desire is to punish Job even more severely but God is holding back and forgetting some of Job's sins.


SOME THINGS NOT TO SAY TO THE ILL AND GRIEVING


s "The Lord has something more"
s "It was God's will"
s "It was just his time"
s "The Lord must have needed him more that we did."
s "God won't give you anything you can't handle."
s "You shouldn't feel like that."
s "Maybe God is trying to teach you a lesson."
s "Others have it worse than you."
s "What did you do wrong?"
s "It wasn’t meant to be."
s"Did you do something you weren't supposed to do? (miscarriage)
s "Have you ever thought of not having children?" (miscarriage)
s "Be grateful for the children you have..." (miscarriage)
s
“After my miscarriage, several friends and even family members told me not to worry because I would get pregnant again,” said a woman who lost her first baby nine weeks into the pregnancy. “I knew they were trying to comfort me, but it was as if they weren’t acknowledging my loss. I had wanted that baby, and I had lost that baby. I needed to grieve the loss before I could think about getting pregnant again.”

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"I Am Not Inferior to You."
Job 12:1-4

Job had friends who cared enough about him to travel a great distance to visit him in his suffering. What a comfort that must have been when Job first laid eyes on them, knowing the effort they made to support and strengthen him during his terrible trials. He soon found out, however, that these "comforters" were actually worthless physicians (13:4) in disguise. He compares them to a stream that is longed after by travelers and when they arrive, the riverbed is dry due to the heat or frozen due to the cold. The needed refreshment that they were so confident in finding, was no longer there and they are left feeling deceived and disappointed. (Job 6:14-20).

The three friends had just given their first speeches to Job which included their view that Job's suffering was due to sin and he needed to repent in order to be healed. The admonitions for Job to admit his sin and turn from them increased in intensity to the point of Zophar telling Job he has received less punishment than he deserves. They based their ideas on dreams and visions, the teachings of the ancients and their own beliefs about Job, Jehovah, and life in general. They were dogmatic, self-assured and presumptuous.

Job responds to his harsh treatment from his friends by telling them :  "No doubt you are the people and wisdom will die with you! But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Indeed, who does not know such things as these?" (Job 12:1-3)

Job stating, with overt scarcasm, that the three are so elite as to have so much wisdom that when they die, wisdom will die as well. He then proceeds to tell them that all the knowledge they so eloquently gave on the greatness of God is common knowlege; even the beast and the birds and all of creation speaks to God's power. (Job 12:7-9). Job then proceeds to give a similar speech on the wisdom and strength of God, showing them he can make just as good a speech as they can (Job 12:10-13:2). He lets them know his knowledge and observations are not inferior to theirs (Job 13:1-2).

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"I am one mocked by his friends."
Job 12:5-6

"I am one mocked by his friends, who called on God, and He answered him, the just and blameless who is laughed to scorn. A lamp is despised in the thought of one who is at ease; it is made ready for those who feet slip." Job 12:4-5

Job, a just and blameless man, should have received respect; he should have received the acknowledgment that he was known for his wisdom and understanding. He should have received the honor due him of a man of faith and discretion, knowing the truth about God, righteousness and the end result of the wicked. Instead of this recognition, he has been treated like a wicked, empty-headed ignoramus who has the wisdom of a wild donkey (11:12).

His friends, on the other hand, view themselves as all-wise, all-knowing and in their self-righteous smugness they don't have a clue what goes on in the heart and lives of the sufferer. They come across as believing that one who is weak in body and spirit is inferior in wisdom and goodness.

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The Temptation of Superiority

It is the very nature of the comforter/sufferer relationship that presents Satan his opportunity to tempt the comforter -- the strong (spiritually or physically) verses the weak in body or spirit. The comforter, with shoulders back, head held high, has to come down to the one who is bent over in grief or is unable to rise from her bed of affliction. Perhaps the one being visited has been living in sin and the comforter must become the admonisher as well. Satan may try to pervert this situation by tempting the comforter with pride, as he did Job's friends.

The humble comforter recognizes that all suffer and are weak in body and spirit, at times, and their comfort comes from the love of God, which enables them to love the sufferer and humbly lower themselves to the level of the one in need. On the other hand, the comforter who allows pride to enter her heart, finds self-fulfillment in her higher position of being the one who is strong in spirit and body, believing, she can clearly see all the weaknesses abiding in the one who is lowered in grief. There is a self-praise for a job well-done and being the light to those who are groveling in the darkness that sin and suffering can bring. The prideful comforter views any sign of emotional weakness as a lack of faith and they will not tolerate tears, concern or any distress from the one suffering.

We Need to Watch Out for Satan Tempting Us with Feelings of Superiority As We Comfort Others

Satan is the "roaring lion," watching to take advantage of any weakness he sees in the individual. He doesn't care how much pain and suffering is already present, for his desire is to add even more if that's what it takes to draw our hearts away from God. We've talked about the temptations he presented to Job and those who suffer in the flesh. Now let's look at various ways he tempts the comforter with pride and what we can do to prevent being "worthless physicians."

The superior attitude of believing we have more knowledge and wisdom than the weak. Whether we do or not, the temptation that may come is to close our ears to the sufferer because we are the ones who have the answers and we need to straighten their thinking out. I've seen comforters who tell the infirmed how they should act, how they should feel, and even how they can be cured, if they really want to be (if there is a true cure, the ill will know about it).

The comforter needs to understand they don't have the experience the other one does and the wisdom that is being giving may not be relevant in this case. All God-given knowledge and wisdom is good, but if the comforter is not addressing the immediate problem, the sufferer will recognize they aren't being listened to and they will stop talking. The sad thing is, sometimes the comforter doesn't even realize the sufferer has stopped talking. It is painful to lay open a wounded heart and then have it disregarded because the comforter doesn't realize the one suffering has anything important to say.

WHAT NOT TO DO? Don't have the know-it-all, seen-it-all attitude. Don't ramble on about all you know. Don't look down on the weak, as if you are in a lofty position.

Have you ever had a problem in your life and as you are telling a friend or acquaintance, they cut you off as you're talking and proceed to instruct you with all their knowledge and wisdom? As they talk, you are thinking: 'How does this apply to me? If they just listen to me and let me finish talking, they would see what they're telling me doesn't make sense.' Job went through this, and at times, so do we. Let's not see ourselves as comforting others equals a greater wisdom or knowledge. So often, that isn't the case and if it is, we still haven't experienced what the sufferer has. We can learn from her, if we'll listen.

Visiting the emotionally or physically weak is not for self-gratification and while it will make us feel good, the purpose is because the weak in spirit and/or body are in need of encouragement and friendship, rather than sermonettes. Once in a while advice needs to be given, but do so after you have listened, truly listened to them, accepted and allowed their emotions and in love, humbleness, and truth give them God-given wisdom. However, most of the time, the weak in spirit just need an outlet to express their thoughts, emotions and tears. And, ladies, if you haven't learned to lead another woman in prayer please learn to do so.

REMEMBER: When you comfort another, do so in humbleness, listening with open ears and an open heart, knowing we have not gone through exactly what they are going through.

REMEMBER: Physical illness and weakness of spirit doesn't equal a lack of wisdom and knowledge. Outward expressions of pain and grief are a release of stress.

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Worthless Physicians!

Upon their arrival, the three men cried out at the sight that was before them. They tore their robes, sprinkled dust on their heads, and sat down in silence before the putrescent mass of flesh of a friend that, now, was unrecognizable. It had been their plan to bemoan and comfort their friend, but after seeing the horror before them, they were speechless for Job's grief was too great.

"Let the day perish wherein I was born, And the night which said, There is a man-child conceived." As the silence was broken by Job cursing the day he was born, the three men knew their suspicions of great sin in Job was confirmed by such words coming out of his mouth. As they had witnessed the agony of oozing, rotting, itching, painful flesh and the sleepless nights of hearing moaning of great distress, coupled with the knowledge of Job's great loss of children, servants and riches, there could be no other answer than this was the punishment for great sins. Such extreme suffering could only equal extreme sin and now, out of Job's own mouth, was the proof of an impure heart, for which one of them would curse his birth and wish for death.

They felt satisfied they had come to bemoan their friend, but after seven days of witnessing such a repugnant scene of disgust, and hearing such shocking words of ingratitude, surely their plan of comforting needed to be changed to admonition and discipline. No man could be righteous who was suffering such agony and had lost so much. No righteous man would dare speak about his life in such a way as Job. No, he did not need sympathy and understanding. It was not a time for soft, kind words, but rather a time to discipline; a time to heal Job's soul from the terrible sins he has committed that brought on such extreme suffering that only could be a result of God's punishment. 

Yes, this is their duty, to save Job from the evil that engulfs him. Job must repent in order to be pure of body and mind, for the pus that oozes from his flesh and the evil words that pours from his lips deserves no kindness -- sin can not be condoned! This sinner is in need of firm reproaches and the wisdom and knowledge the three can give, for only in Job's repentance can he be saved and hope renewed.

"You are all worthless physicians. Oh, that you would be silent," was Job's response to the three men who so willingly poured out their wisdom and pleading for Job's confession of sin and repentance.

Job told the three men, "What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God. But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians. Oh, that you would be silent, and it would be your wisdom! Now hear my reasoning, and heed the pleadings of my lips. Will you speak wickedly for God, and talk deceitfully for Him? Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God?  Will it be well when He searches you out? Or can you mock Him as one mocks a man?

He will surely reprove you if you secretly show partiality. Will not His excellence make you afraid, and the dread of Him fall upon you? Your platitudes are proverbs of ashes, your defenses are defenses of clay." (Job 13:2-12)      

As Job looked up and first saw his friend's arrival and heard their cries of woe, he was comforted that his friends cared and he knew he could pour forth his grief to them. But that would have to wait, for his suffering was too great.

After seven days of silence, Job gathered strength and his bitter words gushed out in anguish. A tempest of pain and grief was released as Job bewailed his misery, ready to receive strength and comfort and, hopefully, answers to his confusion of why this great evil had happened to him. His friends had come and, now, he would receive understanding and a kind word; how he longed for compassion to help ease his afflicted soul.

What's this? No tenderness? No sympathy? No healing words of wisdom and encouragement?

Dreams? What do Eliphaz's dreams have to do with Job's suffering? Experience and observations? Yes, Job had them as well. Knowledge given about God's greatness and His displeasure of sin? Job knew these things. Discipline? For what? Yes, Job sinned as all men do, but he was not a great sinner; he was righteous, none like him in all the earth. Sins are not hidden in a man like Job.

Harshness? Job's children were dead because of his sins? Job was being punished for unconfessed, unrepented sin? God had given him much less punishment than he deserved?

In agony of flesh and a spirit of torment, Job's "physicians" had turned out to be worthless. They had lied about Job. Their harangue of repetitive admonitions for Job's confession and repentance of sins had added to Job's anguish and in their deceit, the three friends had played God, judging and pronouncing judgment. They had tried to speak for God, resulting in mockery of Almighty God, instead of fear of His excellence and the discipline they may receive for their impertinent impudence. Their trite remarks were as substantial as ash and their defense of their wisdom was strong as clay.

Worthless physicians, were these three, who gave nothing to help heal the spirit of a friend so in need of kindness and sympathy. They provided no remedy to alleviate the pain of a troubled soul who was in the midst of such suffering that should have induced compassion to equal the distress. Their adulteration of healing stemmed from the very sin they accused Job of: Pride and self-righteousness.

Worthless physicians who caused more harm than good. Physicians who mutilated their patient with words that slashed further scars into the soul of a troubled man and by their malpractice, furthered the plan of Satan to tempt and vex this righteous man of God.

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Our Physician, Our Hope
by Pat Gates

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Teacher with the publicans and sinners? But when he heard it, he said, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. (Mat 9:10-13)

You can't read Job's description of his friends as "worthless physicians" without thinking of the Physician of our souls, our Lord Jesus Christ. He provides all the comfort and strength that we may find so lacking in men and in Him we have salvation and hope.

To appreciate our great blessing of a Physician who can heal all our soul's diseases, let's do a comparison to our medical physicians in order to understand the blessing we have in our Lord.


Because my son's heart defect is so severe, since his birth, I have dealt with some of the top cardiologists and surgeons in the world. For the last eight years he has been under the care of the number one children's hospital in American, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (US News and World Report), and its associate next door, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Soon, he may be a patient at Columbia in New York. Mayo and Texas Children's (where Denten Cooley works) have also cared for him in the past.

I'm not saying this to brag (like that would be something to brag about), as most children with severe defects see top doctors due to their very different, complicated hearts. I'm mentioning this to make a point that while I have seen the vast difference in knowledgeable doctors and those who aren't, and while I have great respect for these able doctors, they are still lacking. There is so much they don't know and as time goes on, some of the things they do "know," they find to be wrong or they find a better way.

w OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN HAS ALL KNOWLEDGE:

Thankfully, it is quite different with our Great Physician of our soul, who authored our salvation. He has all knowledge how to heal us of our soul's diseases and we can have full assurance that, in our Lord, exist all wisdom and knowledge.

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (Heb. 4:9)

That their hearts may be comforted, being united in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding, to the full knowledge of the secret of the God and Father, and of the Christ, in whom are all the treasures of the wisdom and the knowledge hid. (Col 2:2-3)

Doctors have come a long way in their abilities. God has blessed us with men and women who have made discoveries that have cured diseases and have helped alleviate symptoms. However, mankind is and always will be limited in their knowledge and abilities and no matter how powerful doctors believe they are, there will always be a microscopic virus or bacteria that will humble them and reveal their inadequacies. 

w OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN HAS ALL POWER:

Our Great Physician can not only heal our soul's diseases but has the ability to absolutely wipe them away, never to be seen again. While a doctor may have a certain amount of "power" (ability), he doesn't always know if a certain treatment or surgery is the right way to go as complications can develop. Our God not only has the power, but He also has the wisdom to know when and how to use His power for the good of His people. The gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation and it is always available to those who will hear it and obey.

The whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. Luke 6:19

Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matt 19:26

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Rom 1:16

Years ago I took my mother to a doctor who had co-authored a book on Parkinson's Disease which was used as a textbook at the university, thus increasing my faith in this doctor's knowledge. Her book had contradicted what had been prescribed by my mother's neurologist and, as it turned out, the medications she prescribed, as well as the amount, was the right way to go. While she did, indeed, have knowledge of the disease, she lacked one important facet in her being a top physician: She was unavailable 90% of the time because so often she was out of town giving lectures. Her knowledge was of no value since she was never available to help my mother. She had forsaken her patient time and time again, until we had no confidence in her care and decided to seek out another physician.

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 OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN WILL NOT FORGET ABOUT US, NOR FORSAKE US:

Our Lord and Savior never forgets, nor forsakes us. He is always available when we need Him and there are no appointments to make, no waiting rooms to linger in. Unlike doctors who tell you they will call to check on us and forget to do so, our physician is always mindful of us and we can be assured we are never forgotten.

Compare this with the evaluation patients have with their doctors of medicine:

Patients' top complaint about doctors was time spent in the waiting room. Nearly one in four patients (24%) said they waited 30 minutes or longer.

Other complaints from patients were:

  • Couldn't schedule an appointment within a week
  • Spent too little time with me
  • Didn't provide test results promptly
  • Didn't respond to my phone calls promptly

Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" Hebrews 13:5-6

Oh, how we long for a compassionate physician! So often we are met with coldness and sometimes even rudeness from our doctors, but there are doctors who are compassionate. However, they have to place limits on their compassion or they would not be able to function with all the heartache they see day by day.

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 OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN HAS COMPASSION:


We have a Physician for our soul who gives His compassion freely. We can read of our Lord's compassion for the sick, the lost, and the grieving. Such love and compassion that He gave His own life for us, that we may be able to be saved from this painful world that is a product of Satan's evil influence on mankind.

And Jesus having come forth, saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion upon them, and did heal their infirm.  Matthew 14:14

In a survey given to doctors to list their complaints against patients, 32% listed that their patients are reluctant to discuss their symptoms (http://www.webmd.com/content/article/131/117990.htm) . Well, it's nice to hear almost 1/3 of doctors want to hear the symptoms, but I'm not surprised 2/3 of the doctors didn't list that. Most of the doctors I have gone to never seemed to want to hear all the symptoms; in fact when I was searching for a diagnosis 1 out of 11 actually listened to every symptom. I was usually cut off after the 5th or 6th symptom (I had many). And the one who did listen, had a couple of things wrong in his report, but it was an excellent letter he wrote so I forgive him. :-) This doctor, who listened, said there was no name he could give me for my illness, but he did tell me what was going on in my brain and other doctors who read his report called him "brilliant." Perhaps if more doctors would listen and not prejudge, there would be more "brilliance" in medicine.

In an article in New Yorker online magazine stated: Doctors typically begin to diagnose patients the moment they meet them. Even before they conduct an examination, they are interpreting a patient’s appearance: his complexion, the tilt of his head, the movements of his eyes and mouth, they way he sits or stands up, the sound of his breathing. Doctors’ theories about what is wrong continue to evolve as they listen to the patient’s heart, or press on his liver. But research shows that most physicians already have in mind two or three possible diagnoses within minutes of meeting a patient, and that they tend to develop their hunches from very incomplete information. When people are confronted with uncertainty—the situation of every doctor attempting to diagnose a patient—they are susceptible to unconscious emotions and personal biases, and are more likely to make cognitive errors. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/01/29/070129fa_fact_groopman?currentPage=4


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 OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN LISTENS TO US, HE HEARS US:

Our problems in life, our thoughts, our feelings, everything we think, say or do is understood by our Lord, there is never any guesswork. Our prayers are listened to and desired. We never have to worry if we are being misunderstood or if prejudice is being shown towards us (a favorite of some doctors with an undiagnosed housewife is that she's just depressed--after all what could she possibly enjoy about her life!).

For there is no respect of persons with God. Rom 2:11

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. Matt 6:8

A program in a few hospitals was developed to help teach medical students empathy and compassion by having them go through some of the difficulties of their patients and while you and I know there is no way they can truly understand unless they actually experience these difficulties day after day, I do appreciate the willingness to try and understand. The article about this was written in 1991 and you can find the article at : http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,974481,00.html?promoid=googlep

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OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN UNDERSTANDS US:

Our Great Physician does not have to be taught empathy and compassion as He has suffered in many ways and "was in all points tempted as we are." Our Great Physician is love for, "God is love." We know love "because He laid down His life for us,"1 John 3:16.

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Heb 2:17-18

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4:14-16

When faced with serious illness we don't want to give up hope, however, we also are realistic and understand there are some injuries and diseases that man has not found a cure for, nor have they found any type of treatment to help survival and we know death is imminent. Either way, no doctor can absolutely guarantee the best outcome for every patient and hope is sometimes precarious.

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 OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN ALWAYS GIVES HOPE:

Our Great Physician not only give us hope of eternal life, but guarantees it. Our hope, in our Lord, is assurance and confidence, knowing it can never be taken from us, unless we ourselves refuse it. This hope is our comfort and our strength of endurance in our daily trials.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9  v

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Job's Desire to Bring His Case Before God
Job 13:13-28

Job 13:13 - Hold Your Peace! Let Me Speak! Job has lost all confidence in the three men. He no longer wants to hear their empty speeches of misjudgments and cries for Job's repentance; he now wants to turn to God.

He tells the three he will stand before God as in a court of law:

Even if it means he is putting his own life into jeopardy (13:14-15). In NKJV,verse 15 reads: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." In ASV it reads, "Behold He will slay me; I have no hope." Wayne Jackson in "The Book of Job" and Homer Hailey in "A Commentary of Job" both agree that verse 16 helps to interpret this in the light that God, based on Job's integrity, would be the hope of his deliverance: "Job is saying that when he presents his case before Jehovah, even though he should do so at the cost of his life, he would still trust Him" (Homer Hailey in A Commentary of Job, pg. 126)

(2) When he presents his case, he will be vindicated, for he trusts God will hear him, knowing that a hypocrite could not stand before God. (vss. 16-18)

(3) Job has confidence that he can prove his righteousness.

(4) Job had two requests of God: The first, "Withdraw Your hand far from me," and second, "Let not the dread of You make me afraid." (vss. 20-21)

(5) Job desires to present his case to God and for communication to begin, whether he presents his case first or he is ready to listen to God's presentation.

(6) The topics of discussion that Job desires in this hearing is (1) For God to make known the iniquities that have stood between him and God (2) Why has God hidden His face from him (3) Why does God view Job as His enemy (4) Why does God pursue him as one who would use his time in chasing a leaf driven by the wind (5) Why does God write bitter things against him (6) Why does God hold his youthful sins against him (6) Why has God limited him physically or in understanding and (7) Why is he treated as a "rotten thing" that is soon to pass away.

Job longed to bring his case before God and to receive answers from God. Job's relationship with God was the most important thing in his life and he was deeply pained that, in his eyes, something had severed this relationship. His confusion about God seemed to be a greater trial than all his other trials put together. He longed for understanding, but for now, answers will not come and Job sinks even deeper into despondency.

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Think It's a Repetitive, Boring Conversation?
Think again!

We've reached the point in the book of Job where we may be tempted to skip over the chapters of seemingly endless, repetitive conversation and head to the end of the book. Why preserve this long, depressing conversation when Job's story could have been told in two or three chapters, or less? In fact, some of the greatest lessons in the Bible are taught in just a few verses, so why reveal what seems to be a repetitive, boring conversation that can be easily skipped and still get the essence of the story?

Skipping over the conversation is like viewing a painting of a landscape; we may admire the talent of the artist and see the beauty of his work, but we can't hear the birds singing, nor can we feel the warm gentle breeze and see the swaying of the trees. In other words, we don't get the entire picture of what the artist was actually experiencing as he was painting. In like manner, we would not see the entirety of Job's experience if these conversations were missing.

The conversations in the book of Job  bring out the reality of ongoing suffering. Those of us with chronic trials can feel the heaviness of Job as he has to listen to the arrogance and ignorance of the three men as they go on and on about Job's sin and need of repentance; we feel the sting of misjudgment. We know what it feels like to be tempted with questioning God's reason when we or our loved one continues to suffer. Our heart remembers that stab of pain, as we read how Job felt betrayed by his friends, when we remember our own friend's betrayal. Some of us may nod in understanding when we read how Job lost respect and became a repulsion to others. We feel Job's fatigue in the loss of sleep night after night and there are those whose heart goes out to Job because they have experienced physical pain that even morphine could not contain. This conversation brings to light the true nature of chronic suffering: tedious, wearisome, depressing, burdensome with a weight that seems like it could break you at any moment, challenging...constantly challenging, inconvenient, unyielding, lonely, comfortless, monotonous, wasteful, exhausting, and being left with a feeling like the world is passing you by and knowing it is.

We are not in Pollyannaism as we begin chapter 14. It is not time to give up on the tedious, gloomy conversation and skip to the end of the book in order for us not to get bored and stay in that positive frame of mind. It's time to get down in the pit with Job. It's time to feel his anguish and questioning spirit for if we gaze into his soul, we will understand the mind of a suffering man. We will feel comfort in that we aren't alone and we may even see our own spiritual weakness in our lack of trust and dependence on God. Job's questions are sometimes our questions.

The months to come are going to be dreary but let's not give up on Job. His suffering with these men and his own inner struggles were told to us for a reason. Evidently God knew it was important for us to hear this discussion, otherwise we would not have it today.

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REMEMBER, these are words from a suffering man, not an inspired man.

Job 14

Summary of 14:1-6 THE FUTILITY OF LIFE: Since man's life is brief, full of troubles, prone to sinfulness, his days being numbered by God as well as God placing limits on his boundaries, he wonders why such a frail thing as man is judged by God. He desires God to "look away" so that man may enjoy his day of work, looking forward to rest at the end of the day.

Job mentions man's brief life is "like a flower that fades away." Sound familiar? "All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it" (Isaiah 40:6-7) See also James 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:24,25

Summary of 14:7-12 HOPELESSNESS IN DEATH: There is hope for a tree that is cut down for it will sprout again, but man breathes his last, lies down and does not rise.

Remember, Job doesn't know as much as we do: Jn. 11:25, Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."

Summary of 14:13-17 THE UPS AND DOWNS: Job begins by wishing he could be hidden in the grave in hopes to have a second chance until God's "wrath is past." Job wonders and dares to hope that man will live again after death and God will desire the work of His hands (Job). As quickly as the light of hope begins to beam in his heart, the light fades back into despair as he believes his sins are sealed by God, in the sense God has not or will not reveal them to him. As long as his sins are hidden, there is no hope of recovery from God's condemnation. Job accuses God of destroying man's hope (his hope) and he ends his speech with the thought that man dies, no longer knowing the good and bad that happens on this earth.

This up and down state of Job is so typical of ongoing pain and illness. This is one of the great lessons we can learn from these conversations: to beware of the temptation of despair and loss of hope. How comforting it would have been to Job to hear Jesus say, "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me, though he die, he shall live." How blessed we are that we do, indeed, have these words, always providing hope to our weary souls.

Pat Gates




http://ourhopeonline.com

September/October 2017