After a recess of several months it is well that we introduce our readers once again to the study of the Book of Job. By this time we realize that the study of the Scriptures is not popular—especially the study of the book of Job. It seems more suitable to many to confine their labors to the most simple and to a discussion of these which result in the expression of worn out platitudes. It always remains the work of the diligent few to persevere in the study of the Word of God. That is true in the churches in general and it is true in every society as well. Nevertheless, the work of the Gideon’s band must be continued.
For our own encouragement we ought to review the values and the benefits of the study of the book of Job. We can postulate, first of all, without any contradiction that this book is valuable for a special study for the child of God. This means we merely assume this because it is the Word of God. Such is the sweeping statement made by the apostle Paul to Timothy in II Tim. 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.
It follows from this that this book ought to be placed on the agendum of books for study for youth. If it is voiced that such is too difficult for youth, we ought to see that the consequence of such opinion is that later in life no more effort is put forth to ever master the difficult studies of the Word. It is exactly the time of life, in youth, before the evil days draw nigh when thou shalt say I have no pleasure in them. Youth, furthermore, is especially adapted by God to tackle such problems of life. They do not have the wisdom and judgment of the elders, yet it is the ripe age to begin their task. Besides the apostle Paul had in mind the instruction of youth in II Tim. 3:16 for vs. 17 speaks of the purpose, “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”. From this it follows that we never ought to omit any portion of the Word of God.
Let us consider a list of the benefits derived from a study of the book of Job.
- It gives us a glimpse into the soul struggles as well as physical suffering of an individual child of God. Job, under inspiration, gives us to know of his inmost doubts and fears, his intense soul agony and prayers.
- It teaches us about the attitude and arguments of mistaken Christians as they are represented by the three friends. If there is any argument in the Scripture for the common grace theory, it is the arguments of the three friends and the arguments further are clearly defeated in this book of Job.
- It opens to us the whole problem of suffering and evil. It tells us of the occasion, the course, the benefit and the outcome of the suffering of the righteous. It reveals to us something of the theodicy, with the deepest reason for suffering.
- The Book of Job typifies for us the sufferings of Christ and leads us to see the need for the Redeemer from our own point of view, as well as from God’s point of view. It makes the Christ and faith in Him, a historical reality in the faith of Job.
- It does all this for us in a most beautiful, poetical and penetration style. We should linger over it.
We cannot review the outlines and material that has been studied. Nevertheless, it may be profitable that we pause a moment to recall some of the outstanding passages of the book that we have encountered so far. We would list the following: Job 1:20, 21; 2:10; 8:20, 21; 13:15; 14:13, 14; 16:21; 19:25-27. Besides, there are many long and beautiful descriptions of reality that are worth remembering. You may have found many such words which you will be inclined to quote often.
“No Way Out”
The above theme seems to me to characterize the conclusion we must draw from this speech of Bildad in Chapter 25.
1. It expresses my impression because it is the last reply of the three friends and it leaves them without an answer to Job.
2. In the second place, it expresses “no way out”, because this last word of Bildad, amounts to just that conclusion for all mankind.
I. In this chapter Bildad briefly points to the power and holiness of God. He does this when he says, “dominion and fear are with him”. God has all dominion and also commands all to fear Him. He also has power to make peace in heaven, if there is war in heaven. To be sure therefore, He maketh wars to cease on earth. He has, moreover, hosts of armies to do His bidding. Angels are His ministers that do His good pleasure. And His light is given to all. Light is the symbol of all life and good things. Every good gift cometh from the Father of lights. To emphasize the holiness of God, Bildad compares it to the stars. “The stars are not pure in His sight”. From this correct view of God, Bildad, and therefore, the other Friends, draw the conclusion that man cannot be justified with God. This conclusion is found in vs. 4: “How then can man be justified with God? “ This is his conclusion because he also admits that man is totally depraved. Notice this also in vs. 4: “or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” and also in vs. 6: “How much less man, that is a worm and the son of man, which is a worm?”
Clearly, Bildad comes to the conclusion that there is no way out for mankind because man is corrupt and God is most holy and almighty.
II. A question arises in this connection. How is this last conclusion of Bildad consistent with the view of the three friends? Job had maintained his integrity, even though he was beset by many doubts and fears and affections towards God. While the three friends had maintained in an ever increasing intensity, (which was very interesting to follow) that Job was wicked. Yet these men had proposed almost in a Pelagian way that it was possible for Job in the way of confession and change of life to gain the favor of God. They were Pelagian, materialistic at times, confused and cruel, yet that seemed to be their point. Their comfort was that in their way there was a way out. Hence, the question, is this not inconsistent?
Our answer is, in the course of the arguments there is a change on both sides, both of Job and the three friends. The change of Job is a continual progress toward the light. The three friends shift their position to maintain their stand against Job. That is often the case with the opposition to the truth. The opposition is not as much interested in establishing a case so much as to break down the truth. For that reason within limits it will easily shift position. Here, in the debate the friends as a final despairing thrust now assume some of the self evident points and draw the conclusion which they think Job comes to, there is no hope. They mean to give this blow to Job, that there is no hope for him: but they have proved too much. They have said that which was not right of God and have shut off hope for all mankind. They point to God’s holiness and power and fail to see any hope of mercy and salvation.
1. This point of Bildad and the three friends, which they express almost in their bitterness is, in spite of themselves, their best contribution yet in the debate. It is the point we all are, first of all, confronted with in our desire for salvation. It is the point of the first part of the Heidelberg Catechism: Considering our sins and miseries, there is no way out. How real is the problem of the Catechism? Here is the same problem not merely discussed by a theologian, an instructor, but by a real individual tossed to and fro in the deepest darkness of the problem.
2. This point, although at first seemingly adding to our problem and suffering, is a contribution and a solution. It leads us to the way of God’s justification and salvation in the Redeemer.
3. This point is an appropriate beginning for our further study of the book of Job. It is the beginning of the solution to the problems.
This twenty-sixth chapter is the introduction of Job’s last speech, and we have called it a doxology. It is this because Job begins his parable with praise of the infinite greatness of God.
I. Job first criticizes the friends and especially the last speaker, Bildad (Vss. 2-4).
1. They have, he accuses, failed to help him who is helpless and without strength to help himself.
2. They failed also to counsel him who was without wisdom.
3. And they, instead, have given a detailed description of the reality as they saw it, which amounted to an impossible, pessimistic picture of reality. They could only point to the things of this life; “the thing as it is” and their best pictures were only vanity as they finally had to admit in the speech of Bildad.
4. He, in effect, says that his speech suffered from poverty of thought,–“to whom hast thou uttered words”. And further, he accuses Bildad of borrowing his thoughts from others,–“whose spirit came from thee?”
II. His doxology excels in praise and understanding of God’s glory (Vss. 5-13).
1. To understand the fifth verse we should read the Revised Version. Job is speaking about the inhabitants of the deep, or of the deceased, and of them he says that God’s power reached them, so that they tremble.
2. Deeper than the depths of the sea, or the shades of death, Job mentions that hell is naked to God. Nothing is hid from Him (vs.6).
3. More beautiful and accurate than any Copernicus ever could express it Job describes how the earth is upheld by God (vs. 7).
4. In vs. 8 Job speaks of the firmament, the waters above the clouds.
5. The throne of God is hid from us; it is the heaven of heavens (vs. 9). This corresponds to all the other passages of Scripture which speak of God’s dwelling place, and how that a cloud separates us from it.
6. God has bound the waters in their limits with such a perfect boundary as that which divides the night from the day.
7. The pillars of heaven are usually understood as the mountains of the earth, which reach to the heavens and therefore are called the pillars of heaven. These mighty mountains are even shaken at the voice of God.
8. In vs. 12 we are called to mind how that the power of God controls the mighty sea. He divides the sea and this reminds us of His dividing of the Red Sea. And He dashes to pieces the proud who oppose Him.
9. In vs. 13 we are taken to behold the works of God in the heavens. By His spirit He has garnished, or made beautiful the heavens with stars. By the crooked serpent we must think of the dragon constellation in the northern group of stars which circles between the two bears.
In this doxology we are taken from the depths to the heights, from earth and under the earth to the heavens to see how God rules over all. He is the sovereign Lord for Job. Job excels Bildad and the three friends in his observations of God’s wonders. These observations should come into the range of our meditations. Rather than stay within the four walls of a society social, we should be led to contemplate these great things of the universe, the works of God in their mysterious majesty and awesome power.
III. A fitting conclusion, vs. 14. After Job has described the glorious works of God, he concludes by saying that this is only part of His ways! We only have the extreme edge of His great work and hear only the whisperings of His world, says Job (Cf. Revised Version). The great things, the thunder of His power, we cannot understand. This is always a fitting conclusion to our doxologies.
His speech is thus called in the first verse. By this we must understand a proverb, or oracle, a speech of deep thought in an elevated tone.
I. His position maintained. With strong language Job reiterates his stand that he is innocent and that the charge of the friends is not true (vs. 1-6). In this we can see the error of Job. It was continued to the very last and suffered rebuke from Elihu and from God. It is not so much that Job was wicked, but Job is charging God with an injustice, vs. 2: “Who hath taken away my judgment”.
II. He next states his position as to the lot of the ungodly.
1. The lot of the ungodly is considered now as undesirable (vs. 7). This is the idea of “let my enemy be as the wicked”.
2. This is further expressed in vs. 8. There is no hope or gain for the unrighteous.
3. The awfulness of the lot of the wicked is that in their distress their cries are never heard by God (vs. 9).
4. The ungodly will never serve the Lord (vs. 10).
5. In vs. 11, Job emphasizes that he will give the truth concerning the lot of the wicked, after it has been a subject of debate between them.
6. In vs. 12, Job reproves them for not seeing that which is so evident.
7. From vss. 13-23, he once more goes into a detailed description about the lot of the wicked. a) It is the portion of the wicked as they really receive it from the hand of God. They who are here in this life oppressors shall in the day of judgment receive their just reward (vs. 13). The children of the ungodly also shall suffer (vs. 14). We are reminded of the judgment of God unto the third and fourth generation. We can see, too, how that the children of warlike nations must perish with the sword of those who rise up in inevitable revolt. c) The judgments of the wicked shall be so awful that the widows of those slain shall not weep. Their grief is too shocking (vs. 15). The riches of the wicked are not for his enjoyment. If he thinks that when he lies down to rest he shall rise again for another day, he shall be disappointed in death. And his death is a terror. e) In vss. 20-22 the final fate of the ungodly is described as complete and awful destruction. Notice the expressions used, “A tempest stealeth him away in the night”. This is sudden and inevitable death. “The east wind carrieth him away”. The east wind is the most violent of all winds, in western Asia. Finally notice how that Job finishes the pictures of awful judgment by saying, “For God shall cast upon him and not spare; he would fain flee out of his hand”. We are reminded of the word of the apostle to the Hebrews, “It is terrible to fall into the hands of the living God”. Also of the words of Jesus, “Then shall they say to the mountains, fall on us”. f) Finally, men also shall despise him (vs. 23). God and men are against the wicked.
III. The question is does Job change his position here from his former position in which he described the wicked as having a prosperous life, in which he expressed himself similar to Asaph? The answer is that apparently he changes his position. But fundamentally it is the same. Before it was the view apparent to us often, which view he desired his friends to consider in their mistaken view. He here gives the real lot of the wicked.