Today: [Job Twenty-Four] Are You Self Righteous? In this chapter Job complains that God let’s the wicked get away with murder while he suffers unfairly. This is a common error that we all make at times. The wicked suffer and we feel it is God’s justice. We suffer and we feel it isn’t fear and we question “why God”. Are you self righteous? Do you think you are undeserving of some difficulty that may be pressing on your life? In Job’s complaint he reveals a deeply held belief in his own justification. In see this in Job’s life we have opportunity to excise the same attitudes from our own thinking.
[Job 24:1-25 KJV] 1 Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days? 2 [Some] remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed [thereof]. 3 They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge. 4 They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together. 5 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. 6 They reap [every one] his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked. 7 They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that [they have] no covering in the cold. 8 They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter. 9 They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor. 10 They cause [him] to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf [from] the hungry; 11 [Which] make oil within their walls, [and] tread [their] winepresses, and suffer thirst. 12 Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly [to them].
In the beginning of this chapter Job asks the question “since God knows and sees everything when will he justify the righteous and punish the guilty?” To which we might follow up with the question “are you volunteering?” Job’s complaint comes out of the heart of a man who is convinced he is in the right and worthy of nothing other than the blessing of God. The very nature of religious culture is to justify the faithful and condemn the offenders. Is this God’s perspective? Job concludes the first part of his remarks observing that the wicked do wickedly “yet God layeth not folly to them.” Job is not praising God or commending God’s loving kindness in so doing. Job is suffering and basically saying to God “go pick on someone else!”
So there are two questions brought up here: 1.) Is God causing Job’s suffering? No. Job 1:11-12 and 3:35 plainly tell us that Job’s fear made him vulnerable to suffering in spite of God putting a hedge of protection around him for a time to give him space to change his heart. 2.) Does God let evil men escape judgment? Why does He not destroy the wicked on a timetable that satisfies the believer’s sense of justice?
Again the biggest problem here is the “us” versus “them” perspective inherent in a religious mentality. Consider the words of Paul:
[Rom 3:9-18 KJV] 9 What then? are we better [than they]? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat [is] an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps [is] under their lips: 14 Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet [are] swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery [are] in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
What Paul goes on to say in v. 23 is that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Rom. 11:32 says that God looked upon all as being in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all. God’s mercy is extended to us not on the basis of our moral excellence or spiritual quality. God’s mercy is extended to us on the basis of who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us 2000 years ago on the cross. To look out upon a sin sick world and question God’s forbearance to judge is an indication that we think that our own religious performance garners God’s blessing just as the transgression of the wicked merits His punishments. Both perspectives are wrong.
Our righteousness is in Christ – not in our Christian character. Our Christian character is not the basis of God’s blessing it is the benefit of God’s blessing. God blesses us in our depraved state and causes us by the influence of His spirit to become something other than we are because of His mercy. Therefore we cannot look upon the wicked and see ourselves as being so different than they. The mercy of God is extended to all – we have simply accepted the overture of what God did for us in Christ. If we judge the sinner we condemn ourselves. Thus Job in decrying the seeming lack of God’s swift justice against the wicked only serves to condemn and expose his own hypocrisy and self justification.
13 They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof. 14 The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief. 15 The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth [his] face. 16 In the dark they dig through houses, [which] they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light. 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. 18 He [is] swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards. 19 Drought and heat consume the snow waters: [so doth] the grave [those which] have sinned.
Job rambles on describing the wicked and declaring that the grave will consume them because of their transgression. However what about those that came out of Egypt with Moses? These were come-outers. They rejected the leeks and garlics of Egypt. They were by any definition that body of people who belonged to God in the earth. Yet all but 2 of 1000’s died in the desert. Why? Heb. 4:6 says they entered not in because of unbelief. This was Job’s problem. He had a crisis of faith that caused him to fear (Job. 3:35). The fear in his life was an indication of a character issue deep within him that Job 32:1 reveals was in reality self righteousness. Many people read Job and conclude that he was perfect with an unimpeachable integrity before God. Taking the whole book in context that is a wrong conclusion. Job was fearful. He was insecure. When put under pressure he blamed God and excused himself.
Remember that the events in Job occurred long before Moses wrote the Pentetuech. It is highly possible that Job is the first book of the bible written. If that is so then from Abraham to Moses this was the only inspired book that was in their possession and handed down from generation to generation. What are it’s lessons? When we look in our heart during a time of trial and trouble let us guard ourselves from questioning God and becoming angry at God or blaming God for what the enemy is doing in our lives. We may think we don’t deserve our situation. We may be of the opinion that there is nothing in our lives that would open us up to a difficult trial. We may think this so deeply that it influences our view of God and give us in our mind legitimate reason to mis-trust or pervert the clear promises He makes in His word. This may be the temptation but in so doing we only deceive ourselves and unfairly disparage the loving kindness of our Father.
20 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. 21 He evil entreateth the barren [that] beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow. 22 He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no [man] is sure of life. 23 [Though] it be given him [to be] in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes [are] upon their ways. 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. 25 And if [it be] not [so] now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?
Job concludes his remarks challenging his three friends to prove him a liar. His whole contention is that God allows the righteous to suffer and the wicked to go unpunished. He basically says “if God is God and if God is who He says He is then He is unjust because I am suffering and the wicked are getting off unscathed…” Here we see the absence of the love of God in Job’s life. If the wicked suffered as his suffering he would look on with a sense of acknowledgment of what he would consider the just actions of a righteous God. In other words when others suffer he approved but when he suffers it isn’t fair. We must guard ourselves against such thinking. God concludes all in unbelief. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. If we have God’s blessing in our lives it says something about His grace and loving kindness rather than some commendation of our supposed moral excellence or spiritual quality. This is one of the strongest themes in Job – to avoid at all cost the self righteousness and self justification that arises at times when we are under pressure and suffering.
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