Today: [Job Ten] Was it Necessary for Job to Suffer? In this chapter Job insists that God is plaguing him unfairly. Job’s friends on the other hand insist that Job is in sin otherwise he would not be going through all of his trouble. Which is correct? Is Job a righteous man being tested by God? Or is he in sin and being punished by God? Is this God, or the Devil? Or is there another place where Job’s vulnerability to suffer originates that could suggest that none of what he went through was even necessary?
[Job 10:1-22 KJV] 1 My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. 2 I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me. 3 [Is it] good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? 4 Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth? 5 [Are] thy days as the days of man? [are] thy years as man’s days, 6 That thou enquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin? 7 Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and [there is] none that can deliver out of thine hand.
In the previous chapter and in this chapter Job continues to answer Bildad. Bildad in his remarks echoes the criticism of Job and the insistence that Job must be in sin because (in Bildad’s view) the suffering of Job is at God’s hand and therefore Job must have done something to provoke God’s anger and is being justly punished.
In this chapter Job again expresses his exhaustion. He has suffered great loss and his body is also ravaged with boils. In verse two he addresses not the men with him but God Himself. He askes God not to condemn him. He asks God to show him what he has done to provoke such terrible suffering which Job (in agreement with his friends) believes originates with God as well. If you read what the commentators say about this book you will find they also agree with Job, Bildad, Elipaz and Zophar that it is God that is plaguing Job. Of all the contention in the book itself and in the views of the various scholars in the book the majority seem to agree on this – whatever the reason Job is suffering it is God doing it to him.
First of all is God mad at Job? In Job 1:8 we see that is not true. In this verse when Satan challenges God concerning Job – the Father describes him as an upright man, even a perfect man, who fears God and declines from evil. So whatever Bildad and Job’s other friends may believe we know from the perspective of the divine narrative that God is not made at Job. What can we learn from this? Just because someone is suffering does not mean they are suffering because of wrongdoing in the eyes of God. When you go through a trial it is natural to ask “what did I do wrong?” The fact is that suffering is no indiciation that you have done anything wrong. We live in a fallen world. This world is a battlefield spiritually speaking and there are many factors that come into consideration regarding the origin of human suffering.
Is one of the factors of human suffering that it originates with God. Job asks God to explain why He is contending with Him. Job and his friends agree that it is God doing this. Is this true. When Job uses the word “contention” to describe God’s posture toward him – he is describing God as an opponent and an adversary. Is this true? Is God the adversary or is the devil the adversary? What do we see God doing in the book of Job? The only thing we see God doing in the book of Job is putting a hedge around Job (Job 1:10). When Satan challenges God and calls on God to harm Job God’s reply in Job 1:12 is to point out that Job was already in Satan’s hand (which was why God was protecting him). Why was Job in Satan’s hand? Because Job 3:25 shows Job confessing fear – in fact saying that the thing he feared had come upon him.
In verse 3 Job says that God is oppressing him. Is this true? Is God the oppressor? In verse 6 he accuses God of putting him through these sufferings in order to find something wrong with him. Is this true? Is God oppressing Job? No, we have shown in the paragraph above this is not true. Is God testing Job to see if he will sin? James wrote that God does not do this:
[Jas 1:13 KJV] 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
In thinking that God is tempt him Job reveals his view of God. He sees God as having a predilection to condemn man rather than to love man. In v. 7 Job insists that God knows he is not in sin and knows that he is not wicked, however Job continues, even though God knows he is a just man He is brutalizing him anyway (unfairly in Job’s eyes) and therefore there is no escape.
8 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. 9 Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? 10 Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? 11 Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. 12 Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. 13 And these [things] hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this [is] with thee. 14 If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.
In v. 8 Job acknowledges that God made him and fashioned him and doesn’t understand why then God is working to destroy him. Note the exaggeration: is Job destroyed? No. Is God working to destroy him? No. Who is the destroyer? Satan. Many people would argue with this and quote many scriptures where they see God raining down just destruction upon hapless victims, however remember the following verse:
[Luk 9:56 KJV] 56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save [them]. And they went to another village.
When Jesus came the purposes of God henceforward were constrained within the limits of His character and He plainly says it is not his will to destroy. So if you are going through something destructive it is not God doing it. If you see someone else suffering, even if you think they are suffering for rejecting Christ or committing evil it is not God doing it. From the day that Jesus was born God has done nothing outside of Christ and Jesus states plainly that he is not the destroyer.
Job goes on to ask God to remember that he is but flesh and blood. He suggests that God has overlooked his frailty as a mere man. Is this true? Is God ignoring the humanity of Job? Heb. 4:15 tells us that God is touched through Christ with the feeling of our infirmities and in Ex. 20:6 that he shows mercy and lovingkindness to thousands. In both the Old and New Testament God consistently is seen as a merciful God who is mindful of our limitations. Therefore in fact God has not forgotten Job’s human frailty. It is not God putting Job through this. Job placed himself through unreasoning fear in a place of vulnerability that attracted Satan to him. The only thing we see God doing is lifting the hedge off of Job – not because He is mad at him but because of Job’s persistent fear that eventually places him in a position that God would have to violate his own character to continue protecting him from the fear that he won’t let go of.
[2Ti 1:7 KJV] 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
The fear that Job had concerning the destruction of his family did not come from God. Job entertained ungodly fear. He was a worrier. Worry consumed him. Rev. 21:8 says that fear is a sin and not some unchangeable psychological defect. Why is fear a sin? Because it challenges the understanding of the love of God and suggests that God cannot be trusted. Therefore because Job allowed this fear to continue day by day eventually in spite of all that God did to bless Job and prove His goodness consequences would result – not because God was being unreasonable but because Job chose to be unwilling in fact to see himself as unable to eliminate the fear in his life.
Was Job unable to remove fear in his life? What about you? Are you a worrier? Do you fear problems? Are you always waiting for “the other shoe to drop?” Is this an attack of the enemy causing you to fear or is it something you are responsible for? Should others feel sorry for you because you are in fear or should you take responsibility and do something about it? Paul said this:
[2Co 10:5 KJV] 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
In the bible you will find 365 “fear not” statements. One for every day of the year. This is obviously then something that we can do something about and something that Job could have but did not deal with. God is not plaguing Job. God is not mad at Job. God is not persecuting an innocent Job. Job has sown thoughts of fear that he did not deal properly with and is therefore suffering unnecessarily.
15 If I be wicked, woe unto me; and [if] I be righteous, [yet] will I not lift up my head. [I am] full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction; 16 For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou shewest thyself marvellous upon me. 17 Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war [are] against me. 18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! 19 I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. 20 [Are] not my days few? cease [then, and] let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, 21 Before I go [whence] I shall not return, [even] to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; 22 A land of darkness, as darkness [itself; and] of the shadow of death, without any order, and [where] the light [is] as darkness.
In verse 15 Job declares that he is confused about the whole ordeal he is facing. In v. 16 he tells God that He is hunting him as a fierce lion who will not relinquish the prey. Is God hunting Job as a lion? Is there anyone who does enter our life in such a way? Peter no doubt was thinking of the book of Job when he penned the following words:
[1Pe 5:8 KJV] 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
So what is Job doing? He is attributing the works of the devil to God. This is very nearly the classic definition of blasphemy. Blasphemy is attributing the works of God to the devil. Job comes very close to this as do we all when we see the work of the devil and say that it is God doing it. Is God the roaring lion preying upon the souls of men? No – this is the work of the devil. It is the devil that is tormenting Job and unfortunately Job and his friends all think without pause that it is God doing it. There is at this point in Job no indication that they even believe the devil exists much less that it is he that is harming Job because of Job’s failure to deal with fear, unreasoning fear in his own life.
In v. 17 Job declares that God is bringing witnesses against him as a prosecutor. Is God doing this? Is God the accuser or is the devil? Job conclused his remarks by wishing for death and describing the world around him as being without order in complete chaos. Is the world around Job in chaos. No God is still in control. What is going on then? Job has made himself vulnerable by unreasoning fear and worry and therefore is suffering unnecessarily.
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