Day 22, 23. The Government’s announced we’re exiting lockdown next week!
17 [Job]: “Keep listening to my words,
and my declaration in your ears.
18 Look, I have arranged a legal case (lit: judgement),
I know that it is I who am right.
19 Who is he who will contend with me?
For now, I will keep silent and expire.
20 Only two [things] do not grant to me,
Then from Your face I will not hide:
21 Your hand upon me – take it far away,
and your dread – stop terrifying me [with it].
22 Then call, and I myself will answer,
or I will speak, then respond to me!
- Job wants his day in court with God. He’s not content to suffer without an explanation. Notice the legal language again in verse 18, when he tells his friends that he’s “arranged a judgement”, and calls for a court to convene. Verse 22 seems to indicate he is happy to either serve as defendant (call, then I’ll answer) or prosecutor (I’ll speak, then respond).
23 How many are [my] iniquities and sins?
My transgressions and sins help me know.
24 Why do you hide your face,
and count me as your enemy?
25 Why do you terrify a leaf driven away,
And pursue dry chaff?
26 For you write against me bitter things,
And cause me to inherit the iniquities of my youth.
27 And you set in shackles my feet and watch all my paths,
The soles of my feet you have imprinted.
28 And this one (lit: he), like rottenness, wears out,
like a garment a moth has eaten.
- Job begins to “prosecute” God. He doesn’t deny being a sinner (v23), but wants God to show why he’s suffering right now.
- In verse 26 Job reiterates the “bitterness” of his suffering (see 3:20, 7:11, 9:18).
- He describes God as “watchful” (v27) but in an overbearing way.
- It seems “UnChristian” to complain to God, but actually Job reveals his underlying trust that only God can solve his case.
14:1 Man, born of woman,
Short of days, and full of agitation.
2 Like a flower comes forth then withers,
He flees like a shadow and does not stand.
3 Indeed, upon this one do you open your eyes?
And do you bring me before you in judgement?
4 Who can give a clean thing from unclean? Not one.
5 If man’s days are determined, the number of his months [are] with You,
His limits You have made, and he cannot pass it.
- Job switches back to his existential anguish (e.g. chapter 3). He returns to his thoughts of the futility and difficulty of human life. In verse 1, Job has mentioned this “agitation” in verse 14 earlier, when lamenting how in the grave the wicked cease their agitation (3:17).
6 Gaze away from him and let him rest,
Until he enjoys, like a hired man, his day.
7 Since there is, for a tree, hope —
if it is cut down, then it will sprout again,
and its shoots will not cease.
8 If its roots grow old in the earth,
and its stumps die in the soil,
9 On account of the smell of water it will break out,
And make branches like a new plant.
10 But a man dies and is weak,
Man expires — where is he?
11 As waters disappear from the sea,
and a river wastes and dries up,
12 So man lies down and does not arise
until the heavens are no more they do not awake,
And they are not roused from their sleep.
- Job’s reflections here are like the opposite of Psalm 8 (e.g. “What is man that you are mindful of Him?”) There’s nothing like reflecting on a tree that’s hundreds of years old, to recognise our mortality before God. Creation speaks of God’s majesty, yet it does also speak of our smallness and weakness. But perhaps that’s an important perspective we need when suffering tempts us to think it’s all about me.
- So is Job wanting God to “leave him alone” (v6), or to show His face? (13:24)? I think like Job, we too can oscillate between the two when we’re going through a tough time (“Go away God! Show yourself God!”). Suffering is messy, and Job is honest about how bitter his life is right now.
13 Oh (lit: who will give), that you would hide me in Sheol,
and shelter me until the turning of your anger,
Set me a time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, will he live [again]?
All of the days of my service I will wait,
Until my relief comes.
15 You will call, and I, I will answer you,
you will long for the work of your hands.
16 Then now you will count my steps,
You will not watch over my sin.
17 My transgressions will be sealed up in a bag, and you would paint [lit: plaster] over my iniquity.
- I love verse 14. It’s honest Job wrestling with the question of whether there is life after death. Because of a greater suffering servant, Jesus, when a man dies, he will certainly live again in Him. Where, O death, is your sting?
18 But as a mountain falling crumbles,
and a rock is moved from its place,
19 [as] waters weather stones,
Torrents flow over the soil of the land,
So the hope of man you destroy.
20 You overpower him forever and he goes,
You change his face and send him away.
21 His sons are honoured but he does not know,
Or they are brought low and he does not discern it.
22 Only his flesh has will be in pain upon himself,
And his self — over it he mourns.
- While Job will keep searching for hope and vindication after death in future chapters, for now Job still mourns his condition here and now. His reflections in verses 21-22 that death separates us from the good and bad in our earthly life is mirrored in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6: “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.”
- One of the ways coronavirus is working in people’s lives is to remind everyone of our mortality. Just read a new obituary section called “Those We’ve Lost” in the NY Times — they’re sweet, sobering and poignant reflections. Yet one day, we all must die. Do we have hope for life after that? Only the Christian message can offer answers to this age-old question.