Would You Condemn Me to Justify Yourself?

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Job 38-42[1]

After God and Satan’s discussion about Job, Satan brought Job to poverty, killed all of his children and then destroyed his health. God accepted the blame for everything Satan did yet remained silent as Job and his comforters discussed what caused Job’s suffering.

Job’s comforters were confident his sins brought suffering into his life. If he repented, God would make everything right again. God said nothing about Job’s sins when he spoke to Satan. He spoke well of Job, calling him a blameless and upright man who fears God and shuns evil.

We can fear God without loving him. In eight long speeches Job insisted he had done nothing wrong. According to Job God sinned against him.[2] He wanted to confront God in court to learn what he had done wrong, but Job was sure he would not get a fair trial from the rich and powerful Almighty God.[3]

He also wanted his words recorded so everyone would know the injustice committed against him.[4] God gave Job what he desired. Thousands of years later, I can read the words of a perfect, blameless man who failed to overcome the sin that opened the door to death. A man so arrogant he challenged the wisdom of the one who gives wisdom and understanding.

God responded to Job’s tirade with questions instead of answers. He did not justify himself to Job. Through a series of questions, God established himself as the creator of everything and inquired where Job was when decisions about creation were being made. He informed Job that the one who created everything does not owe anyone anything because everything belongs to the creator. Then he paused for Job to respond. Job acknowledged that he was not as smart as he thought he was and had said too much already. He opted to remain silent.

God filled the silence with more questions. He started his second response with a question that exposed Job’s failure to love. “Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”[5] Job may have been perfect and blameless but he had the same problem Adam and Eve did. The first man and woman condemned God as a liar who withheld good things from his creation. Job condemned him as an unjust tyrant who torments his creation without reason.

Love believes the best. Satan believed the worst of Job. Job’s comforters believed the worst of Job. God alone believed the best. He never condemned Job even in his response to Job’s accusations. He only asked questions that challenged Job to examine his heart for the impurity his good deeds had hidden from view.  

In God’s second series of questions he reminded Job there are many things on earth greater than humanity. If we cannot conquer what God has created what makes us think we are stronger and wiser than God? He also asked Job if he could humble the proud and crush the wicked. If he could do that God would admit Job could save himself.[6] But a proud man has no defense against proud men.

Job’s only hope of salvation from a life of poverty and bitterness was accepting the truth about God. He finally realized and admitted he had established his perfect, blameless service to God on “crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”[7] Now that Job had firsthand knowledge from God himself, he repented in dust and ashes. God’s response to slander was remarkably restrained and gracious. He brought Job to repentance without condemnation and restored him to a right relationship.

God turned his attention to Job’s comforters. They were not as wise as they thought they were. He said to Eliphaz, who started the discussion; “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me…”[8] Human anger seeks retaliation. God’s anger sought restoration. He instructed them to offer a sacrifice and then tested Job’s repentance and humility by requiring Job to pray for them.

God never blamed Satan for the tragedy that befell Job. He accepted the blame for allowing suffering to destroy the wall of religious arrogance that separated Job from God. After Job repented, he doubled everything Job lost. Then he gave the man who accused God of being a sinner another 140 years to enjoy life and serve God with truth and love instead of fear. 

[1] All scripture quotes are from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Job 19:6

[3] Job 9:32-35, Job 13:3

[4] Job 19:23-24

[5] Job 40:8

[6] Job 40:11-14

[7] Job 42:1-6 Message Bible

[8] Job 42:7

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