Job, amid his sufferings desired above all one thing, namely, that he might either find a talisman (lawyer) to plead his cause with God, or that he himself might appear before God to set his arguments in order before His face. More than once we hear him lamenting: “O that I might find Him,” and again, “O that one would hear me, my desire is that the Almighty would answer me”, and again, “O that one might plead for a man with God as a man pleadeth with his neighbor”. It is evident that Job desires to get into the Court House, bring his arguments there, and, being justified over against his three friends, at least have the satisfaction of seeing the truth vindicated before he died of this awful disease. Withal, however, notice that Job would like to talk with God as a man pleadeth with his neighbor.
Job’s cause is indeed a righteous one. The three friends were wrong when they argued that his disease came upon him for some certain sin to which he cleaved. They accused him falsely when they mention certain sins by name and concluded that Job must have indulged in such sins. They were wrong. God Himself testifies that Job is a righteous man, that is, he is not guilty of the sins that were mentioned. Job himself is SO convinced of his integrity in this matter that he cries out that: until he die he will not let loose of his righteousness. Neither does God ever demand that he let loose of it.
So Job wants to carry his cause into God’s presence and he desires that the Judge of heaven and earth should vindicate him before his wife, the three friends, the devil and all.
Job intimated more than once that he could desire to argue with God about all that had taken place. “0 that I could find Him”, he exclaims. (He looked for God everywhere, before him, behind him, above him, everywhere, but he could not find God. In the meantime the disease was consuming him, his friends seemed to be triumphing. . . .O that he could get his arguments before God ere it is too late.
If he cannot find God, would then that He would appear. Job would welcome His appearance, he would rejoice and be glad. He wants to talk with God.
As a neighbor talketh with his neighbor, that way Job would like to talk with God.
But God does not appear.
And Job grew more and more impatient.
Have you never, dear reader, felt a desire in your heart to argue with God? To talk with Him as a neighbor talks to a neighbor? A desire to see Him, that He would make His appearance so that you could arrange your arguments before His face? If your cause is a just one and you are convinced that your cause is just, haven’t you ever felt the desire rising in your heart that God would come to vindicate truth over against unrighteousness?
There is present with Job a certain frame of mind, a mental attitude wherein he places God in the “neighborly” plane, on the man-to-man plane, on the “seeing” plane instead of faith’s plane. Job revered God with extreme awe for he loved his God, but he wanted to “talk to God” and on that point Job has to be careful, and Job no doubt had to learn these things through his sufferings.
A Course of Instruction
It is while Job is in that frame of mind that God does suddenly appear to His servant Job. The Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, we read.
The first thing, as it were, God says to him is, “Job, you don’t talk WITH me, I talk TO YOU.” Not the plane of neighbor to neighbor, but the plane of sovereign and dependent. God is not someone on a communicable level, surely He is not one to whom we can run with arguments as if God needed light, correction or instruction. God is not a utilities concern or head of a public service, but God is God. Job was a saint who lived in the very early morning of the day of God’s revelation, and the very suffering of Job must impress him and all who read this Book with the eternal fact that God is God, and this fact must become more and more emphatic as revelation goes on.
One might expect the book of Job to end with an oration by God declaring the relation between time and eternity, between the righteous and the wicked, the now and the then, but nothing of the kind takes place.
God is God.
And man is man.
Dust must not talk. God talks and man listens.
When therefore God begins to talk to Job we find God asking him a hundred questions. And the first thing we find is that Job falls upon his face and says, “BEHOLD, I AM VILE,” and at once he follows this with “I will lay my hands upon my mouth”. But God continues to talk to Job. In a little while we hear Job saying, “Declare thou unto me” and finally he concludes with these well-known words, “I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes”. Job is now a long ways away from the man-to-man frame of mind, no more does he think in terms of “neighborly conversations” and arguments. Job is on his face. He found himself an ash-heap and the longer God talked the more he buried himself in the ashes.
That is the proper attitude for the creature to assume toward the being called God. No other attitude befits the reverence which belongs to God.
God must be acknowledged as the Infinite, the sovereign, the wholly other, the Independent.
Man as the finite, the dependent, dust.
God must be seen as in heaven, robed in majesty and glory, thousands of holy angels forming His train. Man in the dust, hiding among the ashes.
Even our Lord Jesus Christ realized it His task to humble Himself into the lowest hell, knew it His calling to become utterly nothing before God, and He succeeded in becoming a worm and no man. At that point He was exalted above the highest heavens.
In Christ there is fulfilled what is faintly exhibited in the course of Job’s instruction, and although the Book of Job ends with a thousand questions, with no answers, Golgotha after while supplies the answer.
But to return to the point.
God the Infinite . . . man the finite.
God’s Method of Instruction
It is important to notice now what means the Lord used to lead Job to that proper attitude of humility before Him. Noteworthy it is to see along which way the Lord moved to gender in Job that frame of mind which is so acceptable to Him.
God as it were sets Job on a chair and lets creation pass before his eyes. God calls upon the mighty works of His hands to bring Job to the acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and man’s finiteness.
God sometimes lets His mighty acts in history, such as the Exodus, the travels through the desert, the crossing of the Jordan, the conquest of Canaan, etc., pass in review before His people, to amaze and assure and humble them. But in this instance God calls upon the very elements of creation to impress His servant with His majesty and greatness.
(to be continued)