Job finishes his defense. He poses his final defense of himself to his friends and to God. And he also added a LOT of ‘ifs’ in his defense.
When I first glanced at this chapter I noticed the ‘ifs’ spread all over the pages. Without reading it I assumed that Job was covering his bases and repenting for any sin that he might have done, even one done unwittingly. But that is not what these ‘ifs’ mean. They are a meant to draw his friend’s eyes to his actual deeds in life. Job IS NOT the ‘wicked’ man his friends now claim him to be!
Job shows his character by drawing his friend’s attention to examples of his conduct over his lifetime. He even shares that his godly conduct began in his youth. I wonder how old he was when he learned of the Lord and began cultivating a relationship with Him.
I FULLY believe Job had a relationship with God for NO man could maintain the integrity of his heart without a relationship with his Creator. Job is counting on that relationship to get him out of the trouble he is in. Surely the God he serves knows his steps intimately. “Does not He see my ways and number all my steps?” (verse 4). This is indeed a rhetorical question as he KNOWS his God does. He has observed it all his life.
The acts that Job recounts to his friends reminds me of Jesus’ words about the separating the goats and sheep in the end. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’” (Matthew 25:34-36). These things Job has done ‘since his youth’. “For from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father, and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow” (verse 18).
Job was generous with what he had. He did not eat and scoff at the beggar at his door as the rich man did with Lazarus. He gave clothes to those in need, even shearing wool from his own sheep. No travelers slept in the streets in the town of Job for he opened his home to them. His servants knew that if they brought any concerns to him they would be immediately addressed. He did not put his trust or faith in what he had but gave from it freely. He used the blessings God had given him to bless others.
Job was not only outwardly righteous but his heart was pure also. He didn’t even look at another woman so as not to lust after her. Nor did he entertain thoughts of worshiping other gods. These are things that he demanded of his own heart. Things that could be hidden away secretly; at least for a time. Job knew that such thoughts and desires would one day be revealed if allowed in his heart. He refused to open the door to such things in his life through deliberate discipline.
Even now, when those he used to look down on spit on him, he does not sin against them asking for their destruction. This includes his three friends who keep condemning him. Job maintains his innocence and asks only he be judged by his conduct. “Let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!” (verse 6).
How I wish I could raise the same argument as Job! But I know I would fail the tests he set out for himself. He not only asserted these acts were true of his life but invited judgment if they weren’t. He was ready to pay the penalty if he had in fact sinned. For he knew the wages of sin, even those imposed by man. He was ready to account for his actions. And truly wanted to be judged for them.
God KNOWS our steps. He KNOWS our hearts. And He KNEW Job’s. I’m still waiting to know the lesson God has in store for him. I KNOW it’s coming and I’m looking forward to learning it with him.
Father God, thank You for Your stories and Your lessons. I trust You to bring about the lessons I need when I need them. I know that not everything bad that happens in my life isn’t a consequence of my sin but is an opportunity for me to grow.
I trust You to know my heart too. Even right now when I keep being distracted by all that is going on around me instead of focusing on our time. I’m sorry Father for not giving You the undivided attention You deserve. I am still looking forward to seeing the lesson waiting for Job.