In our study of Job chapter nine, we look at Job's search for someone to stand between him and God and bring them together in a right relationship.
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Then Job replied: 'Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God? Though they wished to dispute with him, they could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?'
Job had listened to Bildad speak about the religious traditions of their ancestors and he does not dispute the things that have been said. His assessment of the situation is that, although the things that were said were true, they did not speak to the problem that he was facing. We are reminded of the fact that what Job was dealing with was the problem of understanding why all these bad things were happening to a good man such as himself. He wishes for someone that could compare to God in wisdom that could step in and defend him in this matter. Here, we see a fundamental error in his understanding of God as He asks who could "prove their innocence before God". The Hebrew word that is translated here as "innocence" is "tsadaq" and it means "righteous". Tsadaq comes from the root word "tsadiyq" which literally means "a straight line". For a line to be perfectly straight, there can be no deviation between the beginning and the end. With this in mind, we see that Job does not see innocence as perfection which is God's standard. Instead, he looks at it based on a comparison to those that do not know God. In effect, Job sees that he is not perfect but he is pretty good compared to the wicked (ungodly). He goes on to acknowledge the fact that no man has the wisdom to match God but he still has questions that he wants answered. This same type of thing is widespread in our world today (even among Christians). We often lose sight of the fact that, on our own, not a single one of us is righteous (innocent) before God. This comparison of our lives with others in relation to God instead of comparing ourselves to His standard is commonly called relativism and is a favorite tool that the devil uses to deceive people.
'He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.'
Now, Job describes the sovereign power of God as he speaks of not only His creating things but also His control of all things. It is clear that Job understands the fact that God is in control but he does not understand that God's power is good and just. Even as Christians, we sometimes forget that God's power and goodness are not turned on and off like a light switch. We are often amazed at His power and many are afraid of His power because they forget the fact that He is also good. God can and will exercise His power for both good times and bad times but, in both cases, His goodness is still displayed. It is easy to see His goodness during the "good times" but we must also remember that during the "bad times" God is still looking out for us. We may not see or understand it but, by faith, we can rest assured that whatever is happening is allowed to happen for our own good.
'When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive .'
Job realizes that God is a spirit and not like some man as with many of the pagan gods. You can almost feel the sadness as Job feels that he cannot connect with God. Unlike us, Job did not have the Holy Spirit living in him and so he was limited in his ability to understand and connect with God.
'If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, "What are you doing?"'
We see that Job acknowledges the fact that God is sovereign and can do whatever He pleases but, once again, you get the feeling that he does not understand the goodness and justice of God.
'God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.'
Job continues to answer Bildad and uses an example from the history of Israel as "Rahab" refers to Egypt and the arrogance that Pharaoh showed in refusing to listen to God's instructions. Even with this example, we see that Job did not see the whole story as God did restrain His anger. Job saw that example as only wrath but He did not see the fact that God allowed Pharaoh ten chances to comply even when He could have simply imposed His will at the beginning.
'How then can I dispute with him? How can I find the words to argue with him? Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.'
Job gets to the right answer (God's mercy) but he still holds out the possibility of innocence before God. This self-righteous attitude is bordering on the arrogance that Pharaoh displayed as Job speaks of arguing and disputing with God.
'Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing. He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason. He would not let me catch my breath but would overwhelm me with misery.'
Now, Job has seriously crossed a line as he says that God would "multiply my wounds for no reason" instead of listening to Job's plea. He is now questioning the justice of God and, in doing so, is elevating himself to a position that is higher than God. Job speaks of misery and he was surely in a lot of physical misery but even worse is the spiritual misery that is described in this passage. This spiritual misery is the constant fear of doing something that will bring on the wrath of God in his life and it is a direct result of forgetting about God's goodness. The same sort of spiritual misery is evident in the lives of many Christians as they walk around worried about doing something that would cause them to "lose their salvation". We are reminded of the fact that God called us to a life of freedom in Jesus Christ instead of a life of fear and He has given us the Holy Spirit to reassure us of our status with Him. "Spiritual misery" does not have to be a part of our lives if we will choose to remember the goodness of God.
'If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty! And if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him?'
Job continues to speak of the despair of not being able to defend himself and his actions in the face of this perceived judgment. Once again, we see that he clearly understands the fact that God is all powerful but he does not see that the nature of God is goodness. We might be quick to judge Job as we have heard his story and know the outcome but we must also ask ourselves whether or not we sometimes fall into this trap of forgetting God's goodness.
'Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.'
The word that is translated here as "blameless" is "tam", in Hebrew, and it usually speaks of someone that is morally upright especially someone who is gentle (humble) in spirit. Now, Job speaks of the fact that, even if he was morally perfect, his own words would convict him in the eyes of God. Basically, what he is saying is that the very act of defending ourselves to God would be a sign of our arrogance (pride) and, in fact, a sin.
'Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life.'
Job continues by explaining that, even though he is " a moral man", he does not have the ability to see himself as he truly is down deep in his soul. He goes on to say that he stays away from the sins of the flesh for the most part but realizes that it is not enough for him to be able to stand before God. We remember that Job's friends have been accusing him of basically abandoning the faith of his ancestors and trying to hide his sin from them. Here, we see that he has not abandoned the faith of Abraham but he has a deeper understanding of that faith than his friends. His problem is the fact that he does not know of anyone who would have the status to speak to God on his behalf (he is searching for a mediator).
'It is all the same; that is why I say, "He destroys both the blameless and the wicked." When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent.'
At this point, Job does not see any benefit to being a "moral man" as he sees that, in the end, those who are upright are treated the same as those who apparently have no moral compass. He also sees that when both groups call out to God during their times of trials, His answer may or may not come but, if it does come, man cannot even understand it. This is the same type of feeling that happens, even among Christians of today. Have you ever asked yourself the question of: "Why do bad things happen to good people?" or "Why doesn't God answer my prayer and deliver me from this? That is basically what Job is going through and, as we have seen, he is not seeing the spiritual aspects of his current situation. The same type of thing can happen in our lives as we get caught up in the daily physical struggles with this world and lose sight of the fact that there are bigger things going on in the spiritual realm.
'When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?'
Job describes the fact that, in the past, God has judged nations but, even as He did, He did not show His face to those that were being sentenced. The Hebrew words "kacah" and "paniym" are translated, here, as "blindfolds" but that gives the wrong impression of what Job is describing. "Kacah" means conceals or hides while "paniym" basically means faces. Job is basically saying that those who are being judged are not even given the opportunity to see who is pronouncing the sentence on them. In this verse, we see that Job is basically wanting God to show up and pronounce his guilt and the penalty for it in person. Once again, we see that Job does not even hold out the possibility that his current situation is not a judgment from God but a testing of his faith for his own good.
'My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy. They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their prey. If I say, "I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile," I still dread all my sufferings, for I know you will not hold me innocent.'
Job continues by basically saying that he could just put on a happy face and pretend that he is doing fine but it would not change his circumstances. That reminds us that there is a difference between happiness and joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit that is based on our relationship to God while happiness can come and go based on our surroundings.
'Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain? Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with cleansing powder, you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me.'
Once again, Job is fixed on the physical things and cannot see that his current situation is not a judgment from God. He sees that he has no ability to appeal to God and so has resigned himself to the suffering.
'He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God's rod from me, so that this terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.'
Job longs for someone with the ability to bring him into a right relationship with God and this reminds us of just how wonderful it is to have Jesus Christ in our lives. Unlike Job, we do not have to feel the despair of being alone and without hope. Job understands the fact that, if he had this mediator and relationship, then, he could talk to God freely and we are reminded of the fact that we can take all of our cares and concerns to Him because of Jesus.