So far in the book of Job, we have seen the title character suffer miserably, not only from the disease with which he has been afflicated from the devil, but from his three friends, who are convinced that his physical circumstances are God's judgment for unconfessed sin, which Job must certainly be hiding. They have all verbally torn him to pieces, accusing him of gross wrongdoing, and promising him healing if he would simply confess.
Job has responded that they have injured him severely with their words when they should be offering comfort. He is not aware of any sin deserving such a punishment, and has asked what more could he do to be righteous? If he, with his attempts to be blameless before God and man, is deserving of such affliction, then what will the average person do?
As we finished chapter 19, Job warned his three friends that they'd better be afraid to claim to speak for God, since they were spewing false doctrines and wrong assertions. They were in danger of the judgment of God.
Zophar answers, "Job, I just heard you attempt to rebuke me, but the fact is that this kind of affliction is God's judgment on the wicked. You had a time of being wealthy and seemed to be blessed. But now God is giving you what you deserve."
Job's response was, "I'm going to speak, and you can mock me afterwards. Look at me, I'm so horrifying in appearance that it even disturbs me when I remember what I look like."
"Your assertions are wrong. Look around, guys. The wicked are prospering all around us. Even the ones who verbally confirm that they have no need for God, no desire for God, and no respect for God."
"Realistically guys, how often have you seen the Lord wreak vengeance upon those who are so blatantly anti-God?
Job continues, "You guys claim that God is repaying everyone for their deeds on this earth. But the obvious fact is that sometimes wicked people die horribly, while other times they live long lives in riches and prosperity. The equality only happens after they die. It is only on the day of judgment that they are all universally confronted with their sins."
In spite of Job's clear presentation of truth, Eliphaz refuses to hear it. He continues to assert that Job has not been the reverent soul he claims to be. He is still convinced that Job's riches led him into sin, taking pledges, and doing whatever it took to expand his fortune, even at the expense of the poor. Eliphaz accuses Job of having turned away widows and orphans who needed help, and claims that this is the reason he's been afflicted.
"But even now, Job. As we've been saying over and over, all you have to do is acknowledge your sin, confess it and repent, and you'll be forgiven, healed, and restored."
"Oh, if only I could take my case to God, then I would get his side of the story, since you guys obviously aren't giving me the accurate scoop. I know that although He's allowed this, maybe even sent it, it's not because of any horrible sin that you men are accusing me of."
Job says, "I can't see God, but He can see me. And when He's done with me, I will be like gold.
Gold is refined through a process of subjecting it to great heat. Smelters would take it from the mines and put it over the fire until it became liquid - molten hot. The impurities would rise to the surface and be scraped away. The Lord said through Isaiah,
Is. 48:10 "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
Job is saying that he is in the Refiner's fire right now. And with the same expectancy that the smelter had of a pure end-product, Job knows that the ultimate result of his testing will be greater purity than he had in the beginning.
In Job's day, the Word of God had not yet been written by Moses, but it had come verbally through the descendants of those who heard from God. Job treasured those words, saying,
Job 23:12 "I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
The limited supply of the Word he had, he treasured. A friend of mine married a woman who'd grown up in Romania under the terrible dictator Ceauchesku. Being quite illegal to own or carry, Bibles were a true treasure. Many churches had just one Bible, distributing just a few pages to each family, reading them, devouring the words, memorizing them, before passing them on to another family, and praying that more pages would come their way.
In contrast, many Americans today have a shelf full of Bibles - different translations, various publishers, cover colors, and study aids. And although they've spent their treasure buying the Word, many haven't treasured the Word itself.
I pray that at the end of my life, I will be remembered as someone who instilled a love for the Word of God in many people, who learned to treasure the Scriptures more than food.
The wicked people of the world do all kinds of things. They move property boundries, steal, deal corruptly, act like bullies, and even kidnap children. Yet, it appears God is somehow not seeing all of this. By your definition, He must have missed it, because many of them seem to be being blessed. But they will all someday die."
Bildad doesn't even acknowledge what Job has said. He goes back to his religious-sounding words: "God is huge, you are nothing. There is no way you can be just or clean."
With more sarcasm, Job slams his miserable counselors again. "You are so helpful and wise!"
Bildad had said that dominion and awe belonged to God. Job says that this is even an understatement - that we can't even imagine the depths of God's might, since we're only seeing the very fringes of the exercise of His power.
An interesting side note: Job makes it clear in these verses that he knows the earth is a sphere in space.
Regardless of his suffering, Job would not give up his testimony of the Lord. He absolutely would not compromise and say, "Okay, I give in. You guys are right."
In the art of diplomacy, compromise is an important tool. But regarding truth and righteousness, compromise is unacceptable. Jesus commended the church in Pergamum because,
Rev. 2:13 ...you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you...
Even in spite of terrible consequences, we must not turn away from what we know to be true.