The majority of our previous six studies in the book of Job have found us examining the discussion between Job and his three friends. They have unrelentingly continued to assert that his bodily afflictions and personal loss are God's judgments on his unconfessed sin.
Job, on the other hand, has been saying that he's done his best to live righteously, and even now continues to trust in God, although he admits he does not understand why the Lord has allowed or done this.
In chapter 22, Eliphaz accused Job of having hoarded his riches, mistreated the poor, and treated gold like his god. Eliphaz said that if he put his gold away in the dust, then God would be his gold. Job's response was that he himself was in the Refiner's fire, and after God had tested him, he would come forth as gold.
In chapter 25, Bildad once again asserted that because God was so awe-inspiring, Job couldn't possibly be pure before Him. Job countered that Bildad didn't even understand half of God's dominion and power, since we can only see a small fraction of his creation and workings.
The last statement we heard Job make was that no matter what, as long as he lived, he would not back down and wrongly admit that his three friends were right. It would be unjust and deceitful for him to say so.
Now, he continues in verse seven...
In reading this, I had some difficulty understanding Job's motivation for saying what he says here. So I turned to a commentary which is often helpful at taking complicated ideas and making them understandable. There I read, "Job's oath is followed by an imprecation against his detractors. The imprecation had a juridical function and was frequently a hyperbolic means of dealing with false accusation and oppression." Well, that helped me not at all!
But basically, he is saying here that his three friends are proving by their words that they deserve the same fate as the wicked. And then he goes on to describe the fate of the wicked, although he asserts that the ultimate judgment and wrath of God happens after the wicked lies down and dies.
Job says that although mankind had been able to mine precious metals and stones from the ground, there is no earthly way to dig for wisdom. It will not be unearthed with a shovel, and can't be found at the bottom of the ocean.
He goes on to say how much more valuable wisdom is than any gold or crystal, so where can you find it?
Job quotes some of the Word of God that had been passed down:
Job 28:28 ..."Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."
People today don't like to hear the word "fear" in regards to God. They want a God Who looks kindly upon all people and all behavior. A God who is like a good friend and a big brother. They don't like a Father God Who spanks His children for wrong behavior, Who disciplines for His children's good.
And yet, the fear of the Lord is a prominent theme in the Bible, being a requirement for the believer, and a source of all kinds of benefits. Just as Job quotes here, the fear of the Lord has to do with wisdom and departing from evil.
When there is no fear of God in a place, there is lawlessness and wicked behavior. When Abraham and his wife sojourned in Gher-AWR, he thought
Gen. 20:11 ..."surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife."
A lack of godly fear results in evil behavior. On the other hand, when you do fear God, you will do anything He commands (Gen. 22:12), and you will avoid committing sin (Exo. 1:17; Exo. 20:20; Job 1:8; Prov. 23:17).
Prov. 8:13 "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil...
Prov. 16:6 ...by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.
That's why Paul said,
2Cor. 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Additionally, having a fear of God brings wisdom.
Psa. 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom...
Prov. 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge...
Prov. 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom...
Wisdom is gained through having fear of God. That's why it is a requirement for leading God's people (Exo. 18:21; 2Sam. 23:3; 2Chr. 19:7-9; Neh. 5:15; 7:2). If leaders don't fear the Lord, they will practice evil, lack wisdom, and will just end up being Pharisees - the blind leading the blind. But when we who lead fear God, we can be secure in the knowledge that He works through us and guides His people.
Prov. 14:26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence...
Job remembers how it was before he was afflicted. He was living a life of comfort, popularity, and respect.
Why was he respected? Because he did not oppress the poor or turn away the needy, as he has been accused. He did not live in unrighteousness, as he has been accused. He did not run with the wicked crowd, as he has been accused.
He was a pillar of the community, a leader for the righteous, a patient man, and a minister of comfort.
"There were wicked men among us, fools who I helped remove from our midst because of their wicked behavior. But now their sons mock me, showing no respect. They spit at me, and disregard my authority."
Again, I take issue with the capitalization of the pronoun "you." I do not believe Job is speaking to God here, but to his friends. He is saying, "Now, I am in pain, I am afflicted, and you guys have made my situation worse, becoming like the sons of the wicked, being cruel and persecuting me. You're going to drive me to death, then drive my body to the funeral home. I wept and grieved with people who were suffering, but you refuse to comfort me."
"God sees everything I do, guys, so I've done everything I can do to walk blamelessly. I don't let my eyes look where they shouldn't look. I don't let my feet go where they shouldn't go, I don't let my mouth say what it shouldn't say. The Lord knows all of these things."
"If I have strayed from the straight and narrow path, if my hands are defiled, if I have considered adultery, if I have treated my slaves unfairly, if I have denied the poor, if I have trusted in riches, if I have been prideful about my money, if there is anything I have done, may God judge me for it!"
"Have I done any of these things," Job asks. "Have I even spoken evil about my enemies? Hasn't everyone in my household affirmed that I have blessed everyone, even outside my household? I have always provided for the poor, fed the hungry, and lodged the stranger."
Job asks, "Have I covered my transgressions like Adam?" It had not been too many generations earlier that Adam had gotten into trouble with the Lord.
Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But eat from it they did
Gen. 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
They realized they were naked - their sin had become obvious. So what did they try to do? Covered their transgressions by covering their nakedness.
Job says, "It's not the same case here. I haven't walked in rebellion and attempted a coverup like Adam did."
Job figuratively signs off on his defense. "You have no witnesses, you have no proof, you have no evidence, and you don't have a leg to stand on. If God wants to accuse me, then so be it, and I will suffer the consequences."
This is the end of Job's defense. He's not going to keep this going on any longer. A wise man said to me recently, "When you're going around in circles, there's no better place to stop than right here."
As we go to prayer tonight, I wonder if there are any of us who could make the claims Job has made in chapter 31. "See if there is anyone who can accuse me of sin. I have spent my life giving and blessing and ministering. You will find that I have not even cursed my enemies." This is what it truly means to live above reproach.