Saturday after the Tenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Job 13-15 (NKJV)
13:1 “Behold, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it. 2 What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. 3 But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God. 4 But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians. 5 Oh, that you would be silent, and it would be your wisdom! 6 Now hear my reasoning, and heed the pleadings of my lips. 7 Will you speak wickedly for God, and talk deceitfully for Him? 8 Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God? 9 Will it be well when He searches you out? Or can you mock Him as one mocks a man? 10 He will surely rebuke you if you secretly show partiality. 11 Will not His excellence make you afraid, and the dread of Him fall upon you? 12 Your platitudes are proverbs of ashes, your defenses are defenses of clay.
13 “Hold your peace with me, and let me speak, then let come on me what may! 14 Why do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hands? 15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. 16 He also shall be my salvation, for a hypocrite could not come before Him. 17 Listen carefully to my speech, and to my declaration with your ears. 18 See now, I have prepared my case, I know that I shall be vindicated. 19 Who is he who will contend with me? If now I hold my tongue, I perish.
20 “Only two things do not do to me, then I will not hide myself from You: 21 Withdraw Your hand far from me, and let not the dread of You make me afraid. 22 Then call, and I will answer; Or let me speak, then You respond to me. 23 How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. 24 Why do You hide Your face, and regard me as Your enemy? 25 Will You frighten a leaf driven to and fro? And will You pursue dry stubble? 26 For You write bitter things against me, and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth. 27 You put my feet in the stocks, and watch closely all my paths. You set a limit for the soles of my feet.
28 “Man decays like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten.
14:1 “Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble. 2 He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue. 3 And do You open Your eyes on such a one, and bring me to judgment with Yourself? 4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one! 5 Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass. 6 Look away from him that he may rest, till like a hired man he finishes his day.
7 “For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. 8 Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, 9 yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant. 10 But man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last and where is he? 11 As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, 12 so man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.
13 “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14 If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. 15 You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands. 16 For now You number my steps, but do not watch over my sin. 17 My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and You cover my iniquity.
18 “But as a mountain falls and crumbles away, and as a rock is moved from its place; 19 As water wears away stones, and as torrents wash away the soil of the earth; So You destroy the hope of man. 20 You prevail forever against him, and he passes on; You change his countenance and send him away. 21 His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; They are brought low, and he does not perceive it. 22 But his flesh will be in pain over it, and his soul will mourn over it.”
15:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2 “Should a wise man answer with empty knowledge, and fill himself with the east wind? 3 Should he reason with unprofitable talk, or by speeches with which he can do no good? 4 Yes, you cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God. 5 For your iniquity teaches your mouth, and you choose the tongue of the crafty. 6 Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; Yes, your own lips testify against you.
7 “Are you the first man who was born? Or were you made before the hills? 8 Have you heard the counsel of God? Do you limit wisdom to yourself? 9 What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that is not in us? 10 Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us, much older than your father. 11 Are the consolations of God too small for you, and the word spoken gently with you? 12 Why does your heart carry you away, and what do your eyes wink at, 13 that you turn your spirit against God, and let such words go out of your mouth?
14 “What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous? 15 If God puts no trust in His saints, and the heavens are not pure in His sight, 16 how much less man, who is abominable and filthy, who drinks iniquity like water!
17 “I will tell you, hear me; What I have seen I will declare, 18 what wise men have told, not hiding anything received from their fathers, 19 to whom alone the land was given, and no alien passed among them: 20 The wicked man writhes with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden from the oppressor. 21 Dreadful sounds are in his ears; In prosperity the destroyer comes upon him. 22 He does not believe that he will return from darkness, for a sword is waiting for him. 23 He wanders about for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’ He knows that a day of darkness is ready at his hand. 24 Trouble and anguish make him afraid; They overpower him, like a king ready for battle. 25 For he stretches out his hand against God, and acts defiantly against the Almighty, 26 running stubbornly against Him with his strong, embossed shield.
27 “Though he has covered his face with his fatness, and made his waist heavy with fat, 28 he dwells in desolate cities, in houses which no one inhabits, which are destined to become ruins. 29 He will not be rich, nor will his wealth continue, nor will his possessions overspread the earth. 30 He will not depart from darkness; The flame will dry out his branches, and by the breath of His mouth he will go away. 31 Let him not trust in futile things, deceiving himself, for futility will be his reward. 32 It will be accomplished before his time, and his branch will not be green. 33 He will shake off his unripe grape like a vine, and cast off his blossom like an olive tree. 34 For the company of hypocrites will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of bribery. 35 They conceive trouble and bring forth futility; Their womb prepares deceit.”
Today’s text opens with Job’s demands that God withdraw His punishment and answer his challenge to a tribunal discourse. Job does not know the folly of such demands, for his words are based on the three counselors’ point that suffering always implies sinfulness. He does not yet understand that God has a higher purpose in his suffering.
As we progress into chapter 14, Job’s spirit appears to rise above the despair and anger caused by his festering ulcerated body. Job boldly confesses that, if God so desires, He is able to hide Job in the grave, then raise him back to life at a time when the divine anger is past. Viewing this passage through the lens of the New Testament we cannot help but see an image of the Resurrection promise secured for us by Christ. Even this bright image is overwhelmed in Job’s mind by his present situation and God’s apparent unwillingness to deliver him.
Eliphaz now comes at Job with all his fury, and condemns Job for questioning God and His wisdom. He bolsters his earlier advice with the observation that the wicked man (a caricature of Job) can never escape the suffering he deserves. All three counselors are guilty of cruel insinuation, with the other two counselors being the most malicious. Genuine words of comfort for Job have been few, and he begins to weary of his very existence because he and his counselors fail to acknowledge the biblical truth that God is always gracious, long suffering, and abundant in mercy—in spite of earthly appearance to the contrary.
We pray: Lord Jesus, multiply Your mercy on us that, with You as our Teacher and Redeemer, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.