Job had sometimes complained that his friends were so eager in disputing, that they would scarcely let him put in a word. “Suffer me that I may speak,” he had said in chapter 21:3. “O that you would hold your peace!” he had exclaimed in chapter 13:5. But now it seems that they were out of breath, and left him room to say what he wished. Either they themselves were convinced that Job was in the right, or else they despaired of convincing him that he was in the wrong; and therefore, they threw down their weapons and gave up the cause. Job was too hard for them, and forced them to quit the field; for great is the truth, and it shall always prevail. What Job had said in the foregoing chapter was a sufficient answer to Bildad’s discourse; and now Job paused awhile, to see whether Zophar would take his turn again. But as he declined to do so, Job himself went on; and without any interruption given him, he said all that he desired to say in this matter. In this particular chapter, he still contended for his sincerity and integrity. He pointed out the difference of the hypocrite from himself, and he showed that even the blessings of the wicked are converted into curses by them.
Job had confidence in the goodness of his cause and of his God, and he cheerfully committed his cause to Him. But in the first six verses, Job did not show proper reverence when he spoke of God taking away his judgment and troubling his soul. “But,” said he, “let my God deal with me as seemeth good to Him; my faithfulness and integrity to Him shall abide by me!” What a sweet and gracious determination when a believing soul can and does say, “I do not know how my Lord is leading me, but I do know that all his leadings are what they should be.” When our will is truly brought down to submission to the Lord’s will, then we cannot help approving it – no matter how unable we may be to explain all that He is doing.
Job looked upon the condition of a wicked hypocrite to be most miserable. Even if they gain much worldly wealth in this lifetime by their false profession of faith, and although they may keep up their presumptuous hope until death – what does that avail when God requires their souls? Surely, having acted only as a deceiver, such a person will find that his only hope is a deception when the Lord enters into judgment with him. He is near to God in his mouth, but he is far away from God in his heart. He will even cry unto God when trouble comes upon him (Isa. 26:16), but will he delight himself in the Almighty? No! That is impossible. He may cry aloud in prayer when the arrows of God are upon him; but to take pleasure in God – never did a hypocrite do this, nor ever will to the end of the world!
Job’s friends had spoken of the misery of wicked people in this lifetime as being proportionate to their crimes. But Job had pointed out that even if that were not the case, the consequences of their death would still be dreadful indeed. In the rest of this chapter, he undertook to set this matter in a true light. Job prefaced this part of his discourse by observing that – being under Divine teaching – he had no cause to conceal the truth. Therefore, he admitted that his friends had spoken correctly when they said that wicked people must be miserable. But then again, the consequences of their wickedness are not always induced presently. Job and his friends agreed in one point – namely, that wickedness is sure to meet its just reward in the end. But Job still maintained his point that outward circumstances of worldly prosperity are not sufficient grounds for making a conclusion of God’s favor. Many precious souls may be sharply exercised with great afflictions, and many prosperous villains may seem to enjoy great riches. And this was the contest between Job and his friends, from beginning to end. In light of Job’s uncommon calamities, they argued that – notwithstanding all his professions of piety – he was a hypocrite. Job took up the subject on this ground; and after contending over and over again for his sincerity, he went on to show that although wickedness must terminate fatally, yet it may prosper and flourish for a while.
Let us briefly look at the wicked hypocrite, when it comes time for him to pass into eternity. To the child of God, death is like a fair breeze which will convey him to the heavenly country; but to the unredeemed sinner, it is like a storm that hurries him away to destruction. While such a person lived, he had the benefit of sparing mercy; but now the day of God’s patience is over, and He will pour out His wrath upon him. Those who will not flee now to the arms of Divine grace which are stretched out to receive them will not be able to flee from the arms of Divine wrath which will shortly be stretched out to destroy them! And what does a person profit in the end, if he has gained even the whole world, and yet loses his own soul?! O how sweet it is to flee from the wrath to come, and to run for safety to our Lord Jesus, Who has carried our sorrows and suffered the curse that was due to our sins!
Lord Jesus, we repent of times when we have placed our hope and confidence in the things of this world that are fleeting and unstable, like the hypocrite who “buildeth his house as a moth” (verse 18), but cannot truly enjoy the fruit of his labors. We thank You that You have redeemed us from our sins and carried our sorrows, and that You drank the cup of trembling on our behalf! And in light of this, we ask for grace that we may no longer live to ourselves, but that we may live in gratitude to the One Who died for us and rose again! Amen. (2 Cor. 5:14-15)
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