Job and his three friends have shared three rounds of speeches and now Job takes three chapters to sum up his defense. In these three chapters Job recalled the blessings of his past, lamented the suffering of the present and challenged God to vindicate him in the future. The climax of his speech comes in chapter 31 with a total of 16 “if I have…” statements. He put himself under oath and challenged God to either vindicate him or condemn him. It is almost as though Job is saying we have talked long enough, and I really do not care what you three men think. God is my judge, and I will rest my case with Him. Now, let Him settle the matter one way or another, once and for all.
Job began his defense back in chapter 3 by stating he wished that he had never been born. But he is closing by remembering all the blessings God had bestowed on he and his family. Perhaps this serves as a reminder for us that we have to look at our lives in a balanced way. All of us have had good things and bad things. God allows us to experience struggles and even sorrows. But He also sends victories and joys. You will notice that the greatest joys Job lists revolve around God being in his life. Job sees God as the light in his darkness. He recalls God’s friendship felt in his home. He felt God’s presence around him, and God had richly blessed him. His steps were awash in cream and the rocks gushed olive oil for him. Both cream and olive oil were signs of prosperity and luxury. He was a man of influence within the city. In fact, he may have been the most influential man in the area. He used his blessings to bless many others. Job led by example. Not only did Job help the widows, orphans, the poor and aliens, but he also disciplined the wicked and those who took advantage of others. Though Job was most likely not a Jew, he was still following the ways God had commanded the Jews to live. They were to look out for and tend to the widows, orphans, the poor and the aliens.
It seems that Job found joy in many things. He found joy in the respect of others and in ministering to others. He had great confidence in and joy about the future and what the Lord would do in and through him…until everything went south for him. And Job found great joy in speaking words of encouragement and help to others. He anticipated having a long life. And he believed that the length of his years would show God’s blessings on his life.
And then Job’s reality set in once again. He looked around and saw the opposite of what he had been remembering. Job listed five complaints that parallel the joys from the previous chapter. He has no respect. He has no blessing. Job has no help, no future, and no ministry. Young men who had previously stepped aside as a sign of respect when Job arrived now mocked him and some spit in his face. And the worst part was that these young men were the sons of men who were so despicable Job compared them to donkeys wandering in the desert. At one time Job had been the greatest man in the east and now he found himself the song of the rabble. It is clear their former respect was not due to his character and integrity but for his position and wealth. And they hoped to benefit from his favor. When we look at Job here, we can see sufferings similar to Jesus. The basest of people falsely accused Him, spit on Him, and ridiculed Him while He was suffering. Job didn’t know it, but he was being honored by God to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. Through sitting on an ash heap, Job had been promoted in the highest possible way.
Job had no blessing. In the daytime he endured unbearable suffering and at night God wrestled with him, made his clothing like a straight jacket, and threw him in the mud. Every night God wrestled with God, and Job lost. Job had faithfully helped many others, but nobody would help him. They wouldn’t weep with him. They wouldn’t touch him or even come near to him. He was treated like a leper who might contaminate them, or like a condemned man whom God might destroy at any time. It was not smart to get too close. There might be guilt by association. Where were all the people Job had helped? And why had none of them come to reciprocate? Here is a thought. A missionary doctor, Wilfred Grenfell once said, “The service we render for others is really the rent we pay for our room here on this earth.”
In the days of Job’s prosperity and good life, he looked forward to living a long and comfortable life, and a peaceful death. Job looked for good and God sent evil, light and he got darkness. Instead of comfort and peace he was in constant pain and turmoil. Perhaps just as difficult for Job was the loss of ministry for him. He had been blessed to be able to bring words of comfort, encouragement, and hope to many. Now he knew none of those things and people didn’t want to be anywhere close to him. The song Job sang was now a funeral dirge. It was hard to be encouraging when he himself was in the pit of darkness and despair.
Lastly, Job looked ahead, waiting for God’s justice. He still maintained his innocence and integrity. Chapter 31 is like a legal document where Job put himself under oath before God and asked for judgement to fall if God can prove him wrong. Job’s hope…that God would hear his cry and vindicate his name. At the end, Job stated that he signed his defense, making the oath official. I rest my case! It seems that Job was ready to give God an accounting of his every step if that is what was necessary to bring this case to an end. Job had nothing to hide. He was not a hypocrite, and he did not fear the people.
Job listed three specific sins that can trip up any man: lust, deceit, and adultery. Lust is the first step towards sinning. Job also denied any deceit in his business dealings. His scales were honest, and he was not afraid for God to weigh him. And if he was found guilty of covetousness and deception, he was willing for his next seasons crops to be taken by others. If Job was found guilty of adultery, he was willing for his wife to become another man’s slave and mistress. Job was thorough in his self-examination. He even included how he had treated his slaves and servants. He had been generous and fair. He knew one day he would have to settle his accounts with the Lord and even more important…Job knew he had been created by the same God as the servants and slaves. They were all the same in God’s eyes.
Job had already responded to Eliphaz, chapter 22:6-9, about how he cared for the needy and the poor, but he chose to repeat that as part of his oath. He was not boasting but defending himself before men and seeking vindication from God. If he had mistreated anyone by raising a hand to them, then he asked that God rip that arm from its socket. Job was concerned with the needs of many. He was a wealthy and powerful sheik. In his position there were those who envied him. Some probably hated him. Others wanted to be close to him because of what he might be able to give them or do for them. Job was kind and fair. He did not gloat over another’s misfortune nor did he ask God to curse them.
Instead, Job worshiped God with a sincere heart. He didn’t worship his power, influence, or wealth. He didn’t take credit for all that he had. It was all a gift and blessing from God. He had not made gold his god as Eliphaz had accused him of doing. The last thing Job mentions is the land. He was a good steward of the land that had been given to him. Job treated the land as though it were a person. If he had abused the land, it would have cried out against him and wept in pain. And if Job’s field hands had been overworked and underpaid then God would have had every reason to give Job a harvest of weeds instead of good crops.
When you look at the oath Job made with God, he asked for some harsh punishment if he is found guilty. Job was willing to face the righteous judgement of God if he had done wrong or evil. There was silence when Job was finished speaking. What could there be left to say? Now the people would wonder and wait for what happened next. Job’s misery and suffering had become a spectator sport. Job had challenged God because he was sure God would vindicate him. His three friends were sure God would condemn him. Soon we will see what God does and Job’s response.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W