Job Speaks Again
Scripture to meditate on:
Then Job replied:
“Indeed, I know that this is true.
But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?
Though they wished to dispute with him,
they could not answer him one time out of a thousand.
His wisdom is profound, his power is vast.
Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?
He moves mountains without their knowing it
and overturns them in his anger.
He shakes the earth from its place
and makes its pillars tremble.
He speaks to the sun and it does not shine;
he seals off the light of the stars.
He alone stretches out the heavens
and treads on the waves of the sea.
He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
When he passes me, I cannot see him;
when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.
If he snatches away, who can stop him?
Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’
God does not restrain his anger;
even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.
“How then can I dispute with him?
How can I find words to argue with him?
Though I were innocent, I could not answer him;
I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.
Even if I summoned him and he responded,
I do not believe he would give me a hearing.
He would crush me with a storm
and multiply my wounds for no reason.
He would not let me catch my breath
but would overwhelm me with misery.
If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty!
And if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him?
Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me;
if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.
“Although I am blameless,
I have no concern for myself;
I despise my own life.
It is all the same; that is why I say,
‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
When a scourge brings sudden death,
he mocks the despair of the innocent.
When a land falls into the hands of the wicked,
he blindfolds its judges.
If it is not he, then who is it?
“My days are swifter than a runner;
they fly away without a glimpse of joy.
They skim past like boats of papyrus,
like eagles swooping down on their prey.
If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint,
I will change my expression, and smile,’
I still dread all my sufferings,
for I know you will not hold me innocent.
Since I am already found guilty,
why should I struggle in vain?
Even if I washed myself with soap
and my hands with cleansing powder,
you would plunge me into a slime pit
so that even my clothes would detest me.
“He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him,
that we might confront each other in court.
If only there were someone to mediate between us,
someone to bring us together,
someone to remove God’s rod from me,
so that his terror would frighten me no more.
Then I would speak up without fear of him,
but as it now stands with me, I cannot. – Job 9
As Job resumes his conversation with his friends, he uses legal language, approaching the problem of righteousness before God as a man might go before a judge in the courtroom. Yet even Job, whom we have been told is upright and blameless, quickly concedes that he could not successfully plead is own case.
Job despairs of being able to approach God (vs 11-14) fearing that even if God could be found, he would not listen to a complaining human.
This would all seem quite hopeless, were we not able to look ahead and see what Job cannot see. New Testament scholar NT Wright says, for followers of Christ the entire Old Testament can rightly be read as a prologue for the coming Messiah. Surely this is true of the book of Job. This ancient work reminds us, in the harshest terms, of our own sorry situation. We are, like Job, often plagued with trouble and injustices. And like Job, we can sometimes feel that God is inaccessible and far off. Perhaps nowhere else in scripture do we see such an eloquently painted the picture of the human condition. We are in desperate need of rescue.
This is the tension the Apostle Paul was experiencing as he wrote his letter to the Romans (7:24-25) “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of sin?” But Paul, who had met the living Christ, had experienced the answer; (vs. 25) “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
“Truly, I know that this is correct, but how can a person be righteous with God? If someone wants to take him to court, one could not answer him one out of a thousand times.” – Job 9:1-2
Questions to ponder:
- How does the story of Job relate to the story of Jesus?
- Have you ever felt helpless to save yourself and needed rescuing? What happened?