The book of Romans in the New Testament is one of the greatest books in the Bible dealing with the subject of righteousness by faith. And just as the book of Revelation in the New Testament has its counterpart in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, so the book of Romans has its counterpart in the Old Testament, too. And that counterpart is the book of Job.
There is a great lesson that Jesus taught while He was here upon the earth:
Steps to Christ, p. 49, 50
You have confessed your sins, and in heart put them away. You have resolved to give yourself to God. Now go to Him, and ask that He will wash away your sins and give you a new heart. Then believe that He does this because He has promised. This is the lesson which Jesus taught while He was on earth, that the gift which God promises us, we must believe we do receive, and it is ours.
Not one of us should rest until we have learned this lesson in theory and then translated the theory into practice, into a living experience. What is the Lesson? That the gift which God promises us we are to believe we do receive. We are to receive it by faith and having received it by faith, it is ours. And from that point of reception, we go forth with the precious gift to meet whatever may come along the way.
We are to receive the gift of the new heart, or the life of Christ within us. His life is His righteousness. His righteousness is His victory over sin. When you receive that gift, you have received Him. And so it is as a righteous person you go forth, not hoping to gain the victory, but proceeding from a point of a victory already achieved. That is the great lesson to be learned.
And in the hour of need, when the tempter comes, we can meet him in the sure knowledge, not that we are going to get the victory, but that we already have the victory. We can meet every single argument he brings against us with that mighty assurance. Then we shall find that the devil will have no power over us; none at all.
Steps to Christ, p. 51
If you believe the promise,—believe that you are forgiven and cleansed,—God supplies the fact; you are made whole, just as Christ gave the paralytic power to walk when the man believed that he was healed. It is so if you believe it.
Notice it says here “believe that you are”, not “will be”, but that “you are forgiven” (present tense), and that you are (present tense) “cleansed,” then “God supplies the fact; you are made whole”. This is the lesson that we have to learn.
We shall turn back now to the book of Job and see how it is that he absolutely lived by that lesson. And because he lived by that lesson, he was victorious and God said of him that he had spoken of the Father that which was right (Job 42:7).
Let’s consider what Job went through:
1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed [or hated] evil.
He hated evil with a perfect hatred. He lived the life of the righteousness of God and so fulfilled the requirements of God’s law.
From verse 6 on, there is a conversation between God and Satan, after which Satan is permitted to go out and try Job.
Put yourself in Job’s position. He was a wealthy man. God had marvelously blessed the work of his hands, and he had houses, and he had lands, he had servants, he had flocks, he had herds, and what was most precious back in those days, he had a very, very fine family. And it wasn’t a small one. How big was it? Verse 2 tells us he had seven sons and three daughters. And they were very precious in Job’s eyes, you can be sure. Now imagine yourself sitting one day, as Job appears to have been, in your home, when all of a sudden:
14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, “The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:
15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yes, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell you.”
Now that would be a pretty bad shock. But before this servant even gets through speaking, another servant comes running in:
16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, “The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and has burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell you.”
Before Job could recover from the shock of this second announcement two more servants came running in, one after another:
17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, “The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yes, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell you.”
18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:
19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell you.”
Try to put yourself in Job’s position, and think how you would feel if one, two, three, four tremendous catastrophes were announced to you, in as rapid succession as that, until you found yourself deprived of every single thing which was worthwhile in your life. Your sons and your daughters, last of all and most precious of all. How would you have felt? It would be pretty devastating, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t your first thought have been:
Why does God treat me like this, when all my life I have been faithful and true to His commandments?
That would be the first great temptation, wouldn’t it? But what did Job do?
20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped,
21 And said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there: the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
That’s faith, isn’t it? That is absolute submission to God’s will. Absolute. And when we have come to that place in our experience, where our faith will match the faith of Job, then we shall truly know what it means to be a completely victorious Christian.
3 And the Lord said unto Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? And still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
4 And Satan answered the Lord, and said, “Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life.
5 But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”
6 And the Lord said unto Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; but save his life.”
7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
8 And he took a potsherd to scrape himself; and he sat down among the ashes.
Probably some of us have had boils before. They are extremely painful things, aren’t they? But can you imagine yourself being covered with them from the top of your head to the sole of your feet? Wouldn’t it be agony? Think of the putrefaction. And think of the feeling of being so dirty and diseased and sick. And think of the fever which would rage through the whole system. When a man gets sick, that is when he is most prone to discouragement, isn’t it?
In the first chapter, God had introduced Job as a perfect and upright man. Compare this to the man described in Romans 7. This man has a mental ascent to the law and an outward conformity. He has tried with all his powers, with all his might, to keep the law of God; he is very respectable, very well honored by his fellow church members. But would God say about the man of Romans 7 that he was perfect and upright? Definitely not!
Whom only would God describe as perfect and upright? A man who has passed from the experience of trying to save himself into the experience of Romans 8 or Hebrews 4; a man who “has ceased from his own” labors or his own “works”, has “entered into His rest”.
So then, the righteousness which Job had achieved was a righteousness which he had achieved by faith. In other words, in Job, the old man was dead, and he was alive unto God. Job could testify:
6 Knowing this, that my old man is crucified with Him, the body of sin is destroyed, that henceforth I should not serve sin.
Before we go on, let’s look into the past life of Job and learn something about this man. In chapter 29 Job is reminiscing over his past. This is a good practice. When we come into dark experiences in our lives, we should look back over the past, and recall the precious experiences where we have walked with Jesus, and remember those evidences as assurances that God is with us still. This is expressed in the following Psalm:
7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favorable no more?
8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? does his promise fail for evermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? has he in anger shut up his tender mercies?
10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
12 I will meditate also of all Your work, and talk of Your doings.
13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
14 You are the God that does wonders: You have declared Your strength among the people.
15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.
16 The waters saw You, O God, the waters saw You; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.
17 The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: Your arrows also went abroad.
18 The voice of Your thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way is in the sea, and Your path in the great waters, and Your footsteps are not known.
20 You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Now let’s see just what Job describes in chapter 29:
1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,
2 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
Ever had the experience of coming down to the shadow of death, when you seem to be forsaken by God and man? I certainly have. And you look back over your past experience, and you think of that time when you had that sweet fellowship in that camp meeting with those people over yonder. Or maybe, when you were studying with that particular brother and the blessing of the Lord seemed to be upon all your labors, and oh, how you longed to go back to that time, and back to that day, and be in that experience all over again. And here Job had been brought to that place in his life. So he describes his experience:
3 When His candle shined upon my head, and when by His light I walked through darkness;
4 As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;
5 When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;
6 When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
7 When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
8 The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up.
9 The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
10 The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.
11 When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:
12 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
And notice what he says in verse 14:
14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
Note his words. He put on righteousness. Whose righteousness? Christ’s righteousness. And having put it on, having received it, whose then did it become? Job’s very own possession. And so he looks back to that precious day, when he laid hold upon that righteousness and the fruit of it was attested by God’s own description of him as a “perfect and upright man”. God said it, not man at all.
This righteousness he received by faith. He had learned the great lesson that Jesus came to teach; that we are to receive that gift by faith and then believe that what we have received, we actually do possess.
Notice also in the story how the devil came down and did his absolute uttermost to break Job’s faith in what God had laid upon him. His uttermost!
Let us learn the lesson of Job’s life, because we must be very sure of this thing. As we go forth from this place, as our ways part as they certainly will in a day or two, and as we find ourselves standing very often alone against the enemies of truth, Satan is going to do his uttermost to break our faith in what God has wrought in our hearts. He’ll do his uttermost; he will use our best friends, as was Job’s case. He will use our partner in life, maybe. But he will do his best to break it.
Now come back to Job chapter 2, and notice what happens. Verses 7 and 8 told the story of him coming down with boils. And in verse 9 we read this:
9 Then said his wife unto him,…
…his wife, the one who was nearest and dearest to him in this world, she said:
9 …Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die.
“Curse God and die.” How was Job standing? Alone, wasn’t he? Absolutely alone! And worse than that, his nearest and dearest companion in life was against him—his very wife!
Did she feel the pain and the losses? Of course, she did. Her sons and her daughters were all dead—seven sons and three daughters. And all of the family wealth was gone. Where now, was their social status amongst the nations around about? It was gone! And their security in life, it was gone! Her husband’s health was gone. What did she have left? Nothing! Did she share Job’s faith? No, because whereas Job said:
21 The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord,
9 …curse God, and die.
Now we continue the story:
11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.
12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.
13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.
Now think of it—seven days and nights of unspeakable agony—seven days and nights of silent sympathy. And at the end of that time Job would be amazed at the love that these men would show to him. They came in a loving way; they came in a gentle way; they came as his friends. But then they brought forth arguments against him which did not help him.
We haven’t time to read the whole book of Job, we will just pick up the arguments as we go along. But if you read chapter 3 through sometime, you will find that Job is wishing he had never been born. Do you blame him? Hardly. He was expressing the depth of abject misery to which he had been brought—the depth of abject misery.
Now we find that in chapter 4, these men now, and no doubt in times past, had some discussions about righteousness by faith. And they had been proponents of the “sinfulness-of-man’s-nature” idea, and that man must always recognize himself as being a hopeless sinner, and that we can’t be truly righteous this side of death. These are age-old arguments that are heard so often today, that “we just can’t keep God’s law” and that “no one is righteous at all”. And yet at the same time these people say, “Well you have to be perfect, but you can’t be perfect.” It’s double talk.
In the book of Job, Eliphaz the Temanite comes right down to the very heart of the controversy in six or seven short verses:
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
2 If we assay to commune with you, will you be grieved? but who can withhold himself from speaking?
3 Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands.
4 Your words have upheld him that was falling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees.
5 But now it is come upon you, and you faint; it touches you and you are troubled.
Essentially he is saying,
“Alright Job, you have been a preacher of righteousness, but now let’s see if your message is going to work in this, your own time of trouble. We can’t see righteousness in all this great lament that you have been pouring forth about your own condition. All we can see here is a faithless man who is weeping and moaning under God’s condemnation.”
They misunderstood Job when they said that; misunderstood him altogether. Because as the rest of the book shows, Job’s faith was not in any sense of the word shaken by his experience. He was miserable, and he said so. And he told the truth, because he was miserable.
And so Eliphaz continues:
6 Is not this your fear, your confidence, your hope, and the uprightness of your ways?
He is saying that Job was placing his confidence, and his hope, in the righteousness which he had received from God. And then Eliphaz says:
7 Remember, I pray you, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?
Eliphaz, while focusing Job’s attention on the witness of sight and circumstances, was saying to him,
“Job, you are standing upon the edge of your grave. Now tell us, when did God ever bring a righteous man (as you claim to be) down to this kind of place? Can’t you see that the evidence of the situation you are in is sure proof that you are under the mighty judgments of God? It is because of the fearful sinfulness of your life, and because you have dared to believe that God has given to you His own righteousness.”
Now, what a discouragement that would be.
In the last part of chapter 4, Eliphaz had argued:
Job 4 [NASB]
17 Can mankind be just before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?
Now we come to chapter 5.
1 Call now, if there be any that will answer you; and to which of the saints will you turn?
2 For wrath kills the foolish man, and envy slays the silly one.
3 I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
4 His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.
“His children are far from safety?” Job’s children had just died in a sudden calamity. Eliphaz is inferring that God had taken them away. Had they been “crushed in the gate”? Yes! Had there been “any to deliver them”? No. Therefore, Job, was the “foolish man”, who had taken root for a while, but was cursed. According to Eliphaz, the evidence showed that Job was not a righteous man, as Job claimed, but a foolish man, a man self-deceived.
5 Whose harvest the hungry eats up, and takes it even out of the thorns, and the robber swallows up their substance.
Had not the Chaldeans taken away his substance?
6 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;
7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
But what had Job done? Just that very thing. He had given all to God, and everything was safe in God’s hands.
We come now to Job’s answer in chapter 6:
24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.
25 How forcible are right words! but what does your arguing reprove?
26 Do you imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, which are as wind?
27 Yes, you overwhelm the fatherless, and you dig a pit for your friend.
28 Now therefore be content, look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie. [margin: for surely I shall not lie to your face.]
29 Return, I pray you, let it not be iniquity; yes, return again, my righteousness is in it. [margin: Yes, return again, my righteousness is still in me.]
This is a tremendous statement of faith on Job’s part. There he was with the loss of all he possessed, of all he had in the way of health, and all the rest of it, brought down to the place where he wished he could die. And here were three friends, trying to argue to him that he must be a desperately wicked man to be brought to this place. Now, in essence, what did he reply?
“I have taken hold of the righteousness of Christ, I have received it, and I have it!”
Well now Bildad the Shuhite takes up the same argument as Eliphaz:
1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
2 How long will you speak these things? and how long shall the words of your mouth be like a strong wind?
3 Does God pervert judgment? or does the Almighty pervert justice?
4 If your children have sinned against him, and he has cast them away for their transgression;
5 If you would seek unto God betimes, and make your supplication to the Almighty;
6 If you were pure and upright; surely now He would awake for you, and make the habitation of your righteousness prosperous.
Remember what Satan said to Jesus in the wilderness?
3 If you are the Son of God…
Do you hear the echo in the same words in this verse? “If you were pure and upright…” In other words, the insinuation is,
“You think you are pure and upright. You think that God has come in and given you His righteousness. But no man can have this righteousness and live a perfect life. We are sinners, we were born sinners, we can’t keep that law. And we are going to keep on being sinners right down to the very end.”
And so we find Bildad the Shuhite arguing the same thing:
20 Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evildoers:
They are pressing upon Job all the time the argument that he must be a terribly sinful man to be in this awful condition. In chapter 11, the third friend, Zophar, joins in and continues the same line of argument:
1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,
2 Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified?
3 Should your lies make men hold their peace? and when you mock, shall no man make you ashamed?
Let’s review Job’s experience again. There was a point of time when Job had laid hold of righteousness. He laid hold upon it and he had gone along through life exercising it and then later had come these terrible calamities. Then these friends came along, and in spite of all this trouble, Job’s conscience was still clear. He had searched his heart, and he could find no sin there that he was conscious of. So in this time of trouble he testified to what God had given to him back there. He said:
“God gave that righteousness to me in the past, and what He gave to me there is still in me now.”
What did Zophar say? “Should your lies make men hold their peace?” In essence He said,
“You are a liar when you say that you’ve got that righteousness. You haven’t got it. By no means have you got it!”
Zophar continues the line of reasoning:
4 For you have said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in Your eyes.
5 But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against you;
“I am clean in Your eyes.” Job knew he was a righteous man by faith and trust in God. “But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against you”.
That is a very precious thought for me. The Lord says to me today, and He says to you,
1 Walk before me and be perfect.
A man will stand or fall before his Maker. Today, there are a thousand voices in this land, and in this world, each of whom is going to rise up against the man who testifies to what God has done in his heart. And they will declare that man to be of the devil. And they will say to us: “Oh that God would speak and open His lips against you”.
At the end of this book, at the end of this experience, God did speak. And what did He say to these three men?
7 You have not spoken of Me the thing which was right, as my servant Job has.
God vindicated Job, but not them. And they trembled in their shoes at the end of this book, for fear of their very lives.
6 And that He would show you the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves.
In other words, Zophar said to Job:
“You are such a wicked creature, so full of the devil, that if God really gave to you all you deserve, you would be blotted out of existence.”
How discouraging this would have been. When people come to you, and they say to you, “You are a wicked man, you are full of the devil,” and all the rest of it, and hammer this, hammer this, hammer this at you, what is the fearful temptation to believe? That what they say is the truth. The temptation is to make you feel all alone.
Now notice Job’s magnificent testimony of faith–Job’s tremendously marvelous testimony of faith.
1 Lo, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it.
2 What you know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.
3 Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.
4 But you are forgers of lies, you are all physicians of no value.
They were ministers of unfaithfulness. They knew nothing of the great lesson of faith. Nothing about it. And while they were theologians, ministers of religion, educators of the people, because they had not learned the lesson which Jesus came to teach, what were they? Physicians of no value.
Job didn’t spare them, did he? He was clear with them, straight to the point, and told them just what they were, even though at that time he was terribly brought down to the depths of the pit.
5 O that you would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.
6 Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips.
7 Will you speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for Him?
8 Will you accept His person? will you contend for God?
9 Is it good that He should search you out? or as one man mocks another, do you so mock him?
10 He will surely reprove you, if you do secretly accept persons.
11 Shall not His excellency make you afraid? and His dread fall upon you?
12 Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.
13 Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.
14 Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hand?
15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him:
What a testimony! “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”
“I will trust Him to give me that righteousness and to keep me in that righteousness even to the gates of death.”
That’s what Job meant. Because trusting in God means to preserve the spiritual life far more than it does the life of this flesh. And here, in as black an hour as that (and apart from the Saviour Himself, no man went into a blacker hour than Job did), he was able to say in the face of those three men:
15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain my own ways before Him.
16 He also shall be my salvation: for a hypocrite shall not come before Him.
17 Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears. Behold now, I have ordered my cause;
In other words,
“I have ordered my cause; I have fulfilled the requirements for receiving righteousness. I know that I shall be justified. I know it!”
He knew it by faith.
The apostle Paul expresses a similar confidence in the New Testament:
6 Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 1
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.
Paul is testifying that he knew Christ would take him clear through to the kingdom and save him at last.
Now, here Job is brought down to the very depths of the grave; feeling as sick and as miserable and as destitute as was humanly possible; to all evidences absolutely forsaken of God and forsaken of men. And not only that, but his best friends are there arguing against him with plausibility and cunning, and apparent love and friendliness, and trying to break his faith. And in the face of all, he looked up and now just listen to these magnificent words of Job:
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
He said, “I know it!” He knew it without a single evidence apart from the great evidence of faith. And more than that, he knew it in the face of all the evidences of this earth to the contrary.
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27 Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
Outside of the words of Jesus Christ on the cross, I can’t find anywhere in all history a greater statement of living faith than that. It’s tremendous! Tremendous.
But those men did not want to be outdone, and they came back with their answer again. In chapter 25, we find Bildad the Shuhite speaking about God:
2 Dominion and fear are with Him, he makes peace in His high places.
3 Is there any number of His armies? and upon whom does not His light arise?
4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?
He speaks about God’s power and then asks a rhetorical question: “How can man be justified with God?” In other words, he’s saying it can’t be done.
Job answers in the next few chapters. We’ll read some of the second part:
1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,
2 As God lives, who has taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who has vexed my soul;
3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;
4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
5 God forbid that I should justify you…
In other words he is saying,
“I won’t accept your arguments, they are false arguments, arguments of death.”
5 …till I die I will not remove my integrity from me.
6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
“My righteousness”—that is, the righteousness which he had received earlier in his life, and the possession of which was under such tremendous test now. He says,
“My righteousness, I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.”
Was he bearing his test? He surely was! He was bearing his test.
7 Let my enemy be as the wicked, and he that rises up against me as the unrighteous.
Now another man comes into the picture, a man called Elihu. And then when they all had their say, God comes into the picture:
1 Then the Lord answered Job out the whirlwind, and said,
2 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer me.
What is the great reward that God gives to a man who lays hold of as much righteousness as God has given to him thus far? What’s the great reward? A greater revelation of God Himself, isn’t it? Right! A greater revelation of God Himself. And so now as Job has passed this fantastically trying test, God comes down and enters the picture and gives to Job a greater revelation of His majesty and His power than anything which Job heretofore had received or seen.
We won’t read all the rest of Job, chapter 38-42. But here, God lays out before Job some wonderful mysteries of His creative power. For instance:
21 Do you know it; because you were then born? Or because the number of your days is great?
22 Have you entered into the treasures of the snow? Or have you seen the treasures of the hail?
23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is the light parted, which scatters the east wind upon the earth?
And so on, mystery after mystery of His creative power. Now this revelation obviously brought to Job a much deeper knowledge of God than he ever had before. That knowledge would be followed by what? A greater conviction of what sin is, and, no doubt, bring out to Job how far short he still fell from the great and glorious excellence of God. And that would bring to him a deeper experience in repentance. He was led to hate sin with a more perfect hatred.
A few weeks ago, I had a very mild taste of what Job went through, shortly after I first came to America. I emerged from that experience—a time when it seemed that I was forsaken by God and by man, and enemies on every hand pitted against me—I came out of that experience hating sin with a more perfect hatred than I had ever hated it before!
A deeper revelation of God will bring a deeper confession. Job’s reaction to this revelation is that he fell upon his face and repented in dust and ashes:
1 Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
2 I know that You can do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from You.
3 Who is he that hides counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
4 Hear, I beseech You, and I will speak; I will demand of You, and declare unto me.
5 I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees You. [a far greater revelation altogether]
6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
God now has the last word, and He says to these men:
7 And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you, and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has.
8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the Lord commanded them: the Lord also accepted Job.
10 And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
12 So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
13 He had also seven sons and three daughters.
14 And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Keren-happuch.
15 And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.
16 After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations.
17 So Job died, being old and full of days.
Job had learned the great lesson that we also must learn—that we are to believe that the gift which God promises us, is to be received by faith and is ours.
And then, no matter what comes—calamities, disasters, the evil counsels of your best friends, the mightiest mountains of evidence (to all appearances) against us—we, like Job, are to lay fast hold of that righteousness and refuse to let it go.
If we do that, in the end the Lord will testify that those who spoke against us are the ones whom God condemns. But of us—though alone and few in number, destitute, despised and forsaken—of us God will say that we have “spoken the thing which was right.” And in the end, He will justify our stand.
The time of persecution and opposition will surely come:
2 Timothy 3
12 …all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
When it comes, as it surely will—subtle, malicious, cruel, and hard to bear—in the face of that, lay fast hold of your God-given integrity and never let it go.
Only thus can you be fitted to face the great “time of Jacob’s trouble”, and to wear the crown of the victor when Jesus comes.
Remember that in the book of Revelation, the promises are repeated seven great times, “to him that overcomes”:
7 …To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
11 …He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.
17 …To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it.
26 And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
5 He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
12 Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
21 To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Other articles by F.T. Wright:
- The Parable of the Ten Virgins
- Prophecy in the Process of Fulfillment
- Wheat and Tares
- The Number 666, part 2
- A Powerful Argument
- The Contender
- God’s Eternal Purpose
- Why a Detached Fourth Angel
- Men on the Moon
- The Path of the Just
- Self and the Sin-Master
- Point of No Return
- Covered Sin
- Modified Improvements
- Forsaking the Holy Covenant