+27 (11) 867 3505 church@bbcmail.co.za

There has been a great deal of chatter in the book of Job. While there is more yet to come, Job was preparing his closing argument against his three accusers. We saw previously that he summarised his case before them (chapters 27–28) and, this morning, we will hear him resting his case (chapters 29–31). As he rested his case, Job followed a threefold track.

First, he expressed a deep longing for the blessing of fellowship with God he had previously experienced (chapter 29). He had once known deep, abiding fellowship with God (29:1–6), which had made it possible for him to be a blessing to his community (29:7–25) and he longed for a return to the same.

It is no doubt significant that Job’s longing for blessing was not a longing for prosperity. His friends may have been prosperity gospel preachers, but he was no prosperity gospel believer. He longed for blessing so that he might prove useful to his community again. Under his present affliction, he felt useless. He was no benefit to anyone. Previously, when God had blessed him, he had proven a help to the community and a counsellor to those seeking wisdom. It had brought him a sense of purpose, for which he longed once more.

When God blesses us, he does not do so primarily for our own comfort. He blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others.

Second, Job lamented the fact that he had been stripped of the blessing he had just described (chapter 30). His affliction, he felt, was dehumanising. The very people he had previously ministered to in his wisdom now mocked him (30:1–8). They left no stone unturned in their quest to find cause to add to his affliction (30:9–15). His affliction became “a song” and “a byword” to them—a cautionary tale with a simple moral: Sin against God and experience his deep displeasure. Job felt the cut of this mockery deeply. Though he cried to God, there was no answer (30:16–23), and though he longed for justice, it was lacking (30:24–31).

Job longed for an answer to his suffering. There must be a purpose, he knew, but God remained resolutely silent as he sought the answer.

How often we feel the same way. We desperately want to know why God allows us to suffer. We believe that it will work for our good (Romans 8:28), but we want to know and see that good in the present. We forget that the greatest good is often seen only on the other side of the grave. It is necessary for us to suffer, for it was necessary for Christ to suffer. The ultimate good to which all suffering works is Christlikeness, and we cannot hope to grow in Christlikeness if we do not suffer as Christ did. And it may only be in the resurrection when we will clearly discern God’s good in producing Christlikeness through our sufferings.

Third, Job brought his argument to a close with a bang, maintaining, as he had throughout, that he stood before God with a clear conscience (chapter 31). He framed his closing words in terms of covenant. Though he was not a Jew, he, too, lived in covenant relationship with God. He had not violated his covenant, but it appeared that God had violated his. He had not turned aside from God in his heart (31:7–8). He had not committed adultery (31:9–12). He had not acted with injustice toward his servants (31:13–15). He had not lacked in generosity to the needy (31:16–20). He had shown no violence to the defenceless (31:21–23). He had not idolised wealth (31:24–25) or worshipped the celestial bodies (31:26–28). He had not harboured vindictiveness toward his enemies (31:29–30) or displayed inhospitality to strangers (31:31–32). He was not guilty of hypocrisy (31:33–34). Yet God had withdrawn his faithfulness.

Job had had enough. He had pleaded with God to bring charges against him to no avail. He could identify no sin in his life. God had not accused him of any, though his friends had done so. If God would not accuse him, or punish him with the death his sins deserved, he could only conclude that he was innocent, and that God was dealing unjustly with him. With this, “the words of Job are ended.”

Job longed for clarity but found none. He knew that only God could provide the answers, but he needed to learn to wait. God would speak, but not yet. And when he did, it would not be to give the answers for which Job longed. Job needed to learn to trust in the absence of answers.

As you meditate on Job 29–31 this morning, ask God to give you the patience that Job, at this point, seemed to lack. When the answers don’t come, ask him to help you trust him and to wait patiently on him.