|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
Meditation No. 20
Meditation Title: Why bother with us?
Job 7:7 What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention
I have read modern atheists who cry almost exactly the same thing as Job cries here. They ask why an Almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise God should bother with such puny creatures as we human beings, who must appear as ants to Him. They ask the question out of a lack of understanding that is built on their desire to prove that He is not there. Job asked it when he wants to know why God should ensure that his life carries on when he would much rather die. That is the context of this verse. Why do you bother with mankind like you do is the question that flows out of his plaintive cries.
But our verse above is only half of the question: “What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?” Do you see what Job is saying? Why is it that I seem to be under your spotlight? Why does it have to be that every moment of my present being has to feel like a test from you? Because it is, Job! That is exactly what it is. I'm sorry it is so painful but that is the very nature of such a test. The whole world is looking on and watching to see how you will respond in this test, and I have complete confidence that you will come through with flying colours!
But Job doesn't have that revelation. We rarely do when we find ourselves in the midst of a test of faith. That is what faith is all about. That's why Paul contrasted it with ‘sight': “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 6:7). If the Lord has explained to Job what was going to happen and why, it wouldn't be a test. If you know what's going on in the life situation, it's not a faith thing. Remember the writer to the Hebrews when he said, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Heb 11:1). This is one of THE major characteristics of the Christian life that many Christians aren't aware of – that our walk is one where one half of it is with our feet on the material earth, and the other half is us living in communion with the unseen God and an unseen world.
So, our cynic might say, is this world just one great laboratory for God and we are just rats in his laboratory and we are being ‘conditioned' how to live? No, that is a very poor analogy. Consider Paul's comment to the church at Rome : “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” (Rom 8:19 ). This is what is going on.
In the midst of a sinful fallen world, there are individuals who come out of the dark, responding to the call from above, who receive the light and become light and who stand out. Listen to Paul again: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Phil 2:14,15). There it is again.
Yes, and remember one of the verses we briefly looked at yesterday: “through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” (Eph 3:10). As the spiritual world looks on, they watch to see how we respond to the harshness of this fallen world, and they marvel and wonder when they see us cope with the enabling of the grace of God. This is the perspective that we need to hold on to.
But Job doesn't have this perspective yet! How can he, he's a forerunner. He hasn't The Book, he hasn't the revelation of the Son of God. If some are right and this is one of the oldest books of the Bible, then he hasn't even a glimmering of the revelation that comes with the history of Israel. That's why he cries out, “Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant?” (v.19) No, he doesn't know about the terrible existence of hell where the wonderful presence of God is unknown. He doesn't realise that it is only God's presence that brings us life and sustains us and brings all that is good.
He continues: “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you?” (v.20). OK, he says, it's possible that I am less than perfect, but it hasn't been against you, so why have you come back on me? In his integrity he is sure that he hasn't spoken or acted against God. It may be that he has unconsciously and unwittingly sinned but it wasn't against God, so why is the Lord pursuing him? Have I become a burden to you? How can I a mere man be a burden to you who are Almighty God?
“Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more.” (v.21) I believe you are a God who forgives sin otherwise I wouldn't have offered sacrifices to cover my children. You know I offer sacrifices and you can see that I'm in no state to offer them at the moment, but you know my heart, so why don't you just forgive me, get it over with and let me die, then we'll all be happy. Well that's not exactly what he says but that is the sentiment that is here.
Within that cry there is a great deal of understanding. He realises that sins can be atoned for, and that God's forgiveness is forthcoming, that it is something that the Lord wants to do. Because he can't see the big picture, and possibly because of Eliphaz's words, he has ‘the sin problem' in the back of his mind. It's what we fallen human beings do; we feel guilty because ultimately we know we are. Maturity and revelation bring us to the place when we realise that God is more concerned to deal with it than we are!
Job is being squeezed by the circumstances like we might squeeze an orange, and this is all about seeing what comes out! How about you and me? What comes out when we are squeezed by circumstances? Remember, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”