|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
Meditation No. 25
Meditation Title: Plead with God
Job 9:15 Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.
One of the things that Sin does is distort our vision of God. Every single human being is tainted with Sin; we were born with it. There's not a single one of us who is not tainted with it. I use the word tainted, because that rather implies we have been spoiled. When God first made the world, the first human beings were sinless but when they sinned it had consequences for the rest of human history. Each and every one of us has this tendency to self-centred godlessness which leads on to unrighteousness. We can be really ‘nice' people, clever people, creative people, able people, great people, but we are still sinners. That is the revelation of the Bible and if that is all we see, then it is a hopeless existence (but it's not!). Job has been recounting the Lord's greatness and concludes, “How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him?” (v.14) As we noted in the previous meditation, it's silly trying to argue with God.
But then Job takes it a step further: “Though I were innocent, I could not answer him.” (v.15a). It doesn't matter, says Job, whether I am guilty or innocent; the truth is that I cannot stand up before the argument of God. In all of this, Job has more wisdom than many modern crusading atheists who rant and rave about God, or rather about his non-existence, as if their foolish words are going to achieve anything. Their words will be blown away when they come to face the judge of all men. Job realises the greatness of God and realises that he is powerless before Him. This may appear a position of weakness but in fact it is the right starting place for anyone who desires a relationship with the Lord. When we realise God's greatness and our weakness and smallness, we are in a good place to move on with God, even though we may not realise it at the time.
Look at all Job is left with when he comes to this point of realization: “I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.” (v.15b) How many people stay away from God because they are still trusting in their own goodness? “I'm not all bad,” they say, “there is a lot of good in me and if I work at it I could perhaps be a really great person.” That is the place of self-deception. To become a Christian we have to first realise our poverty. That is why Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3) Coming to an awareness of our spiritual poverty is the starting place for anyone who wishes to enter God's kingdom.
There are two words that Job has just used that are significant. The first is ‘plead'. We cannot demand, because we have no claim on God. We cannot negotiate because we have nothing to bargain with. Asking is the response of a person who is beginning to think they have a problem; pleading is the response of the person who knows they have a problem! The second word is ‘mercy'. My dictionary says mercy is “compassion shown by one to another who is in his power and has no claim to kindness.” There it is; we are in God's power and we have no claim on His kindness. We simply beg unconditionally for it. The person who cries, “If you bless my life, I'll be a good person” really just hasn't seen it. We have no room to bargain with God; we can only plead with Him to have compassion on us for no other reason than He just does! That's what mercy is about – unwarranted, unfounded, compassion – compassion given for no other reason than it is just given!
In this whole part Job comes to this incredible realization that we have no room to bargain: “Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing.” (v.16). He realises that God is God and as such He is under no pressure to comply with our demands. I could summon him, says Job, and He just might turn up, but there is no way I can make Him listen to me if He doesn't want to! Indeed, he continues, “He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason.” (v.17). In other words, He is so powerful that if He wanted to He could swat me like a fly and I would be powerless to do anything about it. If He wanted to, He could give me even more suffering without having to give any explanation as to why He is doing it. “He would not let me regain my breath but would overwhelm me with misery.” (v.18). He could do what He likes with me and make it worse and worse, and I still wouldn't be able to do anything about it (implied). [Please note in passing that this is a theoretical argument – God could do this if He wanted to, He is that powerful and that independent It doesn't mean He will do it!]
“If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty! And if it is a matter of justice, who will summon him?” (v.19) If you think you're strong, you're just not in His league! If you demand your rights according to justice, you have no grounds to stand on. “Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.” (v.20). Even I thought I were utterly innocent, if I started trying to make a case for myself, I would show myself in error. With our words we just dig a hole for ourselves and the more we say, the more we show our pedigree. We are part of the fallen human race! This is revelation, and unless you've had it, you may be wondering what this is all about.
There are different groups of people in the world, probably far too many to observe but it's worth pondering on them. There are those who are corrupt and blatantly evil, who are out to get their own way and don't mind who they destroy anyway. You probably aren't in that group, because they wouldn't bother to come here and read Biblical meditations. Then there are those who are just plain distorted by sin. Every now and then I get a comment on my blog from someone who is obviously hurting but who is just simply abusive for no other reason than they are hurting and twisted and sinful. Then there are the ‘nice' people or the ‘great and the glorious' who seem to have it all, yet often have nothing. They think they're all right. They may even be religious. All of these people will one day have to face the Judge of the universe (Jas 5:9) and when they do they will realise how mistaken they were, for then they will see they are utterly helpless and hopeless before Him.
Then there is that final group of people, who I hope you belong to, those who have come to a crisis point in their lives where they have realised their need and realised that they have nothing to bargain with before God; they are just lost. They cried out for forgiveness and utterly surrendered the wreck of their lives to Him – and, wonder of wonders, were forgiven, were cleansed, were declared righteous, were declared children of God, and were given His Holy Spirit. This happened for two reasons. First, He wanted to do that for them, and second they realised they could only plead for His mercy, which was wonderfully forthcoming. Hallelujah!