|Series Theme: The Anguish of Job|
1-10 roughly cover Ch.1-4
11-20 roughly cover Ch.4-7
21-30 roughly cover Ch.8-11
31-40 roughly cover Ch.12-15
41-50 roughly cover Ch.16-21
51-60 cover Ch.22-33
61-68 cover Ch.34-42
Meditation No. 44
Meditation Title: Living out our time
Job 17:1 My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.
The good thing about meditations is that you can go further than just looking at the meaning of what the writer was putting before us; we can consider the implications and how they work out in our lives. That really is what we ought to be doing all the time with Scripture. If we just look at facts it remains sterile writing. If we allow the Lord to apply it to our lives, it becomes dynamic, transforming power.
As we commented in the previous meditation this is not, at first sight at least, one of the most enlightening parts of Scripture, but we must remember that all Scripture is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Tim 3:16) so we need to see what it says and then see what it says TO US. Let's just take the first nine verses of this fairly short chapter, and then the remaining ones in the next meditation.
How is Job feeling? “ My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.” (v.1). That seems a continuation from what we saw at the end of the last chapter. He in fact feels down and with no future. The brief revelation that he had seems to be swamped under the anguish he still feels. Jesus warned about this sort of thing when he told the parable of the Sower and, specifically, about the seed that fell among thorns – the worries of life which stop the word (seed) growing. (Mt 13:22). But not only does he feel down, he also feels got at. There are those around him who mock him and that makes it all worse: “Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility.” (v.2)
But then he says something remarkable: “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me?” (v.3) This is the language of a pawnbroker – a pledge is security put up for goods that have been put into pawn, to redeem or recover them. Look, he says to God, you demand something of me, and I don't know what it is (implied) and I can't do it; you must do it, you must provide it. If you want me saved and changed, then you're going to have to do it. What incredible revelation. This is EXACTLY what has happened. God has seen the plight of mankind, lost in sin, and knows that man cannot get himself out of it, and so has sent His Son to pay the price, so we may receive eternal life.
But next we see something else about his understanding. He is so sure of his position, that he reaches a conclusion as he talks to the Lord: “You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph.” (v.4) i.e. these people around me are blind to my circumstances, to why I am really like this; this has got to be a work of God, and if it is a work of God He will look after me and won't let their negative words triumph over me and bring me down! Excellent!
He thinks about this in generalities: “If a man denounces his friends for reward, the eyes of his children will fail.” (v.5) i.e. if you take money to denounce a friend, truth will be lost and your children will similarly soon be unable to see or discern truth. But maybe the ‘reward' will just be the sense of superiority over the friend you have put down. That is just as bad and just as much you will be providing a bad example for your children who will follow in your footsteps. He is giving a subtle warning to his three ‘friends' to beware being that bad example.
Then he reverts back to talking to himself: “God has made me a byword to everyone, a man in whose face people spit.” (v.6). I am an outcast who is utterly rejected by people because of what I have become (implied). “My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow.” (v.7) i.e. this sense of mourning almost blinds me to everything else, and I feel but a shadow of the man I once was. See what an upset this causes: “Upright men are appalled at this;” (v.8a). These good men are appalled at what has happened to me and, even worse they see themselves as, “the innocent… aroused against the ungodly.” (v.8b). They think they are innocent and that because of what has been happening to me, that I must be ungodly, but it's all right, “Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger.” (v.9) Perhaps he implies that he knows he is righteous and will hold to that, and that as he does he will grow stronger.
So let's summarise what we've seen in these nine verses. Initially he feels that his life is nearing an end and that he is mocked by those who see his plight. He recognizes that if God is making demands of him, then it needs to be God who brings help to him. He considers that God must have blinded the eyes of his friends but that, even though he feels terrible, he will determine to remain righteous anyway.
Now that's quite a remarkable challenge. He thinks he is nearing the end of his life, he's in a bad state physically, and people are wrongly judging him, but he's going to remain steadfast with God's grace. Wow! So how about us? How do we cope when we are physically down, whether or not we are old? Do we want to give up? Do we become careless in the way we hold to the truth? Do we feel we want to give up being an example – salt and light – to others? If we are elderly, there is this key question: How will we live out whatever time we have left on this earth? Let's close with those really encouraging – and challenging words from Psa 92:12-15: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” So, will you continue to receive the Lord's resources so that your latter years will remain ‘fruitful', continuing to be a witness to those around you? May it be so!