|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. 50
Meditation Title: The Wicked Live On
Job 21:7 Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?
Job has listened to this outpouring of only partial truth and now asks for another opportunity to speak: “Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.” (v.3) He then indirectly suggests his complaint is with God: “Is my complaint directed to man? Why should I not be impatient?” (v.4) and goes on, “Look at me and be astonished; clap your hand over your mouth.” (v.5) i.e. be amazed at what has happened to me – and then keep quiet!
Then he expresses something of his righteous attitude to the world and in v.7 asks the question we have above, but before it he declares, “When I think about this, I am terrified; trembling seizes my body.” (v.6). That's what he feels about what he sees in the world. It is a similar cry to that of Habakkuk: “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.” (Hab 1:3)
This seems a mystery in the world, that God tolerates and allows the wicked to prevail and even, sometimes, to live long and prosperous lives! This is exactly what Job says in v.8-13, yet, he says, “they say to God, `Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?” (v.14,15) They are utterly godless these unrighteous people. But, he goes on, “their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.” (v.16) i.e. they are only prosperous because God allows them to be so, but they are foolish and don't realise this (implied) so I'm not going to have anything to do with their foolish thinking.
Because of what follows, it seems that verses 17 & 18 really suggest that so often the wicked seem to get away with their wickedness, because in verse 19 he points out a saying, that God brings the punishment, or effects of a man's sins, upon his family who follow: “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them.” (v.17a) and “It is said, `God stores up a man's punishment for his sons.” (v.19a)
Job isn't happy with that; he wants the man to carry his own sin: “Let him repay the man himself, so that he will know it! Let his own eyes see his destruction; let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.” (v.19b,20). Otherwise, he thinks that wicked man will not bother about what he does or what will happen to his family who follows him: “ For what does he care about the family he leaves behind when his allotted months come to an end?” (v.21). Job is left with questions and the final one is, “Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest?” (v.22) i.e. no, God is above being taught because He is above everyone else!
Look at life, is what Job then implies: “One man dies in full vigour, completely secure and at ease, his body well nourished, his bones rich with marrow. Another man dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both.” (v.23-26) i.e. there appears no rhyme or reason why one man dies happy and rich and another doesn't. It is a mystery of life.
Then he turns back to himself: “I know full well what you are thinking, the schemes by which you would wrong me. You say, `Where now is the great man's house, the tents where wicked men lived?” (v.27,28) i.e. I know that you're looking at me and what has happened to me and are assuming I've done wrong. Talk around, he goes on, and ask those who have travelled and who have a wider knowledge of the world: “Have you never questioned those who travel? Have you paid no regard to their accounts-- that the evil man is spared from the day of calamity, that he is delivered from the day of wrath?” (v.29,30) i.e. they would tell you that they know of plenty of wicked people who appear to get away with it! Oh, no, they get away with it all right: “Who denounces his conduct to his face? Who repays him for what he has done? He is carried to the grave, and watch is kept over his tomb. The soil in the valley is sweet to him; all men follow after him, and a countless throng goes before him.” (v.31-33). i.e. who tells them off and rebukes them for their lives? No one! He is buried with honour and crowds accept what he has done!
So, look at the folly of what you have been arguing: “So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!” (v.34) No, this whole business of trying to attach sin to a person who is suffering falls down in the face of the evidence in life. It just doesn't happen like that!!! We saw in the previous meditation the wider teaching as to why God works like this, so will simply refer you back to that at this point. Never try to lump the whole world together to justify your arguments or doctrine or philosophy of life. It's normally not that simple!