John T. Willis

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Here Is My Signature! Let the Almighty Answer Me! Job's Third Response to Bildad--Part 5--Job 31

Job has yearned for "the good old days"--recorded in Job 29. Then, Job has proclaimed that NOW he is suffering tremendously without just cause--recorded in Job 30. Then, we come to the climactic conclusion of his long monologue recorded in Job 26-31.

Job 31 contains the highest religious and moral standards found in the entire Bible, Old or New Testament. Job's standards are sterling. If all Christians would live up to these standards, their lives would be marvelous. But for Job, the problem is that in spite of the fact that his religious and moral standards are "blameless and righteous," God is making Job suffer without just cause. Hence, Job once again challenges God to meet Job in a fair court trial, in which case Job will prove that Job is right and God is arbitrary and making Job suffer unjustly.

Job 31 lays out numerous outstanding standards for the highest type of godly living. In this blog, we will simply follow the text through this chapter. Job declares:

I. I have not lusted after a virgin in my heart. Verses 1-4. Job is well aware that God sees all human thoughts, words, and deeds. (See Proverbs 15:3). Keenly knowing God's presence, Job diligently resists all temptations to lust after a virgin. I have heard and read preachers and teachers who declare that in Old Testament times, God was concerned ONLY with external sexual acts, but when Jesus came, God became interested in matters of the heart. Obviously, this view is incorrect. God has ALWAYS been concerned with the heart. God knows our inmost thoughts, and our thoughts are indicators our of true lives.

II. I have not been false or deceitful in dealing with others. Verses 5-8. Job is so certain of his righteousness that he proclaims that if he has used a "just balance" in business transaction, he prays that he will sow and another eat, or let what grows for him be rooted out.

III. I have not been unfaithful to my wife and committed adultery with the wife of another man. Verses 9-12. As in verse 1, Job openly states that the "problem" here is the heart--verse 9. Job affirms that his "heart" has not been enticed by another woman and committed adultery with her. Job is so certain of his righteousness that if he has committed adultery, he prays that another man will commit adultery with Job's own wife.

IV. I have not mistreated by slaves. Verses 13-15. In Bible times [Old and New Testaments], people [including Christians] had slaves--see Ephesians 6:5-9; Philemon; 1 Corinthians 7:21-24. But many "masters" do not treat their "slaves" AS "slaves." This is true of Job. Job asserts that if one of his slaves brought a complaint against Job, Job listens and respectfully honors the complaint. Job reasons that master or slave is created by God, therefore we are all equal before God. What a high moral standard!!!

V. I have done my very best to help the needy in every way. Verses 16-23.
a. Job says he has not deprived the poor, the widow, or the orphan whatever their need might be. Just the reverse: Job has raised orphans and guided widows. Verses 16-18.
b. Job says he as supplied the poor with clothing and shelter. Verses 19-20.
c. Job explains that he defended orphans in court cases. Verse 21.
d. Job is so certain that he is righteous that IF he has failed to help all these people, Job prays that his shoulder blade would fall from his shoulder and his arm be broken from its socket. Otherwise, Job could never "face" God. Verses 22-23.

VI. I have always trusted in God, not in wealth and not in any other god. Verses 24-28.
a. "Gold," "wealth," "getting much," is THE GOAL of millions of people on earth, and this has been true throughout human history. BUT, God firmly insists that he does not "trust" in gold or "have confidence" in wealth or "rejoice" in many possessions. Verses 24-25.
b. Many cultures in the ancient Near East worshipped the sun, moon, and stars, and this is still true in some cultures today. Job proclaims that he has never been "secretly enticed" in his "heart" to bow down before the sun or "thrown a kiss" to the moon in symbol of worshipping this distant place. Verses 26-27.
c. Emphatically, Job states that if he had trusted in wealth or other gods [creations of the one true God], this would be "iniquity" and he would have been "false" to the one true God. Verse 28.

VII. I have not rejoiced in the tragedies of my enemies. Verses 29-34, 38-40.
a. I often talk with people who seem to think that in Old Testament times, God taught his people to return good for good and evil for evil, but Jesus came and taught people to return good for evil. One cannot find such a view anywhere in scripture--certainly including the Old Testament. In Job 31:29-34, 38-40, Job declares clearly that he would never rejoice over the afflictions of his enemies, nor would he deliberately attempt to hurt his enemies.
b. The great German scholar wrote: "If chapter 31 [of the book of Job] is the crown of all the ethical development of the Old Testament, verse 29 is the jewel of that crown." Several Old Testament passages teach the say thing--see Exodus 23:4-5; Proverbs 20:22; 24:17-18; 25:21-22; 1 Samuel 24:17. This teaching permeates the Bible. Jesus' teaching is Matthew 5:43-48 is NOT a repudiation of the Old Testament, but a repudiation of a "warped interpretation" of the Old Testament by certain Jewish teachers in the days of Jesus. Verses 29-31.
c. Job reminds his hearers that he has openly welcomed all "strangers" and "travelers" in his home. Job was very hospitable. Verse 32.
d. Job affirms that he has not been hypocritical, pretending that he is one way when actually he is quite different. Job refuses to allow the feelings and demands of a multitude influence Job's commitment to God. Verses 33-34.
e. Job openly asserts that he has not gained "wheat," "barley," or any of its "yield" by means of hurting the "owners" of other fields or even his enemies. Verses 38-40.

VIII. In view of this bold defence, Job concludes by challenging God to meet Job in a fair court case to prove that Job is just and God is making Job suffer without just cause. Verses 35-37.
a. For one last time, Job LONGS to have a FAIR OPPORTUNITY to meet God in court: "Oh, that I had ONE to hear me!"--Just anyone, especially God. Verse 35a.
b. Job throws out the gauntlet:
"Here is my signature!
Let the Almighty answer me!"
Job has written his court case at length: I am righteous, and God is making me suffer without just cause; and NOW he SIGNS his signature--JOB. Then, Job DARES God to sign the NEGATIVE reply to agree to meet Job in a fair court trial. Verse 35b.
c. Then Job reverses the possibility to let God have the opportunity to go first in this court trial.
"Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!"
Let God write out HIS court case and length, God's INDICTMENT levelled against JOB. God is Job's ADVERSARY. Verse 35c.
d. Job says: If God would just appear and give me an opportunity to meet God in a fair court trial, I would go throughout the land of Uz carrying this "debate agreement" for everyone to see; I would wear it like a "crown" on my head so all could see. Verse 36.
e. Then, at the court trial, Job asserts that he would "give an account of ALL his steps"--Job has this all worked in detail. Job has no doubt in his mind that Job is right about this. And Job would "approach" God in this court "like a PRINCE"--forehead to forehead, eye to eye, chin to chin, fist to fist--and I would defeat God in this debate.

What a chapter!!! What a challenge!!! How do YOU respond to Job's final words in this long monologue? Is Job right and God is wrong? Some of my friends think so. Sorry. I think not. Oh yes, if I were in Job's place, at this point in his spiritual journey, I probably would have done as badly or worse. But, this is NOT the end of the story. There are eleven chapters left in the Book of Job. Hold on tight. Hang in there. Let's see what happen.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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