Job 24

 Job 24 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson

            When we are in pain, experiencing loss, or terribly confused, we say things out of frustration that we don’t mean – at least not upon further reflection.  Job wants God to have regular office hours in court.  Since Job maintains his innocence, the only alternative is that God is unjust.  It seems so obvious to Job.  I am innocent so God is unfair.

            Job has great skills of observation.   He seems to see the wicked doing things that displease God.  They move landmarks to increase their property at the expense of their neighbor.  They steal flocks and treat them as their own (v. 2).  They take advantage of the fatherless and the widow (v. 3).  This may not appear like much of a problem but it is a big problem to God. 

            God is a protector of the fatherless and widow.  Deut. 27:19  “Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’  Psa. 146:9 The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless . . . .    
            Then Job says the wicked “thrust the poor off the road; the poor of the earth all hide themselves”  v. 4.  God cares deeply about the poor.  Here are a few verses that demonstrate God’s concern for the those who need the help of others.  Ex 23:6   “You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit.  Lev. 19:10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.  Deut. 24:14   “You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. 15 You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the LORD, and you be guilty of sin.

            Let’s admit that this is a difficult chapter to understand.  Commentators have fits trying to make sense of these verses.  In verses 5-10, Job points out the travail of the poor.  It may be that Job is also castigating the wealthy. Then the 3rd line in verse 12, “yet God charges no one with wrong.”  Of course, we may feel that way but we know God is not that like that at all. 

            Job then  moves on to those who do their evil words at night for they say (even about God?), “no eye will see me.  This shows they know what they are doing is wrong.  In the ESV, verse 18 begins with two words not in the original, “you say.”  This is because, commentators are trying to make sense of Job, in verses 18-20, agreeing with his friends.  Yet Job realizes the wicked suffer affliction and appear outwardly “blessed.” 

            In essence, Job is saying the wicked appear to have a pretty good life.  They are not all afflicted.   Wouldn’t you say you have done that?  We compare and contrast all kinds of things.  We compare what we know well with new things.  That is not wrong.  We compare teachers, bosses, pastors, managers, houses, schools, etc.  What is wrong is when I come out looking like I have been treated unfairly.  It is wrong when I think God has treated me in any way other than an overly generous, extremely kind, and over-the-top gracious manner.  And often, we don’t see life that way.

            Job is right.  On one hand Job has not done something deserving such ill-treatment.  Yet, on the other hand, God is not unjust.  Had Job only known, God favored Job and allowed this terrible affliction.  God pointed Job out to Satan as a great example of a godly person.  We just don’t know why things happen.  How can God ever explain these deep mysteries to us?  And if He did explain why one thing happened in our lives, could we comprehend it?  What if God explained to us why He gave us our parents?  Where would He start and where would He end the story.  How many people would be involved?  Could we understand just that one thing in our life story? 

            Job was treated awful.  I am writing this with a stomach full of food, in a comfortable home, in a safe and secure town.  I enjoy a stable government, a strong economy, and I have money invested that is growing in value.  So I can wax eloquent about suffering.  But Job was in pain, discomfort, confused, and pelted with bad advice from his friends.  Put me in his shoes and I wouldn’t look half as good as Job.  I confess it is not “fair” what I have compared to Christians suffering around the world.  Yet, the glory they share with Christ is of more value than my comfort.  So, as you criticize Job, look around.  How does your situation compare with Job?  I don’t think I would fare as well. 

            Holy Father, I confess I can be critical of others.  I can be critical of You.  Forgive me when I look down on others who are struggling or hurting.  They need more compassion and less judging.  Curb my tongue when I am tempted to “let you have it.”  I easily excused myself for the worst sins but scream bloody murder if I think I have suffered the slightest “injustice.”  Remind me of how “unfair” Your grace is to me.  Direct my attention to you so I will be more grateful.  May I remember the violent treatment of Your Son Jesus and the life He gave up so we could experience eternal life.  In Christ’s name, Amen.