The View From Below
A daily devotion for December 10th
1 "My eyes have seen all this,
my ears have heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty
and to argue my case with God.
4 You, however, smear me with lies;
you are worthless physicians, all of you!
5 If only you would be altogether silent!
For you, that would be wisdom.
6 Hear now my argument;
listen to the plea of my lips.
7 Will you speak wickedly on God's behalf?
Will you speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show him partiality?
Will you argue the case for God?
9 Would it turn out well if he examined you?
Could you deceive him as you might deceive men?
10 He would surely rebuke you
if you secretly showed partiality.
11 Would not his splendor terrify you?
Would not the dread of him fall on you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defenses are defenses of clay.
13 "Keep silent and let me speak;
then let come to me what may.
14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy
and take my life in my hands?
15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
I will surely defend my ways to his face.
16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,
for no godless man would dare come before him!
17 Listen carefully to my words;
let your ears take in what I say.
18 Now that I have prepared my case,
I know I will be vindicated.
19 Can anyone bring charges against me?
If so, I will be silent and die.
20 "Only grant me these two things, O God,
and then I will not hide from you:
21 Withdraw your hand far from me,
and stop frightening me with your terrors.
22 Then summon me and I will answer,
or let me speak, and you reply.
23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed?
Show me my offense and my sin.
24 Why do you hide your face
and consider me your enemy?
25 Will you torment a windblown leaf?
Will you chase after dry chaff?
26 For you write down bitter things against me
and make me inherit the sins of my youth.
27 You fasten my feet in shackles;
you keep close watch on all my paths
by putting marks on the soles of my feet.
28 "So man wastes away like something rotten,
like a garment eaten by moths.
1 "Man born of woman
is of few days and full of trouble.
2 He springs up like a flower and withers away;
like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.
3 Do you fix your eye on such a one?
Will you bring him before you for judgment?
4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
5 Man's days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.
6 So look away from him and let him alone,
till he has put in his time like a hired man.
7 "At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
10 But man dies and is laid low;
he breathes his last and is no more.
11 As water disappears from the sea
or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
12 so man lies down and does not rise;
till the heavens are no more, men will not awake
or be roused from their sleep.
13 "If only you would hide me in the grave
and conceal me till your anger has passed!
If only you would set me a time
and then remember me!
14 If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come.
15 You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
16 Surely then you will count my steps
but not keep track of my sin.
17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
you will cover over my sin.
18 "But as a mountain erodes and crumbles
and as a rock is moved from its place,
19 as water wears away stones
and torrents wash away the soil,
so you destroy man's hope.
20 You overpower him once for all, and he is gone;
you change his countenance and send him away.
21 If his sons are honored, he does not know it;
if they are brought low, he does not see it.
22 He feels but the pain of his own body
and mourns only for himself."
But as a mountain erodes and crumbles and as a rock is moved from its place, as water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy man's hope (Job 14:18-19).
Here we have in Job a vivid expression of what is wrong with our view of life. Job is looking at life as a natural man, and he sees it as the world sees it, that everything is for now. This life is the wholly important thing, and the reason you were brought into existence is to make something out of this present experience--you never get another chance. We are reminded of that on television:
You only go around once! If you are going to live, live with gusto. We are constantly exhorted by the world, with its distorted understanding of life, to seize the present moment--you will never get another one.
If you don't make it now, it will be too late. This is one of the major reasons even Christian couples are divorcing, sometimes after twenty-five or thirty years of marriage. People begin to feel the force of this argument, and they believe it. They think the only thing left, if there is to be any pleasure and enjoyment in life, is to seize the present moment.
I have not been able to put it all together in all this time, so I'm going to leave and start over. Many a marriage is broken on that rock.
What God is teaching Job in this book is that living for today is not what it is all about. This is not why human existence is given to us; this is but the school time, a time of preparation to get ready for the real life that lies ahead. Compare Job's view of life with the revelation of the New Testament and the view of New Testament writers as to what lies beyond death, and you see a stark and vivid contrast. They look forward to something so beautiful and grand and glorious breaking upon them that they could hardly wait to seize it! But here you get only the idea that everything must be done now.
I think this is why we get upset with ourselves and with life at times. We feel life has been put together backwards. You have to make all the major decisions at the time when you know practically nothing, when you are so callow and uninformed that you can hardly even see things right. You have to choose the wife of your youth at a time when you are not able to judge yourself, let alone anyone else. This is what Job is feeling here; there is no way back.
Lord, thank You that though now I see only in part, the day will come when I will see clearly that all You do is for my good and Your glory.
Life Application: Are we seduced by the world's philosophy about seizing each moment for our own selfish pleasure? Do we live in frantic subservience to the pressure of illusory time?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.