If my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, then let briers come up instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley.Job 31:38-39
With this, the words of Job are ended; he has nothing more to say. Baffled, questioning, tormented, yet unwilling to forsake God, he falls silent. What can we say about the trials, the pressures, and the riddles of our own life? Remember that Job at this point has learned that his theology is too small for his God. That is true for many of us. We think we know the Bible, we think we have God boxed in, and we understand how He is going to act. And just as surely as we do, God is going to do something that will not fit our theology. He is greater than any human study of Him. He is not going to be inconsistent with Himself; He never is. He is not capricious, acting out of anger and malice. He is a loving God, but His love will take forms of expression that we do not understand. Up to this point Job has had his faith in the rule of God, but now at last he has begun to reach out tremblingly to exercise faith in the God who rules. That is a transfer that many of us need to come to.
The second thing that we can see at this point in the book is that Job's view of himself is woefully inadequate. He has been defending himself, and he has been remembering all his good deeds. We all do this, don't we? When trouble strikes we all tend to think to ourselves,
Why should this happen to me? By that we mean,
I haven't done anything wrong. I've been perfectly well behaved. Why should I be subjected to this kind of torment? All this makes us realize that he and we also have little understanding of the depths of sin's attack upon us and the depravity of our hearts. Jeremiah says,
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9)? The one thing God teaches us by these pressures and problems of life is to understand that there are depths of sin within us of which we are not yet aware.
The third thing that we need to see is that his self-vindication explains the silence of God. Why does God not help this man? The answer is because he has not yet come to the place where he is willing to listen. As long as people are defending themselves, God will not defend them. There is a theme that runs all through the Bible:
As long as you justify yourself, God will never justify you. And as long as Job thinks he has some righteous ground on which to stand, God's silence remains. This is true in our lives as well. That is why Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount by saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3), those who are bankrupt in themselves, who have come to the end. When we shut up and stop defending and justifying ourselves, God will rise to take up our cause. That is what we will see in the book of Job at the end; God will begin to speak on Job's behalf.
Lord, help me to lay aside all my flaunting schemes for self-improvement and self-defense and stand naked before You, trusting Your loving grace to give me all I need,
We inevitably whitewash our conduct in self-defense. Are we willing to stand naked before God who knows us intimately yet defends us as we stand complete in Christ?