Scripture Reading: Job 23 - 24 …
The human heart and mind react together to the circumstances intertwined throughout our lives in this world. Our thinking and our feeling interact to such an extent that one affects the other. Either your thinking controls your emotions or your emotions control your thinking. Job’s words reveal the turmoil that is going on in his heart and mind. Because his friends have accused him of wrongdoing, Job is found trying to foolishly defend himself by declaring his "innocence" before the Lord. He wants to state his case before the Almighty and believes that he would be acquitted (23:3-7). We know, of course, that no one is innocent in the Lord's courtroom. All stand "guilty" before the Judge of all the earth! While Job is aware of his sin, he begins to question God’s compassion, mercy and love. He is not the first or the last to do so. Had God forgotten him?
Chapters 23-24 offer no hope and no comfort. Such is the state of Job's mind. A symptom of Job's despair is found in verses 8 and 9 of chapter 23:
"But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him." God is everywhere, but Job confesses his spiritual blindness. His darkness is that of people throughout all the ages who look at the waves and hear the wind and who take their eyes off of their Savior, their God! Job confesses at the end of chapter 23 that he is terrified of the Lord (vss. 15-16). What a horrible state in which to find yourself , yet millions are in the same place Job finds himself. Apart from God's grace, this is where you and I would find ourselves, too.
Chapter 24 reveals where such thinking leads. When you think God is far away and you can't "find" Him, you begin to look at the wicked and it appears that they have no struggles or problems. Why doesn't God slay the wicked? Why do the trials and sufferings of believers often seem worse than those of unbelievers? Isn’t God a righteous Judge? We know He is and Job knew He was, but his emotions were controlling his thinking at this point. In today’s vocabulary we would say that Job was depressed. His trials were overwhelming him and he couldn’t “see” how God was at work in his present circumstances.
Job speaks of the ruthless activities of the wicked (24:1-4), and compares the way of the poor (24:5-12). The wicked do whatever they want and "the groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help … But God charges no one with wrongdoing." In essence, Job is charging GOD with wrongdoing, because Job thinks He is doing nothing! He declares that "those who rebel against the light" (24:13) do what they want in the darkness (24:14-16). Still, Job believes that God will destroy them with His power … Job just wants Him to do it NOW!!!
How many of us have been or are where Job finds himself in these chapters? The evil and wickedness of the world increase hour by hour, day by day. We live not only in a world that ignores God's light, but in a nation that rejects the path God has laid out in His Word. If God is not in control ... if God is somehow "absent" ... if God is sitting idly by and allowing the wicked to do whatever they want ... then there is no hope. Centuries ago some believed that the Gospel would produce a golden age when most people in the world would believe in Jesus and this world would become a "better" place to live. After two world wars and the rise of terrorism, few believe in that dream any longer.
Still, those who read and believe God's Word know that the Almighty God who rules over all things has a plan that He has been unfolding since before time began. From the first sin of mankind in the Garden of Eden until the birth of Jesus Christ God was preparing the world for the coming of a Savior who would deliver His people from the kingdom of darkness of which Job speaks; a darkness that enslaves the hearts and minds of people all over the world and throughout all the centuries. In the fullness of time God sent His Son to be the only Mediator between God and man. God determined that through the preaching of the Gospel He would save all who believe. Because of the spiritual darkness in the heart and mind of every human being ever to walk this earth, only the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross could satisfy God’s just wrath against sin and redeem those whom God had chosen to be His.
And because of that same spiritual darkness, only by the power of the Holy Spirit are those who are spiritually dead born again to new life in Christ. By His Word and Spirit God will accomplish all that He intends: the Gospel brings life to those who are born again by the Spirit and who respond by placing their faith in Jesus Christ ... and it declares judgment on those who reject the Savior and go their own way, creating their own gods or making themselves their own god. FAITH in the one true God means that you trust Him ... no matter what, because you know He is faithful and that in the end, it will be well with your soul.
As we have seen so often, Job needed someone to encourage him to stand firm. This is one of the great advantages of being part of Christ's body. As a child once said, "I know God is with me, but sometimes I need somebody with skin on!" Jesus became God "with skin on!" We, who believe, have an Advocate, a Brother, a Lord who IS "Immanuel," "God with us" ... And He will NEVER leave us or forsake us ... EVER!! Every believer can answer the question, "Oh God, where are you?" by testifying, "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation ... whom shall I fear?!" (Psalm 27:1). "If God is for me, who shall be against me?" (Romans 8:31). "Nothing shall separate ME from the love of God in Christ Jesus!" (Romans 8:39).
"Father, in the midst of life's trials, You are God! With everything in me I thank You for revealing Yourself to me and moving my heart to believe Your Word and to trust Your promises in Christ Jesus. I know I am Yours; I know You are with Me now and I know that You always do what is right, working ALL things together for good for those who love You and who have been called according to Your purpose. Help me to trust You today and tomorrow and forever! In Jesus' name, Amen"