Exercise: Read chapters 12-14, then try to answer the following;
1. What do you think Job meant by “wisdom will die with you”? 2. Why was Job a laughing stock? 3. Why should all creatures know that God had done this to Job. 4. Where is wisdom found? 5. What is the expected purpose or result of life? 6. Verse 13-25 follow after Job’s reference to the wisdom and power of God. It is easy to see the power, where is the wisdom?.
Chapter 13. 7. What is repeated in verse two from ch.12? 8. What did Job describe his friends as? 9. How did they deserve this title? 10. How did Job say they could become wise? 11. Why would Job prefer to argue his case with God than his friends.? 12. Can you explain ch.13:8? 13. What does “partiality” mean and why would it not be an appropriate quality in a legal judgement ? 14. What verse reveals that his friend’s case was merely a repetition of maxims and proverbs? 15. What is a maxim? 16. In verse 15. where would he have hope, if God slew him? 17. Why might his approach to God in his own defence turn out to be a means of his deliverance? 18. What two things did Job request of God? (v.20) 19. What autumn scene reminds us of how God dealt with Job? 20. How was God able to keep track of Job’s movements? 21. What new method of treating offenders on probation is similar Chapter 14. 22. What two things describe man’s brief existence? 23. Verse six should remind you of an earlier description of Job, concerning his relationship with God. What is it? 24. What do these verses have in common. ch.13:15; ch.14:7; and ch.4:19? 25. Can you spot the link or difference between ch.13: 26 & 27 with ch.14:16 & 17? 26. What is Job hoping for in ch.14, verses 13 onwards.? 27. What does ch.14:22 mean in the context of verses 18 onwards. 28. What would your summarising title be for this speech? Study Notes on Chs. 12-14
Wisdom; In ch.12 v 12, we are reminded that wisdom is more often found amongst the old. “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Foolishness is always associated with youth. It was the younger son who went away from the father in the parable told by Jesus. Solomon’s son and heir, Rehoboam, chose to take the advice of the younger men, rather than that of the elders, and the consequences were disastrous. The nation split in two. We say that there is “no fool like an old fool and if experience does not teach you then you have experienced in vain. Solomon, reputedly the wisest man, addresses his advice in the Proverbs to “his son”, and he exhorts the rewards of gaining wisdom. The whole point of life is that we become wise. True wisdom is the way of God. The Gospel is the wisdom of God. It is THE WAY of God unto salvation. To the natural man it is foolishness. The scriptures make us wise “unto salvation”, but it is the fool who says “there is no God”. Again Solomon says; “There is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is death” As we grow older therefore it is important that we grow wiser in the ways of God, which are above man’s ways as the heavens are above the earth. No wonder we are constantly hearing people telling us what they would do if they were God. Did not Satan think he could have filled God’s shoes very easily. He looked at only himself, and the knowledge he had of himself made him foolishly proud. He had no true knowledge of God. The same pride is seen in man who is by nature his child. Hence the inclination in times of trouble to tell God to move over, because he thinks that he can handle the situation quite easily. The natural man thinks that the ways of God are foolishness. We are told that in the last days men would be “ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.” Wisdom is the pure dispensation of knowledge; pure in the sense that it produces good. Jesus said that wisdom was justified of its children, John the Baptist was very different to Jesus in the way they went about their respective ministries, but Jesus did not say that that should not be so, merely that if the fruit produced was good then the method of ministry was justified. You can’t judge wisdom until the end. That is why we read that wisdom belongs to God (ch.12:13) who alone knows the end from the first beginnings. He knew what the end result of life on earth would be and therefore He alone can hold true wisdom. In ch.13: 5 Job breaks out again with sarcastic humour when he tells his friends who profess to be speaking wisdom, that the wisest thing they could do was to shut up. Today we might say “I have seen more wisdom on a toothbrush.” His Friends. Their attitude to Job was as to one who was inferior. They obviously thought they knew better, and it has always been that those with the higher education will think themselves superior to those who they think know less. It is an attitude they find hard to conceal. Job repeats his opinion, that he is not inferior to them. Merely because they are well and he is sick, does not stop him from knowing all that they know. He was as familiar with their proverbs and maxims, as they were themselves. In ch.12:3 and ch.13:2 he says, “I am not inferior to you”. They obviously were giving the impression that he was. But people who are sick tend to be looked upon as in weakness, and their need of others, makes the “others”, quite naturally feel superior. He gives his friends many titles in the book, here in ch.13: 4 he calls them “worthless physicians”, a title which is again laced with sarcastic humour. True wisdom is what would be expected of a judge, and within the legal tapestry of this book, the legal criteria hold true. Especially is the lack of partiality necessary for true judgement. The friends were seeking to speak on behalf of God. They obviously felt obliged to stand up for God because Job seemed to be questioning His wisdom. Of course he was not, but they thought he was. But they were so much on God’s side that they showed blatant partiality. Job recognised this and knew that such a stance would not be commended by the just God that they purported to represent. So much so that because Job knew what they were saying was wrong, that he accused them of speaking lies while arguing God’s case. For such a crime they could well fall subject to the judgement of God themselves. Job speaks of the “splendour of God” as something that would terrify his friends. This is a reference to the splendour of the legal robes which Job often wore. He makes more than one reference to this splendour. In such a case Job says that all cliché proverbs and maxims, would be “defences of clay” if God was to cross examine them.
Maxims; Ch.12: 3; “Who does not know them” They were obviously well known sayings, which people lived by. Similarly today, “Never put all your eggs in one basket” or “Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched”, are maxims which cause people to act in a certain way, given certain circumstances. Ch.14:1 sounds like a common and true statement which may fit into their philosophy at the time. “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble”. It is easy to see that not much has changed over the past four thousand years despite the thousands who have tried to change the world, for the better. The maxim describes today’s world also.
His position now; Ch.12:4; “I have become a laughing stock”. The reason he was a laughing stock was because He was the one who believed in God and had no doubt testified for him in the past, etc., but he was the one who was suffering, and those who did not believe in God, indeed were “ungodly”, were seemingly living at ease. Very much as in the Psalms, the enemies of David, asked “where is your God now”. Those who carried their god in their hands, who worshipped idols made of wood and stone, seemed to be better looked after than those who served the true and living God. The ungodly are not slow to notice such things, and to question why God stops answering the believer’s prayers. So Job had become a laughing stock, for in the past he was able to use his wealth and health and legal position to testify to the goodness and greatness of His God. Similarly Christ was mocked, as they crucified him. “let his God now save him,” and “he saved others, but he can’t even save himself” The Apostle Paul made reference often to such circumstances, saying that the suffering Christian was like the gladiator being led in procession to the arena, ready for death. But says Paul we are victors, not victims/losers.
His Argument. Ch.12 :5-6. Marauders live peaceful lives, in comparative security, while the righteous like himself are suffering. Ch.13: 6 “hear now my argument” Ch.13: 28. Life in suffering has no purpose (ch.13:28). Man wastes away “like something rotten”. He is referring to vegetable matter, like a dead flower perishes. Likewise he resembles a moth eaten cloth. There seems no purpose in either. Ch.14:18-22. This small passage is very difficult to understand. But it is easily understood when taken in context with the verses immediately before. Three times in this speech Job refers to Hope. This hope is not the same kind of hope that we would refer to today, as a man would hope for his horse to win or the rain to stop etc. The hope of scripture is an assured future. It is an expression of faith in the future. But here in these verses Job is making statements which are true in so far as the revelation that they had received. They had no reason to believe in the after- life or the resurrection. The grave was “the place of no return”; note verses 13-17; “If only...”; He longs for it to be otherwise and even suggests why there could very well be an afterlife. Then he endorses his argument that there is no real point in life unless there is a resurrection, but the real truth is that God just destroys man’s hope (assured future) by death. “He (God) overpowers man, once for all and he is gone”. So final is such death that he does not even know if his sons have a better life or not. All he knows is life that finishes in pain and suffering. To Job this is “life without purpose”, or if that is the purpose for this marvellous creation, then it is beyond his understanding, even beyond his belief. Despite all they have learnt through maxims and proverbs about death, he now expresses his longing and belief that if God is the kind of God he thinks he is, full of wisdom, then there must be a better purpose for everything. Otherwise life does not make sense. Are these longings the first signs of the Spirit at work in Him? ... we shall see.
His Faith. The previous chapter leads us nicely to the tremendous statement of faith in the future that Job makes in ch.13:15. “Though He slay me, yet will I hope (trust) in Him”. It is worth questioning, how could Job have hope if God slew him? The search for an answer would illuminate verses 13 -17 in ch.14. The whole speech hinges upon this text. He states his case that God has a hand in his suffering. Nothing happens on this earth, in which he does not have a hand. He holds every creature in his hands. He refutes the foolish arguments and maxims of his friends. He pushes them to one side as it were, accusing them of falsely representing God, and asserts his intention to set his case directly to God himself. The speech therefore is the record of that speech. He knows that if He sets his case before God, then God could very well wipe him out. He knew he was taking his life in his hands, but he had already said that his life wasn’t worth a candle, so it really made no difference. However his speech contains a confession that he suspects that God has a greater purpose in life than there seemed at present. ‘If a man dies will he live again?” ch.14:14 ; a truly amazing verse in the light of the limited revelation he then knew. “I will wait for my renewal”. If his longings could only be a reality then he would eagerly wait for the resurrection. This life would have a purpose after all. Surely if God saw faith in Abraham and David that pleased Him then such statements as this must have thrilled his heart. Notice even greater inspiration in the statement that God would surely want to see him after he was dead. Then he would trace all his steps again, as he says he did in ch.13:26-28, but this time he would not regard his sins, but put them out of sight. Surely this is the Spirit bubbling inside him. Perhaps there was a legal procedure in his day when the accusations or charges against people proved innocent were ceremoniously put in a bag. Perhaps we would call it a kind of waste paper basket or even more so some kind of shredder. In the light of our salvation today and the forgiveness of sins that we know, these statements are truly “Gem texts”
His Integrity; Ch.12: 4 “Though righteous and blameless “ Ch.13:15-16. He is so sure of his righteousness that he maintains , that because he feels bold enough to go directly to God himself, it would turn out to his benefit. For he reasoned, that no guilty person would want to face God. He is also certain of the character of God. He recognises His power because he says “I will be taking my life in my hands” He recognises his wisdom because he knows that whatever he does to him will eventually turn out to be just and good, and he recognises his hidden love, for he has a strong conviction that death is probably not the end. Ch.13: 23. “How many wrongs have I committed, show me my offence and sin.” Without over stressing this point we must be sure that Job is not confessing any known sin, but may be that if God is punishing him for some sin, it would be easier to bear if he knew what it was. The anguish and confusion of his heart and mind would cease. He was never sinless, (ch.13: 23- Sins of youth.) but in order to be a type of Christ the scripture gives God’s testimony of him as “perfect”. In so far as he kept the law of God that he knew, he was blameless and righteous, having fulfilled all that God demanded of him.
Power of God. Ch.13:13-25; This is Job’s record of the acts of God which reveal his ability to do as he pleases with men. The wisdom of God is implicit in the acts. His friends are constantly reciting lists of the mighty acts of God, but Job does not need to be told such things. Probably more so than they, he believed that God had his hand in all the affairs of men. In one lifetime we see the world changing and seemingly solid regimes come to an end. When we see how quickly the eastern block countries changed dramatically in the early 90’s, and how South Africa changed its policies of centuries, then we can truly see that to God, it is an easy thing to change the world. When a dictator rises to rule his country in terror Job would say that God raised him up, and God will put him down, according to his own eternal purposes. However none of these things are inevitable, for God has given his people a share in the pattern of his purposes, and we see in Job that if you want to change the present material world you have to change those things that are happening in the unseen spiritual world. God will do nothing until his people truly say “Amen” to what God wants to do. He reveals what he wants to do through his word. This is shown in the “circle of prayer”. Prayer begins in heaven, with “God’s will”. This is made known to man by the word and the Spirit. Man consents and agrees that what God wants would be good and asks that such be done on earth. God then agrees and works his purposes out on earth. In this way God has honoured the Sovereignty of man, as the rightful ruler on this earth.
Legal Tapestry; Ch. 13: 3 Job desires to “argue his case with the Almighty” Ch. 13:11 refers to the splendour of God, terrifying his friends if he came to judge them for their wickedness. This splendour is the legal splendour of the judge’s dress. Ch. 13:12. The friends of Job would find that if God came to judge them for misrepresenting him, then all their maxims and sayings which they quoted to Job to defend God with would sound very hollow if used in their defence. They would be “defences of clay”. We speak today of having a “rock solid case”. We are in a bad way if we have to say we have a “defence of clay” Ch.13:18. Job states that he has prepared his case. He had thought out his position, and examined all the evidence and felt that he had a good case to put before the great Almighty. If the Almighty pleased then he could wipe Job out, but nevertheless he had nothing to lose, being in such misery, so his life meant nothing to him. What meant most to him was his relationship with God. The courtroom scene was familiar to Him. In all his judgements on earth no doubt Job always tried to judge as he felt God would judge. So it was not the first time perhaps, that he had been “in court with God”, except in this case, God would be his opponent. Ch.13:19. “Who can bring charges against me,” again Job affirms his integrity Ch.14: 3. referring to man who is born to trouble, Job asks God “Will you bring him before you in judgement?”
Some translations use the word “me” instead of “him”, which would probably be more appropriate, as Job saw everything almost in the first person. Job speaks of God in similar fashion and is very much aware of being in darkness, with the terrors and frighteners that usually are intensified in darkness. In the dark you don’t know what is going on, this produces the fear.
His Christ-likeness. The ripest fruit of this study will be found on this branch. One of the most visible themes in scripture is that of Prophet, Priest and King. These were the three ministries ordained by God, through which he channelled his will and purposes. All three were anointed with oil at their induction. It was prophesied of Jesus that he would be a prophet like Moses, a priest like Melchizadec and a king like David. All three had a dual ministry. Moses was not merely a prophet, but also a priest. Mechizadec was not merely a priest but also a King. David was not merely a King but also a prophet. Note that the prophet priest and king pattern is seen in their "shadow ministries. Note that no-one was ever all three. Only Jesus ever fulfilled that roll. All lesser mortals were only types of the true, who was Jesus. Had David ever donned the priestly mantle, as his predecessor Saul foolishly did, then he would have been struck from the tapestry. Had Moses ever had any authority of his own as a Kingly figure the he also would have failed to fulfil his ministry correctly. Significantly it was because of his disobedience (his own initiative) on what seemed to be a minor matter that brought God’s wrath upon him, sufficiently to bar him from entering the promised land. Referring again to Saul, he was both a prophet and a king but he was rejected because he offered a sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel to arrive to do it. Job is as near to being a “Prophet, Priest and King” type-of- Christ as you will find in the Old Testament. There can be no doubt that Job was a prophet, (from this and other statements) as well as being a priest for his family and although not a king, he was counted as “a Prince (the greatest in the east) among men. He also speaks of God “removing the crown” from his head. So if we were arguing a case for saying that Job is only in the scriptures as a parable or type of Christ, then we could say he was indeed the only one who held all three ministries. Ch.13:19. “Can anyone bring charges against me? Jesus said to his accusers, “which of you convinces me of sin?” Ch.13: 24. “Why do you hide your face from me.?” At the crucifixion the sun ceased to shine, and in the darkness he cried “Why have you forsaken me?”
His Suffering; Ch. 13:21; Fear “frightening with terrors.” Torment - as a wind blown leaf Ch.13:26-28; Feet in shackles; path closely watched; marks on soles; wasting away like something rotten and like a moth eaten garment. Ch.14:22; feels the pain of his own body and mourns for himself alone.
Sinfulness of man; Ch.13:26; Job confesses to the sins of his youth. (childhood folly?) Ch.14:4; “ who can bring something pure from the impure”. Man is in no condition to offer anything from himself as a worthy offering to God.
Sovereignty of God; Ch.12:13-25; Whatever happens here on earth, is God’s permissive or direct will. Ch.14:5; The days of mankind are determined by God, his months are numbered and there is nothing a person can do to increase that number. Jesus said “no man by taking thought can add one cubit to his height.” The limitations of man are firmly fixed and God seals the boundaries. We are indeed hedged in. Men may think there is freedom to stalk up and down defying God but he also is within the hedge of God's permissiveness.
Similes; There are many beautifully poetic descriptive phrases in Job. Such similes are worth collecting. Here are a few. Ch.14: 2; Man springs and withers like a flower. Like a fleeting shadow. Ch. 14:11; Death is as a dried river bed
Personification of God. Job describes God as his boss, and he as a hired man. He has a strong desire to be made redundant from this particular job- he just can’t handle it. Ch.14:6; ; Let him alone till he has put in his time as a hired man. Job makes a similar request as in an earlier speech. (check back to ch.7: 2-4.)
Humour. Ironic or sarcastic humour is Job’s weapon against his friends. What they said was laughable and though they were mocking him to some degree, he was not slow to give them a lively quip or two. “Wisdom will die with you”; He infers that they no doubt think that they possess all the wisdom that there is to have and that no-one else has any. Consequently when they die, Job sarcastically suggests that it will herald the demise of all wisdom. However, his pearl of wisdom to them is even more cutting; Ch.13:5. “The wisest thing you all could do, would be to shut up”
Inspired utterances. Ch.13:15; Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him. (“Yet will I trust him”.) Ch.14:14; If a man dies will he live again? Having noted under “God the Instigator”, how Job thinks God has been tracking him down all his life, his inspired thoughts concerning resurrection hope, touch on this aspect also. Ch.14:16 -17; You will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. You will seal my offences in a bag and you will cover over my sin. As mentioned earlier, there is a strong possibility that there was some legal custom where offences were sealed or put in a bag. Much like our paper basket or the shredder. Or perhaps it was the earliest form of filing system! When Paul makes mention in Galatians of two characters in the old testament who were justified by faith, he refers to David who said, “Blessed is the man to whom God does not impute sin, the man whose offences are covered.”
Surely Job reaches similar inspirational heights here when he testifies to his belief, that one day his sins would be forgotten.
Death and the Grave; Once more clear evidence is here of the fact noted earlier concerning Job’s belief in any after-life Ch.14:7-13. Job clearly states that there is no hope for the man who enters death. There is more hope for a tree, than a man, of “after-life”, for after being cut down there is a possibility that it might sprout again. Though the roots may be dying in the soil yet a little water could bring it to life again but for man there is not even that hope. In death he is like a dried river bed. He dies never to be wakened again. Job is stating what they firmly believed and even emphasises it by saying that man will not rise again till the heavens are no more. Much as we would say till the hell freezes over or till pigs fly. Yet unbeknown to Job he was in fact stating the truth that when earth and heaven are passed away then there will be new heavens and earth for the righteous to inhabit. It is the total and utter lack of purpose in such a marvellous creation that causes Job to sigh... “If only...” ch.14 v 13-14 “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes.” It seems that as he prays this prayer of a longing heart to God then he receives in return an assurance by the Spirit, that there would be an afterlife and he says “I will wait for my renewal to come.
You will call and I will answer you will long for the creatures your hands have made.” Job's longing heart, echoes back by the Holy Spirit as the longing in God’s heart