Job’s done talking. For 29 chapters he has debated his friends and had a one-way conversation with heaven. And he’s dominated the air time. If I counted correctly, for 20 of those 29 chapters it has been Job who has had the podium. Beyond his tremendous loss and his physical suffering, he is emotionally a mess. He is at a loss. He demands an audience with the Most High so that he might correct Him concerning heaven’s idea of justness. And he is frustrated because all he gets from the Divine is silence.
Now part of the deal is what Job is unaware of concerning his story. I’ve read chapters one and two, of God’s confidence in Job, and the non-contest He has allowed Satan to engage in. “If You let me trash and touch Job, I bet he’ll curse You to Your face,” says the accuser. “Go for it,” says the Almighty, “I know he won’t.” But Job doesn’t know this. He can’t even imagine that what’s going on with him is really not even about him.
And so, as he tries to rationalize the cause and effect of his circumstance, he gets increasingly bold, almost to the point of arrogance, as he demands heaven respond to his complaint. And something I read this morning, as Job wraps up his case, causes me to say to myself, “If only he knew!”
“Oh, that I had one to hear me! (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!) Oh, that I had the indictment written by my Adversary! Surely I would carry it on my shoulder; I would bind it on me as a crown; I would give Him an account of all my steps; like a prince I would approach Him.” (Job 31:35-37 ESV)
Job has just finished a detailed defense of his righteousness. Listing possible transgression by possible transgression, Job checks the box and finds himself innocent. Item by item, he says, “No fault.” And he wants to present the list to someone. He signs it and challenges the Almighty to respond with some findings other than his own. He refers to the God who created Him as his adversary and challenges Him, “Whatever You think You have on me, bring it! I’ll carry it as a non-burden. In fact, it will be so good I will wear it as a crown of boasting. Let me give you an account of all my ways, I’ll come off as royalty before You.”
And, rather than condemning Job for his arrogance, I think, “If only he knew.”
No matter how legitimately “good” Job’s works were, they pale in the presence of the God who Himself defines good. Regardless of how righteous Job might actually have been relative to the moral standard about him, against the shining light of the Almighty’s holiness, every spot and stain associated with such righteousness is exposed. If only Job knew.
If only he knew that his righteousness were but stained cloths before a perfect and holy God. If only he knew that, should God require him to carry the burden of his sin, his shoulders could not bear the load and, far from wearing it as crown of pride, he would seek to hide it in shame.
If only he knew that God is not his adversary, but his advocate–loving Job to such a degree that God would Himself address the stain problem . . . that He would Himself bear the burden for Job’s iniquity . . . that He would Himself provide for Job a crown . . . that He would Himself declare Job to be a prince in His kingdom . . . that He would Himself provide His own signature attesting to Job’s righteousness, a signature written in red.
If only he knew.
About God’s grace . . . for God’s glory.