Job 10:4-7

Sermon preached on February 26, 2017 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When I was in my early teens I went to my grandparents place to help my grandfather paint the trim of their house. My grandfather particularly wanted me to paint the highest places, the peaks on the house. I don't think he was afraid of heights. I believe it was because he was getting old. Maybe it was my father or my grandmother who suggested that I do the peaks. So over the course of a day or two we painted all the trip of the house and I did the highest places. One thing I vividly remember from my visit was when my grandfather cleaned the paintbrushes at the end of the day. You may wonder why I remember something like that 50 years later. I remember it because it was so unusual. He was washing them in a sink and my grandmother was standing behind him, looking over his shoulder giving him detailed directions on how to clean the paintbrushes. She was saying the most obvious things, things like,

"Turn it over now. Do it a little more there. Run that part under the water now. No, a little more. Turn it over now."

And she went on and on like that the whole time he was cleaning the brushes. My grandfather never said a word to her. He just did everything she said. He put up with it.

He was a better man that I am. What my grandmother did drove me crazy—and she didn't even do it to me. It didn't even concern me. I was just in the background, over to the side, doing something else. How could someone be that involved in the minutiae of what someone else was doing? My grandfather knew how to clean paintbrushes. She gave new meaning to the word nag. But it was more than that. It's like she was imposing her personality on his. I was just incredulous at her behavior. I don't know how my grandfather stood it.

The thing about it was that my grandfather was a very smart and skilled man. He worked as a foreman in a steel plant. He had men working under him and he was very skilled at his job. He was also a jack of all trades and very good at many of the things he did. He was a great carpenter. He could build things. Often he would fix his own car. He did a lot of gardening. He used to graft apple trees, taking branches from one type of apple tree and grafting it onto the root of another type of apple tree. He was also a bit of a demolition expert. No, he didn't use explosives. But one of my earliest memories when I was around four years old was watching him and my father bring down an old decaying barn. My grandfather had bought this farm that had this huge (it was really huge to me as a five year old) old barn. So they got a tractor, a long rope which they tied to the top of the barn, did some cutting in strategic places in the barn—and when they everything was ready he got on the tractor and the pulled the barn down. It worked perfectly on the first try. The barn came down with a great crash. That was pretty exciting to a young boy.

So for my grandmother to be watching him so closely while he was cleaning paint brushes— and to be giving him such repetitive, unnecessary and needless advice— was, I thought, degrading. I had never seem my grandmother act like that before—but that could have been because I just wasn't paying attention.

All this happened before I met Marg but at that point, watching him clean the brushes— I knew that I never wanted to get married. I knew I could never stand such scrutiny.

Have you ever been scrutinized like that? Did you ever have a job where your boss was always watching you? Some jobs require great scrutiny. Lots of industries have inspectors. For example, people making parts for or assembling multi-million dollar satellites have their work double and triple checked. Everything has to be perfect. I've read that one of the causes of the Apollo 13 explosion was that 18 months before Apollo 13 launched the oxygen tank that eventually exploded suffered a two inch drop when technicians were replacing a shelf. They thought it was undamaged but that wasn't true. Their work should have been checked.

Hospitals have inspections. They have to be clean. They have to follow certain procedures. But has to be hard having people watching you the whole day—especially if they nitpick. If the inspectors became too intrusive there might be a situation where they were actually hindering people from doing their job. You could do your job better, more efficiently, if they weren't around because they're always getting in the way. Can you imagine if the inspectors were always there, every single day, constantly getting in the way, criticizing every little thing? That would be a nightmare.

Job felt like that about God's scrutiny. Job is in a nightmare here. Previously, in chapter 7 Job had complained that God seemed like a hostile surveillance watcher. Here in chapter 10 he comes back to this theme. Christopher Ash summaries this section as Job complaining to God, (verses 4-7)

"Why do you watch me?"

Job can't bear God's scrutiny. He says to God,

"Do you have eyes of flesh?
Do you see as a mortal sees?
Are your days like those of a mortal
or your years like those of a man,
that you must search out my faults
and probe after my sin—
though you know
that I am not guilty and that
no one can rescue me from your hand?"

Job's main complaint here is that it's not necessary for God to watch him so closely. God is not a man and He knows what Job is like without even looking, He knows that Job is innocent. Christopher Ash writes, (Job, p. 148-149)

"If God were human, then Job could understand how he might need to look carefully at Job to assess what kind of person he really is. He could understand how a human might need to 'seek out my iniquity and search for my sin' (v. 6). 'But you are not human, and 'you know' perfectly well 'that I am not guilty'; furthermore, you know that you have absolute power over me—'there is none to deliver out of your [Job, p. 149] hand' [v. 7]. So it seems both unnecessary and unfair for you to treat me like this."

We know that God watches everyone and knows what everyone does. Proverbs 15:3 says,

"The eyes of the LORD are everywhere,
keeping watch
on the wicked and the good."

Psalm 33:13–15 adds,

"From heaven the LORD
looks down and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place
he watches all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do."

Proverbs 5:21 says,

"For a man's ways
are in full view of the LORD,
and he examines all his paths."

Nothing escapes God's notice. But with Job, this is not God's normal scrutiny.

What Job is complaining about is God's relentless scrutiny.

That's what he doesn't like. He wants to be left alone, at least for awhile. Job acutely aware that God is watching him. God made it so that Job felt His gaze. Job couldn't ignore it. God's watchful, searching eye was part of Job's suffering. Job's suffering wasn't just physical, God's watchful presence was terrorizing Job.

Have you ever been aware that someone was watching you in a very negative way? Sometimes you can have your back to someone and yet you know that they're watching you. It's like their eyes are burning a hole in your back.

Job felt like that with God's gaze. Job knew that he hadn't committed some great sin like his friends said he did. He declares his innocence. Yet he feels God's probing presence and it was very troubling to him. He feels like God is search for his faults, probing for some sin. It's so troubling to Job.

Earlier this week we were in New York City and the level of security there was remarkable. I never saw so many police armed with machine guns. In a way it was unnerving. It made me feel like I didn't want to sneeze.

Job feels something like that. It's like God is looking for Job's sin. God is searching out Job's faults, Job's sin. God's scrutiny is too much for Job to bear. He complains about it.

Have you ever felt God's probing presence in a negative way? Cain felt it. After Cain murdered his brother Abel God said to Cain, (Genesis 4:9–12)

"Where is your brother Abel?"

Cain replied,

"I don't know.
Am I my brother's keeper?"

The Lord said,

"What have you done?
Listen! Your brother's blood
cries out to me from the ground.
Now you are under a curse
and driven from the ground,
which opened its mouth to receive
your brother's blood from your hand.
When you work the ground, it
will no longer yield its crops for you.
You will be a restless
wanderer on the earth."

Sin opens us up to the relentless scrutiny of God's presence. It can fill us with dread, with horror.

Some people suffer like that. When I was a teenager I knew a man who I don't believe I ever saw smile. He was always melancholy. He had no joy. He was always troubled, always discouraged, always down. I don't know the precise nature of his problem, but it could have been guilt—it could have been that God's watching him was too much for him to bear. His life was a miserable existence. He could have been feeling what Job felt.

There are three lessons I want to draw from this.

First of all,

How grateful you ought to be to God that His watchful presence doesn't trouble you, that you don't feel the penetrating glare of God that casts a revealing light on your sinfulness, on your impurity, on your corruptness.

If God could scrutinize Job like this, so much so that God's continuous presence greatly troubled Job, who was the most righteous man on the face of the earth—what does that say about us, about how God could terrorize us?

But because of God's grace, because of the work of Jesus, because of the promises God has given us—God's troubling presence doesn't haunt us every moment like it did to Job. Why is that? Is it because we are better than Job? No, of course not.

Most days we get up and we feel great. God's gaze, God's presence isn't troubling to us.

But it didn't have to be that way. We are sinners. As sinners, any contact we have with God could have been very negative. In Isaiah 6:5, when the prophet Isaiah saw God, he cried,

"Woe to me! I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips, and
I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord Almighty."

Because of God's grace His presence doesn't terrify us continually. He is good to us and pours out His grace to us His people because of Jesus. Psalm 103:10 says,

"he does not treat us
as our sins deserve or repay us
according to our iniquities."

Instead of giving us what we deserve God sends His love to us. And Psalm 42:8 says,

"By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life."

Lamentations 3:22–23 adds,

"Because of the Lord's great love
we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;"

Because of Jesus, we don't have to be burdened by guilt, worried about God's gaze. Romans 5:1–2 says,

"Therefore, since we have been
justified through faith,
we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained
access by faith into this grace
in which we now stand.
And we rejoice in the hope
of the glory of God."

Because of Jesus and His work, we have the Spirit—and as Galatians 5:22 says,

"But the fruit of the Spirit
is love, joy, peace…"

Rather than being racked with guilt, rather than being terrorized by God's presence, because of the work of Jesus God looks on us with favor, with love, with compassion, with tenderness, with kindness. How blessed we are in Christ! How we can rejoice in our standing in Christ. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:1–2,

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus,
because through Christ Jesus
the law of the Spirit of life set me free
from the law of sin and death."

Psalm 103:13 says,

"As a father has compassion
on his children, so the LORD
has compassion on those who fear him;"

Because of Jesus we belong to God's family. Although this life may treat us harshly, in God's presence we experience compassion, gentleness, acceptance.

The second lesson is that you should use the knowledge of the truth that God is watching you in a positive way.

Indeed, because of Jesus and His work, God's watchful presence has turned into a great blessing for us.

In Psalm 139 David took great comfort from the fact that God's presence was with him. In verses 9–10 David told of this comfort.

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."

Psalm 121:3 tells us that God watching us means that He will protect us, keep our feet from slipping. In 2 Chronicles 16:9 Hanani the seer said to King Asa,

"For the eyes of the LORD
range throughout the earth
to strengthen those whose hearts
are fully committed to him."

God watches over His people to help us in our times of trouble. God watching us is a good thing, usually a great blessing. It can also help us resist sin. When Potiphar's wife enticed Joseph said, (Genesis 39:9)

"How then could I do
such a wicked thing
and sin against God?"

Joseph knew that God was watching and He used that knowledge to resist temptation. We should do the same.

A third lesson is for those who are not Christians.

There is hope for you.

Many people, because they like their sin, want to rid themselves of all awareness of God's presence. They deny God exists. They deny that He is watching them, evaluating them. They try not to think about Him. Most of them are quite successful in doing that. That's what they want and God gives them over to it. As Romans 1:18–22 says, many unbelievers,

"suppress the truth by their wickedness,
since what may be known
about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world
God's invisible qualities—
his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being
understood from what has been made,
so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God,
they neither glorified him as God
nor gave thanks to him,
but their thinking became futile
and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise,
they became fools."

They lose all sense of God watching them and they sin boldly.

Other unbelievers are aware of great guilt. They can't shake their awareness of God's presence. It terrifies them. They're aware of their sin and they know they can't be comfortable there. God's presence crushes them.

Neither group is in a good situation. Both groups will experience what the second group fears.

The good news is that there is hope for both groups. Jesus has compassion on sinners. He loves sinners. He calls you to repentance. He calls you to hope, to peace, to satisfaction and contentment. Job longed for it—you can have it. Go to Jesus now.