Job 13:23 – 14:4

Sermon preached on January 21, 2018 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2018. 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.

A few days after Christmas I got a little toothache and when I looked in my mouth I saw that one of my crowns was loose. There were three stages to that toothache. First it became really bad, bothering me all the time, both before I went to the dentist and after he pulled it out. The second stage was a few days when sometimes it bothered me, but there were also times during the day when I completely forgot about it. The third stage was when it was all better, when it didn't bother me at all—it was good all the time.

In his suffering Job was like the first stage of my toothache. His pain is unrelenting. He is tormented physically and mentally. This is what we're going to look at this morning. As New Testament Christians, we're like we're have good and bad moments. Life can be difficult, but we have many precious promises that God uses to sustain us. But still, some of the promises haven't yet been realized—that's for after the consummation.

So let's look at Job here. Job is suffering and his pain is unrelenting. From 13:22 to the end of chapter 14 there are four basic themes that are contributing to Job's misery. Job thinks they're true but they are not. We can benefit much from considering Job's words and contrasting them with the promises that God gives us in the Bible.

First, Job feels that God has abandoned him and ceased to love him. Second, Job sees nothing but gloom after death. Third, Job believes that his life has no meaning. Fourth, Job believes his sin hasn't been forgiven and that it separates him from God.

We're going to examine the fourth one this morning. What we see is that

Job feels that God is against him because of his sin.

In 13:24 Job says to God,

"Why do you hide your face
and consider me your enemy?"

Although Job puts this in the form of a question—the context reveals that Job knows it's because of sin, his sin. In verse 23 he asked,

"How many wrongs and sins
have I committed?
Show me my offense and my sin."

From his speech we see that Job knew sin was the root of his problem. Even though he realized that compared to other people he wasn't a great sinner—he often defended himself and pleaded his righteousness—yet Job knew that all his trouble had its root in sin. Job was extremely troubled by his sins. Job acknowledged that sin was the root cause of all his sufferings, that misery and hopelessness came as a result of his sin.

In 13:23 Job asks God about his sins, asking Him to reveal his transgression to him. But Job is not denying that he's a sinner. This is clear from the context. In verse 26 he mentions the sins of his youth. In 14:4 he acknowledges that he is not pure. He said,

"Who can bring what is pure
from the impure? No one!"

Since no one can bring what is pure from what is impure, Job asks why God holds him accountable. In 14:13 he mentions God's wrath—the anger of God against sin. In 14:16 he says talks about God keeping track of his sin. (KJV)

"For now thou numberest my steps:
dost thou not watch over my sin?"

In 14:17 he says. (NASB)

"My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
And You wrap up my iniquity."

The different words that Job uses in the two verses I just quoted show that Job recognizes that his sin is pervasive. He speaks of his 'iniquities', his 'transgressions', his 'sins'. He knows he's a sinner.

But Job is puzzled as to what were the great sins he committed that has led to God treating him so harshly. Yet Job knows that God has sealed his transgressions in a bag, has wrapped up his iniquity. John E. Hartley writes (Job, NICOT; p. 238)

"The basic question of interpretation is, does God seal Job's sins in a bag in order to put an end to Job's accountability for them, or does he store them in a bag in order that he might open that bag at the final judgment and execute a full sentence against Job for all his sins? Usually forgiven or passed-over sins are described as forgotten or cast away, while anything classified as sealed is kept in store for the future.""In the light of the context the imagery of vv. 16–17 is taken to mean that God observes all of Job's ways, notices every failure, and stores up these errors in a bag or possibly keeps count of them by placing a stone in his bag for each sin. Instead of atoning for Job's sins or wiping them out, as some interpret the phrase coat over my iniquity, God merely daubs them with whitewash a coating that the rain of judgment will easily wash away. Thus Job's imaginative hope for a brighter future evaporates before his apprehension that worse affliction is in store for him."

Job was able to be happy when he prospered, but now that God is against him because of his sin—Job is overwhelmed with the misery of his mortality. From verse 24 of chapter 13 to verse 2 of chapter 14 Job lists extraordinary images of misery due to the transience of mortality. He says that man who is born of woman is of few days full of trouble. In verse 28 he says that man wastes away like something rotten, some organic rotten material, like a rotten apple or banana. Man is like a moth-eaten piece of clothing. In chapter 14 he says that man is like a flower that withers away; like a shadow that does not endure. God has set limits to a man's days that he cannot exceed.

Job longs to be pure, to be able to stand before God without experiencing His wrath. He wants God to withdraw His hand, to stop frightening him with His terrors. (13:21) The whole section from 13:21 to 14:6 is one in which Job is feeling God's anger, His judgment, His fierce gaze—because of his sins. In Job 14:13 Job said,

"If only you would hide me
in the grave and conceal me
till your anger has passed!"

Consider God's anger.

For Christians it's gone. In Ephesians 2:3 the apostle Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that before their conversion they were,

"by nature objects of God's wrath."

Paul goes on to show that is no longer the case. God made them alive even when they were dead in transgressions. God's wrath has been removed. God raised them up and seated them with Christ in the heavenly realms. As we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:9,

"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath
but to receive salvation through
our Lord Jesus Christ."

It has been removed by Jesus in His death and resurrection. Colossians 2:13–15 says,

"When you were dead in your sins
and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,
God made you alive with Christ.
He forgave us all our sins,
having canceled the written code, with its regulations,
that was against us and that stood opposed to us;
he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities,
he made a public spectacle of them,
triumphing over them by the cross."

Romans 3:25 tells us that God presented Jesus as,

a sacrifice of atonement,
through faith in his blood"

1 John 2:2 says of Jesus.

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,"

On the cross, Jesus took the wrath of God that was against our sins and satisfied it. His cry of dereliction,

"My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me"

shows that He bore the wrath of God for our sins. That means that we are free from them. Romans 8:1 says,

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus,"

Romans 8:33–34 continues,

"Who will bring any charge
against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies.
Who is he that condemns?
Christ Jesus, who died—more than that,
who was raised to life—
is at the right hand of God
and is also interceding for us."

Romans 5:1 adds,

"Therefore, since we have beenjustified through faith,
we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ,"

The great lesson for Christians from our text is that

you should be able to put aside all fears of your sins being against you because your sins have been totally paid for by Jesus.

Consider the contrast between how Job felt and the reality for God's people. We can't blame Job because he didn't have the revelation that we have. We're not sure when he lived but it is believed to be very early so it is likely that he didn't even have any of the Old Testament available to him.

But with us it's different. We should know that our sins have been paid for. John Owen writes,

"the proper relief of the conscience of a sinner pressed and perplexed with a sense of the guilt of sin. For justification is the way and means whereby such a person does obtain acceptance before God, with a right and title unto a heavenly inheritance."

Even the Old Testament gives us great assurance about the removal of our sins. Micah 7:19 says,

"You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities
into the depths of the sea."

Psalm 103:12 adds,

"as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed
our transgressions from us."

Christians, know that your sins have been paid for. The great lesson for Christians from our text is that you should be able to put aside all fears of your sins being against you because your sins have been totally paid for by Jesus. You belong to God. He is yours and you are His. Do not fear.

Jesus forgives sins. He emphasized this during His earthly ministry. When four men brought a paralytic to Jesus for Him to heal him, they couldn't get in the door. So they went up to the roof and through an opening in the rood they lowered the mat the paralyze man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith He said, (Mark 2:5)

"Son, your sins are forgiven."

Some of the teachers of the law were present and they thought to themselves, (Mark 2:7-12)

"Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming!
Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

"Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what
they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them,
'Why are you thinking these things?
Which is easier: to say to the paralytic,
'Your sins are forgiven,'or to say, 'Get up,
take your mat and walk'?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins …'
He said to the paralytic,
'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.'
He got up, took his mat and walked out
in full view of them all.
This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying,
'We have never seen anything like this!'"

Jesus came to forgive our sins. He can and does forgive sin on the basis of His work. In Matthew 26:28 Jesus said,

"This is my blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

John 1:9 says,

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and
will forgive us our sins and purify us
from all unrighteousness."

I like that word 'just' there. It could have aid that God was faithful and merciful and will forgive our sins. But he used the word, 'just'. Jesus paid for your sins—therefore it is just for God to forgive your sins.

Secondly, this means that not matter what our earthly circumstances,

God is not our enemy.

Consider Job's words in 13:24. Job asks why God hides His face from him and considers him his enemy. Is God our enemy? In John 15:13–15 Jesus said to His disciples,

"Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command.
I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master's business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from
my Father I have made known to you."

Our sins had separated us from God. But Jesus changed all that by paying the price for our sins. Speaking to the Ephesian Gentiles, Paul wrote, (Ephesians 2:12–13)

"remember that at that time
you were separate from Christ,
excluded from citizenship in Israel
and foreigners to the covenants of the promise,
without hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away
have been brought near through the blood of Christ."

Paul then goes on and writes about how God has made one people of God and continues, (Ephesians 2:17–19)

"He came and preached peace to you who were far away
and peace to those who were near.
For through him we both have
access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens,
but fellow citizens with God's people
and members of God's household,"

We have been adopted by God. We have been brought into God's family. Hebrews 2:11

"Both the one who makes men holy
and those who are made holy are of the same family.
So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers."

1 John 3:1–3 says,

"How great is the love the Father
has lavished on us, that we
should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!"

We are sons and daughters of God.

What a blessing it is for us to be New Testament Christians. We have such assurances that we have been brought close to God, that we belong to His family.

This means that, unlike Job, we don't have to judge our relationship to God by our outward circumstances. Because Job was suffering, his friends thought that He was not close to God. Job sometimes felt that way too. But as New Testament Christians, we should know better than that. We go by God's Word, His promises.

Just before he died, Stephen was suffering. The crowd seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. After they heard Stephen's defense, they were furious with him, gnashed their teeth at him, covered their ears and rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.

Did Stephen think that God was his enemy? After all, things couldn't get much worse for him. No. Stephen knew he was close to God. So instead of thinking that God was his enemy, Stephen prayed for those who were murdering him. He knew he was close to God, a close intimate relationship. He knew he was in a position to intercede for them. He prayed for them. He said, (Acts 7:60)

"Lord, do not hold this sin against them.'
When he had said this, he fell asleep."

Stephen an enemy of God? No. Far from it. Stephen forsaken by God? No. Far from it. In Acts 7:55–56 we read,

"Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven
and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing
at the right hand of God.
'Look,' he said, 'I see heaven open and
the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

God was there to welcome Him to eternal glory.

Lastly, if you're not a Christian, you need to realize that unless you go to Jesus,

you will experience God's wrath against your sin.

God's justice demands that your sin be dealt with. Christianity is the only religion that deals adequately with the penalty of sin. Jesus died in the place of sinners. (2 Corinthians 5:2)

You need to do something about your sins—you need to bring them to Jesus. Unless you do something about your sin, the horrors that Job feared will soon come upon you.

Don't do what so many people do today—they put out of their minds the consequences of their sin. They live in blissful unawareness of the gravity of this sin and the horrible situation it places them in. Don't do that. Go to Jesus. Only He can save you.