Job 9

Sermon preached on November 20, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. 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 couple of weeks ago I noticed that one of the big sliding windows in our house was off its track. Where the two windows were supposed to come together the top part was not against the other window but was open about a half inch. I contacted the company and they emailed me direction on how to put the window back on its track. One of the key parts was that the window was locked onto the track by four plastic parts that, when they were retracted, it loosened the window so that you could take it out or put it back on its track. One you got it back on the track they you would extend them and that would lock them and keep it from coming off the track again. The directions said that to loosen them, you had to turn them clockwise. I know clockwise from counterclockwise. I've never had a problem distinguishing between the two. After reading the instructions I found that I had misplaced my long screwdriver and couldn't find it. It took me awhile to find another screwdriver that would fit. When I finally got the correct screwdriver and went to loosen the plastic part, I started to turn it counterclockwise. I did it instinctively, without thinking, without realizing that I was turning it the wrong way. It was years of training that took over. For years, I've know that to loosen a screw, you turn it counterclockwise. To tighten it, you turn it clockwise. That's the way that screws work. But this adjustment was the opposite to all that experience. When I tried to turn it counterclockwise. It seemed to be stuck. I just assumed it was hard to turn because it had never been adjusted before. So I just tried harder. Finally it turned and the plastic part loosened. I did that with all four of them. It wasn't until after I got the window back on the track that I tried to tighten it when I realized that all four were broken. I couldn't tighten any of them. When I had tried to loosen them I had turned them the wrong way. My mind didn't adjust to the fact that those screw adjustments worked the opposite of all other screws. If your mind is trained a certain way, it will instinctively continue that way.

How you ever wondered why Job was able to react the way he did in chapter 1? After he heard about the loss of his possessions and the loss of his children—he bowed down and praised God. We applaud him and admire his devotion to God. We commend Job for it. How did Job do it? I have no doubt that Job had trained himself in certain ways. In 1 Timothy 4:7 the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy,

"Have nothing to do with godless myths
and old wives' tales; rather,
train yourself to be godly."

I have no doubt that Job became the greatest saint on the face of the earth by training himself to be godly. Here in chapter 9 we see one of the truths that Job knew, one of those inviolable truths that greatly helped him in his loss and sickness. Here in chapter 9 Job's integrity is under attack. His friends believe he is a great sinner. Bildad told him that God does not pervert justice, that the innocent do not suffer like Job is suffering. He tells Job that if he repents of his sin God will hear him and restore him.

Job knows there is no great sin behind his suffering. But he is suffering greatly. How can that be? Is God just? It didn't seem that way to Job. In verses 22–24 Job says,

"It is all the same;
that is why I say,
'He destroys both the blameless
and the wicked.'
When a scourge brings sudden death,
he mocks the despair of the innocent."

Job is perplexed, his faith is shaken. He is being greatly tested. But Job did not curse God like Satan wanted. Job knows that God is righteous and just. He holds on to that truth even though it goes against everything he is experiencing. He knows that God is just. Job knows that he is not to go by this temporary experience but by the truth that God has taught him, the truth he has been trained in.

In this chapter Job tells his friends about His God. Things are not as simple as his friends believe. Job tells them that

God is high and lifted up, a great, all powerful being, who is peerless and glorious, who is so far above us that we cannot fathom or understand His awesome ways.

Job tells them that God is so great that He is often mysterious to us. He tells them that God's wisdom is profound, that He moves mountains, shakes the earth, commands the sun so it does not shine. He is the One who alone stretches out the heavens. He made the constellations. Indeed, His wonders are so great that we cannot fathom them. The fact that God is so great, so high above us means that we, mortal, sinful creatures, cannot dispute with Him.

Job tells us that God is in a different category from us, that He is the holy other, One who is fearsome, terrifying—because He is righteous and we are not.

Job is telling Bildad that he has it all wrong. His conception of God's justice was flawed. Bildad basically said that God always punishes men in this life according to what they deserve. But that is not true. We see from Psalm 73 that God often spares the wicked and lets them flourish for a time. We see from Job's experience that God sometimes chastises those He loves who are upright and godly. God treated Job with much greater severity than the wicked around him. John Calvin contrasts the positions of Bildad and Job. (p. 47)

"One says, 'God is just; for He punishes men according to what they have deserved.' The other says, 'God is just, for, irrespective of how He treats men, we must keep our mouths shut and not murmur against Him…"

The Bible tells us that God is just. There is no injustice in Him. This truth is behind Job's words. In all of Job's words, behind the questioning, behind the complains—Job knows that God is righteous and that he is not.

God is just. Let us never doubt that. In Deuteronomy 32:4 Moses said of God,

"He is the Rock,
his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he."

In Psalm 97:1–6 the psalmist declares,

"The LORD reigns,
let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice
are the foundation of his throne…
The heavens proclaim his righteousness…"

Psalm 11:7 says,

"For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice;"

Psalm 92:15 says,

"The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock,
and there is no wickedness in him."

John Calvin summarizes Job's words this way, (Sermons from Job, p. 47)

"Job… gives a much better treatment of the justice of God and how it must be acknowledged than Bildad has just done. It is that, without looking at one sin or another, but by taking men as they are from the wombs of their mothers, yet the entire world must be condemned, and it must be acknowledged that, although afflictions may seem harsh, yet no one can argue against God."

This is because we are all sinners. I have a friend who will sometimes respond to the question, How are you? with,

"Better than I deserve."

God mostly treats us much better than we deserve. That is His normal way of dealing with men. Sometimes He treats people exactly as they deserve. But He never treats anyone worse than they deserve. If He did so He would be unrighteous, unjust.

Job was the most righteous man on the face of the earth. Yet God afflicted him with grievous suffering. Was God unjust? Was God treating Job worse that Job deserved? No. Job deserved everything that God meted out to him. Job admitted that in verse 2. In yourself and on the basis of your works, you deserve nothing good from God. Even your best works cannot stand God's scrutiny. They are tainted by sin. Isaiah 64:6 says,

"All of us have become
like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts
are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

In Lamentations 3:22–23 the prophet Jeremiah recognizes this truth and declares,

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

The amazing thing is how God, day after day, treats us so much better than we deserve. His grace and mercy are so generous.

People wonder about God—they see the suffering in the world, they see the misery, they see the pain and sorrow. They wonder, "How can God be so unjust?"

They're looking at it all wrong. The question they should be asking is why is there so much light in this world. Why is there so much love in the this dark world? Why is there so much beauty, joy and happiness? It's because of God's grace. It's because of God's love and mercy. It's because God provided the mediator Job spoke about in verse 33-35,

"If only there were someone
to arbitrate between us,
to lay his hand upon us both,
someone to remove God's rod from me,
so that his terror
would frighten me no more.
Then I would speak up
without fear of him,
but as it now stands with me,
I cannot."

Job recognized that he need a mediator between Him and God.

Jesus is that mediator.

We're sinners. Our sin has separated us from God. Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, out of God's presence. But all is not lost. John 3:16

"For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life."

1 Peter 3:18 says,

"For Christ died for sins once for all,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
to bring you to God."

1 Timothy 2:5–6,

"For there is one God and one mediator
between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself
as a ransom for all men…"

Mark 10:45,

"the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many."

In Acts 4:12 the apostle Peter said,

"Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven
given to men by which we must be saved."

There are three lessons for us here.

First, I ask you,

are you right with God?

One of the greatest errors that human beings make is that they think that they are right before God when they are not. We are so arrogant that we think that the problem is with God and not with us. We are often like Bertrand Russell, who said that if he found himself face to face with God and God asked him why he hadn't believed in Him, said he would reply,

"Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence."

In Romans 2 and 3 the apostle Paul talks about how both Jews and Gentiles are guilty before God. In verse 9 of chapter 3 Paul brings his argument to conclusion.

"What shall we conclude then?
Are we any better?
Not at all!
We have already made the charge
that Jews and Gentiles
alike are all under sin."

Paul then quotes from Psalm 14, 53, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3, Psalm 10:7, Isaiah 59:7-8 and Psalm 36:1 and writes,

"As it is written:
'There is no one righteous,
not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.'
'Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.'
'The poison of vipers is on their lips.'
'Their mouths are full of
cursing and bitterness.'
'Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.'
'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'"

If you don't have Jesus, you aren't right with God. You are lost. You need to repent and believe in Jesus.

Secondly, you should be assured that

God's ways are perfect, all His ways are just.

He never does any wrong. He is upright and just.

Sometimes we don't understand God's ways and they are puzzling to us. When the Lord told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham was troubled. He questioned God. He said, (Genesis 18:23–25)

"Will you sweep away
the righteous with the wicked?
What if there are
fifty righteous people in the city?
Will you really sweep it away
and not spare the place for the sake
of the fifty righteous people in it?
Far be it from you to do such a thing—
to kill the righteous with the wicked,
treating the righteous
and the wicked alike.
Far be it from you!
Will not the Judge
of all the earth do right?"

Notice his rhetorical question at the end? Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? What's the answer to that? Yes, He will.

This is what we must hold as an unchanging truth. We need to understand it and meditate on it before trouble comes our way. John Calvin says, (p. 46)

"All the more needful is it for us to have premeditated upon the justice of God in the long run, in order that when He afflicts us we may always remain humble enough to acknowledge what He is: namely, just and blameless."

Thirdly, Job 9 teaches us that

we should be humble before God.

God is so great, so far above us, that we are not fit nor able to accurately discern the perfection of God's ways.

Job 9 is all about God's greatness, His power, His being so far above us. It reminds me of Isaiah 55:8–9. God said,

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.'
As the heavens are higher
than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Recognize the greatness of God. At the end of the book of Job, after God spoke to him, Job said, (Job 42:3–6)

"[You asked,]
'Who is this that obscures my counsel
without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
['You said, ] 'Listen now,
and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.'
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes."

Have humility before God, before His ways.

Praise Him in all things.