Almost Hope

Posted: June 23, 2011 in Job

Job 11-14, “Almost Hope”

The proverbs tell us, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” (Pro 27:6) – if only that were true of Job’s so-called “friends.”  The wounds they left in Job were anything but “faithful,” if for no other reason than they weren’t acting as Job’s friends; they were acting as his accusers.  Whereas Eliphaz & Bildad had been somewhat gentle with Job (though they were still exactly wrong in their presumptions & counsel), Zophar takes the gloves off.  Bildad had moved into a bit of sarcasm; Zophar is downright rude.  What we see here are not the wounds of a friend, but the vain words of someone who just wants to shut someone up.

What Job needed was someone to share his grief & to bear his burden with him – what he got were people rubbing his nose in his misery…all under the guise of “faith.” Job’s friends seem to exemplify what Paul wrote to the Corinthians – 1 Corinthians 13:1, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal." []  Zophar’s speech was anything but the tongues of angels; he was crass & angry man…yet he still was a clanging gong in his accusation of Job.  Question: How do we avoid being the sounding brass?  Or how do we deal with those who are those clanging cymbals in our own lives?  In many ways, we do the opposite of what we see here!  Job almost misses it…his faith seems to be hanging by a thread, but it’s hanging nonetheless.

Job 11 (NKJV)
1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said: 2 “Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be vindicated? 3 Should your empty talk make men hold their peace? And when you mock, should no one rebuke you?

  1. Here’s a helpful guy – basically he tells Job that he’s full of hot air & nothing Job said is really worth responding to.  Keep in mind that Job is a man that’s not only lost his health & all his possessions – but all of his 10 children as well.  Job has quite a bit of reason to be upset; Zophar’s insulting attitude is anything but helpful.

4 For you have said, ‘My doctrine is pure, And I am clean in your eyes.’

  1. Job had certainly claimed to be blameless in this case (and he was absolutely right – as confirmed by God in Ch 1-2), yet at the same time Job never once claimed to be completely sinless.  He simply dealt with his sins in purity of heart, according to the righteousness of God.  Here, Zophar not only misquotes Job, he speaks wrongly of him.  In essence, Zophar is bearing false witness against Job.  (Who’s the sinful one?)

5 But oh, that God would speak, And open His lips against you, 6 That He would show you the secrets of wisdom! For they would double your prudence. Know therefore that God exacts from you Less than your iniquity deserves.

  1. There’s much irony here.  When God eventually speaks, He actually defends Job.  Obviously God will chastise Job on his attitude regarding some of things Job says in his defense – but regarding the initial suffering, God does not speak against Job at all.  If the “secrets of wisdom” were opened to Zophar & Job, they would both have seen the events of the 1st 2 chapters, which proves exactly the opposite of what Zophar accuses.
  2. Zophar is correct on one point: God had shown mercy to Job – yet Zophar’s whole presupposition was wrong.  On one hand, the fact that any human is left alive to draw breath at all is an act of the mercy of God.  At our first sin, we deserve utter death & destruction – so to get less than that is to get less than our iniquity deserves.  We deserve death because of our sin (it’s the wages we’ve earned – Rom 6:23); God’s mercies are completely undeserved.  Yet at the same time Zophar is completely mistaken in his context.  Zophar has a view of God’s justice that’s closer to the pagan idea of karma, than the Biblical justice of God.  In his mind, Job did something wrong, so Job is being punished accordingly…even mercifully in that God did not kill him outright.  Yet contextually, we know that is absolutely not the case.  At 1st glance, it may seem that Zophar is standing up for God’s glory – yet in reality Zophar has a completely distorted view of what God is like.
    1. It’s good warning to us – virtually any doctrine in the Scripture can be stretched into an unbiblical distortion.  For instance, God is infinitely holy (and we ought to affirm it in praise!), but God’s utter holiness (being set apart & pure) does not stop Him from knowing us in personal & intimate terms.  Or on the other extreme, God is absolutely loving – but His love does not stop Him from judging in His wrath when necessary. … By all means, uphold the glory of God – but pray that we would represent Him correctly at the same time.

7 “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? 8 They are higher than heaven— what can you do? Deeper than Sheol— what can you know? 9 Their measure is longer than the earth And broader than the sea.

  1. By themselves, these statements are absolutely true.  God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isa 55:9) – God’s ways are infinitely beyond ours.  We are blessed to have been given a glimpse of God, but to fully know Him is a task which will take eternity.  He’s higher than heaven & deeper than the grave.  No wonder we will spend all of eternity giving God praise – we will never run out of a reason to do so!
  2. The problem with Zophar is that he’s using this glorious aspect of God as an attack against Job.  In Zophar’s mind, obviously Job is blinded to his own sinful condition because God is higher than him.  If Job only saw God the way Zophar saw God, Job would better understand the truth about his supposedly-sinful position.  Crude, uncaring, pseudo-piety!
    1. We’ve all known supposed “Christians” that use the Bible to beat up their brother/sister in Christ.  May we be careful not to be one of them!

10 “If He passes by, imprisons, and gathers to judgment, Then who can hinder Him? 11 For He knows deceitful men; He sees wickedness also. Will He not then consider it? 12 For an empty-headed man will be wise, When a wild donkey’s colt is born a man.

  1. Saying that God is unstoppable – God is all-knowing…He knows our sin.  Amen!  God absolutely knows all of those things.  Yet the implication is that Job is stupid because he doesn’t know these things – Job is just empty-headed & a wild donkey’s colt.  Zophar isn’t exactly a contender for the Ms. Congeniality prize. J  Zophar is condescending & downright rude towards the one he supposedly considers a friend.
  2. Keep in mind that none of this means we’re not supposed to speak the truth with our friends & neighbors.  If we see someone in sin, we’ve got a responsibility to come alongside him/her & help them.  The Church is specifically told to help those in the fellowship who are overtaken in sin – but to do so in a spirit of gentleness (Gal 6:1).  Amen to speaking the truth, but the truth needs to be spoken in love – or we’re back to being a clanging cymbal.  Unfortunately for Zophar, he neither speaks the truth about Job’s situation, nor does he do so in love.

13 “If you would prepare your heart, And stretch out your hands toward Him; 14 If iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, And would not let wickedness dwell in your tents; 15 Then surely you could lift up your face without spot; Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear;

  1. Zophar’s simplistic solution to Job’s predicament?  Just repent!  Put your iniquity away & seek the Lord in praise & worship & God will make everything alright again.  Of course, this would be a great course of action if Job had actually sinned – but he hadn’t.  Yet Zophar is telling Job to repent from sins (of which Job knows nothing) & go through a legalistic method of getting himself “right” with God.

16 Because you would forget your misery, And remember it as waters that have passed away, 17 And your life would be brighter than noonday. Though you were dark, you would be like the morning. 18 And you would be secure, because there is hope; Yes, you would dig around you, and take your rest in safety. 19 You would also lie down, and no one would make you afraid; Yes, many would court your favor.

  1. More than being right with God, if Job just repented & sought God’s face, everything would be made perfect in his life.  No longer would Job be depressed – he’d be able to lie down in utter safety, no matter what was going on in his life.  Zophar’s basically saying, “Just seek the Lord, brother & you’ll forget all about your pain!  It just won’t matter anymore!” … Life simply doesn’t work that way!  Will God give us grace & strength when we seek His face?  Yes.  Is His grace sufficient for every need that we face?  Absolutely.  BUT the strength and grace that God gives helps us endure our trials; it doesn’t mean that we pretend our trials don’t exist. [Paul’s thorn in the flesh] 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, "(9) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." []  God’s grace makes us strong in the midst of distresses, etc.  God never expects us to put on a “happy face” and ignore our problems; He simply promises to not forsake us as we go through our problems.
  2. Zophar was guilty of giving trite answers to the complex problems of Job.  Beware of offering up simplistic “Christianese” answers.  A trite answer is still trite, even if it’s covered in a veneer of religion.

20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail, And they shall not escape, And their hope— loss of life!”

  1. Zophar closes with one final barb: repent & God will bless you – if you fail to repent, then you’re a wicked man who deserves to lose hope & die.

Job 12 (NKJV)
1 Then Job answered and said: 2 “No doubt you are the people, And wisdom will die with you! 3 But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Indeed, who does not know such things as these?

  1. Job’s anger shows in his answer, yet his anger is understandable.  Three times now he’s had to defend his own wisdom as his friends continually insult him calling him inferior to themselves.

4 “I am one mocked by his friends, Who called on God, and He answered him, The just and blameless who is ridiculed. 5 A lamp is despised in the thought of one who is at ease; It is made ready for those whose feet slip.

  1. Job’s friends claimed to be helping him, but ultimately they were mocking his pain.  Mocking someone’s personal agony isn’t ministry – no matter what language it may be couched in.  Ultimately, it seemed that his friends didn’t even care.  Like a person who’s in no need of a lamp in the daytime, Job’s friends had no care for him.  At the same time, Job needed light desperately – yet his friends withheld true wisdom.

6 The tents of robbers prosper, And those who provoke God are secure— In what God provides by His hand.

  1. This answers the basic misconception Zophar had.  Zophar claimed (like the others) that God would bless the righteous & punish the wicked.  On an eternal level, that’s absolutely true.  Those who are found in the righteousness of Christ will be blessed; those left in their own wickedness will be judged.  Yet that’s in eternity; on earth we don’t always see God’s perfect justice.  On earth, we many times see the wicked prosper (just look at Washington DC!).  The psalmist Asaph wrote of the same thing when he said with was envious of the boastful when he saw the prosperity of the wicked (Ps 73:3).  There are things that we endure for now simply because we live in a sinful, fallen world – and one of those things is injustice.  There WILL be a time of perfect justice & righteousness – but it won’t be known at the earliest until the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
  2. Job’s point?  This should be obvious to Zophar & the others!  It’s not hard to find examples of injustice – thus why should they be surprised to see Job clinging to his innocence, even in the midst of his suffering.  Job knows his suffering cannot be due to punishment of sin – even if he doesn’t know why he’s suffering at all, he’s convinced it’s not because he earned it from God.
    1. When we encounter things we don’t understand, fall back upon the truths we DO understand. …

7 “But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; 8 Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. 9 Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, 10 In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?

  1. God’s sovereignty over all things (including our own suffering) is obvious to the rest of creation – it ought to be obvious to us.

11 Does not the ear test words And the mouth taste its food? 12 Wisdom is with aged men, And with length of days, understanding.

  1. Job gets his own dig in at his friends.  Just as food is to be tested, so is wisdom to be tested.  Those who are aged ought to be wise, but Job wasn’t finding it in his friends.

13 “With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding. 14 If He breaks a thing down, it cannot be rebuilt; If He imprisons a man, there can be no release. 15 If He withholds the waters, they dry up; If He sends them out, they overwhelm the earth.

  1. Man may lack wisdom, but God does not.  God has all knowledge & understanding.  God knows exactly why He does what He does.  We may grope around in the dark looking for answers, but God knows.  If God decided to withhold the waters, God has His reasons for doing so.  If God decided to imprison someone, God knows the reason why & there’s no getting around God.
  2. As with Zophar, there’s some theological truth here – but Job isn’t careful with his context.  To take this idea to an extreme is to lead to determinism.  I.e., God predetermines every single event that takes place on the planet & absolutely wills that they would occur.  In this mindset, evil people are evil because God wills them to be so.  Sick people are sick because God inflicted them with sickness & there’s nothing to be done about it.  Like Zophar, Job is in danger of taking some theological truth to an unbiblical extreme.  There’s a difference between the “perfect” will of God & the “permissive” will of God.  God is indeed sovereign over all things, but God does not desire that we would sin.  He permits us to sin in our free will, but God does not cause us to sin (we’re perfectly capable of doing that on our own!).  God permits us to live in a fallen world, and thus we’re going to have droughts & natural disasters – but we cannot say that this is the perfect will of God…the perfect will of God was seen in the Garden of Eden.  Is God sovereign?  Yes!  Is God good & benevolent?  Yes!  These characteristics don’t cancel each other out.

16 With Him are strength and prudence. The deceived and the deceiver are His. 17 He leads counselors away plundered, And makes fools of the judges. 18 He loosens the bonds of kings, And binds their waist with a belt. 19 He leads princes away plundered, And overthrows the mighty. 20 He deprives the trusted ones of speech, And takes away the discernment of the elders. 21 He pours contempt on princes, And disarms the mighty.

  1. More examples of the sovereignty of God.  God is sovereign over individual people.  God is sovereign over the blessings He bestows upon them.

22 He uncovers deep things out of darkness, And brings the shadow of death to light. 23 He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them. 24 He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth, And makes them wander in a pathless wilderness. 25 They grope in the dark without light, And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.

  1. Final examples of sovereignty.  God is sovereign over nations.  He can raise them up & take them back down again.
  2. All of this is absolutely true – we just need to be careful of our context.  God is not deterministic. The will of God will always be accomplished, but we are more than puppets on a string, casually thrown about by God.  His interaction with His creation is far more complex & engaging than that.  Our choices matter – our decisions are real – our prayers are heard.  God invites us to engage with Him, even as He maintains His utter sovereignty over the entire world.

Job 13 (NKJV)
1 “Behold, my eye has seen all this, My ear has heard and understood it. 2 What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. 3 But I would speak to the Almighty, And I desire to reason with God.

  1. Job is frustrated by talking to his friends.  Ultimately, it’s not his friends that will provide any answers; Job needs to be able to reason with God.

4 But you forgers of lies, You are all worthless physicians. 5 Oh, that you would be silent, And it would be your wisdom! 6 Now hear my reasoning, And heed the pleadings of my lips.

  1. Even Job acknowledges the best thing his friends did was be silent for seven days with him at the end of Ch 2.  They’ve spoken enough lies about God’s character & Job’s situation (even if they were ignorant that what they said were indeed lies).  They ought to have simply listened to Job & grieved with him – instead they opened their mouths & brought further suffering to Job on top of what he was already experiencing.

7 Will you speak wickedly for God, And talk deceitfully for Him? 8 Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God?

  1. Interesting thought.  God does not need our defense.  God was not in need of an attorney that would speak up on His behalf, yet that’s exactly what Job’s friends were attempting to do.  Even beyond that, the three friends were BAD attorneys!  They spoke wrongly of God & ought to have been afraid.  See vs. 9…

9 Will it be well when He searches you out? Or can you mock Him as one mocks a man? 10 He will surely rebuke you If you secretly show partiality. 11 Will not His excellence make you afraid, And the dread of Him fall upon you?

  1. They should have feared to have spoken wrongly of God.  It’s a bad enough thing to bear false witness of another human being (that breaks the 9th commandment) – but to bear false witness of God is truly terrible.  It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God (Heb 10:31).  Job’s friends ought to have thought more carefully about God’s character before speaking wrongly about Him.

12 Your platitudes are proverbs of ashes, Your defenses are defenses of clay.

  1. How worthless were the words of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar?  They were worth about the same as the ashes that Job had been sitting in during his distress.  What they thought of as valuable wisdom was worth nothing more than being dumped on a dung heap.

13 “Hold your peace with me, and let me speak, Then let come on me what may! 14 Why do I take my flesh in my teeth, And put my life in my hands? 15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. 16 He also shall be my salvation, For a hypocrite could not come before Him.

  1. Two things going on here: 1st Job reiterates his desire to somehow see God in court.  He’s convinced that if he was able to present his case to God, then surely God would see him as blameless (which is true).  Obviously it’s not the safest course of action – but that’s how convinced Job is of his situation.  If he truly were a hypocrite, there would be no way he could stand.
  2. 2nd Job reaffirms his faith & trust in God!  Even as he desires to be vindicated before God, he knows that God can be trusted for salvation!  In everything that Job has gone through – in all the questions & doubts – in all the pain & suffering, Job refuses to abandon his faith in God.
    1. Questions don’t mean we have a lack of faith.  Questions are simply questions.  God is big enough to handle our questions!  If we lack faith, we can always ask for more (Mk 9:24) – but what do we do when we have seemingly unanswerable questions?  We take them to the One who holds all of the answers.  Granted – we may never receive the answer we’re looking for, but God still invites us to bring all we have to Him.  We’re invited to come boldly before the throne of grace to find grace in our time of need (Hb 4:16). Just as we don’t abandon our faith in God during times of questioning, neither does our questioning mean God abandons us.  God will sustain us even in the times of our questions!

17 Listen carefully to my speech, And to my declaration with your ears. 18 See now, I have prepared my case, I know that I shall be vindicated. 19 Who is he who will contend with me? If now I hold my tongue, I perish.

  1. The way Job figures it, the risk in defending himself before God is worth it.  If he is wrong before God, he’ll perish – yet if he holds his tongue, he’s still going to perish anyway.

20 “Only two things do not do to me, Then I will not hide myself from You: 21 Withdraw Your hand far from me, And let not the dread of You make me afraid. 22 Then call, and I will answer; Or let me speak, then You respond to me.

  1. Job’s 2 requests of God before they reason in “court”: (1) That God would withdraw His hand – (2) that God would not cause Job to be terrified.  Obviously God wasn’t the one causing Job to suffer, but Job didn’t know that.  Yet the 2nd request is completely understandable.  How exactly does someone have enough courage (or arrogance) to bring a case against the Almighty God?  Just being in His presence is enough to cause men to fall to their face & proclaim “woe” upon themselves (Isa 6).  Job needs the courage to be able to speak plainly to God & he prays for the strength to do it.
    1. There’s a bit of irony here – as if the defendant in a court case ought to provide resources to the prosecution.  Yet this is the extent to which Job still trusts God.  He knows he can go to God with all things – even though Job doesn’t understand why God is allowing what He’s allowing.

23 How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. 24 Why do You hide Your face, And regard me as Your enemy?

  1. This is the crux of the matter.  If Job IS indeed being punished for something, he needs to know what it is!  Obviously Job is NOT being punished, but Job cannot help but wonder.  Obviously something is going on, but he simply doesn’t have any clue what it is.
  2. At least in Job’s intent, he’s right to ask God about this.  Sometimes we may not be aware of our own sin – but we can ask God to reveal our blindness, should some exist.  As David wrote, Psalm 139:23–24, "(23) Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; (24) And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting." []  God is gracious & will convict us if conviction is required & lead us in repentance.

25 Will You frighten a leaf driven to and fro? And will You pursue dry stubble? 26 For You write bitter things against me, And make me inherit the iniquities of my youth. 27 You put my feet in the stocks, And watch closely all my paths. You set a limit for the soles of my feet. 28 “Man decays like a rotten thing, Like a garment that is moth-eaten.

  1. Job speaks from the heart here.  It simply feels as if God is bullying him – perhaps holding things against Job that occurred when he was a child.  Is this theologically accurate?  Of course not – but these are Job’s honest feelings.  (It’s OK to be honest with God!)

Job 14 (NKJV)
1 “Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble. 2 He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue. 3 And do You open Your eyes on such a one, And bring me to judgment with Yourself?

  1. Job continues his prayer to God, acknowledging that life is fleeting.  This is a common theme in the OT, that man is like grass that fades away (Ps 103:15-16, Isa 40:7).  Life simply doesn’t last.  Thus Job is perplexed why God would even pay attention to mankind…and specifically Job himself.  What could Job have done to draw the attention of the Eternal God of the Universe?
  2. What Job doesn’t know is that God’s attention wasn’t drawn to him because of his sin, but because of God’s great love for him!  God was proud of Job, which was the reason He showed him as an example to Satan.  Yet at the end of this is not an act of God’s condemnation, but of God’s grace!  Why would God pay attention to ANY of us?  Simply because of His grace & His great love for us.  We ought to be despised & discarded by God, but instead He showers us with the grace we’ve received in Jesus Christ!  As the Psalmist asks, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” (Ps 8:4)  God has been mindful of us from the beginning, when God chose to send Jesus to die on our behalf.  Amazing love – the amazing attention of God Almighty!

4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one! 5 Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass. 6 Look away from him that he may rest, Till like a hired man he finishes his day.

  1. Man’s time on earth is indeed fleeting & God has set the limit of our days.  Job’s request is simply that because God already knows so much about Job, could God please look somewhere else for a while?  Again – Job doesn’t realize that God’s attention is due to His love.

7 “For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And that its tender shoots will not cease. 8 Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground, 9 Yet at the scent of water it will bud And bring forth branches like a plant. 10 But man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last And where is he? 11 As water disappears from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dries up, 12 So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep.

  1. Trees can survive a great deal of suffering.  They can be chopped to the ground, and still sprout again if tended to correctly.  People, on the other hand, are a bit different.  Once a person is dead, he’s dead.  Trees may rise from the ground, but Job says that people do not.
  2. What Job didn’t know at the time are the promises we have in Christ Jesus.  Granted, people only get one life on this earth – thus we need to surrender our lives to God through Christ while we have the chance.  Yet everyone in Christ has hope of life beyond the grave!  When we’re absent from the body, we’re present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8) – even if our bodies go into the grave, we WILL be “roused from sleep” at the resurrection.  We have a grand hope in Christ of which Job had only the barest idea.

13 “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! 14 If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes. 15 You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands.

  1. We see just a hint of hope of the resurrection in Job.  He obviously didn’t have a full understanding of the theology, but there’s a glimmer of hope here.  In Job’s mind, even if God could just allow Job to die, but set him away for a while until things calm down, then Job would be able to stand before God without fear.
  2. We have more than a glimmer of hope in the resurrection: we have a sure foundation!  For those who are hidden in Christ, we know we will be resurrected because our Lord & Savior was resurrected.  His resurrection is exactly what gives us assurance of our own future resurrection.  We will be able to stand before God in reverent confidence & trusting hope because of what Jesus has already done on our behalf.

16 For now You number my steps, But do not watch over my sin. 17 My transgression is sealed up in a bag, And You cover my iniquity. 18 “But as a mountain falls and crumbles away, And as a rock is moved from its place; 19 As water wears away stones, And as torrents wash away the soil of the earth; So You destroy the hope of man.

  1. We have a grand hope of resurrection, but Job just had a hint.  If he could stand before God at that time, he has confidence God would cover him.  As it stands, however, he feels as if all his hope has crumbled & washed away – as if God had determined to judge Job in fullness right now.

20 You prevail forever against him, and he passes on; You change his countenance and send him away. 21 His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; They are brought low, and he does not perceive it. 22 But his flesh will be in pain over it, And his soul will mourn over it.”

  1. Job ends his discourse in hopelessness, feeling crushed & crumbled by the hand of God.  When a man feels crushed by God, nothing else matters – his soul will mourn.

Job is indeed utterly depressed.  He feels crushed by God & mocked by his friends.  Zophar’s words added pain on top of his agony as he was rudely simplistic in his pseudo-piety.  Obviously claiming the mantle of God’s glory means nothing when Zophar completely misrepresented God.  For those words to have been handed to this man in deep suffering, we can imagine the pain that Zophar inflicted.

Yet what does Job do?  He continues to turn to the Lord.  Job may not have the best understanding of what’s going on, or why God is allowing what He’s allowing – but Job refuses to abandon his faith in God.  Despite all suffering – despite all risks – Job maintains his trust in God, and even has a glimmer of hope of something better to come in eternity.  That “almost-hope” is going to be what sustains Job through more mockery until the moment God answers him face-to-face.

We asked the question as we began: how do we deal with those who offer nothing but clanging cymbals, instead of the loving truth of God’s word & comfort?  When we suffer & people throw pious-sounding (but empty) answers in our face, what do we do?  When things SEEM hopeless, how do we hold on?  Answer: we hold on to what hope we DO have.  It may seem to be a thread of hope – it may seem to be an “almost-hope,” – but we hold to the truths we DO know about God.  Beyond the pseudo-piety – past the self-righteous answers – we hold fast to the truths we absolutely do know about our Lord Jesus Christ.  We know that Jesus is God (demonstrated in the resurrection) – we know that He loves us (demonstrated at the cross) – we know that God will never forsake us (demonstrated in His promise).  If we can hold fast even to THAT – that will be enough to sustain us through the rest.

Some of you may need to be reminded of that hope tonight: more than “almost-hope,” but a sure confidence in Jesus Christ.  Cast yourself to His feet tonight & cry out for His grace to sustain you.  Others of you may need to cry out for His grace to forgive & save you…call upon Jesus tonight, surrendering your life to HIm as Savior & Lord & be saved.


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