“My eyes have seen all this,
my ears have heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty
and to argue my case with God.
4 You, however, smear me with lies;
you are worthless physicians, all of you!
5 If only you would be altogether silent!
For you, that would be wisdom.
6 Hear now my argument;
listen to the pleas of my lips.
7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?
Will you speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show him partiality?
Will you argue the case for God?
9 Would it turn out well if he examined you?
Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal?
10 He would surely call you to account
if you secretly showed partiality.
11 Would not his splendor terrify you?
Would not the dread of him fall on you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defenses are defenses of clay.
13 “Keep silent and let me speak;
then let come to me what may.
14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy
and take my life in my hands?
15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
I will surely defend my ways to his face.
16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,
for no godless person would dare come before him!
17 Listen carefully to what I say;
let my words ring in your ears.
18 Now that I have prepared my case,
I know I will be vindicated.
19 Can anyone bring charges against me?
If so, I will be silent and die.
20 “Only grant me these two things, God,
and then I will not hide from you:
21 Withdraw your hand far from me,
and stop frightening me with your terrors.
22 Then summon me and I will answer,
or let me speak, and you reply to me.
23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed?
Show me my offense and my sin.
24 Why do you hide your face
and consider me your enemy?
25 Will you torment a windblown leaf?
Will you chase after dry chaff?
26 For you write down bitter things against me
and make me reap the sins of my youth.
27 You fasten my feet in shackles;
you keep close watch on all my paths
by putting marks on the soles of my feet.
28 “So man wastes away like something rotten,
like a garment eaten by moths.
This blog is all about radical love, how we should radically love each other and how God radically loves us. Believe it or not, God’s incredible love for us is exactly what this passage illustrates.
“I desire to speak to the Almighty, to argue my case with God,” Job declares in v. 3. When you think about it, that’s rather impertinent. Can you imagine being charged with a crime and demanding to go straight to the Supreme Court? You’d be laughed at and denied. But with God we can do this. We can go straight to the highest court, if you will, and argue our case. Job knows he is not perfect, even that he doesn’t know all the ways of God, but he still has faith: “Though he slay me, yet I have hope in him. I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will surely be my deliverance, for no godless person would dare come before him!” (v. 15-16) Job wants to bypass his useless friends with their “proverbs of ashes” and go straight to the source to confess his faith, examine his shortcomings in God’s eyes, and make his case for salvation. Which is what we should all do. Now, not all of us are going to have a vision of God come to Earth in a storm to answer our cries in person as Job does later on, but we can still do what Job does, in prayer, any day, any time. No need to even make an appointment – God is always there, ready to listen to us.
And speaking of listening, Job really does some raging in this speech. This is the first time Job speaks sarcastically and angrily to his friends (actually last chapter was the first time, but this chapter is a continuation of the same speech, so it still counts). His tone towards God is less angry, but still plaintive, to be sure. Job makes a demand of God in v. 20: “grant me these two things,” and accuses God of making Job Xyr enemy (v. 24). It’s easy to forget, since Job is so eloquent, but not only is he in sorrow, he is in pain. How many of us have lashed out in sorrow or pain? Saying things we don’t really mean, or just being unable to see past our own misery? Often, we lash out at those nearest to us. And, just like a good friend, God doesn’t take it personally with Job. Xe knows it is Job’s pain speaking. Xe is not going to hold Job’s angry words against him in the end.
And there-in lies the wonder of it all. For in the grand scheme of things, we are just windblown leaves or dry chaff, as Job points out. I distinctly remember learning in 7th grade that if you took the whole history of Earth, from the time it was formed 4.5 billion years ago, and condensed that history into a year, then all of human history–and by that I mean the first homo-sapiens, not just recorded history–fits into the last half-hour of the last day of that year. Now take the whole history of the galaxy, which scientists say is 14.51 billion years old, and we’re barely even a blip. Yet for being almost nothing, God loves us. Xe decided the world was not complete without us, and created us in Xyr image. We are fallible and fleeting, but God loves us, every single one of us. It’s as unrealistic as us being able to love individual snowflakes as our own children, but for God, it is possible. And that is truly awe-inspiring, and worthy of our love and thanksgiving in return.