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The Last Stand of a Desperate Man

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Job 25–31

To his credit Job did not allow suffering to rob him of his faith in God or his understanding of God’s nature. He did not grasp why God was allowing him to suffer, but he acknowledged God’s greatness. It is not our experiences but God’s Word that infallibly reveals God to us.


Job chapters 25–31 bring us to the end of the dialogue between Job and his companions. Eliphaz has spoken in chapter 22. Zophar will not speak again, and Bildad will speak only very briefly here in chapter 25. Their attacks have been worn out by this point—they’re convinced that Job is suffering because Job is a sinner.

Now some of what Bildad has to say here in chapter 25 is correct, but his conclusion is wrong. He declares that God is all-powerful, saying in verse 2, “Dominion and fear are with God”—that is, nobody can successfully fight against God. But Bildad applies this to Job, implying that Job has been fighting against God rather than confessing to God. Well, Job certainly has been questioning God, but he is not fighting against Him.

Bildad’s comments are followed by a rather long response from Job that takes us from chapter 26 all the way through chapter 31. His comments here in chapter 26 focus on the greatness of God. He says in verse 7 that God “stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.” He says in verse 14 that we observe only the “outskirts of his ways.” In other words, we are nowhere near seeing the fullness of God’s glory. We can see only the outer fringes; we hear only the whispers of His greatness.

Remember, this great theology is coming from a man sitting out at the town dump, trying to get comfortable on the ashes of burned-over trash, suffering with running sores, high fever, and twenty-five other ailments.

Job is effectively saying, “I don’t understand what’s happening to me, but I have a Creator God who does. I’m the clay, and He’s the Potter; I’m the student, and He’s the Teacher; I’m the sheep, and He is my Shepherd.”[1]

Now in chapter 27 the judgment of God is in view. In light of God’s greatness, why would anybody want to ignore God’s coming judgment? Job even describes the future of those who defy God. He says here in verses 8-9:

“For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off, when God takes away his life? Will God hear his crywhen distress comes upon him?”

How tragic for people to ignore their guilty consciences and run from God, thinking they can actually run away.

Next, in chapter 28, Job focuses on the wisdom of God. This is the wisdom that is needed to handle life and the suffering it brings.

Wisdom cannot be dug up out of the earth, Job says here in verse 13. And you can’t buy wisdom at the grocery store: “It cannot be bought for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price” (verse 15).

So how do you get wisdom? Listen to what Job says in verse 28: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” Wisdom isn’t purchased; it’s practiced. We gain wisdom when we practice two things in life.

First, we acquire wisdom when we worship God with reverence. That’s what Job means when he refers here to “the fear of the Lord.” It means we take God seriously. Somebody who takes God seriously is going to develop a life of wisdom.

Second, we get wisdom when we respond to God’s Word with obedience. We not only take God seriously, but we also take His Word seriously. We understand that we have only one life, and we want that one life to be lived for God’s pleasure.

So, wisdom comes to those who practice reverence for God and obedience to the Word of God. Beloved, when you live like that today, you won’t be worrying about tomorrow.

Now in chapter 29, Job shifts his focus from God’s glory to his own personal story. He just sort of stares out into space and begins reminiscing on his past life of so many blessings. He says, “The friendship of God was upon my tent . . . my children were all around me” (verses 4-5).

He even says in verse 6, “My steps were washed in butter.” This is his way of saying, “I had all the delicacies you could imagine—I had all the butter I wanted.”

A church member brought me a dozen doughnuts covered with chocolate icing—homemade from a well-known bakery—probably a stick of butter in that box. I don’t know if that member wanted me to die early or what, but were those doughnuts ever good. My footsteps were bathed in butter.

Job goes on to say, “When I went out to the gate of the city … the young men saw me and withdrew, and the aged rose and stood” (verses 7-8). He had been a man of influence and respect. He even recounts in verse 21, “Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel.”

But what a difference there is now, as Job begins to describe his current situation in chapter 30. He says, “Now they laugh at me” (verse 1), “They do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me” (verse 10), and “My prosperity has passed away like a cloud” (verse 15). No more days of butter—life is now just bitter.

Job cannot understand why God doesn’t answer him. He says in verse 20, “I cry to you for help and you do not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.”

But even after all this, we see in chapter 31 that Job continues to make a commitment to walking wisely in reverence and obedience.

He cites a long list of sins in chapter 31: lust, lying, deceit, adultery, unjust treatment of people, and lack of compassion for the poor. He says that if he has been guilty of any of these things, God should judge him. And starting in verse 24, he even calls on the Lord to judge him if he has trusted in his wealth, or acted in pride, or rejoiced in the ruin of people who hated him.

Listen beloved, Job wasn’t perfect, but he was an example of integrity—socially, financially, ethically, and spiritually—in the home and in the community. And remember, this is why Job is such a compelling example as a sufferer. He was not suffering because he was ungodly; he had been identified by Satan as the perfect target to suffer because he was godly.  He was being put to the test because he had faith, not because he lacked faith.

Some Christians have the idea that God guarantees our protection from suffering. No, God guarantees His presence in the midst of our suffering. And you may very well be suffering right now.

John Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist movement in the 1700s once wrote out a prayer, and it reminds me of Job. Let me encourage you to make the same kind of fresh commitment and resolve today.

Wesley wrote:

I am no longer my own, but Thine. . . .

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by Thee or laid aside for Thee.

Exalted for Thee or brought low for Thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to Thy pleasure and disposal. . . .

Thou art mine, and I am Thine.

Maybe you need to say this to your Lord, all over again, today. “I freely yield all things to You; You are mine, and I am Yours.”

[1] See Charles R. Swindoll, Job: Man of Heroic Endurance (Thomas Nelson, 2004), 213.


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