Job 23
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
To this long and severe accusation of Eliphaz the sufferer returns no reply. He comes back to the wish he has already expressed more than once, that God will appear as Witness and Judge of his innocence, and so put an end to this long embroilment (see ch. 9. and 13.). He is distressed by the doubt that God has withdrawn himself from him, and left him to drain the cup of suffering to the dregs. And, again, many examples occur to him of wicked men who lived in happiness to a good old age, even to death; and he dwells on these pictures with a kind of pleasure, thinking to establish his position: the incomprehensibility of the Divine government. - J.

I. EXCLAMATION. (Vers. 2-5.) So bitter is his complaint, "his hand is heavy upon his groaning," i.e. he must force groan after groan out of himself. Oh that he knew where to find the judgment-seat of God, and that he might have the opportunity of pleading his cause! (vers. 3-5). He possesses still "faith and a good conscience," those best jewels of a Christian (1 Timothy 1:5), and can think of appearing before God, not with terror, but with confidence. "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence with God" (1 John 3:21).

II. DOUBT (vers. 6-9) of the possibility of this intervention of God on his behalf. He timidly thinks of the overwhelming effect of God's majesty upon him (comp. Job 9:34; Job 13:21). But here, relying on the consciousness of innocence, he casts the doubt away. "Would he contend with me in his omnipotence? No; he would only attend to me" (ver. 6). It would be seen that it is a righteous man who enters into judgment with him, and Job would escape his Judge (ver. 7). But then this cheerful expectation is checked by the thought that God is nowhere to be found - neither east nor west, north nor south (vers. 8, 9), although present in all quarters (Psalm 139:8-10). Without the definite revelation of the gospel, we may readily lose ourselves in a vague and aimless pantheism. God is everywhere, yet nowhere; present in all things for the intellect, found in none by the heart. It is the doctrine of the Mediator, of the Man Christ Jesus, which resolves this contradiction. God must meet us in the form of man, otherwise he is but an abstraction.

III. REASON OF GOD'S WITHDRAWAL. (Vers. 10-13.) According to Job, this is, that although God knows his innocence, he will not depart from his resolve not to be found of him. Vers. 10-12 contain strong assertions of his innocence. God knows Job's wonted way or manner of life; and, if proved, he would come out like gold from the furnace. His foot has kept firmly to God's step, God's way he has observed, and has not turned aside, nor departed from the commandment of his lips. "More than my own law I kept the words of his mouth," i.e. more than the dictates of pleasure or self-will (ver. 12). "But he remains one, and who will turn him" from his design (comp. Psalm 33:9; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29)?

IV. AWE AND HUMILITY IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD. (Vers. 14-17.) God will fulfil Job's destiny, like that of many others (ver. 14). The thought of this unfathomable counsel of God through which Job must suffer fills him with fearfulness and amazement (ver. 15). It is God himself, not the mere sufferings, who has unnerved Job and overthrown him (ver. 16). It is not the darkness of his trouble (Job 22:11) nor his own hideous form (Job 19:13-15) which have stupefied him. No, it is God alone who is the cause of this stupor, who is behind these sufferings with his incomprehensible counsels. Here, again, we see how deep is faith in the heart of Job, how inextinguishable the longing and the need for communion with God, which is life to him, and more than life l He can bear pain, he can dispense, if need be, with human sympathy; but he cannot bear the absence of God! As the plant in the cellar, so the faithful soul ever turns and struggles towards the light; and the only Light of the soul is God! - J.

Job's comforters have failed. Their many words have not lightened his troubles. On the contrary, they have aggravated them. To external disaster has been added cruel misunderstanding and false accusation. Of all this Job naturally complains most bitterly. Many troubles are softened with time. It is not so with his. The same melancholy despondency, the same cry of agony, the same grievous complaining, are still with him.

I. IT IS NATURAL TO GIVE EXPRESSION TO GRIEF. In the East this is done with great demonstration, and even ostentation. Any extravagance is foolish; self-restraint is certainly more manly than a wild abandonment to sorrow. Yet it is neither necessary nor desirable to suppress all signs of feeling. God, who has made the fountain of tears, cannot require it to be always sealed. There is a relief in the natural expression of sorrow. To hide it in the bosom is to injure the soul. Extreme reserve and self-restraint may lead to insanity. We are more likely to think unjust thoughts of God when we brood over our wrongs in secret than when we venture to give an external expression to them.

II. THE GREATEST GRIEF EXCEEDS EXPRESSION. Job feels that this is the case with his sorrow. Bitter as his complaint is, his stroke is heavier than his groaning. We are tempted to exaggerate the smaller troubles of life; but we cannot find adequate expression for the greater ones. They who have never suffered from those troubles cannot understand how keenly they are felt. It is, therefore, unjust to judge of the complaining spirit of other men, as the three friends did of Job's. On the other hand, inexpressible grief is perfectly understood by God. It is no drawback to his sympathy that men cannot give full expression to their feelings, because he reads the heart.

III. THE BITTER COMPLAINT OF GRIEF SHOULD LEAD TO PRAYER. This is the case with Job; and after one brief utterance of his burdened soul, the suffering man turns at once to God (see ver. 2). Then he must do more than give expression to grief. While God listens patiently to the complaints of his suffering children, it is not a worthy thing on their part only to burden him with those complaints. Submission, obedience, and trust should have a part in the utterance to God.

IV. NO HUMAN GRIEF CAN EQUAL THAT OF CHRIST'S SORROWS. Job's sufferings seemed to be unique. But they were fearfully surpassed by what Christ endured. To know that some one has suffered more is not to lighten the present sufferer's load. On the contrary, this fact only makes the world look the darker and the more miserable. But there are characteristics of Christ's sufferings that should help other sufferers. He shows us how to bear suffering. More than that, his suffering brings healing to others. "With his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Thus the sufferer may look for saving deliverance from his own trouble to the Christ who suffered for him. - W.F.A.

In the bitterness of his complaint and the heaviness of his stroke, Job makes known his desire to appeal directly to God. In the impossibility of this his faith is more and more severely tested; but he reposes in an assurance that the Divine eye is upon him, and he is confident of a just and even merciful sentence. So does conscious integrity uphold the tried and suffering believer, over whom for the present the shadows of suspicion gather, although the sufferer is tried by deferred judgment.

I. THE DEMAND FOR A PATIENT HEARING. Only the consciously upright would desire to plead with his judge. The self-accused tries to hide from the keen eye of detection and exposure; but he who knows himself to be unjustly accused may well desire to appear before a righteous tribunal. It is a high testimony to Job's character that he makes demand to be tried by One who cannot err (vers. 3-7). But his longing is not allayed. A further test is applied to his character. For the present, at least, judgment is denied him.

II. JUDGMENT WITHHELD, A FURTHER TRIAL. To the unjustly condemned no severer testing could be given than the withholding of the desired judgment. Job's hope is in God; but God is hidden. If he attempts to "go forward," behold "he is not there." If "backward," he "cannot perceive him." Turning to the right hand or to the left, it is the same. God, his Friend, is hidden. His only refuge is closed. How severely is faith tried and patience put to the proof by the hiding of God! The struggle is a spiritual one. The soul is cast upon the unseen. It is thrown back upon its integrity and upon its power to wait. It is the supreme test of faith. It precedes the dawn of the day of vindication, of judgment and deliverance. It is a further weight upon the already tried heart of the patriarch. To an afflicted spirit is added a suffering body, and for the present the cruel accusations of would-be friends, who mistake the discipline of God for his judgment against sin.

III. IT IS HERE THAT JOB'S FAITH IN THE DIVINE JUSTICE SHINES OUT WITH CLEARNESS. He knows God would not take advantage of his "great power" to plead that against him or to crush him with it. Nay, rather he would "put strength" in the poor suppliant. He would compassionate the oppressed, and concede to him. So Job comforts himself in the quiet repose upon the justice of the Divine decisions. The fruits of early obedience and faith are now gathered. He who sows in his own heart the seeds of Divine truth in earlier days, prepares for himself a harvest of consolation in the days of trial and adversity. Job is proving the blessedness of the man whose ways please the Lord.

IV. ALL THIS IS BASED UPON JOB'S CONSCIOUSNESS OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY. With confidence he rebuts the accusations of his accusing friends. He rejoices in the assurance of the Divine cognizance of his doings: "He knoweth the way that I take." Happy the man who can appeal with confidence to the searching of the Divine eye! Job may have had cause sufficient to be abased before God, but he is conscious of innocence of the charges preferred by his friends. Thus is falsely accused innocence sustained when its judgment is deferred. And Job appears a bright example of the comfort derived in affliction from faith in God and consciousness of untarnished integrity. - R.G.

I. ITS SOURCE. Job is prompted to seek God by his terrible troubles. The false accusations make him the more anxious to find the just Judge, who can clear up the dreadful misunderstandings and vindicate his injured cause. Thus the innocent man in trouble needs God. Still more does the guilty man; for no one can deliver from sin but he against whom one has sinned. Although it is most evident that many who thus need God are not actively seeking for him, yet, even if held back by fear or distracted by worldliness, all men have somewhere in the depths of their hearts the instinct of hunger for God. We need God, and we can have no rest till we find him.

II. ITS HOPE. Job believes that, if only he can find God and come to his seat, justice will be done, and right will be apparent; for Job is only thinking of vindication. No doubt that result will follow. But others also enter into the great human hope for God. If he were only to vindicate the righteous, the great multitude of men could hope for little from him. But the great Judge who does this is the compassionate Father, who has pity on his children's needs apart from their deserts. Thus the hope turns to the mercy of God for deliverance and blessing. Still, it is not wise to separate these two forms of the hope. God can only bless by leading us to righteousness; and it is really for our good that he is just. We need God not only that he may judge the righteous cause, but also that he may make the sinner righteous.

III. ITS DIFFICULTY. Job expresses a deep, heartfelt desire with great anxiety. He has not yet found God. Others have been in the same condition - longing for God, yet finding him not. Where is the difficulty?

1. God is a Spirit. If we try to find God by earthly means we must fail. He is not hidden among the mountains or above the clouds. He is simply invisible by nature. We must look for him in spiritual ways.

2. We are sinful. Nothing so blinds us to God as sin. This first of all banishes us to a great distance from God, and then makes darkness about our way back.

3. Life is often perplexing and sorrowful. Job had lost the vision of God in his sorrow, rather than through sin. So had Christ on the cross when he cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Great grief seems to blot out the heavens and leave us in desolation.

IV. ITS REWARD. Job did find God at last (Job 42:5). God has promised that they who seek him earnestly shall find him (Proverbs 8:17), and Christ that if men seek they shall find (Matthew 7:7).

1. God reveals himself to faith. We believe in order that we may see, trust in order that we may know. This is true of all knowledge of persons.

2. God is seen in Christ. Philip expressed the soul's desire for God when he said, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" and then Christ declared where the revelation of God was to be seen: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:8, 9).

3. The full vision of God is dependent on purity of heart. Some know]edge of God can be had without this; but we cannot see him as he is till we are like him (Matthew 5:8). - W.F.A.

Job enlarges on the idea of his search for God and the efforts that he has vainly made to find him. God is still invisible; searching has not found him.

I. THE PHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY OF SEEING GOD. There is more to be said for modern agnosticism than for eighteenth-century deism. Pure rationalism will not find God. Physical science cannot discover him. The animal is dissected, the metal is melted in the crucible, but the analysis reveals not Divinity. We sweep the heavens with the telescope, and can see no Deity enthroned above the stars. But we are very foolish if we expect to find God in any of these ways. He is neither seen by the bodily eye nor discovered by the scientific faculty. Science, indeed, points to causation, and reveals order and thought; but she does not say how these things came to be. Natural theology prepares the way for the revelation of God; or, if it may be said that it is a revelation of God, still this comes only in such a large and confusing idea that we cannot find in it what we need - the revelation of our Father in heaven.

II. THE MORAL DIFFICULTY OF SEEING GOD. Job's search was not in regions of science. He looked abroad on the great world, and he probed into the deep musings of his own heart, but not as a philosopher seeking for a scientific explanation of the universe. It was his deep distress that drove him to God. He missed God in life, in the providential control of human affairs. It is not always easy to see God in this strangely confused human world, where so many things go wrong, and where so little seems to be done to keep them right. In his perplexity and distress man cries out, "Where is God? If there is indeed a God, why does he not declare himself? why does he not put forth his hand and rectify the world that so greatly needs him?" Whatever may be the theoretical scepticism that gathers round problems of science and philosophy, the moral doubt that springs from the experience of injustice and misery is much more keenly felt.

III. THE SPIRITUAL CAPACITY TO SEE GOD. We cannot find him by means of our philosophy; we miss him in the dark struggles of man's world of action and suffering. But why? Because we are looking for him in wrong directions. The true vision of God is only to be seen by means of spiritual fellowship with him. Meanwhile, although this is hard to obtain, we may console ourselves with the know]edge that if he does indeed exist, his being does not become shadowy and unreal just because we do not see him. It is desirable that we should have a more intimate acquaintance with our Father, but even before we have attained to this, even while we are blundering and stumbling in the darkness, God is truly existing, and is ruling over all. Our ignorance does not limit God's being, our blindness does not cripple his activity. We cannot see him; we find it hard to trace his purposes among the tangled threads of life; all looks dark and aimless. Yet God is God, and therefore he will not desert his creatures.

"God's in his heaven,
All's right with the world."

(Browning.) W.F.A.


1. The fact. Job has just been owning his difficulty in finding God. He searches in all directions, forward and backward, on the left hand and on the right, and he cannot discover God (vers. 8, 9). But although it is so hard for him to attain to a knowledge of God, he is quite certain that God knows him. We are known by God before we think of acknowledging him, and when we are bewildered with the mystery of life all is clear and open to God.

2. Its scope. God knows the way that his servants take.

(1) Past experiences. He knows what we have had to contend with, and why our lives have been vexed and tried.

(2) Present circumstances. At the very moment when we have some new difficulty to face, some new height to climb, or some new snare to avoid, God is with us, perfectly understanding the whole situation.

(3) Future scenes. One step is enough for us, because God knows all that lies before us. Although our way may seem to be leading to impossible regions, he who sees the end from the beginning can lead us through.

3. Its consequences. If God knows our way, we have not to travel, like Columbus, over untried seas. The whole route has been mapped out by God. We cannot be lost if he who knows our way is our Guide. Gordon's favourite passage from Browning shows the right spirit of one who trusts this truth -

"I go to prove my soul.
I see my way as birds their trackless way.
I shall arrive! What time, what circuit first,
I ask not; but unless God send his hail
Or blinding fireballs, sleet or stifling snow,
In some time, his good time, I shall arrive.
He guides me, and the bird. In his good time."

II. MAN'S DISCIPLINE. Job is now confident that when God has tried him he will come forth as gold.

1. Its source. The suffering man holds to the idea that his trouble comes from God. All along he has not perceived Satan's share in it. Therefore his faith is the more remarkable. He is right to some extent, because his trouble is only what God permits. God may not be the direct agent of a person's affliction. This may come from the cruelty of men or from other undetected causes. Yet it is all within the restraint of God.

2. Its process. Job perceives that he is being tried by God. This is the first time that he has given evidence of holding such an ides. Hitherto he has been simply dismayed and distressed at the problem of suffering. He has had no theory to oppose to his friends' orthodox notion that it is the merited punishment of sin. That that notion was wrong, experience and observation have made him see quite clearly. But hitherto he has not been able to supply an alternative idea. Now there dawns on him a perception of the disciplinary purpose of suffering. The husbandman purges the vine-branch because it is fruitful (John 15:2). The father chastises his son because he loves him (Hebrews 12:6). God tries his servant, not to punish him, but because he values him.

3. Its aim. That the sufferer may come forth as gold. Job will have his innocence vindicated. A deeper result than vindication, however, is the perfecting of the soul through suffering. The fire not only tests, it refines.

4. Its success. The end aimed at will be attained. The assurance of this lies in the previous thought of God's knowledge. He does not need to assay the soul in order to discover for himself whether it is of true gold. He knows the worth of his servants. He adapts their discipline to their requirements. It seems disproportionate, but it is suitable; for God knows the way of his people; therefore he will bring them forth as gold. - W.F.A.


1. A course of conduct. Job speaks of his foot holding, etc. He is reviewing his actions. It would have been of little use for him to have vindicated his creed and his sentiments if his conduct had been faithless. The most important question is as to how a man lives, not as to what he thinks or how he feels.

2. A continuous course. It is a way, and Job has had to keep to it, A momentary spasm of virtue will not satisfy the requirements of the Divine Law. To achieve a single heroic deed that makes the world ring with one's fame, and then sink into idle apathy, is not the way to earn the commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant!

3. A Divine course. It is easy to persist in one's own way. The difficulty is to leave that and to accept and follow faithfully in God's way. Yet he has marked out the course of service for every one of his people, and the plain duty is to find it and follow it.

4. An arduous course. It is not easy to keep to God's steps. The way is narrow (Matthew 7:13, 14). Many temptations urge us to forsake it for flowery paths or for the broad road. The Christian life is a course of self-denial. The path leads uphill. Even while we only think of standing still we are really slipping back It is a mistake to suppose that the Christian life is necessarily a growth and a progress. There is danger of worse than stagnation, of declension and decay. We may have done well in the past, and yet have been hindered later on in life. To be true Christians we must be ever watchful, earnest, active in pressing forward along God's way.

II. ITS INSPIRATION. How is it possible to be faithful, keeping continuously to God's way?

1. My the guidance of revelation. Job has been following God's commandments. We cannot follow God's way without the aid of light from heaven. Instinct and conscience are our natural guides; but instinct is blind, and conscience has been in some cases perverted. Therefore God has given us the more sure word of prophecy." God's Word is a lamp to the feet of his people. This is its chief object. Difficulties are felt as to certain questions about the Bible, e.g. how to reconcile Genesis with geology, how to settle the relation of the Law to the prophets, how to harmonize the gospel narratives. But these questions do not touch the main purpose of the Bible, which is to be a guide to conduct. The righteousness of the ten commandments, the blessedness of the sermon on the mount, and, above all, the glory of Christ, still shine from the sacred page as beacon-lights undimmed by the clouds of controversy that gather about quite secondary points.

2. In the power of affection. Job has set a supreme value on the words of God's mouth. Their truth and goodness and beauty won the heart of the author of the hundred and nineteenth psalm. We have still greater attractions in the New Testament. Christ, the living Word of God, draws men to himself by his love and by his sacrifice of himself, so that when he is known and loved faithfulness becomes possible for his sake. Christians are called to walk, not only in the steps which God has marked out for them, but in those which Christ has trodden, which he has made sacred by his own presence. - W.F.A.

I. THE INFLEXIBILITY OF GOD IS ESSENTIAL TO HIS NATURE. He has not the reasons for changing that we have.

1. He knows all things. Men decide from partial knowledge, and then fuller information leads them to change their minds. But God knows everything from the first.

2. He is strong. Men are persuaded against their better judgment, or they weakly yield to temptation. But God is perfect in will and character. He cannot be urged to do what he knows is not the absolutely best.

3. He is good. It is well that men can and do change, for much of the past course of the world's history is wrong, and the only hope for man is in his mending his ways. But God has been faultless from the first; there is nothing for him to repent of.

II. THE INFLEXIBILITY OF GOD IS A WARNING AGAINST MAN'S PRESUMPTION. The danger is in judging God by man's changeable standards. Thus people come to think that he will not really perform what he threatens. They trust to the influence of time in melting away the Divine purposes against sin; or they rely on their own urgency in attempting to persuade God not to accomplish his will; or they imagine that in some way they shall be able to elude the grasp of his Law. All these courses show a foolish misapprehension of the firmness and strength of God. They are false because he is true.


1. In his Law. He has revealed his will, and we may be sure that he will keep to it. He is not like a fickle despot, whose shifting moods baffle the watchfulness of the most subservient courtier. When we once know his will, we may rely upon it that this is permanent.

2. In his promises. God has revealed himself in gracious purposes. These purposes he will never abandon. The ingratitude of man does not destroy the good will of God. A weaker being would be worn out with the constant rebellion and the utter unworthiness of his children. But God is infinitely patient. In spite of the world's folly and sin, he holds inflexibly to his purpose of saving and redeeming it. It cannot be that of all the Divine attributes mercy only is fragile and transitory; that while God's truth and justice remain, this one characteristic may be broken down, and may vanish away. On the contrary, it is explicitly revealed to us over and over again that "the mercy of the Lord endureth for ever."

IV. THE INFLEXIBILITY OF GOD IS NOT INCONSISTENT WITH HIS VARYING TREATMENT OF US. He has no rigid, uniform method of action. He adapts his treatment of us to our conduct and our need. His inflexibility is in his character, not in details of action. The very fact that he is changeless in himself leads to the result that he acts differently under different circumstances. We are governed not by an iron law, but by a faithful God.

1. In answer to prayer. God is not changed or bent by our prayer. But he sees fit to do, in response to our confidence in him, what he would not think well to do without it.

2. In the redemption of the world. This is a new action. The gospel declares a fresh Divine movement. But all of it springs from the eternal purposes of God; and all of it is in accordance with his changeless character of love and righteousness. - W.F.A.

The position of Job is one of confusion and unexplained mystery. He is in the hands of the Almighty. His punishment, as some affirm it to be, is very heavy. It at times seems to be greater than he can bear. Yet he is uncondemned within. He holds fast to his integrity. Like his friends, he interprets sufferings into punishments for sin. Yet he is not conscious of sin, certainly not of sin to such a degree as to merit such heavy judgment. He is confounded. He can but yield. He believes in the Divine justice, although his faith in it is tried by the conflicting convictions of his mind and his inability to interpret the Divine ways. That his own righteousness will shine out ultimately he is persuaded. "When he hath tried me, "shall come forth as gold." In the mean while he is overpowered. The struggle is severe; the strain upon his faith is very great. It is the uninterpreted mystery, the apparent confliction of the Divine dealings, that bows Job to the earth. He is troubled at the Divine presence; when he thinks of God he is afraid, and his heart is dejected. This picture of the humbled, overwhelmed servant of God holding fast his faith in the consciousness of integrity, declares the true causes of the support which Job experienced in his overwhelming afflictions to be

(1) a consciousness of integrity;

(2) faith in the Divine Name;

(3) patient anticipation of final vindication.

I. Without THE ASSURANCE OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY Job could not be free from the sorrows which come of condemnation. The testimony of conscience to the wrongness and disobedience of life is the keenest and most penetrative of afflictions. It reaches to the very core of the spirit. The utmost sensibility of the soul is aroused. No outward calm can allay this inner agitation. But if there is peace within; if the soul is not at war with itself; if there is the inestimable consciousness of personal freedom from condemnation, the soul may writhe in its pain, but it is upheld by the assurance that the affliction comes not weighted with the burden of retribution.

II. It is through this freedom from self-reproach and self-condemnation alone that TRUE FAITH IN GOD can be sustained. Job may be overwhelmed at the thought of God, but he lacks not faith in him; and them is no sense of buried wrong weakening his trust, or impairing the comfort that comes from a belief in the deep, if hidden, Divine approval.

III. And it is this which supports him in THE HOPE OF A FINAL VINDICATION The unjustly condemned may wait. Trouble may overshadow him, he may be heavily burdened, his heart may quake and fear, but he knows he shall at last rise superior to all aspersions of evil-doing. Herein lies the secret of a sustaining peace in the midst of the severest of earth's trials; this is the true ground of hope, this the encouragement to sustaining faith. - R.G.

I. THIS IS NATURAL IN GREAT DISTRESS. The soul is plunged into grief; like Jacob, the desponding sufferer exclaims, "All these things are against me" (Genesis 42:36). Then he comes to regard God as the Source of his misfortunes. God seems to be his Enemy, and any approach of God is regarded with apprehension, as bringing fresh trouble. We have to learn not to form our judgment of God in our darker moments. It is difficult to have any well-balanced opinion when we are plunged in deep distress. While the knife is in him it is possible that the patient may think the surgeon rough, cruel, even malignant. But he is not then in a fit state for forming an opinion.

II. THIS IS RIGHT IN THE GUILT OF SIN. The wonder is that people sin with so little reflection as to how God regards them, and that they are often quite ready to meet him without a thought of their great guilt. Thus it is said of a bad man's end, that "he died like a lamb"! As though his dull and senseless departure from this life were any guarantee of his spiritual state. But when conscience is roused, it shrinks from the searching gaze of God. Blind eyes may be turned to the sun, at which seeing eyes cannot glance without pain. It is not only that God can punish sin. There is a sense of shame in the thought that One so good and holy should ever see it. Then it is all a direct offence against him. When the sinner meets God, he encounters One whom he has grievously wronged. Lastly, as God is our Father, there is an especial ground of trouble in his rebellious children meeting him.

III. THIS MAY BE OVERCOME BY A BETTER ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. The fear should not be perpetual. Something is wrong, or it would not have arisen, and that which caused the fear can and ought to be removed. It is not well that any man should continue to live in a chill fear of God. In the New Testament God is so revealed that all terror of him may be dissipated.

1. As our Father. If we thought him hard and stern, we were unjust. Christ has revealed his true nature in his Fatherhood. Therefore the idea that God's presence is itself terrible comes from ignorance. Following the light of Christ, we discover that God is the home of our souls, and that no place is so safe, or so peaceful and happy, as where his presence is felt.

2. As our Redeemer. The just fear that arises from sin cannot be rightly expelled until the cause of it is removed. As God must be angry with sin, it would only be a dangerous deception that covered up and hid the thought of his wrath. But God himself has provided the best, the only right way of dispelling the fear of his presence by giving us a remedy for sin. Now, as it is he who sends the remedy, we have to know his intentions in order that we may no longer live in fear of him. The very fact that Christ was sent from heaven to save the world from sin shows how terrible the evil was; but it also shows how deep and strong the love of God must be - deeper than his wrath, outlasting his chastisements. - W.F.A.

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