Then Job answered and said,…
Job resumes. He knows, as truly as does Bildad, that God doth not pervert justice. His work is always right, while man is erring, vain, and sinful. How shall the creature "answer" to the Creator? Were the Holy One to condescend to enter into controversy with his frail creature man, the poor sinner would be dumb. Out of the mouth, even of the guilty, God would extort the confession of his own righteousness, and by his manifested glory compel the proud and self-conceited one to acknowledge his own sinfulness and error. This confession finally comes from the lips of his faithful "servant Job." The present words are the first notes of that final triumphant confession. The inability of man to answer God arises -
I. FROM THE FACT OF THE ABSOLUTE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE DIVINE WAYS, Job acknowledges this; and this makes his own suffering lot, as the servant of God, so inexplicable both to himself and to his mistaken friends, who are bent, at all hazards, on finding an answer. It is possible for man to pretend an answer to God; and, with wicked boldness, to enter into contention with him. But, in presence of the perfectly holy work of the Most High, he must ultimately be silenced.
II. BUT MAN IS EQUALLY UNABLE TO ANSWER TO GOD BY REASON OF THE SINFULNESS OF HIS DOINGS. Even Job, commended of God, does not hide his sinfulness. On the lowest ground, it must be complained of man's work that it is imperfect. His best deeds, done with his utmost strength and with an intention as pure as he can summon, are but imperfectly done. The strength is but feebleness; the motive lacking in the highest qualities, and the performance but irregular. The unsteadiness of the human hand may be traced through all Therefore -
III. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR MAN TO MAINTAIN HIS OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD. The measure of moral apprehension left even in the most faulty is sufficient to convince every one in presence of the Divine holiness - the true standard - that he is verily guilty. Even Job, when he saw God, abhorred himself, repenting "in dust and ashes." In humility he confesses, "How should man be just with God?" If vain man, who is foolish enough at times to attempt any presumptuous work, should dare to "contend" with the eternal Ruler, it must only end in his utter defeat; for "he is wise in heart, and mighty in strength."
IV. THE HARDENING OF THE HEART TO APPEAR IN CONTENTION MUST ONLY END IN SHAME AND DISGRACE TO HIM. To this all experience bears witness; for who hath done so "and hath prospered"? Man is puny, ignorant, weak, vain, and sinful. How shall he appear in the presence of the Almighty, the All-wise, the Eternal? Lowliness and contrition describe the true attitude for man to assume before God. Then will he be gracious, and lift up him that is bowed down. But "if he withdraw not his anger, the proud helpers stoop under him." - R.G.
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