Especially Job 9.
I suppose every reader is aware of the circumstances of this book, of the trials of Job, sent him of God for his good, under which his faith broke down at last.
It just teaches us how good is to be got, how blessing comes and must come, that is, in the real knowledge of self Men speak of God's goodness; but their only thought of God's goodness is His passing over sin. Were half the people around us put into heaven, they would get out as fast as they could. What is in heaven is not in accordance with them: nothing they like is there, and nothing is there that they like. Not one of us naturally would find a single thing according to our mind in heaven. So that the Lord says, "Ye must be born again."
The goodness of God does not pass over iniquity, but brings us to the distinct definite knowledge of what we are and of what we have done. Hence being good, He is above all the evil and can bless us in Christ. Here we are walking in a vain show, and are aware that everything around will not last. Everybody knows that the fashion of this world passes away, and yet people are occupied with it.
"While we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen." What is "seen," everybody knows, will all go to nothing. They must leave it any way (1 Tim. 6); and then their whole life and objects will be entirely done with. Their conduct they will not have done with, unless it be put away by the blood of Christ. You think God has given a revelation; but do we want a revelation of this world? According to our intelligence and ability we know the world ourselves; but when we pass beyond this world, we want God to tell us, to bring down to us, a sure and certain testimony of what will become of us. This He has done. He has given a full revelation of what our state is and what His holiness is; and He has given a sure, settled and certain foundation for blessing so that there can be no doubt about it.
God would not have us walking in uncertainty; for uncertainty is misery. "We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Believing in Jesus we know our relationship with God, we are "joint-heirs with Christ." "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." God was dealing with Job; but he had to learn himself. What makes Job so interesting is that the book comes before all dispensations.
23 When I find what I am and cannot tell what God is, of course, I am in misery. When God is ploughing up the ground, this is not a crop. Ploughing comes before harvest. "In all this Job sinned not." There was none like Job in all the earth, but he did not know himself: a spirit of self-righteousness had been creeping over him.
Supposing God had stopped there, what would have come of it? Job might have said, "In prosperity I was eyes to the blind; in adversity I was patient": and the whole case would have been worse. He goes on till his friends come, and then, perhaps from pride, or because he could not bear their sympathy, he breaks down. The process was a trying humbling one. "Oh if I could meet God," Job says, "He is not like you: there is goodness in Him." His friends stood on utterly false ground; they took this world as the adequate witness of the government of God. This only makes Job the more angry: the world is no adequate testimony of the government of God.
There you see a soul rising under that which is upon him, striving and wrestling, the flesh breaking out so that he should know himself Job, having been thus wrought in and exercised and ploughed up, passes through all the various considerations as to how he could meet God. Throughout there are certain true sayings, as "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness"; but are we righteous? This is another story. Are you in a condition, if you had to do with God this moment, to say "I am righteous" before Him? Many a one looks at the cross and says "I am a poor sinner, and I have no hope but the cross." But can you say, "I am a poor sinner, and the judgment-seat just suits me"?
When we have really known Christ as our righteousness, there is no place where the soul is so clear and bright and certain about the matter as for the day of judgment: we shall be in glory then. Where the heart has not been broken up, the soul does not understand as a present thing what it is to be before God now. You will find in this chapter naughty expressions, but in the main what Job says is true. There was a mixture, that his wrong thoughts might be judged.
24 "How should man be just with God?" The instant the soul is awakened, it sees with God's eye: and this is the only way of seeing right. When this is the case, the soul in the light of the judgment of God says, "I could not answer him one of a thousand." God is infinitely good; but His way of goodness is not that of allowing evil. Could you answer for yourself in the day of judgment for everything you have ever said or done?
We were all living in a vain show. I may have a character, which God cares nothing about; but He cares about conscience. Before the day of judgment He says "There is none righteous, no, not one," "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." Job goes through several of these cases; then his wrong feeling breaks out. "He . . . filleth me with bitterness." Then he gets more right, "If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me." Can you justify yourself in God's presence? If you cannot justify yourself there, what is the good of doing so anywhere else? You could not stand in the light as God is in the light, and you know it. How comes it that the thought of God makes a man melancholy? He finds out that he is not walking with God. Then, it is impossible to go on longer in that way: we all naturally have got a conscience of good and evil. The crust of the heart has to be ploughed up - the "fallow ground," as Jeremiah calls it.
Then comes another case: "If I wash myself with snow water and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me." Thus, if a man had been brought up in a dirty cabin, he does not feel it to be so. Thus men have habits of thinking according to men, not according to God. You will find that sins against man are thought a great deal of, such as murder and robbery: suppose a man commits sins like these, he is intolerable, not fit for society; but suppose he hates God, men say, Oh, that is his own affair.
Go through the history of all religions: do you see a Mohammedan ashamed of His religion? Do you find a follower of juggernaut ashamed of his religion? Where is it ever seen, when a man has a false religion, that he is ashamed of it? But take a Christian, a real Christian, and he is ashamed of it. How comes it? What a tale it tells of the world! Man may sing songs in the street, but hymns - that will not do.
25 If I talk of washing myself "with snow water, my own clothes shall abhor me." This is where we are brought, all of us. "There is none righteous, no, not one." If that were all, I could not stand here and speak to you, for we are all the same.
You see Job could not answer God, and he is struggling under this: what does he say he wants? "Neither is there any daysman betwixt us that might lay his hand upon both." Oh, I have got no daysman! "Let him take his rod away from me and let not his fear terrify me." What Job said he had not got is exactly what we have now in Christ. Was Christ a terror in this world? The law was this exactly; there were thunderings and lightnings: even Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake," and the people, "Do not let God speak to us." The law struck with terror, but it produced no real change in man, and no confidence in God.
The law does not give life, it does not take away sins, nor does it give an object for the heart. The man in Romans 7 says, "I hate sin." "So do I," says the law, "and this is the reason that I curse you." Does this inspire confidence? The law is very useful, it brings the knowledge of sin - what Job was getting here, not that it was law but the same principle). There was no peace, no rest, but it was sin brought upon the conscience, which never gave confidence.
In Cain we see utter insensibility to man's having been driven out of paradise, to sin, to the curse: he brought to God the very sign of the curse. Cain left God and listened to Satan; therefore he is under judgment. People talk as if God had made man as he is. Suppose I make a desk and then judge that desk, what do I judge? Myself. By our sin we turned God into a Judge instead of a Blesser. Abel comes to God, and brings his victim, offering the fat of the lamb. He felt, If I do not get something between me and God, I cannot come near God.
If we look at Christ, we shall find that He exactly meets the need that Job felt. I cannot answer God one in a thousand but what do I find in Christ? God in His person came to me in this world because I could not do anything. The blessed Lord did not wait up in heaven, but came to these unrighteous people. He never said "Come to me," until He had come Himself.
26 I see in this Daysman God shewing me that He is above all my sin. He is light to make everything manifest now; but when He has done that in man's heart and conscience, He puts it all away. In the world, where men were sinners, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." I have God that visited me, but not to hide my sins. God came to me, to the woman in the city that was a sinner, to Mary Magdalene. I get Him coming and talking to the Samaritan about a fountain of water springing up unto everlasting life. I have Him saying to the woman, "Thy sins are forgiven thee."
It is God Himself in this world, not terrifying us, but in perfect blessed love as Man amongst men; the holy One, the undefiled that used the undefilableness of His nature to carry the blessed love of God to us. This blessed One is the Daysman. God has visited me just as I am; He came to me just as I am: I know God is for me. But if He comes to the sinner, He lets him feel his sins; "You are so bad you have nobody you can trust; you cannot shew your face to a decent person; then come and shew it to Me," says Christ. This is the way of God's dealing. Will He wait for the day of judgment?
The beginning of all sin was losing confidence in God: "He is keeping back that tree." If I do not trust God, I must do the best I can for myself: then follows lust, transgression, ruin. Christ comes into the world of sinners and says, "Now you can have confidence in Me."
How blessed it is to trace Christ's life in this world! He says to the woman at the well, "If thou knewest the gift of God!" and He came to bring the blessing. These two things I get hold of: that God is giving, and who it is that has come down so low as to be dependent on a poor woman for a drink of water. Instead of waiting for the day of judgment He has come down into this world to say, "Now if you just trust Me! You cannot answer in the day of judgment, but I am come in the day of grace." Did you ever see any terror in Him? Terror to the Pharisees you might in a certain sense see; but did you ever see, when God was in the world (Christ was God in this world), anything but love to sinners? Never. This is what I find in that blessed One, divine love. Who put it into God's heart? Did you? Nobody but Himself; His own heart was the source of it. I get to know God far better than I know myself; the moment I receive the true blessed testimony of His love, I know Him; I have my Daysman ("I and the Father are one"), who has come into the world of sinners just as they were, passing through this world of sin to meet every want.
27 Well, He goes on, In the cross it is not God before men in this world, but Man before God made sin. In the perfectness of this same love He offered Himself to God: He stands before God made sin for us that He might be dealt with according as it deserved. This was the reason He prayed, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." He did not speak this of outrages and insults from man, but He could not take the wrath of God thus. If any of us was to be saved, this cup must be drunk. Just as God came out in love to us down here, so Christ has gone up as Man to God up there.
I find all these people that He had met in blessing saying, "Crucify him, crucify him"; the priests, who ought to have pleaded for weakness, crying out against Him; the judge condemning the innocent Man; and His friends who had been with Him continually - one betraying, another denying, and all deserting Him! I find Him setting His face as a flint, bowing to His Father's will. I find Him, if my faith follow Him there, drinking the cup on the cross there: I brought Him: my sin, my wickedness, my neglect of Him for years, brought Him there. What of my sins now? They are all gone. What is there like that atonement? People talk of Him as an example, which we know He was; but if you take Him only as an example, what do you find? The one righteous Man in the world declaring He was forsaken of God at the end! What sort of testimony is that?
The moment I see Christ there, and all the darkness around, and Him made sin for us, the work done alone between Him and God; there only was obedience fully tested, there was the one spotless victim, the blessed Son of God. There is no glorifying God perfectly except in the cross. There I find the whole righteous judgment of God against sin, no patience, no gentleness; Christ was really drinking the cup, If God could pass over sins, where would be His righteousness? Here I find God's perfect righteousness against sin and His perfect love; I get the whole enmity of man rising up against God, and, where it carries out its purpose, God's perfect grace. You never get positive sin dealt with outright before God except in the cross, and perfect love doing it. I find Christ there alone with God. I see Him in infinite unutterable love. He is in the presence of God for me, always in the value of what He has wrought; and when I go up to God now, I go into the holiest as white as snow, because I could not go in there except by the work of Christ.
28 I go on to the day of judgment: whom do I find there? The very person who put away all my sins. It gives this blessed rest to the heart now; and, when I stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, there is the Man who bore away my sins! How do we get there? When Christ appears, what will He do with me, with you? He comes and changes this vile body: "It is sown in corruption, raised again in glory." To get before the judgment-seat we must be raised or changed: Christ comes Himself, and He raises or changes us, and takes us to Himself
The first coming of Christ was about the putting away of sin. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." What you want is God-given faith in the person of our Daysman. He brings out love to me where I am, and He has gone in as Man in righteousness to God. The question with me is, whether in that dark hour when all were shut out He finished the work God gave Him to do, and gave His life a ransom for many; and I believe He finished it: do you believe? Now He is sitting there, having finished the work, and God has raised Him from the dead; and I know, not only that He has accomplished the work, but that God has accepted it. Like Abel I come to God with His Lamb in my hand.
"If I wash myself with snow water . . . yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch"; I shall be like a man come out of a ditch. But I have got my Daysman, and God rests in Him; and we are in Him, the Holy Ghost being sent down that we may know it. "At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father and ye in me and I in you." Then I learn what the Lord Jesus says in John 17: "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them." If I look at my Daysman, I have got to the very spring of God's heart. He has given His Son. Glory is but a natural consequence. And if I find He is a righteous God who cannot look at sin: well, I say, He has looked at it on the cross and judged it fully.
29 Christ has accomplished the work: God has accepted it and Christ sits there at His right hand till His enemies are made His footstool. When I say I am in Christ, there is this other blessed truth that Christ is in me. If Christ is in you, walk worthy of Him; being reconciled to God, Christ being your life, you are to glorify God in everything: "Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." You are not you own at all; if you want to be your own, you are not Christ's. What we have to do is to detect the evil in the heart, and thus not dishonour Christ before the world. I am no longer my own at all, but the epistle of Christ. People are to read Christ in you as the ten commandments in the tables of stone.
Redemption is perfect; Christ is our righteousness; I have got my Daysman. The Holy Ghost coming down and dwelling in me, my soul is in the consciousness of the value of what Christ has done, and I am waiting in earnest desire for Christ to come and take me there. It is a perfect finished work, and the only part I had in it was my sin.
The Lord open your hearts and turn your eyes on that blessed One; and if you have your heart open, if you are struggling like Job to lay your hands on the head of the Lamb, the Lord give you in this day of salvation not to neglect so great a salvation.