Chapter 6: The God Who Visits Man (Job 6-7)
Because we have all fallen short of the glory of God, our sense of value and worth seem to ebb and flow like the morning and evening tides of the sea. We wish that God would take special interest in us one day and none the next. Sometimes we long to feel special enough to the Lord that He would come and visit us in our time of need. Other times we wish we were not so special so that He would not be so intimately acquainted with our self-driven desires. Our relationship with God is like the dance of the porcupines. We seek Him in order to keep warm in the cold night, but we distance ourselves from Him in the warm sunny day. In other words, we tend to want God to pay attention to us on our terms, not His. We want to feel His significance but not so much that He has the freedom to test and prove our faith. Adversity tests our comprehension of what it means to be significant to God. Are we significant enough that He would visit us every morning with troubles? Are we significant enough that He cares about our earthly problems? Are we significant enough that He delivers us out of our pain and suffering? Are we significant enough that He takes personal interest in us, in light of the magnitude of His glory throughout all creation?
These thoughts ran through Job’s mind. Here was a man considered both great and significant in the eyes of God and man. But in adversity, he could not comprehend his significance to God. If he were so significant, why did God allow him to suffer? He began to wish that he was less significant so God would leave him alone and let him die. His suffering and pain were obscuring his appreciation of what it means to be God’s child. Those who came to comfort him only intensified his sense of alienation. Eliphaz rebuked Job as a rebellious sinner, unwilling to admit his secret sins. He reminded Job that God is pleased to chasten sinners (Job 4-5). Job, however, was not mindful of any sin that warranted such chastening. What pleasure could God find then in crushing him? This is where we pick up our narrative again. Job angrily reacts to the accusations of his “comforter” in chapters six and seven.
Job believed that God is pleased to crush the righteous, but why him? (Job 6:1-13). He accused his three friends of judging him too severely for his honest comments made in his pain (Job 6:1-4). They did not appreciate the weight of his grief. He compared his sorrows to the weight of the sands of the sea. His sorrow would tip the scale out of balance when compared to the all the wet sand in the ocean. He also attributed his suffering to the Almighty. He felt his plight was far beyond what man could inflict upon him. Therefore, he believed that God shot poison-tipped arrows into his heart. He was pierced to his inner being for reasons only God knew.
It seemed to him that God had arrayed His terrors against him like a mighty king positions his weapons and army in full attack (6:5-7). In other words, he believed he was in a spiritual battle with God. But what Job did not know was that he was in a spiritual battle with the evil one.
Job then cried out to the Lord to crush him and let him die (Job 6:8-9; cf. Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:4-5; 53:10-11). But he had to accept that God does only what He pleases and He was not pleased to crush him to death, but only crush him up to death. This was disconcerting. Job agreed that God is often pleased to crush sinners and judge the wicked, but he was struggling with why God crushes the righteous. What kind of God is pleased to crush the righteous? He lacked the knowledge and perspective of the cross. The God who was pleased to crush His righteous Son on the cross is the same God who was pleased to crush Job.
God takes no fiendish delight in observing any of man’s suffering, but He has a holy pleasure in working greater good through the suffering. For example, it was Christ’s joy to be crucified because He knew it was His Father’s will. He also knew His crushing would result in our redemption and resurrection. This was the greater good that outweighed the pain and suffering which He endured. In our suffering, we too must remember that the God, who is pleased to crush the righteous, was also the God who crushed His own Son for us. He crushes us for a greater good than temporal pleasure, rather it is for an eternal blessing.
2 Corinthians 5:17 uses the scale of suffering to help us understand the weight of glory. “Our light affliction, which is for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” If applied to Job in this analogy, the weight of his suffering could not be compared to the weight of glory which was to come. Job, however, longed for death because it would bring relief from his pain. He had not concealed his living testimony to the Holy One in his lifetime, but now he was giving testimony of his desire to die.
He wished that God’s hand was loosed or set free to cut him off like a weaver cuts off the wool when he has completed his tapestry (Job 6:10-13; cf. Isaiah 38:12). You may remember it was God’s hand that had held Satan back from killing Job. Now Job prayed that God’s hand would be released to swiftly strike him dead. All of his strength to survive had lefthope had vanished in the night.
Job’s Discouraging Friends
Next, Job turned from his musings about suffering to accuse his friends of being like a dry riverbed. They had dealt deceitfully with him like a dry riverbed offers false hope for the thirsty sojourner in the wilderness (Job 6:14-30). These men brought nothing refreshing or life-giving. Instead, they led him into deeper despair. His friends had forsaken the fear of God and had come to him without wisdom or kindness. “Retribution theology” is like that; it leaves people stiff, cranky, judgmental, and self-righteous, especially when they sense the weakness and vulnerability of others. There was neither grace nor empathy, but their words were only insensitive and vindictive. He told them they had given him no understanding to his suffering. Instead, they tried to shame him into a forced confession but without any knowledge of his sin, they only had the knowledge of his suffering. They argued he was guilty, but without any evidence or proof. They also undermined their friendship by overwhelming him with accusations, claiming that God had crushed better people than him before. He needed to confess his sin or else face God’s harsh retribution (Job 6:27-28).
But what bothered Job the most was their unwillingness to accept his plea of relative innocence before God (Job 6:29-30). There is nothing more disheartening than having friends who do not trust in His word. He claimed there was no injustice on his tongue and no sin that he could discern. Next he turns his attention from these “mourners” back to his lamentations to God.
God Appointed Job’s Sufferings
Job believed God appointed his suffering (Job 7:1-6). He believed God appointed him to serve his days with toil (Job 7:1-2). He saw himself like a conscripted soldier ready to fight a battle for a king, or a hired field hand harvesting crops for his master. They fought and worked diligently for the rewards of their labor. They delighted in resting in the shade and receiving their wages after a day’s work. As it was their right to expect these things, so he argued he had the right to seek rest and reward at the end of his days. All Job wanted was to curl up in the shade and die.
But he believed this would not come because God had appointed him to suffer months of futility (Job 7:3-6). Toil and futility were, to him, like being on a perpetual treadmillit awaited him every day. This was his appointed fate. He believed God not only appointed him days of toil and months of futility, but nights of restlessness. The night offered no rest or relief from his suffering. He longed to sleep away the pain and depression, for his skin was cracked all over his body, covered with open sores, clothed with worms, and caked with dust. His despair grew with sleeplessness. The days and nights of his life were passing swiftly, but not quickly enough! They were long and wearisome because his hope in God and life had vanished. This was a tough place to be. Job believed God had appointed him to suffering, but now he turns to argue his fate.
In Job 7:7-16, he began complaining to God that He unjustly appointed him to suffer. He called God to remember the brevity of man’s days (Job 7:7-10). His life was like breath on a cold day or a gentle breeze on a hot day. It was here today and gone tomorrow. He was reconciled to never see good again on this side of death. He also reminded God that He would not have to trouble Him any longer when he died. He would be buried in the grave and not come up again to visit his home or friends. In death he would be quickly forgotten. This was the absurdity of lifetoil, futility, and then death. What is the purpose of racing on this treadmill if that is all there is? No longer could Job hold back his disappointment with God and his life.
He cried out to God with anguish and bitterness (Job 7:11-16). We hear the creature accusing the Creator. He asked sarcastically, “Am I a sea, or a sea serpent, that You set a guard over me?” (Job 7:12) In essence, he was mocking God. “Am I this little, crusty, sick, old man, so threatening to You (or anyone else) that You have to guard against me? You have dangerous sea monsters in the mighty oceans of this celestial ball, so what in the world are You doing striking this insignificant, little ole me? What have I done to deserve Your personal attention when You could be doing so many more important things like ruling the universe? But no, even in bed at night, when I long for comfort and rest You relentlessly trouble me. You scare me with horrible nightmares and terrify me with confusing visions. There is no place to escape from You.” His soul was so plagued that he preferred to be strangled to death rather than continue in his decaying body of clay. He loathed life and wished it all to end quickly! With all the anger and bitterness Job could muster, he protested to God, “Leave me alone! I no longer want to be special to you. I am tired of what it means to be special, troubling me with pain, suffering, and grief. Release me! Take down the hedge around me! What am I to You?”
Job’s complaints turned from accusations to questioning why God had appointed him to suffer (Job 7:17-21). He asked God a very provocative, philosophical and theological question, “What is man?” in verses 17-18. “What claim does such a weak creature have on God? What is it about man that entitles him to so much of God’s attention? What is man that God exalts him by conferring on him the honor yet the pain and toil of dominion over His works? Why does God put up with human sin and rebellion when His pleasure could be found in so many other things? What is man that God sets His heart on him? Of all creation, man is the most rebellious. Why should God, who is so vast and glorious, turn His thoughts to man and his ways?” And then Job asked God, “What is man that You visit him every morning?” By this, Job was asking what God gains from divine visitations upon men? Why does He relentlessly take interest in man and test him? Why doesn’t God give up on men of dust and be done with these puny insignificant creatures?
David also pondered God’s interest in man in Psalm 8:3-5, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.”
From Job’s and David’s perspective, they could not comprehend anything intrinsically good or enduring in man that God would entitle him to such an exalted position in the world. What they did not fully understand then, was that God Himself would come and visit man. The great and glorious God would enter time and space, becoming a man. This was far more than they or we can understand. But we may further wonder why the incarnate God, Jesus Christ, would retain His identity with sinful men even in heaven with His pierced hands and feet? What is man that God should exalt him? Set His affection upon him? And visit him? This is a mystery that will never be fully comprehended. It is the most wonderful mystery enjoyed by those redeemed by the Lamb of God. When we begin to feel worthless and insignificant, we are called to remember Christ and the cross. God, however, did not answer Job’s question: “Why does God desire men when they do not desire Him?”
Job then asked “How long before You look away and leave me alone?” (Job 7:19). He was coaxing God to walk away so he could swallow his saliva alone and die. He believed as long as God watched over him he would not die, but continue suffering.
Job’s question turned to a heartfelt cry of desperation, “Have I sinned?” What have I done to deserve this, “O Watcher or Preserver of Men?” (Job 7:20) Job was willing to admit sin, if only God would reveal what it was. If his suffering was a result of some sin, why did God not convict him of the sin so he could repent and be forgiven? He asked, “Why have You set me as Your target? Why then do You not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity?” (Job 7:20-21).
For Job, the answer will come from God, but not at this point in his life. He will answer Job’s cry later out from a whirlwind and down from a cross. Until then, remember one may seem insignificant to God now, but that is a temptation that originates from the pit. It is the ageold ploy of the devil to accuse God’s imagebearers into thinking they are meaningless to God. He does this by instigating doctrines of evolution that rob man of his exalted position in creation and relegate him to primal ooze and a spark in the mud. When man’s identity in the universe is diminished, man grovels like the beasts of the earth. But when man discovers his exalted identity in creation, he rises to levels of greatness.
Christ has given us an identity in Himself that exceeds anything man could imagine. Men should never underestimate God’s passion and purpose for His children, especially when they suffer and grieve. This is the time to identify with the God who was pleased to crush His own Son for our good. He welcomes sinners and understands sufferers. They are the objects of His desire.
Our Sense of Worth
Because we have all fallen short of the glory of God, our sense of value and worth seems to ebb and flow like the morning and evening tides of the sea. Adversity tests our comprehension of what it means to be significant to God. Are we significant enough that He would visit us every morning with troubles? Are we significant enough that He cares about our earthly problems? Are we significant enough that He delivers us out of our pain and suffering? Are we significant enough that He takes personal interest in us in light of the magnitude of His glory throughout all creation? The answer is definitely “Yes!”