Introduction: Here, Job continued with his complaints to God instead of addressing the attacks of his wayward friends. Job questioned why God hid His plans, why evil seemed to go unpunished and whether God was really fair. While Job lacked the benefit of God’s written Word, we have the complete counsel of God to answer his complaints. We live in a fallen world where evil is ramped and can seem to go unpunished. But in our uncertainty, Jesus offers His (1) sovereignty, (2) judgment, (3) love, (4) omniscience, (5) mercy, (6) justice, and (7) faithfulness.
First, Job questioned why God concealed His greater plans from His servants. Job was correct that God is sovereign over everything. But he needed to trust in God’s greater plans. Jesus controls history and wants you to trust in His plans. Second, Job questioned why evil people who stole from the poor seemed to go unpunished. Jesus promises that He will one day judge evil and right every wrong. Third, Job questioned how the poor seemed to be oppressed with no response from God to protect them. Jesus in fact loves and has compassion for the poor and those who suffer. Fourth, Job questioned why secret evil acts everywhere around him seemed to go unpunished. Jesus is in fact all-knowing and will one day judge every secret deed. Fifth, Job offered unsolicited advice for God. He believed that evil people should face immediate judgment. In fact, everyone is worthy of judgment. Jesus withholds immediate judgment to let sinners repent. Sixth, Job then questioned whether God is fair. Jesus is in fact just and will fairly judge every good and bad deed. Finally, despite his complaints, Job then professed that God must have a plan to fairly judge the wicked. Jesus will also keep His promises. Even when His plans are beyond your understanding, Jesus is worthy of your faith and your trust in Him.
Job questioned why God concealed His plans from His servants. Although accepting God’s sovereignty, Job questioned why God did not reveal His plans to godly people: “1 Why are times not stored up by the Almighty, and why do those who know Him not see His days?” (Job 24:1). Because the Book of Job has the oldest Hebrew in the Bible, some of the words in Job’s statement require clarification. Although it is never wise to add words that don’t exist in the Bible, the New International Version attempts to add clarity by adding the words “times for judgment”: “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?” (Job 24:1 NIV) Job was again struggling with divine justice: “Job was further frustrated because God never held court. The second stitch is also expanded from a literal ‘those who know him do not see his days.’ Jesus seemed to say the same in Acts 1:7, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.’ Job, of course, was not thinking of the last judgment but of any occasion when he might find the divine court in session so that he could present his case and receive a hearing.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 245).
Job struggled with unaddressed injustice around him in society. This chapter sets forth Job’s “complaint on why God did not set straight the balance of justice. Why did not his promised retribution come at set times against ruthless oppressors? . . . The theme is an important part of the major message of the book. Job felt God should demonstrate his justice by openly punishing the wicked. In the divine speeches God would teach him a tremendous lesson about this, which he did not now understand. That lesson centers around the idea that the principle of retribution does not operate mechanically in this world but according to divine will. Although God is free to do as he pleases, Job knew he did not deserve his suffering. But how then does the age-old principle of retribution fit in? In this chapter Job presented a picture of a world that was still a deep enigma to him. His courageous honesty led him to expound on the mystery of how the wicked get by unpunished while they perform their evil deeds against the innocent.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 959-60).
Job cried out for God to make His plans for justice known to him1
God will repay right and wrong according to His timing. While Job questioned whether judgment will come, Jesus warns that it is not for us to know that date or hour of judgment: “But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32; Acts 1:7). Everything will happen in God’s timing: “I said to myself, ‘God will judge the righteous and the wicked,’ for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.”’ (Ecc. 3:17). “And faithfulness is Yours, Lord, for You reward a person according to his work.” (Ps. 62:12; Matt. 16:27; Ro. 2:6). We also have no need to know this information: “Now as to the periods and times, brothers and sisters, you have no need of anything to be written to you.” (1 Thess. 5:1). If we knew the date and hour of judgment, we might put off getting right with God until the very last moment. Are you keeping your heart ready for Jesus at all times?
Job questioned how the wicked remained unpunished for their crimes. In response to Eliphaz’s prior unsubstantiated charges of theft, Job agreed that a wicked person engages in crimes of theft against his or her neighbor. “2 People remove landmarks; they seize and devour flocks. 3 They drive away the donkeys of orphans; they seize the widow’s ox as a pledge. 4 They push the needy aside from the road; the poor of the land have to hide themselves together. 5 Behold, like wild donkeys in the wilderness they go out scavenging for food in their activity, as bread for their children in the desert. 6 They harvest their feed in the field and glean the vineyard of the wicked. 7 They spend the night naked, without clothing, and have no covering against the cold. 8 They are wet from the mountain rains, and they hug the rock for lack of a shelter.” (Job 24:2-8). Job agreed that wicked thieves are everywhere. But one seemed to be judged. Job’s friends believed that God mechanically judged the wicked. Thus, they assumed that Job’s suffering meant that God had judged him. In contrast, Job saw God as failing to fulfill His promise to judge the wicked. Job, however, confused the ultimate with the immediate. He lacked the patience at this moment to trust in God’s timing.
Job questioned why he was allegedly being punished while the wicked were not2
God one day promises to judge the unsaved for theft and fraud related crimes. Eliphaz had previously invented allegations of theft against Job: “5 Is your wickedness not abundant, and is there no end to your guilty deeds? 6 For you have seized pledges from your brothers without cause, and stripped people naked. 7 You have given the weary no water to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry. 8 But the earth belongs to the powerful man, and the one who is honorable dwells on it. 9 You have sent widows away empty, and the strength of orphans has been crushed.” (Job 22:5-11). A worker’s wages were due by sundown (Ex. 22:26; Dt. 24:6, 17). Widows, orphans, and those in need were also entitled to aid (Dt. 10:12-11:32; 1 Kgs. 17:17-24). Job later denied violating these rules (Job 29:12-16; 31:13, 16-17, 21). Here, Job actually expanded upon Eliphaz’s economic crimes to include stealing food that the poor who were entitled to “glean” from crops (Job 24:6; Lev. 19:10; Ruth 2). Job then added the common practice in his day where one neighbor defrauded another by moving by “remov[ing] landmarks.” (Job 24:2). Under God’s law, a person could not seek to expand their land by moving their neighbor’s landmarks: “14 You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.” (Dt. 19:14; Prov. 22:28; Hos. 5:10). Anyone who broke this law was under God’s curse: “17 ‘Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary mark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Dt. 27:17). The practice of secretly moving stone markers landmarks, along with stealing another person’s animals (Job 24:2-3) were both form of theft, which are prohibited under God’s Eighth Commandment (Ex. 20:15; Dt. 5:19). For the unsaved, the penalty for any theft is death (1 Cor. 6:10). But, this will happen in heaven, not necessarily on Earth.
God’s day of judgment will come for those who reject God. God’s prophets repeatedly warned that God’s day of judgment is coming: “For the LORD of armies will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is arrogant and haughty, and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be brought low.” (Is. 2:12). “Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. . . Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it.” (Is. 13:6, 9). “Woe for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.” (Joel 1:15; Obadiah 1:15; Zeph. 1:7). “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:17). Are you warning non-believers to repent and turn to Jesus?
Job questioned how God let the wicked oppress the weak without punishment. Job also lamented that crimes against the weak also seemed to go unpunished: “9 Others snatch an orphan from the breast, and they seize it as a pledge against the poor. 10 The poor move about naked without clothing, and they carry sheaves, while going hungry. 11 Within the walls they produce oil; they tread wine presses but go thirsty. 12 From the city people groan, and the souls of the wounded cry for help; yet God does not pay attention to the offensiveness.” (Job 24:9-12). Job was again questioning God’s fairness.
God one day promises to judge those who oppress the weak and the poor. Eliphaz also previously accused Job of leaving the poor stripped and naked, with no food or water: “6 For you have seized pledges from your brothers without cause, and stripped people naked. 7 You have given the weary no water to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry.” (Job 22:6-7). Job repeated these themes as crimes of the wicked (Job 24:9-10). Here, Job added that the wicked allowed the poor to go thirsty while they labored for the rich landowners to press their harvested grapes into wine (Job 24:11). His point was that not even animals could be lawfully kept from grazing the fields for food as they worked: “You shall not muzzle the ox while it is threshing.” (Dt. 25:4; 1 Tim. 5:18). God will again judge every act of evil. (Matt. 16:27; Ro. 2:6; Ps. 62:12). But He will do so according to His timing, not ours (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32; Acts 1:7).
Job questioned why God did not intervene to save the oppressed3
Jesus loves the poor and the oppressed and calls upon believers to help them. Jesus did not abolish God’s Law: “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” (Matt. 5:17). He simply took the penalty under the Law for those with faith in Him who repent of their sins (Jo. 3:16). To some who continue to openly violate the Law, He will say that He never knew them: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matt. 7:21-23). He later explained that He may reject those who ignore the plight of the poor, those unfairly incarcerated and those who suffer: “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.’” (Matt. 25:40). In effect, Jesus expanded the Law to require your acts of compassion to those in need. If you were judged for how you have helped the poor and those in need, would there be much evidence to present to God’s court?
In your worship, give thanks for Jesus’ love and compassion. Unlike Job, your worship should also give thanks for Jesus’ love and compassion: “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6). “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.” (Ps. 86:5). “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” (Ps. 103:8). “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is compassionate.” (Ps. 116:5). Are you thanking Jesus for His compassion?
Job questioned how the wicked remained unpunished for concealed crimes. Job also lamented why an all-knowing God would allow hidden crimes to remain unpunished: “13 Others have been with those who rebel against the light; they do not want to know its ways nor stay in its paths. 14 The murderer arises at dawn; he kills the poor and the needy, and at night he is like a thief. 15 The eye of the adulterer watches for twilight, saying, ‘No eye will see me.’ And he disguises his face. 16 In the darkness they dig into houses, they shut themselves up by day; they do not know the light. 17 For the morning is the same to him as thick darkness, for he is familiar with the terrors of thick darkness.”” (Job 24:13-17). “In powerful poetic images, Job describes the kind of sin that happens under the cover of darkness. Darkness is used as a cloak for the murderer, the thief, and the adulterer. . . . One should regard the morning as something good; the coming of light after the dark night. Yet for these wicked people, morning is the same to them as the shadow of death. It is a bad thing to them, not a good thing.” (David Guzik on Job 24).4
No sin can be concealed before the omniscient Creator. God is omniscient (all-knowing). This includes the Father (Ps. 147:5), the Son (Jo. 16:30), and the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10). Job knew that God is infinitely wise and knows each person’s sins: “For His eyes are upon the ways of a person, and He sees all his steps.” (Job 34:21). “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” (Prov. 15:3). “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”’ (2 Chr. 16:9(a)). “For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their wrongdoing concealed from My eyes.” (Jer. 16:17; Ps. 130:3). “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer.” (Heb. 4:13). The fact that God is omniscient should cause every person to both avoid evil and seek to be holy.
Job advised God on what he felt should happen to the wicked. After complaining about the crimes of the wicked, Job offered advice for God to punish them: “18 They are insignificant on the surface of the water; their plot of land on the earth is cursed. They do not turn toward the vineyards. 19 Dryness and heat snatch away the snow waters, as Sheol snatches those who have sinned. 20 A mother will forget him; the maggot feeds sweetly until he is no longer remembered. And injustice will be broken like a tree.” (Job 24:18-20). Job was not content to see the wicked being punished in the afterlife. If he was experiencing alleged punishment, Job argued that the wicked deserved it as well.
Jesus withholds judgment to give every person a chance to repent. While Job wanted to see immediate judgment, the Bible reveals that God withholds judgment to give sinners the chance to repent: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.” (Is. 30:18). It was out of His love for sinners, that Jesus gave His life at the cross: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16).
Praise God’s mercy and forgiveness for withholding your judgment. Everyone is guilty under God’s Law. “Indeed, there is not a righteous person on earth who always does good and does not ever sin.” (Ecc. 7:20; Rom. 3:23). Thus, instead of pleading for God to judge others, believers are encouraged to celebrate God’s mercy and forgiveness: “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy; and You did not abandon them.” (Neh. 9:17). “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6; 33:19; Nu. 19:18). “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Dt. 4:31). Are you praising God for His mercy and grace in your life?
Give thanks that God’s faithfulness is not dependent on your faithfulness. The Old Testament shows that God was always faithful to His promise to never forsake His people: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6; 4:31; Heb. 13:5). ‘“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”’ (Is. 43:25). He was faithful even when His people openly rebelled against Him (Neh. 9:18-19). You can also give thanks that His faithfulness is not conditioned upon our faithfulness: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). Have you given thanks that Jesus will not use your sins to revoke His promises to you?
Job accused God of being unfair. After complaining about how the wicked allegedly escape punishment while he suffered for no reason, Job accused God of being unfair: “21 He wrongs the infertile woman, and does no good for the widow.” (Job 24:21). This was a low point for Job. It also showed God’s mercy and grace that He continued to embrace Job and celebrate him for the “patience of Job.” “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (James 5:11).
Job repeatedly called God unfair. Job previously questioned God’s fairness for allegedly treating both good and evil people the same: “22 It is all one; therefore I say, ‘He destroys the guiltless and the wicked.’ 23 If the whip kills suddenly, He mocks the despair of the innocent. 24 The earth is handed over to the wicked; He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, then who is it? “25 Now my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good. 26 They slip by like reed boats, like an eagle that swoops on its prey. 27 Though I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put my face in order and be cheerful,’” (Job 9:21-27). God would later rebuke Job for his misguided beliefs but without punishing him (Job 38-41). Job was in fact the clay who needed to learn to trust the Potter. “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker— A piece of pottery among the other earthenware pottery pieces! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?” (Is. 45:9).
Praise Jesus for His perfect justice. Job was wrong to question God’s fairness. Jesus is filled with compassion and justice: “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.” (Is. 30:18). ). “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23-24). Are you praising Jesus for His perfect justice and His fairness?
Seek spiritual growth when you are tested, not vindication. Although Job was righteous, he was not without sin. His hidden sin was presuming to know God’s will (Job 32:1-2). Throughout his trials, Job sought to vindicate himself before God against the charges of hidden sins that his friends (acting on Satan’s behalf) had leveled against: “But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue with God.” (Job 13:3). “Even today my complaint is rebellion; His hand is heavy despite my groaning. Oh that I knew how to find Him, that I might come to His home! I would present my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:2-4). “Far be it from me that I should declare you right; until I die, I will not give up my integrity.” (Job 37:5). Job failed to ask if God was seeking to use these trials for spiritual growth or for some other reason. After seeing his sins, Job finally repented: “Therefore I retract, and I repent, sitting on dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6). When you face a trial for an unknown reason, God wants you to pray for His wisdom (Jam. 1:5). Are you using your trials to draw closer to God?
Although Job struggled, he had faith that some greater plan must exist. Just when it might have been tempting to write Job off, he showed his faith by trusting in God: “22 But He drags off the mighty by His power; He rises, but no one has assurance of life. 23 He provides them with security, and they are supported; and His eyes are on their ways. 24 They are exalted a little while, then they are gone; moreover, they are brought low, and like everything they are gathered up; like the heads of grain they wither. “25 Now if it is not so, who can prove me a liar, and make my speech worthless?” (Job 24:22-25). Regarding these verses, one commentator observes: “The line seems to say that the wicked will eventually receive their due and they know it (cf., Deut 28:66) . . . the godless often get a reprieve from immediate judgment. But God’s ‘eyes are on their ways,’ not in the sense of blessings but in the sense of surveillance.” (Alden p. 252). Another commentator agrees: “Job here considered that perhaps the fate of the wicked in the world beyond was retribution enough for the scales of divine justice. Yes, the wicked seem to prosper in this life (he rises up); yet at the same time no man is sure of life. In these verses Job sounds almost like Asaph in Psalm 73, who was troubled at the prosperity of the wicked until he went into the house of God, and understood their end. . . The sense from Job is that God allows such prosperity to some of the wicked to increase their ultimate judgment. He does indeed give them security and they do rely on it; but they end up as dry … heads of grain.” (David Guzik on Job 24).5
You can trust that God’s wisdom is superior to yours. Because God knows everything, you can put your trust in Him to judge good and evil according to His timing: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Ps. 37:5). “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Ps. 62:8). “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; . . .” (Is. 12:2). When you reject the wisdom of God’s Word, you have committed the sin of believing that your intellect is greater than God’s. This ultimately leads to disaster (Prov. 14:12). Are you trusting in God’s Word or your own beliefs about right and wrong?
Jesus is faithful and worthy of your full faith and trust in Him. Even when you don’t understand His plans, you can fully trust in Jesus to keep His promises to you: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and just is He.” (Dt. 32:4). Are you praising Jesus for His faithfulness, even when His plans seem unclear to you?