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"Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold, He put no trust in His servants; and His angels He charged with folly. How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth .” Job 4:17-19. “What is man that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, He putteth no trust in His saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in His sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water ?” Job 15:14-16. “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of woman? Behold, even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea the stars are not pure in His sight. How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, that is a worm." Job 15:4-6.
One great mistake which many make in reading the Bible, especially in the hit-and-miss way of reading, is, not discerning three things: First, who is speaking or writing; second, to whom is the person speaking or writing; third, about what the person is speaking or writing.
We say we believe the Bible from cover to cover. We say that the Bible is the word of God. This is true. The Bible is the true word of God, It is a true record; an inspired record. Whenever it records any circumstance we can rely upon its truthfulness, no matter whether it is the record of some good deed of a good person, or of a bad deed of some bad person; whether it is the record of some true statement of a true person, or a false statement from a false person. It is a faithful record of whatever it undertakes to tell.
There are some statements in the Bible which are not true, because they are made by false people. The record of them, however, is true, but it is the record of somebody’s false assertion. For example, notice this statement in 1 Kings 13:18: “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water.” Now, was this statement of the man true or false? Did an angel tell him that or not? If the angel did not tell him that, then he lied, and the Bible would be giving a true record of an untrue statement. let us see if the man told the truth. In the very next line are these words: “But he lied unto him.” He made a false statement, but the Bible gives a true record of said lie. Thus we see that all assertions in the Bible may not be true. It depends upon where the assertion comes from. Observe, then, the importance of keeping in mind the above mentioned three points.
We will now consider the statements in the three texts under consideration.
The first two we notice, by the heading of the chapters, were spoken by Eliphaz, the Temanite, and the last by Bildad, the Shuhite. These were Job’s comforters. “Miserable comforters are ye all,” he adds, in the sixteenth chapter and second verse.
In the first text is the statement that God puts no trust in His servants, and charges His angels with folly; and then, basing his argument upon this premise, he puts Job at tremendous disadvantage. He confesses that he obtained his information from a spirit in a vision in the night. Evidently he had not tried the spirit whether it was of God ( 1 John 4:1), for the whole tenor of Scripture is, that He does put trust in His servants, and some day He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” That He charged His angels with folly we have never found in the record, unless it was Satan and his host, but that would be a strange structure upon which to base an argument against Job or any one else.
Where Eliphaz got this information he does not say; perhaps that same spirit was still instructing him. At any rate, we fail to find any in inspiration to that effect. We cannot understand how the heavens can be unclean, when He made them. Why should He make unclean things or places? Heaven is His abode; does He dwell in an unclean place? We have always regarded heaven as a holy place. Is this not Bible truth? Can anything be holy, and yet unclean? Eliphaz, we believe your statements are far fetched; they will not stand the test.
These are the words of Bildad, the Shuhite. He likewise slurs the possibility of man being clean. He seems to have copied it from Eliphaz, for the language is similar. We do not know where he got his information; possibly from the spirit that helped Eliphaz out. If he meant that the moon could not shine of itself, he was right; if he meant that no light came from the moon, he must have been blind. That the stars are not pure, we question his knowledge. God made them, and unless they are inhabited by sinners, we cannot understand how they can be impure. Bildad, our judgment is that you are worse “off” than Job, whom you are trying to make out such a hard case.
We would not feel so free to criticize these “comforters” if we did not have positive proof of the fact that they were worthy of criticism.
God said that Job was perfect, which is positive proof that he was not a liar; for a liar is certainly not a perfect man. Then, if he is perfect, and not a liar, we can well believe his testimony concerning these “miserable comforters.”
They had been diagnosticating Job’s case, and mankind in general, and, according to Job’s statement, they had proved themselves very poor doctors. Hear him again: “How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood.” ( Job 21:34.)
Now, if Job told the truth, then certainly they did not at all times. They were trying to convince Job that he was not right with God; that his afflictions were a result of his sinfulness, and hence they were led evidently to use those extravagant expressions to sustain their argument.
But beyond the prima facie evidence of the falsity of the statements of these “comforters,” and the truth of Job’s testimony concerning them, we have the plain word of God himself. Hear the word of the Lord: “And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said unto Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” ( Job 42:7.)
And again: “And my servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept; lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.” ( Job 42:8.)
Me thinks I see Job erect a mourners’ bench on the spot, so they could literally humble themselves in the dust and ashes (where Job had been sitting in his afflictions). Mounting it like an old-time campmeeting exhorter, he calls for penitents, and then sings: “Come ye sinners, poor and needy.” Eliphaz hangs his head; Bildad turns both eyes toward the end of his nose; Zophar looks askance. Another verse is sung: “If you tarry till you’re better, You will never come at all.” This brings them to time, and one after another quietly and humbly bows in the ashes at the mourners’ bench. Job leads in prayer; hearts are broken; tears of penitence flow; confession and restitution are made; God forgives, and so does Job, and the burden rolls away. The smiles of acceptance beam out through their tear-bedimmed eyes as they rise to give in their testimonies. Job shouts “Glory to God!” shakes their hands, and sings: “Hallelujah, ‘tis done,” etc., And exhorts them not to stop, but “go on unto perfection,” and not lay again “the foundation of repentance.”
After bidding them a final farewell, we see them leaving for their respective districts, inwardly resolving to get up a district camp-meeting at once, and hoping to secure Evangelist Job to conduct the services.
Meanwhile the opening heavens are pouring upon Job a blessing he can scarcely contain. This is the record: “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” ( Job 42:10.)
Sons and daughters are born unto him. Fairer daughters are not to be found in the land. Job lives an hundred and forty years more, and dandles the fourth generation on his knees. “So Job died, being old and full of years.”
Many people do not understand Job. They are apt to take sides with those “comforters,” and even with Satan. If these people who thus criticize him had to undergo the tithe of his suffering in the various ways in which he suffered, we fear they would not come through as Job said he would: “When He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold.” ( Job 23:10.) God was putting him through deeper experiences than he had ever gone through before. Though He said Job was perfect, yet there were heights and depths which he had not reached; experiences which he had not yet learned; a knowledge of himself which he had hitherto not known. All of this was brought about through suffering. In a word, he had his holiness perfected through suffering.
So there are in us, after we are sanctified, many things to get rid of; things to learn; deeper depths to be sounded. There are many things in us which are not sinful per se, but are not of God. So God has post-purity processes for us in the way of suffering in many ways to bring us more and more into the matured life of Christian manhood. “Perfecting holiness in the fear of God” will be our experience if we stand and endure. “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning.” And thus will He do with the sanctified today if they will only let Him have His way.