Job 23:10-11 (NIV)
But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.
Did you know that the Book of Job is the oldest one in the compilation of the Holy Scriptures? Biblical scholars believe Job to be a contemporary of Abraham in the Ancient Near East. The importance of this story of Job is that it provides us with some amazing insights into the relationship between God and man. Job delves into the many questions each of us have probably already asked of God along the way of our own faith journeys. We often wonder why “bad things happen to good people,” and Job probes the purposes and will of God in afflictions and sufferings. So I like this excerpt from Chapter 23 because it does raise some personal questions for us to examine as we walk with God through this experience of life:
But He knows the way that I take.
Job asserts that God knows him … knows him intimately. Ask yourself: “Does God know the way that I take?” Because He is God, the obvious answer is, “Yes.” But what are the implications of His omniscience? Does it impact the way we conduct ourselves – understanding that God sees us … that we are continually before Him even though we cannot see Him? Does it mean that God has already determined the course we will take in life? Then how does “free will” interact in this process? Fascinating to ponder … but we should take a deeper look at this issue. Are we consciously desiring to please God with the decisions we make in our walk each day?
When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
Job asserts that when God evaluates him (tests his faith) that he will pass the test! How do you feel about that kind of boldness? Would you consider it arrogant? Yet Job appears to have complete confidence in his faith toward God. Do you ever question the steadfastness of your own faith? Why? Note that Job is forward looking in his statement: “WHEN God has tested him.” Job sees testing as a given. He expects it! So I believe we should, too. And the “coming forth as gold” does not necessarily mean that he passed every test that he endured. We most likely have not and will not either. However, I believe it does mean that Job expected God to refine him in the processes of testing such that the final outcome of his life would be purity or holiness toward God…. Think about that one for personal application if you will….
My feet have closely followed His steps.
Job asserts that He has stayed in step with God and His will has been revealed to him. Remember, Job lived long before Moses gave the Ten Commandments, so the basis on which Job made this assertion is unclear. However, we do know there would have been an oral tradition at a minimum from the time of Adam until Abraham. There were customs and traditions of worship shaped by the faithful remnant of each generation. I like to think that Abraham and Job both shared a profound understanding of what it means to “believe” God. And written sources from the period which were “morally instructive” and incorporated the wisdom given by God. The Apostle Paul even wrote about the “natural” knowledge of God all people should possess in his Letter to the Romans:
Romans 1:18-20 (NIV)
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
If you think about it … there is a natural, innate knowing that God exists … that He created us … that He wants relationship with us … and that He communicates and reveals His purpose and will to man through His Spirit … His Word … and in these last days through His Son. (Cf. Hebrews 1:1-2) I think, bottom line, we just need to listen!
I have kept to His way without turning aside.
Job asserts that He has not wavered in his faith or in his conduct based upon the obedience of faith. Again, I find Job to be quite bold in his claim because I’d say few of us have been that “perfect” in our walk with God. Maybe you have self-discipline of Job … but I have stumbled along the way and turned aside from time to time. Yet, God in His grace has brought me to repentance and disciplined me as needed to correct my waywardness. The writer of the Book of Hebrews gives us some insight (and comfort) along these lines:
Hebrews 12:4-11 (NIV)
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son.” (Quotes Proverbs 3:11-12) 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Nevertheless; righteous Job … patient Job … remained obedient to the way of the Lord. He turned neither to the right nor the left but made his path straight. He was steadfast. And God was pleased with Job … and found delight in him. So I’m not sure the question is whether or not we have turned aside at any point in our walk with God (whether presumptuously or otherwise); but rather, “Is your relationship with God like one would have with their father?” Do you receive chastisement or discipline from God with the same respect or reverence you would from an earthly father? Though imperfect, our earthly fathers did what they thought best to guide us in godly or acceptable behavior. But our Heavenly Father is perfect in His manner with us. He is the most trustworthy person we can have in our lives. And we can expect that He is going to discipline us out of His great love for us….
Well, I might have let my thoughts ramble a bit too much, but even a few verses from the Old Testament can move us … can stir us … and help us see how God has always ordained for us to live righteous lives and to pursue His holiness. He designed us … He created us in His image to enjoy life itself … life as He defined it and intended it for us … abiding in Him and He in us. How I pray each of us will fully grasp that we can have a life of fellowship with God like Job did. And this life is found in His Son. For without Jesus, there is no life. (Cf. 1 John 5:11-12)