The reasoning of Bildad is precisely the same principle as that of Eliphaz. It is all founded on God’s moral government, i.e., the impossibility of causing God grief, and casting down to the ground a really righteous man, and the certainty of His bringing to naught every wicked man. It is all founded upon what is going on in the world now. There was no faith in it. There was conscience, conscience toward God; but conscience, however useful and highly important, as it is, for the soul, never does, nor can it ever, reveal God. It detects our bad state, and the more it is purged by divine grace through redemption the clearer is its judgment. But that was not the case then. Everything was more or less confused, and God was merely regarded as a righteous God. But God is the God of all grace. And many people confound God’s grace with His goodness; but the goodness of God is quite a different thing from the grace of God. The goodness of God is that which flows out in every sort of kindness, and in patience with us and consideration of our weakness. But the grace of God means not merely His love, but His love rising above sin; His love triumphing over all our evil.
Now it is clear that that never was nor could be, till Christ came, and it was not even when Christ did come. It was in His death on the cross; it was there and then for the first time that all the love of God met all the evil of man. Both worked fully out, but had never worked fully out before. Man had never shown himself so wicked as round the cross of the Lord Jesus. And it, was universal; it was not merely the multitude, though it is a terrible thing to see how fickle the multitude is. They are just the same to this day, and they will never be any other until the Lord change the face of all peoples. The same crowd that cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and applauded Him to the skies, with one mouth cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!” within a few days. Well, and how was that? It was the power of Satan. It was their unbelief, because their applause was nothing. Applause is merely human feeling excited at the moment, and that feeling may give way to a totally opposite one, and very quickly. Why, even the children of God are not always to be trusted. The children of God are the most foolish people in the world in many respects. And the reason is because Satan hates them, and Satan entraps them, and they are apt to be deceived by appearances. Some never seem to take warning from the word of God; they are always ready for some new thing; and the consequence is, always tumbling into some mess or another.
Well, this has always been the case; it was the case in the experience of the apostle Paul. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel; which is not another” — it is no gospel at all. It was man but once born; it was poor wretched, fallen man that was the groundwork. That is the same thing with christians now. They are carried away by man, and they are all so anxious to get man to applaud them, and to sacrifice and compromise everything in order to get the assent and consent of people that want to be saved, that have no kind of judgment in things divine, for this never can be had unless we not only have Christ, but know what it is to be crucified to the world and the world unto us. That is, it must be a thorough-going work, and the children of God shrink from that; consequently, they will read anything that merely keeps up their spirits, just like a boy at night whistling through a churchyard. Anything that will keep up their spirits — every little dram, every little sentiment, every little phrase — perhaps a very bad and poor phrase — but still there it is, and that keeps up their spirits. Well now, friends, that is the way to get removed from Him that called us; because it is entirely by growing in grace, and by dependence upon that grace, that we are kept from all these snares that more particularly surround the people of God. At the time of the cross the people of God were the Jews, and that was the reason why they were the worst of all.
And now in Christendom, in the world as it is now, who are the most guilty? Who are ripening now for the severest judgment of God? The world-church. I do not mean by that the Established Church; it will take in the Dissenters just as well. The Dissenters are further away in some respects than even the Anglicans. They are howling politicians, howling for their own will, and calling themselves, in the most extraordinary manner, “passive resisters.” Why, “passive resistance” is passive nonsense! You cannot be passive and resisting. If you are resisting you are not passive. It is the same kind of thing as people talking about the Roman Catholic Church; but if it is Roman it is not Catholic, and if it is Catholic it is not Roman, and the two things are just a marvellous piece of contradiction. But what I mean is this — there are different spheres. There are high spheres and low spheres; there are spheres of grandeur and there are spheres of wretchedness of every kind — dishonesty as well as all kinds of contention. And it is upon that that the awful judgment of God is coming.
Babylon is more loathsome to God than “the Beast.” The Beast is open self-will rebelling against God; but Babylon is that which is a harlot in God’s eyes, and pretends to be the spouse of Christ. And it is that pretension — that high pretension of being the holy bride of Christ — accompanied by the greatest unholiness and the greatest laxity of doctrine when pretending to be the orthodox, the holy Catholic, Apostolic, and I know not what else. Well, that is Babylon, but that is only high Babylon; there is low Babylon too; and all Babylon, no matter whether high or low — all will be the greatest object of God’s fury. For that is the expression of the term. It is His highest indignation. It is all this pretension to what the world has not. They are now giving up true religion as much as possible. What is the intent? To carry on religion with the world, that is Babylon. It is the confusion of two things that cannot be united, and there they are — the greatest and worst confusion that is possible to be.
The Babylon of Christendom is a great deal worse than the Babylon of the Chaldees. What privileges had they? Why, they were the heathen; but there you have only the human mind; in Christendom you have got the New Testament. There they pretend to have the Holy Ghost. There they can give the Holy Ghost to a baby! and they can give the Holy Ghost to a priest! Or they can do anything; bring fire — not from heaven, but from hell, to burn the martyrs of God. They can do anything that is wicked and is at the same time a pretence against God. Well, I say, because of them you must not be surprised that any who have got the truth in a measure are for that very reason the great object of Satan’s desire to draw them into what will undermine and destroy. Therefore we need to be guided; we need the guidance of God; we need not to be taken in by appearances and fair promises and good desires that will never keep the same for one day or hour. But on the contrary, the better you desire, if you are not subject to God the more easily you will be drawn into that which will oppose God.
No doubt, nobody means that no christian could be like the Galatians — you do not mean that. They thought they were in the better state. They thought they were getting on, that they were not so narrow minded as some people, that they were not so very bigoted as Paul. Paul was too much in one line; they were the large people; they were the liberal people. And so it was that they got into this terrible snare of the devil. The same thing repeats itself in every age. And I believe that there are persons on the face of the earth that are as much the object of Satan’s wiles as the Galatians. But that is no reason to be discouraged; not to be discouraged is the necessary consequence of having the truth — a necessary consequence that Satan dislikes and dreads, and will leave no stone unturned to prevent.
Why was it that Job came to this terrible plight in the Book we are reading? Because God said “There is nobody like him on the earth — a perfect man, a man thoroughly, all round — of integrity.” Yes, but there was one thing that neither Job nor his friends understood, and that was grace; and it could not be understood. He did know that God was a faithful God, and his piety led him to feel, and to stand to it, that all the troubles he came into were from God. And so they were, because the devil even had disappeared. It was not merely the devil that endeavoured to cast him down. That he did most fully in both the first and second chapters. But at the end of the second chapter he was defeated and baffled, and went off, and never re-appeared.
It is the greatest mistake to suppose it is only the devil. In the millennium there will be sin and death when the devil is bound. In point of fact, the occasion of Job’s breaking out so violently was his three dear friends; and they were pious men, too. But what about that, unless you are guided of God? And that is the very thing that this Book is so instructive in — that we cannot trust to be led even by a pious man. With the best of intentions we require God’s guidance and to be kept to it. And it was these three pious men by their conduct, so far from God’s thoughts, so thoroughly judging by appearances, it was that that made them think that there must be something very bad in Job, after all his appearance, after all his life that seemed so fair, and after everybody thinking that there was nobody like Job. Certainly, if God said there was nobody like him, you may depend upon it that all pious people thought the same. And it was true, but still there was the great lack; because Job till he got Christ as an object, made an object of his own piety, and thought a great deal of himself.
It is one of the greatest mistakes that a believer can make — to think a great deal of himself. I think I drew attention to a beautiful word of the apostle Paul that teaches the very contrary — “esteeming others better than ourselves”; and that means any christian. And yet the christians may be full of faults in this way or that way. But still, who is the person whose faults I know better than anybody’s? My own. And therefore I can honestly and loyally count a man better than myself. I do not know his faults to be anything like the faults I know of myself. Of course, others have the very same and are called to the very same feeling, and they may have more reason, too; that is another question altogether. But we have to do with the fact that we know what we are, and we ought to know and it is a great thing to grow in knowing, that we are not only nothing for guidance, but we are worse than nothing in the sight of God. Our nature is declared to be the flesh in enmity against God. And that is what we know working out, Other people may not see it; other people may not have any reason to see it. But that is what every christian should know who is not like Job, admiring himself because he is not like other people. That is, he is like the Pharisee. “God, I thank thee I am not as other men.”
Yes, that is a very bad state; nothing could be worse — nothing worse in a believer. And these dear saints at that day were in imminent danger, every one of them, not even excepting Job. Job had a better knowledge of God, comparatively, than they; and Job stuck to it with amazing tenacity, first that all the trouble that came upon him was from God; that it was God who allowed it all to come upon him. He could have hindered every bit of it — and that he could not understand. Why, why, why? He had a thoroughly good conscience as far as that was concerned; he had no sin upon him at all, no particular defect of any sort. It was a question of self and not of sin; it was a question of never having judged himself in the presence of God fully.
I should like to know how many here in this room have judged themselves in that way now? I think they had better search and see. That is surely a very great lesson to learn, and it is a lesson that nobody likes to learn. It is always extremely painful, and it is very humbling to our comfortable thoughts of ourselves. Because we are occupied perhaps with the gospel, and we see that the gospel is completely clear. That does not touch self. It ought to lead to it; but it may not at all. And consequently there may be people most zealous in the gospel that are peculiarly ignorant of themselves — peculiarly so. They are generally occupied with other people, and have not much time for sober reflection and self-judgment; and therefore, active work in the Lord may become a snare unless in subjection to Christ. Then we learn in the power of God’s Spirit to judge everything of flesh in ourselves. That is where they were all wrong, and it is bringing out that clearly — that it is not merely a question of the righteous government of God; but it was then the secret of grace. Now the grace is published; now it is proclaimed; now it is preached; now it is manifested; and therefore, now it is a far more serious thing. And there was what these Galatians overlooked entirely. They had never learnt that yet; they were converted through the apostle; they were brought into the full joy of as good a gospel as ever was preached in this world — a great deal better than any of us preach it now. They were brought into that by the preaching of that blessed man — and yet they had not profited, to judge themselves. And it is this that we all need most deeply, in order that we may be kept from the snares that surround us, and which may spring upon us at any moment, even from friends just as dear as the three friends of Job. They were the occasion of this downfall, and that in a way that only God could have accomplished.
Well now, Bildad follows the line of Eliphaz, and says: “How long wilt thou speak these things?” He could not in the least understand it. “And how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?” Because Job could not understand why, as he was quite sure of the perfection of God, quite sure of the faithfulness of God, quite sure that God loved him, quite sure that he loved God; ‘How has all this come upon me; what is the key to all this terrible suffering that I am sure God has sent?’ He would not lay it upon circumstances.
But there were, to add to the terrible agony that he passed through outwardly, inward agonies. It really was one billow after another overcoming this poor man in such a sea of trouble as never came upon any man since the world began. How was all that? He was stung by the insinuation of his friends (he held to it firmly that it was all false) that he was not a true man, and that he did not love God. He was not conscious of a single sin; nevertheless, he owned it was God. That was what made the riddle, and no wonder at all. It was impossible that it should not have been a riddle, in those days, except by special teaching of God. There was one that appeared later, and Elihu did in some measure understand; but it was the Lord who put an end to all the uncertainty.
Now that Christ has come, there is no ground for it; only, beloved friends, we may treat the gospel now very much as is done in Christendom, and regard it as pretty much the same thing as there has always been, only with a little more light — a sort of new edition of Judaism — improved, that is all. Whereas it is entirely new — it is an absolutely new creation, a new light altogether. It is not merely the dim torch, as it were, on the earth . it is the light of heaven revealed in our Lord Jesus They had none of that — none whatever. There was a looking for Him, but it was entirely in an earthly way. They looked to Him as the Messiah; they looked for Him as one who would meet their difficulties; but it was very, very shallow — anything that any one of them knew about it. We must not confound prophetic anticipations with the experience of the saints. The prophets did not always understand their own prophecy. They had to search and learn what the meaning was, just as you have to do now; but if you have all the prophecies, they do not give you what the gospel does.
The gospel is the revelation of God’s righteousness. They were all occupied with man’s righteousness produced by divine goodness, by faith, by looking for the Messiah; but they had no idea of the total judgment of man, and that this is an entirely new thing from God, communicated to the soul. This is what Christendom has never endured and never possessed. It has Christianity, but a very small amount of Christianity is quite enough for Christendom. Well, here then this man breaks out into this rebuke of Job for his extreme feeling. How could a man do anything but feel? And what were they about that they did not deeply feel for him? There they were, quite comfortable; and there they were, judging there must be something very bad; and I need not tell you that that deeply wounded the poor injured man. It was pouring vitriol into his wounds; it was not binding them with wine and oil, cleansing the wound, but, on the contrary, deepening and poisoning it.
And these were his three friends! What a lesson! Well, Bildad goes further, however. He says, “If thy children have sinned against him and he have cast them away for their transgression” — there they thought they had him. How could God do such a thing as to kill all his children unless there was something very bad in them? It was all the same principle, and the same false principle. And what shows the falsity of the principle is the universal test. Bring Christ in. Was it any want of God’s delight in Christ that allowed Christ to be the greatest sufferer, far beyond Job? It was therefore altogether a false estimate, and a false principle underneath the estimate, to imagine that there must be evil in the person that came to this depth of suffering.
“If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression” — they never could rise above that — “If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; if thou wert pure and upright” — ah! there they were at it again! It was not merely the children then that had transgression! “If thou wert pure and upright” — why, Job was much more so than they — “If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee.” Certainly not; the Lord was going to have the trial brought to its full completion; and He allowed all these discussions in order to bring out everything that was in their hearts, and then came He in with His own word completely casting down these principles which governed the three friends, and Job not able properly to answer them.
He could demolish their arguments, but that is a very’ different thing. A clever man could, of course, easily overthrow a foolish reasoning; but that is a very different thing from getting in the truth. The truth requires God and His word and His Spirit; and we never can have these in a difficulty except by entire dependence upon God. And if we have got any self-will at work. which was very much the case with Job as well as with his three friends — self-will is a most darkening thing — you never can have the certainty of the will of God where self-will is not steadily seen and judged as altogether beneath you. “Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.”
Then he appeals to another thing. Eliphaz had spoken of his own personal experience. Bildad differs in the manner in which he defends their theme by bringing in the traditions of other people. Those are the two ways in which men are apt to slip away from the truth — confidence in self; confidence in other people no better than oneself; confidence in anyone but God. So he says,” Enquire, I pray thee, of the former age” — for people think that a little further back is where we should go. Why, beloved friends, we want to go back to the beginning; we want to go back to God’s beginning. People talk about the early fathers; well, that is a great deal too late; why do not they talk about the apostles? Because they are as far from them as they can possibly be! There is not the slightest resemblance — except the mere name of things — a totally different reality. And so it was here. Had they gone back to the garden of Eden? Ah, that is not a former age; that was the beginning where God manifested Himself.
They were all arguing on the ground of righteousness. Not one of them had taken in, up to this and for long after, any thought of grace. And Job only arrived at it at last by the intervention of God. There he was dust and ashes. There he took the place of nothingness and worse than nothingness; and then it was he was blessed; then it was that he was vindicated by God, and not till then. So Bildad goes on with this, “Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?” But we want the words out of God’s heart; it is not any but His heart that can do. “Can the rush grow up without mire? Can the flag grow without water?” Well, that is just what their condition was — mire and water, no substance at all, but just mire and water; and their thoughts were no better than the flag that grew out of the water, or the reed that grew out of the mire. And he talks about the hypocrite being no better than a spider’s web. That is just exactly what they were, though they were not hypocrites; but still they were all wrong in their reasonings, and wrong reason is never better than a spider’s web.
And so he describes in a very lively and wonderful manner the man that had known the hypocrite, and all this was a sly hit at Job. There is where they were so very wrong. “He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand; he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure. He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden. His roots are wrapped about the heap” — to get a little strength from the heap — “and seeth the place of stones.” That is what the reed does in order to get tenacity. “If he destroys him from his place, than it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee”. That is the case with man upon the earth; he passes away, and his memory is so forgotten that the place itself even says it never saw him, or it was all completely forgotten. This he applies to the hypocrite. “Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man.” But God was trying and troubling the perfect at that very moment; they never could take this into their minds; they did not understand it nor believe it in the slightest degree, and hence their reasons were all false, and more than that, thoroughly unkind; and it is a sad thing to be unkind to what is good and true, as also it is a sad thing to be very kind to what is not good and what is not true. This is what they were about; that is where they got through want of the guidance of God, and of the truth.
Job 9. Now we come to a very grand chapter, but still we find the lack of Christ. Job raises the question. “I know it is so of a truth.” He did not deny what they were saying, about the hypocrite, in the least; he agreed with them fully. Only he said, as it were, ‘You are all mistaken in thinking I am a hypocrite.’ “I know it is so of a truth; but how should man be just with God?” There was the great difficulty for him. He fully believed in God’s faithfulness to himself, and His faithfulness to His children generally; but still where was the ground? Well there was no ground yet at all. It was all hope. It was a hope of the Christ that was coming, without their knowing how Christ would answer to that hope. They only knew it would be all right, but how, they had no idea. That Christ should become the righteousness of the believer — oh, what a wonderful thing that is! Well, the prophet Jeremiah speaks of Jehovah’s righteousness; but I do not believe the prophet Jeremiah understood anything about it at all. How could he? Nobody could. Look at the apostles themselves. They had all the Old Testament to help them, and all the teaching of the Lord Jesus during the time of His ministry, yet they were entirely ignorant of it. They had not a notion of it until the cross began to enlighten them, and particularly the resurrection, and fully, the Holy Ghost — the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. He brought in the truth that was in Christ, but their eyes were holden that they could not take it in — could not see.
So Job describes in a very grand manner what God is in His ways — His uncontrollable power and authority. He knew man was weak and faulty. Nevertheless, Job did not doubt that God would see him through all his difficulties, but on what ground of righteousness he could not conceive. If man was a poor sinful man, and nevertheless God showed him saving mercy, how was man to be just? You cannot put justice and sins together until you have got Christ, who died for the sins and rose again for the believer’s justification. There the sins are completely blotted out. How could Job know anything about that. Nobody knew it; no man on earth. Their idea of the Messiah was more of a great king that would be full of goodness and mercy to his people upon the earth. But that He should be made unto us righteousness as well as wisdom and sanctification and redemption I oh, dear no! they did not in the least understand; how could they? I daresay that the people in Christendom think it was all known pretty much as they knew it now. There was no power, no joy, no peace, but always entreating that God would show them mercy as poor, miserable sinners; there was no idea of salvation. Well, here Job describes God’s power in a wonderful way. “Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble; which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and sealeth up the stars; which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.” Very grand; wonderfully so; and very true. “Which maketh Arcturus” — that is in the constellation of Arctophylax or Bootes (the Herdsman), near the seven stars which people call “Charles’ Wain.” The Arabs call the latter, however, a very different thing, viz., “The Greater Bear.” They made the four stars to be the body, and the three stars were the tail. However, this is Arcturus; and Orion and the Pleiades go by the same names still. These are all in the northern sphere; but the people of those days had penetrated enough to cross the line, and they were aware that there was a southern world. They did not know much about it; they knew very little. Of course they did not know America, except very obscurely. There were hints from time to time that there was something in the west; but in the south they had no idea of Australia or New Zealand.
He goes on, “which doeth great things, past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not; he passeth on also, but I perceive him not. Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?” (verses 6-12). That is exactly where Job was. He was quite sure that it was of God, and that is the very thing that made the difficulty. Because his conscience was pure toward God, and he knew the goodness of God, and yet how was this? He could not understand it, neither did they in the slightest degree. “If God will not withdraw His anger, the proud helpers do stoop under Him. How much less shall I answer Him?” There he is beginning to feel his weakness. He was not a proud man; but as all men are, till they learn in the way that I have described, he had a very good opinion of himself. That must all come down. If a man is to be blessed, or a woman, the blessing will not come by a good opinion of oneself; that is wrong, and the greatest hindrance to the blessing of God and the enjoyment of His grace. “Though I were righteous, yet would I not answer.” There, you see, was thorough piety. “But I would make supplication to my judge. If I called, and he had answered me, yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.”
Well, that was great ignorance of God; because God does answer, and God does hear; and God delights in His children now; now that they are cleared, now that they know Him, He delights in perfect intimacy and love with Himself. “For he breaketh me with a tempest” — and that was true — “and multiplieth my wounds without cause.” Ah! without cause; that is a little too much to say. He had His own wise cause; He had His own blessed end. He meant that Job should be a far happier man and brighter in his state than he had ever been before; and till Christ came it could be only by making him a bag of broken bones — to learn that all the goodness was in God and all the badness was in himself. “If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong; and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life. This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.” That is what they thought was a terrible blasphemy, but that is what he thinks.
We understand it. The greatest calamity might come, and God send it, and a number of people perfectly innocent might perish just as much as the wicked people — say the sack of a city, or a pestilence sent by God in His moral government. Well, I say, these things are there undoubtedly, and Job stuck to that. All their talk did not at all drive him from the plain fact which they shirked and shut their eyes to. “The earth,” he says, “is given into the hand of the wicked.” And is not that true? Is not Satan the god, and the prince, of this world? That is wicked enough. And further, “He covereth the faces of the judges thereof,” i.e., he allows the judges to pronounce altogether wrongly and unjustly. That is, somehow or other their faces are veiled from the light, and they judge according to appearance. It is very certain that that is not a way to judge soundly. “If not, where, and who is he?” Who is he that does that? These things happen; innocent people suffer; guilty people escape; all these things are coming every day — are coming in England. It is not merely in Turkey, or Russia, or Tartary, or China; no, it is in England, in London; and nobody can hinder it. Things are out of course, and will be till the Lord takes the reins.
“If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself; I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent. If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain? 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.” That is, God will show him to be defective after all. That is true. If you are resting upon yourself, you are resting upon a ground that is not approved before God. If you are resting upon Christ, you have got the only solid ground that never can be taken from you. So he closes. “For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysmen betwixt us.” That is what Christ became; Christ became the mediator between God and men; and not merely a mediator, but a mediator who is equally divine with the God before whom He acts as mediator for us. If there had not been the hand of God in the cross, there could have been no divine redemption. It was God that forsook His Son; it was God that turned away His face from Him; and, therefore, now what is brought in is the righteousness of God. And there is nothing against that. But it is a justifying righteousness; it is not a condemning righteousness. The same God that condemned under the law saved under grace, because of Christ.
Well, then, we come to a great lament in the tenth chapter, and I may be very brief with that; for we shall have a great deal of this lament throughout the Book. We have had it already, so there is no need particularly to dwell upon it. My object is not to go into every word, but to give a sufficiently general understanding of the Book of Job. “My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself.” He now despaired of getting any sympathy from them. “I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.” ‘Here I am alone with all my sorrows; here are three dear friends who have not one particle of sympathy with me! no kind of feeling nor compassion for all that I am suffering. They are quite comfortable that they have none of it, and they are quite astonished that I should have any of it; and they think therefore I must be very wicked. It is all false.’ “I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; show me wherefore thou contendest with me.” That God did; he was answered. “Is it good unto thee that thou shouldst oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth? Are thy days as the days of man? Are thy years as man’s days?” That is, he compares himself to a sort of butterfly broken on the wheel. There is this terrible wheel for malefactors, and he, a mere butterfly, is all broken down — God, in all His uncontrollable power dealing with such a poor, weak man as he; every part of his body throbbing with pain, and full of nerves all on the strain of agony from head to foot, “Thou enquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin.”
Job had a perfectly good conscience and therefore he says, ‘Where is it; I want to learn where it is and why it is.’ “Thou knowest that I am not wicked.” That he would say to God; and it was perfectly true. It was not that; it was his own satisfaction in that poor reflection of righteousness which the best of men can have here below in himself, but which is no ground at all to stand on before God. “Thine hands have made me, and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me” — after all the love thou hast shown me. “Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay.” He had not made him as an angel; he had not made him as one that was above this kind of suffering. “Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. And these things hast thou hid in thine heart.” ‘You had that in your heart before I was born. You meant me to come into this, and I do not know why.’
“I know that this is with thee. If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.” He asked to be forgiven if there was anything unknown. “If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head.” No, he is thoroughly humble now; at any rate, he was on the way to it. “I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction, for it increaseth.” And he uses very ungodly language now. “Thou huntest me as a fierce lion; and again thou showest thyself marvellous upon me. Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increaseth thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me. Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. Are not my days few? Cease then and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death.” You see how little they entered into the bright future. “A land of darkness, as darkness itself and of the shadow of death, without any order and where the light is as darkness.”