After defending himself against his counselors’ false accusations and judgmental advice, Job again pours out his miseries to God.
Only grant me two things,
then I will not hide myself from your face:
21 withdraw your hand far from me,
and let not dread of you terrify me.
22 Then call, and I will answer;
or let me speak, and you reply to me. ~Job 13:20-22
Job asks two things of the Lord before he lays himself bare:
1. Stop the torment for a moment – long enough that I might compose myself to speak with you and understand. Note, trials and pain of this caliber affect a man’s ability to communicate rationally, freely, and readily with the God he loves.
2. Afford me the confidence I need to come close and inquire of you. Such trials skew a man’s perception of God and cause him to withdraw out of genuine fear.
Notice the very first question Job has for his maker:
“How many are my iniquities and my sin? Make me know my transgression and my sin.”
Job looks inward. He is not inclined to blame God or others. He simply wants to know for what grievous offenses he is being punished. He truly does not believe he has done anything that warrants the kind of suffering he has been dealt – and he hasn’t (he’s suffering for his righteousness, remember?) Yet he never presumes he is innocent merely by virtue of his clear conscience.
Why do you hide your face
and count me as your enemy?
25 Will you frighten a driven leaf
and pursue dry chaff?
26 For you write bitter things against me
and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth.
27 You put my feet in the stocks
and watch all my paths;
you set a limit for the soles of my feet.
28 Man wastes away like a rotten thing,
like a garment that is moth-eaten. ~Job 13:24-28
As Job goes on, it’s quite obvious that he is convinced that God is indeed punishing him as an enemy. He is desperate to know why. Jesus himself asked as much saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
In chapter 14:1-6, Job contends that life is short and full of trouble. He says he’d gladly accept the everyday hardships of life if God would give him some respite from the warlike tortures he is now enduring. He concludes that if life be this troublesome, death is surely where his greatest hope and stay will be found.
Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my service I would wait,
till my renewal should come.
15 You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands.
16 For then you would number my steps;
you would not keep watch over my sin;
17 my transgression would be sealed up in a bag,
and you would cover over my iniquity. ~Job 14:13-17
Job longs for death. He understands that his present severe suffering may likely never see it’s end here on earth. (Hey Joel and Joyce, take note please.) He speaks of “change” or “renewal.” He does not mean circumstantial change, although it would be much appreciated. But, no. Job is looking for real, lasting change. Job wants full and final change. To him, to die is great gain. Oh, that he could be free from the bondage of sin and life’s pain! That is our very best hope.
Nevertheless, Job vows to wait on God for glory. As tempting as suicide may be, Job trusts his giver to be his taker. In this, Job displays great faith in the God he longs desperately to hear and see despite his misery and confusion.
In chapter 14:18-22, we see that even though Job has great hope in future glory, he still finds it very difficult to put away his immediate grief. He claims that God himself destroys the hope of man. And perhaps he does – that worldly hope of all that gives an illusion of peace and safety apart from Christ – that hope death and the Taker destroy because it is always false.
In the midst of great pain, we, like Job, may find it very difficult to communicate rationally, freely, and readily with God and with men. We may withdraw out of fear and misconception. We may begin to err believing God is angry, hostile, and at enmity with us. We may feel forsaken, even as our Lord felt fully forsaken.
In these times, it is imperative that we remember that our greatest hope and and joy is found in death, not life, and that we must trust and wait for Our Maker to bring that time to pass.
God, keep me from dread, fear, and despair in this transient earthly place. Help me resist the self-destructive temptations of impatience and unbelief. Give me grace to communicate with you knowing I am not forsaken. Let my joy be in the great expectation of my greatest gain – eternal life with you, my rescuer; my deliverer, my joy, my all. I love you.