40 1The LORD said to Job:
2“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”
The LORD demands an answer from Job. Now is the moment that Job has been waiting for, the moment when he can throw all of God’s injustice back in His face. He’s rehearsed his lines; he’s sharpened his arguments against the best that his friends could give.
The skeptic in us feels that God is guilty of making bad things to happen to a good man. These questions appear to be just a smoke screen, a change of subject. All Job has to do is make his case and the jig will be up for God.
3Then Job answered the LORD:
4“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
5I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.”
The skeptic is let down with a resounding thud. There will be no comeuppance for the LORD who willed suffering into our existence. Job has completely lost his nerve. But what could we expect from a man ground down to a mere pulp by this bully God (so says the skeptic). God has won and the story is over…
6Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
7“Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
But what is this? The LORD isn’t finished with Job. Why continue, He’s won? Even more inexplicably the LORD again addresses Job with the honorable title of a man who must stand to answer questions from the LORD.
8“Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
These questions strike deep. The LORD has established beyond any doubt the unbounded distance between our knowledge and His. Isn’t it likely that One with access to all information would be immeasurably better positioned to know the real justice than those who by their own admission know only a infinitesimal fraction? And of that fraction that we think we know, how much of it is certain? Perhaps all of those questions from the LORD may have been germane after all.
But the LORD is not here to win a debate. His purpose is to save and restore a soul. That is always His purpose.
9Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at every proud man and bring him low,
12look at every proud man and humble him,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.
Much more questioning will follow. This, however, is the crux. Who will save us? But before that, do we even recognize the need to be saved? If we do recognize the need to be saved and conclude that we can save ourselves, woe to us! If we don’t even recognize our need to be saved, even greater woe! So, how does Job fit into this context?
We have it from the LORD Himself that Job was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:8). But we also know that “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3, Romans 3:10-12).
Job was blameless but not sinless. We also know from the stories of the Pharisees (and the personal testimony of the Apostle Paul) of the particular spiritual danger of a life blamelessly lived before the law. There is the creeping sense of superiority, of self-sufficiency, of pride and position. A reading of 30:1-14 and chapter 31 give hints of just such spiritual failings.
This is not to argue that Job’s specific failings were the direct cause of his specific suffering, which would be to fall into the same error as his friends. The issue at stake is the purpose of suffering in general, and, if there is the possibility that God’s intention for suffering’s existence includes the potential for great good.
Thus, Job’s suffering may have brought him to the point of facing his own insufficiency to save himself. With this discovery, there would be the opportunity for a Savior.