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Job 28-31 – Why have things changed so drastically?

I have been watching video clips of various congressional hearings. It has been interesting to hear the arguments for or against various proposals. Both sides make somewhat valid arguments, but the final say usually comes from whomever is the committee chairman. In Job 28-31, Job acts in the same way as a committee chairman. He has heard the faulty arguments of his three friends and now makes his concluding remarks. His whole speech takes up chapters 26-31—the longest section in the book to this point. His main points can be divided into three questions.

  1. Where can you find wisdom? (Job 28)

    In this chapter, Job seems to step back and teach a lesson on true wisdom. After hearing the false wisdom promoted by his three friends, he made it clear that he knew where true wisdom comes from.

    Precious metals are hidden underground (Job 28:1-11).
    Wisdom is more valuable than precious metals (Job 28:12-19).
    Wisdom ultimately comes from fearing God (Job 28:20-28).

    Job seems to have found what other Old Testament believers had found.

    Psalm 111:10 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
    His praise endures forever.”

    Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

    The wisdom of God is of great value to everyone. But it begins with the right attitude toward the Lord. When we fear Him, we greatly respect what He says in the Bible. That fear of God leads us to depart from evil in our thoughts, words, and actions.

  2. Why have things changed so drastically? (Job 29-30)

    In chapter 29, Job talked about the good things he had experienced in the past. As you recall from the initial chapters, Job had been greatly blessed by God because of his faithfulness to the Lord. But all of that had been taken from him. In chapter 30, Job talked about how different things were now. To him, it just didn’t make sense.

    In the past, God watched over me (Job 29:1-6).
    In the past, people respected me (Job 29:7-25).
    Now people mock me (Job 30:1-15).
    Now God doesn’t care about me (Job 30:16-23).
    Now I am receiving evil for doing good (Job 30:24-31).

    Job’s comparison was accurate, but it left out the possibility that God was at work in his situation. God doesn’t guarantee that we will always have perfect lives or that things will always stay the same. Sometimes, we overthink our situations. The past always seems brighter and better. In Job’s case, it was better then. But had God forgotten him? No, although things had changed drastically, God had not forgotten Job.

  3. What have I done to deserve this? (Job 31)

    In this chapter, Job points out the just results that should come on him for doing evil. He knew that evil deeds deserved judgment from God. But as he went through the various list of sins, he could not find something in his life that corresponded to the terrible “judgment” he was receiving (presumably) from God.

    I have not had immoral eyes (Job 31:1-4).
    I have not lied to or deceived others (Job 31:5-8).
    I have not been adulterous (Job 31:9-12).
    I have not despised my servants (Job 31:13-15).
    I have not neglected the needy (Job 31:16-23).
    I have not been covetous (Job 31:24-25).
    I have not turned away from God (Job 31:26-28).
    I have not hated my enemies (Job 31:29-30).
    I have not neglected the needed (Job 31:31-32).
    I have not covered my sin (Job 31:33-34).
    I have not been unfair (Job 31:38-40).

    Job felt that he was being treated as an evil-doer despite the fact that he had been doing good. He wanted a chance to explain himself to God and hear God’s answer about his situation (Job 31:35-37).

Conclusion

As we conclude this study of Job 28-31, Job’s main question seems to be “Why have things changed so drastically?” If you had the opportunity to answer Job, what would you tell him? How would you answer his question? For us, it is easy to tell Job that he is simply ignorant of what God was allowing to happen. It wasn’t God judging him; it was Satan tormenting him. If Job had only known that, it would have made a difference in his response.

At some point, each of us could face an unexplainable change of plans. When that happens, how will what we have seen in the Book of Job change the way you respond? Perhaps it would be best to say something like this. “I don’t know why this has happened. God has been so kind to me in the past, so it doesn’t seem like something He would do to me. Whether it is the wicked one doing this, I don’t know. But I will continue to trust the Lord and seek His help through this situation.” I think that our knowledge of God’s character is what will keep us upright when the storm hits. He is good and He is God. I will trust Him.