The Lord said to Job, “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” -Job 40:8
When my three so-called friends had lit into me, it served only to polarize our discussion and make me mad. Elihu, though much younger, at least proved that he was wise beyond his years. But now my direct appeal to the LORD was coming and it would be nothing like the display of righteous indignation I had rehearsed in my mind.
He wasted no time in niceties. “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” He demanded. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”
Then with eloquence only the Almighty can muster, and sarcasm enough to rip even the strongest of men to shreds He compared His skills and ability, His wisdom and experience to mine. Needless to say I came out on the short end of that one, and wound up being put firmly in my tiny little place in the grand scheme of things.
Then He demanded of me, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”
Meekly I answered the LORD: “I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? (I put my hand over my mouth.) I spoke once, but I have no answer – twice, but I will say no more.”
Then the LORD spoke to me again. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”
Well that was the heart of the matter wasn’t it? Because when confronting the Almighty there are only two alternatives; condemn Him to justify yourself, or condemn self and justify Him. And of the two which is correct? Is the infallible, all knowing God ever wrong, standing in need of correction from fallen, sinful man? Get real! I was devastated, totally without merit or position before Him, and painfully aware of the incredible patience He had shown by just agreeing to answer me. Talk about embarrassing!
Humbly I replied to the LORD. “I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
When you go from an intellectual understanding of the existence of God, as I had just done, to an emotional experience of His Presence, your perspective changes. It ‘s hard to explain. Suddenly I felt so small and insignificant, and His Presence so overwhelming. My emotional state was one of intense regret, shame and sorrow for the trouble I had caused Him.
In his infinite love He wiped all that away and filled my heart with gratitude for our relationship. Not that I would want to repeat them, but the painful lessons I had learned now seemed worthwhile. Then He chastised my three friends for misrepresenting Him in their criticism of me. (In all His correction, He had neither humiliated nor condemned me like they had.) He said He would have me offer an intercessory prayer so that He wouldn’t have to deal with them according to their folly. This was to show them that while they were out of His favor, I was not. I prayed and they were forgiven.
In the aftermath of my object lesson the LORD made me prosperous again, and as that happened all the friends and relatives who had abandoned me reappeared to congratulate me on regaining my former stature. Isn’t that the way of friends? I lived for another 140 years, had seven sons and three daughters and twice the herds and flocks as before.
Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as my daughters, and in an act of love unheard of in those days, I granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. All in all, I lived to see my children and their children to the fourth generation, a great honor in my time, and a sure sign of the LORD’s blessing.
I never forgot my experience in getting to really know the LORD; and His words still ring in my ears. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” I hope that in hearing my story you will always remember them as well. May He continue to bless you as you walk in His ways.