Job Replies: Where Is God?
23 Then Job answered and said:
“Today also my complaint is bitter;
my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat!
I would lay my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would know what he would answer me
and understand what he would say to me.
Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
No; he would pay attention to me.
There an upright man could argue with him,
and I would be acquitted forever by my judge.
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;
on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back?
What he desires, that he does.
For he will complete what he appoints for me,
and many such things are in his mind.
Therefore I am terrified at his presence;
when I consider, I am in dread of him.
God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me;
yet I am not silenced because of the darkness,
nor because thick darkness covers my face.
Job 23 Commentary
by Hank Workman
In the book of Deuteronomy God is first called a ‘Consuming Fire.” The book of Hebrews reiterates this phrase. Consider the phrase a moment – there’s no grasping at straws to understand it. In Greek and Hebrew it translates to a fire that utterly consumes and destroys. It’s a devastating flame that burns everything away. Throughout the Old Testament we read stories of such fires where incidents of God’s wrath and judgment; His holiness is on display.
In the book of Malachi God is referenced as “A Refiner’s Fire”. This is an illustration of the process of purifying metal. A refiner would use a fire to heat metal to a liquid state then skim the dross that surfaces to the top. The extreme heat was needed to get the purist of gold.
Job speaks of being in the fire and coming out as gold.
“But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His path. I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the command of His lips. I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”Job 23: 10-12
This is a moment of faith for Job once again. He knows he cannot get through this situation without God who was still over the entire crisis. He’s clinging to the fact God is sovereign. He’s holding to the fact God has not forgotten him and one day the trial he is under will come to an end. He will come out of the fire as gold. No matter how strong the fires are stoked, the gold and purity of his life will lose nothing.
We each go through the ‘fires’. There are situations that arise which seem to burn with tenacity. Yet God uses these for His greater purpose and refining. There is no easy way to get to the mindset of this when the flames are surrounding. But if we believe in God, if we trust Him, then that must translate to the fires as well. He has greater purpose for His glory that will come from it. Cling to the fact God is still sovereign. Hold your feet to the path of God. Continue to search for Him and His way as you walk the path He has set before you. Strengthen yourself with His words no matter how hot the flames become.
Job 23 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
I want to follow-up from yesterday’s thoughts and continue in the same direction. I was intrigued by Job’s verses on searching for God in all directions. It seemed peculiar to me, so I thought it was probably a common phrase or thought process for the people of that time. The verses I’m referencing are 8 and 9.
“Behold, I go forward but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; 9 When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the right, I cannot see Him.Job 23:8-9 NASB
Some translations read east, west, north, and south. This would have been a metaphor for the fact that Job cannot find God anywhere. By his perception, God has vanished or hidden Himself. The ever-present God (as Psalms would describe Him) cannot be felt. Have you ever thought this about God?
I can remember experiencing a dark time in my ministry career when I had to step out of a job without really knowing what I was going to do next. I knew my time at my current position was over, but I wanted something firm lined up for an easy transition. I had been in talks with an opportunity, but there were no guarantees.
I ended up stepping away from ministry and working a manual labor job in which I had zero experience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a manual labor job, but again, I had never worked a job like this one in my entire life. It was a difficult transition and a new learning experience. I wanted to be in ministry but felt like God had removed me without providing a new opportunity.
I can remember calling Hank during this time and complaining to him. “I can’t feel God!… He’s gone silent!… I have no direction!” Now, it seems a little over-dramatic, but at the time, it was brutal. I wrestled so much with why I had to be in this place of limbo. In a very small way, I felt like Job. My prayers seemingly were going unanswered and my dream of being back in ministry seemed far away.
It would be in these moments where I would learn to lean more heavily on Him. Through it all, I was determined not to walk away. I searched for Him more deeply. I longed for direction and something tangible to give me purpose. Today, I believe that this venture was necessary for me in order to gain trust in the Lord.
Maybe you need to hear this today? Maybe you have been feeling like God has gone silent? Maybe God’s distancing from you reflects His trust in you as His own child, becoming relentless in your quest to find your Heavenly Father? Though Job faces darkness before Him, He is not destroyed!
God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. 17 Yet I am not destroyed by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.Job 23:16-17 HCSB