What was Job’s sin? Why did He have to go through such trials and tribulations? Was he proud and self-righteous? Or was it something else? Should we hold Job up as a warning to those who dare to say “I am righteous”, or as an EXAMPLE to those who should dare to say just that?
Job has received an unfair judgment by nearly everyone who ever mentioned his name, most of whom would not have been fit to be in charge of Job’s kennel, much less condemn him. So I think it’s time you heard the TRUTH about one of the greatest men who ever lived!
To begin with, God LOVED Job. Before and after this trial! God was so impressed with Job He used him as an example of what He would do for a righteous man.
Ezekiel 14:12-14 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
God LIKED Job! Never forget that! His opinion is what counts – not YOURS, not your grandmother’s, not even (or especially?) your minister’s!
Job simply KNEW he wasn’t evil. Men have often interpreted this as PRIDE, or Self-Righteousness, but that is not so! It isn’t pride to say “I haven’t sinned”…. when you haven’t! It is TRUTH!
Job 10:7 Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand.
God agreed! Job was saying what was absolutely true when he said this! God didn’t say he was proud, self-righteous, or arrogant! This is what GOD, Himself said about Job!
Job 1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
God said Job was perfect! Again, He didn’t use the term proud or self-righteous, BUT MEN HAVE! And guess where they got the idea? Who was the first to say that Job wasn’t TRULY righteous?
Job 1:9-12 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
Satan didn’t BELIEVE Job was righteous! He doesn’t believe man CAN be righteous! And so God allowed Satan to kill Job’s sons, steal his cattle, and burn his crops. And Job’s answer was
Job 1:21-2:3 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him WITHOUT CAUSE.
God had no reason to destroy Job’s life! God knew it, Satan knew it, and Job knew it! And at first, Job was able to handle this. He knew that he had no right to the blessings of God, that they were a gift, and so he said:
Job 2:9-10 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
And so Job took the trial, and passed it! And he was SURE of his righteousness, SURE he hadn’t offended God, and so he didn’t fear. HOWEVER… as more time passed…
Job knew he had done nothing wrong. And yet the trial continued, longer than he felt it needed to. And so he began wondering if maybe there WAS something he was doing that God was condemning him for. Something he had overlooked.
His friends of course, insisted that there must be something. Eliphaz the Temanite said:
Job 4:7-9 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed.
Job’s friends were insisting that Job must have sinned – stolen something, cheated someone, DONE SOMETHING wrong. JOB AGREED! But he couldn’t find anything!
Job 6:24-25 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?
Job was frustrated with his friends because they explained things to him that any child knew – but he KNEW that he wasn’t doing any of those things! And he wanted a REASON! His friends PROVED that good people don’t go through this, but WHAT WAS JOB’S SIN?!
Job 10:15 If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;
Job was just confused! He KNEW that he was righteous. He KNEW righteous people shouldn’t be suffering, and yet he was PAINFULLY AWARE that he was suffering! He just wanted answers!
And his friends were more than happy to give him answers… but their answers were not guided by God!
Job 4:12-19 Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; HIS ANGELS HE CHARGED WITH FOLLY: How much LESS in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?
This was not a righteous angel! This was a messenger sent by Satan! Remember, God was staying out of this. He told Satan do to whatever he wanted, as long as he didn’t kill Job. And when you think of a spirit causing the hair on your flesh to stand up, you think of witchcraft and horror movies – NOT a righteous messenger from God!
Furthermore, who, of all the beings in heaven or earth, would say “God didn’t even trust His angels – He accused ME of folly – and you think YOU are going to do better??”
God has only accused ONE ANGEL (and his followers) of folly! Only ONE chose to do evil, and was punished for it! Satan FAILED TO BE RIGHTEOUS! And he knows that he is made out of light, while you and I are made out of MUD. And his reasoning is, if HE failed, do you honestly think YOU can be perfect??
The mistake made by Eliphaz the Temanite and his friends was that HE DIDN’T TRY THE SPIRITS! Just because you have a dream, doesn’t mean God sent it!
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
You need to TEST these spirits! To find out if God sent them or not! Eliphaz didn’t do this!
Isaiah 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
That makes sense doesn’t it? Shouldn’t people seek their God? Of course!
Verse 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
But even though it sounds good, even if this vision SOUNDED RIGHT, they needed to check it against the law and the testimony! If they HAD, they would have found that man WAS supposed to be GOD! That he WAS supposed to be perfectly, incorruptibly righteous, JUST LIKE HIS MAKER! Then they would have rejected this vision as the LIE THAT IT WAS!
Instead, you will find that every argument used by Job’s friends uses this vision as a premise!
To summarize what we have so far, Job was righteous, without fault. Satan didn’t believe this, although he couldn’t prove it. He sent a vision to Job’s friends to show that man CAN’T BE RIGHTEOUS, and so they based their arguments on that premise… and Job just wanted an answer! He just wanted to know WHY this was happening to him, so he could fix it!
And since Job knew that God was just, and fair, he knew that somewhere he must be doing something wrong. So he began going farther and farther back in his life, and wondering if perhaps God hadn’t yet forgiven him for something he’d done before.
Job 7:21 And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.
And all the while, Job’s friends continued to tell him that which was blatantly obvious.
Job 11:13-16 If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him; If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles. For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear: Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away:
Job 12:1-3 And Job answered and said, No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you. But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you: yea, who KNOWETH NOT such things as these?
And Job’s response was… DUH… EVERYONE KNOWS THIS! But I HAVEN’T DONE THOSE THINGS! And this theme continued for another 25 chapters or so.
Job 13:23 How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy? Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble? For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.
Job was in a quandary. He knew of no sins, and yet the trial continued. Backed into a corner, his only apparent option was to start to question the things he had done as a youth – were they forgiven? Or was God going to remember them? Was that what this was about?
And when he had come up with that idea, he wanted to talk to God. He was sure he could sort it out if only he could argue with God face-to-face. There is a record of someone else who was backed into this same corner.
Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Christ was without sin – and yet, hanging on the stake, God pulled back from him for a minute. Imagine what was going through Christ’s head. “I’ve never done anything wrong. Now I am being tortured, and to top it all off, God has left me.”.
Analogous to Job, is it not? The difference is, when Christ was in this trial He looked back and could find nothing, EVER, that God might, even possibly be able to hold against him. And SO HE KNEW that the trial WASN’T BECAUSE OF GOD NOT FORGIVING HIS SIN, and was able to TRUST GOD.
1 Peter 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
JOB DIDN’T DO THIS! And THAT was Job’s MISTAKE! God pulled back from Christ to see if Christ would still do the right thing if He wasn’t there holding his hand! Similarly, Job was perfectly righteous. And God needed to know if Job would do the right thing, and TRUST HIM, in the face of adversity!
Job 35:14-16 Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is before him; therefore TRUST THOU IN HIM. But now, BECAUSE IT IS NOT SO, he hath visited in his anger; yet he knoweth it not in great extremity: Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.
This is the reason for Job’s trial, the reason for Job’s answers, and the reason for God’s answers in Job 38-41! Job DIDN’T TRUST GOD WHEN IT CAME RIGHT DOWN TO THE WIRE!
Most of the middle portion of the book of Job is arguing between Job and his friends, Job maintaining that he hadn’t sinned, and asking God why he is being unfair, and Job’s friends saying man cannot be righteous and Job MUST be sinning somehow. Finally, Job’s friends gave up trying to argue with him. Elihu had said nothing up to this point, and but finally, he was fed up and started talking. And THEN Job began to get answers.
Job 32:1-3 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.
Elihu was mad at both parties! Job’s friends had wasted 30 chapters proving that God doesn’t punish the righteous, and yet had made no effort to show Job WHAT he was doing wrong! They WASTED THEIR TIME AND HIS!
Job on the other hand, had begun to justify Himself rather than God. He had begun not to trust God. He had started out fine, but once he had EXAMINED himself, and PROVEN that he was not wicked, he should have left it in God’s hands.
Instead, he started to think that God hadn’t forgiven his past sins. Instead of knowing that, since he WAS righteous, God was his still his friend and had a plan… He said things like
Job 33:9-12 I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths. [Elihu talking now] Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.
We know from the words of God himself that Job saying he was innocent, without transgression wasn’t wrong! That WASN’T A SIN! But we do know that saying that God was treating him as an enemy was wrong! God had not put his feet in the stocks, nor counted him as an enemy!
This was all orchestrated and planned by God to show Job something. It was to show him one last lesson. It wasn’t that he had a sin which needed correcting – Job WAS perfect – it was to teach him to trust God, and to be righteous NO MATTER WHAT.
Job 42:5-6 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Bottom line, Job had reached a point in his righteousness where he needed tempered. Just like Christ was on the stake. You can create and shape a sword in a forge, and you can sharpen it – but it will dull as soon as you use it! Until you TEMPER it, it is useless!
Job’s righteousness was PERFECT – but it was not TEMPERED! Once Job had been perfectly righteous, then was able to look back, after the trial, and see it slipping away… once he had seen himself, in the absence of the blessings of God, almost immediately begin not trusting God…
He abhorred himself, and repented! And because of this memory, God and Job both knew that in a situation like this, no matter WHAT trial he went through, Job would TRUST God now! And that was the purpose, the REASON, for the trails of Job!
But what was Job’s mistake, and what can YOU learn from this? This was the question that once plagued me. What WAS Job’s mistake? Simply stated, not clouded in the opinions and flowery words that I’ve seen so often. What SHOULD he have done, that he didn’t? And here is the answer for which I sought…
Job 34:31-32 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.
That is what Job SHOULD HAVE SAID! And there is YOUR ANSWER… should you ever face this situation. But quite frankly, right now this is almost certainly NOT the right answer for you!
If you haven’t examined yourself THOROUGHLY, this is the WRONG ANSWER! If you aren’t SURE of your righteousness, if your heart condemns you about ANYTHING, AT ALL… this will only heap God’s disgust upon you even higher!
This answer is ONLY to be used after you are CERTAIN that you have stopped everything you are doing that might, even POSSIBLY be wrong. Remember, Job had already done this!
Job 31:1-13 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.
This whole chapter is about Job EXAMINING himself! Checking up on all of his actions, running down the list of possible sins to see if perhaps he has committed one – and He can’t find one! And remember in chapter 1 – neither could God or Satan!
…If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door; Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her. For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase. If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me…
And Job continues throughout the chapter, and indeed, the entire book of Job, most of his words are saying something like this. Because Job knew that he had to examine himself to be righteous! He had to PROVE HIMSELF! He had to KNOW that he hadn’t offended God! And when he was punished for no apparent reason, he went to the SOURCE of the problem – himself!
If you haven’t done that, then saying “I have borne chastisement, I will offend no more” is a flat-out LIE! And God will see it as such, and punish you even more! So you should be VERY CAREFUL using those words unless you are SURE, beyond ANY DOUBT, that you are not offending God!
But if you are, then that is the right answer for you.
Job 42:7-8 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for HIM WILL I ACCEPT: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
Which thing God said to prove once and for all that man CAN be as righteous as God, and that all of their arguments to the contrary were lies!