Job 14:4 (CSB)
4 Who can produce something pure from what is impure? No one!
Job comes back with what is obviously sarcasm.
Job does not contest that any of the truths that his friends have been conveying, he says here that he knows them as well! Obviously though, we know that Job is innocent of the sin that the retributive justice described by his friends would be doled out in response to.
Job is very clear here that he claims to be blameless, referring to himself as “righteous and upright.” Yet he suffers under God’s punishment.
Job calls out his friends here by saying because they are “at ease”, they cast judgment easily on those in the midst of God’s fury, assuming their deserving of it due to sin (“feet are slipping”).
This verse is interesting. On one hand it points out the obvious exceptions to the justice theology espoused by Job’s friends so far. Certainly the friends would have been aware of sinful people who did not suffer punishment from God. But the final phrase in the verse takes the idea further: it’s not just that God turns a blind eye, but instead it is as if God himself is protecting the evil-doer, holding them in his mighty hands. Certainly this should not lead us to understand God as a champion for evil, but instead inform our understanding of his absolute sovereignty, and his perfect understanding and foresight so that he may very well deem it so that evil be allowed to occur, even if it requires his divine ordination and assurance to happen.
Job suggests that it is so clear that his trials are the orchestration of God, that even the creatures, and the earth itself, recognize it as so!
Job reiterates what has become an accepted truth: God is in control of everything, including man.
Job goes through a list of examples to emphasize God’s sovereign rule over his creation. He includes not just the “good” things we would expect, but the destructive and undesirable as under God’s control, as well as making clear that man is not the one in control, even of those things we would naturally attribute to the power of man.
Job reminds his friends that they are not the only ones who know of the general way man understands God’s works: he also knows these beliefs. This is not a situation where this group of wise men are imparting wisdom on one less enlightened.
This is an interesting statement by Job. It conveys the sense that Job does not care to justify himself before his friends, after all, they are not his judge, nor do they have any control over his situation. It also is an example of man seeking God directly, not through a human mediator.
Job then ridicules his friends, letting them know that their silence was more of a comfort than their lying words.
As Job begins to again to present his defense, he poses three rhetorical questions to his friends, the first two demanding their impartiality as they weigh Job’s defense and God’s, the last reminding them of their accountability before a righteous God in being honest.
The following three verses then provide one more rhetorical question sandwiched by two statements, all of which reinforce the mandate that they be impartial and fair.
What a tremendous statement of faith! How often do we say we should be string in our faith and hope in God even when we are at our deepest depths? Here Job lives it… in the face of death, which I think Job believes is a real possibility here, he places his hope in God.
And on top of that, how often are we easily shaken and lured away from the path we know God has for us, so quick to compromise ourselves for the approval of man? Yet here is Job, resolute in continuing to defend the life he believes has been a righteous one.
Again, what a great statement of faith! Job essentially claims salvation through his defense and exercise of his righteous ways. And lest we think Job has a skewed picture of who might be saved, he clearly states that those who are godless will not stand before God.
Job reiterates his confidence in his righteousness, in his case that he is to present against God’s treatment of him. He is so confident that he again refers to dying, this time if anyone can prove his guilt.
Job apparently turns his address to God here. In doing so, Job makes two requests of God: to remove his hand from Job and not terrify him, presumably so Job could come before God and present his case, and, second, that God would interact with Job either through a call and Job’s response, or a response to Job’s address.
After laying out the two conditions Job feels are necessary in order to present his case before God, he goes right into a charge for God to justify the punishment Job has endured. He asks to know the sins he is guilty of, why he is God’s enemy, and suggests that his fate is an unfair one.
Job returns to the recurring theme of the brevity of human life, obviously in respect to God, with two metaphors. There is also a sense of weakness, or frailty, in the second.
Is Job really asking if God notices and judges such fleeting creatures such as men? Or is he asking rhetorically, as if to express surprise and amazement that the God of the universe so cares about the affairs of men to do so? I think the latter seems more likely.
Job here clearly states the “T” in TULIP! Man is totally depraved, sinful, and impure. It is worth noting that Job would be included in this: Job is not without sin. The point he has been making though, when defending his righteousness, is that his sin is certainly not commensurate with the judgment he has been subjected to. And it is clear that Job has a righteous attitude towards God.
These verses have a sort of double-meaning to them. On the one hand Job conveys a solid theological premise: God is in complete control of our lives, even down to the day we cease to live. On the other, it seems obvious that Job is referring to himself specifically, not some general “person”, and he sees his role as a “hired worker”, thus God as the “overseer”.
Job starts into the theme of death again, another recurring theme. He begins by comparing a tree, and the fact that a tree can spring new life despite being cut down, or dying due to age, via saplings, or new shoots and sprouts, to the fact that for man death is permanent. Obviously Job is speaking in a physical sense here.
Here Job compares men to a lake that dries up, simply disappearing. But he also reminds us that he has a fuller understanding of the afterlife when he speaks of men waking up when the “heavens are no more.” It seems clear Job understands that physical death is not a final death.
Job continues the flow of thought, essentially asking to be “overlooked” in death, or Sheol, until the appointed time to be called back. The question he asks in v14, “When a person dies, will he come back to life?” seems clearly rhetorical, as all the surrounding verses seem to clearly suggest Job’s belief.
Things turn ugly in the closing verses though, as Job returns to a dark view of God’s role in the lives of men. All the hope that was in the previous collection of verses is matched by gloom and doom in these verses. Job closes his speech on an accusatory note towards God.
Lord, thank you for your sovereignty, for loving us despite our depravity, for dying for us while we are steeped in our sin. I pray that, even when we are in despair, that we reach for you, turn to you, lean into you. Help us to worship and glorify you at all times, in all situations. Amen.