DOES GOD FAIL TO GOVERN PROPERLY?
"Why are not times treasured up with the Almighty? Why do not they who know Him see His days?" (v.1 - JND trans.) Job wonders why God (who is Almighty) does not take account of all that takes place in time, and why those who know Him do not witness on His part any serious dealing with gross evil when it is present. For, he says, "Some remove landmarks," thereby stealing land from others; they violently steal flocks of sheep and feed on them; "they drive away the donkey of the fatherless; they take the widow's ox a pledge. They push the needy off the road," forcing the poor of the land to hide (vv.2-4). These were evils publicly known to take place. Job's friends did not have any such clear charge to lay against him, but only imagined he must have done wrong. But here were cases of manifest wickedness, and God had not dealt with them as He was dealing with Job.
He goes on to speak of the way in which the poor were oppressed by evil men, "like wild donkeys in the desert, they go out to their work," searching for food in the wilderness, gleaning in vineyards, often with little clothing and exposed to the cold night air or the showers of rain, huddling together to seek some semblance of shelter.
"Some snatch the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge from the poor. They cause the poor to go naked, without clothing; and they take away the sheaves from the hungry" (vv.9-10). Sheaves might have furnished a little food by beating out the grain, but even this was stolen from the poor.
Cruel men would employ them to press out oil and to tread winepresses, yet give them not even enough in wages to quench their thirst. Some were groaning in the pangs of death and the souls of the wounded were crying out. "Yet," Job says, "God does not charge them (the oppressors) with wrong" (v.12). But Eliphaz was charging Job with wrong.
BOLD REBELLION AGAINST GOD
Surely Job's friends knew he could not be classed with those who "rebel against the light" (v.13). This is not only sin moved by greed, but that moved by bold defiance of God. There was, and is, light that can be of great blessing to those who value it, but many "choose darkness rather than light," not merely giving in to their weaknesses, but deliberately choosing the ways of wilful evil.
"The murderer rises with the light" (v.14), though he does not know the light. Without compunction he kills the poor and needy. If he commits his evil action at night, he is like a thief, hiding until the moment he chooses to murder his victim.
The adulterer waits until it is dark enough that no one will recognise him, and in the dark breaks into a house which he has marked in the daytime, to commit his cruel crime of rape. Has society changed since Job's time? Not at all! There are still such crimes committed every day. People keep on demanding more laws to combat such things, but laws do not change men's rebellious hearts. They need to be saved by the grace of God.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE - NOW?
How many since Job have felt that something decisive should be done to curb the many glaring evils that plague society. Should not their recompense be swift? "Their portion should be cursed in the earth" (v.18), Job thinks; so that others would not turn into the way of their vineyards, that is, to follow the wicked because they prosper.
"As drought and heat consume the snow waters, so Sheol consumes those who have sinned" (v.19). This is true, but just as true of the righteous as of the wicked, speaking of their eventual end on earth. "The womb should forget him, the worm should feed sweetly on him; he should be remembered no more, and wickedness should be broken like a tree" (v.20). Though Job is speaking of what "should be," there is no doubt that these things will be the eventual end of the ungodly, so it would have been more wise for him to calmly wait for God's action to take place in its time, rather than to complain that His judgment was too slow. But Job ends this section with a strong reason for which judgment on the wicked should be swift, "For he preys on the barren who do not bear, and does no good for the widow" (v.21). This was certainly not a description of Job himself.
IS GOD THE PROTECTOR OF EVIL MEN?
Not only did Job feel that God was lax in His judgment of evil, but that God actually protected people in their course of wickedness. He thought that God used His power to draw the mighty evildoers away from the crowd, so that no man was sure of life (v.22). "He gives them (the wicked) security, and they rely on it; yet His eyes are on their ways" (v.23). Job knew this was true, that God perceived all they were doing, yet continued to protect them from harm.
"They are exalted for a little while, then they are gone. They are brought low; they are taken out of the way like all others; they dry out like the heads of grain" (v.24). At least Job recognised that the exaltation of the wicked was only for a little while, then they were brought low and taken away, "like all others," that is, they only shared the same end as others who were not wicked. If we consider this life only, then certainly everything is out of balance and frustrating. But all God's accounts are not settled on this side of the grave.
However, Job's friends were not considering eternity either, and as regards Job's arguments concerning the prosperity of the wicked, he challenges his friends to prove him a liar (v.25). Certainly they could not do that, and Bildad's reply does not even attempt this.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 24". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany