Tuesday, October 31, 2023

A Call to Repent (Job 11)

“If you would prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him …” (Job 11:13).

Zophar, by far the most severe of Job’s counselors, misapplies truth just as the others had done. Unlike Eliphaz who spoke gently to Job, Zophar pounces upon the poor man. He shows little patience for Job’s complaints and basically tells him to quit whining. He treats Job as if he were just prattling on, but this is far from the truth. Job spoke from conviction and profound inner turmoil.

He also accuses Job of claiming to be sinless. This Job did not do, as we learned in yesterday’s study. He simply maintained that he was not a hypocrite. Job’s evaluation of himself is faithful to God’s judgment, for remember, at the beginning of the book God calls Job upright.

Zophar’s charge against Job is that he is a sinner who needs to repent. He extols the greatness of God’s glory, reminding Job of his humble and lowly position before such an awesome judge. Zophar’s advice would be appropriate for a profligate sinner, but it does not apply to Job, whom God has already declared to be blameless. Let us, then, look at Zophar’s counsel as it might apply to one who is guilty of living in sin. The advice is good when taken in that context. First, he advises the sinner to examine himself. This can only be done by the power of the Spirit, who prepares the heart and brings life-changing conviction of sin. Second, he must pray to God and yield himself to Him. Third, he must put his sin far from him. Those who come to worship the Lord while still clinging to beloved sins profane His worship. Finally, he must remove all devotion to sin not only in himself, but in his family.

Once a person repents of his sin and no longer follows after the wicked desires of his heart, he will have a holy confidence before God. He will be steadfast in his commitment and not be buffeted by guilt and fear. His past troubles will be forgotten, and he will have a hopeful expectation of future peace.

As you can see, this is good advice to one who is living in sin, as long as one assumes that the ability to repent comes from the grace of God. However, the advice does not apply to Job, and Zophar’s appeal to God’s judgment will fall, not on Job’s head, but on his own.

Read Job 11 again, but this time think of it, not as advice to Job, but as advice to someone living in serious sin or hypocrisy. How does this compare to the call to repentance in the rest of Scripture? Read Isa. 55:7; Ezek. 18:31; Luke 13:1–5; and Acts 3:19. Have you repented of your sins? Consider carefully these warnings.