I cry out to you God, but you do not answer (Job 22:1-31:40)AJ, 21st June 2015
Part of the Study of Job series, preached at a Fordham Sunday Service service
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22:2 "Can a man be of benefit to God? Can even a wise man benefit him?
22:3 What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous? What would he gain if your ways were blameless?
22:4 "Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you?
22:5 Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?
22:6 You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked.
22:7 You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry,
22:8 though you were a powerful man, owning land- an honored man, living on it.
22:9 And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless.
22:10 That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you,
22:11 why it is so dark you cannot see, and why a flood of water covers you.
22:12 "Is not God in the heights of heaven? And see how lofty are the highest stars!
22:13 Yet you say, 'What does God know? Does he judge through such darkness?
22:14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.'
22:15 Will you keep to the old path that evil men have trod?
22:16 They were carried off before their time, their foundations washed away by a flood.
22:17 They said to God, 'Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do to us?'
22:18 Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things, so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.
22:19 "The righteous see their ruin and rejoice; the innocent mock them, saying,
22:20 'Surely our foes are destroyed, and fire devours their wealth.'
22:21 "Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.
22:22 Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.
22:23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent
22:24 and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
22:25 then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you.
22:26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.
22:27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.
22:28 What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways.
22:29 When men are brought low and you say, 'Lift them up!' then he will save the downcast.
22:30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands."
23:1 Then Job replied:
23:2 "Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.
23:3 If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!
23:4 I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.
23:5 I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say.
23:6 Would he oppose me with great power? No, he would not press charges against me.
23:7 There an upright man could present his case before him, and I would be delivered forever from my judge.
23:8 "But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him.
23:9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
23:10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
23:11 My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.
23:12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
23:13 "But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases.
23:14 He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store.
23:15 That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him.
23:16 God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me.
23:17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.
24:1 "Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?
24:2 Men move boundary stones; they pasture flocks they have stolen.
24:3 They drive away the orphan's donkey and take the widow's ox in pledge.
24:4 They thrust the needy from the path and force all the poor of the land into hiding.
24:5 Like wild donkeys in the desert, the poor go about their labor of foraging food; the wasteland provides food for their children.
24:6 They gather fodder in the fields and glean in the vineyards of the wicked.
24:7 Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked; they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold.
24:8 They are drenched by mountain rains and hug the rocks for lack of shelter.
24:9 The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.
24:10 Lacking clothes, they go about naked; they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry.
24:11 They crush olives among the terraces ; they tread the winepresses, yet suffer thirst.
24:12 The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help. But God charges no one with wrongdoing.
24:13 "There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.
24:14 When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up and kills the poor and needy; in the night he steals forth like a thief.
24:15 The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, 'No eye will see me,' and he keeps his face concealed.
24:16 In the dark, men break into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they want nothing to do with the light.
24:17 For all of them, deep darkness is their morning ; they make friends with the terrors of darkness.
24:18 "Yet they are foam on the surface of the water; their portion of the land is cursed, so that no one goes to the vineyards.
24:19 As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow, so the grave snatches away those who have sinned.
24:20 The womb forgets them, the worm feasts on them; evil men are no longer remembered but are broken like a tree.
24:21 They prey on the barren and childless woman, and to the widow show no kindness.
24:22 But God drags away the mighty by his power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life.
24:23 He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways.
24:24 For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like heads of grain.
24:25 "If this is not so, who can prove me false and reduce my words to nothing?"
25:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
25:2 "Dominion and awe belong to God; he establishes order in the heights of heaven.
25:3 Can his forces be numbered? Upon whom does his light not rise?
25:4 How then can a man be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?
25:5 If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
25:6 how much less man, who is but a maggot- a son of man, who is only a worm!"
26:1 Then Job replied:
26:2 "How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble!
26:3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed!
26:4 Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?
26:5 "The dead are in deep anguish, those beneath the waters and all that live in them.
26:6 Death is naked before God; Destruction lies uncovered.
26:7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.
26:8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.
26:9 He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it.
26:10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness.
26:11 The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke.
26:12 By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.
26:13 By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent.
26:14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?"
27:1 And Job continued his discourse:
27:2 "As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul,
27:3 as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils,
27:4 my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.
27:5 I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity.
27:6 I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.
27:7 "May my enemies be like the wicked, my adversaries like the unjust!
27:8 For what hope has the godless when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?
27:9 Does God listen to his cry when distress comes upon him?
27:10 Will he find delight in the Almighty? Will he call upon God at all times?
27:11 "I will teach you about the power of God; the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal.
27:12 You have all seen this yourselves. Why then this meaningless talk?
27:13 "Here is the fate God allots to the wicked, the heritage a ruthless man receives from the Almighty:
27:14 However many his children, their fate is the sword; his offspring will never have enough to eat.
27:15 The plague will bury those who survive him, and their widows will not weep for them.
27:16 Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay,
27:17 what he lays up the righteous will wear, and the innocent will divide his silver.
27:18 The house he builds is like a moth's cocoon, like a hut made by a watchman.
27:19 He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone.
27:20 Terrors overtake him like a flood; a tempest snatches him away in the night.
27:21 The east wind carries him off, and he is gone; it sweeps him out of his place.
27:22 It hurls itself against him without mercy as he flees headlong from its power.
27:23 It claps its hands in derision and hisses him out of his place.
28:1 "There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined.
28:2 Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore.
28:3 Man puts an end to the darkness; he searches the farthest recesses for ore in the blackest darkness.
28:4 Far from where people dwell he cuts a shaft, in places forgotten by the foot of man; far from men he dangles and sways.
28:5 The earth, from which food comes, is transformed below as by fire;
28:6 sapphires come from its rocks, and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
28:7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path, no falcon's eye has seen it.
28:8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it, and no lion prowls there.
28:9 Man's hand assaults the flinty rock and lays bare the roots of the mountains.
28:10 He tunnels through the rock; his eyes see all its treasures.
28:11 He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.
28:12 "But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?
28:13 Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living.
28:14 The deep says, 'It is not in me'; the sea says, 'It is not with me.'
28:15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed in silver.
28:16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or sapphires.
28:17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
28:18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
28:19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold.
28:20 "Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell?
28:21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from the birds of the air.
28:22 Destruction and Death say, 'Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.'
28:23 God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells,
28:24 for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.
28:25 When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters,
28:26 when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm,
28:27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it.
28:28 And he said to man, 'The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.' "
29:1 Job continued his discourse:
29:2 "How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me,
29:3 when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness!
29:4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house,
29:5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me,
29:6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.
29:7 "When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square,
29:8 the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet;
29:9 the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands;
29:10 the voices of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.
29:11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me,
29:12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him.
29:13 The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow's heart sing.
29:14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban.
29:15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.
29:16 I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger.
29:17 I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.
29:18 "I thought, 'I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of sand.
29:19 My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches.
29:20 My glory will remain fresh in me, the bow ever new in my hand.'
29:21 "Men listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel.
29:22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears.
29:23 They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain.
29:24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.
29:25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners.
30:1 "But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs.
30:2 Of what use was the strength of their hands to me, since their vigor had gone from them?
30:3 Haggard from want and hunger, they roamed the parched land in desolate wastelands at night.
30:4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs, and their food was the root of the broom tree.
30:5 They were banished from their fellow men, shouted at as if they were thieves.
30:6 They were forced to live in the dry stream beds, among the rocks and in holes in the ground.
30:7 They brayed among the bushes and huddled in the undergrowth.
30:8 A base and nameless brood, they were driven out of the land.
30:9 "And now their sons mock me in song; I have become a byword among them.
30:10 They detest me and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face.
30:11 Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence.
30:12 On my right the tribe attacks; they lay snares for my feet, they build their siege ramps against me.
30:13 They break up my road; they succeed in destroying me-without anyone's helping them.
30:14 They advance as through a gaping breach; amid the ruins they come rolling in.
30:15 Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.
30:16 "And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me.
30:17 Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.
30:18 In his great power God becomes like clothing to me ; he binds me like the neck of my garment.
30:19 He throws me into the mud, and I am reduced to dust and ashes.
30:20 "I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.
30:21 You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.
30:22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.
30:23 I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.
30:24 "Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress.
30:25 Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
30:26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.
30:27 The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me.
30:28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
30:29 I have become a brother of jackals, a companion of owls.
30:30 My skin grows black and peels; my body burns with fever.
30:31 My harp is tuned to mourning, and my flute to the sound of wailing.
31:1 "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.
31:2 For what is man's lot from God above, his heritage from the Almighty on high?
31:3 Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong?
31:4 Does he not see my ways and count my every step?
31:5 "If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit-
31:6 let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless-
31:7 if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled,
31:8 then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted.
31:9 "If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have lurked at my neighbor's door,
31:10 then may my wife grind another man's grain, and may other men sleep with her.
31:11 For that would have been shameful, a sin to be judged.
31:12 It is a fire that burns to Destruction ; it would have uprooted my harvest.
31:13 "If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me,
31:14 what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account?
31:15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?
31:16 "If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,
31:17 if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless-
31:18 but from my youth I reared him as would a father, and from my birth I guided the widow-
31:19 if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment,
31:20 and his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep,
31:21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court,
31:22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint.
31:23 For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.
31:24 "If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, 'You are my security,'
31:25 if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained,
31:26 if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor,
31:27 so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage,
31:28 then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.
31:29 "If I have rejoiced at my enemy's misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him-
31:30 I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against his life-
31:31 if the men of my household have never said, 'Who has not had his fill of Job's meat?'-
31:32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler-
31:33 if I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart
31:34 because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside
31:35 ("Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense-let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing.
31:36 Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown.
31:37 I would give him an account of my every step; like a prince I would approach him.)-
31:38 "if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears,
31:39 if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants,
31:40 then let briers come up instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley." The words of Job are ended.
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