Job 24: Do Not Follow the Path of the Wicked
December 2, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
As Job continues his “bitter complaint” (23:1), in this chapter he makes two basic movements. In the first half of the chapter, he asks a question and then exposits on his answer to it. “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?” (24:1). Having asked that question, Job describes what he observes. What he observes is many people committing acts of violence and getting away with it. Surely this is not right. Why does God allow it? Why does God allow evil people to get away with doing evil? Is there no judgment?
Because we live on the other side of the cross and have Jesus’ teaching and the teaching of the New Testament as a whole, we have better answers to these questions than Job did. We know there is a judgment to come. We know that it is because of such sins that God’s wrath is coming (Colossians 3:6). We rightly tremble at the thought, and knowing what it is to fear God, we try to persuade people to be reconciled to him through faith in Christ while there is still time. But if we are honest, we do still sometimes wonder, a bit like Job, why it is that evil seems to go unjudged in this world. What we need to do is both develop x-ray vision and future vision. If we had x-ray vision, we could see the seeds of hell that are sown in the hearts of people who commit their lives to an evil course. That does not make them innocent, it makes them guilty. And yet it is fearful when one thinks of that raging fire that is building within that one, that—if there is no repentance—will burst into eternal flames of God’s judgment. And on top of this, if we had a future vision, we would be able to countenance this passing age and weigh in rightly in the balance of the age to come. “Eternity” is a word that is easy to speak and hard (if not impossible) to conceive. But just, for a moment, imagine what it would be like to be forever under the judgment of God in hell. Forever. Never ending. The thought is terrifying beyond comprehension. And of course, what that means is that we should do all that we can to repent of our sins, to call others to such repentance, and trust in Christ for our salvation.
The other part of Job’s speech in this chapter, though, has a more positive aspect. From verse 18, beginning with “yet,” Job comments on the trouble that evil visits on those who practice evil. They are “foam on the surface of the water”; “their portion of the land is cursed” (24:18); “the wicked are no longer remembered” (24:20); God “may let them rest in a feeling of security but his eyes are upon their ways” (24:23); “for a little while they are exalted and then they are gone” (24:24).
What Job seems to be saying is that even though he does not have clarity about final judgment, he can see that sin visits its own rewards. All too often, the evil people appear to be “getting away with it,” but if you watch a moment longer, you see the horrible and terrible pain that breaking God’s law causes even in this world.
Again, the lesson from this, of course, is that it makes no practical sense, even, to disobey God. The highest reason for obeying God is for love of God. And in fact, the one who loves God will aim to obey his commandments. But when our love waxes cold, at least take a moment to look around and realize that for all practical purposes, honesty is the best policy, and righteousness gives health to your bones. Follow the path of the righteous, not the wicked.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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