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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God

By Horatius Bonar


      "Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified. Who is he that will plead with me? for now, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost." -- Job 13:18,19

      THIS is the utterance of a justified man, and of one who knew that he was justified, and was prepared to defend his position as such against all accusers.

      Job's declaration here may primarily be the assertion of his innocence against the accusations of his friends. But we may use it for something beyond this.

      We do great injustice to the Old Testament saints and to their privileges, and no less so to the God who made them what they were, when we conceive of them as possessing an imperfect justification, or an imperfect and uncertain knowledge of their justification. Paul's declaration was explicit on this point: "I know whom I have believed"; and yet it was not a jot more explicit than that of Job: "I know that my Redeemer liveth." When Paul said, "It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth?" he was only speaking what Job had spoken ages before: "I know that I shall be justified. Who is he that will plead with me?'

      In connection with the words of our text, let us note the following passages: Psalm 32:1,5, Isaiah 50:7-9, 51:12, Romans 8:31,34, 1 John 1:9. In all these we have the same truth, the same tone, the same confidence, the same assurance, and the same source or channel for the flowing of all these into the soul. The old and the new are alike. We cannot say either the old is better or the new is better; both are good, and both are the same. In both we have the utterance of the one creed of the church, and the voice of the one Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, through the one Redeemer.

      In our text (along with the context on both sides), we have the expression of an old saint's feelings in reference to man and to God. He has no hope from man, but he has all hope from God. One would have expected the opposite. Imperfect man might be expected to bear with an imperfect fellow man; but can a perfect God be expected to do this? Yet it is on God that he falls back; and the infinitely holy, all-searching God is felt to be a surer refuge for a sinner than unholy, sin-excusing man. Such must be the spirit of our dealings with God. His holiness and His omniscience are not only no discouragements, but the opposite. He knows the very worst of us, and He hates it; yet He pities us. We cannot tell Him worse of ourselves than He knows already. And is not this encouragement! Man's narrow heart makes us despair of him; God's infinite heart gives us hope. Have we not often been comforted with the thought that God knew us fully? Let us then mark the feelings or attitude of a saint towards God.

      I. Misconfidence. "I know that I shall be justified." It is no mere hope, or peradventure; it is a certainty. It is of this that Paul speaks, "We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast." This was the attitude of Old Testament saints, much more that of New. It is the feeling of the child; it is simple trustfulness, for everything, beginning with pardon.

      II. It is confidence as a sinner. Job speaks as a sinner, simply as such, not as a better man than others. He goes to God simply as such; and he trusts as such. He realises this blessed truth that a man's evil is no reason for distrusting God. When Adam fled from God, he did not know this; he thought that his sin was a reason for distrusting and flying from God, till God taught him differently, and shewed him what grace was.

      III. It is confidence arising from God's character alone. He has looked into the face of God, and learned there that a sinner may trust Him, just because of what He is; nay, that a sinner can only glorify Him by trusting Him because of what He is. It is not only because of His grace that He trusts; but because of His holiness and power; for these are no longer against the sinner; but on his side. Everything in God's character, has by the cross of Christ been turned into a reason for trusting Him. The more man knows of Him the more he trusts. Trust is the natural and inseparable response of the soul to the divine revelation of the character of God. It is not what man sees in himself, of his good deeds or good feelings, of his graces, or his repentance, or his regeneration, or his faith; but what he sees in God, that calls out confidence.

      It is confidence of personal justification. "I know that I shall be justified." It is no vague confidence in some unknown God; some sentimental trust in God's universal fatherhood, or mankind's universal sonship. It is of personal justification that he speaks; thus acknowledging personal condemnation in the first place; and then, as the result of a judicial act, personal justification. It is of this that the whole Bible speaks; it is this that the cross seals to us. This is not a state in which we are born; but into which we come by believing in Him who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Do you know this? Is this the beginning of your religion, the starting-point of your heavenward course?

      It is confidence in spite of all accusers. From verse 20 to verse 27 Job is pleading with God, confessing sin, and uttering confidence. In verse 28, and next chapter, he turns to man as his accuser. Who is he? A man that shall die. What matter his accusations? Let the whole world condemn, what matters it? Shall this shake a confidence resting on the word and name of God? Let Satan and conscience accuse; shall they shake a confidence which comes from above? Let their charges be all true, what of this? "Who is he that condemneth?" "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" We plead guilty to the accusations, but not with the less confidence do we claim an acquittal from the Judge, simply on the ground of what our Surety has done.

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See Also:
   Preface
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae

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