Just who are the wicked? What does it take to wear that label? The three friends have talked much about the fate of the wicked – and they have even placed Job among the ranks of the wicked. Job often speaks of the wicked – and hotly contests that he is NOT one of them. How do you know? How can you tell? What is the criteria for wickedness? Is it possible there are many who will be surprised to learn they fall within God’s wicked classification? We don’t ask these questions to play judge and jury on the rest of the world – but for the very real task of keeping ourselves where we need to be. On the wicked-righteous continuum we have some strong candidates for either extreme, but what about everyone else? It gets quite muddled in the middle. It’s a big question for a little devotion – but let’s see what we find here in the pages of Job.
First of all, let’s restate from previous days that we can’t tell who is evil by seeing who is suffering – as Job’s friends are arguing. Yes, sometimes our sins bring very real consequences of suffering. And, yes, wicked people will ultimately be judged and pay for their wickedness. However, suffering does not necessarily equate with wickedness. In Job’s case we know that God was pleased with Job’s righteousness, but still allowed Satan’s attacks against him, even though He would be blamed for them. There are many reasons one may be experiencing suffering (more on that another day soon), but we cannot assume that all suffering people must be wicked people.
We can find some truth regarding the wicked in Zophar’s speech in chapter 20. He says, “For he (the wicked) has oppressed the poor and left them destitute” (Job 20:19). We know this is true of the wicked from many other passages, including the separating of the sheep (the righteous) and the goats (the unrighteous/wicked) in Matthew 25. In this parable how well you do – or do not – care for others, especially the disadvantaged/least of society (those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers in need of being invited into your home, the cold and underdressed, the sick, the prisoner) will determine whether you are ultimately saved with the righteous or doomed with the wicked. I don’t know about you, but this convicts me. I have some work to do on regularly seeing the needs around me and adding these commitments and opportunities to my calendar – actually making them a priority not just an intention. In this parable many believers were surprised by their placement with the wicked – and I believe that will be true in the day of judgment as well. Seriously take the time to evaluate and challenge yourself regularly.
Some people may be feeling pretty comfortable right now because they do make it a priority to care for others. But, there will be more than that required as well. In Bildad’s speech in chapter 19 the evil man is synonymous with, “one who knows not God.” (Job 18:21). Looking ahead to chapter 21 Job says of the wicked: “They say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?’ ” (Job 21:14,15) To know God and know His ways – so you can serve. Faith and deeds. How do we know God and know His ways? Reading His Word is the best way I know. I fear there are many today who would much rather create their own god with their own ways. So they create a god who condones their actions and attitudes and beliefs. It is a trap we could all fall into – unless we are grounded in seeking out and knowing the One True God and His ways which are revealed for us in His Word.
It is that grounded faith in God that is keeping Job going even as his world is falling apart. He is hurting. He is questioning. He is still believing. He knows that his Redeemer (the one who will care for him) lives and he can not wait for the day he will see him face to face (Job 19:25-27). May we too look forward to that day – and not be caught by surprise.
Know Him and His Ways and Serve,
Today’s reading of Job 17-20 can be read or listened to here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+17-20&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 21-23 as we progress through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan