GOD’S INTEREST IN ONE SOUL
Job 32: 1-4; 33:6, 7, 23.
I do not know whether you have read this Book of Job. I want to show you the point of it. It is very interesting in this respect - it shows God’s interest in one soul. The soul of man is so precious to God that this book is all about one man - all about Job. Are you not struck with the fact that God is interested in one soul? My dear friend, it is my joy to tell you that God is interested in your soul; you may not be interested in it; you may have passed your time in neglect of it. It is sad to see how people neglect this most important matter. Not that you do not intend some time to pay attention to it, but the devil has succeeded so far, and you have lent a willing ear to him. He has succeeded, as he did with me once, in persuading you to shelve this question. You think more about business matters - the things of this life - than the interests of your soul; that shall be attended to at some future time, you say. I would urge you to care for it now.
God was interested in Job. Here is one book of forty-two chapters - all about one soul.
In the first chapter we are permitted to hear an interview between God and Satan. We are told there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. God asked him a question, “Whence comest thou?” He says, "From going to and fro in the - earth, and from walking up and down in it." Satan is a real being - God’s most determined foe. When God created him he was the very brightest creature, but he was a creature. He is called in Ezekiel 28, "The anointed cherub that covereth,” but he was a creature. Michael, when contending with him about the body of Moses, had such a sense of his dignity that he said, “The Lord rebuke thee.” “He durst not bring against him a railing accusation.” I think we have little idea of the awful foe we have in Satan, but, thank God, he is a defeated foe. The Son of God has been down into death and robbed him of his power, but he is a foe; his one desire is to draw you down into that awful pit; he has set his heart on your destruction. May God wake you up.
God says to Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?” God praises Job.
Satan says, Let me go down and take away all he has, and he will curse Thee to Thy face. Oh, it is a wonderful thing to get
The Curtain drawn aside
like this. Satan goes down; all is swept away - Job’s property, his children - all is gone! Do you think God is unkind to do that? What will God not do to reach a soul? He is not unkind; He is “very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. You may say, His ways with me are very hard; you do not know my trials. Let me say to you, God has got eternity before Him; and in sweeping away things here He would show you the blessed reality of things there. Well, Job’s things are swept away, and he says, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In the next chapter we are permitted to hear another interview. Satan says, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” God permits Satan to go down and smite that man “with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” Yet there was nothing harsh about it, as I will show you presently. His wife comes and says, “Curse God, and die.” He replies, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Now his three friends come to sit down with him seven days, mute with grief. No grief like Job’s save the unparalleled grief of the Son of God. At last
is charged, and out it comes. He curses the day he was born. These three men, in substance, say to Job, If you had not been a very wicked man God would never have allowed this to happen. Then out comes from Job’s heart what God wanted to root out. What is it? Self-righteousness; he prides himself in it. What! says he, you think I have been a very bad man. I will tell you - and then he draws a photograph of himself. ‘I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame,’ and so on. It all comes out of his heart: he prides himself in his righteousness, and God says, I cannot have that, and He proceeds to deal with Job.
Job ends; God begins
Now we come to the end of the book. They have been wrangling on through the book - Job and his friends. Now “the words of Job are ended,” (chap. 31: 40), and it is time for God to begin. Perhaps you, too, are clinging to something. You cannot say as Job did, “I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame,” etc.; but then God would not have that if you could. You will have to let go all your own thoughts of goodness before you can be saved.
When “the words of Job are ended” you find another person comes on the scene - a fourth person - Elihu. We have not read about him before. He is a picture of the Saviour; his name implies it - God is He. When Job’s words are ended he is all ready for a Saviour. Elihu is one of the most striking pictures of the Saviour. He was angry with Job on the one side, and with his three friends on the other.
With Job because he justified himself rather than God. Job spoke well of himself rather than of God. God would not have you speak well of yourself. The saved soul - the soul that has been in the presence of God - will not have a good word to say for himself, save what grace has done for him.
And what did the three friends do? They condemned Job without convincing him. I’ll tell you what God is doing now. He is convincing men in order that they may condemn themselves. God does not condemn, but He is convincing sinners of their sinfulness in order that they may condemn themselves; and when a man condemns himself God will never condemn him.
This is Repentance
Repentance is not sorrow for sin merely - that is in it - but it is a deeper thing than that. Listen to that man in Luke 18: “Two men went up into the temple to pray.” You know the story; the Saviour told it. The first stood there - a great religionist - and he prays with himself, “I thank thee that I am not as other men are... or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”
That man is justifying himself. A man never can be saved as long as he keeps on that tack. But look at that other man. He has such a sense of his sinfulness, he bows his head and says, "God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Have you taken that place before God? I do not ask if you have said what so many say - I know we are all sinners. It matters not if you have read it out of a book, or said it in a public assembly. Have you said it alone with God? You cannot be saved in a crowd; repentance is an individual thing.
Elihu’s wrath is kindled against Job because he justified himself, and against Job’s three friends because they had found no answer and yet had condemned him.
Now God says, I am going to convince you. If you turn on to chapter 40, verse 3, you read, “Then Job answered the Lord.” God grant you may take your place with Job. “Then ‘Job answered and said, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer; yea, twice, but I will proceed no further.” He says, I have said too much, I have been praising myself, but now I am vile, I AM VILE! Will you join in with Job and say, “I am vile”? If you do not condemn yourself God will condemn you, but if you condemn yourself God will never condemn you. Thank God! Job has come to that point. He says, I have talked too much; I will proceed no further. I was out of Thy presence when I justified myself. He is going to let God talk now. He does not “let go the twig” entirely till you come to the last chapter. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” “Now mine eye seeth thee - seeth THEE! Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Now he lets God talk. That is where he gets the blessing. He is ready for Elihu now.
Now let us look at the scripture. I read, “Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead”; that looks on to Jesus here. “I also am formed out of the clay. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid.” In a previous chapter Job had said, ‘Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.” He wanted a daysman that could lay hold of God with one hand and man with the other. Now Elihu says, “I am ...in God’s stead” - that looks on to Jesus. Elihu says, “I also am formed out of the clay,” but who is Jesus? “Over all, God blessed for ever.” Here is One - Jesus - who can lay hold of Godhead, and yet verily a Man! That is the Person you want, the Saviour. And what does He say to you, poor trembling soul? ‘‘My terror shall not make thee afraid” - draw near to Him: He puts His pierced hand upon you - “Neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.”
The hand of God was heavy upon Him when He was upon the cross. Jesus - who is over all, blessed for ever - draws near to you; He puts His hand upon you. You fear God. You say, I have a sense of my sinfulness. The Saviour draws near to you, my blessed Master, the true Elihu. What does He say? “My terror shall not make thee afraid.” At mount Sinai He came down with His fiery law, and even Moses said, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” There is no fiery law now; but with a heart big with love, “full of grace and truth,” He went to the cross. God’s hand was heavy upon Him, that it might never be heavy upon you. If you take the place Job took here, you shall know His pierced hand upon you, you shall know the Saviour.
And what does He say? “I have found a ransom.” You cannot find one. Where has God found it? In His own bosom! His own blessed Son given to be a sacrifice. Have you accepted what God has found? He does not ask you to find anything. He only asks you to take your true place, and then you shall know that God has found what you could never find. “Deliver him from, going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.” The 6th and 7th verses present the Person of Christ; the 24th verse presents the work of Christ. Blessed be God, He has found a ransom; all His claims have been met; that blessed Saviour paid the debt on the cross, and now He is on the throne! There are two things here -
Ransom and Resurrection
We have Christ for the Ransom; and then there is the resurrection of Christ. He has been raised for the justification of those who believe; Romans 4: 25. Elihu says, then, “He shall sing’’ - oh, I like that. Sing! What about? “He will sing before men, and will say, I have sinned, and perverted what was ‘right, and it hath not been requited to me.” He has had mercy on me, a poor sinner, with nothing at all, but I can sing, and I have been singing, that the mercy that has reached me can reach you. Oh, will you have it?
The Approaching Storm
“There is one other scripture in this Book, chapter 36:18 (A.V.), a very solemn verse, ‘‘because there is wrath” - not now, thank God. What is it now? “My terror shall not make thee afraid.” But, oh, there is a storm-cloud which will burst’ on this earth, burst on the unrepentant for ever. “Because there is wrath, beware!” Beware of: what? “Lest he take thee away with his stroke.” - What then? “Then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.” A great ransom will never deliver you if you pass into eternity in your sins. No human language can describe what will be the result if man persists in his course - the wrath that awaits him there. What will his riches avail then? Nothing, NOTHING! This scripture says so. Oh, I would plead with you. Get into the place Job took; say, “I am vile.” God grant it, for Christ’s sake.