1 “Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty,
and why do those who know him never see his days?
2 Some move landmarks;
they seize flocks and pasture them.
3 They drive away the donkey of the fatherless;
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.
4 They thrust the poor off the road;
the poor of the earth all hide themselves.
5 Behold, like wild donkeys in the desert
the poor go out to their toil, seeking game;
the wasteland yields food for their children.
6 They gather their fodder in the field,
and they glean the vineyard of the wicked man.
7 They lie all night naked, without clothing,
and have no covering in the cold.
8 They are wet with the rain of the mountains
and cling to the rock for lack of shelter.
9 (There are those who snatch the fatherless child from the breast,
and they take a pledge against the poor.)
10 They go about naked, without clothing;
hungry, they carry the sheaves;
11 among the olive rows of the wicked they make oil;
they tread the winepresses, but suffer thirst.
12 From out of the city the dying groan,
and the soul of the wounded cries for help;
yet God charges no one with wrong.
13 “There are those who rebel against the light,
who are not acquainted with its ways,
and do not stay in its paths.
14 The murderer rises before it is light,
that he may kill the poor and needy,
and in the night he is like a thief.
15 The eye of the adulterer also waits for the twilight,
saying, ‘No eye will see me’;
and he veils his face.
16 In the dark they dig through houses;
by day they shut themselves up;
they do not know the light.
17 For deep darkness is morning to all of them;
for they are friends with the terrors of deep darkness.
18 “You say, ‘Swift are they on the face of the waters;
their portion is cursed in the land;
no treader turns toward their vineyards.
19 Drought and heat snatch away the snow waters;
so does Sheol those who have sinned.
20 The womb forgets them;
the worm finds them sweet;
they are no longer remembered,
so wickedness is broken like a tree.’
21 “They wrong the barren, childless woman,
and do no good to the widow.
22 Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power;
they rise up when they despair of life.
23 He gives them security, and they are supported,
and his eyes are upon their ways.
24 They are exalted a little while, and then are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like the heads of grain.
25 If it is not so, who will prove me a liar
and show that there is nothing in what I say?” – Job 24:1-25 ESV
The world we live in is anything but fair. Every day, people suffer injustices of all kinds. Children are born into families in which they find themselves unloved and abused. The powerful take advantage of the weak and defenseless. Corrupt governments deny the rights of their citizens. Individuals harm one another. People who have worked all their lives and saved to provide themselves a decent retirement income, lose it all at the hands of unethical corporate executives and greedy lenders. The same was true in Job’s day.
Despite his friends’ assertions that the wicked always face justice at the hand of God, Job argues that this isn’t necessarily so. Plenty of people in Job’s day seemed to walk away without a scratch in spite of their unethical and immoral behavior.
“There are people out there getting by with murder–stealing and lying and cheating. They rip off the poor and exploit the unfortunate, push the helpless into the ditch, bully the weak so that they fear for their lives. The poor, like stray dogs and cats, scavenge for food in back alleys. They sort through the garbage of the rich, eke out survival on handouts. Homeless, they shiver through cold nights on the street; they’ve no place to lay their heads.” – Job 24:2-7 MSG
Job is simply stating the facts as he sees them. This is reality. It is the nature of life lived in a fallen world, and it was true in Job’s day just as it is in ours. Job asks the obvious question:
“Why doesn’t the Almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain?” – Job 24:1 NLT
As we watch events taking place in our world, we tend to ask the same basic question. Why doesn’t God step in and do something? When we read news stories of abuse, neglect, corruption, murder, hatred, and bigotry, we can’t help but wonder where God is and why He isn’t doing something about it all. The truth is that the wicked don’t always suffer. Sometimes they actually get away with their actions and profit from their behavior. The innocent suffer while the wicked prosper. It happens all the time. We don’t like it, and we can’t explain it. And the fact is, God isn’t obligated to provide us with an explanation.
But Job finds comfort in knowing that in the end, God will deal with all those who practice ungodliness.
“But God drags away the mighty by his power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life. He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways. 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 ears of corn.” – Job 24:22-24 NIV
God is always watching. His eyes are fixed on the ways of the wicked and He doesn’t miss a thing. He is not asleep or indifferent. He is not apathetic or disinterested. Job knows that God will act – in His own good time. In the meantime, the righteous will continue to suffer while the wicked seem to prosper. Job isn’t necessarily being pessimistic; he’s simply being realistic. Life isn’t a black-and-white affair. The good don’t always win and the righteous aren’t immune from suffering. Much to our chagrin, the bad guys don’t always get what they deserve. Evil people sometimes prosper and too often than not, the weak and helpless come out on the short end of the stick.
It is a painful reality that Christians face persecution and even death at the hands of malicious governments. Innocent women and children are sold into slavery or used to feed the insatiable desires of the world’s burgeoning sex trade. It’s unfair. It’s immoral. It’s offensive and reprehensible. But it does not mean that God is out of control or disinterested. He is fully aware of what is going on and, one day, He will act. We can rest assured.
“But GOD hasn’t moved to the mountains; his holy address hasn’t changed. He’s in charge, as always, his eyes taking everything in, his eyelids unblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood inside and out, not missing a thing. He tests the good and the bad alike; if anyone cheats, God’s outraged. Fail the test and you’re out, out in a hail of firestones, drinking from a canteen filled with hot desert wind. GOD’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.” – Psalm 11:4-7 MSG
Job’s whole point is that things are not always what they seem. He is trying to get his three friends to understand that their assessment of his situation was inaccurate and unfair. They were judging him falsely because they didn’t have all the facts. They were drawing their conclusions based on circumstantial evidence that gave a false impression of guilt. But God knew the facts of the case, and Job was convinced that He would rule favorably in the end.
“God, in his power, drags away the rich.
They may rise high, but they have no assurance of life.
They may be allowed to live in security,
but God is always watching them.
And though they are great now,
in a moment they will be gone like all others,
cut off like heads of grain.
Can anyone claim otherwise?
Who can prove me wrong?” – Job 24:22-25 NLT
Job was content to leave his judgment up to God. But he wasn’t going to allow his friends to ruin his reputation by dragging his name through the mud and questioning his integrity. He was not guilty as charged. Job was perplexed and confused but he was willing to wait on God to make things right. For the moment, things seemed out of sorts and difficult to comprehend. But even in the upside-down world in which Job found himself, he knew he could count on God.
God sees all. He is just. And one day He will make all things right. May He give us patience to wait for His perfect timing. And as we wait, we must pray for strength so that we might be salt and light in the dark world in which we live. May we bring refreshment and hope to the suffering and the lost. Life is not far, but our God is just and righteous. And one day, He will balance the scales and set all things in order.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.