Sermon 2676. Comfort From the Future
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, MAY 27, 1900.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JANUARY 30, 1881.
"You shall forget your misery, and remember it as waters that pass away." Job 11:16.
JOB'S misery was extreme and it seemed as if he could never forget it. He never did forget the fact of it, but he did forgetthe pain of it. That he had been utterly miserable would always remain recorded upon the tablets of his memory, but the wretchednessitself would not remain. It would be so entirely removed that it should be as a thing that has been altogether forgotten.Nothing better can happen to our misery than that it should be forgotten in the sense referred to in our text, for then, evidently,it will be clean gone from us. It will be as it is when even the scent of the liquor has gone out of the cask, when even theflavor of the bitter drug lingers no longer in the medicine glass, but has altogether disappeared. So is it with the sorrowthat has so effectually gone out of the mind that it is just as though it had never been there.
If anyone here is in misery of any kind-whether it is misery of physical pain, or misery of need, or misery of soul on accountof sin, or the loss of the light of God's Countenance-I can only pray for you, dear Friend, that you may speedily forget yourmisery and only remember it as waters that pass away. The thing goes to be done-it is quite possible, and you may expect it.If you look carefully at the connection of our text and give earnest attention to the matter, I do not doubt that you willexperience this blessed forgetfulness. When we are in pain of body and depression of spirit, we imagine that we never shallforget such misery as we are enduring. The sharp plowshare has gone down so deeply that we think it has made a mark in thesoul that can never be erased. We seem to lie all broken in pieces, with our thoughts like a case of knives cutting into ourspirit, and we say to ourselves, "We never shall forget this terrible experience." And yet, by-and-by, God turns the palmof His hand towards us and we see that it is full of mercy. We are restored to health, or lifted up from depression of spiritand we wonder that we ever made so much of our former suffering or depression. We remember it no more, except as a thing thathas passed and gone, to be remembered with gratitude that we have been delivered from it, but not to be remembered so as toleave any scar upon our spirit, or to cause us any painful reflection whatever. "You shall forget your misery, and rememberit as waters that pass away."
I. I am not going to limit the application of the text to Job and his friends, for it also has a message for many of us atthe present time. And I shall take it, first, WITH REFERENCE TO THE COMMON TROUBLES OF LIFE WHICH AFFECT BELIEVING MEN ANDWOMEN.
These troubles of life, more or less, happen to us all. They come to one in one shape and, perhaps, he thinks that he is theonly man who has any real misery. Yet they also come to others, though possibly in another form. There is certainly a crossfor every shoulder to bear. Simon must not bear the cross alone and all the rest go free. There is no road to Heaven withoutits stones, or without its Hill Difficulty. And I think that there are few pilgrims from the City of Destruction who get tothe Celestial City without passing through the Valley of Death and having to fight with giants and even with Apollyon, himself.Cowper truly wrote-
"Thepath of sorrow, and that path alone, Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown."
There is much joy in true religion. Wisdom's "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree oflife to them that lay hold upon her and happy is everyone that retains her." But, still, notwithstanding the joy, in additionto it there is sorrow. There is misery lurking close by the Believer's pathway and it is always ready to pounce upon him somewherebetween here and Heaven. The Lord of the pilgrims was "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." And His disciples mustexpect to fare even as their Master fared while here below-it is enough for the servant if he is as his Lord.
You, dear Friends, who are just now enduring misery, should seek to be comforted under it. Perhaps you will ask me, "Wherecan we get any comfort?" Well, if you cannot draw any from your present experience, seek to gather some from the past. Youhave been miserable before, but you have been delivered and helped. There has come to you a most substantial benefit fromeverything which you have been called to endure. You must be conscious that when you think of your troubles, you can say,with Hezekiah, "O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so will You recover me,and make me to live." Or you can say, with the Psalmist, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Your word."I believe that, very often, God sends His very choicest love tokens to us in black-edged envelopes-and many a time has ithappened that the great rumbling wagons of tribulation have been those which have brought the heaviest weight of treasureto the doors of the saints! Do we ever learn much without the rod? I fear we do not. Most of us are quickest learners, I think,when we smart the most. Well, then, if affliction has been profitable in the past, let us rest assured that it will be soin the future.
Let us gather consolation, also, from the future. If, as the Apostle truly says, "No chastening for the present seems to bejoyous, but grievous," recollect how he goes on to say, "Nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousnessunto them which are exercised thereby." I have been trying to ring the changes on those two words, during the last few weeks,while I have been laid aside by illness-"nevertheless afterward"-"nevertheless afterward"- "nevertheless afterward it yieldsthe peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." The Apostle James tells us that "the husbandmanwaits for the precious fruit of the earth and has long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain." He doesnot complain because his corn is buried under the clods and covered with the snow. But he lives upon hope and rejoices inthe future harvest, pleading the promise, "He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come againwith rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." In your own case, dear Friend, if you are a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ,what will happen in the future? For it is with that I would comfort you at this time. Why, this is what will happen-"You shallforget your misery, and remember it as waters that pass away." How will that be?
Well, first, by the lapse of time. Time is a wonderful healer. Hearts that seem as if they must break when first the trialcomes, at last grow quite used to it. Look through the veil of a few minutes. Gaze through the longer vista of a few yearsand that which seemed dark as tempest wears quite another aspect! Oh, if you whose hearts seem now almost ready to burst,could but project yourselves only six months ahead-if you could leap forward a year and then look back- probably even in thattime you would almost have forgotten your misery!
Yes, but there is something better than the lapse of years and that is when, during a considerable time, you are left withouttrial. That is a sharp pain you are now enduring, but what if you should have years of health afterwards? Then you will forgetyour misery. That is a sad loss which you have been called to suffer-it seems to you to be a crushing dis-aster-but what ifit should be succeeded by years of prosperity? Remember how Job forgot his misery when, in a short time, he had double asmuch of all that he possessed as he had before? He had back twice the amount of all his former wealth. He had, again, a smilingfamily around him, so he might well forget his misery. Year after year and, perhaps, even to his death-it was so as far aswe know-Job was again a man who had a hedge made round about him and all that he had! And in the happiness of his later lifehe might well forget his former misery. Well, now, it is very likely to be so with you after you get through this presentstruggle. Therefore, keep your heart up, believe in God, have confidence in Him and all shall be well. There is wonderfullysmooth sailing on ahead for some of you when you are once over this little stretch of broken water. If you can safely passover this stony portion of the road, it will be good traveling for you all the way to Heaven! Remember that the horses' headsare towards home-you are journeying to your Father's House, so be of good courage, for you shall forget your misery and onlyremember it as waters that pass away!
And besides the lapse of time, and an interval of rest and calm, it may be-it probably is the fact with God's people-thatHe has in store for you some great mercies. When the Lord turns your captivity, you will be like they that dream-and you knowwhat happens to men who dream. They wake up. Their dream is all gone, they have completely forgotten it. So will it be withyour sorrow! Through God's goodness, you will seem suddenly to wake up out of a dreary dream and then you will begin to laughand soon your mouth will be filled with laughter. You will almost despise your former depression of spirit! And when you seethe abundant mercy of God toward you, all your misery shall seem like a dream that has gone, a vision of the night-unreal-thathas melted into nothingness! Some of you have no idea what is reserved for you-you would not be weeping, but laughing, ifyou knew what God has in store for you-I mean, even here below. It is good for us not to be able to read the roll closed bythe hand of God, but we may be sure that there are such blessed things in it concerning our future that each Believer maywell say, "I will not be bowed down by the trials of the present, but my spirit shall rejoice in God who does for me whateye has not seen, nor ear heard and what my heart has never conceived."
Be of good courage, Brothers and Sisters, in these dark, dull times, for, perhaps, this text is God's message to your soul,"You shall forget your misery, and remember it as waters that pass away." It has been so with many, many, many Believers inthe past. What do you think of Joseph sold for a slave, Joseph falsely accused, Joseph shut up in prison? But when Josephfound out that all that trial was the way to make him ruler over all the land of Egypt and that he might be the means of savingother nations from famine, and blessing his father's house, I do not wonder that he called his elder son "Manasseh." Whatdoes that name mean? "Forgetfulness"-"for God said He has made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house." Why, sittingon the throne, feeding the nation and blessing his father and his brothers, he must have thought that the being cast intothe pit, being sold to the Ishmaelites and being put into prison was not worth recollecting, except for gratitude to God thatit ever happened as a means to the grand end of helping him into that position of usefulness!
And Joseph is not the only one who has had such an experience as that. Read the Scriptures through and you will find thatthose whom God has called and anointed to eminent service have been put, like the blades of Damascus, into the fire and drawnthrough the fire again and again, that in the day of battle they might strike on the northern iron and steel and yet not turntheir edge! These servants of the Lord have been prepared for an immortal destiny by desperate griefs and-
"The deeper their sorrows, the louder they'll sing."
As a woman remembers no more her travail, for joy that a man is born into the world, so has it happened to the Believer inthe time of his sorrow-he has forgotten it, cast it all away because of the greater joy which God has brought out of it. Jabezis the child of sorrow, but he is, therefore, more honorable than his brethren. The more stormy the sea, the sweeter the haven.The rougher the road on earth, the better the rest above. So, poor tried child of God, believe that this text is intendedto be a Divine message of comfort to your heart, "You shall forget your misery, and remember it as waters that pass away."
Thus much on the first head.
II. I should be greatly rejoiced if, in the second place, I might speak A CHEERING WORD TO POOR SOULS UNDER DISTRESS ON ACCOUNTOF SIN. I mean you who long to be saved, yet cannot understand how it is to come to pass, or who, understanding the plan ofsalvation, are somehow unable to appropriate it to yourselves. You feel as if you have your eyes bandaged and your feet fastfixed in the stocks, so that you cannot go to Christ, cannot even look to Christ and, therefore, your souls are full of sorrow.I want you, dear Friends, to especially notice what Zophar recommends to a man who has sin upon him. Read the 13th, 14th,15th and 16th verses of this chapter-"If you prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him; if iniquity is inyour hands, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in your tabernacles. For then shall you lift up your face withoutspot; yes, you shall be steadfast, and shall not fear: because you shall forget your misery, and remember it as waters thatpass away." I recommend these words to you, also. But I have something even better to recommend to you. Does any man heresay, "I cannot get peace with God. I am full of misery on account of sin?" I know all about you, Friend. I have gone thatroad, long ago. I have been splashed up to my very eyes in the mire of the Slough of Despond and I sometimes get a littleof its mud in my eyes even now.
Well, now, I exhort you, first of all, to look to Christ and lean on Christ Trust in His atoning Sacrifice, for there, alone,can a troubled soul find rest. If you say that, somehow, you cannot get peace, then I shall have to ask you to see whether,perhaps, sin may not be lying at the door. To use Zophar's expression, have you prepared your heart? Have you gone to Christwith your whole heart and soul? Have you sought Him with all your might? I hope you realize that repentance and faith arevery bad things to play with, for such play will damn a man's soul. These are things to be earnestly used in a most solemnundertaking. "The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence" in this matter. We can neither repent nor believe with half our heart-itis our whole soul that is required if salvation is to be ours. Now, have you sought the Lord with all your heart? If you have,you will surely find Him. I am certain that you will. And then, afterwards, "you shall forget your misery, and remember itas waters that pass away." There was never a man yet who, with all his heart, sought the Lord Jesus Christ, but sooner orlater found Him. And if you have been long in seeking, I lay it to the fact that you have not sought with a prepared heart,a thoroughly earnest heart, or else you would have found Him.
But, perhaps, taking Zophar's next expression, you have not stretched out your hands toward the Lord, giving yourself up toHim like a man who holds up his hands to show that he surrenders. You must come and say, "My opposition is over. I now haveno quarrel with God. I yield unconditionally to Him." The word may refer to one who stretches out his hands to grasp whatevermay come from God within his reach. He stretches out his empty hands, asking to have them filled. He stretches out his entreatinghands, pleading that God will bless him. Well now, if you have done that, you shall get a blessing.
Further, you may and you shall forget your misery, provided you fulfill one more condition mentioned by Zophar, and that isthat you are not harboring any sin. "If iniquity is in your hands, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in your tabernacles."There is an old-fashioned Grace that I am never ashamed to preach, though some, who call themselves evangelists, have foldedit up and put it away in the back cupboard. They never mention this old-fashioned Grace which is called repentance. Now, Ilearn from the Scriptures that repentance is just as necessary to salvation as faith is- and the faith that has not repentancegoing with it will have to be repented of one of these days. A dry-eyed faith is a faith that will save no man. Peter's messagewas, "Repent you, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." And our Lord's own declaration was, "Exceptyou repent, you shall all likewise perish." He began His public ministry by crying, "Repent and believe the Gospel," whichmeans just this-that if any man is living in sin, it is no use his praying, or pretending to believe until he gives up thatsin. If there is any passion that you are indulging, any lust that is your master-if you are carrying on a wicked business-ifyou are living in willful transgression of God's Law, Christ can save you from your sins, but even Christ cannot save youin your sins. If you will have your sin, you must be lost-so stands God's decree. Christ must, by His Grace, separate youfrom your sin or else you will be separated from Him forever. I want this to be a very heart-searching word and, therefore,I say to any miserable man or miserable woman here- "You shall forget your misery if you give up your sin and trust in thesin-atoning Savior. Come, Friend, you shall not say that I am flattering you, for I tell you plainly that you must flee foryour life from the dearest sin that now lays hold upon you."
"Oh" you say, "but how am I to do it?" Christ will help you. Trust Him to help you. But if you say, "I will trust Him to saveme," and yet continue to live in sin, He will not save you. That is not the salvation that we preach! We proclaim salvationfrom sin, for that is the salvation which Jesus came to bring us. You must, as Zophar said to Job, put your iniquity far away-andyou must not let wickedness dwell in your tabernacles-that is to say, in your tents, in your houses. I know some men who willnever get peace of conscience and rest of heart while they let their wives live as they do, and while they allow their childrento live as they do. Some of you will not find mercy for yourselves while you neglect your children's highest welfare as youdo. I know some men-I hope they are good men, but certainly they are not good fathers-they are so peaceful and gentle thatthey never like to utter a word of reproof. Their boys and girls may go where they like-I might almost say that they may goto the devil if they like-yet their father has not a word to say to them. Do you call that proper conduct for a professedlyChristian? There are some parents who allow their children to do such things that God is grieved with them for their children'ssakes-and they will never get peace of mind till they set their house in order. What? Is God coming to live where there isno family prayer, where there is no care for His name or His day, where there is no rebuke of open sin? It has filled me withunspeakable sorrow when I have heard of Christian parents whose boys swear and whose girls are allowed to go where, if theyare not ruined, body and soul, it is little short
of a miracle! Oh, do see that you let not wickedness dwell in your tabernacles, you who are the people of God, and you whowish to be His, if you would have Zophar's words to Job fulfilled in your experience, "Then shall you lift up your face withoutspot; yes, you shall be steadfast, and shall not fear: because you shall forget your misery, and remember it as waters thatpass away."
III. Now let me tell you HOW SWEETLY GOD CAN MAKE A SINNER FORGET HIS MISERY. The moment a sinner believes in Jesus Christwith true heart and repentant spirit, God makes him forget his misery,
first, by giving him a full pardon. All his sin is forgiven and, therefore, he feels ready to dance for joy and he soon forgetshis misery. By faith, he gets a sight of the great, pardoning Lord and of His atoning blood. He sees the Son of God sufferingand dying for him on the Cross and he is overjoyed at the Revelation of such a wondrous redemption. He claps his hands andhe forgets his misery.
Next, he rejoices in all the blessings that God gives with His Grace. He reads that those whom Christ has pardoned "are justifiedfrom all things," from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. He learns that they are clothed with the robeof Christ's perfect righteousness and he forgets his own nakedness while he rejoices that he is so wondrously clothed. Hefeeds on the Bread of Heaven and forgets his former hunger. He drinks of the Water of Life and forgets his previous pangsof thirst. He enjoys the liberty of the sons of God and he forgets the chains he used to wear as Satan's slave. He has peacewith God and he forgets the trouble that was such a burden on his heart! He is so full of joy that there is no room for sorrowand if, perchance, the tear of repentance still lingers in his eyes, it is not sullen but sweet sorrow, and the tear glistensin the sunlight of God's Countenance like a diamond, or like some choice pearl that slumbers in its shell. Oh, Beloved, ifyou will but come to Christ and leave your sin, whatever your misery is, you shall forget it! Or, if you do remember it atall, it shall only be to remember it as the snow that has melted and vanished, or as the rain that has soaked into the earth,"as waters that pass away."
Now, dear Friends, all that I have been saying to the sinner is quite as applicable to every backsliding child of God! Itmay be that some of you who are here are Christians-that is, you have trusted in Christ to save you-but you have got intoa very sad state of heart. You have not half the spiritual life that you once had and, therefore, you do not glorify God asyou once did. It is most grievous to think how many professing Christians live at a poor dying rate-they seem to be barelyalive, or hardly that. Well, dear Brother or Sister, if you have become miserable, I am rather glad that you have! That ispart of the way towards a better state of things. When a man cannot be happy in a backsliding state, he will soon seek toget out of it! The hurt is a part of the cure. Solomon says, "The blueness of a wound cleanses away evil," and the chastisementwhich follows sin is often for the healing of the sinner.
IV. I will bring my discourse to a close with this last reflection. THIS TEXT WILL COME TRUE TO THE SICKENING, DECLINING,SOON-DEPARTING BELIEVER.
Ah, dear Friend, when you first found out that the complaint from which you are suffering really was consumption, what a chillseemed to come over everything! When the physician said to you, very tenderly but very faithfully, "I fear I cannot do muchfor you. I can perhaps give you a little relief, but I dare not deceive you, for you have an incurable dis-ease"-then, althoughyou are a child of God, you endured a great deal of misery and spent many long, sleepless nights looking forward to, you scarcelyknew what. Are you still in that state, my dear Sister? As you get worse and worse, do your spirits continue to sink? My dearBrother, as you gradually fade away, does the light seem to fade, too? Well, then, listen!
If you have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and if you are resting alone upon Him, remember that in a very short time, "youshall forget your misery, and remember it as waters that pass away." In a very, very, very short time, your suffering andsadness will all be over! I suppose the expression, "waters that pass away," signifies those rivers which are common in theEast and which we meet with so abundantly in the South of France. They are rivers with very broad channels, but I have oftenlooked in vain for a single drop of water in them. "Then," perhaps you ask, "what is the use of such rivers?" Well, at certaintimes, the mountain torrents come rushing down, bearing great rocks, stones and trees before them-and then, after they havesurged along the riverbed for several days, they altogether disappear in the sea! Such will all the sorrows of life and thesorrows even of death soon be to you, dear Friend, and to me also. They will all have passed away and all will be over withus here. The passage to the grave may be sharp, but it must be short-
"The road may be rough, but it cannot be long,
So I'll smooth it with hope, and cheer it with song."
And then, you know, dear Friends, those waters that have passed away will never come back again. Water that is spilt uponthe ground can never be gathered up again-and it is one of the charms of the heavenly world that our sorrows will never reachus there. No more poverty, no more cold, no more heat, no more sin, no more depression of spirits, no more pain, no more forsakingof friends, no more sorrow of any kind, for, "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlastingjoy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." That is a very beautifulexpression-"Sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Here, they keep clinging to us, one on one arm and the other on the other!Sorrow and sighing will come with us wherever we go and we sometimes say to them, "Now, you might go somewhere else, for wedo not want you," yet they still hold fast to us. But when we get up to the golden gate, no sooner shall the eternal lightflash on our eyes than we shall look in vain for our old companions, for they will be gone! "Sorrow and sighing shall fleeaway" and lest there should be any trace of their mournful companionship left, we are expressly told that "God shall wipeaway all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any morepain: for the former things are passed away."
Thank God, we shall recollect our sorrows in Heaven only to praise God for the Grace that sustained us under them! We shallnot remember them as a person does who has cut his finger and who still bears the scar in his flesh. We shall not recollectthem as one does who has been wounded and who carries the bullet somewhere about him. In Heaven, you shall not have a traceof earth's sorrow! You shall not have, in your glorified body, or in your perfectly sanctified soul and spirit, any traceof any spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing that shall show that you ever had a pain on earth, or even that you ever committeda sin! Some diseases, you know, leave marks on our hands or faces, so that we say to our friends, "Do you see that lump? Itwas a time of terrible pain that brought that up, and I fear it will not go away." Ah, but in Heaven there will be no traceof anything like pain or sorrow of any sort. All sorrow and suffering shall be gone and we shall forget our misery, or onlyremember it as waters that have passed away, never to come back again.
This is the sum and substance of all that I have been trying to say to you-"Be of good courage and He shall strengthen yourheart, all you that hope in the Lord." Christians do not live on the comforts of this world-their inheritance is on the otherside of Jordan. If you are like Esau and can be content with red pottage, well, you may have it, but you will lose the birthrightif you do not prize it. But if you are God's true Jacob, you will gladly give up the pottage to get the promise of the futureinheritance. Oh, what a blessed thing is the faith that enables the soul to postpone the present in order to obtain that blessedfuture! For what is the present, after all, but a fleeting show, an empty dream? But the future is eternal and incorruptible,reserved in Heaven at the right hand of God, where there are pleasures forever-more!
Now that, by God's mercy, I again find myself in your midst after a season of sore suffering, I desire to forget my miseries-andsome of them have been very sharp ones. I am so glad to be here, again, to see you all, and I pray that it may be a long timebefore I am deprived of the great privilege of speaking to you in the name of the Lord. I bless God tonight and praise Hisname in the great congregation. And I ask for every Brother and Sister that, when your time of misery comes, you may be broughtthrough it all and come out of the big end of the horn, rejoicing in the cornucopia of God's bounty and blessedness, and praisingHis name, as I do at this time with all my heart! Oh, may every one of you find this text to be true to you, "You shall forgetyour misery, and remember it as waters that pass away"! The blessing of the Lord be with you all forevermore! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOB 11.
The words we are about to read were spoken by one of Job's three friends-or what if I call them his three tormentors? Thesemen did not speak wisely and their argument was not altogether sound. But, for all that, in the instance before us, Zopharthe Naamathite spoke that which was truthful. Although he made a great mistake in turning it against Job, yet what he saidwas, in the main, correct, and we may learn from it as we read it. Remember, dear Friends, that whenever you read the wordsof these three men, you must take them with a good many grains of salt. They are not to be
accepted as if they were God's Word, because they are not. Those three men were mistaken in many points, yet very much ofwhat they said was weighty and valuable-and is still worthy of our careful consideration.
Verses 1-3. Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a manfull of talk be justified? Should your lies make men hold their peace? And when you mock, shall no man make you ashamed?Thiswas a very bitter and cruel speech. Zophar was not using the language of friendship, or even of common courtesy. First, hecharged Job with being a great talker, "a man full of talk." No doubt Job did speak well and eloquently, but to retort uponhim that he was a man abundant in words was a very cruel thing, especially when he was in such a condition of distress andsuffering. Yet, dear Friends, it is an evil thing to be men of tongue and not of hand. It is a dreadful thing to be men-or,for that matter, women-who are "full of talk" and, therefore, have no room for anything else. There are some people who seemto think that simply by their volubility they can carry all before them! In such a case we may say with Zophar, "Should notthe multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified?" But he went beyond these questions and chargedJob with downright lying because he had pleaded his own inno-cence-"Should your lies make men hold their peace?" Zophar alsoinsinuated that Job fumed and frothed, as it were, and spoke folly, which he certainly did not do, for he spoke in solemn,sober earnest if ever a man did.
4. For you have said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in Your eyes. Job did not say that. At least he did not say it inso many words. He did endeavor to prove his own innocence of the false charges that were brought against him, but he neversaid that he was clean in God's eyes.
5. 6. But oh that God would speak, and open His lips against you; and that He would show you the secrets ofwis-dom, that theyare double to that which is!Oh, that God would enable you, dear Friends, to see your sin and make you perceive that thereis a double meaning in His Law-a deep, underlying, spiritualmeaning, as well as that which is apparent on the surface, sothat a man may be guilty of transgression even when he thinks it is not! Oh, that God would unveil the secrets of His wisdomso as to make you see that He is wiser than all His works, that His hidden wisdom is double that which you have been ableto perceive in Nature, or in Providence, and infinitely greater than He has ever made it appear before men's eyes!
6. Know therefore that God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves. That was a hard thing for Zophar to say to Jobbut, still, it was true-and it is true in the case of all of us! "He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded usaccording to our iniquities." Even when a man sits down among the ashes, robbed of all his property and bereaved of all hischildren-and when he has to scrape himself with a potsherd because of his many boils-even then it may be truly said to him,"God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves."
7. Can you, by searching, find out God? Can you find out the Almighty unto perfection! What amazing questions these are! Howthey ought to convict those who glibly talk of God as if they could measure Him with a ruler and understood exactly what Heought to do and ought to be. We are constantly meeting with statements that such-and-such a thing, which is revealed in Scripture,cannot be true because it is inconsistent with the modern idea of the benevolence of God! Our only answer to the quibbleris, "Can you, by searching, find out God? Can you find out the Almighty unto perfection?"
8. 9. It is as high as Heaven; what can you do? Deeper than Hell; what can you know! The measure thereof is longer than theearth, and broader than the sea. God is incomprehensible by any finite mind-and He is Omnipotent, too.
10. IfHe cuts off, andshuts up, or gathers together, then who can hinderHim?f He sees fit to destroy men, or for a whileto make them prisoners. Or if He pleases to gather them together and multiply them like the hosts of Heaven, who can hinderHim?
11. For He knows vain men. He sees wickedness, also. Will He not then consider it? Wickedness hidden under the veil of night,God sees as clearly as in the blaze of noon. Wickedness which never comes out of the heart, but tarries there, and does notlead into overt action, God sees. "Will He not then consider it?" Of course He will!
12. For vain man-That is just what man is by nature! The best of men are vanity-emptiness. "For vain man"- 12. Would be wise.He pretends to wisdom. He wishes to be thought wise. He likes to wear a wise man's title. "Vain
man would be wise."
12. Though man is born like a wild ass's colt As untamed, as ignorant, as willful as a wild ass's colt are we by nature. Zopharseems to think that he has sufficiently rebuked Job for pretending to be wise and for complaining that God was dealing unjustlywith him. So now he begins to admonish him to repent.
13-18. If you prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him; if iniquity is in your hands, put it far away, andlet not wickedness dwell in your tabernacles. For then shall you lift up your face without spot; yes, you shall be steadfast,and shall not fear: because you shall forget your misery, and remember it as waters that pass away: and your age shall beclearer than the noonday; you shall shine forth, you shall be as the morning. And you shall be secure, because there is hope;yes, you shall dig about you, and you shall take your rest in safety. I t is a great mercy when God enables men to pursuetheir daily callings and to take their nightly rest in safety. And it is a still greater mercy when they feel secure, whetherthey live or die, because they have a good hope concerning the hereafter. It is an unspeakable blessing when sin is washedaway and a man can lift up his face to God without spot, and walk in the light of Jehovah's Countenance all the day long!
19, 20. Also you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; yes, many shall make suit unto you. But the eyes of the wickedshall fail. Carefully notice this very solemn prophecy-the eyes that have looked upon sin with pleasure-the eyes that haveflashed with lascivious desire-the eyes that have dared to look towards God with defiance or derision- "the eyes of the wickedshall fail."
20. And they shall not escape. To what place could they escape from God, when He is everywhere? During the days when the Romanempire extended all over the world, people said that the whole earth was one great prison for Caesar's enemies. And the universeitself is a vast prison for those who are condemned of God! Where shall they go to avoid arrest? Where shall they flee toget beyond God's reach? They cannot escape anywhere! There is neither hole nor corner, even in the bowels of the mountains,or in the flinty hearts of the rocks, where a sinner can hide himself from the hand of God! "They shall not escape."
20. And their hope. The last thing that ever dies, "their hope"-
20. Shall be as the giving up of the ghost Like death itself, their hope shall be. Then, if "their hope shall be as the givingup of the ghost," what hope is there for them? Let us not have our portion with them, else we shall be as hopeless as theyare!