Sins Covered (Job 14).
It would be easy to get sick of Job. I’m not surprised that many people stop reading after a few chapters because it all seems so depressing or repetitive. Maybe some people even tire of Job himself, either irritated by endless self-pity or unable to endure his suffering. Makes you wonder. If we cannot even endure reading about his suffering, what must his suffering itself have been like?
Truth is there’s so much to learn and appreciate in Job. The book is full of riches. Chapter 14 is no exception. It’s studded with gems of treasure that can teach and edify us. Now I’m not trying to write a commentary on Job – I’m not even remotely qualified to do that – so there’s a lot I’ll pass over, but in this post I’ll be focusing on what Job says in verses 14-17:
“If someone dies, will they live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come.
You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
Surely then you will count my steps
but not keep track of my sin.
My offences will be sealed up in a bag;
you will cover my sin.”
This is a beautiful little passage that expresses hope and looks for salvation, a cry of desperation from created to Creator. It’s also an unwitting piece of prophecy, speaking more truth than Job could ever have imagined. What would he have said if he heard the words from Isaiah 43:25:
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
The very thing he longed for would be promised by God. Psalm 103:12 conveys the same truth in beautifully vivid terms: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” The same promise is echoed also in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Nor was it only promised. It was delivered too. Delivered in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. That one act of sacrifice by Jesus cancelled and removed all the charges against us (Colossians 2:14). Now our sins really could be covered. Removed. Blotted out. Forgotten. As if they never were.
That’s what God gives. That is the wonderful gift of grace that He gives us. It’s something we barely begin to fathom, but even so, elsewhere in the Bible we’re told how amazing it is. Another psalm says that no one could stand if God kept a record of sins, but instead He offers forgiveness and so we have hope (Psalm 130:3-4).
Job knew none of this. He lived before any of it was written down, indeed, before anyone dared to believe it could be true. But in the midst of his suffering Job dares just that. Could it be true, that God would not keep track of our sins, that they would be removed from sight and covered over? Job believed so, and he longed for God’s salvation.
He longed for it in the midst of his darkest days. The context of verses 14-17 is grim; both before and after Job’s words are full of pain and even hopelessness. He says that people’s days are ‘full of trouble’ (v. 1) and he speaks of being overpowered by God (v.20) and of hopes being destroyed (v. 19). Does this diminish verses 14-17, should we dismiss them as an idle thought quickly brushed over and contradicted?
No. Through all Job’s misery he never quite loses that golden thread of hope. Yes he swings through darker and lighter moods, his spirits ebb and flow, but that’s only natural. None of us, even in the best of times, are fully consistent either in happiness or contentment. Having moments of weakness doesn’t disqualify your convictions, and having doubts doesn’t forfeit your faith.
I think we can all relate to that. It’s ok to have doubts, it’s ok to have weak moments. We are none of us perfect. That’s why we need God to cover our sins in the first place. But in Job we find some of the first hints of God’s grace, a seed, as it were, of the full flowering gospel to come. These precious words shine out of the rubbish-tip of Job’s misery like glittering jewels.
How wonderful is it that God freely grants us forgiveness and life? For those who are in Jesus, what the psalmist says is true of you:
“Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1)
And if you’re not in Jesus? There’s nothing stopping you. This gift is free. It’s for everyone. There’s no better time to accept it than today.