God in the Dock?

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said: “Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!” –Job 38:8-11

soupSomeday, dear brothers and sisters, you and I will have to face God in judgment. It could be today.

The all-important question at that moment will be: Am I okay with God? Or am I not okay? Am I just, or am I unjust?

There will be no tricking the judge at that moment. There will be no subterfuges available to us, no fudging things. All the truth will be out in the open.

When everything is said and done, we will either go to God justified, and then we can look forward to getting to heaven after purification. Or we will go to God unjust, and then…Not good.

The most important thing, then, is to be just before God. Being able to stand before Him–upright, full of divine love—being able to say to Him truthfully, ‘Lord, behold your friend.’—This is the most important thing.

The problem is: How can we hope to be just in God’s sight? We are weak and ignorant sinners, whom God has made out of nothing.


We read a short passage from the speech which the Lord gives at the end of the book of Job in the Old Testament. The full speech goes on for four chapters.

Elihu speaking to Job
Elihu speaking to Job
Why was God giving this speech to Job? It all began when the Lord agreed to take away Job’s earthly blessings in order to test his faith.

Job was good and upright. He was wealthy. Then the Lord took away all his wealth and his family.

Job’s friends came to visit him—supposedly to commiserate with him. But they insisted that God must be punishing Job for some secret sin he had committed. Job, however, had not committed any sins, so he protested that he was the victim of injustice.

Finally Job challenged God to a trial. Job wanted to prove his innocence.

At this moment, a young man who had been silent all along finally spoke up: ‘Job, how can you presume to stand before God in trial? Even if you have nothing burdening your conscience, isn’t God God after all? Doesn’t He have every right to give, and to take away—to do as He pleases? What does He owe you? What does God owe anyone?”

Then God spoke His speech of four chapters. Perhaps we could summarize God’s speech like this: God asked Job, “Son, what you do know about being God? If you think you know something about it and can contest me, think again.”

fly fishing luresJob did think again. He repented of his challenge. He admitted to the Lord, “I have dealt with great things, too wonderful for me.”

God then restored all Job’s wealth two-fold. And the Lord punished the self-righteous friends who had said that Job’s ordeal was a punishment.

The exchange between Job and the Lord reveals the mystery of our utter dependence on God. We are even completely dependent on God for our justice before Him.

Let’s think about this. What do we have to show for ourselves before God? Can you or I say to Him: “Look, Lord—I know how to make a lot of good soups”? Does something like that make me righteous enough to go to heaven? (Not that I know how to make any soups—that was just a hypothetical.)

“Look, Lord, I know how to tie lots of cool fly-fishing lures!” No. No claim on God with that one.

We could try to challenge God like Job. We could say, “Lord, let’s put our justice to the test! We will prove that we are righteous, no matter what you think.”

He would politely laugh us to scorn. “What do you know about getting to heaven, little man? You can’t be more righteous than I think you are, because if I don’t think something, then it doesn’t exist.”

Where, then, is our justice and righteousness? Do we have any?

Our justice comes to us from God as a gift. We are okay with God because God makes us okay with Him. We cannot earn God’s friendship; we cannot earn heaven. It is His magnificent gift.

God became a man. He offered the infinitely just sacrifice of His human life on the cross. He justified us by the shedding of His own blood.

It is for us to believe in this, to believe in Christ. It is for us to believe that He is just enough for the whole human race. He freely shares His perfect justice with us. This is His sovereign will, and we have no claims to make for or against it. We cannot dispute with the Lord.

It is His good pleasure to make us worthy of heaven, in spite of our own utter unworthiness. Thanks be to God. Praised be Jesus Christ.

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