Can we truly JUSTIFY OURSELVES before GOD? Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said: "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it." Then Job answered the Lord and said: "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; yes, twice, but I will proceed no further." (Job 40:1-5)
If there was one thing that Job bemoaned during his pain and intense suffering, it was the fact that he was not able to meet God personally and defend his case. This was what Job had exclaimed in his grief earlier: "He (God) does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number. If He goes by me, I do not see Him; If He moves past, I do not perceive Him; If He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, 'What are You doing?'" (Job 9:10-12) Now, God finally gave Job the one thing he wanted most, which was the opportunity to meet Him and defend his case!
In conversing with Job, God confronts him two times (38:2-3; 40:1-2) regarding his erroneous utterances during his moments of doubt. Job had earlier accused God for bringing a lawsuit against him (10:2), and now God reprimands Job for his error. Who was Job to judge God? Did Job have any right to correct or rebuke God in the realm of providence when he knew so little about the natural creation? Since God had responded to Job’s challenge, Job must now answer God or lose his claim to innocence. So God gives Job an opportunity for rebuttal and invites him to respond in the light of the new revelation.
In fact, God’s summation was both a question and a challenge, to which Job gives the appropriate and only answer. No longer was Job planning to confront God with his evidence, and no longer was he seeking vindication. God has shown not only His power but also His goodness. Job’s intellectual dilemma was still unresolved: “Why am I suffering?” But Job did find God come to him in the midst of the painful situation to undergird Job’s faith in His love and goodness!
Job really nothing much to say now! He saw himself as insignificant, ignorant and totally unable to confront God. So, he abandons his obsession with being vindicated. It was his turn to speak, but he has nothing to say. In view of God’s wonderful declaration of His creative power and sovereignty, all Job could say was that he had nothing to say. He had spoken once, he said, and now found himself unable and unwilling to add anything further (40:3–5). Thus, Job’s reply was one of humble submission in the face of an omnipotent and omniscient God. Overwhelmed by the wide-ranging knowledge of God, he determined to say nothing on this subject any more.
Thus, when the righteous Job - who was described as "blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil" (1:1) - could not justify himself before God, where do we stand a chance in this regard? In another episode, the great prophet Isaiah who, when confronted with the holiness of God, saw himself as totally sinful and unable to stand before God. This is what Isaiah exclaimed: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5).
Both Job and Isaiah had to face their own self-righteousness, when they came face-to-face with the righteous and holy God. While Job realized the astounding wisdom and sovereignty of God, Isaiah saw the holiness and glory of God. Both were stripped of their self-righteousness, and could only admit their own unworthiness before God. In the light of these episodes, the question to ask ourselves is this: can we truly justify ourselves before God? The answer is an emphatic “NO”. When we truly understand the greatness of God, it should lead us to humility by refusing to trust ourselves to fulfilling our own needs. Rather, we should seek God alone, who has all the answers we are looking for!