The Book of Job - Lesson 26

Job’s Negative Confession (Job 31)

This is the last major statement that Job makes, other than his responses to God that come later. Job is taking a series of oaths that he has not committed any of the sins he mentions. The Bible is distinctive in declaring that all people are created equally, in the image of God. In ancient cultures, some people intrinsically have more value than others because of heritage, wealth, gender, race, etc. God looks on everyone impartially.  

Duane Garrett
The Book of Job
Lesson 26
Watching Now
Job’s Negative Confession (Job 31)

I. Definition of a Negative Confession

II. The List of Sins that Job Claims He Did Not Commit

A. Lust

B. Cheating

C. Adultery

D. Unjust employer

E. Ignoring the poor

F. Greed

G. Superstition or idolatry

H. Vindictive and cunning

III. Conclusion of Job's Confession

Class Resources
  • When you see what you would describe as evil and injustice in the world, how does that affect your view of God? When someone is suffering, do you assume that it’s because they are getting what they deserve? This lecture gives you an overview of book of Job by describing his situation, how he interacts with his friends and God, and what we can learn about how God is managing the world.

  • Because there is nothing specific in the text that tells you when the book of Job was written, the sections in Job that allude to other passages of scripture give you some helpful clues. The structure of the book of Job focuses your attention on the main subject of the book which is God’s wisdom.

  • Other cultures in the ancient near east created literature with themes that are similar to the book of Job. The book of Job is unique because of his character and the answer that the book provides for the situation he is in.

  • Job is one of the wisdom books of the Old Testament. It covers more “advanced” topics than Proverbs and uses a variety of literary genres and allusions to other Biblical passages to explain and illustrate profound truths about God’s nature and his involvement in the world.

  • There is limited information in the book of Job about its geographical and historical background. However, it can be helpful to understand general information about the geography and history of the area to give you a context for reading and studying the book of Job. The author of the book of Job was a Hebrew poet who had an extensive vocabulary. Being uncertain about history and geography is good because the message is timeless.

  • Job contains literary elements that are similar to what you find in other Biblical books that are Apocalyptic. These elements include depictions of events in heaven and on earth, the emphasis on specific numbers and persevering in your faith in God, the references to mythological animals and God’s supernatural control of all events. 

  • Satan appears before God with an accusation against Job. Even though Job is described as, “upright and blameless,” Satan accuses Job of serving God only because Job is prosperous. God allows Satan to take away Job’s possessions, children and health. The remainder of the book is the dialogue of Job and his friends attempting to determine why this is happening.

  • Job curses the day he was born. When you carefully examine what he is saying, you realize that it is more intense than just saying that he wished he had never lived.

  • Eliphaz begins tactfully in his remarks to Job. He did not intend to do harm. However, he thinks God is causing Job to suffer because of a sin Job committed. He speaks accurately of the justice of God, but in Job’s case he misapplies it. He also gives a message he received from the, “night spirit.”

  • Eliphaz considers the message of the, “night spirit” a revelation from God. However, at it’s core, this message is inconsistent with God’s attitude toward Job, and creation in general.

  • Job’s theological worldview has fallen apart because he knows he doesn’t deserve to suffer. Eliphaz calls Job to repent. Job responds questioning why he is suffering, because according to his worldview, he hasn’t done anything to deserve it.   

  • Bildad is direct is his rebuke and admonition of Job. He uses metaphors to get his point across.

  • When Job’s friends describe God as all powerful in an attempt to comfort Job, he becomes terrified because he sees God as causing his suffering and there is nothing that can stop it.

  • Zophar assumes that Job is being punished because he sinned and accuses him of mocking God. Job's three friends move from tactful suggestions to open hostility. As Job is searching for answers, he becomes disappointed in his friends.

  • Job agrees with his friends that God is causing his suffering, but disagrees with them about why it’s happening. Job believes that God will eventually vindicate him.

  • Eliphaz appeals to the night spirit and the tradition of the elders to tell Job that he is a babbling and blaspheming fool.

  • Job begins by criticizing what his friends are saying to him and then professes his faith in God. Bildad responds harshly to Job.

  • Even though Job’s friends have criticized him, he has grown in his faith in God. Job is worn out and begs for compassion. When he gets nothing but contempt and hostility instead, he confesses his faith and hope in God. The messianic theology of Job is different from any other book of the Bible.  

  • Zophar uses metaphors that are found in other passages of scripture as well as Job’s own words to accuse Job of being wicked. However, Zophar made a serious error, which we need to avoid in our lives.

  • Job continues to wrestle with the presence of evil in the world and the apparent injustice of God. 

  • Eliphaz attacks Job as being wicked by twisting the meaning of what Job has said previously. The irony is that Job will be reconciled to God and will pray for Eliphaz.

  • Job wants to lay out his case before God by claiming his innocence. Job says that God is hidden and does as he chooses, but that God neither judges the guilty nor helps the righteous. Bildad responds by contrasting God’s holiness and human lowliness.

  • Job sarcastically thanks the friends for their wise words, which he doesn’t think were wise at all.

  • This is a poem about wisdom that divides the content of the book and points to a deep truth. It is inserted by the author of the book and is not attributed to Job or the friends.

  • The crisis that Job is experiencing is not just the material losses and physical suffering, but also his crisis of faith. He thought he understood what his relationship with God is all about but he feels that God has abandoned him for no apparent reason. Job laments the pain he feels from being disgraced and humiliated.

  • This is the last major statement that Job makes, other than his responses to God that come later. Job is taking a series of oaths that he has not committed any of the sins he mentions. The Bible is distinctive in declaring that all people are created equally, in the image of God. In ancient cultures, some people intrinsically have more value than others because of heritage, wealth, gender, race, etc. God looks on everyone impartially.  

  • Elihu is not mentioned either before or after his speech. He claims to be perfect in knowledge. Elihu thinks that the other three did not convince Job because they did not give a satisfactory answer, but Elihu ends up repeating what they have already said. He thinks that the doctrine of retribution is the answer to Job’s situation. Elihu is a warning to us that we don’t have all the answers.

  • The questions of the book of Job are, “How does God address the problem of evil and why do we serve God? God created a world that is stable and not chaotic. Where there was chaos, God brought in light, shape and beauty. Chaotic forces are necessary for life and God controls them.

  • People in ancient Mesopotamia lived in constant fear of the chaos, danger, ferocity of nature and they valued subduing, controlling and pushing back nature. Wilderness was something to be tamed and pushed back by civilization. In the Gilgamesh epic poem, Enkidu is transformed into a civilized man who protects the domestic animals from the wild animals. In Egypt, there were gods of the Black Land and gods of the Red Land. God sees everything in the world as entirely under his control.

  • God’s care for the animals and how this relates to the problem of Job. All of the things that we see as chaos, and out of control depend on God and thrive because he provides for them and things that he manages and glories in. God describes nature as good, unlike the night spirit that describes it with contempt and loathing. God knows how to manage the chaotic elements of creation.

  • The societies of the Ancient Near East had a high concept of justice. It was the duty of the rulers to uphold justice and protect the powerless. If you are a man who leads, you need to make sure that evil is held in check. Listen to people who come to you with a grievance. God is asking Job if he comprehends what it means to bring justice to the world. It involves both power and wisdom.

  • Behemoth is the plural form of a Hebrew word that refers to animals in general also specifically to wild animals. In Job, it’s also used as a metaphor representing the composite forces of the powers of the earth that are against God.

  • Behemoth is a dangerous power that God must reckon with. Some people think this is an allusion to animals that God created in Genesis 1:24. “Lady Wisdom” is the wisdom that God built into creation. Behemoth is dangerous and a force to be reckoned with, not the embodiment of good behavior. One aspect of principalities and powers is forces outside of the world we can see. In Revelation, God protects people from the fury and wrath of the beast, which is an oppressive power that seeks to take the place of God.  

  • Job 41 describes Leviathan. Leviathan is not a natural animal like a crocodile. Sometimes Leviathan refers to a large sea creature, and sometimes death, chaos and the embodiment of evil. Satan is present at the first of the book but he is never mentioned again. In order for God to deal with evil in the world, he must defeat Leviathan.

  • Leviathan is a ferocious creature that no human can subdue. God is saying that he is willing to oppose Leviathan and  is not frightened of Leviathan or intimidated by his boasting. God is the one who will defeat this enemy who seems unbeatable to humans. God tells Job that he will deal with Leviathan but God doesn’t tell him how he will do it. Job embraced God’s answer even though Job didn’t know how God would deal with evil.

  • Job announces that he has changed his outlook on evil, God’s governance of the world and his own suffering. Job knew that God is all-powerful. Now Job knows something more about how God uses his power. Should God be merciful to people who will still be evil? Eschatological is an event that can only happen by a work of God. Emergence of divine power within the historical context. Job admits that he didn’t understand the complexity that is involved in God conquering evil. God forgives Job’s three friends because Job interceded for them. God is showing his approval with job by publicly restoring him.

  • Job’s suffering brought him to a new understanding of who God is and what God is doing in the world. Job’s hope, and our hope, is in a heavenly redeemer that rose from the dead. Legalism comes about often when people hold to essential teachings but they don’t know God. They substitute the rules for relationship.

  • Job mentions composite animals similar to those described in other apocalyptic passages. Job had faith that God would do a work of salvation but didn’t understand everything that Jesus would do. There is a hidden plan of God to redeem people and conquer evil that is a major theme in apocryphal books and also in Job.

  • Job tells us about the heavenly mediator. Prior to his afflictions, Job’s life was almost god-like because he was relatively free of suffering. Job through his affliction, faces the problem of evil and the enormity of suffering in the human race. Even though some people commit evil and violent acts, Job describes them in pitiful terms.

  • Should virtue, or piety, be disinterested? If it’s not done for it’s own sake, is it real? Job’s love for God is not disinterested, but it is real.

If God is good and powerful, why do you see suffering in the world? Why do you serve God even when you experience suffering? How do you respond to others when they ask these questions? How have you answered them for yourself? These are such important questions that the entire book of Job is devoted discussing only these issues in the context of the perspective of the experiences of one person. 

The theme of the book of Job is timeless and singular. There are clues about its geographical and historical setting but nothing in the book itself that identifies the place or time of its writing. However, the setting is irrelevant because the questions that are addressed in the Book of Job are ones that people have asked in all cultures, throughout time. It would be distracting and even limiting to frame the dialogue in a specific time or culture. There are enough clues in the text to give you a general idea of the culture and time it was written in to help you understand the logic and metaphors used by the main characters in their dialogue. 

The complete book of Job is composed of the dialogue of Job, his friends and God regarding the issues of God's goodness, his power, and evil in the world. No historical events. No other personal, corporate or theological issues. Since these questions are central to your understanding of God's character and how he works in the world around us throughout history, the book of Job compels you to consider this question deeply and exhaustively. The point is that by the end of the book, you can understand and articulate who God is and how he works in your life and in the world. 

The value of this class is that Dr. Garrett helps you understand what the text means, the historical and theological implications, and how you apply it to your life. Dr. Garrett's knowledge of the Bible, understanding of the Hebrew language and background in Ancient Near Eastern history and culture inform his insights into the message of the book and what it means to you. He is skilled at explaining technical linguistic and theological issues in a way that helps you comprehend them and see how they apply to your life. Whether you are just beginning in your study of the Bible or you have had training at an advanced academic level, studying the Book of Job with Dr. Garrett has the potential change the way you understand God and also how you live each day. 

Recommended Books

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

This Student's Guide is for the class on The Book of Job in BiblicalTraining.org. It contains the outlines to the lectures, a summary of each point, and reflection...

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

Job closes his last statement before everyone, closes out the book in chapters 29 to 31. We have already looked at 29 and 30. We are now going to look at chapter 31, the very last major statement that Job makes until he makes some responses to God.

I. Definition of a Negative Confession

Chapter 31 can be called a negative confession. Negative confession is when you confess things that you did not do, sins you did not commit. The idea of a negative confession comes out of the study of ancient Egyptian literature, where as a type of text you would find would be this negative confession where someone is going to the Egyptian underworld and they have a negative confession of all the sins they did not commit, and hope that the gods will acquit them. That has kind of stuck as a term for a literary genre. Today some people don’t use the term, but I still find it to be useful and helpful because that is what we have in this chapter. Job is laying out a list of all these sins and claiming he did not commit any of them.

Another thing about this text is, it makes frequent use of the oath formula. That is to say, “If I have done this (whatever the sin is), then may that happen to me (some kind of punishment, some kind of terrible thing).” It becomes a very emphatic way of saying, “I have not done any of these things.” He is in effect
taking a series of oaths that he has not committed any of the sins that he mentions in this list.

II. The List of Sins that Job Claims He Did Not Commit

A. Lust

We begin in verse 1 with a simple statement: “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. For what is our lot from God above, our heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not ruin for the wicked, disaster for those who do wrong? Does he not see my ways and count my every step?”

He begins with two things. First he names one specific sin that he says he has not committed, that is lust. He declares that he has made a firm commitment never to look at young women with lust. Perhaps the reason he starts here is because this is a sin that is so easy for men to commit. Notice he does not here speak of committing adultery or promiscuity or something like that. He simply speaks of looking on someone with lust. Of course, Jesus has declared that to look upon a person with lust in your heart is to commit adultery already. But the point here is, here is a sin that could remain hidden, a sin that would remain only in his heart; and yet he has committed himself not to commit this sin. Furthermore, he says, “God is there as judge” verses 2 and 4. God sees every step, God knows, God is the One who punishes the wicked. So even in these internal matters such as lust, Job has committed himself to refrain from it.

B. Cheating

Then he says, verses 5 and 6: “If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit – let God weigh me in honest scales; he will know that I am blameless.” Continuing on: “If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted.”

He begins with a couple of things that are very straightforward. Basically, fraud where he is in business dealings with other people and somehow he defrauds them. In the ancient world this could be having an animal with some kind of defect that you conceal somehow, or you don’t tell someone about before they make the agreement, and so you give them an animal which is in some way unhealthy. Or it could be scales where you are engaged in trading with someone and you have unbalanced scales, wrongly balanced scales, so that you say, “I’m giving you a talent of silver” when in fact you are only giving him three-quarters of a talent of silver. There are various ways you could defraud people in the ancient world. Job says he has not done any of this and he brings this sin into his metaphor in verse 6 where he says, “God will weigh me in honest scales.” God will know exactly how I have behaved and when he does, he will see that I have been blameless.

His words are much more generic in verses 7 and 8 where he simply speaks of “turning from the path,” turning to do something that is wrong. Of course, that could be anything, but that is the “if” statement, verse 7: “If my steps have turned from the path.” The “then” statement, verse 8: “Then may others eat what I have sown and may my crops be uprooted.” This suggests that turning aside from the path is some kind of economic sin where somehow he has cheated people, he has defrauded people, maybe used unjust means to confiscate someone else’s land, whatever it is, short-changed someone in selling them grain; some kind of economic sin. He says, “If I have committed such a sin, then let others eat what I have sown.” Again, he is emphatically denying that he has committed any act of fraud, any act of economic deceit; that he has been an honest man and in his business dealings has behaved with full integrity.

C. Adultery

He then says in verse 9: “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or if I have looked at my neighbor’s door, then may my wife grind another man’s grain and may other men sleep with her, for that would have been wicked, a sin to be judged. It is a fire that burns to destruction. It would have uprooted my harvest.”

Here he is very clear about the sin he is talking about. He is talking about adultery or some other kind of promiscuous act and he declares he has not done it. This is of course different from verse 1. In verse 1 he is speaking of lust within his heart. Here he is speaking of actual physical acts of adultery, promiscuity, etc. He declares he absolutely has not done any of these. Lurking at his neighbor’s door is in context looking for the time when the man will be gone, when he can go in and commit adultery with the wife.

The “then clause” in verse 10 may strike us as a little strange . “May my wife grind another man’s grain and may other men sleep with her.” We should understand, these are not meant to be kind of literally carried out. This is a way of saying, “I absolutely have not done these things.” He is not really putting his wife up on the auction block or something like that. He is simply saying, “I will absolutely swear I have not done any of these kinds of sins. I did not commit adultery.” So he declares that he has not committed adultery and he is clear that it is evil. Verse 11: “That would be wicked. It is a fire that burns to destruction.” This is very much in keeping with what we see in the book of Proverbs where adultery and lust is a fire that gets out of control and consumes everything around it. So he knows it is wrong and he says he has not done it.

D. Unjust employer

Verse 13: “If I have denied justice to any of my servants, whether male or female, when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account? Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?”

Here he is talking about subordinates, obviously. In his situation his subordinates would be servants or slaves. He declares that he has been just in his dealing with them. If they had a grievance, if he had somehow cheated them or had given them an unfair amount of labor, or had not given them something that he had promised them – whatever it was – when they had a grievance, he would listen and fix it, whatever the problem was. Notice, he does not have any sense that he is of higher value, that he is kind of a higher level of human being. First of all, he gives justice to servants, who as a class are far below him; and he gives justice to both male and female servants. He is not in any way guilty of snobbery, of arrogance, of thinking that he is just above everyone else. It doesn’t matter their class, it doesn’t matter if they are slave or free, it doesn’t matter if they are male or female; he will hear them out and if they have a legitimate grievance, he will fix it and make it right. Notice, he says this is because God regards everyone as human. Everyone in God’s eyes is on the same footing. The same Creator made us all, we were formed in the womb by the hand of God.

The Bible is distinctive in this area. We’ll just take a little pause here to take note of how distinctive the Bible is. The Bible declares that man, male and female, is made in the image of God. It is difficult for people to realize how distinctive that is in the ancient world. Because in the ancient world people had no qualms about saying that some people are just better than others, that some people are even more human than others, some people are intrinsically more important than others. In fact, we have ancient texts in which the king in a Mesopotamian text would be described as “the image of God” but only the king. The king would be placed on a level above the rest of humanity; and all of humanity then would be stratified, depending upon how high you rank in society. It would not just be a matter of who has more power, or who has more authority or wealth or something like that. It would be that the people on top are thought to be by nature superior beings; and the others are by nature inferior beings, somehow less human, less worthy of respect.

What the text is really saying here, and what affirms Genesis 1 that man is created male and female, in the image of God, is that God truly looks upon all of us without any partiality. God does not regard any person as deserving of special treatment or special judgment. So when Job says what he does about how he treats his servants, male and female, he is affirming a deep truth within the Bible, but something that elsewhere in the ancient near east would have been alien and strange.

Question: Have you ever read anything about verse 15 being used in discussions of slavery, about the inherent evil of slavery? There are verses that equate master and servant in the New Testament, but I have never seen this one before.

Dr. Garrett: I have not seen such a discussion. It would be a possible point to make, but I have never seen that before.

E. Ignoring the poor

We continue on. Verse 16: “If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless – but from my youth have reared them as a father would, and from my birth guided the widow – if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing or the needy without garments, and their hearts did not bless me for warming them with the fleece from my sheep, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless , knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.”

What do we have here in this passage? He is saying he has been charitable and he has been equitable in how he treats everybody. He did not abuse the poor; he did not in any way take advantage of them. In fact, he did all he could to help them. Let’s see what he says in a little more detail. He says first of all he was charitable with the widow and the orphan, he gave them bread. He gave them food when they needed it. Just to be charitable, to be giving, to be compassionate is of the essence of Old Testament righteousness, as we have already seen; and that is what he did. Similarly in verse 19, he gave them clothing and they blessed him. He gave them wool from his sheep. And those who were without parents or the fatherless, he in effect adopted them, he watched out for them.

Notice what he says, though, in verse 21: “If I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder.” What does he mean here? Raising his hand probably is something like taking an oath and it would be a way of abusing people without power and without influence. You could have a case of say, a man who is fairly poor but has a piece of land, and you want that land. You have influence in the court and you use your influence in the court to kind of rig the system so that by legal means, by a legal process, you take his land. You might see someone who is, as he describes here, an orphan, someone who is fatherless. You want to take him as a slave and you bring some charge against him, you raise your hand in court and swear that he committed some crime. The court would say, “Okay, for committing that crime, you are now a slave to this person.”

One of the biggest problems that is universal in the ancient near east and gets a lot of attention in the Old Testament is how the legal system, the court system, was used to abuse the rights of the poor and used to take their property, to take their person into slavery, to essentially deprive them of what little they have. He declares he has not done this and notice the “then clause” in verse 22: “Then let my arm fall from my shoulder.” If I raise my hand in oath and I swear falsely against someone to defraud him, then he says, “may God just strike my arm off.” Again, this is just a way of saying, “I absolutely have not done this.”

F. Greed

Verse24: “If I have put my trust in gold or said to gold, ‘You are my security,’ if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands have gained,” verses 24 and 25. “Put his trust in gold.” This is the very thing that Eliphaz effectively accused him of. If you will remember, he said, “Take your gold and throw it into the dust. If you will do that, then you will have God as your treasure.” Of course, what Eliphaz said was essentially correct. Jesus Himself says, “Don’t lay up for yourself treasure on earth, but only treasure in heaven.” But Job has not done that. Contrary to Eliphaz’s accusation, he did not treat his wealth, his treasure as his security. He understood that it was not important. He understood that the real source of his security was in God.

So basically again, to put it in New Testament terms, to put it in the terms of Jesus, he laid up treasure for himself in heaven and not on earth; notwithstanding the fact that he was a wealthy man.

G. Superstition or Idolatry

Verse 26: “If I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would be unfaithful to God on high.”

What he is denying here basically is superstition. It is superstition related to what we would call astral religion. Astral religion is any religious concept that is related to the stars and the sun and the moon. In the ancient world many people regarded the sun and the moon as deities and they also, of course, regarded the constellations as some kind of divine figures. And they would be, of course, very superstitious about signs in the sky such as we still have today in astrology. They would have various ways of appeasing these deities or paying homage to these deities. In this case, it seems to be something like raising his hand and kissing it before the sun or the moon or whatever. He is basically saying, “I am not such a man. I am not a man who is superstitious. I am not a man who has turned aside into all these pagan ideas. I worship the One God.” Notice he says he was not unfaithful to God on High.

H. Vindictive and cunning

Then verse 29: “If I have rejoiced over my enemy’s misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him – If I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against their life – if those of my household have never said, ‘Who has not been filled with Job’s meat?’ – but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler – if I have concealed my sin as people do, by hiding my guilt in my heart because I feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent or would not go outside” He kind of breaks off there.

He just laid the kind of miscellaneous list out of things he did not do. First of all, he speaks again of a sin of the mind, not an overt sin, but simply rejoicing over an enemy’s misfortune. We call that in the German [speaks German], when someone you don’t like has something terrible happen and you’re happy about it. You are gleeful. It is a form of spitefulness. It is a form of hatred and bitterness. Job denies he has done that.

He did not curse people. This was of course very common in the ancient world. If there was somebody you did not like, you would find a way to curse them. You might write their name on a bowl or something and then smash the bowl. You might go to some sorcerer and have the sorcerer do some ritual to bring a curse upon this person. But Job says he has never cursed anyone.

He says, again from verse 31, that he has been compassionate to those who are hungry, to those who needed a place to sleep. And he says he did not do it out of fear of the crowd. He did not do it because he was afraid people would say bad things about him. He did it out of the fear of God.

Here he is just kind of giving again a miscellaneous sort of list of different things he did not do. But then, verse 35: “Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense -- let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. I would give him an account of my every step; I would present it to him as a ruler.”

Here he is emphatically saying he has not sinned, that if he could stand before God, he would declare to God that he has not committed any of these sins. If he had an accuser who would make an accusation, he would make it public, he would not hide it because he knows he would be exonerated. He knows when the facts came out, that he would never be found guilty.

This is an interesting place because although he doesn’t know it, he is referring back to Satan, who tried to make accusations against him, but had nothing to accuse him of.

Finally then, verse 38: “If my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, then let briers come up instead of wheat and stinkweed instead of barley.” The words of Job are ended.

III. Conclusion of Job’s Confession

Of course, Job is a wealthy man. He had a huge amount of land; and as is the case today, often when people have a great amount of land, they don’t farm it all out. They let it out to tenants and the tenants are required to give the owner a certain amount of the produce and they keep the rest. So the produce would come to Job in effect as rent and the farmers, who actually worked the land, would have all the rest.

Job is declaring that he has not abused that system, that he did not demand more than he should have demanded, or simply out of his power take everything. He was a fair landlord, to put it real simply. He is not vindictive, he is not cunning. He has given a straight negative confession. He has said, I have not done any of these things.

What does this mean? First of all, one more time: We need to understand, everything Job is saying is true. Not only does Satan not have anything to accuse
Job of; but at the end of the book, when God confronts Job and God hits Job with his huge speech; and God will even come across as kind of harsh towards Job, as we will see, God never accuses Job of any of these things. God never says, “You said you didn’t do this, but you really did.” We need to understand, Job’s negative confession is entirely correct. He is not boasting. He is not self-deceived.

Secondly, this is important for the reader because it is one final reminder to us that the sin of Job is not the issue. Again, I will say to you: There are many
commentaries, there are many speakers I have heard speak of Job and they simply can’t help themselves. They come toward the end of Job and they say,
“Job, you did something wrong,” or “You had this tendency toward this sin and God just had to curb you in by giving you a whipping,” something like that. That is not the point of the book. That is contrary to everything the book is saying.

This huge negative confession is a big reminder to the reader, Job is a righteous man. Finally, this comes as kind of a last will and testament of Job, who thinks he is about to die. The negative confession from the Egyptian context is in the context of a person’s burial and going before the gods and claiming that he has been a good person, etc. The reason you would make such a negative confession is that you believe you are about to die and face judgment. Even people who don’t believe they are just about to die will at the end of their life come before people and say, “Does anyone have any accusation against me.” Samuel, for example, when he finished his ministry, he wasn’t about to die, but he was ending his ministry, and he stood before the people and said, “Does anybody have a charge to bring against me? Have I been unjust to anyone?” It is a way of self vindication at the end of life.

As far as Job can tell, this is the end of the story. He does not expect God to suddenly show up and answer him. He thinks he is about to die. He thinks this is for us, the end of the book. But of course, it is not. So we will come back next time and look at the speeches of Elihu.