How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.Job 13:23 (KJV)
Know – Job is the figure we all think about when in turmoil. We might liken his suffering to our own and reason that if we maintain our faith, we will surely overcome. However the text reveals a difference between Job and us. Job was righteous and without sin.
This is why Job pleads with God and asks that his sin be made known so that He might understand and correct his ways. But Job never sinned to bring on this calamity. Sure he may have sinned at some point in time, but this particular calamity is not the result of it. Job’s sorrow and destruction is the result of Satan and God’s challenge.
Job’s life is nearly destroyed, and he appears to be punished for something. So his good Christian friends come to comfort him. I know they were not technically Christian, but they symbolize mainstream Christianity perfectly. They sit with him for days in ash and tear their own clothes. And finally they begin to speak.
They talk about how great God is. How His ways are perfect. Surely, they tell Job, there is some reason why you are being punished. Just repent and admit you are wrong and that God is just. The words they use are beautiful. I find myself wrapped in them thinking the same things. His good Christian friend, Zophar, explains:
14 If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.Job 11:14-15
15 For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:
And this seems logical. No one would ever reap destruction if they have not sowed it first. This is your life, Job, because you did something wrong. Just repent. Turn to God and admit that you did something wrong. Repent and it will all be better. It is the single most significant claim in Christianity today. Repent and say the sinner’s prayer and you will be transformed.
But remember, Job did not do anything wrong. And he knows it. God tells Satan, not once, but twice!
And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?Job 1:8
And in a later discussion with Satan, God says it again!
And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.Job 2:3
You see, Job did not need to repent. He did not do anything wrong to cause this calamity. But his good Christian friends were certain of it. And herein lies the problem. They expected Job to offer a blanket confession of sins. Job, you must have done something wrong, and even though we don’t know what, repent!
But this is not what God wants. This is not true repentance. To truly repent means that you must recognize your sin. You need to know what the sin was in order to stop doing it, otherwise repentance is of no use. If you do not know what sin you committed it is likely you will continue doing it. This is why God gave the law (Galatians 3:19). Now we have the ability to know our sins. But today, Christianity has thrown the law by the wayside. And today, Christians repent with blanket confessions of unknown sin. Sin has become a cloud of mystical wrong-doings. We do not measure our lives according to the law, so the measuring stick is completely abstract and obscure – and so is our sin and repentance from it.
In the end, Job’s good Christian friends win out. They finally broke down Job and Job repents in 42:6.
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.Job 42:6
And what happens immediately afterwards? God rebukes Job’s friends. His wrath is kindled against them. They were wrong. Job was righteous all along.
And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.Job 42:7
Make me to know my transgression and my sin. This is the key. For true repentance to work, you need to know your sin. The only way to know your sin is to read the Torah, the law. And when you know your sin, repentance takes on a deeper meaning. Repentance is impossible without keeping Torah.