Job 31 Meaning 24-28 Idolatry
So, as we begin – in verses 24-28, Job entertains the theoretical possibility that he has participated in idolatry. But it’s all theoretical, because Job is going to communicate that he hasn’t done it.
And he sets this up with a very long “if” statement – spanning verses 24-27. And then he has his “then” statement in verse 28.
And even at that, he breaks-up his “if” statement into two sub-sections – in verses 24-25 he speaks of worshipping money… and then in verses 26-27 he speaks of worshipping the sun and the moon.
So, let’s witness Job entertain the idea that perhaps he had worshipped his money in times past.
24 If I have [made gold my hope/put my confidence in gold],
or have said to [the fine/pure] gold, Thou art my [confidence/trust/security];
25 If I rejoiced because [my wealth was great/of the extent of my wealth],
and because mine hand had [gotten/secured so/gained so] much [wealth…];
So, Job was a man of great means. We learned that back in the first few chapters of this book. He had numerous cattle and sheep and donkeys and servants. He was the greatest of the men of the east in terms of material wealth.
Added to that wealth – though – was his righteousness before the Lord. And it’s that righteousness that didn’t allow that wealth to become an idol to him.
I think that many people – if they were to have the wealth of a man like Job – would let it go to their heads, as we say. But beyond that, I think that these same people would let it go to their hearts.
There’s a way that money can become our source of confidence the rich man’s wealth can become in his mind a strong city or a high wall. In his mind, his wealth can protect him. And yet, that’s all just “in his mind.” It’s illusionary.
And Job says that it’s idolatry.
And that might not be apparent immediately as you first read through this chapter – that Job is speaking of worshipping wealth here.
But that’s where it’s helpful to try to break-down these sections in this chapter.
Consider that verses 24-25 have no “then” statement. They have an “if” – but no “then.”
Well, where’s the “then?” It’s at the other side of verses 26-27. And that means that these two shorter “if” statements are brought together by their common “then” statement at the end of this smaller section.
So, let’s look at the second area in which Job could have been idolatrous – and where numerous fellow-humans have been idolatrous and worshipful – and that’s in regard to the celestial bodies.
26 If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon [walking in brightness/going in splendor/advancing as a precious thing];
27 And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand [my hand threw them a kiss from my mouth…]: So, again, Job is holding out these things as a possibility.
Humanity has a way of taking what God created and has given to us as gifts – and turning them into objects of worship! We are so perverse that we see the good gifts – and instead of worshipping the giver of those gifts – we worship the gifts themselves.
And we already heard Job speak of one of those gifts – money – wealth – material provisions. And as God extends his gracious hand and gives these things to us, we can snatch them away and clutch them and start thinking as if the gifts themselves have some deity to them.
The same holds true of celestial bodies – the sun and moon and even the stars. Ancient civilizations worshipped the sun and moon. Egypt did. The Mayan civilization did. Numerous cultures at various times in the history of the earth have worshipped these good gifts that God has given us.
But God gave us these heavenly bodies for times and seasons and to declare his glory!
But how does mankind use them? As objects of worship. It’s sick. But it’s not unusual. It’s pretty common – and it was even more common in Job’s day than it is in ours.
But even though it’s common to worship money and the heavenly bodies – God’s good gifts to us – Job says that the following is the reality about engaging in such activities.
28 This also [were/would be] an iniquity [to be punished by the judge/calling for judgement/to be judged]: for I [should/would] have [denied/been false to] the God that is above. Worshipping anything besides the true God calls for judgement. Why? Because it involves a denial of the true God.
And Job says that he hasn’t done that. He has not committed idolatry. And this is one more reason that he feels like he shouldn’t be receiving punishment from God in the form that he’s been experiencing.
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