Job 22:20
God is exalted; he is "in the height of heaven." He is unseen by man, and therefore often forgotten. He is above, beyond; and the frail judgment perverts this great truth into -

I. A SUPPOSITION OF THE DIVINE IGNORANCE OF HUMAN AFFAIRS. "How doth God know?" "Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not." Thus ignorance or folly perverts the right and the good. Either the judgment or the moral character is at fault. Men sin in forgetfulness that the Divine eye is upon them. "Thou God seest me" is a hedge of fire to prevent from evil-doing. How great a departure from right reason is the foolish supposition that, because God is not seen, therefore he seeth not! So the Divine is measured by the human. Only godlessness - the indifference of the soul to God - can lead men to such perversions. The pure, they who, communing with the pure One, are changed into his image, see God. They discern his eye. t is the light and the joy of their life. The evil with darkened eye seeth not. A cloud of ignorance covers him, as a cloud of mystery the Most High.

II. This ignorance is further perverted into A SUPPOSITION OF THE INCOMPETENCY OF THE DIVINE JUDGMENT. "Can he judge through the dark cloud?" Thus the blind falls into the pit of error. One fault follows another in quick succession. The faulty view which shuts God out from his own world, which thinks of him as too far exalted above human affairs to take knowledge of them, must needs complete itself in denying the Divine judgment of human actions. It is the perilous perversion of ignorance and of sin - the blindness of mind which springs from a hardness of heart The moral sensibilities being blunted, moral truth is not apprehended. Spiritual things are foolishness to the unspiritual; he cannot discern them. The heart loving evil bribes the conscience into doubt as to the judgment upon evil, and finally wins it over to a denial of it. God cannot judge. So does the frail, ignorant, foolish creature judge of the Creator, and thus assumes to itself what it denies to its Maker. Mark

(1) the error,

(2) the folly,

(3) the wickedness,

(4) the danger, of this. - R.G.







Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?
It is commonly remarked, how little advantage mankind make of each other's experience. This is surely a striking proof of the folly and presumption of our nature. Eliphaz here is reasoning on the principle stated. Though he misapplied the admonition conveyed in his question, the admonition itself is important, for without marking this way of the wicked, how shall we have knowledge of it; and without knowing it, how shall we avoid it?

I. SOME PARTICULARS CONCERNING THE WAY OF THE WICKED.

1. The sameness, or oneness, of the way. There are, indeed, many different kinds of sin in which the wicked are living. But they are all turning their backs on the same objects; they are all proceeding in the same direction; they are all tending to the same end.

2. This way is the old way. Eliphaz so called it in the time of Job. It is a way as old as the fall of man.

3. It is a trodden way. This word gives the idea of a way which has been much used and frequented; a beaten road, in which many passengers are always to be found.

II. A MORE EXACT DESCRIPTION OF THE WAY ITSELF. By the wicked, in the Bible, are meant all who are devoid of an inward principle of godliness; who, whatever their lives and characters in the sight and judgment of the world may be, are yet in the sight of God without any practical fear and love of Him in their hearts. The way of the wicked is the way of practical ungodliness. Here men are all guilty. They forget God, and walk after the course of this world.

III. THE END TO WHICH THE WAY OF WICKED MEN LEADS. Our Saviour says, "It leadeth to destruction." The end resembles that of the sinners in the days of Noah and Lot. Learn, that you may not be an open sinner, and yet you may be walking in the way of the wicked, as you live a mere sensual, worldly life, without any habitual regard to the will and glory of God.

(E. Cooper.)

Homilist.
1. It is a history of ancient date. It is an old way — the "track of old."

2. It is a history of terrible calamities. "Which were cut down out of time," etc. There are personal, social, material calamities.

3. It is a history of practical atheism.

(1)A guilty conscience makes men dread God.

(2)Dread of God makes men hate Him.

(3)Hating God prompts men to repel Him.

4. It is a history liable to misinterpretation. Men make misapplication of the history of wickedness —

(1)When they conclude that God is indifferent in relation to the moral character of men.

(2)When they conclude that, because God does not punish wicked men at once, He will not punish them at all.Yet this history has lessons of great significance.

(1)It teaches the vastness of man's power.

(2)It teaches the greatness of man's patience.

(3)It teaches the energy of human influence.

(4)It teaches the magnitude of Christ's work.

(Homilist.)

I. THE WAY ITSELF. Eliphaz calla it an "old way." It is almost as old as the human race, or as the world which they inhabit. In the account of the conduct of the first sinner, we see selfishness, or Eve's preference of herself to God. We see also pride, which produced discontent. We see sensuality, or a disposition to be governed and guided by her senses, and to seek their gratification in an unlawful manner. We see unbelief, a distrust of God's Word, and a consequent belief of the tempter's suggestions. She could believe the tempter's falsehood. From the conduct of Adam and Eve at the close of the day, we may obtain further acquaintance with the way in which sinners walk. They exhibited sullen hardness of heart, impenitence, and despair of forgiveness. They expressed no sorrow, nor penitence, nothing like brokenness of heart. They made no confession of sin; they uttered no cries for mercy; they expressed no wish to be restored to the favour of their offended Judge. They displayed a self-justifying temper. They showed a disposition to reflect" upon God as the cause of their disobedience. In a manner precisely similar have sinners ever since acted.

II. ITS TERMINATION. It leads to destruction. That it does so, we might infer from what has taken place in the world. Application —

1. Whether some of you are not walking in this way?

2. Should any of you be convinced that you are in this dangerous way, permit me to urge you to forsake it without delay.

(E. Payson, D. D.)

"Hast thou marked the old way?" Antiquity is no guarantee for truth. It was the old way, but it was the wrong way. It was an old way, but they who ran in it perished in it just as surely as if it had been a new way of sinning entirely of their own invention: antiquity will be no consolation to those who perish by following evil precedents.

I. THE WAY. First, what it was. There is no doubt that Eliphaz is here alluding to those who sinned before the flood. He is looking to what were ancient days to him.

1. Now this way, in the first place, was a way of rebellion against God.

2. In the next place, the old way was a way of selfishness.

3. The old way was a way of pride. Our mother Eve rebelled against God because she thought she knew better than God did.

4. The old way which wicked men have trodden is a way of self-righteousness. If Abel kneels by the altar, Cain will kneel by the altar also. Beware, I entreat you, for this is the old way of the Pharisee when he thanked God that he was not as other men.

5. The old way which wicked men have trodden was, in the next place, a way of unbelief. Noah was sent to tell those ancient sinners that the world would be destroyed by a flood. They thought him an old dotard, and mocked him to scorn.

6. The old way which wicked men have trodden is a way of worldliness and carelessness and procrastination. What did those men before the flood? They married and were given in marriage till the flood came and swept them all away. Eliphaz says, "Hast thou marked the way?"I want you to stop a little while, and look at that road again, and mark it anew.

1. The first thing I observe as I look into it is, that it is a very broad way.

2. Observe that it is a very popular road. The way downward to destruction is a very fashionable one, and it always will be.

3. It is a very easy way, too. You need not trouble yourself about finding the entrance into it, you can find it in the dark.

4. This old way, if you look at it, is the way in which all men naturally run. For all that, it is a most unsatisfactory road.

5. One thing more, across it here and there Divine mercy has set bars. The angel of mercy stands before you now, and bids you tarry. Why will ye die?

II. THE END: "Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood." The end of these travellers was not according to their unbelief, but according to the despised truth. They would not believe Noah, but the flood came. Remember this, then, unbelief will not, laugh as it may, remove one jot of the penalty. The flood, like the destroying fire which will come upon ungodly men, was total in its destructiveness. It did not sweep away some of them, but all, and the punishments of God will not be to a few rebels, but to all. It will find out the rich in their palaces, as well as the poor in their hovels. Moreover, it was a final overthrow. The text gives us two pictures, and these two may suffice to bring out the meaning of Eliphaz. First, he says, they were "cut down out of time." The representation here is that of a tree with abundant foliage and wide-spreading boughs, to which the woodman comes. Such is the sinner in his prosperity, spreading himself like a green bay tree; birds of song are amongst his branches, and his fruit is fair to look upon; but the axe of death is near, and where the tree falleth there it must forever lie; fixed is its everlasting state. The other picture of the text is that of a building which is utterly swept away. Here I would have you notice that Eliphaz does not say that the flood came and swept away the building of the wicked, but swept away their very foundations. If in the next world the sinner only lost his wealth or his health, or his outward comforts of this life, it would be subject for serious reflection; but when it comes to this, that he loses his soul, his very self; then it becomes a thing to consider with all one's reason, and with something more of the enlightenment which God's Spirit can add to our reason. Oh that we would but be wise and think of this:

III. THE WARNING: "Am I or am I not treading in that broad way?" "Ah!" saith one, "I do not know." I will help thee to answer it. Are you travelling in the narrow way in which believers in Christ are walking? "I cannot say that," say you. Well, then, I can tell you without hesitation that you are treading in the broad way, for there are but two ways. As for you who confessedly are in the old way, would you turn, would you leave it? Then the turning point is at yonder cross, where Jesus hangs a bleeding sacrifice for the sons of men.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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