24 “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?
Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?
2 There are those who move boundary stones;
they pasture flocks they have stolen.
3 They drive away the orphan’s donkey
and take the widow’s ox in pledge.
4 They thrust the needy from the path
and force all the poor of the land into hiding.
These verses show Job wrestling with the idea that God does not intervene more quickly and why the unrighteous do not necessarily experience judgment and go to the grave with their robbery, dishonesty, cruelty and other evil deeds. He knew that God would judge but was struggling with his timetable. Zophar thought that God would be swift in his punishment (Chapter 20) but Job’s experience (and our experience) was different.
Verse 2 refers to a practice of moving boundary stones (See Deuteronomy 19:14; Proverbs 22:28; 23:10). Corrupt landowners often did this to increase their holdings, particularly where the land was owned by bereaved widows. Taking advantage of widows will be treated by the ultimate court in heaven.
Job was troubled by the way that people who mistreated the poor seemed to get away with it and the poor would suffer as a result. It seemed unjust and unfair.
5 Like wild donkeys in the desert,
the poor go about their labour of foraging food;
the wasteland provides food for their children.
6 They gather fodder in the fields
and glean in the vineyards of the wicked.
7 Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked;
they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold.
8 They are drenched by mountain rains
and hug the rocks for lack of shelter.
9 The fatherless child is snatched from the breast;
the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.
10 Lacking clothes, they go about naked;
they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry.
11 They crush olives among the terraces;
they tread the winepresses, yet suffer thirst.
12 The groans of the dying rise from the city,
and the souls of the wounded cry out for help.
But God charges no one with wrongdoing.
Job’s observations of the poor show that he cared and was concerned about the poor contrary to his friends accusations. He had a sense that often the poor suffer as a result of the wrongdoings of the wealthy. People taking advantage of their vulnerability and the fact that they have no voice against the rich and powerful. Job had lived a benevolent life and was connected with the emotional plight of the poor and hardship. His present suffering brought him even closer to their world and their experience of life.
He recognised that the poor struggle to find food (verse 5). They get cold and wet (verse 6). They have nowhere to live. Their world is one of struggle to even have the basics of life, they are at the mercy of loan sharks, thieves and corrupt landlords … not much has changed in the world!
I was one of those who took advantage of the poor. I justified it by the thought that no one directly suffered but I took a significant amount of funds that was allocated to them. Judas Iscariot springs to mind. My story could have been the same. Given a certain set of circumstances it probably would have been. God intervened and brought me back.
Job said that they are like wild donkeys. God answered Job on this point in chapter 39:5-8. God reminded Job that he knows about wild donkeys and is their provider of food.
God loves the poor, he looks out for them and provides for them. The ministry of Jesus testifies to this.
13 “There are those who rebel against the light,
who do not know its ways
or stay in its paths.
14 When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up,
kills the poor and needy,
and in the night steals forth like a thief.
15 The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;
he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’
and he keeps his face concealed.
16 In the dark, thieves break into houses,
but by day they shut themselves in;
they want nothing to do with the light.
17 For all of them, midnight is their morning;
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.
In ancient times it would be very unusual for any activity at night. Work had to be in daylight hours because there was no artificial light. darkness was synonymous with criminal and underhand activity.
But the people that Job described hate daylight. They prefer darkness. They carry out their evil deeds in secret. See also 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8.
Having said that about modern life… things haven’t changed that much. My interaction with destructive behaviour was often done when my family were sleeping. Cam sites were visited mostly in darkness, there were times I slipped out of the house in darkness.
18 “Yet they are foam on the surface of the water;
their portion of the land is cursed,
so that no one goes to the vineyards.
19 As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow,
so the grave snatches away those who have sinned.
20 The womb forgets them,
the worm feasts on them;
the wicked are no longer remembered
but are broken like a tree.
21 They prey on the barren and childless woman,
and to the widow they show no kindness.
22 But God drags away the mighty by his power;
though they become established, they have no assurance of life.
23 He may let them rest in a feeling of security,
but his eyes are on their ways.
24 For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like heads of grain.
25 “If this is not so, who can prove me false
and reduce my words to nothing?”
These verses show some kind of perspective on those people intent on evil and hurting others. They may seem to get away with it for a very long time but their life will end and their wickedness cannot continue. God will uproot them and deal with them at the appointed time.
A wicked man may be powerful. So much that nobody may dare to oppose that man and no human may stop them from their evil deeds but when God acts, that man will die. Nothing can prevent that man’s death.
These men are like corn during the harvest. The farmer decides when he will collect the corn. On that day, the corn cannot remain in the field. Its end is certain.
Job asserted the view that God knew the right time to deal with wickedness and that it would be dealt with. He was sure of this and invited his friends to prove otherwise.