PONDERING THE MYSTERY

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JOB’S WONDER

Job is on a roll in observing the mystery of evil and the judgment of God.  Bildad will attempt to inject a comment but Job rolls over this little effort.

Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?  Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.  They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.  They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together.  Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children.  Job24:1-5

If sinners know that God sees everything don’t they know that their time is limited?  They move landmarks to steal land, and run off with sheep and their feed grain.  They steal from orphans, widows, and the poor.  They live like wild animals that know no rules, but live on the wealth they find.  What Job sees is still found in the cities of our world today.

They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked.  They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold.  They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.  They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor.  They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry;  Job24:6-10

Thieves gather their own crops but also reap the grapes of wrath.  They leave the homeless huddling under rocks and bushes without clothing.  They deprive orphans of food and overcharge loans to the poor.

Even today I have seen mattresses and clothing under the bushes in Texas and in the Arizona desert.  People land here after their homes are taken by corrupt banks.  Remember the adjustable rate mortgage?  What part of “stick ‘em up” don’t you understand?

Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst.  Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.  They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.  The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.  The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face. Job24:11-15

The poor work to make oil and wine for others but themselves lack any drink for their own thirst. There are many victims but God does not accuse them of sin.  Violent crime abounds and also the crimes of lust and passion.  No one worries about being seen by God.

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.  For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.  He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards.  Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned.  The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree. Job24:16-20

Thieves break into houses at night and hide from the recognition of day time.  The guilty find the light to reveal their identity and day brings the fear of death.  Death is fast, and evil melt away like the snow.  They are remembered only by the maggots.

He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow.  He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life.  Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways.  They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.  And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth? Job24:21-25

These evil men abuse the childless and widows alike.  They get power over the wealthy people as well, and none are safe.  Evil may gain power for a season, but they will be harvested like the wheat in God’s time.  Who can prove me wrong?

Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,  Dominion and fear are with him, he maketh peace in his high places.  Is there any number of his armies? and upon whom doth not his light arise?  How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?  Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight.  How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?  Job 25:1-6

So Bildad tries to again assert that a just man will not be punished because God can strike at will.  He has armies and powers and no man can be pure before him.  How can a man who is but a worm escape immediate punishment?

But Job answered and said,  How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?  How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?  To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?  Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.  Job 27:1-5

So, Bildad, how do your words comfort the weak and suffering?  Who are you teaching and what spirit is coming out of you now?  Dead things come up from deep below the oceans.

Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.  He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.  He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.  He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.  He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.  Job 27:6-10

Job describes the power of God: God knows the dark places of evil, suspends the earth in space, and caries waters aloft in clouds that keep the waters without tearing.  He keeps his throne concealed in clouds and restrains oceans in their shores.

The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.  He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.  By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.  Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?  Job 27:11-14

Job feels the power of God without fully understanding his own discomfort.  Heaven and nature itself is disturbed when he is angry, as are the men he strikes.  He created both the beauty of the heavens and the ugliness of the serpent.  These are only part of his ways, while most of him is not seen.  The power we do see in the thunder we do not understand.

There are occasionally times when the thief if quickly delivered to judgment.

Atlanta (CNN) — A man, who tried to rob a group of people waiting in line to buy the new $180 LeBron James sneakers, was shot and killed when one of the customers pulled out a gun, Atlanta police said.  The incident took place before dawn Saturday outside a shoe store in Atlanta’s Little Five Points area.  The group was waiting for the store to open for the day so they could buy the LeBron X Denim on its first day of release.  Police said the man approached the group with a gun in hand and tried to rob them.  One of the men in the group took out his own handgun and fired, said Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos.  “A number of witnesses were interviewed and this appears to be self-defense,” he said. http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/24/justice/lebron-sneaker-store-shooting/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

But how many more times have evil men prospered, even to become national leaders?  Good people fall to accidents and disease while cruel leaders are allowed to have power over nations.  God has his own ways, and we will understand only in his time.

BELIEVABLE LIE

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REPETITIVE LIES TRY TO BE BELIEVABLE?

Lies are being told about Job so often now that even he may begin to consider them possible.  He may wonder if he has sinned.  If we see this happening in the world around us today, consider his endurance.  We are only half way through his ordeal now.

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,  Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?  Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?  Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment?  Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?  Job 22:1-5

Eliphaz challenges Job by asking if God cares about his righteousness.  Would God be afraid to punish you because you are so good?  Or is your evil beyond measure?

For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.  Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.  But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it.  Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.  Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee;  Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee.  Job 22:6-11

Job is accused of oppressing the poor and robbing widows.  Therfore Eliphaz supposes this misfortune of Job is God’s punishment.

Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!  And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud?  Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.  Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?  Job 22:12-16

Eliphaz suggests that Job thinks that God cannot see from so far as the heavens, or through the clouds.  He accuses Job of following the way of evil men.

Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?  Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.  The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to scorn.  Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth.  Job 22:17-20

Those evil men tell God to leave them alone while good men (like himself) are confident and prosperous in God’s goodness.

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.  Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.  If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.  Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks.  Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver. Job 22:21-25

Eliphaz goes on to tell Job to get right with God.  He tells Job to repent of his sins so God can bless him.

For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.  Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.  Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.  When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.  He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands. Job 22:26-30

Eliphaz goes on and on about how Job could be healed and prosper by getting right with God.  But through all of this Job has been right with God all along.  Eliphaz is calling good evil, and believes that he is good for doing so.

The photo of Hitler with a little girl shows a propaganda image that hides the horrors of the reality that we know about him now.  But at the same time that right wing extremism was destroying millions, left wing Communism was doing much the same thing in Russia.  Men use different colors to paint the same lies.  Never rest in the assumption that you are getting the true story.

NOTION REJECTED

Job could see a different side of this vile story, but he had some hesitation.

Then Job answered and said,  Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.  Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!  I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.  I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.  Job 23:1-5

Job knows that he is hurting, bt wonders where to find God in his need.  He wants the words that make prayer that God will answer.

Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me.  There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge.  Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:  On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:  But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  Job 23:6-10

Job knows that God would not reject him, but rather he would heal him.  But he doesn’t know where to find God now.  Still he recognizes that this is a trial that he will pass as gold.

My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.  Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.  But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.  For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.  Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him.  For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:  Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face.  Job 23:11-17

Job knows that he has stayed on the path.  He is not tempted to believe the voice of his accusers.  They hear the voice of the accuser of the brethren, Satan, and are deceived.  Jesus prayed that God would forgive his persecutors because “they know not what they do”.  God has allowed a trial and Job is troubled by this.  But he has faith to wait for understanding and deliverance.

Our world continues to tell the church that they are weak and superstitious.  They may even have help from those who claim to share our belief.  Your faith and doctrine will be subjected to endless disrespect.  There may be temptation to join in accusing others or to believe a lie.  Are you enduring a seemingly endless assault on your faith?  God will have an answer for your critics in his time.

SEASONAL SIN, NO WIN

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EVIL DOES PROSPER…FOR A SEASON

Gold plated firearms.  This is a sign of the prosperity of the drug cartels which seems to defy godly behavior.  So those who were telling Job that he must be a sinner were ignoring some facts of life.

Zophar renewed the attack on Job’s credibility, essentially calling him a sinner and a liar.  But Job knows that God does not deliver judgment or rewards to everyone in this life.  In fact, evil may prosper for a while here.  Job is about to rebuke his friends one more time for their abuse.

But Job answered and said,  Hear diligently my speech, and let this be your consolations.  Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.  As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled?  Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth.  Job 21:1-5

Job is telling his friends to shut up and listen.  If man caused his troubles he won’t be as troubled as if God were plaguing him.  Job will surprise them if they listen.

Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh.  Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?  Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes.  Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.  Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf.  Job 21:6-10

Job sees how evil men live long and prosper.  Gangsters have protection for their homes and families and there is no punishment for their crimes.  If they farm, their stock is healthy.

They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.  They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.  They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.  Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.  What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?  Job 21:11-15

Evil men have big families and celebrate with music and dancing.  Since they live well to the end they reject God and see no profit in faith.

Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me.  How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft cometh their destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows in his anger.  They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away.  God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him, and he shall know it.  His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty. Job 21:16-20

Well Job is not one of these and he doesn’t accept the counsel or behavior of the corrupt.  He knows that they will see their destruction in God’s time.  There is judgment or reward laid up on the other side of the veil of death.  What’s in your (spiritual) wallet?

For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst?  Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.  One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet.  His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow.  And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure. Job 21: 21-25

What is the joy in a man’s house if he dies young?  God may take one in his strength, or he may pass in sickness and agony.  It is not ours to chose, and God makes the appointments.

They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.  Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me.  For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? and where are the dwelling places of the wicked?  Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens,  That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath. Job 21: 26-30

Everyone is worm food, but Job’s friends think that only the bad suffer in this life.  They may not, but they will pay when they are brought up in the next life.

Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done?  Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.  The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.  How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood? Job 21: 31-34

We may not be able to tell the evil man what his fate will be or extract revenge.  But he will share the common fate of all who pass out of this life.  Still Job’s friends have ranted about how Job must have sinned to get this punishment.  They have not been with him to offer comfort, but rather to accuse him.

Israel has a host of nation friends today who tell them that they are wrong to occupy lands promised to them by God.  We don’t need to join this discussion because God is the one who will guide the events ahead.  The movement of Arab Spring is changing the whole situation, and these nations will be pulled in without control.  Our concept of morality is as flawed as Job’s friends.  Israel may be a cut off branch today, but the rod of Aaron budded…and will be grafted in again.  Some of their friends may be among the branches to be cut off in that day.

REJECTION

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RIGHTEOUSNESS REJECTED

Here it comes again; Zophar is a true (?) friend to Job.  He is about to unload on Job again about how he is a sinner and doomed by God.  It seems that none of Job’s friends know him at all.  Zophar is wounded by Job’s rejection of his earlier criticism.  A wounded animal is dangerous.

Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,  Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I make haste.  I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer.  Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth,  That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?  Job 20:1-5

Zophar is in a hurry to answer Job’s self defense.  He seems stung by the remarks of Job and can’t wait to show off his self appointed wisdom.  Oh doesn’t Job know that evil men have only a short time to sin before they are punished?

Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?  He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.  The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him.  His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods.  Job 20:6-10

Zophar goes on about how the sinners prosper until God brings them low.  The high and mighty will be gone like a memory.  This is all true when applied to the guilty, but that does not include Job.

His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust.  Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;  Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth:  Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.  He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly. Job 20:6-10

So on and on goes Zophar; yada yada yada!  All the bad things that will poison the life of a sinner.  Too bad he doesn’t have an audience with the guilty.

His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust.  Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;  Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth:  Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.  He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly. Job 20:11-15

Yes, the evil man will always have the taste of evil in his mouth.  He will throw up the meat of his evil deeds over time.

He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper’s tongue shall slay him.  He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.  That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down: according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein.  Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not;  Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which he desired. Job 20:15-20

Now the speech is a death rant.  Poison and snakes will rob the one who robs the poor.  He will have no joy in the things he has taken by violence.

There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods.  In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him.  When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating.  He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.  It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him. Job 20:21-25

Oh dear, the prosperous thief will discover the anger of God.  Before he can enjoy his meal the fear of death will run him down.  Zophar goes into gory detail of a violent death by the sword in the belly.

All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle.  The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.  The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.  This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God. Job 20:26-29

Oh heaven and earth will rise to destroy the evil man…whoever that is.  Zophar is so far from the truth about Job one wonders if he even knows his friend at all.  God described Job as a righteous man as we began this story.  So this version is motivated by a different spirit.  Yes you may remember the name of this spirit; the accuser of the brethren.

Read the news today and see how Christians are received here and in other nations.  Read the news about persecution of missionaries: http://www.persecution.com/  Can we understand how neighbors can paint the good as being bad?

GLORIOUS PROMISE

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A REVELATION FROM DARKNESS

Job had to endure yet another round of being called a sinner by another of his friends.  Don’t we have people like this in our world today?  Who will bother to ask the accused privately of his condition when gossip is readily available?  Who really conducts an impartial investigation when they can easily gather the prejudice of his neighbors?

Then Job answered and said,  How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?  These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.  And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.  Job19:1-4

So Job has been keeping count on the ten accusations against him.  His friends have become strangers while any mistake Job may have made is only between Job and God anyway.

If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach: Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.  Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.  He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.  He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.  He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree. Job19:5-10

Job is again out God as his assailant, not Satan.  Thinking that God has turned against him leaves Job feeling completely hopeless.  He views God as leading an army against him.

He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies.  His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.  He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.  My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.  They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight. Job19:11-15

Job has no one left who is accepting him or close to him.  Members of his house see him as a stranger, an alien.  When your money is gone your friends are gone too.  But if you are broke and infected you are really the plague to friends.

I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth.  My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children’s sake of mine own body.  Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.  All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.  My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. Job19:16-20

Job’s servant is ignoring him and his wife too is distant.  Children are shocked by his appearance, and consider him a monster.  Indeed his appearances are like a mask of death to all who see him.

Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.  Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?  Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!  That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!  For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  Job19:21-25

Job pleads with everyone to sow compassion for his horrible affliction.  He wishes that his words were published, and that turns out to be prophetic.  Now his words are recorded in the bible, the living word, which is the rock himself.  Job continues in a profound prophesy of Messiah:  His redeemer is alive and will stand on earth, as Jesus did do, and will again in the end times.

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.  But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?  Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.  Job19:26-29

Job proclaims that he will see god while he is still in physical flesh.  We will indeed see God, even in a glorified body when we are resurrected.  If the worms destroy our body in death we will still have a body of life in the next life.  Job warns all that there is punishment for all who are deserving of judgment.  From the depth of his despair he glimpses the glory of life after death and the living God.