“Others have been with those who rebel against the light; they do not want to know its ways, nor abide in its paths. The murderer arises at dawn; he kills the poor and the needy, and at night he is as a thief. And the eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, saying, ‘No eye will see me.’ And he disguises his face. In the dark they dig into houses, they shut themselves up by day; they do not know the light. For the morning is the same to him as thick darkness, for he is familiar with the terrors of thick darkness” (Job 24:13-17). God knows what goes through the minds of sinners – even the murderers, adulterers, and thieves of this crooked world. He understands the motivation, the desire, the lust, and the insoluble fear that they feel deep within their souls. At its core, the sinful heart has simply rejected the Light. Christ Himself often spoke of the darkness and the Light; “And this is judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20).
We must ask ourselves what kind of people we are. Do we strive to live in the light of the Gospel, with our good deeds going before us? Or do we let our sinful deeds and hearts follow after us into dark places (1 Timothy 5:24-25)? To help us consider our own hearts, I want to look at Job 24:13-17. Perhaps we will see ourselves reflected in the evil men of this text, or we may be closely acquainted with those who practice such things. In any case, we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and understanding the root causes of our sins will help all of us become more equipped and prepared Christians.
Job 24:13 – “Others have been with those who rebel against the light; they do not want to know its ways nor abide in its paths.”
The first part of the verse reveals the motivation behind many sinful actions; rebellion. When an unscrupulous person simply does not like the light, or is unhappy with peace, he finds an excuse to rebel and cause trouble. It is sad that this happens in political arenas – violent uprisings which only place dictators in power, terrorist activities in Iraq, protests over extreme causes in big cities, etc. – but it is much more despicable when it occurs in the church. Some folks just do not like it when a congregation is unified, at peace, and in cooperation in the work of the Gospel. They find reasons to split people up over meaningless issues, just as Titus explains in his letter, “But shun foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11). Paul makes a similar conclusion in 1 Timothy 6:3-5 and 2 Timothy 2:14-17. Rebellious men spread their doctrine like gangrene or cancer, so it is important that we all work very hard to stop them dead in their tracks.
Rebellion is not a new problem, though, and God’s people in the Old Testament had many instances of it. Korah, for example, is discussed in Numbers 16. He displeased with the fact that only Levites from the lineage of Aaron were allowed to perform priestly duties and contended with Moses and his brother. Of course, Korah is just like many malcontents today in that he just did not like, or prefer, the way of worship that God had legislated. How may ‘Christians’ do we know who feel the same way – who do not like the old, traditional manners of worship and advocate rebellion from true doctrine? Sheba is fascinating example of rebellion, found in 2 Samuel 20:1-2, “Now a worthless fellow happened to be there whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite; and he blew the trumpet and said, ‘We have no portion in David, nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel!’” Like the man who shows up for Sunday morning Bible class with contentious, controversial, and tangential questions, touting his own agenda, so Sheba incited the people of Israel to split up for no apparent reason.
“They do not want to know its ways, nor abide in its paths.” There are some rebellious individuals who will never want to hear the truth – they are too close-minded to even consider that their ways are not appropriate. Some will close off their ears from even the possibility of reason and logic. We just have to wonder why so many people “do not want to know” the light, and are willing to do cruel and wicked deeds to suppress the truth. The prophet Jeremiah met with individuals like this, with little success. “Then they said, ‘Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah. Surely the law is not going to be lost to the priest, nor counsel to the sage, nor the divine word to the prophet! Come on and let us strike at him with our tongue, and let us give no heed to any of his words” (Jeremiah 18:18). It is not just against Jeremiah, though, that these rebellious people fought – God’s prophets and His preachers, as well as His saints, are not the only ones hurt. Rather, it is against God Himself that sinners transgress. It is against His will, and in opposition to His Word, expressed in what He calls “the ancient paths” – which, it would seem, are altogether displeasing to sinners. “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ And I set watchmen over you saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen’” (Jeremiah 6:16-17).
Job 24:14 – “The murderer arises at dawn; he kills the poor and the needy, and at night he is as a thief.”
Some sinners are willing to do anything it takes to commit their wicked deeds. Like the murderer in this verse who decides to wake up at the break of day to seek his next victim, so the apostate teachers, the harlots, the greedy ones, and all the criminals of injustice make it a point to do whatever it takes to fulfill their evil desires. What does this mean for us? What are we to do in response to the hard-working agents of Satan, who neither eat nor sleep until their job is done? Obviously, we ought to put more effort into our work than they do into theirs. Otherwise, we accomplish nothing. We have to push ourselves toward spiritual self-discipline, so that when a sinner wakes up early in the morning to carry others into his apostasy we wake up even earlier to help guard the way for unsuspecting souls. We must work hard, just as Lot tried to do while living in the wicked city of Sodom. This righteous man spent his time waiting at the city gates (Genesis 19:1-3), eagerly welcoming strangers – upon entering the city, Lot would be the first person any traveler would meet. When we encounter individuals who may be receptive to the Gospel, that is, people who have a tender heart and are willing to accept the truth, we must not wait too long before acting. Otherwise, false teachers will catch them before we do and lead them astray. We should not let our spiritual opponents shine their ‘light’ brighter then ours (Matthew 5:13-16).
“He kills the poor and needy” – Most of our enemies will not fight the strongest individuals. Like a lion on a hunt, most agents of sin target the weaklings, the spiritually sick, or the babes in Christ. A false teacher does not try to convert elders to his apostasy, nor does he necessarily attack strong Christian families. Rather, he finds the person with the broken family or the regrettable past. He reaches out to those who are at their wits’ end, just like the false teachers of 2 Timothy 3:6, “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses…” Just like Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, and all the other “Reverends” who go on television at one in the morning reaching out to those weighed down by sins. Psalm 10:5-10 offers a description of these kinds of spiritually murderous people. It is necessary that we understand what kind of victims this wicked person seeks. The words used to describe them include “the afflicted,” “the innocent,” and “the unfortunate.” These are all very powerful words, indicating the true weakness behind evil people. The man in this psalm never attacks or harms the strong, the influential, the dedicated, or the warrior because he knows he cannot defeat them. Instead, he looks to pick on somebody smaller than him, like little children or widows (Isaiah 10:1-2). For a similar interpretation consider Psalm 94:4-7, especially in the words, “They crush Thy people, O Lord, and afflict Thy heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the orphans.” Do these kinds of injustices enrage us? They should, and if we can look at these vile deeds with no feeling then it is to our shame. That is why God makes it clear that there are few things more abominable in His sight than cruelty to the weak (Proverbs 6:16-19). Unfortunately, we meet a number of people who try to argue that there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of feeble (or feeble-minded) individuals; they would say, “Survival of the fittest, right? Well, if somebody’s stupid enough to get tricked by me then he deserves to be taken advantage of!” Not according to Psalm 10! In the same way, our Lord condemns such voracity in Matthew 23:14 when He accuses the Pharisees of devouring the meager holdings of widows.
“And at night he is as a thief.” Many of these same sinners act as dual-role agents. Again, consider the example of the shifty televangelist, who not only causes the spiritual death of his victims by teaching bad doctrine, but also fleeces them for all they are worth, asking for pledge after pledge of hard-earned money. During the day, they are murderers, and during the night they take on the job of a thief. Kind of like multi-tasking, except with sin!
Job 24:15 – “The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, saying, ‘No eye will see me.’ And he disguises his face.”
Sin knows the right time of day to strike. It is aware of when nobody else will see it creep it, when all eyes are closed or focused elsewhere. Apostasy knows that complacency is a breeding ground for its bad doctrine – just like the situation at the church in Thyatira in Revelation 2:20, in which the Christians there were tolerating a false prophetess named Jezebel. Adulterers are conscious of the fact that their deed ought not be done in the daytime with the master of the house approaching – indeed, the wicked woman of Proverbs 7:6-23 appeals to her victims by explaining that her husband is away on a long trip. Thieves do not rob an occupied home in broad daylight – Christ explains that no thief in his right mind would invade a home until he has adequately disposed of the occupants within (Luke 11:21-22). Revolutionaries sow the seeds of discontent long before violence erupts. Silently, quietly, cleverly, sin patiently knows when it is best to attack.
“No eye will see me.” We often do not think (or, at least, we do not want to think) that God is watching. Consider a few words from Psalm 10:11, “He says to himself, ‘God has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He will never see it.” All of the deeds of darkness are done in the night, according to 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8. Drunkenness is an activity that is too embarrassing to be done in broad daylight, when everybody can see its folly. Rather, we wait until the evening, when fewer people will witness our stupidity. And it is the same with so many sins! The teenage boy waits for his parents to be gone before he uses his drugs, or looks at pornography. The Christian with anger problems steps outside to “vent” because he does not want others to see him. The gossip only speaks her poison in secret, hushed and dulled so that only certain ears pick up the information. When we steal something, we hide it in our pockets. When a murder is committed, there must necessarily be a cover-up. When a politician is caught in unscrupulous activities, gobs of money are used to “silence” any witnesses. The problem with all of this, though, is that no matter how hard we may try to hide our sins, there is always one set of eyes that is a witness. “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Even those very private sins that remain in our heart are not so privileged that God cannot see them, because “He knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21).
Cain could not keep his sin a secret from God. He even attempted to deny that any deed had been done (Genesis 4:9). In the end, the crime that was committed screamed to God for justice! Achan, in Joshua 7:20-21, believed that he could hide some of spoils of war from God by hiding it under his tent. David also could not keep his sins secret. After committing adultery with Bathsheba, the king did all he could (2 Samuel 11) to set up a scenario in which his infidelity would remain unexposed. He even went to the point of having Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, sent on a dangerous mission against the Philistines. Perhaps David hoped that it would all go away if he just ignored the sin. But God knew. Ananias and Sapphira also tried to keep their sin secret, and died because of their lies (Acts 5:1-10). What makes any of us believe that we can hide our sins from the all-seeing God?
Job 24:16-17 – “In the dark they dig into houses, they shut themselves up by day; they do not know the light. For the morning is the same to him as thick darkness, for he is familiar with the terrors of thick darkness.”
It seems like some sinners become so consumed by their work that they do not even take the time to consider the light. They have their eyes and hearts so fixed on whatever particular sin they are committing that they will not lift their faces and see the light all around them. They will not consider it, nor will they perceive it. That is the problem with sin: it is an all-consuming activity. When we become addicted to alcohol or cigarettes, that sin takes over our lives. Heroin and other dangerous drugs do the same thing to their users, destroying them until they can get their next “fix.” Those who commit adultery get caught in a web of deceit and obsession, suspicious about everybody and everything. A lot of us end up just like the people of Jeremiah’s time, about whom God explains, “And everyone deceives his neighbor, and does not speak the truth, they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity” (Jeremiah 9:5). How many sinners weary themselves with their disgusting habits and obsessions? Truly, sin can exhaust us so much that we no longer have the energy or the desire to change! “But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded him” (1 John 2:11). Darkness (sin) has a way with cutting us off from the world. It exhausts us, separates us, ruins us, devours us, and inevitably kills us.
“For he is familiar with the terrors of thick darkness.” The more time we spend in sin, or around it, the more familiar we become with it. When we let ourselves tolerate it, it eventually becomes a part of our daily routine – to the point that we no longer know the difference between light and dark. To a sinner, everything is darkness. Familiarity with darkness only makes it easier to commit, as well. Again, we consider the example in Revelation 2:20, in which a false prophetess is leading many Christians astray. Because everybody tolerated this harlot, nobody did anything about her and she was given free range of the souls in Thyatira. We must never reach a point at which we have become “familiar with the terrors of thick darkness.” The thick darkness is terrifying for a reason! It is dangerous, and if those inhibitions – which normally keep us away from terrifying things – disappear, we have no protection. When sin no longer is a thing of fear, disgust, and abhorrence, the result is ambivalence. “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush” (Jeremiah 8:12).
Have we become too familiar with the sin of this world? Have we reached a point at which we are no longer disgusted with immorality? Paul writes in Ephesians 5:11-12 that Christians ought to abstain from sin to such a point that we do not even desire to talk about it.
If you know that you are sin, then it is time to put it behind you. It is time to stop rebelling against the light; it is time to put away the wickedness of hidden sins, of blatant rebellion, of abusive treatment of weaker individuals. There will be no amnesty for sinners on that great and terrible day of judgment (Matthew 25:46). There will be no mercy for the blasphemer and the cruel false teacher, who leads so many weak souls astray in his apostasy. If you have heard the message this day and believe in it; if you are willing to confess that belief (Romans 10:9-10); if you desire to change your life and “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8); and if you will be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins (Mark 16:16); you can be saved this very day.