“How then can man be righteous before God?
Or how can he be pure who is born of woman?
If even the moon does not shine,
And the stars are not pure in His sight,
How much less man, who is a maggot,
And a son of man, who is a worm?”
Job 25:5, 6 (NKJV).
These verses, quoting a man named Bildad the Shuhite, form part of the discussion between Job and his three “friends” about the whys and wherefores behind Job’s suffering. The friends seem to believe that he is afflicted because of some hidden sin, while Job maintain that he is innocent. We don’t want to get into all that, except to say that God finally intervened and settled the matter once and for all. He revealed that He had brought all this suffering on Job to demonstrate that there are people who follow and serve God simply for Himself and not just for what they can get out of Him.
Our thought for this post is taken from the verses at its beginning. I haven’t heard the phrase itself in the title for a long time. I think it was from a Christian radio program my grandmother used to listen to. The speaker was decrying the use of “worm” to describe man, which wasn’t uncommon back then. I don’t really remember what he said beyond the phrase, except that he did seem to think that it wasn’t fitting to describe mankind like that. “A worm.” Indeed!
A worm really isn’t very high on the social ladder, to say the least. They’re good for baiting fish hooks and robins pull them out of the ground. A heavy rain will bring them out en masse, but no one invites them for dinner – except the robin 🙂 . At the same time, they are vital for our ecology, loosening and aerating the soil as they burrow along and they help to fertilize the ground. We would probably be in trouble without them.
Compared to man, though, they seem pretty insignificant. They don’t build great skyscrapers or drive automobiles or fly planes. There is no great civilization named after them, no “wormtopia”. They exist mostly unseen and unsung.
That’s part of the thought in the verse at the beginning of the post. Compared to God, man is indeed insignificant, in spite of the fact that we have created and built great and impressive things. We’ve left our footprints on the moon. We send spacecraft beyond our solar system. We can examine things down to the atomic level and have unraveled the mysteries of our DNA. In spite of all that, we are just creatures of the moment. This moment. We have no guarantee of the next moment. I may not even have enough moments left to finish writing this post. Only God knows for sure. We don’t normally think like that – we plan for the future, and we should, but there is no guarantee about that future.
Why we should be concerned about that uncertainty as a race and as individuals of that race, Bildad also mentions that in his comments to Job: “How then can man be righteous before God?” v. 4. Worms don’t have to worry about that, but it’s perhaps the most important question facing men and women, boys and girls – how to be righteous before God. It is the most important dilemna facing us: how to become what we are not.
Men have dreamed up all kinds of answers to that question. Some have started religions or believe that religious ceremonies of one kind or another can make them righteous. Others donate to charity or build hospital wings, or do humanitarian works, often as great personal expense or suffering.
As I began to work on this post, it was on a Sunday, “church” day. At the front of many church auditoriums, you will see a cross. There’s a lot of discussion about that Cross. About a death suffered on a cross almost 2000 years ago. There were three crosses on Golgotha that day. Two other men died on them; what made the third Cross so special?
The One who died on it.
He was not –
It’s interesting that our Lord Himself used the word in the title, or at least it’s attributed to Him prophetically. Psalm 22 is a prophecy of the agony of the Lord Jesus as He hung on the Cross. In v. 6, as part of His thoughts during that terrible time, we read,
“But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.”
Our Lord was mocked and ridiculed as He hung naked on that Cross. Our pictures of that event have covered Him up, but the Romans, and the Jewish leaders, had no such concerns. He was just “a worm,” to be trodden underfoot and disposed of. Or so they thought.
There’s something incredible about the word translated, “worm,” in the verse in Psalm 22. This wasn’t just any old fish-bait; it’s the word referring to the species of worm from which the color crimson was obtained.
The color of blood.
“Saved by the blood of the Crucified One”
So goes the old gospel song.
We don’t sing those old songs and hymns any more. We like the nice little choruses that don’t really say much. Goes along with our Christianity, which today doesn’t really do much. You think not?? Look at America. Thousands and thousands of churches. Where is their influence in our culture?? I’m old enough to remember that things which are practiced and promoted today were hidden away in a corner 50, 60 or 70 years ago.
O, listen, beloved. Our Savior humbled Himself in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. We have our little crucifixes or crosses, all prettied up and made into jewelry, but we have no idea of the horror and suffering of those who hung on the originals! There was nothing pretty about them!
Added to this in the case of our Lord was the fact that God made Him to be sin who know no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21. We might be able to have an inkling of the physical suffering of our Lord, but this aspect of it is as far over our understanding as the farthest stars in the heavens.
He was the Lord of glory!
He was holy, harmless, undefiled…,Hebrews 7:26.
for the likes of us!
That is something else for which we have no comparison. Sin is part of our makeup, part of our lives, part of our culture. Granted, some don’t delve into it as deeply as others, but, still, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.
What must it have been like for incarnate holiness to be made into immeasurable sinfulness??
He suffered the wrath of God against sin, a wrath and suffering for which there also is no comparison on this earth. But He did it willingly, for the joy set before him endured the cross, [He despised] the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:2.
Don’t rush by that word, “endured.”
It took the Son of God to be able to do that, but even He did not find it “easy”.
Oh, listen! Do you know this One who bled and died for the sins of His people? He died that you and I might live. He suffered wrath, in order that you and I might receive grace and mercy and forgiveness. He lives, in order that we might have hope for the future, regardless of the circumstances of the present.
Do you know this One?
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.