Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. (Job 31:4-6)
In this chapter of the book of Job, Job lays forth a series of question related to his righteousness and asks God to judge him. What interests me about this passage is that he does not simply appeal to what he has avoided according to what is prohibited in the commandments of God. He also pleads that he did not neglect those duties which are enjoined to the commandments. Here are some examples:
24If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence;
26If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; 27And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: 28This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.
25If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much;
33If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:
30Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.
13If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; 14What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?
19If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering;
32The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller.
21If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate:
9If mine heart have been deceived by a woman,
16If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;17Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;
38If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain 39If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life:
29If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him:
9(b)..or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door;
Each commandment given to us has a duty and a prohibition embedded within it. As à Brakel notes:
“Each commandment implies a prohibition and each prohibition a command. He who does not kill has not observed the sixth commandment; instead, as much as he is able, he must preserve the life of his neighbor and live in love and peace with him. Neither has the eighth commandment been observed by not stealing; rather, he must preserve the belongings of his neighbor and assist him in doing so. He has not observed the ninth commandment who merely does not bear false witness; rather, it implies the promotion of the honor of his neighbor.”
– à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol.3, pp.86
We see most of the duties and sins embedded in the Ten Commandments (Excepting the fourth) mentioned here. Job was not a Jew and he did not receive the law of Moses. We learn at the start of this book that he was a man of the land of Uz, and would have been descended from Shem. Tony Arsenal has a great blog post on this subject.
We infer from this that Shem, as son of Noah, would have known the natural law of God as written upon his heart. He would have taught this to his children and trained them in the way they should go. We learn from this that these commandments are not simply particular to Israel nor only to show us our sinfulness (though they do). We learn that they have always been the one rule of righteousness for believers in the covenant of grace. As Irenaeus notes:
“God Himself has proclaimed the words of the ten commandments, and they therefore remain with us, having neither been diminished nor nullified by the coming of Christ”
– Irenaeus, Adv. Hoeres. lib. 4. cap. 31