Wednesday, April 19, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 45, Elihu's Speech, Part Five

Elihu continues to suspect Job is a sinner, and he points out that man must come to God on God's terms, not on man's terms. Yesterday he concluded by saying that God punishes the one who turns from Him, and today he says that God judges the one who does this, "They caused the cry of the poor to come before Him, so that He heard the cry of the needy. But if He remains silent, who can condemn Him? If He hides His face, who can see Him? Yet He is over individual and nation alike, to keep the godless from ruling, from laying snares for the people." (Job 34:28-30) Like Job's three friends, Elihu thinks God brought Job down because he was a wicked man.

"Suppose someone says to God, 'I am guilty but will offend no more. Teach me what I cannot see; if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.' Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent? You must decide, not I; so tell me what you know." (Job 34:31-33) Elihu says, "If you don't repent, how can God reward you? How can God forgive you?" This would be good advice if Job had any unconfessed sin in his life. If his troubles were due to his own foolishness, the best thing he could possibly do is bow humbly before God and admit to his failures and ask the Lord to help him.

"Men of understanding declare, wise men who hear me say to me, 'Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.' Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man! To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies His words against God." (Job 34:34-37) Job already knew people were whispering behind his back. According to Elihu they are saying that he is foolish and without any spiritual understanding. They say, "It's bad enough he's been such a sinner that God had to punish him so severely. But he remains in his rebellion. Even now he refuses to repent."

"Then Elihu said: 'Do you think this is just? You say, 'I am in the right, not God.' Yet you ask Him, 'What profit is it to me, and what do I gain by not sinning?'" (Job 35:1-3) Because he's done his best to live a godly life, Job feels he's received unfair treatment. He has wondered whether it would have made much difference if he had not tried to do what was right. Would the outcome have been the same? Would he have been better able to take his tragedies if he had earned them? Elihu doesn't believe Job should ask such questions.

"I would like to reply to you and to your friends with you. Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you. If you sin, how does that affect Him? If your sins are many, what does that do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give to Him, or what does He receive from your hand? Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself, and your righteousness only other people." (Job 35:4-8) Elihu thinks Job is making a big deal out of himself. He asks, "Can anything you do really hurt God? Can anything you do help God? Your actions affect the humans around you, but you can't harm or benefit the God who is so high above you." This is a rather pointless statement and it's untrue. The Bible tells us that our sins grieve the Holy Spirit of God. (Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30) The Lord is wounded by our sins and I think the main reason is because he sees us hurting ourselves with our sins and hurting those around us. God loves us and He mourns over our rebellious ways in the same way an earthly father mourns for a wayward child. Elihu makes it seem as if God does not care whether we are good or bad; he concludes that we are pretty much worthless to the Lord either way.

Elihu's God is a God of vengeance, not a God of mercy. He would not have known what to make of the prophecies that later came of a suffering Servant who would pay for the sins of mankind. He would not have been able to understand the mission of the Redeemer. It would have been unthinkable to him for God to come in the flesh and dwell among humans, to take on our sins, to receive our punishment, to be wounded for our transgressions. He would have said, "No! This is impossible! God is too good. He's too holy. We aren't worth it to Him. We either come to Him in full obedience, making ourselves righteous by good works, or we don't come to Him at all. Why should God do any of the work? We aren't worth it!"

But the Lord thought we were worth it. The Easter holiday may be over for this year, but we can experience the mercy and grace that is Easter every day of our lives. Christ said, "I love them too much to be without them. I will do anything it takes to make them whole. I will bear their wounds and wear their stripes. I will bow my back under the heavy weight of their sins. They are worth everything to Me."

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