Thursday, April 20, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 46, Elihu's Speech, Part Six

I think I will be so glad when Elihu has finished talking, but today he continues on. He tells Job that God does not answer him because he is wicked.

"People cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, and teaches us more than He teaches the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?' He does not answer when people cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked." (Job 35:9-12) Elihu suggests Job has had no regard for God and that God has not answered him because he's a wicked man.

"Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it. How much less, then, will He listen when you say that you do not see Him, that your case is before Him and you must wait for Him, and further, that His anger never punishes and He does not take the least notice of wickedness. So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words." (Job 35:13-16) He thinks Job is not sincere in his worship of the Lord.

"Elihu continued: 'Bear with me a little longer and I will show you that there is more to be said in God's behalf. I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. Be assured that my words are not false; one who has perfect knowledge is with you.'" (Job 36:1-4) Elihu claims to speak on God's behalf. He doesn't want Job and his friends to reject his words because, in his mind, they are the words of God.

"God is mighty, but despises no one; He is mighty, and firm in His purpose. He does not keep the wicked alive but gives the afflicted their rights. He does not take His eyes off the righteous; He enthrones them with kings and exalts them forever. But if people are bound in chains, held fast by cords of affliction, He tells them what they have done---that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil. If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. But if they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge." (Job 36:5-12) Job's tragedies are all the proof Elihu needs to believe he is an ungodly man. He says, "But you don't have to be! God is so high above us, yet He doesn't despise us in our ignorance. He is gracious to give us knowledge if we ask for it. If you will repent and live right, God will reward you."

"The godless in heart harbor resentment; even when He fetters them, they do not cry for help. They die in their youth, among male prostitutes of the shrines. But those who suffer He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction." (Job 36:13-15) Elihu states, "The godless remain angry toward God even when He disciplines them for their own good. The man who rejects God will die in shame. A man like that is as bad as one who participates in pagan temple orgies; he is a disgrace."

Elihu advises Job that God is chastising him for his own good. "He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food." (Job 36:16) The Lord does indeed work hard to woo us away from the ugly fruits of our sinful labors. He offers us a better way of living. Because He loves us, He wants us to follow Him instead of worldly things.

"But now you are laden with judgment due to the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you. Be careful that no one entices you by riches; do not let a large bribe turn you aside. Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts sustain you so you would not be in distress? Do not long for the night, to drag people away from their homes. Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction." (Job 36:17-21) Elihu says, "You could have had prosperity and the blessings of the Lord! But instead you followed after riches and were willing to do unrighteous things in order to get them. All your money is gone now; what use was it to you? It didn't prevent God from bringing judgment on you for your sins."

"God is exalted in His power. Who is a teacher like Him? Who has prescribed His ways for Him, or said to Him, 'You have done wrong'? Remember to extol His work, which people have praised in song. All humanity has seen it; mortals gaze on it from afar. How great is God---beyond our understanding! The number of His years is past finding out." (Job 36:22-26) Elihu magnifies the name of the Lord and urges Job to join him. He thinks perhaps Job has made a big deal of himself and has made far too little of God. Once he gets things in the proper perspective he will be much better off. This principle is true, although it doesn't apply to Job's particular situation since he has remained faithful to the Lord.

The bigger we make ourselves, the smaller we make our God. And the opposite is also true: the bigger we make our God the smaller we make ourselves. Elihu is correct when he insists that man needs to keep things in proper perspective. God deserves to be exalted. Who is like Him? There is a very valuable nugget of advice in Elihu's speech today when he says, "Remember to extol His work." How much bigger would God seem to us if we remembered to extol His work every day? What if we woke up and praised Him for the sunrise? What if we gratefully breathed in the fresh morning air and thanked Him for the beautiful planet we live on? What if we learned how to recapture the wonder of childhood when we lived closer to the ground and every tiny flower and every blade of grass seemed like a miracle? We have a God so great that He made all these things. He simply spoke the word and an entire universe sprang into existence out of nothing. Is He not big enough to handle all our problems? Let's remember to extol His work today. He has created all things, including us, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He loves us so much He came up with a way to redeem us so we could live with Him forever. A God this great deserves all our praise.

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