Worldly wisdom

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-eighth in a series

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A clap of thunder! The storm that began in Job 36 has come nearer. It frightens Elihu.

Job 37:1-4 NIV

By the word of God divine instructions are conveyed to the mind through the ear, by his works through the eye; but, because those ordinary sights and sounds do not duly affect men, God is pleased sometimes to astonish men by the eye with his lightnings and by the ear with his thunder. It is very probable that at this time, when Elihu was speaking, it thundered and lightened, for he speaks of the phenomena as present; and, God being about to speak (ch. 38:1), these were, as afterwards on Mount Sinai, the proper prefaces to command attention and awe…
Thunder is called the voice of the Lord (Ps. 29:3, etc.), because by it God speaks to the children of men to fear before him, and it should put us in mind of that mighty word by which the world was at first made, which is called thunder. Ps. 104:7, At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away, namely, the waters, when God said, Let them be gathered into one place. - Matthew Henry

Job 37:5-8 NIV Elihu describes how the Lord can bring all activity to a halt by the weather.

To Elihu the weather in all its glory is the glory of God, and God stops people from their work so they can see it. … Is not the whole book of Job about men who have been stopped from their work? It is about an enormous work stoppage, an enormous inconvenience that has fallen out of the sky and forced five busy people to drop everything they were doing and to turn for a while to a more important task. (- Mason -ref)

Job 37:9-13 NIV God is in control of the weather to effect his purposes; at least, up until the present generation he was. Today, we have learned of HAARP and cloud seeding. Elihu wold not have known of these.

Job 37:14-20 NIV Though Elihu has forgotten, Job has considered the works of the Lord. Did he not say:
He stretches out the north over the void
and hangs the earth on nothing.
He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,
and the cloud is not split open under them.
He covers the face of the full moon
and spreads over it his cloud. (Job 26:7-9)
the thunder of his power who can understand? (Job 26:14b)
A single-minded focus or personal agenda can prevent a full recollection of related conversation.

It was not that Job had no awe of the Almighty when he pled for answers. Yet he did address God directly and ask for a hearing:
Withdraw your hand far from me,
and let not dread of you terrify me.
Then call, and I will answer;
or let me speak, and you reply to me.
How many are my iniquities and my sins?
Make me know my transgression and my sin.
Why do you hide your face
and count me as your enemy? (Job 13:21-24)

Job 37:21-24 NIV Though Elihu seems to be centered on God, his real focus is on Job. He describes a supernatural type of disturbance in the heavenlies but does not believe that God would condescend to man’s cry for understanding of his ways. Elihu does not realize that God himself is drawing near. His ending statement is that God will not regard the one who is conceited, namely, Job.

But who is wise in their own conceit? Is it Job, or is it Elihu?

In his great wisdom, Elihu does not know that God desires close communion and friendship with his own. He desires a relationship and to converse with us.

Elihu’s wisdom is worldly, defining a foundation for a faith in a God, but not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Change on the horizon

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-seventh in a series

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Many Bible commentators criticize Elihu as prideful and disrespectful. Perhaps in the judgment, along with Chorazin (et al) (Mat 11:21-23), he will face stiff condemnation. On the other hand, he is a young man, so we older ones should lessen our vitriol and increase our permission, with respect to his critical nature. We cannot overlook his doctrinal errors, but may nevertheless see him in a good light as one who loves God and has many wonderful thoughts.

Neither he nor the older men have considered the possibility that God has not brought Job to ruin for his sins but rather for his good. Indeed, there are times when reversals are not for the purpose of punishment or even of discipline. Reversals do test our faith, but when they are not served to us for any gross sin, then we must seek deeper understanding. The superficial view blocks the sun of God’s glory in Job’s terrifying trial, and we cannot see God’s hand of help.

Job 36:1-4 NIV Elihu desires to continue in his discourse, even though he has taken more time than the older men. He believes that what he has to say is from the mouth of God.

Job 36:5-7 NIV He explains to Job: God is evenhanded with the mighty and the weak, but unmerciful to evil men. He exalts the righteous to rule with kings.

Job 36:8-10 NIV Here we see a softening of Elihu’s previous words in Chapter 35 that God will not “make repayment” to the prideful man, or in Chapter 34 where he denies that Job has any standing with the Almighty. He returns to his insight of Chapter 33 that God will deliver the soul of the repentant.

Job 36:11-14 NIV Yet, Elihu considers Job a reprobate who refuses to come down from his high horse and is heaping up God’s wrath.

Job 36:15-17 NIV If Job would only confess his wrongs, he would by now be restored. Now who is determining God’s timetable? Previously, Elihu condemned Job for thinking God was late in coming to his aid.

Job 36:18 NIV Elihu had originally offered to be a ransom for Job. His words as God’s messenger would effect Job’s release from his trial, for he would realize he needed to change his ways.

Job 36:19-21 NIV He warns Job not to continue in his opposition to repentance, but to embrace the affliction that has resulted from his sins. Of course, for Job to agree with him, he would need to deny his integrity.

Is Job right to refuse to deny his integrity? What do you think?

Job 36:22-23 NIV Elihu speaks eloquently for God: No one should ever dispute God’s works. Likewise, no one should think he infallibly understands the purposes of God in the events of life.

Job 36:24-25 NIV All men of God should be careful to testify that God is good all the time. Their witness is in plain view and others will take it to heart.

Job 36:26 NIV A wonderful thought!

Job 36:27-31 NIV It is through rain or drought that men know God's judgment of their behavior. Without rain, they will not eat.

Job 36:32-33 NIV There seems to be a change in the weather stirring; Elihu’s thoughts turn to the phenomenon of rain. God has designed his creation to water itself yet he controls the cycle. (This was written before the heavy hand of geoengineering.)

We perceive a storm approaching in the distant thunder, and the cattle know it, too, by their perception of atmospheric change. Thus, the thunder may serve as confirmation to the stirring of the cattle that we see first. Likewise we can discern God’s warnings to us through events in our environs, if we pay attention.

How perfect are the ways of the Lord. No matter how intense our suffering, we will rest in his lovingkindness. At times his love is only perceptible by his power to preserve us whole, despite Satanic assault, degradation, insults, catastrophe, bereavement, loss and grief, and self focus.

Our God is not a legalist

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-sixth in a series

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Job 35:1-3 NIV In any lengthy proceeding it is easy to lose track. That is why meetings have secretaries, trials have court recorders, and cities have newspaper archives.

The liar can forget what he earlier insisted on, and the honest person may forget the good things he has said. Who can keep track of all our words? Only God.

In Chapter 35, Elihu accuses Job of believing himself to be more righteous than God.

When Job said, What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? (Job 21:15) he was parroting what the unrighteous say, in effect, when they explain why they behave badly.

For himself, Job understood he was not a perfect man: If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. (Job 9:20) He was confused as to why God put him in his trial (Job 10:15), and he defended his integrity (Job 27:6), but did he ever say there was no reason under heaven to practice good behavior and do right? No.

Elihu believed that Job’s words taken as a whole implied that the Lord was unjust. Some will agree with Elihu, and others will say they heard Job crying out for answers, which we all must do when we are in a trial.

Elihu frowned on Job’s desperate moaning. Stop crying out to God on the basis of your own righteousness — as though your good behavior should merit God’s answer!

Yes, Job had felt that God loved him and heard his prayers because he carefully followed God's ways. Elihu will now explain why that way of thinking is all wrong.

Job 35:4-8 NIV First, why should man assume God is in any way affected by his behavior? He is not! Ones bad or good behavior affects only other people.

Elihu's concept of God is flawed.

If it is true that because God is so great and so high, the innocence or guilt of a petty human being is a matter of profound indifference to his Maker, on the ground that it can bring Him neither gain nor loss, we are landed, we see at once, on a very gloomy shore. We reach a conclusion fatal to all religion. - Bradley (ref)

Next, Elihu denies that God will have regard for the prideful man.

Job 35:9-14 NIV Prideful people like Job do not cry out in praise to God, crediting him for man’s unique capabilities and thankful for his divine watchcare. Therefore God does not answer nor even regard them, and much less will he regard Job who has set God on his own timetable.

Perhaps the best thing we can point out about Elihu's insights is that they are not true. Thank heavens the Lord hears the prayers of the prideful who belong to him. True, he will discipline us, but he will not forsake us.

Job 35:15-16 NIV Elihu, the dogmatist, is waiting for God to lower the boom on Job, and when he does, that will shut Job up.

Some may say that God is like Elihu –or vice versa– in that he promised: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mat 12:36-37) In the context of the passage, however, “careless” is defined as those words spoken by legalists who reject Christ.

Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, except for the blasphemy against the Spirit (Mat 12:31) Imagine! EVERY sin and blasphemy except one. God is NOT legalistic. God is love.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

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Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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