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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gleanings in Job #16

... continuing in my devotional series on Job

God has heard and has spoken (33)

Elihu was a fourth friend of Job who had remained quite for too long. Being a young man, he had allowed his elders to dialog with Job for nearly 30 chapters or more of conversations. However, Job's friends had not helped Job (Job 32:12). They falsely accused him of being under God's divine judgment when such was not the case. Moreover, they did not respond rightly to Job's rebuttals to their arguments (32:16).

Though it is true Job did nothing deserving of divine judgment, his response to his circumstances was becoming soured. His words revealed a person becoming self-righteous and scornful against what he knew to be true of God and His character. This is a hidden danger with trials: Our ungodly response may reveal sin in our hearts. There is also a truth to be learned: our theology will shape our response. What we believe about God will filter how we react to trials, particularly severe ones.

Elihu recognized how Job was developing wrong thinking about God. He was afraid to say anything because of his young age (32:6); however, the interchange between Job and his three friends stirred up his spirit so that he was compelled to speak (32:8). That is an understandable reaction when you witness people drawing wrong conclusions about God. Elihu believed he needed to defend God's honor, and rightly so.

In his response to Job and his friends, Elihu hits on three important areas of correction concerning our thinking about the Lord during trials:

I. God does hear and has spoken

II. God is just and acts fair

III. God is sovereign and acts wisely

Let me consider the first one:

I. God does hear and has spoken

Contrary to what Job has been arguing on behalf of himself, claiming that God has not answered him, Elihu reminds Job that God is very much aware of his situation. Elihu repeats Job's main complaint against God beginning in 33:8. Simply stated, Job saw God as being out to get him. But as Elihu reminds him, God is greater than man (33:12). God is not obligated to give an accounting of any of His words, or what is really His revelation of dealings with men, in order to satisfy their questions as to why things are playing out the way they are. (33:13). It is foolish to even contend with God regarding these matters.

Yet, Elihu does remind Job that God does hear him and He has spoken.

Three ways Elihu mentions to Job:

Direct Revelation (33:15-18)

God does speak in visions and dreams to men. This manner of revelation would be anticipated during this time in history of God's dealings with men, because there was no written revelation in the form of scripture.

Through the suffering of trials (33:19-22)

Trials, as Job has been experiencing, chasten men to the point they need to learn dependence upon God. Trials should have the effect of humbling a person and drawing him to the Lord. Rather than justifying himself, Job should come to God humbly.

Through a mediator (33:23)

This would mean a prophet or some spokesman for God who reveals His mind to men. God often used men to speak to others. In the case of Job, there was some legitimacy with his friends words, because they could be telling Job what God wanted him to hear, but Job wasn't wanting to listen.

In His revelation to men, God is more than gracious to sinful man.

God speaks:

- To instruct men about their sinful deeds (16-18). God instructs men regarding their sin so as to keep them from destroying themselves, as well as further sinning against Him.

- To restore men to right standing before God (24-26) God is gracious in that He reveals to men how to be restored to fellowship with Himself. God wants to have a relationship with His people, and that involves providing the knowledge on how that is accomplished.

- To restore men to their fellow men (27, 28) When men have their sin revealed to themselves by God, then they can see how they have wronged their fellow men, confess that sin, and ask for forgiveness. When we know what God expects of us with others, we know what is needed to have restoration with them if we have wronged them.

Before moving on to his next comment, Elihu offers a challenge to Job to give ear and listen to what he has to say (33:31). Elihu wanted to justify Job, to stand with him during his trial, but first Job must rethink his attitude against God. This is a challenge all men - even today - must consider as well.

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