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

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Gleanings in Job #17

...continuing in my devotional series on Job

God is Just and Fair (34-35)

Elihu, the youngest of Job's friends, was probably more of an acquaintance with Job than a friend. But, his words were directing Job back to a true understanding of who God is. Job was growing bitter in light of his trial. Such a response can be understandable.

Suffering in severe trial can be difficult. Imagine a loss of several family members at once. Or perhaps suffering with severe pain for months on end, with no pain medication providing relief. Worse still, imagine watching a loved one suffering with severe pain for months on end, especially a child. Under such circumstances, when no relief from a trial comes, or is even seen on the horizon, it is easy to become jaded, cynical, and stirring up thoughts of God being unfair to you. Even when you believe you have maintained a sweet countenance, or responded well with godliness, and still, no relief comes. Bitterness can begin to grow deep and endanger choking out your thoughts of who the Lord is.

Elihu recognized such bitterness growing in Job's mind and so he attempts to draw his thinking back to the Lord. His argument, which is recorded in chapters 32-37, hits on three broad areas of theology:

I. God does hear and has spoken

II. God is just and acts fairly

III. God is sovereign and acts wisely

I considered the first point in the last entry on this study, now I come to the second.

II. God is just and acts fairly

Elihu begins his next point in chapter 34 with equating Job to the scoffer. Quoting Job, Elihu points out his scorn toward the Lord: "For Job has said, 'I am righteous, but God has taken away my justice; Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.'"

Elihu is being sarcastic, but his point is excellent: Job is claiming God is being unfair to him. Job is righteous, that is, innocent of any wrong doing, any sin against the Lord, yet God refuses Job a day in His court to allow Job the opportunity to testify and thus vindicate himself.

But Job is being like the scornful man, argues Elihu. He is like the person who says, "It profits a man nothing that he should delight in God." (34:9). The mindset that says "If God is real, he probably doesn't really care for you, you're wasting your time." In a way, it is an attitude that says God is a liar, in spite of God's promises to bless those who serve Him.

This scornful attitude makes Job to be like wicked men and only turns men away from God, because no reason is provided to delight in God. It means God is only worthy of worship if God gives you what you want and only passes out good things to those who serve Him.

In response to Job's attitude, Elihu reminds Him of three truths of God's justice:

1) God gives men what they deserve (10-15). Despite what many people in our world believe God will do or not do, one thing is for certain, God will judge men according to their works and will give them what they deserve. We see in Revelation 20:11-15, for instance, that those who are apart from Christ will be judged by what they have done.

Elihu tells Job an eternal truth about God. Not only will he judge all men, but that judgment will be fair and with out partiality. Verse 10 says God will not judge wickedly, meaning with partiality, as if He can be bribed. Verse 12 even affirms this when Elihu tells Job God will never pervert justice. Additionally, God repays man according to his works. In other words, God will take into consideration man's works, and if they deserve death and wrath, those people will certainly receive such a reaction.

There are reasons for God giving man what he deserves:

- God's Character demands it. As noted above, God will not pervert justice. He is holy and will only judge according to His holiness, which is always good.

- God is the absolute standard of justice. Elihu asks Job who gave God charge over the earth? The obvious answer, no one. God is the ultimate standard of justice because He alone is the sovereign creator to whom man answers. He is the one who sustains and takes away life (14, 15). He retains His own authority, and because of that, God can hold men accountable for their works either bad or good on account of the absolute standard of justice that reflects God's moral character.

2) God must be just to govern the world (16-20). Elihu further asks Job as to what he would prefer: a just God who does what is right, or one who hates justice? If a king or judge acts unjustly, Job would certainly complain against that king or judge. Yet Job knows God is just and Job complains against Him as if he were not (17). But, as Elihu reminds Job, even God is not partial toward any king or prince. They too will experience equal judgment before God just like everyone else. In fact, they will die just like everyone else. If the Lord did not treat even the most regal of men with impartiality, according to their deeds, God could not govern the world. He would have no true authority and no character by which to hold men accountable.

3) God is omniscient (21-30). The key reason God can hold men accountable to their works and give men what they deserve fairly, is the fact God is omniscient: He knows all things. God's justice is based upon His knowledge. God has full, perfect knowledge of all things, thus his just dealings with men will be full, complete, and perfect.

Elihu expresses God's omniscience by speaking of how His eyes are on the ways of men considering their steps. There is nowhere any person can go to flee from God, for he is everywhere and knows all things.

This should be a comforting doctrine for God's people, particularly those who suffer like Job. For if God knows all things,

- God doesn't have to gather evidence (24, 25). He already knows what evidence is relevant.

- God doesn't have to investigate crimes (26). He knows the complaint of the innocent against the wicked who would torment them (28).

- God will punish the wicked who deserve it (26-28). No person can get away with a crime against another, for God knows all things and will repay when it is time, and because God knows all things, it doesn't matter how much time passes between the committal of the crime and the final judgment, God doesn't forget.

The remainder of chapter 34, on into chapter 35 is Elihu calling Job to repentance in his thinking against God. Job is thinking unwisely, and this mindset is bringing Job closer to being considered a blasphemer and scoffer, and that is a description Job should not want tagged to his name.

Oh that God's people would also stir up the proper attitude about God's justice. No one ever deserves anything from God. He owes us nothing, but we, His creatures who are sustained daily by Him, owe Him everything. Shame on us if we think God is acting in evil toward us because we suffer earthly trials. We should be thankful of God's grace He has imparted to all undeserving men.



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