Scripture Reading: Job 35 - 36 ...
Very few people know God today; it’s as simple as that. Like Job’s friends, they know some things ABOUT God, but they fail to truly grasp His wisdom, power, goodness, faithfulness, holiness, justice and truth. And their lack of knowledge leads to people judging God, accusing God of doing wrong or simply pulling away from the God they think they know. Of course, God can take care of Himself; He doesn't need anyone to defend Him against the accusations of those who complain that He acts unjustly. Yet, God has called those who know Him to be His witnesses, to testify to His character so that all may know that He is God and that He rules with wisdom and justice over the affairs of men. God is ALWAYS right!
As young Elihu continues to speak to Job and his friends, his goal is to uphold the glory of God as he corrects the misunderstanding and deception into which Job has fallen with the "help" of those who came to comfort him. Job has been led astray because of his weakened condition and the accusations of his friends to the point that he now passes on their accusations and directs them toward God! Elihu's words, and those of God later, should act as a warning to all who would question God's dealings with mankind.
It is sad to remember how Job began when tragedy first struck. His response was firm and his trust in the Lord appeared unshakeable. Remember his words? "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised" (1:21). And when his wife had told him to "curse God and die," Job replied, "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (2:9-10). Though faced with suffering and trial, Job confessed his faith in the God he knew as holy, good, righteous and faithful. Yet in the absence of encouragement, Job began to slip into doubt and began to question what he knew of God. Job's fall into temptation in the midst of his suffering was accelerated by the relentless accusations of his friends, but Job over-reacted. He made the fatal error of beginning to defend HIMSELF rather than God, and he finally arrived at the place millions have since: "What profit is it to me and what do I gain by not sinning?" (35:2-3).
What a horrible spiritual state in which to find oneself. Job was now facing not only physical trials, but also emotional, mental and spiritual anguish. Elihu says to Job, in effect, "Whom are you hurting but yourself?" (35:6-8). He points out that God does NOT hear or answer the cries of those who do not acknowledge Him ... contrary to what many think today. "God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it" (35:13). People who have such an attitude toward God incredibly still cry out to Him when faced with a crisis and then demand that He answer in the way THEY know is "best." Think about this! Question God, doubt His justice, then demand that He give you what you want ... and THEN complain and question more when He doesn't answer ... and on top of that, accuse GOD of wrongdoing. That's how many today live their lives. It is the pathetic reality of those who do not know the true and living God!
In this lengthy account of this “moment” in Job’s life, God now uses a young man to correct the thinking of Job and his friends by speaking truth into the situation. Elihu begins by speaking of God's character. This is the place where we SHOULD begin when questions arise in our minds or when the temptation to doubt God is placed before us by the circumstances of our lives, be it trials or suffering or tragedy. Elihu rightly points out: "There is more to be said in God's behalf. I will ascribe justice to my Maker!" (36:2-3). That should make you want to say, "AMEN! Finally, somebody is making sense!" Listen carefully to what he says: "God is mighty, but does not despise men ... He does not take His eyes off the righteous" (36:5,7).
God watches over those who trust in Him, whom He has declared righteous by faith. He also deals with sin and its consequences in ways beyond our understanding. We have heard that before. "But those who suffer, He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction" (36:15). God is never far from the brokenhearted as they cry out to Him and ask Him for help. He does not always take away the affliction, but He gives strength to endure and provides the opportunity to testify to His faithfulness. When good things happen we say, "God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good!" We then testify to the good things God has done. But what about testifying that God is good in the midst of the trials?! Isn't God good even when times are hard?? God's character doesn't change in the midst of our circumstances.
As some have said, "Life is like a marathon, not a sprint." Judging God's character without knowledge by looking at a small, tiny part of the whole picture leads to misunderstanding and more questions. Elihu warns of the deceitfulness of wealth and that includes the deceitful promise of only good things happening. He says to Job, "Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction" (36:21). Trusting in the wisdom, goodness and faithfulness of God, we who believe can say that affliction is GOOD for us! It keeps us from setting our hearts on the things and pleasures of this world and calls us to place our hope in God and in His promises in Christ Jesus. God uses affliction to teach us lessons we would not learn in any other way. "God is exalted in power. Who is a Teacher like Him?" (36:22).
"How great is God - beyond our understanding!" (36:26). And since that is true, you and I are called to speak of the justice of our God. He is just, He is right, He is good and He is faithful to those who trust in Him and who call upon Him in times of trouble. When you do not understand His ways, trust His character, and proclaim to those around you that God is still just, He is still right, He is still good and He is still faithful!! He IS good ... ALL the time!!!!
"O Lord, my God, I place my trust in You, in good times and in times of trouble, trial, temptation and suffering. When I am weak, O Lord, You make me strong. I declare to the world that You are just, that You are right, that You are holy and You are good, now and always. I find my hope in You alone. Help me to live to glorify You, my Abba, my Father in heaven. In Jesus' name, Amen"