Friday, April 29, 2016

"If you think God has done something wrong ... think again!"

Day #121

Scripture Reading:  Job 33 - 34 …

It is clear after listen to Job and his friends debate the character and purposes of God that they all needed the wisdom found in the words of God as Isaiah recorded them hundreds of years later …

Isaiah 55:6-9:  "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD.  'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"

Enough said.  It is in trying to understand and explain things that are beyond your comprehension and mine that so many people end up questioning God and doubting His wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, compassion, mercy and justice.  And in doing so, people end up like Job, in a spiritual cloud that often results in charging God with wrongdoing!  When that happens, the most merciful thing God can do is to send someone like Elihu to speak TRUTH into your life.  At first, his words may not appear to be very "grace-filled," but they are like “shock-treatment for the soul.”  So many today want “chicken soup for the soul,” but in reality, they need something stronger!!

Elihu speaks from an attitude of humility.  That's one of the first things to consider when God sends someone to you to correct you.  Is their attitude one of arrogance or humility.  Boldness does not equal arrogance.  Elihu says, "I am just like you before God; I, too, have been taken from clay.  No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy upon you" (33:6-7).  Elihu is not claiming to be speaking on his own and he wants Job to understand that it is God that he has offended.

"You have said, … 'I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt.  Yet God has found fault with me' …"   (33:8-10).  "But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man.  Why do you complain to him?" (33:12-13).  Elihu then goes on to explain that God warns people in various ways and that He disciplines men to draw them away from sin. These are questions that many people have today concerning suffering and trials.  God tells us repeatedly in His Word that "He disciplines those He loves" (Hebrews 12:4-11).  The wicked will perish, but those who have put their faith in the LORD and His forgiveness and cleansing in Christ will live.

James writes, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).  And Paul writes that "our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Romans 5:3-4).  Young Elihu is saying the same thing to Job here.

He says, "If there is an angel on his side as a mediator … to be gracious to him and say, 'Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him' - then his flesh is renewed like a child's; it is restored as in the days of his youth.  He prays to God and finds favor with Him, he sees God's face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state" (33:23-26).  Wow! This is the Gospel!  One higher than an angel is our Mediator and HE has paid the ransom for us!!  "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men" (I Timothy 2:5).

Those who have trusted in God's Mediator can testify:  "I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved.  He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light" (33:27-28).  Elihu rightly says, "God does all these things to a man - twice, even three times - to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him" (33:29-30).  Such wisdom from such a young man … wisdom from the LORD!

We must never get to the place where Job was when he said, "It profits a man nothing when he tries to please God" (34:9).   Instead, we must confess, along with Elihu, "Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. … It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice" (34:10,12).  He reminds Job, and us, that God could simply withhold His Spirit and we would breathe our last and return to dust (34:14-15).

You and I exist by the will of God, our Creator, and it is only by His grace that our souls are made alive and we are reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ.  Job had testified at one time, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes - I, and not another" (19:25-27).  Through Elihu and the work of His Spirit, God is now in the process of restoring Job by confronting him with the truth.  Such confrontation, then and now, is hard and unpleasant, but in the end God accomplishes His purpose in the lives of His children.

Are you facing trials?  Are you enduring suffering?  Accept these things as they come and draw near to the One who hears your cries for help.  He may remove the trial or give you strength to endure it, but either way, trust in Him and give thanks for His constant presence and His abiding love, which endures forever!  God cannot and will not do wrong.  He WILL deliver you, in HIS time and in HIS way … and for HIS glory.  Rest in God's arms … the arms that are mighty to save, and you will find peace in the midst of the storm.  If you think God has done something wrong … think again!  HE is wiser than you and I are.  "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25).

"O LORD God Almighty, You are greatly to be praised, for You always do that which is right and good.  Help me to trust You when I don't understand Your ways and give me strength to endure discipline, that I may be trained in righteousness and follow the path You have placed before me.  I desire to glorify You and to exalt Your Name, O LORD.  Be my Guide through the storm, that my testimony may point others to You, my God, my Redeemer, my Savior.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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