1 ¶ Elihu spake moreover, and said, 2 Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God’s? 3 For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin? 4 I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee. 5 Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou. 6 If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? 7 If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand? 8 Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.
Elihu has accused Job of declaring himself more righteous than God. This is a common sentiment of many political and theological liberals today. An atheist or a liberal-minded person looks at suffering, war, disease, and death and accuses God, whether he or she believes there is a real God in the heavens or whether they believe God is a fictional construct of the human mind, of indecency, negligence, brutality, and even senility or just being plain evil.
That person calls the war the Jews waged on the incestuous, child-sacrificing, idol-worshipping Canaanites as genocide. That person views God’s proscription of homosexual relations, adultery, sex outside of an intention to lifelong commitment, and self-abuse and neglect as being oppressive, unfair, and unreasonable. The conservative will simply ignore God’s proscription of the love of violence in a Christian and will mock the principle that is clearly apparent and understood by the early church that even the love and passion for violent entertainments is against God’s standard. The conservative will reject the notion taught by early church leaders that if it is forbidden for you to do something it is also forbidden for you to watch it as entertainment. The liberal then has his tolerance for and even promotion of immoral behavior as much as the conservative has his passion for war movies and blood sports.
Both are more righteous, they think, than God. Neither sees any need to conform to God’s will except, perhaps, in matters of a weak interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount on the left and a zeal for outward displays of religious conformity on the far right.
What is the point, Job said, of not sinning? What does it profit me?
Job 9:22 ¶ This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
Job 10:15 If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;
Elihu says that Job does not understand God’s sovereignty over him. God, who is greater and higher than all things, is not affected adversely by Job’s sin nor is He benefited by Job’s assumed perfection. Now, we love to say that God loves mankind. We love to interpret God’s rules and His judgments as revolving around us, teaching, and molding us. Many times people will speak of the Law given to Moses as full of dietary rules that were principally designed for health reasons. These attitudes completely fail to understand that God’s purposes and will are for His glory, that He sought to carve out a unique people for Himself different from those nations around them, and that God loved, past tense, mankind at the Cross of Calvary and that He is furious with those who reject His free gift of grace and eternal life now.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
We do not have the capacity to hurt an infinitely powerful, eternal individual such as God. Nor does our behavior benefit Him in any way. Christians have developed a purely humanistic view of God and the Bible by focusing on themselves and their “rights” to a relatively painless life rather than God’s absolute rights over us. Christians think they’ve made a deal with God, as a sort of cosmic benefactor.
God’s care for us and His kindness to us come through our relationship with Himself in the flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word, the Logos, whose Spirit dwells inside each believer, by whom all things were created and by whom all things are held together, and function. It is Jesus who is our friend and our brother, our compassionate attorney for the defense, and our righteous judge. We can come boldly before the throne of grace because of His righteousness, the righteousness of God, and not by any thing we have done. God is not lucky to have you on His team. You are blessed to have been called and chosen by God.
This is difficult for the Jobs in the churches to understand. Humble yourself before a mighty God.
1Peter 5:5 ¶ Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Satan is not some opposing god who goes around undoing God’s benevolent intentions toward mankind while God desperately tries to stop what Satan is doing. God is not standing at the window with the back of His hand over His forehead worried about how He is going to come to our rescue and get us out of the Devil’s clutches, like some B-movie plot.
All of creation, every one of the countless variations of life on this earth, and you, plus all of history’s events and struggles are about God’s glory, not your immediate happiness, success, entertainment, or temporary health.
Belief and trust in Christ is destroyed by people insisting on a humanistic approach to the Bible and the events of history making man the measure of all things like Protagoras. It is harmed because of taking verses completely out of their context such as Jeremiah 29:11 about returning the Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem and applying it to you not escaping a car wreck caused by you fumbling with your CD player and not paying attention to your driving.
History is His-story and the blessings you receive in eternity are because of His righteousness and mercy and not your own and the sooner you understand God’s sovereign authority over every moment of your life, every cell division, and every beat of your heart the sooner you’ll stop asking the absurd question that the book of Job answered nearly four thousand years ago, “why do bad things happen to good people?”
You are not the center of the universe. God is.