Monday, December 29, 2014

Job 36:15-23 comments: from affliction to iniquity

15 ¶  He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression. 16  Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness. 17  But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee. 18  Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee. 19  Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength. 20  Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place. 21  Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction. 22  Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him? 23  Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?

Here, Elihu tells Job that if Job had been humble in his affliction and called out to God in his humility that God would have restored him. This lesson is for us to understand that when tribulation comes to us, and this came as God’s permissive will and the direct action of Satan himself, we should humble ourselves in our affliction and seek mercy and grace from God.

(Strait is a confining place as in straitjacket or a strait in the sea. It is defined by contrast in verse16 as the opposite of a broad place. In the following verses it is a synonym of narrow and in contrast against broad and wide.

Matthew 7:13  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:14  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.)

This is a difficult thing for a modern person to understand and is a reflection of God’s sovereignty over every aspect of our lives. God allowed something bitter to happen to Job, giving Satan permission to harm him within specified limits, and it was incumbent upon righteous Job to humble himself before God, not to trumpet his own righteousness or the injustice done to him but to seek God’s mercy.

You say, “why was my child born like this? What did I do to deserve this? I’ve been a good person.” You say, “why was my spouse taken from me like this? We loved God and prayed and let the Bible speak to us and attended church regularly.” Many other bitter conditions you may find yourself in. Why did your husband leave you? Why is your son or daughter a drunk? Why did you lose your job? What do you have cancer? You don’t deserve any of it. What did you do, you ask, you plead, you cry out, to deserve such treatment at God’s hands?

The question is not well-thought out. Your response to the suffering that God permits in your life is to humbly seek His mercy and to trust Him even unto death itself, as the Bible teaches. Your protesting does not reflect spiritual maturity. God allowed Satan to harm Job within certain limits without a cause. It doesn’t seem fair, just, or right at all, does it? In the following verse, in giving instructions to the church Peter says;

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.

There is our response to our own emotional suffering. Here is to be our response to the emotional suffering of others.

2Corinthians 1:3 ¶  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Romans 12:15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

God’s people need suffering because without trouble and affliction we tend not to depend on God, not to act as even if He is a factor in our lives, and to think of ourselves as a kind of god, self-sufficient, in need of nothing but our own will to make us happy. Humans are more likely to be on their knees imploring God’s mercy when things are going bad for them, not when they are riding high. Even in tribulation, as Job has done, we can exalt ourselves as a suffering servant, a martyr, kicked about by the world and by our Creator. Woe is me.

Elihu accuses Job of playing the part of the wicked man in his attitude, while not accusing him of suffering because of presumed wickedness, like his friends did. Job is pursuing the path of self-justification that wicked men pursue and will bring down the wrath of God upon his head just as wicked men do. Job better be careful because God can take him away from this earth in judgment and neither wealth nor armed men of war will save him. There will be no safety in the darkness of night, where men are cut off from the living in one stroke.

Beware, Job, you are choosing sinful iniquity over your suffering. God is far more powerful than you and no one can teach like God and no one can teach God. No one can accuse God of sin. God is the standard by which all things are measured and Job, with his words and his attitude is treading on very thin ice.

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