Friday, December 26, 2014

Job, chapter 36:1-14 comments: Elihu teaches a moral lesson

1 ¶  Elihu also proceeded, and said, 2  Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God’s behalf. 3  I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker. 4  For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.

Suffer can mean to permit or to allow in context. See, for example;

Exodus 12:23  For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

Elihu says he has hardly gotten started speaking on God’s behalf. He’s going to reach for the best knowledge, for the deepest thought, for the greatest wisdom in seeking his knowledge from afar. He’s digging deep now, he says. He’s going to show his Maker, God, as being righteous. His words will be 100% true. Elihu is saying to Job that someone who knows what he’s talking about is speaking to him now and is asking for a fair hearing.

    5 ¶  Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom. 6  He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor. 7  He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted. 8  And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction; 9  Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. 10  He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity. 11  If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. 12  But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge. 13  But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them. 14  They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.

God is all-powerful and yet doesn’t think it beneath Himself to consider even the lowest, most common person, as He is mighty in both strength and in wisdom. Notice how what comes after the colon qualifies what comes before. In opposition to Job’s statement in 21:7 Elihu denies that the wicked live long out of anything but the, “common providence,” as Matthew Henry puts it, and no effort is made by God to permit them a long life and success in spite of their wickedness. God, in a phrase that qualifies His lack of special protection for the wicked, is ready to argue the injustices done by the wicked against the poor, to take up their grievances. So, God doesn’t preserve the life of the wicked man by special means as is assumed in Job’s statement but is always ready to defend the poor man against him.

God never takes His eyes off of His people. God has kept a portion of men for Himself in every place, including in places of absolute authority in government. Think of how Joseph will be made second-in-command to Pharaoh. God gives repentance to His people who commit error and sin and turns their hearts back when they are bound and suffering either physically or by their own sin. If that person turns from their sin and obeys Him, Elihu asserts that God will prosper them. If they do not listen to instruction then they will lose everything, including their lives.

Elihu declares that the faker, the hypocrite, does not cry out for mercy or acknowledge his sin and is doomed. In this age of God’s grace and mercy obtained through faith in Christ we, even at our worst behavior, cannot lose our salvation, but most certainly the old Christian principle of conviction, chastisement, and a coffin in the ground holds true. God will put you under conviction that a sin you are engaged in is indeed a sin against Him. If that doesn’t work, then look for chastisement. If your heart is so hard you will not hear than God can take your life, presumably to keep you from bringing more shame on the cause of Christ.

Let’s say you are committing a grave sin and violating a promise you made before God to do right. You know what you are doing is wrong but you want to do it anyway. Maybe you are so arrogant and your conscience is so seared you feel you deserve your fun or you are entitled to satisfy needs you claim aren’t being met. If conviction doesn’t work perhaps God will allow you to lose your employment, your health, or the loss of one of someone you love dearly. But, you will not hear or regard His warnings. After all, the world would say that life is rough and you’ve had a string of bad luck. Perhaps, sadly, the grave waits to devour your body and to remove you from this earth. What sins do we harbor in our hearts that encourage us to stick out our chin and defy the living God? What awaits us when we refuse to heed conviction or chastisement?

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