Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day 39: Praising Him FOR This Storm

Dust-Devil/Whirl-Wind by NASA (Public Domain)

Job 36:15-17

New Living Translation (NLT)
15 But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer.
    For he gets their attention through adversity.
16 “God is leading you away from danger, Job,
    to a place free from distress.
    He is setting your table with the best food.
17 But you are obsessed with whether the godless will be judged.
    Don’t worry, judgment and justice will be upheld.


Everyone seems to have had their opportunity to criticize Job. His three friends had been with him for a week, sitting in silence, before they started putting him down. Finally, after all their accusations against him as they tried to come up with some great sin that Job must have committed, they got fed up with his continual claims of innocence and just quit talking all together. They probably did a fair share of eye rolling, but they weren't speaking to him anymore. 

But there was one guy who hadn't said his piece yet. Elihu had sat quietly all this time letting his elders do all the speaking. Elihu was the son of Barakel the Buzite, from the clan of Ram. Not that I've ever heard of him, or his dad, or the Buzites, or the clan of Ram, but then again, nobody knows where Uz is, either. I guess if you were hanging out with Job, you'd know these things, and it must have been significant at the time, because that information is in the story.

After listening to these three older men go at each other for so long, Elihu was ready to explode. He'd decided that age must have nothing to do with wisdom, because all three of Job's friends were about as dumb as rocks. No matter how many times they went in circles, they couldn't pinpoint Job's sin, couldn't defend God against Job's accusations, and couldn't answer the questions that Job had defiantly asked.

Elihu speaks: Ok, listen up.  I've always thought that wisdom comes with age, but after listening to you guys go at it for so long, I've decided that age is irrelevant, and wisdom comes from the spirit of God that lives within people, and you old folks just aren't using the sense the good Lord gave you. So it's my turn now, and I'm not going to kiss up to any of you.  
You first, Job. I've had about enough of your complaining, but I'll still try not to be too rough on you. But man, you keep saying you're pure, you're innocent, you're sinless, and that God's just picking on you because He hates you. But you're wrong! You think God's not listening to you, but God speaks all the time, and people just don't listen to Him! You think your suffering is incurable and undeserved, and you've thrown a tantrum of epic proportions without reaching a point of submission. You ask why you should waste your time trying to please God instead of telling God "I'm sorry for what I've done". And if you don't know what you've done, asking Him to show you, so that you can stop!
God treats people the way they deserve to be treated, and frankly, your disrespectful attitude towards Him doesn't earn you any favors. Whatever your sin against Him was, you've made it worse with your rebellion and lack of respect for Him. God hears the cries of the needy! But if He chooses to remain silent, who are you to criticize Him? Do you really think God owes you an explanation? As if He should tailor His justice to your demands? You've rejected Him in your self pity, and you deserve the maximum sentence for that. 
Seriously, do you think that whatever you do here has any affect at all on God's sovereignty? No matter how many times you sin, how will that change who He is? On the other hand, if you live a perfect life, is that supposed to be some great gift to Him? What could you possibly give to Him that He hasn't already given to you? Wake up, dude! Your sins only affect people like yourself! And the good things you do? They only affect humans, too!
We serve a great and mighty God, and He doesn't despise anyone! God uses adversity to get people's attention, and He's causing you to suffer so that He can rescue you. He's leading you away from danger, Job! And He's going to lead you to a place in life that is free from stress, and He's setting your table with the best food. So you need to quit being so obsessed with whether He's judging scoundrels worse than you, and focus instead on glorifying Him with songs of praise. Whether you think you deserve all this or not, He makes things happen either to discipline, or to show His unfailing love.

Elihu is a bit of a mystery to me. Nowhere until now has he been mentioned in this story, never did he speak during all this bickering between Job and his three friends, and yet he has clearly been there the entire time, listening to every word. Why was he there, and where did he come from? To me, he comes across as an arrogant little snot at times, but as this story concludes, you'll see that everyone got chastised by God except for this young, mouthy kid. But most interesting of all, to me, is that God seems to interrupt and continue right where Elihu leaves off, without any apparent pause. I really don't know what to make of it, so I'll just try not to read too much into it.

Anyway, just about that time, a huge whirl-wind sprang up from out of nowhere, as is prone to happen in dry, dusty climates. If you've ever been to the desert, you know what I'm talking about. I've always called them dust devils, but I guess that's not a good term to call the phenomenon from which God spoke to Job and his friends.

God speaks: Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself, I've heard plenty from the likes of you four, now I'm going to set you straight.
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Were you there? If you know so much, tell me, who keeps the sea inside it's boundaries? I do! Who commands the sun to rise in the east? That would be me, as well! Have you explored the depths of the oceans? Have you got any idea where the gates of death are located? Do you know where I store up all the hailstones that I will use as weapons in the end times? Are you able to direct the seasons, or to guide the Bear and her cubs across the sky? Have you discovered how to regulate the earth by the laws of the universe? 
Do you know that the ostritch lays her eggs on top of the earth, without a care in the world that someone might step on them, or some wild animal may destroy them? She treats her offspring harshly because she doesn't care if they die. God has deprived her of wisdom and understanding. But boy, can she run! I'm not an ostritch, just so you all know. 
So, do you still want to argue with Me? If you're going to be My critic, you'd better have the answers. Do you still want to discredit My justice and condemn Me, just to prove that you're right? Why is being right so important to you? When have you, or anyone for that matter, given me anything that I need to repay?

Job is humbled now. As he sits in dust and ashes to show his repentance, he responds to God.
Lord, I know that you can do anything, and I am powerless to stop you. You asked who it was that questions your wisdom with their ignorance... That would be me. I had no right to say those things, God. I didn't know what I was talking about. I had always known you were wonderful, but I lost sight of that. But now, however wonderful I once knew you were, it's nothing in comparison to how clearly I see your awesomeness now. Please, God, forgive me!
God is always faithful to forgive, and Job was no exception. But He wasn't finished. There was still the issue of Job's three fair-weather friends. He spoke again, this time directing His words to Eliphaz and his two friends, expressing His anger towards them for having not spoken right of Him. He demanded they make burnt sacrifices to Him, while Job prayed for their forgiveness. He would spare them punishment for Job's sake.

And then He blessed Job abundantely, more than ever before. Job's previous wealth was doubled. He was given 7 more sons and 3 more daughters, and He named the daughters in his will so that they, too, would have an inheritance. He lived another 140 years, and was able to enjoy four generations of his children and grandchildren before he finally died a happy old man.


But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

From the song Praise You In This Storm
by Casting Crowns

No comments:

Post a Comment