A Look at Job
Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. (NIV)
It is important to understand what this statement means. What does it mean that God said that Job was blameless and upright? Does it mean that Job was sinless and perfect? Hmm? Is that what God means? Does God mean that Job walked by faith and was therefore covered by the future blood of the Lamb, and so when God looked at Job he saw the righteousness of Christ?
What being blameless and upright before God means is almost universally misunderstood today.
But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame. (NIV)
Typically, a church's doctrine regarding salvation is supported by the above passage. Conventional thinking says that if you can persuade a "sinner" to acknowledge repentance, and get them to confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and then baptize them, that they are then a Christian. This "saved" person is then taught to go to church, and attend church Bible studies and such, and that they should support the church with tithes as it is "God's work." Further, this "saved" person is taught that Jesus Christ paid the price for all sin on the cross, and that because they now believe that this is true, that they are blameless and upright before God, by virtue of what Christ did, that is, when God looks at the "saved" person, he sees the righteousness of Christ because...
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 1:30
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (NIV)
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ -- to the glory and praise of God. (NIV)
Now all these passages seem to support this modern doctrine of salvation, but there is one thing that makes the modern doctrine of salvation wrong. It is tempting to think that you can apply the Holy Scripture as if it were a lawbook, but you can't. This is the common error found in all flavors of "Christianity", that is, what calls itself the "Church" today.
The key to understanding the error of this salvation doctrine lies in the understanding of what faith is.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (NIV)
You receive grace from God through faith. No faith = no grace = no salvation. Let us take another look at the passage from Romans 10 above.
... That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ... (NIV)
It is only true that you are a Christian if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your HEART that God raised him from the dead. Heart belief is called faith. Heart belief is not the same as conscious acknowledgment from the mind. Anyone can say that they believe, but only the true believers will be saved, because only they have faith. It doesn't matter that everyone at church thinks that if you go through the proper steps and get baptized and go to church, that you will be saved. The Church is not a democratic entity. The Church doesn't get to vote on what is right. The Church has only one head, and that is Christ, that is, the Spirit of what is in the Bible.
The Bible Lawyers love to build up fine sounding doctrines from the words of Paul, (words that they don't understand), and say, "This is what the Bible says," but my friend, the truth is what agrees with the whole Bible.
2 Peter 3:15-16
Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (NIV)
My friends, Peter is warning you that ignorant and unstable people distort the words of Paul, and the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. You too, will be destroyed if you listen to their creations of error that violate the very nature of the Spirit of God. Consider that it is not the people of the world that distort the words of Paul, but the people that claim to be God's people.
The truth agrees with every verse in the Bible. There are no "problem passages", there are no, "we have our Scriptures and they have theirs." The truth does not depend upon how you interpret the Bible, the truth is the Truth. The truth is what the Bible means.
If what you believe is true, then there will be no other Bible passages that say something else. If someone tells you that something is true, but you know of a passage that does not agree, then that person is wrong, assuming of course that you truly understand the differing passage.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.
4 Jesus answered, "It is written: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' (NIV)
Every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: ""He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' (NIV)
Satan used Scripture to make up a false doctrine, and how did Jesus know that it was false? Hmm? He knew because elsewhere the Scriptures said something else that did not agree with the conclusion that Satan had come to.
You must personally know the Scriptures or you will not be able to tell false doctrine from the truth. Knowledge of the Scriptures brings light. By that light you can see. You must walk in that light and live in that light.
If you love me, you will obey what I command." Jesus Christ (NIV)
Is this true?
Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (NIV)
Grace to all who obey everything that the Lord commands.
1 Corinthians 16:22
If anyone does not love the Lord -- a curse be on him. Come, O Lord! (NIV)
Is this true? Is it true that if a person does not obey what Jesus commands, that he, or she, is under a curse, and is therefore not a Christian? The Bible Lawyers may quote whatever they will, but the truth is what agrees with every passage.
Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. (NIV)
A person is blameless when they abstain from willful sins. Job was blameless and upright because he was free of all known sin, that is, sin that he knew about. As a Christian we must live in obedience to all willful sin, so that we too will be blameless and innocent of great transgression. This is what the Lord meant when he said that if we love him we will obey him.
This is what Zechariah meant when he prophesied concerning what Christ would do.
... to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (NIV)
Jesus makes us ABLE to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness. Jesus paid the price for sin on the cross so that we would be ABLE to repent and be united to God through Jesus Christ. If Jesus did not pay the price then it wouldn't matter if we repented, we would still be guilty. This is why the angels that sinned against God are doomed. It doesn't matter if they see the effect of their rebellion and wish that they had not rebelled. The fact is, that they did rebel, and price of sin is death. If we truly repent of sin, then we are freed from the price of sin, that is, death, because Jesus made this possible.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call. (NIV)
The cry of mankind, "What must we do?" and Peter's reply, "Repent and be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." Turn from a life of sin, that is, rebellion, and turn to a life of obedience. God will forgive your past sins, if you believe in the atonement that Christ purchased at the cost of his sinless life, and if you repent and live your life in the light of the revealed Word.
Please don't believe the liars that tell you that you can recite the "magic" words of the sinners prayer, and that brings salvation. Don't be deceived by those that tell you that salvation is free. Salvation from death is not free. It will cost you everything that you have. You must give up your life to save it.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (NIV)
What do the Bible Lawyers say about this passage?
Now it might seem to you that I have gotten off track on all this, but I have not. To understand Job you must understand what it means to be blameless and upright before God. Job was blameless and upright before God, not because he was sinless or perfect, but because he was obedient to everything that he knew about God, and because he had faith in God. Job didn't have as much light as we have today, what with the Bible being completed and all, but he lived in the light of what he did know. If you want to be blameless and upright before God then you too must live in the light of what has been revealed to you.
Now that we have established what it means to be blameless and upright before God, I would like to point out that this does not mean that you are perfect. Jesus is the only one that lived a perfect life before God. Jesus was the only person that could live a perfect life before God. Not even Adam or Eve could have lived a perfect life, because they did not have the knowledge of good and evil. Without that knowledge they could live blameless and upright before God, but not perfect. They would have done things that were not right, but in ignorance of that fact. Because of their complete ignorance of evil and innocence of heart, they would not have been guilty of sin, but that doesn't mean that they would have been perfect.
So Job was blameless and upright, but not perfect. Job was headed for a fall, but did not know it. But God did know where Job was headed, and he wanted to stop him in his tracks, and turn him from error. More on this later.
From this book of Job we can see some of how God brings our sin to light, and how he matures us. We see God tell Satan about Job, and Satan replies to God and says that the only reason that Job obeys God is because God has blessed him.
Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face. (NIV)
In a way, Satan is saying that Job is not obeying God because he loves what is right, but because Job sees God as a way to financial prosperity. God knew that that accusation was wrong. God knew that Job really did love him, but God allowed Satan to think what he wanted to, because in the end God would get what he wanted, that is, he wanted Job to acknowledge his sin and repent.
People that really do see God as a way to gain worldly prosperity will fall away if tested in this manner. But Job was a real believer. He loved God, for the goodness of his being. Job would not trade God for any amount of blessings.
1 Timothy 6:3-5
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (NIV)
My friend, please do not listen to those that teach about how God will bless you with worldly wealth, if you have faith. Worldly wealth has no bearing on the matter. Jesus never had any worldly wealth. Worldly wealth just doesn't matter one way or the other. Money is meaningless in the overall scheme of things.
I will say this again, if you are in it for the blessings of this world, then you will fail when put to the test. Job's true faith was clearly revealed, in that he did not shrink back when put to the test, but this was not the purpose that God had in mind. God knew that Job would not shrink back, but Job needed to learn something else. More on this later.
The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. (NIV)
I have heard ministers say that this book shows the sovereignty of God. What they say is that it shows that God can run you through the ringer for no apparent reason, because he is God, and can do whatever he wants if it serves his purpose. Is this true? Does God bring calamity down upon our heads at random, just because he wants to? just to prove a point with Satan? No, it does not mean that. That is a lie.
No book of the Bible can be understood apart from what the other books say. The truth is what agrees with the whole book.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)
In ALL things God works for the good of those who love him. What came upon Job was not a demonstration of God's sovereign right to bonk us on the head, but was allowed because it was what Job needed. God's very great love for Job prompted his action on his behalf.
Like I said before, God allowed Satan to think what he wanted, and he allowed Satan to take everything that Job had, that is, all of his worldly possessions. But God did this for his reasons, to bring about the end that he desired. Satan is a tool that God uses for his ends. Satan does not know what God is doing, or how he does it.
Upon hearing of the loss of his children, and the loss of his wealth, Job said:
Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (NIV)
Job responded well to his very great loss, but he did not yet learn what God wanted him to learn. In the severity of the test that God put Job through we can see the level of importance of what Job needed to learn. I mean that Job's danger was so very great, that nothing short of a very severe ordeal could wake him up to the truth. Job was in danger of the Abyss, even though God said that he was upright and blameless. A man who has not yet fallen into a pit can do so in a heart beat. God who sees and knows everything, can see the direction that we are going, and will take steps to save us from our folly.
So, after Job's favorable response we see:
Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason. (NIV)
This statement that the Lord said is very interesting. The Lord is speaking to Satan, and he is talking to Satan within the understanding that Satan has. What I mean is this; Satan thinks that Job really is completely free of wrong, and that what he did was brought upon Job with no more reason than to test him, but this is not true. God does have a reason. It doesn't matter that neither Satan or Job understand this at this point. As we saw earlier, in all things God works for the good of those that love him, so God has a reason that will benefit Job that Satan doesn't know anything about.
Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."
6 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life. (NIV)
Just like before, God knows that what Satan thinks is true, is not true. Satan thinks that everyone is like him, that is, he thinks that they are in it for what they can get out of it. But this is not true for any of the true children of God, and it is not true for Job.
Satan is trying to prove a point to God, and to the heavenly hosts, and so is the Lord. God's point is that to obey him is the only system that works. God is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) Those people that see God for what he is, will obey him and acknowledge his role as Head of the household. They will love him because he is right, and not because of what they get out of it. Satan can't see this. Satan's point is that we don't need God. He thinks that he is self-sufficient to rule without God. The world is an example of Satan's ability to rule without God. And in the World, God has those that reject the world, and look for the Day of God's rule. Job is one such man. He has been blessed by God, but as the test revealed, he is not in it for the blessings of this world. He is in it because God is right, and he is good.
So, we see again that Satan thinks that because everyone is after what they can get out of it, that Job will abandon God, if his health is attacked. And because God still has the lesson to reveal to Job, he allows Satan to attack Job's health, but not his life.
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.
9 His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"
10 He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (NIV)
So now the scene is set. Job's life on earth is a misery. There is no earthly reason for Job to remain obedient to God. And so he sits.
When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. (NIV)
As the text says, Job's three friends come to sympathize and comfort Job in his troubles, but this is not what they do. They each condemn Job, and tell him that his troubles are the result of some wrong doing on Job's part. Many poetic words are used, but basically that is what they say.
Job thought that because he was doing right that everything was right. He thought that the peace and prosperity that he had was his reward for his obedience. When the peace and prosperity was taken from him he assumed it was because God was judging him for some insignificant thing in his life. Job reasoned that God was being unfair; that God was doing wrong. Job reasoned that obedience to God was pointless, because God would crush you whether or not you lived right.
How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. 24 Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy? 25 Will you torment a windblown leaf? Will you chase after dry chaff? 26 For you write down bitter things against me and make me inherit the sins of my youth. Job (NIV)
My friends, you must not measure your relationship to God with material blessings. If you think that your personal happiness is directly proportional to your love of God, then you are wrong. As far as I have been able to determine, the closeness of your relationship to God is proportional to your knowledge of God, that is, God will reveal more of himself to those that seek him.
Just think a minute and look at Jesus Christ. He was the One who knew God better than any other person. Jesus' total life was devoted to God. Jesus had no material blessings. Jesus is our example. When someone tells you of some doctrine or other, think about Jesus and test if it fits his life. If it doesn't fit, then don't listen. There is some truth in most any doctrine, but the whole truth is in Christ.
Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?" Elephaz the Temanite (NIV)
One very important thing that we can understand from the book of Job is that you cannot tell a man's place with God by examining the trials that he goes through. Job's friends assumed that because such horrible things have happened to Job that God must not like him. They incorrectly assumed that what had happened to Job was a form of judgment; not discipline.
Now, Job knew that he did not DO anything wrong. As far as Job could see he was perfect. Job was perfect in his own eyes, and in this was the problem.
So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. Jesus Christ (NIV)
The attitude that you have toward God is all important. We must never think that what we have received from God is because we merited it. Nothing that you have is yours. Everything belongs to God. What we get is God. He is the prize. All those people preaching prosperity just don't get it.
There is a subtle thing here that many people stumble over. Job thought that because he was doing everything that he knew that he should be doing, that he was wise and that everything was perfect between him and God. He figured that the blessings in his life were a testimony of his favor with God, and in a way that is true, but we can clearly see from this book that the loss of his wealth did not mean that God no longer loved him. God does bless his children with worldly wealth, but that wealth is not a measure of his love. Worldly wealth is meaningless. The moment that you look at worldly wealth, and figure that God must love you because of the wealth, you have crossed over into error.
Let us look at a human family analogy. The measure of love that human parents have for their children is not measured by the volume of toys and such spent on them, but rather in the effort by the parents to raise up a well adjusted and obedient child. To pour money into an unloved child ends in the child being spoiled. To devote time and energy into your child is an expression of your love. The parent that loves their child will not sacrifice what is right to gain approval of their child. True love means that you must risk your child's approval for something more important, and that is the obedience to what is right. The measure of the extent of a parent's love for their child cannot be seen in the number of gifts given to their child, but rather in the nurturing and willingness to discipline their child.
Job didn't understand this. He did not understand that it was because of God's love for him that he was being disciplined. Job then acted like a spoiled child and ranted at God. Job did not understand that all that had come upon him was for his good.
So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. (NIV)
It is very interesting that we see no mention, whatsoever, of this Elihu before this point. He just appears. Everything that Elihu says is by the Spirit of God. Where Job's three friends spoke falsely concerning God, Elihu speaks words of truth.
After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. (NIV)
I have actually heard people quote Eliphaz and his two friends and say that it was from the Bible, meaning that it was the truth, but the Bible itself says that their words are false. And of Elihu the text says:
I get my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe justice to my Maker. 4 Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you. (NIV)
The last part of the book of Job, that is, from chapter thirty-two through to the end of chapter forty-one is so important, that I recommend reading it over and over and over... There is just so much there. I will highlight some of it, but I can't include it all.
But you have said in my hearing -- I heard the very words -- 9 "I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt. 10 Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy. 11 He fastens my feet in shackles; he keeps close watch on all my paths.' (NIV)
We saw earlier that God said that Job was blameless and upright, and that Job thought that he was sinless before God, but here we see that Elihu uses Job's words against him. What is going on? Being blameless and upright does not mean that you are sinless and perfect.
Once again let us look at a human family. Within the typical human family you have two parents and some children. Now the husband, and the wife, form one being of flesh that represents God. Their children represent mankind. Now the parents establish a home and such for their children, and they rule over them for their good. If a child of that home is living in obedience to the rules established by their parents, and if the child honors the authority of their parents, then the parents will consider that child to be blameless and in a right relationship with them, but it is understood by the parents that the child is not a perfect and fully devolved human.
Now as the parents, over time, pour out love and encouragement and praise to their children, at some point the child will start to believe that he, or she, is deserving of this recognition. This is inevitable. Pride will well up in any normal human child that is raised in a loving environment. Pride inevitably leads to rebellion. And in the face of rebellion, the wise and godly parent will discipline their child, to save the child from destruction.
All of this occurs countless times in every godly home, and we don't hardly even see it. As it turns out this is exactly what happens in our relationship with God. However, God is the parent, and we are the children.
He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Jesus Christ (NIV)
Now, regarding worldly possessions: God gives us worldly wealth to help in bringing us to maturity, in the same way that human parents do. As your children get older, you give them things that are designed to challenge them and cause them to grow. You give them things that require that they take on more responsibility. You might give your child a bicycle, and when you do, you might lay down some rules. You would probably warn your child of the dangers of automobile traffic and such. Now if your child obeys all is well, but if not, then you might take back the bike for a period. You don't do this because you are mean, but rather because of your love for the child. You see a danger that your child does not. Anyway, I am sure you get the idea.
What is not so easy to see, but nonetheless true, is that God gives us things for the same reason. He gives us things to challenge us, to help bring us to maturity, and teach us things. Now, the thing is, the things that God gives us are not what is important. The important thing is our relationship with God.
I hate that prosperity teaching that is going around. That teaching says that God wants to give you piles of worldly wealth, because he loves you. God does not want to give you worldly wealth, he wants you to grow up into mature, christ-like, children of God. The focus is on the relationship with God, and our maturity level, not on how many toys we have.
Something that you should consider is that God is a far better parent than any person can ever be. He is totally focused on this. His bringing his children to life is of critical importance to him. If you are truly one of his children then he will allow nothing arbitrary to happen to you. Everything will have a purpose. Every word that has come out of the mouth of God is for your benefit. Not one of his commands is for his benefit directly. What I mean is this; what God gets out of all this is you, and what you get out of all this is Him. The toys don't mean anything at all.
Job started thinking that the things that God had given him were his just due. He was placing worldly wealth and personal recognition above his relationship with God. He was beginning to think that he was more right than God. His wealth and status in the community was filling him with pride. Pride is the most dangerous enemy of man. Top of the chart.
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (KJV)
It is complete foolishness to think that you are right and that God is wrong. It is complete foolishness to compare your intellect with God's. This is exactly what Job was doing.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? 14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. (NIV)
This must never be forgotten. God is the King that sits on the throne. He is the beginning and the end. Our wisdom is never anything but pathetic, when compared to God's.
Now, this doesn't mean that we are slime in God's eyes. No, his children are of exceedingly great importance to him. God's love for those that love him is very very great. In the exact same way that a son, or daughter, is held in great regard by their parents, so we too are loved by God, but never should we begin to think that we are something apart from God. It is because of God that we are anything. Job was losing his grasp of this. He was beginning to think that he was something.
But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man. 13 Why do you complain to him that he answers none of man's words? 14 For God does speak -- now one way, now another -- though man may not perceive it. 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, 16 he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, 17 to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, 18 to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword. 19 Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in his bones, 20 so that his very being finds food repulsive and his soul loathes the choicest meal. 21 His flesh wastes away to nothing, and his bones, once hidden, now stick out. 22 His soul draws near to the pit, and his life to the messengers of death. (NIV)
So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. 11 He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. 12 It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. (NIV)
Elihu is warning Job against charging God with wrong doing, when it is God who is trying to turn Job away from the sin of self-righteousness. God is greater than man and can see what lies ahead. Job's anger at God is foolishness. Elihu is rebuking Job for his ranting against God, and for his lack of faith in God. Elihu's reasoning is that there is a reason for what God has subjected Job to. Job should understand that, and endeavor to understand the reason behind the trial.
My friend, if you truly belong to God, and if anything has come upon you, then understand that God has allowed it, because it was needful for you.
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (NIV)
If someone strikes you on the cheek, God has allowed it. You should consider that it was God who struck you, and this with a purpose. And that is why you are not to strike back. You should instead try to understand what God is teaching you.
They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. (NIV)
At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. (NIV)
He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come. (NIV)
No one could strike Jesus until God said that the time had arrived. Satan could not touch Jesus, apart from God allowing him to do so, so that through the cross he might destroy the devil.
In the same way, my friend, no one can strike you, if you belong to God, unless God allows it, and God will only allow it for a purpose. God's children are very precious to him. He will not treat you arbitrarily. If something has come against you, then be assured that it is necessary.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (NIV)
Job did not do this. He grew indignant. Job charged God with wrong doing. Job accused God of being a sinner, when compared to Job's own righteousness.
Elihu points out that this is foolishness. Elihu points out that God was speaking to Job through his affliction, but that Job was not listening. Elihu then goes on to say what the wise man should do in his affliction.
Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, 24 to be gracious to him and say, "Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him' -- 25 then his flesh is renewed like a child's; it is restored as in the days of his youth.
26 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. 27 Then he comes to men and says, "I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. 28 He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.' (NIV)
The word translated "angel" in verse 23 above should be translated "messenger" as it is in the King James Version. What Elihu is saying is that if a person finds themselves in the situation that Job is in, and if God sends to that person a messenger to intercede for him, and to tell him what is going on, then if the one tested listens and repents, God will restore that person. Now Elihu is that messenger, and if Job listens to him and repents, then God will restore him.
1 John 5:16-17
If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. (NIV)
Elihu is an example of a godly man who has seen his brother in sin and is taking steps to help his brother.
Before we move on I would like to point out that the book of Job has an excellent example of how NOT to pray.
His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom. (NIV)
If Job thought that his children had cursed God in their hearts, then he should not have prayed for them in this way. He should not have sought to cover such a thing. This is the sort of thing that John is talking about in the above passage. Job should have been talking to his children and trying to discern exactly what kind of relationship his children did have with God, and then talk to them about it. If his children had in fact cursed God in their hearts, Job should have rebuked them as he did his wife. Perhaps then they would not have died.
The book of Job is a revelation of how God disciplines his children to make them grow up to be mature adults capable of fellowshipping with him. It is also a revelation of the relationship that God has with Satan, and how God regulates Satan's activities with his children. Job was a man that did everything that he knew that God wanted him to do, and because of this God said that he was blameless and upright. But being blameless and upright does not mean that you are mature. God wants his children to mature. He, like any good parent, will encourage and teach, and also discipline as is needful.
God's aim, and it should be ours as well, is to raise all of his children to be like Jesus Christ. We must understand this and seek it for ourselves.
In this story Job is living to please the Lord, and has come to the conclusion that he is wise and knows God well. Job is very near the sin of pride and self-righteousness. He sees himself as dealing with the "little people," a guide for the weak.
Job continued his discourse: 2 "How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil. 7 "When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, 8 the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet; 9 the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands; 10 the voices of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. 11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, 12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist him. 13 The man who was dying blessed me; I made the widow's heart sing. 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. 17 I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth. 18 "I thought, "I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of sand. 19 My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches. 20 My glory will remain fresh in me, the bow ever new in my hand.' 21 "Men listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. 22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. 23 They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. 24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them. 25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners. (NIV)
Listening to Job here we can see that he attributed God's blessings as his because of his worthiness. In Job's own words he saw himself as a king among his troops, when Jesus said that he who would be greatest among you must be the least. Job needed to be humbled because of his pride.
Anyway, Job needed to be humbled, and so God allowed Satan to humble him. Now, Job's three friends reckoned that Job did something bad and was suffering judgment for it. They were wrong about that, for Job didn't DO anything.
Now, Elihu understood what was what and told Job that God was speaking to him, through the trial, to save Job from the pit of Hell. God is not interested in punishing anyone. God is interested in turning everyone from sin. However, the wicked will not listen to God's affliction, and so they will be destroyed, but the righteous will respond and be saved.
God is mighty, but does not despise men; he is mighty, and firm in his purpose. 6 He does not keep the wicked alive but gives the afflicted their rights. 7 He does not take his eyes off the righteous; he enthrones them with kings and exalts them forever. 8 But if men are bound in chains, held fast by cords of affliction, 9 he tells them what they have done -- that they have sinned arrogantly. 10 He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil. 11 If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. 12 But if they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge. (NIV)
This lesson is true today. When we are faced with affliction today, we should examine ourselves for what is wrong, and repent and do right. O my friends, when the day of testing comes, run to God and not away. Draw near to him and read your Bible. Listen to what He says.
Then Job replied to the LORD: 2 "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, "Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 "You said, "Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. (NIV)
Now, Job finally saw that he viewed himself as being as great, or greater, than God. Job did not realize that he had thought that. It was the trial that brought this to light. Because of what Elihu had told Job, and because of what God told him, he became aware of his pride and he then humbled himself and repented.
As the text says, it is unthinkable that God would ever do wrong. If some terrible calamity has come upon you, then endure it, and draw nearer to God. Spend much time in reading the Scriptures and in prayer. If you know someone who is wise then ask them what they think is going on in your life.
God's aim in all of this is to build your character, to the end that you will be like Christ. Typically such character is built only with a large amount of pain, because our hearts tend to be hard and unwilling to change. But know that it is love for you that moves the Lord to correct you. Know too that the reward is beyond your ability to fully conceptualize.
If you seek God with zeal and honesty, willing to give your complete self over to God, then the total pain and suffering on your part will be minimal. Understand also, that if you are never enduring hardship, then you probably don't belong to God. Also understand that it is not the trials and tests that mean anything, but rather the remaining firm in the Lord through such trials and tests. The trials and tests will reveal what you are truly made of. Job never wavered through any of the testing. He ranted and raved, yes, but he never shrank back. Through the time of trial, Job grew in his knowledge of God. Job was strengthened. Through the trial he reaped a reward that will endure forever.