Thursday, August 6, 2009

God Speaks to Job Out of a Storm

When God speaks we listen. (Or at least when he speaks in salient terms we do.) In two distinct ways in the same day I was pointed to Job 34:7. I’m generally always looking for when God’s talking to me.

And these things happen relatively consistently for me. Coincidence?? I don’t personally think so. Whilst making a search of the Bible, the verse in question was returned. Then later I filled my car with fuel, not really noticing the value of the filled amount--you guessed it--$34.07! (That’s at least a 300 to 1 chance on my reckoning.) Being numerically predisposed, I felt immediately it was God gently nudging me to explore this area of the Bible and write on it.

Job’s Dilemma and Ours

Job 34:7 (NLT) has Elihu saying of Job, “Tell me, has there ever been a man like Job, with his thirst for irreverent talk?” He’s saying that by defending himself (even when he’s supposedly not in the wrong) he defiled God. Job didn’t actually defend himself; he simply rues the lack of justice (it seems) that the truly wicked face (Job 21:7-34).[1]

Elihu’s speech to Job, after the initial speeches by Job’s ‘three friends,’ gets closer to the point of wisdom than any of the other three ever did--but to many commentators it still misses the mark, in a pompous sort of way. Job was accused as scornful in his response to the inherent evils that came against him. He is tested in his faithful duty to God, and he, like us, is found inept. He responds humanly.

Job too was spoken to by God--out of a storm I might add (38:1, 40:6). It wasn’t as if he could ignore it. From Elihu’s earlier platform, God further propounds his sovereign wisdom in the context of Job’s pathetic basis for legitimate complaint.

God does not harm persons intentionally. “The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress” –Job 37:23 (TNIV).

We have no right really to blame God for our unlucky or unfortunate circumstances. We live in a broken world, consistent with our errant human nature. God’s attitude in the latter chapters of Job is, ‘These humans have the gall to point the finger at me!--they’ve made their own messes.’ His approach is, however, amazingly graceful--even in response to contempt.

We have the same dilemma as Job had (although not quite as extreme for the most part). We are unjustly treated at times. Is that God’s fault? I do not think so. That is one theological message from this passage. God is just.

We can ask what use is it in being good, and why doesn’t God seem to answer all our prayers. If we wanted affirmative answers to these questions why would we not elevate ourselves to God?--because that is what we’d be saying.

The purpose of life or part thereof, is to accept our role as vassal[2] in the kingdom of God. Job did this (eventually) and God chose to bless him abundantly. Job did not try to twist God’s arm and contort his judgment. God was allowed, therefore, the non-coerced choice to bless. We are wise if we leave things of judgment entirely to God.
[1] Derek Thomas, The Storm Breaks – Job Simply Explained (Durham, England: Evangelical Press (Welwyn Commentary Series), 1995), p. 267.
[2] “vassal.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 6 August 2009. Vassal means (in the context of a Suzerainty relationship with God) “(1) a person under the protection of a feudal lord to whom he has vowed homage and fealty: a feudal tenant.”

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