Synopsis Job 38:12-41 7/28/2021
After Elihu had finished challenging Job, God revealed Himself directly to Job and his friends. In this encounter, God posed a litany of questions to expose Job’s limited understanding. For example, he asked Job if he was present at the creation. But he also asked Job more mundane questions like whether or not Job understood where snow comes from.
Of course, Job did not know the answers to any of God’s questions. So, at that moment, Job experienced a subtle irony. He had demanded God’s attention. And his intention was to question God. But when God gave him and audience, he felt overwhelmed.
Understanding God the Creator
Job suffered great physical and emotional pain. Unable to escape the torment of his pain, he sought some reason that might explain the purpose of his suffering. He did this because the seeming lack of purpose made his suffering even more painful and unbearable.
And yet, even as He addressed Job, God did not tell His purpose. Specifically, God did not reveal that the devil had caused Job’s ordeal in order to test his faithfulness.
Of course, if God had revealed this, then the challenge of proving the devil wrong would have appealed to Job’s pride. Thus, Job would have focused on defeating the devil. But that was not God’s purpose. God does not need to prove Himself or His creation to the devil.
Instead, this slight misdirection of Job’s motivation would have undermined the work that God intended to do in Job’s heart. He wanted Job’s absolute abandon, even if that meant Job would never rationally understand his circumstances.
Abandon to the Creator God
Utter abandon to the God of all Creation – this is the work.
Therefore I praised joy, because there is nothing better for mortals under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be joyful; this will accompany them in their toil through the limited days of life God gives them under the sun. I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, though neither by day nor by night do one’s eyes see sleep, and I saw all the work of God: No mortal can find out the work that is done under the sun. However much mortals may toil in searching, no one finds it out; and even if the wise claim to know, they are unable to find it out.” Eccl 8:15-17
Synopsis Job 37:6-38:11 7/21/2021
In his speech, Elihu gave a final insight to Job. In this way, he reminded Job of two essential facts. First, God is essentially mysterious. As a result, human minds cannot fully fathom Him. Second, knowing God is a matter of revelation.
Elihu used the analogy of sun and clouds to make his point. The sun is what it is. But clouds can obscure a man’s awareness of the sun. However, awareness comes with revelation, which Elihu likened to a great wind that blows the clouds away.
Finally, God arrived on the scene to finally answer Job directly. He used forceful imagery challenging Job to explain the mechanics of the universe.
Elihu’s Mysterious God
Although no human can fully comprehend God, Elihu recognized that God is knowable in a relationship way. And the essence of God’s way is to reveal Himself.
God shows Himself to me as a matter of revelation. I cannot demand that. I can’t demand that on the basis of my power. And I can’t demand that on the basis of justice.
So, if I have come to know God at all, it is only because He has revealed Himself to me.
“Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” 2Tim 2:7
Synopsis Job 35:16-37:5 7/19/2021
In poetic terms, Elihu rebuked Job for blaspheming God. Prior to Elihu’s rebuke, Job basically claimed that God was capricious.
So, Elihu countered this false idea. Instead, he argued that God teaches through difficult trials. Thus, God’s essence is to teach.
God is Elihu’s Teacher
God is the creator. Everyone in Job’s world agreed with this. But does that make Him a teacher? Are creators always teachers?
For human beings, not so. Anecdotally, it might be said that creatives are the last place to look for a teacher’s heart. But the God of Creation is a teacher.
Teaching is a part of God’s essence. He made the world and wants you and me to understand His creation. In fact, my ability to learn and understand are both entirely dependent on His desire that I should know and grow.
Obviously, He could have easily created the universe without having this desire toward us. We could be creatures that lack understanding. We could be creatures that just function and never really learn anything new.
But we’re not.
Thus, He wants us to explore and gain in understanding. He wants to teach each of us some important wisdom today. He wants to transform you, and me, through learning.
So, he who has ears, let him hear.
“He guides the humble in righteousness, and teaches the humble his way.“ Psa 25:9
Synopsis Job 34:21-35:15 7/16/2021
In his rebuke, Elihu reminded Job that no one knows their day of judgement. God simply acts as He does. This is because, God is not dependent.
In this way, Elihu sets up the argument that God is altogether self-sufficient. He neither lacks anything nor can anything be added to His perfection.
So, it follows that any conversation concerning justice with God has to be understood differently. Since Job’s righteousness doesn’t benefit the self-sufficient Creator, and since his sin doesn’t diminish the self-sufficient Creator, there is no transaction. And, if there is no transaction, then there can be no injustice.
Elihu Rethinks Justice
God doesn’t owe Job a pleasant life simply because he’s been sinless. And, in fact, this kind of thinking is a kind of sin. It is a privation of the right way Job might have understood his circumstances.
Of course, the pain and suffering brought him to this point of revelation. Without it, the question may never have come up. Job’s (and my) need provoked God’s revelation.
Justice and Jesus
Jesus is God. And God is self-sufficient. So, Jesus is self-sufficient. Thus, I add nothing to His sufficiency and I can do nothing to diminish His perfection.
And yet He loves me.
Synopsis Job 32:13-33:22 7/13/2021
Elihu came to Job along with his three friends. He was younger than Job’s friends. And so, as the discussion had unfolded, he chose to remain silent. However, Job’s claim bothered him. In fact, he felt strongly that Job was unjust in his accusation against God. And, it angered him that none of his friends could refute his arguments.
So, after everyone else was finished talking, he spoke up. As he did, he noted that his motive was to do justice toward God. And so, he challenged Job’s complaints.
First, he countered Job’s claim that God had hidden himself from Job. Instead of being unavailable, Elihu argued that God is constantly speaking. However, it is up to human beings to understand how he speaks and how to interpret.
Specifically, Elihu believed that God speaks in dreams, in visions and through suffering. In these ways, God communicates instructions that both preserve and protect human beings.
Elihu – God’s Interpreter
Elihu claimed that God is always speaking. Through every circumstances He communicates wisdom.
Jesus once said, “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
I cannot hear God if I don’t think He is speaking. And I won’t see God working if I come to life thinking nothing matters.
“The words of one’s mouth are deep waters, the spring of wisdom, a running brook.“ Prov 18:4
Synopsis Job 31:24-32:12 7/12/2021
As Job finished his reflections, he summed up his position. Namely, Job never trusted in material wealth for security. And he never worshipped the sun, or moon, or false gods. Furthermore, Job never rejoiced in the destruction of enemies.
In the end, Job claimed that he never hid his guilt. And so, it seemed to him that his suffering was unjust. Accordingly, he exclaimed his desire to have someone mediate justice between him and God.
Elihu was a young man. He had come with the three friends to comfort Job. However, he refrained from speaking because he was so young. But, once he realized that none of the friends could refute Job, he decided to intervene.
Elihu was young. Even so, he spoke truthfully to Job and the three friends. Specifically, he pointed out that wisdom wasn’t merely the result of having lived a long life. Instead, it was the result of the spirit of God in man that gives true wisdom.
Spirit in Me
Like a fountain of water, God is the source of wisdom. And so, anyone connected to God has access to this font. Accordingly, in conversation, there is evidence that a person is speaking true wisdom and not merely an opinion.
It follows that my tendency for rash talk and hurtful words have nothing to do with God’s spirit.
These too, need to be left behind.
“Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19
Synopsis Job 30:27-31:23 7/9/2021
Job described how his soul and body were failing. As he examined his physical body, it became clear that his body was dying.
And so, he cried out to God for justice. He went so far as to challenge God to judge him. And he invited God’s judgement should it be discovered that he had committed any of the most common forms of injustice. He went so far as to list the categories of his righteousness. For him, the categories included lust, injustice toward a servant, abuse of widows and poor, and persecuting the innocent.
Job expressed his willingness to accept God’s punishment for his sins. But his willingness to face justice was based on his belief that he had done nothing wrong. In this way, he accepted the possibility of punishment. But really, he wanted restoration to the joy’s of his past life.
My Human Confidence
Prior to “being born-again”, I simply feigned confidence before God. I pretended that I didn’t have anything to worry about. I thought, “It will all work out”. Rarely did I spend more than a few seconds thinking about my relationship with God. And I consoled myself by reckoning that I wasn’t much worse than the people around me.
But in reality, my assessment of my own righteousness is worthless. As a part of the human family, I come to this world delusionally, repressed. I come wanting my will to be done. And my soul’s demand to be in control is indifferent to God’s will. In this way, I’m born blind to my own unrighteous dispositions. Accordingly, I’m born actually thinking that building up my kingdom is righteousness – the very definition of righteousness.
And so, it is far past time for me to wake up.
“For everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’” Eph 5:14
Synopsis Job 29:11-30:26 7/8/2021
After Job finished speaking with his friends, he appealed directly to God. In his appeal, he recounted his past life. In this way, he pointed out how he had esteemed the downcast. And he reminded God how he had once been a source of justice for others in his community.
However, now that he seemed cursed, no one paid attention to him. As a result, he was no longer a source of justice for others. Instead, inconsequential men now mocked him.
Finally, in this part of his appeal, he observed how the more he sought God through this trial, the fewer answers he received.
Job’s Narrowed Perspective
There is a persistent irony in Job’s story. To Job, his suffering seemed meaningless. And yet, Job’s story is the first among the books on wisdom. It is the first book of Wisdom literature.
This happened because his physical and emotional suffering caused him to overfocus on himself. He lost focus on the fact that God was using his circumstances to communicate wisdom to the people of the world.
If he had known there was an important reason for his suffering, he would have more willingly and courageously accepted it.
Sometimes people say, “Give God room to be God”. It’s one of those expressions that is easy to say. But often it is very hard to hear.
But don’t be fooled. Inevitably Christ’s disciples suffer. And Jesus taught us to expect as much.
So, as disciples, our consolation will never be that life is pleasant. In fact, it is dangerous to think in these terms. Jesus said, “Take up your cross…” But as you do, keep focused on your loving willingness for His cause – whatever that may be. And then, your consolation will emerge from the value of participating in His will alone.
“I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” Phil 4:12-13
Synopsis Job 28:14-29:10 6/30/2021
Having finished debating with his friends, Job summed his belief. For him, wisdom was “the fear of the Lord”.
After this, Job expressed his longing for the life he had known before his affliction.
Job’s Search for Wisdom
Job wanted wisdom. More specifically, he wanted to know where he could find wisdom. For him, it wasn’t an academic pursuit. Because of his physical suffering, he needed answers.
And so, in the psychological process of coming to terms with his situation, he sought God.
Seeking Wisdom in God
Seeking wisdom is a process. It follows that seeking wisdom by fearing God is a process. How easy is it to allow myself to be awed by His majesty?
Oddly, this awe is fleeting. At one moment the Holy Spirit fills me with the fear of the Lord. And yet the next, I can be overcome by the fear that someone will find the package of cookies I’ve secretly hidden in the cabinet.
This process is not linear. Instead, I come to terms with God by routinely visiting His divine presence. It is habitude – the habit of reflecting on God in the midst of every calm and every storm.
I know, LORD, that no one chooses their way, Nor determines their course nor directs their own step. Correct me, LORD, but with equity, not in anger, lest you diminish me. “ Jer 10:23-24
Synopsis Job 26:10-28:13 6/29/2021
Job continued his final response to Bildad. Specifically, he countered his friend’s claims about God. And basically, he implied that Bildad really didn’t understand much about God.
With this, he once again insisted on his own innocence. And, he refused to accept his friends’ claims that his own sin was the only possible explanation for his pain and suffering.
Then, Job asked a larger question. Using a poetic form of rhetoric, he explored the nature of wisdom and how it could be obtained.
Job’s Search for Wisdom
After a long time of talking, Job was done with his friends. Despite their best efforts, Job had consistently refuted his friends’ wrong ideas about God. But his success only made his deeper need more obvious. Even though he knew they were wrong, he still lacked answers.
And so, he turned his attention to wisdom. He wanted to know how to understand his circumstances.
The Search for Wisdom
Only wisdom truly satisfies.
The scriptures teach that God creates through wisdom. But, there are two dimensions to this wisdom. The first is an understanding of how something fits in creation. With effort and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it is possible for me to see a thing in its essence. And with this, I can love it for its own, transcendent sake.
But the other dimension is opaque. The “how” and the “why” that motivated God to create all that He has created out of nothing – that’s essentially mysterious. As Job said about this kind of wisdom, “nor is it to be had in the land of the living.”
“Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.” Isa 55:6