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Passage: Job 35-37

On Saturday, June 18, 2016, Yujin wrote,

God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend (Job 37:5).

Elihu, the youngest of the speakers, patiently waits on his elders to finish before giving his response to Job. Unlike the others, Elihu does not assume Job must have sinned because of his suffering. Instead, he rebukes Job for his present sin of challenging God's justice in afflicting Job. In making His case, Elihu points to the "unknowableness" of the greatness of God. Men can only see the effects of His work from afar (Job 36:25), but otherwise men are ignorant of God's perfect ways.

Friends, about a month ago I asked you to pray for my mother, who was undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor. I asked for two things: (1) her salvation and (2) her healing. Praise God! For He has thus far answered the greater of the two requests. Just about a week ago, she confessed to me that she trusted in Jesus, as the One who died for her sins and rose again. I cannot begin to express how my soul rejoices in this. Yet, I will be so bold to continue to pray for the other request, that she might be physically healed and completely restored. 

I will not follow the presumptuous folly of some to "prophesy" God's healing, but I will boldly pray and ask for prayer that God, in His providence and grace and for His glory, might heal her. 

Two doctors give her six to twelve months to live, even with radiation and chemotherapy. Presently, she has virtually zero mobility on her left side, and she remains in a perpetual state of lethargy. Even so, please pray with me for God's favor on my mom, to heal her and to restore her completely according to His will.

There's much we don't understand and much we cannot begin to comprehend, but rather than feel angst over this, we can trust and hope in the LORD, for He alone is perfect in wisdom, in power, and in righteousness. 

Passage: Job 35-37

On Wednesday, June 20, 2012 (Last Updated on 6/19/2015), Yujin wrote,

"What’s in it for me? What’s the use of living a righteous life?" (Job 35:3)

Elihu's criticism of Job strikes at the heart of another major theological lesson in this book: If the righteous suffer as the wicked, what is the use of being righteous? Generations later, the chief musician in King David's royal court would also ask,

Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence. 
All day long I have been afflicted, 
    and every morning brings new punishments (Psalm 73:13-14).

Again, if the righteous suffer as the wicked, what use is there of being righteous?

Asaph received his answer when he entered the sanctuary of God:

When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny.
Surely you place them on slippery ground; 
    you cast them down to ruin. 
Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
    and afterward you will take me into glory (Psalm 73:16-17, 23-24).

The final destiny of the wicked is destruction, but the final destiny of the righteous is glory. Thus, a perspectival change in Asaph gave him the true picture. Even though there was inequity and confusion in this life, where the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper, there will be a day of reckoning, a day of judgment.

And for the righteous sufferers, even though they suffer in this life, there will be glory in their future. Job recognized this as well:

I know that my redeemer lives, 
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God; 
I myself will see him
    with my own eyes —I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27).

This is why Paul could also write in Romans 8:18,23,

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us... Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

Even the LORD Jesus endured what He did because of the future joy that awaited Him. And He is to be our example in this:

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:2-3).

What is this joy, this hope, this glory? It is the resurrection, of which Paul writes,

For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:16-19).

If there is no resurrection, Christians are "of all people to be most pitied." Why? Because this is the hope for which any and every suffering can be even joyfully endured. This is also why Paul writes repeatedly that believers need to be heaven-focused, even as they live their earthly lives:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).

This, then, is the problem with our times. We are too earthly-minded and earthly-focused. Heaven is just a post-mortem insurance policy. Our lives reflect our much greater embrace of earthly realities than heavenly hopes. We put our trust in what we can see and touch, even though we know these things pass away and are passing away. 

This also explains the appeal of prosperity theology, which teaches that God rewards good behavior in the here and now. But the New Testament clearly teaches that the prevailing characteristic of a Christian's life will be suffering and persecution in this life, as attested by the suffering and martyrdom of Christ and all the apostles, even so, people want to believe, like the Jews of Jesus' day, a "kingdom now" theology, where Christ is already on the throne.

But, as Paul also reminded the hearers of his day, the resurrection is not yet, for people still sin and people still die. But we look forward to that future resurrection, where our mortality will be swallowed up by immortality. With this hope in view, we labor to live lives pleasing to God.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory"... Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:51-54,58).

Therefore, friends, let's not live day by day, praying and serving the Lord for the benefits we might receive in this life. Let's not take the experiences of this life as a barometer for the meaningfulness of a righteous life. But let us live diligently for the Lord with heaven in view and for the benefits that endure forever. 

Passage: Job 35-37

On Monday, June 20, 2011, Sherry wrote,

I really like chapter 37!  It shows us that NOTHING can compare to God!!  His power and presence is so awesome, and when he speaks we should listen!  Elihu stressed God's sovereignty over all of nature as a reminder of His sovereignty over our lives.  God is in control!  I say this to myself when I start feeling that life is out-of-control.  He directs, preserves, and maintains His created order!

Passage: Job 35-37

On Monday, June 20, 2011, Stephen wrote,

2 “Do you think this is just?
You say, ‘I am in the right, not God.’
3 Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me,a]">[a]
and what do I gain by not sinning?’

4 “I would like to reply to you
and to your friends with you.
5 Look up at the heavens and see;
gaze at the clouds so high above you.
6 If you sin, how does that affect him?
If your sins are many, what does that do to him?
7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,
or what does he receive from your hand?
8 Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself,
and your righteousness only other people.

 Who am I that you are mindful of me? Whether I am righteous or sinful doesn't affect who God is, but He deeply cares for me who don't deserve who I am now. About a week ago, we found these newborn baby hares in my backyard when I took my dog for his potty time and she started sniffing frantically at the small hole in the ground. There were 4 baby hares making a squeaky noise in the hole. Obviously they didn't like being disturbed by my dog sniffing at them. Texas heat was quite strong and there seemed no care for them from their mommy hare. Three of them died most likely by malnutrition, and ants attacked them viciously after that. I rescued one which was still alive from the ants ,and my daughter Anna gave the baby name, Harry, even though we have no idea whether it was female and male but it sounded right at the moment. My children and I tried our nest to take the mommy hare's place to feed the baby. We took turns holding him in our hands for a good hour because a hare likes confined environment. Whatever we were doing seemed working. Unfortunately, however, we had to see Harry take the last breath yesterdayCrying face. Anna was in tears, and I felt sad. I think about today's reading related to Harry the baby hare. Even though the baby hare didn't mean anything in our lives, we rescued him out of compassion and cared for him so much. I felt my inadequateness for God's love for me, but He cared for me so much even though I'd been nobody to Him. I could not save the baby hare because of lack of veterinarian knowledge but God who saved me knows everything about me and is more than capable of taking care of me. I am dunking myself in the ocean of His Grace this morning. He is good!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Passage: Job 35-37

On Monday, June 20, 2011, Yujin wrote,

Friends, as I read the response of Elihu to Job and his three friends, I can't help but think that he is nearest to the truth than the others. Unlike Job's three friends, Elihu does not accuse Job of a specific sin but rather his presumption that because no one can point out any sin in him, God must, therefore, be unjust in afflicting him. While God says that Job's three friends are not right, He does not say this about Elihu. In fact, it is perhaps to Elihu's great compliment that God enters the conversation immediately after Elihu's speech. And there are many parallels. Fundamentally, Elihu asks Job, "Who are you to question God?!" and then begins to pile up questions that Job cannot answer to prove his point. God asks the same question in His response but raises the difficulty of the questions even higher. Elihu accuses Job, saying, "He multiplies words without knowledge" (Job 35:16). God brings the same accusation: "Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?" (Job 38:2).

A part of me feels that God intervened when he did to keep Job from responding to Elihu as he did to his three friends. If he were to defend himself against Elihu's speech, then Job might have been found to be in the wrong. Instead, God intervenes to give authority to Elihu's arguments. Elihu's name, meaning "My God is He," is an alternate form of the name Eliel, meaning "My God is God." I find this emminently appropriate in view of his argument that God is sovereign. As someone has humorously quipped, "I know only one thing, that God is God, and I am not."

One thing we can learn from this may be to not underestimate the perspective of youth, for Elihu was admittedly a youth in this conversation. However, the greater truth is that God is sovereign, He does as He pleases, and He is not bound by the laws He sets for man. Does God only afflict the wicked and not the upright? The Book of Job proves that wrong. Yet, if you consider carefully, even without this book, there are numerous other examples of this. The stumbling block of thought for people is the presumption that just because God is not doing the immediate afflicting, that somehow He is not involved. Does God's sovereignty stop with the activity of the wicked? Or as it is more popularly argued, "Does God's sovereignty stop with free will?" In fact, there's a popular movie, "Bruce Almighty" that dramatizes this very point, that God cannot change a person's free will. Even the most popular news personality, Bill O'Reilly, argues the same point, that God will not interfere with free will. Yet, "free will" is a myth, because who really has "free will" except God. True free will is a will that is free from any external influence. Who can claim this except God, who chooses Israel, the smallest of peoples, who are both stubborn and rebellious? It is by God's free will that He chose us, who are so depraved and undeserving of His grace. One might argue that perhaps the closest that mankind was ever been to free will was with Adam in the garden.  And what did he do with that freedom? He sinned, and as Romans 5:12 argues, "just as sin entered the world through one man...all sinned." Even if at one time man had free will, it is now long gone. Only God continues to have a totally free will. In fact, this is an essential part of His nature as God:

And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (Exodus 33:19).

Don't miss this. He does not say, "I will have mercy on the righteous and be compassionate to those who deserve it." He says that He will have mercy and compassion on who He alone chooses to have mercy without any additional reasons or caveats. Job's three friends added the reasons and caveats, and God rebuked them for their error. Elihu had a right perspective, namely, that God is sovereign and does as He pleases. God afflicted Job not because Job sinned but because God chose to do so. I believe today that those who argue for "free will" in salvation would also be rebuked by God for their error in thinking. Instead let us praise God for His sovereignty and thank God for the mercy that He freely and genersouly extended to us.