TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- JOB 37:1-39:30

We are continuing with Elihu’s fourth and final speech, which began in Chapter 36.

In his first speech, Elihu justifies his intrusion into the debate between Job and his three other friends, Eliphaz, the elder, who argued from experience, Bildad, who argued from tradition, and Zophar, the legalist.

Elihu introduces the fact God has other reasons for allowing suffering than retribution for sin. Elihu also confesses that, like Eliphaz, he once thought that experience alone is a sufficient means of gaining wisdom. But now, he recognizes that it is God’s Spirit who, by means of revelation, gives wisdom and understanding. This knowledge gives Elihu the courage to speak, even though he was the most junior member of the party.

 Job 32:7-8 7 “I thought age should speak, and increased years should teach wisdom. 8 “But it is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.

Elihu suggests that God uses other means than experience, tradition, and moral sensibility to make Himself known. He can speak through dreams (33:15-18) and through our sufferings (33:19-21). And hypothetically, He could speak through an angel who provides deliverance. This anticipates the work of Christ (33:23-30).

Elihu gives Job an opportunity to respond, but Job remains silent.

Elihu then begins his second speech (Job 34:1-37) and attacks what he believes to be Job’s denial of God’s justice by making a defense on God’s behalf.

Job 34:12 12 “Surely, God will not act wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.”

Job 34:34-36 34 “Men of understanding will say to me, and a wise man who hears me, 35′ Job speaks without knowledge, and his words are without wisdom. 36 ‘Job ought to be tried to the limit, because he answers like wicked men.”

In his third speech (Job 35:1-16), Elihu points out the inconsistency in Job’s claims that God owes him favor because of his righteousness and that he would be no better off if he had sinned. Elihu claims that God is not obligated to treat us according to our behavior, good or bad.

In this fourth and final speech, Elihu no longer focuses on refuting Job’s claims. Instead, he focuses on God. He reaffirms what he has stated about God’s justice and the fact that God uses suffering to teach us lessons.

Job 36:22 22 “Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a teacher like Him?”

At this point, what appears to be a thunderstorm approaches, Elihu uses this as an illustration of the power of God, not knowing that God Himself would be speaking out from an approaching whirlwind.

Elihu’s name is a variant spelling of the name “Elijah,” and there are some similarities between the two characters. Elijah is described as a defender of God in 1 Kings 17-21. Elijah is also described as God’s forerunner (Malachi 4:5-6). To a lesser degree, Elihu serves similar functions.

In Elijah’s case, there was a great strong wind at Mt. Horeb, “but the Lord was not in the wind” (1 Kings 19:11). In Elihu’s case, he spoke about the wind, not knowing that the Lord was in the wind! Yet Elihu’s words anticipate God speaking in the storm.

Job 37:2 2 “Listen closely to the thunder of His voice, and the rumbling that goes out from His mouth.”

Job 37:4-7 4 “After it, a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, And He does not restrain the lightnings when His voice is heard. 5 God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend. 6 For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ And to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong.’ 7 “He seals the hand of every man, that all men may know His work”.

Job 37:14-17 14 “Listen to this, O Job, Stand and consider the wonders of God. 15 Do you know how God establishes them, and makes the lightning of His cloud to shine? 16 Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, the wonders of one perfect in knowledge, 17 You whose garments are hot, When the land is still because of the south wind?”

Job 37:24 24 “Therefore men fear Him; He does not regard any who are wise of heart.”

It is at this moment that God interrupts the earthly debate, adding His own voice and uttering His own indisputable words.

After 36 chapters of men opening their mouths, questioning, accusing, defending, philosophizing, and at times proudly pontificating, God finally speaks. He has been listening.

In Chapter 38, God speaks to Job but answers none of his questions. Instead, He makes a case for man’s ignorance of the natural order, which only follows that he is also ignorant of God’s moral order. God, the creator, and sustainer of this marvelous universe is the final authority over all, and the only reliable measure of righteousness. Once we get a grasp of that and humble our hearts, He can teach us.

“The meek I will teach.” (Psalm 25:9, KJV)

“The humble will hear.” (Psalm 34:2)

The Lord begins by putting Job in his place:

Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”

That statement must have deflated Job somewhat.

Job may be sincere, but he is out of his depth when he tries to explain God. 

Rather than answering Job’s questions, the Lord asks Job questions.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4). That’s a bit of a conversation stopper! There is so much that we don’t know. And as any honest scientist will tell you, “the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know!”

Knowledge of your own ignorance is the first step toward acquiring true wisdom.

It is true that God is in an unsurpassable category of excellence, separate from all else. This is the meaning of holiness. There is no one like God.

The Lord God, as Creator and Sustainer, knows everything about the universe. He knows the laws of the universe and the placement and trajectories of every heavenly body, including the constellations observable from earth (Pleiades and Orion- 38:31). 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 2 CORINTHIANS 4:13-5:10

Paul writes of the attitude of faith that is necessary to please God.  He identifies with the Psalmist who said:

Psalm 116:10 10 I believed when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.”

Hard times can build our faith. Where do we get our confidence? By looking to the miracle of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection and trusting that this reality holds our future secure.

Paul expresses it this way:

2 Corinthians 4:14 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.

We are confident that our sufferings are not wasted,

2 Corinthians 4:15 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

Trials work for us, not against us.

2 Corinthians 4:16 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

Paul gives us the right perspective on suffering:

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 

We can be confident that God is at work, even when we, like Job, do not understand the details. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2 2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 44:9-26

In the first section of this Psalm (Ps.44:1-8), which we read yesterday, glory was given to God for His love and faithfulness. The history of God’s people is recounted. The Psalmist credits God with giving His people favor and victory

From verse 9 onward, the Psalmist complains that God seems to have abandoned His people. He was permitting them to be mistreated and slaughtered. So he cries out for God’s help.

As God’s people face tough times, they do not lose hold of the fact that God is the one who is in charge. They also recognize that God knows the condition of their heart.

Psalm 44:17-18 17 All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. 18 Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path.

The Apostle Paul will quote Psalm 44:22 in his great chapter on the life of the Spirit-filled believer in Romans Chapter 8:36.

Psalm 44:22 22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

This Psalm describes a situation that is similar to what we find in the Book of Job. Not all suffering is due to sin or to teach us lessons. God can be glorified in situations that look like defeat. For example, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

God has His purposes in our trials. The Apostle Paul quotes Psalm 44 in Romans 8 to illustrate this point. When we go through sufferings as believers, we will ultimately prove that “Nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39).

Romans 8:37 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

We should never forget that God is never too distant that He cannot hear the heart cry of His people.  So may we never forget to ask the Lord for help.

Psalm 44:26 26  Rise up, be our help, and redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 22:13

Proverbs 22:13 13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!”

The idea of this proverb is that lazy people will always find excuses for not taking action, often based on unfounded fears. The diligent are willing to take risks and will make the necessary effort to do what needs to be done.

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR MEXICO

(Read “Operation World” Prayer Guide p. 582-584)

PRAYER: Lord, we are humbled by the revelation of Your greatness. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are Your ways above our ways and Your thoughts above our thoughts. We humbly admit that we were not there when You created the universe, and there are mysteries beyond our comprehension. But You are a God who has made Yourself known. Thank You for the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. Thank You for Your full self-disclosure in Jesus Christ.  Even as we face trials, we believe that You will keep Your promises. Help us to patiently endure and bring You glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.