AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
LORD'S DAY AUGUST 17, 2003
Asking the Almighty
have been following the discourse and dilemmas of Job. He has been assured of
God's salvation (Job
before the great revelation from God found in Job 19.
Yet "He also shall be my salvation," came long before the famous utterance of Job 19: "I know that my Redeemer lives", "whom I shall see for Myself and not another", who would stand upon the earth, as He now has done. Millenia pass over the declared word of God, only to confirm every last syllable. That is what God is like: you can trust Him though "He slay me", as Job declared so rightly (Job 13:15). Indeed, it is not until you REALLY trust Him, in life, that you actually DIE DAILY, as Paul asserts in I Corinthians 15:31.
"Why," he asks, "do we stand in jeopardy every hour ?" It is because of the surpassing splendour, absolute trustworthiness and careful love of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the deity in flesh, whose death for sin is the acme of tenderness, whose resurrection the pivot of power.
Now we need to look at what we just reached last Sunday, namely ...
1. The Case of ELIHU
and the Impetus to a Pure Heart
FLESH and CHRIST
There remains an issue of some interest, which also may be instructive, since Job is a work which epitomises instruction. God rebukes Jobís three friends, who have to be exposed as improper critics (Job 42:7ff.), for they were lost in their own punctiliousness or platitudes or both. Job has to pray for them, and they are instructed to go to Job with sacrifices which he will offer for them. Thus the role of instructors and victim are reversed, and for all his tendency to rodomontade, a mounting, rising spate of words that lifted off the ground like some glider floating in the air, Job is pardoned, in much approved, restored and blessed.
After all, the test was not for his dismantling but for his exposure of one element of the truth, namely its integrity in the hearts of the saints. It is not a ROLE FOR CONVENIENCE, or a PROGRAM for advancement, or PRINCIPLES for self-fulfilment in its motivation. It is a PLAN FOR SALVATION from sin to the love and delight in the Lord, in His righteousness, which needs to be received as a GIFT (Romans 5:17) so that your trust is ONLY in Him, and NOT AT ALL in yourself (Psalm 71:7-8,15-16, Romans 8:8, Philippians 3:3). If you are IN THE FLESH, that is in your own native being as lord or dominion or trust or confidence, then you CANNOT please God, says Paul. Again, we, says Paul, "rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh" - Phil. 3:3.
Do you not recall the word of Hezekiah, the righteous King of Judah (II Chronicles 32:8), who facing incomparable problems from Assyrian invaders, declared, "With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles." What followed ? this: "And the people rested themselves upon the words."
It is in the light of
these truths that we now come to Elihu and his not being mentioned when the Lord
rebuked Job's three friends.
Why not ?
B. THE CASE OF ELIHU ITSELF
Why then was not the FOURTH of those who attacked Job, mentioned in the humbling at the end, and why is not this Elihu advised of his error, like the rest ? Incidentally, Job had indeed not been perfect, though his INTEGRITY of faith and trust in the REDEEMER had been made clear, as well as his sincere intentions, so that he too received, with blessing and reward, unlike the tiresome trio, only a measured rebuke. Yet it was one!
Why then did not this critic, this Elihu receive even a mention ?
It may be this. He DID tell Job that at times in the counsel of God and His deep intentions, you have to WAIT (Job 35:14). This was true, and God did indeed, when the test was concluded, SPEAK and ANSWER and give a full account of His response! Intemperate intensity when it goes beyond trust and importunity, to a demanding assurance relative to action, based on too little knowledge can indeed become an affliction to the soul concerned (Job 36:16-17).
In fact, in Job 32:2, we see as introduction to Elihuís speech that he was wrathful because he felt Job justified himself more than God. Indeed God Himself later tells Job (40:8),
"Would you indeed annul My judgment, would you condemn Me that you may be justified!"
In his sense of outrage, then, to some extent Elihu had a point. It was not that Job had fallen, but that in being TESTED he had presumed in measure, and sought to call God to account, instead of seeking to execute His will, trusting His judgment. There is certainly such a trend in Job at times, and this activation within Elihuís thoughts is creditable in measure Ė and this may be one reason why he was not named in the rebuke (nor commended).
Yet Elihu's emphasis on patience is too little for the case, for Job is being specifically tried for a most fascinating purpose, and not merely getting bitter in some ordinary way. Nevertheless, there is this danger with Job of reacting too much, speaking at times too intemperately. Thus if it were all to be teased out, that Elihu had good point here, but not there, it would tend to weigh down the drama and its point. Something, as my father used to say, should be left to the IMAGINATION, and as far as this reader is concerned, that is most exhilarating in this case!
Do you not recall Christ admonishing his disciples, as if they should more readily see more ? (Mark 4:13). Jobís extensive expostulations were perhaps dimming his sight needlessly long.
C. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
Among the words of divine reprimand to Job, in Job 38-41, there is this fascinating element in 38:36: "Who has put wisdom in the mind, or who has given understanding to the heart ?" A word from The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, p. 101, may help here.
It is unwise and indeed the utmost in arrogant presumption if derivative man,
with unmoored mind, man who does not accept the specific,
identified and rationally necessary revelation of God,
comes to pontificate on 'truth', on the reality of things.
Will a conditioned or limited man, reacting and
being able to do only what has been given him to do,
erect himself as a founder of truth, a source of criticism of the God who made his little mind ?
Will a cog discuss the design with the designer ?
Will a man without the revelation of God, tell Him what it would be ?
Will man show God His own mind!
Will a limited and sinful man without knowledge of absolute truth, even as a perspective,
say that something is absolutely true, or work on bases and ideas
as if they were valid and worth arguing from,
when he does not yet have the knowledge of absolute truth,
on which to start and on which to proceed: either not knowing God,
or if knowing something of that, not believing it; or in any case,
not having access to this absolute truth in the mind of God,
who speaks when He will, as He will.
The case is hardly improved if man does not believe there is such a thing as absolute truth,
while making various statements in which such a property is assumed to inhere,
or presumed to be possible!
Surely the Primary School student is scarcely guilty in his first beginnings
of such enormities, through sheer immaturity, as beset the mind of mature man,
through rebellion. (Cf. Chs. 3-4; *30 on p. 100; pp. 292-315, 934-936 esp., infra.)
Will a man pass judgment on the source of his sophistication,
the mine of his wisdom, the basis of his understanding,
the begetter of his aspirations,
the contriver of his capacity and the resource of his evaluation,
who wedded mind, matter and spirit to make him ?
Will a relative man tell absolute truth to absolute God, without the speech of that God?
If man will presume against the thoughts of his fellow man,
will he presume also against those of God (cf. Isaiah 7:13, 44:24-26):
or will man with a panache of delusive power presume to tele-psychiatrise God,
construing by his candle power the brilliance of the thought of the infinite and all-knowing God!
Will man do so ? Here has paranoia its perfection, here irrationality rules.
No, God has shown us His wisdom (I Corinthians 1, Romans 1!), dispensed His word, declared His Gospel, given Himself to make it work, crying to all, COME! Having come, our eyes are opened; cleansed we can see.
Job's trust, therefore, had to become more reliant on MODE of action by God, as well as SALVATION of life by His mercy and wisdom. God does not make any mistakes, and is to be sought not as a butt for one's distaste of some element in life, but as a Father for help to please Him (Hebrews 4:;18), even Christ doing whatever pleased His righteous Father (John 8:29). Righteousness is God's, and man's seeking for it is not satisfied except in its source, who has made all things, including tests, truth being the work of His hands and the word of His lips in glorious unison, for He is always what He would be, can lack nothing, never changes and does not support the godless guesses of mankind. Nor does He lightly afflict the creation He has made (Lamentations 3:33). Lies attack Him, who does not attack Himself, but fulfils His plans, while in His mercy, revelation exposes His will to remedy the sin of man.
II JOB AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST
Something to Join
We are left with but one feature of our focus: How does Job in his sufferings parallel or even participate in what PAUL calls, the fellowship of Christís sufferings as in Philippians 3:10 ?
Job suffers something at least of the ravages that sin brings, and though the cause is different Ė
NOT to dismiss these for
those pardoned by satisfying justice in the bearing of them, so that mercy is
freely dispensed (Romans 3:23ff.), as with Christ,
but rather a practical demonstration of vital truth in the patriarch:
yet the impact for Job as for Christ, has something in common.
In what does this lie ? It is in its sense of shame, desolation and rejection, allied with that of Christ. We also who are Christís are called to know BOTH the fellowship of Christís sufferings AND the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10), and to be sure, they are friends whom you cannot separate. We must be prepared for both, and blink at neither!
As Christ declared, we are to abide in Him, as He is in us, like vine and branches (John15). You are in Him when you come to Him (John 10:9), and He is in you by His Holy Spirit when you have done so (Romans 8:16). The rest is subterfuge, pretence, bogus.
Then when this is true for you, HIS glory is the objective of the branch; His life is His gift to the branch. It is mutual or nothing; and it is HE who as Lord, gives character to the branch, and growth and vitality! Abide then in Him! obey Him not from fear but in love, and the companionship is a thing of wonder (Isaiah 64:5, John 14:21-23).