Monday, February 28, 2005

God speaks, yet no one notices it: Job 33

Elihu begins to refute Job's arguments:
"I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me. Behold, He invents pretexts against me; He counts me as His enemy. He puts my feet in the stocks; He watches all my paths." (Job 33:9-11)
Job contends that he is pure, without sin and without transgression, yet God still finds a pretext for punishing him. Even though Job is righteous, God still finds a reason to be hostile towards Job. Job has become God's enemy, the object of His wrath, and this for no good reason. Elihu's rebuke of Job is direct and clear, "Behold, let me tell you, you are not right in this, for God is greater than man." (Job 33:12)

God is a God of purpose, and all that He does, He does for a purpose. And even though we might not see or understand that purpose, God's ways are never arbitrary or without a reason. Job could not see or understand God's reasons for his own affliction, but that did not mean that God did not have one. Because Job could not understand God's purpose in his suffering, he became angry at God. Angry because God would not defend His own purposes to Job.

Elihu asks Job, "Why do you complain against Him that He does not give an account of all His doings?" (Job 33:13) God is not obligated to tell us why He does what He does. God does not need to defend His reasons to us. So why was Job so angry? I think in part that it was because Job felt that if God would reveal His reasons for afflicting him, then he would be able to refute those reasons and show God why his punishment was undeserved. Job was so certain that he was right, that he knew he could refute any reason God might give for his suffering. Often when we cry out "Why me Lord, why me?" we really do not want to know why. What we are really saying is, "God you are unfair to me. I don't deserve this." When our hearts are so bent on our own justification, even if God were to speak, would we hear him?
"Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it." (Job 33:14)
Elihu reminds us that God is always speaking to us. Sometimes in night dreams (Job 33:15-18), sometimes though painful circumstances (Job 33:19:22), and sometimes through the counsel of friends (Job 33:23-28). Yet how often do we fail to notice that God is speaking to us? Elihu tells us that God is always speaking to us to restore our souls and to enlighten our hearts, "Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life." (Job 33:29-30)

God was speaking to Job, but Job was so self absorbed that he couldn't hear Him. Job was so focused on his own justification, that he couldn't hear the voice of God. His obsession with being right blinded him to the work of grace and redemption that God was working in his life. He only wanted to hear God say that he was right, he was deaf to all else that God might say. How often have we been guilty of the same fault? In our pain and disappointment we become so self absorbed that, even if God were to shout, we wouldn't hear Him. And yet, in the midst of our pain and disappointment, God is working His work of grace and redemption in our lives. If we could just repent of our anger against God and lay aside our demands on God as to how He should respond, then perhaps we would hear Him speak of His love and care for our lives. After all, does it really matter why we go through the things we go through, or is it enough just to know that God loves us and that He has our best interests at heart. If we could just quiet our hearts long enough, perhaps we will hear God speak what He wants to speak, and in hearing God speak, we will receive strength for what ever God may ask us to go through.

David Robison

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