Sunday, October 21, 2012

Job 35

Today's reading in our daily plan is Job 35. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • Elihu continues his speech to Job. In this chapter, Elihu presents an interesting thought to Job.
  • Job had lamented that he had not sinned and was confused about why God would allow his suffering. Elihu took a slightly different, but significant, angle to it. Elihu said it doesn’t affect God whether we do evil or do good; either way, God is the same. In a sense Elihu is correct. No matter what we as humans do God is still God and doesn’t have any intrinsic need for us to do good or bad. God is completely self-sufficient. In every way, God is perfect even in his completeness. God doesn’t need companionship like we do. God doesn’t need love like we do; he is love.
  • However, in another way God is affected by our decisions in life. Like a good father, God is pained when he sees us in pain or causing pain to others due to our sin. In the same way, God is “proud” of us when we show love to others, do our part to make the world a better place and when we enjoy our relationship with him. In the sense of a father, we can understand that. So, Elihu was right and in a way wrong as well.
  • Elihu is just barely off in his conclusion to Job. Elihu basically said God isn’t listening to us or Job. The truth is God is always listening. God’s timing is just different than ours and his answers aren’t always what we would think they should be.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • We can sense in Elihu’s words that he is different from the others whose words to Job we read. Elihu is speaking from a good heart and seemingly has Job’s best interest in mind. Elihu still had a very primitive view of God, like some distant God who is not concerned with humankind. Elihu rightly understands God is complete and sovereign. He is just missing how much God loves and wants a relationship with us. 
  • In Elihu's defense, we read the Old Testament (all the books up to Matthew) with the understanding of the New Testament. Let me explain. We have the benefit of reading about the life and words of Jesus. You may be asking what’s the big deal about that? It’s huge! In Jesus, we get to see the heart and words of God much clearer than before. We get a fuller understanding of God’s love, grace, acceptance, forbearance, forgiveness and much much more. This is one of the big reasons many people today feel like there is a change in God between the Old and New Testament. God doesn’t change. Perhaps it’s just that humankind had a fuller understanding of who God is and his heart after Jesus walked the earth with us. We read the Bible as a complete work. This is a huge benefit over the people in Job’s time. In fact, Job and his companions didn’t even have the entire Old Testament! They were working from a very limited understanding of God. So the fact that Elihu and Job even understood the things they did of God is rather remarkable. 

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • So with what you have learned in mind, take some time and thank God for living in a time when we have his complete Bible to read and understand him. Then each time you read the Old Testament do it with the understanding of what knowledge the people had available to them about God. It will change how you feel about them I bet. An even greater “thank you” to God for the complete Bible would be us spending more time reading it and learning about him.