Accepted By God
July 4, 2019
There are some things that God does that just seem backwards to people. This is because God’s ways are not like our ways. His thoughts are not like our thoughts. The scriptures teach that God’s ways and thoughts are as far from ours as the heavens are from the earth! Then, God also works spitefully against our natural way of thinking in order to humble those who are proud and self-righteous. The Apostle Paul wrote that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wisdom of this world. In other words, God doesn’t call, use, and exalt those who are capable, experienced, and influential in this world. Instead, He calls, uses, and exalts those who are unqualified, inexperienced, and lowly in this world, so that upon using and exalting His own name, the world would be baffled as to how amazing things come from plain people.
This is exactly why the Bible commands the people of God to abstain from judging one another. We have no idea what God is ever doing. We don’t know how God will use people. We don’t know who has God’s approval and who doesn’t. Even our ability to examine the fruit of the Spirit in people’s lives can be flawed. For example, both the Apostle Paul and John testify that they thought some of the men that served with them were solid Christians at one point, only to find them poisonous to the church later. Clearly, those men weren’t able to examine the darkness of the hearts of those who would betray and harm the church later. The testimony of Job is perhaps one of the most compelling narratives in all of scripture that shows how backwards things can seem to us. In Job 42:7-9 God addressed Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. These were three men that emphatically agreed with one another that Job was a hypocrite and tirelessly argued with Job to prove their case. They spoke many truths about God and seemed to have compelling points when comparing the truth of God to Job’s circumstances. However, when God addressed them to speak the truth, God revealed that they were wrong, that Job was right, and that they needed to repent to a far greater degree than Job!
When God spoke to Job’s friends, He addressed the three of them through Eliphaz. Eliphaz was the eldest and the one who spoke more boldly as the instigator against Job. Though Eliphaz meant good intentions to Job, the words that he used and the results of those words were more helpful to the objective of the devil. Therefore, when God spoke to Eliphaz, He began by saying that His wrath was aroused against him and his two friends! It is a terrible thing to experience the wrath of God, and while Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar thought they were doing God a service by convicting Job of hidden sin, they became God’s chief enemies. God plainly told Eliphaz that, for all the words that the three of them spoke, they did not say what was right about God, but Job did.
This statement is challenging. God spent significantly more time humiliating and chastening Job. God addressed Job for three chapters of scripture while He only addressed Job’s friends for two verses. It would seem in that basic premise that God was far angrier with Job. Yet, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Compared to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Job actually said what was right about God. The Lord plainly stated that Job’s friends did not speak rightly about God. It is important to recall the words that Job’s friends spoke and carefully consider why God despised their words so much. Remember that Job’s friends exalted God and honored His sovereign authority as Judge and as the Almighty and Omniscient God. However, they also assumed to know the manner of God’s judgments, the purpose of His power, and the logic of His thinking. Remember that Job’s friends assumed that God was displeased with Job because Job suffered. This was not true. Job’s friends assumed that it is possible to measure and judge the faith of another based on the appearance of their circumstances. Job’s friends assumed that if life is comfortable and prosperity abounds, then God must be pleased with that person. They believed that if someone’s life was miserable with suffering and pain, that God was clearly angry with that person. According to God Himself, this is not how it works.
Though Job spoke self-righteously and presumptuously, he did speak accurately about God. Job contended with his friends that it is impossible to know God’s judgments. He argued that the righteous suffer just like the wicked. Job stated that God brings rain on the just and the unjust. Job reasoned that God brings favor on the evil and the upright. Since this is true, how can anyone measure their spiritual worth? How can anyone look at the outward circumstances of a person to know whether they are truly blessed of God, having His approval? It is true that Job spoke as if he knew the mind of God beyond human capacity, but still, the things that he said of God were absolutely true, and validated by God Himself!
This reality makes things difficult. The men who were the majority group, and swore that they were right because of the comforts of their lives and the prosperity they enjoyed, were indeed marked as wrong by God and were in danger of experiencing God’s wrath. God only needed two verses to point out this truth. Job on the other hand, was also guilty of fault because of the way he spoke, but the contents of his words (absent his attitude) were correct. Though Job was chastened and humiliated by God for a much longer period of time, it is only because God chastens those whom He loves. It might seem like Job’s circumstances put him in the category of God’s anger, when it was quite the opposite. Even though Job suffered and despised himself after God’s scolding, he was cherished by God and exalted by God. His suffering might have made it seem like he was on God’s bad side, but in the two verses that God warns Job’s friends, God refers to Job as “My servant Job” four times! This is a big deal! When God first proposed Job to the devil, He referred to Job in this manner. Thus, Job’s humble repentance and meekness restored his relationship to God so that God referred to Job as He had in the past – before any suffering or pain. Whether Job was rich or poor, God saw him as His special servant, while those who appeared to be rich, having servants of their own, were in danger of God’s wrath.
Thankfully, God was willing to deal with Job’s friends with the same mercy and grace as Job. It is true that they were a great offense to God because of their arrogance and false teaching, but God also offered them a chance to be restored to peace with Him. God commanded Job’s friends to each offer seven bulls and seven rams as burnt offerings. The price to be at peace with God was expensive! Notice that God is willing to offer reconciliation, but in a particular way. In order to escape God’s wrath and be at peace with Him, we must obey His commands concerning reconciliation. We cannot be at peace with God in our own terms. Many people foolishly state that they have their “own personal way of worshiping God.” God does not give people to worship their own way. God desires individual relationships, but based on humble submission to His commands in how to worship Him. He alone knows the quality of worship He is worthy of. If we don’t follow His prescription, we cannot be at peace with God so that our worship is received. In order for Job’s friends to be at peace with God, they would have to honor God in the way that God demanded to be honored.
Secondly, it is important to note the pattern of God’s reconciliation. Job’s friends were required to bring sacrifices, and expensive ones at that. It is critical to see that sacrifice has always been the means by which we are cleansed of our offense against God to be at peace with Him. God warned in the beginning that the wages of sin is death. If we want to be at peace with God, blood has to be shed somewhere. God’s demand of seven bulls and rams as burnt offerings from each man shows that God requires a sacrifice of exceptional value. The number seven in the Bible is symbolic of wholeness, completeness, totality, and perfection. Burnt offerings were offerings given where the animal was totally consumed in fire leaving no portion behind. The testimony of Job took place well before God gave Moses the Law. God’s requirement of these offerings before the Law was given shows that God has always required complete, whole, and perfect sacrifice.
Third, it is important to see that Job’s friends weren’t allowed to offer the sacrifices themselves. They were to take their offerings to Job who would then offer the sacrifices on their behalf. Here, it is clear to see that Job was fulfilling the role of a priest – also a command of the Law of Moses, which had not been given yet. It is also encouraging to see that God was restoring Job to his former manner of living. Recall that before Job was tormented by the devil, that he made a habit offering sacrifices and prayers on behalf of his children. That which he lived to do for his children, he was now able to do for his friends. God assured Job’s friends that upon taking those sacrifices to Job, he would offer the sacrifices rightly and also pray on their behalf to complete the process of reconciliation. Notice that reconciliation requires an intercessor in the form of a priest. We are not able to offering suitable sacrifices for ourselves since our sin corrupts our works. Instead, we need someone specially appointed by God to stand between us and Him to offer sacrifices on our behalf. This intercessor or priest is called to offer sacrifices and pray on behalf of God’s people so that we would not experience His wrath, but instead His mercy and grace.
Job’s friends were in danger of wrath, and quickly responded to God’s commands with obedience. They did as God commanded and the Lord accepted Job’s service on their behalf. It is awesome to see that Job didn’t despise his friends for the way they treated him. Job received their sacrifice, prayed for them, and offered forgiveness in the manner of the Father just as God had said. This testimony is where the perfect providence and sovereignty of God can be appreciated. Job seemed to suffer pains from the devil for no reason by the suggestion of God. Yet, it was that suffering that caused hidden issues of Job’s heart to surface so that the manifestation of God’s glory through His testimony of His power and wisdom was sufficient to humble Job unto repentance. If not for Job’s suffering, he would not have discovered this issue that kept him from “seeing God” instead of just hearing words about Him. Throughout Job’s suffering, his friends accused him of being a hypocrite, and made many compelling points. It seems logical that those who suffer greatly are enemies of God, and those who prosper and live comfortably are in God’s favor. Yet, the complete testimony of Job proves these ideas as wrong and evil!
If not for Job’s suffering, how would Job’s friends have learned about their false theologies and ideologies? If not for Job’s suffering, how would Job’s friends have been reconciled to God and escape His wrath? Then, consider that the manner of God’s reconciliation is parallel to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. God commanded the men to give sacrifices that were highly valuable, complete, and to resemble perfection – before the command of the Law. The Gospel teaches that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is His blood as God in flesh that is perfect and complete – sufficient to cover ALL offenses of ALL people. Thus, when Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished,” referring to the completeness and finality of His work to address the wages of sin. The men could not offer their own sacrifice no more than any person can pay their own debt of sin. They needed an intercessor – one appointed by the Father to stand between corrupted people and Him. This is Jesus as the Messiah. He is our Great High Priest from the order of Melchizedek. He is the One seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us. He is the One that performs our sacrifice on our behalf.
Who but God could orchestrate the daily and mundane events of the lives of so many people to produce so much goodness and spiritual value like God did? Who else has this sort of wisdom and control? Who else can take the evil intentions of the devil and cause reconciliation with Him as a result? Who else can take the corruption of mankind and make it parallel to the image of the Savior of the world? This is what makes God so wonderful – full of wonder and difficult to comprehend. The outset of Job’s testimony seemed so wrong and confusing. It is disturbing on many levels until we get to the end, and by the grace of God, get to see the work He had been doing all along with hindsight. Thus, who can judge God and the work that He is doing? Who can measure whether God is doing right or wrong when God always takes many variables that seem wrong and produces a good result anyway?
This part of Job’s testimony ends by saying that God accepted Job. This is what all people should value and desire most in life. Would God accept us? If not, there is only one alternative – condemnation in hell. Yet, the testimony of Job shows that Job was accepted by God because of faith, and faith alone. Job suffered greatly, and his suffering exposed a lot of dirty and corrupt issues in his heart. However, the testimony of Job proves that God is not accepting of people that appear good. God accepts people who recognize their faults according to the revelation of His righteousness. God accepts those who trust in the supremacy of God’s righteousness, glory, majesty, and goodness. Job spoke presumptuously and had self-entitlement issues, but never doubted that God was supremely good in all things that he did. When Job remembered the excessive and eternal nature of God’s goodness, he was quick to despise his flesh, his habits, his self, recognizing his inadequacy before the One True Living God. As a result, he was considered a servant of God. It is the servant of the Almighty that is able to be accepted by Him. It is those whose service parallels the service of Jesus Christ that are accepted by Him. This is the quality of faith that God accepts.