Opinions Of The Almighty
June 26, 2019
Our modern culture is a very opinionated society. People have grown comfortable with the “freedom” to develop our own thoughts and judgments concerning everything. Modern technology has enabled people to speak their minds and voice their personal assessments of people and circumstances. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. The Bible explains that all people will be held accountable for the things that we say since the mouth speaks out of the abundance of our hearts. When God judges, He doesn’t look at the outward appearance, but instead, the heart. If our hearts are filled with pride and self-righteousness, the Bible teaches that our mouths will be filled with criticisms and opinions. More importantly, the Bible teaches that these sorts of attitudes are reflective of hearts that are an offense to God because self-righteousness is arrogance against God, not people or circumstances. The Bible explains that when we are governed by our flesh to live according to our opinions, assessments, judgments, and personal standards, it is a sign that we feel our personal tastes and values are better than God’s.
The scriptures explain that ALL people will have to give an account for every thought and “opinion” that we have towards God and others. The testimony of Job explains just how harsh this reality can be. In Job 40:1-5, the Bible documents how God called Job out and gave him an opportunity to speak for himself. God revealed Himself and spoke to Job from a mighty whirlwind, reminding Job about the basic things concerning His supreme wisdom, control, and power as Creator. After God had said enough, He gave Job an opportunity to answer himself. The words that God used to engage Job were humbling, and representative of the manner in which all people will have to give an account before God. The LORD said:
“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
The language that God used in this simple statement is very strong. God referred to Job as “the one who contends.” This means that, while Job was trying to defend his integrity in the midst of his friends that accused him of being a hypocrite, he had somehow “contended” with God. Job thought he was speaking well of God. Job thought that he was a righteous and faithful man of God speaking truth. God saw things differently because of Job’s attitude. Here, it is critical to see that, while our words might be well-intentioned, our attitudes can actually reflect contention with God!
The word used to describe Job’s attitude refers to the extent of distaste Job had for his circumstances, and in turn, God Himself. The word refers to Job striving against God. It is a word used to describe grappling, like two wrestlers. Recall that when Jacob “wrestled” with God, he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. The contention of Job refers to the fact that he was actually rebuking God and scolding Him as if God were in the wrong. Job’s discontentment and evaluation of his personal circumstances, and the suffering of it, was reflective of some very evil things in Job’s heart. He felt that God was wrong. Job’s attitude was as if he felt he was the parental authority that had to correct God as his child! Job’s remarks were merely complaints that seem common to most people in difficult circumstances. Yet, when God described Job’s words and attitude, he used a word that described the vilest form of self-righteousness that Jesus later taught, is sufficient to condemn to hell!
God also acknowledged that Job “rebuked” Him. The words and attitude of Job express that Job felt he was in a position to correct God’s wisdom and the use of His power. Job felt that God had overstepped His power, inflicting pain and suffering beyond need. Job felt that he was entitled to better treatment, more clear communication, and swifter deliverance from God, and because he wasn’t receiving the treatment he felt he deserved as God’s servant, God was wrong. The Bible never shows that Job literally called God wrong. The Bible doesn’t document that Job cursed God, used specific words that literally spoke down of God. God’s accusation of Job was on account of His examination of Job’s heart. Job might have found a cleverer way or subtler way of rebuking God so that his rebuke was undetected by his friends (or even himself). Nevertheless, God recognized the darkness and pride in Job’s heart and then gave Job a chance to explain himself.
When God gave Job a chance to speak, He told Job to “answer” for himself. This word means that God expected Job to testify for himself; to witness for himself. The original Hebrew word is often used to describe singing and shouting, thus suggesting that God expected Job to speak just as loudly and boldly in front of Him as he did in front of his friends. Job cried out and spoke boldly before. God expected Job to speak with the same confidence in front of Him. If Job felt that he was right and God was wrong, God was giving Job a chance to prove it. Job was confident in his position before, and then God gave Job the platform to prove the extent of his self-righteousness and the value of it. God revealed His nature as the Creator of all things, reminding Job of the wisdom, power, and control He manifests every day to cause the most basic things in life to transpire. Job would now have a chance to speak for himself to validate his own goodness and righteousness as equal to God’s.
Job indeed responded, but his response was brief. He simply told the Lord that he was “vile.” There, Job confessed that he was cursed, insignificant, petty, and worthless. Job couldn’t say anything for himself. Job couldn’t speak boldly about anything. Job couldn’t defend himself before God, proving that all of the things he said of himself to uphold his integrity, were weak and trivial. Job confessed, “What shall I answer You?” In other words, when God reveals even the most basic form of His glory, what can be said in response? Can we add to the revelation of God’s glory to make it more glorious? Can we speak for God to uphold His righteousness, thereby adding value to it? Do we dare speak against God’s glory as it is revealed before us as if it is some vain thing?
Recall that when Moses asked God what he should tell the children of Israel to call Him if they should ask, God said, “tell them I AM has sent you.” This is a simple statement that has incredible weight behind it. God was essentially telling Moses that it doesn’t matter what anyone calls Him. He is who He is, regardless of what we think or know of Him. Our opinions or declarations of Him, for the better or worse, have absolutely no effect on His being or His purposes. Job learned this lesson the hard way. What could he answer to God that could discredit the testimony of His power and wisdom in order to justify himself? What could he answer to God that could uphold God’s integrity so as to get on God’s good side? Would Job’s good words about God improve God, or Job for that matter?
Job admitted and confessed to God that he sinned in his words and attitude. Job said that he had opened his mouth about God before with self-righteousness, self-entitlement, and presumptuousness, but he wasn’t going to do so again. He was done talking. Job confessed that he repeatedly spoke up about God, but said he would put his hand over his mouth if necessary to make sure he kept his mouth shut. Job recognized that he was harboring offensive opinions about God in his heart, and he got caught. The glory of God’s manifestation in the whirlwind and in His testimony as Creator, was sufficient to expose Job’s flaws. Though Job was blameless and upright, he was indeed a sinner, an offense to God, and worthy of condemnation. Job didn’t want to argue with God or try to defend himself. The qualities of Job’s “blamelessness” and “uprightness” were displayed through his immediate confession of fault and submission to God in humility. This testimony shows that, even those as noble and exemplary as Job, have severe faults that stem from our attitudes. Our opinions of God and the things that He does in our lives can cause some terrible things to spring up in our hearts that are highly offensive to Him who sees all things. This is why Paul instructed the church to examine ourselves and “test ourselves to see if we are of the faith.”
God was merciful and longsuffering to deal with Job this whole time without destroying him. God was gracious, wise, and powerful to protect the integrity of Job’s soul by keeping him from further offense unto condemnation. God referred to Himself as “Almighty” but dealt with Job as his loving Father and Savior. Job’s faith is exemplary in this instance, not because of his absence of fault, but because of his admission of fault, fear of God, and humble submission to Him as the God Most High.