People Of Influence
May 16, 2019
The scripture state over and over again that the LORD is God and there is no other. He is the Creator of all things. He is the means by which all things exist. All things consist in Him. He is the exclusive source of life, purpose, functionality, wisdom, righteousness, and goodness. He is light, and there is no darkness in Him. Understanding these things, the Bible teaches that we should value God and cherish Him above all things. We should exalt the name, character, purposes, and promises of God above all things. We should honor and fear God above all things. The Bible teaches us who God is so that we can respond with worship and praise based on the grace of His revelation. This is God’s desire. This is God’s purpose. This is supposed to be what life is all about.
Unfortunately, we as people have gotten things mixed up. We often neglect God, grow indifferent to His purposes and promises, and so our worldview and value system changes. We don’t always value God. We don’t always cherish Him. We don’t always remember who He is to exalt His name, bring Him glory, honor, and fear Him. Often times, we get consumed with the circumstances of life and end up putting circumstances, people, and things above God. Often times, we value our personal affections for this life more than God and His eternal purposes and promises. Often times, we cherish the comforts of this world more than God. Often times, we grow indifferent to God because we’ve distracted and obsessed ourselves with things of this life despite what we know of God. This is not right.
To make matters worse, is the criticisms we often make about God and His works when things don’t go the way we think they should. When God’s sovereign control and providential care interrupts our personal plans, ambitions, and expectations, it is common to grow frustrated and bitter with God’s intentions. In the back of our minds, we might try to trust the Lord, but many times, our immediate response to the trials of life is disappointment, annoyance, and sourness. This was how Job responded to the trials of his life. Granted, his trials were exceptionally difficult and unique since God appointed the devil to inflict a certain quality of suffering. Still, Job’s attitude towards God’s sovereignty and righteousness was not perfect. Job was blameless and upright in that he did not blaspheme God, nor curse him and depart from his faith. Nevertheless, the testimony of Job shows that he had moments where he misspoke about God, reflecting a bitter attitude against God because he didn’t feel he deserved to suffer like he was.
In Job 34:16-20 the Bible shows that Elihu rightly addressed this attitude. Elihu heard the words that Job spoke when he was complaining about his suffering, and felt that Job had gone too far. It is one thing to express our grief. It is another thing to criticize God for allowing grief to come into our lives. Job felt that he had done well to serve the Lord with all of his heart, soul, and strength. He was right. Job did well and brought God great glory before his suffering began. However, this didn’t mean that Job was perfect or righteous like God. The cause of Job’s good testimony was on account of God’s provision, providence, and protection. Job knew this and stated it several times. However, the emotional outbursts in his suffering caused him to speak as if he felt he was entitled to extra protection from suffering of certain kinds. Job felt that God had gone too far. Job didn’t agree with God’s use of His sovereign control. Job felt that his suffering was excessive compared to the manner of faithful service he had given to God previously. Elihu reminded Job about who God is to show why this attitude is wrong.
Elihu compared the common customs of the time to God. Elihu implored his audience and Job to consider how it was customary to treat good rulers, kings, nobles, and other authority figures. Elihu asked them to remember: Isn’t it good to desire someone who loves justice to rule the people? Some of the worse leaders in human history have been people who had no regard or consideration for justice. The complaint of suffering people is the injustice caused by the king or ruler. Therefore, the people crave someone who loves justice to be the leader, hoping that their affection for justice will cause peace in the land.
Elihu implored his audience to remember how these good kings and nobles are treated. When the people are fortunate to have a leader that loves justice, it is fitting to treat them with respect, honor, and integrity. In fact, it is commonly expected to treat the bad leaders the same way, lest they become offended and then treat those who cause offense with severe injustice. The common human custom has always been to honor kings, nobles, and other authority figures. Though times have changed more recently, ancient history shows that people highly revered their kings with honor and respect. In some cases, the kings and nobles were considered like gods, and so they were given the utmost integrity and reverence. It was not fitting to call the king worthless, especially to his face. This sort of attitude was not only disrespectful, but dangerous depending on the type of ruler. Whether the ruler was just or harsh, offending the ruler was often considered one of the worse offenses.
Elihu presented this point: If this is the way people treat other people of position and influence, how much more should we esteem the Lord God Almighty? If the people at the time would not question the kings and nobles out of fear and respect, how much more fear and respect should be given to God? Elihu reminded the people that, even though we respect and honor authority figures (and the Bible commands the people of God to do so to ALL governing officials), they are still human. Even a just judge is susceptible to unrighteousness and corruption. Even a just king is susceptible to taking bribes and ruling according to favoritism. People are people, no matter how much influence they may have. In fact, it is commonly said that, “Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The idea is that, the more power and influence a person has, the more likely they are to abuse that power unjustly.
Elihu reminded the people that, even though it was customary to honor and respect the kings and nobles, they were still people formed by the hands of God. No matter how much power and influence they had, all rulers come, and then go. They take power, and then die some time later. Elihu even explained the extent of their weakness even though they seem to have power. It is true that many kings and nobles died in battle or by violent force. However, it is also true that many kings died without any opposition at all. Many kings and nobles died quietly in their sleep. Many were shaken by diseases and old age, and left this world without any conflict at all. This is a testament to human weakness. Yet, tradition shows that we highly revere and respect people of this statute.
If people have exalted finite and corrupt human beings simply because of their position in life, how much more should we exalt the Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come. Doesn’t God love justice? Doesn’t God lead His people to green pasture, even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death? Doesn’t God rule justly at all times; never taking bribes, never taking favorites, always ruling impartially? Does God favor the rich over the poor? Does God rule selfishly to oppress His people? Is God subject to death? Didn’t the resurrection of Jesus Christ prove that God cannot be overcome and His plans cannot be foiled? Has God changed His perspective, His purposes, or His promises? Is God ever shaken by the events of human life? If God is so obviously perfect, shouldn’t we exalt Him much higher than the authorities, governing officials, and other people of influence in this world?
Elihu brought these things up because Job was questioning God’s leadership. Job felt that God had gone too far. How can someone who loves righteousness and justice like God, who is incapable of wrong, go too far? If Job wouldn’t dare question the integrity or judgments of the kings and nobles at the time, why would he question the integrity and judgments of God concerning God’s treatment of him in this life? See, when life gets hard, it is easy for the flesh to speak lies to our hearts. It is easy for the blameless and upright to assume God owed us a better life so that our difficulties resemble unfairness from God. This attitude is a lie from the pit of hell. The manner in which we treat our rulers, leaders, bosses, and influential people that we respect shows that we are willing to exalt and respect those who do well for us. It is important to remember that God ALWAYS intends to do well for us, and is able to do so according to His mercy, grace, patience, and love. This is true no matter how things seem or how they feel. Whether life seems dark or light, God remains constant. We would be wise to consider our attitudes towards God when things are hard so as to remember the proper way to treat the One True Living God who loves us, and gave His life for us while we were yet sinners.