May 17, 2019
How do we know that God can be trusted? The Bible says that it is impossible to please God without faith, but the Bible asks the people of God to trust Him for some really difficult things. For example, one of the chief commands that Jesus gave was to, “Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him.” This requires people to forfeit and deny certain personal affections, desires, ambitions, and goals that are contrary and counter-productive to God’s eternal purposes. This means that we must value Jesus’ leadership and the benefits of His promises more than the things that we are required to deny. How do we know that Jesus’ wisdom, power, and promises are better than the things we desire? How do we know God’s eternally unconditional promises are greater in scope and value? The Bible teaches that we need to know who God is to understand the value of His promises. Even though it is difficult to obey the commands of the Lord unto the receipt of His benefits, the Bible reveals the essence of God so that we can see the value of His character and promises. When we understand who God is, we can appreciate the value of what God does and then endure the difficulty that comes with obedience to His commands.
The testimony of Elihu in Job 34:21-30 provides a good reminder of who God is. As Elihu addressed Job and his self-righteousness, Elihu figured the best way to aid Job in repentance was to speak about the character and nature of God, not dwell on the mistakes that Job made. Job had misspoken about God by expressing his opinion that God was being too harsh on him. Job felt his suffering was excessive, and longed to die so as to be in the presence of God, reconnected to His grace in a manner that brought comfort and joy. Job was so overcome by his suffering that he felt disconnected from God to an extent that their relationship could not be repaired in this life. Without knowing, Job cheapened and weakened God’s grace, the effect of His mercy, and the sovereign work of the Lord that produces eternal effects. It is the full body of work that God does that needs to be examined, and Job had allowed the difficulty of his circumstances to distort his perspective. Elihu described the full body of God’s purposes and work to prove that God is not unjust, unfair, or unmerciful. Thus, God is trustworthy indeed!
In Job 34:21-30 Elihu reminded Job and his audience of God’s wisdom and knowledge. It might seem as if God is not seeing us sometimes. It might seem as if God is not paying attention to our lives at times. It might seem as if certain injustices and evils go on in this world without God addressing them like He is unaware. This is not true. God is aware at all times and sees all things. Elihu plainly stated that God’s eyes are on the ways of mankind and sees our steps. The language shows that God is not just looking from the standpoint of an observer, as if God is merely responsive to our conduct. God is not responsive. In that God “sees our steps,” refers to the fact that God knows where we’re going. He doesn’t just see what we’ve done. He also sees what we’re going to do. He knows our direction because He can see into our hearts to know our motives. Thus, God is always prepared to act rightly and judge rightly. He has all of the facts required to administer true justice; and since He is a lover of righteousness and justice, this is His chief focus, whether it appears that way to us or not. Who else has this ability? Who else has this kind of wisdom? Who else has this sort of focus and insight?
Elihu reminded Job and his audience that there is nowhere to run or hide from God. There is no shadow where a person can go that distorts God’s vision to know the truth. There is no close-encounter with death that keeps God from knowing our issues. God sees all the factors of this life AND the next! When Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the Garden of Eden, He knew; and He knew the cause of their shame and their weakness. The testimony of “the fall” in the Garden of Eden reveals God’s omniscience. His judgments against Adam, Eve, and the devil show that God is prepared to do rightly according to mercy and grace. God not only administrated consequences against Adam, Eve, and the devil, but also provided hope for salvation by making prophetic promises of the Messiah in Genesis 3:15. Clearly, God was not just interested in inflicting pain, but ensuring that the pain was productive to produce peace at the right time. Who but God can do this? Who but God is qualified to address ALL matters and circumstances, whether hidden in this life or in the darkness of death?
Elihu reminded Job and his audience that God judges the mighty, powerful, and influential of this world, and history proves it. There have been many rulers, kings, nobles, and leaders of various kinds throughout history that God has dealt with in profound ways. God has broken the powerful in their sleep, when things were unsuspecting and seemingly peaceful. Likewise, God has broken the powerful in plain sight of the day to provide public evidence of His wisdom and power. This shows that, while kings, nobles, and people of influence can appear to be in charge of things in this life, God’s dealings with them prove His supremacy. Whether a good ruler or a bad ruler, God has continually proven the superior extent of His wisdom, control, and purpose. Thousands of years have passed and millions of people have come and gone. Many of those people were people that were considered influential to some degree. They are now gone. God still remains. This shows that God’s omniscience and omnipotence doesn’t change. He is indeed, the same yesterday, today, and forever more. Who but God is like this?
Elihu then described the manner in which God exercises His supreme wisdom, power, sovereign control and providential care. God doesn’t leverage His knowledge of all things and superior power just to destroy people. God specifically desires to purge sin and darkness with the ultimate purpose of sharing the benefits of His glory with those who are called to be His. Consider the testimony of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God didn’t just show up to pound them with accusations and consequences. God administered righteous judgments, but also provided hope for the lost. The consequences of their sin caused pain, suffering, and death; but God sought them out to provide hope in spite of their sin. God judged sin that day with the promise of “the Seed of the woman,” referring to the Messiah – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world as the King of Israel, the Lion of Judah. Though God saw sin and punished it, He did so with the intentions to provide a solution that produced life. The same is true in the testimony of the Book of Revelation. The book testifies how Jesus will destroy sin in the world with intense violence, but with the aim of restoring His creations so that His people can enjoy His glory in holiness and righteousness.
Clearly, the work of God is the same in the end as it was in the beginning. This is why Elihu said that God desires to leverage His wisdom and power to stand up for “the poor” by humbling and judging the oppressive “kings” of the world. This speaks to God’s purpose to exalt the humble and humble the proud. God sees those who take advantage of His people in order to exalt themselves. God hears the cries of His people that deny their desire to seek vengeance, payback, or other forms of self-gratification by worldly means. God not only sees the works of the wicked, but also hears the cries of the afflicted. He has all of the information He needs to know what is right and wrong with the world, as well as the cause. God has all of the power and control He needs to address it. History has shown that, while many of God’s people have died in poverty, through suffering, or in calamity, He is able to restore “the poor” to be exalted in the likeness of His own glory. The most obvious proof that God provided of this power is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s righteousness is so transcendent that He took the form of flesh in order to die unjustly, being falsely accused and publicly shamed. His body was beaten to a pulp until He was unrecognizable as a man. His death brought pain and shame while He became a curse on our behalf. Yet, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day to show that the condition of someone in this life does not affect His ability to glorify in the next. It seemed as if wicked people were getting away with murder. It seemed as if “the poor” were being treated unjustly again, without consequence. Jesus’ resurrection shows that assumption wasn’t true. Who but God is able to prove themselves this way?
Elihu stated that the hypocrite will not reign. Elihu reminded the people that God does not want His people to be caught in the traps of the wicked unto their destruction. That doesn’t mean that God’s people won’t suffer. Both Job AND Jesus (God in flesh) were proof that no one is exempt from suffering in this life. Nevertheless, the suffering of God’s people does not indicate the victory of God’s enemies. Death was figured to be the chief enemy of all people. Yet Jesus came and took possession of the keys to death and Hades. He is in control, and His aim is to provide justice, righteousness, glory, and ETERNAL life. God’s arm is not so small that if things seem unaddressed in this life, that they will remain unaddressed forever. God is a righteous Judge who does all things perfectly to produce a quality of goodness that is eternal and spiritual in nature. Who but God can make this claim? Therefore, God is certainly trustworthy. His promises and purposes are indeed supremely valuable above all things. Dealing with the difficulties of denying self is worth it. Job felt like he was being treated unfairly at the moment because he forgot about the full magnitude of God’s work. If we look only at the moment of Jesus’ death, where is the hope of God’s promise? When we look at the full scope of God’s work through Jesus before He became flesh, after He became flesh, and after His return, THEN we can appreciate the value and worth of God’s purposes and promises with peace and joy, no matter how things may appear in the moment.