Monday, May 28, 2018

Is God just when ...?

"Job and His Friends" - Ilya Repin (1844-1930)
"Job and His Friends" - Ilya Repin (1844-1930)
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Job 32-34; Psalm 143

TO CHEW ON: " 'Surely God will never do wickedly
Nor will the Almighty pervert justice.' " Job 34:13

I must admit that after three chapters of Elihu I'm finding him a little hard to take. The writer of my Bible's study notes describes him: "He is not a friend seeking to comfort but he is a young, developing sage attempting to offer new insight while the others are waiting to hear from God" - Charles E. Blair, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 673.

Like apologists are sometimes wont to do, he leads from his head rather than his heart, throwing punches of pride (" 'Hear my word you wise men; / Give ear to me, you who have knowledge…' " - Job 34:2) and sarcasm (" ' What man is like Job, / Who drinks scorn like water, / Who goes in company with the workers of iniquity …. / For he has said, "It profits a man nothing / That he should delight in God" ' " - Job 34:7-9).

However, if we can get past our emotional resistance to this upstart and set ourselves to focus on his words rather than the spirit in which they're spoken, we realize that Elihu is speaking an important truth about God: He is just: " ' Surely God will never do wickedly
Nor will the Almighty pervert justice' " - Job 34:13.

The theme of God's justice runs through the Bible:
  • Abraham appeals to it when bartering with the angel of the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorah - Genesis 18:25.
  • Moses defends it after 40+ years of working under His direction as the Israelites' leader - Deuteronomy 32:4.
  • Numerous psalms praise God's justice - Psalm 17:2; 37:28; 101:1.
  • Proverbs implies that God's own justice should characterize the business dealings of those who identify with Him - Proverbs 16:11.
  • God speaks about His justice in the first person through the mouths of prophets like Isaiah (Isaiah 61:8), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:5), and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 14:23).
  • Jesus, who existed from eternity with God, is unequivocal about it: "…'My judgment is righteous because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me' " - John 5:30.

All of the above notwithstanding, the decision to believe that God is just when He deals with us in ways we don't understand is still ours to make. Like Job was faced with it here, so we will be at some point. When the diagnosis is dire, the baby doesn't live, the accident leaves us in a wheelchair etc., will we still choose to believe that God is righteous in his justice?

PRAYER: Dear God, Paul was so right when he said "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV).  Help me to trust You in any and every life circumstance, even when I don't understand You. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 143

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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