Day 291: Where is God’s wrath?

Job 38:1-40:5Colossians 4

God’s wrath… all of Job’s friends expected it. In fact, all three of their first references to God spoke of his wrath!!

Eliphaz’s first mention of God referred not to His holiness, His love, His mercy, or His goodness, but to His anger toward “those who sow trouble:” “At the breath of God they are destroyed; at the blast of his anger they perish” (Job 4:9).

Bildad’s first reference to God touched on one of Job’s deepest griefs, the deaths of all ten children. Did BIldad refer to the God who heard “Rachel weeping for her children” (Matthew 2:18)? No! To the heartbroken father, Bildad said of God: “When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin” (Job 8:4).

Zophar’s first reference to God was not a prayer on his friend’s behalf, but a wish for God’s wrath to rebuke Job: “Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you…” (Job 11:5).

(Frances Bennett, Job, Lessons in Comfort, CEP, 2009, pg 89-90)

So when God finally speaks, and says to Job, “Brace yourself like a man,” (Job 38:3) we expect God to unleash his wrath…but he doesn’t.

God talks about creation and how “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (38:7).

We see his grace as he creates the dawn to limit evil (38:12-15)…and as he sends the stored-up snow to slow or cease wars and catastrophes (38:22-23).

We see his care and concern for his creatures… providing food to the raven (38:41), watching the birth of the does (39:1), freeing the donkey (39:5) and releasing the ox from its burden (39:9-12). He gives the horse its might (39:19-25) and even the ostrich is given joy (39:18).

Where is God’s wrath? I only see grace. And how does Job respond?? 

Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:3-5).

Job sees his smallness in the face of God. He recognizes that He does not understand his small role in God’s big plan, and he vows silence. No more questions. No more demands for justice. Just a quiet, humble trust.

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Day 290: Building to the Climax of Job

Job 35-37Colossians 3

Today we read the conclusion of Elihu’s lengthy diatribe. Elihu has a few good points, but he delivers them in an extraordinarily insensitive way. He assumes Job needs to repent of some hidden sin (34:34-3735:14-16) and mistakenly describes God as unapproachable (37:19-24). We have to consider Elihu’s contribution in light of the whole context of Job…

In the history of God’s dealings with his people, the question of the apparently undeserved suffering of faithful individuals recurs again and again. The book of Job reminds God’s people that they have an enemy who will denounce them (Satan), and, through the ignorance of Job’s friends, it helps the faithful to remember at all times how small a part of any situation is the fragment that they see (ESV Study Bible, Introduction to Job, History of Salvation Summary, Crossway, 2008).

Elihu lashes out at Job with logic devoid of compassion and kindness. His concern is his own desire to talk and to advocate on “God’s behalf” (36:2). In so doing, Elihu reveals that he cares more about speaking his mind than comforting Job. And in light of Job 1-3 and the rest of revealed Scripture, we see how little Elihu actually understood of the reasons for Job’s suffering.

When we approach the suffering in our midst, we need to lay aside any temptation to judge or correct. We are not privy to the inner-workings of the heart or the hidden purposes of God. We should stick to encouragement in love.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-14).

Tomorrow we read the climax of Job…when God finally speaks!! “Brace yourself like a man!” Are you ready?

Day 289: The comfort of Christ

Job 32-34; Colossians 2

Elihu speaks today. You might be wondering… Eli-who?  After all, he just appears out of nowhere and speaks unabated for six chapters! But Elihu’s goal is neither to comfort or rebuke Job. His goal is to defend God’s justice.

In many ways, Job’s friends offer simplistic answers to Job’s complicated questions. Elihu is no different; however, he does reorient the conversation away from Job and back to God! But like Job’s friends, Elihu’s understanding of God is limited. They live before the written revelation of Scripture and are thus limited to their own human understanding.

Paul warns the Colossians against human logic and arguments in today’s text from Colossians.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8).

The gospel goes against all human logic. Every other world religion provides a path for man to merit his own salvation. The specifics of how to earn salvation vary from religion to religion, but the system is universal… Man works his way up to God. Jesus came and turned human logic on its head. The gospel says that God came down to us because it’s impossible for us to reach the heights of Him.

Forgiveness, Mercy, Grace, Restoration, Redemption… These are God’s ideas…not man’s.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14).

Elihu’s words might have shifted Job’s heart by refocusing his eyes to God. But Elihu’s words offered Job no comfort. For comfort is found in the gospel. Real comfort is found in Christ.

“God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).

Day 288: The sufficiency of Christ

Job 30-31; Colossians 1

Considering Job lived before the written revelation of Scripture, Job and his friends deliver man’s best attempts at wisdom, and in so doing, reveal the insufficiency of man to offer comfort in the midst of suffering. They are limited by their false assumptions about God.

Today we read Job’s final lament (Job 30) and his final appeal (Job 31). His final lament reveals he is still consumed with anger at God’s apparent injustice. And while his final appeal for justice is impressive, Job shows his great need for wisdom and understanding by assuming he can approach God’s throne “like a prince” (31:37).

For we know the only way to approach God’s throne is as a pauper, poor in Spirit, leaning on the sufficiency of Christ!

[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).