Thursday, April 27, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Job 33-34

Job 32 marked the introduction of a fourth “friend” who came to contend with poor Job.  “Elihu”, the younger of the men had been respectfully silent until Job 32; however, he followed the foolish example of his elders in condemning Job of some unconfessed sin while lacking any evidence of spiritual discernment into the matter.  Elihu’s monologue against Job continues in today’s scripture reading, Job 33-34.

Elihu’s words in Job 33:1-7 are brazenly prideful!  He boasts that, though a man of clay like Job (33:6), he will, nevertheless, offer insight that had so far not been introduced into the subject of Job’s suffering.  Elihu repeats Job’s prior defense (33:8-11), and then accuses him of striving against God (33:13).

In ancient times, before the Word of God was complete (1 Corinthians 13:10; Hebrews 1:1-2), God spoke to His people by dreams and visions.  Elihu asserts God speaks to His people, “In a dream, in a vision of the night” (33:14-15) to stir the heart and conscience of man to heed His Word and avoid the way of sin (33:16-18).

Elihu continues, God not only stirs the conscience of sinners with dreams and visions, He also employs sorrows and sufferings to awaken humility and conviction within the heart of man (33:19-22).

Before I rush pass this point, let us pause and take a moment to reflect on this truth.  Elihu’s observation, the sorrow of God’s chastening, physical pain, loss of appetite, physical deterioration and the gaunt appearance described by Elihu (Job 33:19-22) is all too familiar.  Not all sorrow and suffering is a result of sin and God’s chastening; however, there are many believers who dismiss and deflect the sorrows that assail them and their families without honestly pondering the why…Why is God allowing hurts and disappointments to assail one’s soul? (note – Hebrews 12:5-13)

I wonder who might be reading today’s devotional and you are bearing overwhelming sorrows.  It is tempting to dismiss physical pain and emotional distresses by glibly quoting some great principles of God’s sovereignty and providence (i.e. Romans 8:28-29) and fall into a comfortable, well-worn rut of viewing your troubles and sorrows as an effect of the sins of others.   Don’t overlook sorrows and suffering and fail to recognize they are often tools God employs to bring His child to humility and divert them from a path that will potentially bring them, their marriage, and family to ruin.

Elihu speaks truth when he reminds Job the LORD is gracious (33:24-25), merciful (33:28), and hears the prayer of repentant souls (33:26-27).  He invites Job to speak in his own defense (33:32), but before he is able to do so, his young “friend” rushes on pressing his case against the old man (Job 34).

I will not make that error in closing; however, I will press you on this…Stop and search your heart and, if troubles and sorrows shadow your life, consider if they are not God’s loving, chastening hand Who longs to see you humble and broken in His presence.

Psalm 34:17-19 – “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith