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"Thought for the Week" by Elder James Horan (Rock Springs)
November 27, 2016
This week’s lesson from the “Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide”, is titled “The Wrath of Elihu”. As stated earlier, the Book of Job may have been the first book of the Bible written. I’m sure we are all in agreement that what goes-on behind the scenes in the Heavenly council in Chapters 1 and 2 is not known to the earthly characters in that book. But what is known to those characters is the history that has gone before. God’s people in the Old Testament are great history-tellers and the details of the “fall” would surely have been known. And in the story of the “fall” to the flood and beyond to the time of Job, we see the Great Controversy played-out. We see God in action as He seeks to win us back to love and trust, and we see Satan in action as he deceives and distorts those Divine actions. Which brings us up to the book of Job and the interchange between the four antagonists and one protagonist as they debate the meaning of a good and righteous God in light of all the history that has gone before.
Are we today, after the written account of Job, in a better position to understand? So why are we discussing this book in 2016? Why a whole quarter studying this? Perhaps we do not understand any better than the antagonists. Perhaps the confusion all sinners have had from the beginning of sin has yet to be fully clarified. Perhaps sin has so clouded our minds that the book of Job still remains an enigma for most. Perhaps we do agree with the antagonists after all. That God is a fearsome, retributive Deity, who rewards some and punishes others. One whose inscrutable ways must remain a mystery and we must not even attempt to understand the secret things of the Omniscient One.
Or is Job right to question God? Isn’t Job preceding the steps of that Godly singer and pray-er, King David, who almost exclusively sang from his heart? Songs of praise, yes. But songs and prayers of revenge, depression, petitioning and questioning with candor that almost takes our breath away. Job’s friends sentiment is summed-up by Elihu when he states “I won't ask to speak with God; why should I give him a chance to destroy me” (Job 37:20 GNB). But Job insists that He can speak openly and frankly to God. “Speak first, O God, and I will answer. Or let me speak, and you answer me” (Job 13:22 GNB). A most open and transparent relationship. A relationship of trusted and trusting friends. A friendship that can even express itself in questioning words of frustration. “Will no one listen to what I am saying? I swear that every word is true. Let Almighty God answer me” (Job 31:35 GNB). God is so honored by His children who clamor to know the truth. And so, to honor their relationship of mutual trust, God answers Job’s questions… with questions of His own. Wonderful. All God’s questions are designed to make Job think and challenge his own suppositions (and ours, too). For by God’s questions we are thoughtfully led to the answers we seek. God does not directly answer our questions but leads us to ponder and make up our own minds for ourselves.
I believe that this book of the Bible was written to clear-up all the questioning we might have.
The story of Job shows us the true character of God. God does not run His universe as an authoritarian judge but as a benevolent Father, open to the scrutiny of all His “sons”. And as with all families, when dissension arises, every member of the family is involved. The unfaithful children lash-out and accuse the Father and the faithful children. The Father and the faithful children are obliged to validate the goodness and rightness of the family. Our all-wise Father will allow the faithful children to vindicate His character of love by their stalwart commitment to the principles of love that are the foundation of every successful family. The faithful children will consider it a great honor of trust to so vindicate their Father against the harsh accusations of the other faithless children who should know the truth (but know not). The faithful children’s love and truth-filled lives stand as monuments to The Father and the rightness of His ways.
The story of Job shows the true character of Satan. He is the accuser and condemner, not God. He is the one who trusts no one… and sees all as untrustworthy. And those who are actuated by the self-serving character of the Great Self-Server will imitate their Leader. They will accuse their brothers and sisters and will picture their Father as an accuser. Picture Him as One who condemns His children like a tyrant and does not trust His children (see Eliphaz’s false statement in Job 15: 14-16).
The story of Job shows that the loving character of God will be vindicated before the universe by His faithful children. Those who honor their Father even by their cry of lament. Lament is a cry of belief in a good Father. A Father who has an ear to our hearts. A father who transforms ugly into beauty. They know their Father and will not misrepresent Him. And the universe will see and attest to the sovereignty of love, demonstrated by us changed/ healed sinners.
The story of Job shows the source of our comfort. A comfort that comes from being our Father’s understanding friends, not just His obedient children. Those who obey “God from a sense of obligation merely--because he is required to do so--will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey… True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right--because right doing is pleasing to God” (Christ’s object Lessons pg. 97-98). Friends of God love following Him. Even if it means a life of suffering. Even if it means a long lingering death or intense disability. Because they understand that all the Father’s ways are love. And they also understand that the stability and peace of the universe are at stake. God’s faithful children will be willing to sacrifice all, even their eternal security as did their Brother Jesus for their Father’s vindication and the salvation of mankind. And in this high-calling, this mission in which they are trusted, the faithful children find purpose and dedication… and joy. This is their comfort… cooperating fully with their Father and Friend.
May we learn the lessons from Job. And may we have the unspeakable joy of being trusted by our Father to represent Him and the family aright. He’s counting on us. He trusts us.
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