DOING THE DEVIL’S WORK
Gracious God, this day is yours and I am yours. I would not begin this day without being with you.
Read JOB 35
35 Then Elihu said:
2 “Do you think this is just?
You say, ‘I am in the right, not God.’
3 Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me,[a]
and what do I gain by not sinning?’
4 “I would like to reply to you
and to your friends with you.
5 Look up at the heavens and see;
gaze at the clouds so high above you.
6 If you sin, how does that affect him?
If your sins are many, what does that do to him?
7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,
or what does he receive from your hand?
8 Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself,
and your righteousness only other people.
9 “People cry out under a load of oppression;
they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than he teaches[b] the beasts of the earth
and makes us wiser than[c] the birds in the sky?’
12 He does not answer when people cry out
because of the arrogance of the wicked.
13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea;
the Almighty pays no attention to it.
14 How much less, then, will he listen
when you say that you do not see him,
that your case is before him
and you must wait for him,
15 and further, that his anger never punishes
and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.[d]
16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk;
without knowledge he multiplies words.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Cleanse me … and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.’1 Thank the Lord that you are made clean and new today.
Elihu accuses Job of claiming to be in the right while still committing sin. Job, however, trusts God to vindicate him.2 The occasional negative cry from Job’s pain-racked body has not undone that foundational faith. The writer of Psalm 42 both thirsted for God but also questioned why God had forgotten him.3 Jesus’s cry from the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’,4 shows that God can bear our honest, heartfelt outpouring during times of grief and agony.
In verse 3, Elihu harks back to the very root of Job’s suffering. ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ was Satan’s original accusation and the reason for his trials.5 When Elihu claims that Job is asking ‘What profit is it to me, and what do I gain by not sinning?’ (v 3) he aligns himself with the Satanic allegation. When speaking with those who need our support and prayers, let us be careful not to do the accuser’s work for him.
We do not understand why prayer is not always answered as we would like, but Elihu is wrong to suggest that God pays no attention to Job’s pleas because of his unrighteousness. He accuses Job of arrogance, suggesting that this is why God is not listening to his prayers (v 12), or maybe that it is because Job is speaking empty words without knowledge (v 16). This is judgmental; if there is any arrogance here it is in the young Elihu himself. He mocks Job for claiming to leave his case with God and waiting for him (v 14), but laying our case before the Lord and waiting for his timing is precisely what we should do today. Thankfully, there is one who speaks on our behalf before God, so that we need not fear any condemnation.6
Consider some of the reasons why Elihu says that God might not answer prayer (vs 9–12). Do you agree with him? Are there other possible reasons?
Dear God, sometimes I try to avoid learning the lessons you are trying to teach me. Forgive me and help me to live well as I await your return.
1 Ps 51:7 2 Job 13:18 3 Ps 42:1,2,9 4 Mark 15:34 5 Job 1:9 6 Rom 8:34
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