Meditations in Job : 60. Lessons in Love
Job 33:14,17,18 For God does speak…… to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword
Now I know the word ‘love’ is not mentioned in this chapter but I would suggest that everything the Elihu says about the way God works, describes God as a God of love. Elihu has listened (33:8) and heard Job say that he is pure and without sin (v.9) yet Job has blamed God for finding fault with him and for making him an enemy (v.10), the way He has dealt with him (v.11), and with this Elihu has a problem (v.12)
Now the truth we know from earlier in the book is exactly the opposite: God hasn’t found fault with Job, He has praised him for his righteousness and there is no way that God considers Job an enemy. In fact, without realising it, he is God’s emissary, displaying faithfulness on behalf of God in the face of Satan’s attacks. There has been a wrong assessment of the situation by Job.
But then comes Elihu’s second complaint: Job says he’s cried to God but the Lord hasn’t answered him. Elihu launches into a declaration that God does speak again and again, “though man may not perceive it.” (v.14b) The Lord speaks in a variety of ways (v.14a), in dreams or visions (v.15) or directly into our ears (v.16). The REASON God speaks is then given: “to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.” (v.17,18) When God speaks He is trying to get man to turn away from those destructive attitudes and ways of behaving so that he will be saved. If we refuse to heed his voice we may simply end up in hell, and we may even go there through a violent means brought on by our own folly.
Another way that the Lord ‘speaks’ to us is through personal suffering that brings us to the edge of death (v.19-22), yet Elihu is aware that God sends angels as personal messengers “to tell a man what is right for him” (v.23c) and also to remind the Lord that He has provided a ransom to save this man (v.24) so that this man might be saved and restored (v.25). Now whether that ransom is reference to the sacrifices made for sin (see 1:5) or whether it is a prophetic reference to the Lamb of God, Jesus, is unclear. Such a man will pray and be restored (v.26) and then he will go and confess to others that he had sinned but had not received what he had deserved (v.27) because God has redeemed him (v.28).
He reiterates that God does this sort of thing, “twice, even three times– to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him.” (v.29,30) Yes, God uses this sort of thing to bring people to their senses. We see this exactly in Jesus’ parable to the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:14-17) where the bad circumstances drive the son to his senses.
Elihu concludes this chapter with a call to Job to answer up if he has got an answer. Now the only trouble with all this is that, of course, Job doesn’t have an answer because neither he nor Elihu know what has gone on in the courts of heaven (ch.1 & 2) and they don’t know that this actually has nothing to do with Job’s sin. Everything Elihu has said has been absolutely correct – except it doesn’t apply to Job, because he is a special case and he is going through trials for no other reason than God has chosen him to go through them – and that because he IS righteous!
So, having looked at this chapter, there are various things we need to check out in ourselves. Elihu maintains that God does speak to us in a variety of ways. Are we open to believe that? Do we believe that the Lord speaks to us personally – and if so, what have we done with what He has said?
Second, are we aware that in God’s sanctifying processes, making us more like Jesus, He uses physical suffering and circumstances generally? Can we, therefore, when things aren’t going well, be open to learn from Him?
Third, do we realise that whenever God ‘speaks’ it is to extend our experience of salvation and keep us away from things that would harm us or draw us away from Him? Are we so aware of God’s love that we can be utterly secure in all that happens to us, secure in the knowledge that He loves us and is working to bless us?
Finally, can we learn that lesson that we have observed previously but which arises again here, that unless we have had revelation from God we should be slow in assessing people negatively (judging them).
Moses asked the Lord, “teach me your ways so I may know you.” (Ex 33:13). In this meditation new have been touching on the ‘ways’ of God, the way He works and why He works as He does. May we learn these things!