JOB 31:1 – 33:33 and ROMANS 12:1–21
Job is coming near the end of his comments and he is pouring out his confusion and justification to the Lord. At the same time he would be mindful of the presence of his three friends. In all of the discourses that the comforters were bringing to Job they were asserting some sort of wrongdoing on his part. They took note of the judgements that had come upon Job and concluded that something had to be wayward in his life. Throughout chapter 31 Job makes many references of where he did what would have been thought to be prudent and upright. He begins by making a statement that is often quoted and for good reason.
Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid
This is a prudent approach in seeking how to survive in a sin driven culture. The eye is a primary window into the soul of a man and it here where the enemy makes his attack. Job was being intentional in not allowing his eyes to think upon or lustily glance at a woman. Today, we are bombarded with visuals and images that can have a direct impact upon our thought life if we are not careful. The enemy’s appeal to Eve was done both audibly (Gen 3:1-5) and visually (Gen 3:6). What we listen to and the things we allow our eyes to see does have an impact. Job exercised discipline in the area of his eyes and it certainly is excellent advice for us in our visually driven culture.
Job is very clear as to what happens to those who practice wickedness and hypocrisy. He makes clear that God is well able to observe his ways and that nothing is hid from him. He desires to be weighed in an even balance. This statement may sound good when comparing himself with man but it is quite a different thing when seeking to be balanced against God and his ways. The tone that Job is exhibiting has gone beyond the comforters and is now directed towards God. He goes on to say that he has filled in the role of the fatherless (vs 21) and has put his trust in God far above gold and silver (vs 24). In verse 25 he appears to be answering one of the charges that Satan made to God about his wealth. He said that if wealth was the source of his serving God then he would be worthy of being punished by the judge.
Job was expressing his heart based on his knowledge and experience. He could not yet discern that God was going after something deeper; that secret leviathan that lurks and entwines itself within the fabric of man. His example far surpassed that of his friends and others of his day. In fact, God spoke to that effect from the beginning (Job 1:8). What was one of the primary qualities of Job that distinguished him from others? Why was Job a person whom God would allow to be exposed to the attacks and torments of Satan? It has to be more than God proving a point to Satan that a man would serve Him for more than the blessings. So what was it about Job? I feel the key is found in verse 33:
Job 31:33 If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:
Job had the quality or the willingness to be open and transparent before God. Man by nature seeks to cover and hide his sins or inclinations. It is the nature of Satan himself and it was something that was immediately seen in Adam at the time of the fall (Gen 3:7-8). Adam then went on to blame his wife and God for the transgression (Gen 3:12). There are elements of this aspect of Adam in Job’s complaints to God but overall he was one who did not hide from God. In Genesis chapter 3 you have the two garments that depict the covering of man and of God. The garment that man configured was “fig leaves” and it is inappropriate in God’s eyes. Sadly, the church still sows fig leaves in seeking to not deal with the root issues of sin within one’s life. It can be by way of clever doctrine which helps to excuse or cover up the deep rooted areas of life. The other garment is found in Genesis 3:21. It is the covering of animal skins which was a pre-figuring of Christ. It symbolizes a death and the shedding of blood in order to secure the atonement. Job was not like Adam (man) in seeking to cover his sin; yet as a man he was still subject to the sin of Adam and that is what God is dealing with in this trial. God could put the spotlight on Job because he was a man who was transparent, honest and upright. It takes this kind of heart and attitude to help us in becoming more like the Lord. In the natural it appears to be a cruel and unjust punishment for an upright man but when viewed from an eternal perspective it serves as one of the greatest privileges and honour ever bestowed. We now come to the end of Job’s words for this portion. The Lord is about to speak to the comforters and to Job through his servant Elihu.
The introduction to this chapter speaks of his three friends offering no more comments or opinions towards Job. They saw him as being self-righteous in his own eyes and saw no further need to press the issue forward. In verse 2 we are introduced to Elihu whose wrath was directed towards both Job and his three friends. He took strong issue because Job was apt in seeking to justify himself before God. It is one thing to compare oneself with other men but quite another to ask to be weighed in an even balance before God. Even when man is at his natural best it can never measure to the ways of God (Rom 3:23). The Apostle Paul was emphatic in making this point to the Jewish brethren. Man’s righteousness can never be equated to God. This was one of the primary sins of Job as we shall soon see. God will speak through Elihu and turn the tables on Job when He asks him some specific questions later on. His wrath was also directed towards the three friends of Job because they condemned him without the ability to discover the answer to Job’s plight.
Elihu now will speak forth seeing that all have ceased offering their opinions. Elihu was privy to the conversation and no doubt took in all that was conveyed. He makes the point that he was younger than all the others and chose best to withhold his thoughts until it was appropriate. He also made the point that he expected that wisdom would prevail seeing that some of these men were seasoned and of older age. I guess older age does not always mean that wisdom will be in evidence. He goes on by saying that great men are not always wise neither do the aged understand judgement (vs 8-9). This is very much true today as well. Whom do we attribute greatness to in our day? This question is being addressed to church circles and not the secular. In the days of Eli the high priest it took a young boy (Samuel) to actually hear the Word of the Lord. God was stirring and doing something new and fresh but who perceived it? If not for Samuel there would have been status quo Christianity; the kind seen during the reign of the Judges. In our study of Job God was clearly doing something new and fresh but who perceived it? Are the three friends of Job in that group? What about Job? Elihu is about to speak truth into the situation and bring the work of God to light. Job may not understand what is taking place but he has the spirit and attitude that will allow God to achieve His purpose. We do not know much about Elihu but we can see him as a type of the Holy Spirit who is able to bring things to light. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as one that would lead into all truth (Joh 16:13) and one who would reprove and correct (Joh 16:8). Elihu will do both here and much more. Like Job, there needs to be a willingness on our part to be open and yielded to His working; to not hide from sin but acknowledge it and allow our temples to become cleansed (1 Cor 6:19-20).
His first indictment is against the comforters. He waited for their words but found that they could not address the true need in Job. He reproves them for some of their brutal charges made against him; particularly the words of Eliphaz as seen in Job 22:5:
Job 22:5 Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
Those are heavy words and serious charges. In effect they were seeking to justify themselves against Job and not having knowledge of the ways of God. It would have been best for them to stay silent then trying to exercise their own wisdom in assessing Job’s suffering. Their words not only fell short of the mark it added considerable sorrow to Job’s suffering. Elihu makes abundantly clear to his friends how they totally distorted the whole matter. They speak no more before Elihu. He now turns his attention to Job by expressing an overwhelming burden welling up within him. He likens himself to a wine pitcher that is about to break; something that cannot be contained any longer. It will be a measured yet highly burdened response that will come forth. God is about to speak into Job’s situation and it will not be with any intent of flattery. It will be the Word of the Lord.
Elihu is now going to direct his words over the next several chapters to Job. In the first few verses Elihu is saying that he in fact is the answer to Job’s prayer. Job was pleading for God to speak and make Himself known to him in several of his previous discourses; now his desire is about to come to pass. In verses 7-11 Elihu refers to the words that Job had brought before the Lord. He asked that he could speak with God without fear so God is about to do so through a man who also has been taken from clay (vs 6). This takes away any initial fear that Job would have had if he were to stand before the majesty of God. Elihu rebukes Job in verses 12-13 for saying that his approach and questioning of God was not wise. He asks the question; why Job do you strive with your maker? Can you not understand that God is sovereign and can do as He pleases? Still God does speak, not once but twice and is man able to perceive it?
This is instructive for us as we are heading toward the last days. The Spirit of God is continually speaking and echoing the Words of God. The question is do we hear? Jesus rebuked those whose hearing had become dull and insensitive to His voice. He also referred to the words of Isaiah:
Isa 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
The exhortation from the Lord Himself to the 7 churches was that they would have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches (Rev 2-3). Job is about to be given access to the wisdom of God as seen in the concluding verses of chapter 33:
Job 33:32 If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee.
Job 33:33 If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.
Elihu seems to be establishing his credentials as one who can speak on behalf of God throughout this chapter. He makes clear that God will render unto a man his righteousness as a counter to many of his arguments. Elihu is viewing this whole matter from a different lens. He is respectful of Job knowing that he has been in great suffering. He is totally distinct from the comforters seeing that they were charging him recklessly. Elihu saw a totally different picture. He introduces himself to Job in a respectful yet firm matter. His first mission was to more or less put the three friends into their place. Secondly, he identifies himself as one who is an answer to his prayer in hearing from God. Third, he demonstrates his authority by relaying a strong understanding of the ways and dealings of God. After establishing his credentials he now invites Job to listen and mark well the words that are about to come forth. He also instructs him to hold his peace for he is about to be introduced to the wisdom that he has been longing for.
We can entitle this portion of the Romans Road as the Service of God. It will all come down to the measure of sacrifice we bring before God. In verse 1 Paul emphasizes that our offering should be one of total commitment and consecration. This is what the Lord did when he died upon the Cross for each of us. We can trace this measure of sacrifice back to Genesis when Abram met Melchizedec:
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Gen 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
This was a picture of Christ as being the broken bread and body who would one day shed his blood for mankind. Paul references this again in Hebrews:
Heb 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
The question is what kind of offering do we bring to Christ? This question is an unsettling one amongst the passengers who are on this tour. What is notable is the distinction between those who took the Romans narrow road as opposed to those who went the way of the Romans-By-Pass. The travellers of the narrow road are acquainted with the degrees of Levitical offerings and understand the difference between them. The burnt offering and its application are very real. They also embrace and live by the two great commandments because it speaks of the burnt offering:
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The exhortation is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. The people who took the narrow road know full well what Paul is saying; they understand true grace and the importance of choice and seek to be able to be that measure of sacrifice. They know the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit and are well acquainted with another verse from Hebrews:
Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
There is the exhortation to not be conformed to this world and it systems. This is becoming increasingly difficult seeing the pervasiveness of evil. I think we need to consider that even the church is coming into a place of conformity. Today, people are told how to think, act and believe. The world and its systems are exacting their own set of values and are putting measures into place to enforce conformity towards them. Let us not look at this verse as merely seeking to not be like the world; it is far more serious than that. In Daniel chapter 3 the three friends of Daniel had to stand against the tide of cultural conformity. They did not bow to the system at the risk of their lives. We see a similar scenario presented in the last days in Revelation 13. It will take a special grace to stand in the coming days and it begins with the renewing of the mind. The Word of God must be a central part of a believer’s life so that one’s thinking will be sound and secure. Even though verse 2 is a familiar one it is not easily implemented. The Apostle Peter adds to this by using the expression “girding up the loins of our mind” (1 Pet 1:13). This requires great discipline especially with the many voices and distractions vying for our minds attention. It is a battleground that the enemy is able to infiltrate and it must be fortified. The Romans tour is about to encounter various areas of church and kingdom life. If we get these initial disciplines established in offering our best to the Lord and resisting evil by not conforming to the world’s system we will achieve success. If we are Christians of ease who live by way of by-passes and shortcuts our effectiveness will be minimal. Let’s see now where our journey takes us.
In verses 4-5 Paul talks about the importance of being part of a spiritual body. Each member should know their position and function accordingly. There should be no schisms or jealousies. The gifts of the sprit will have a greater ability to flow and will benefit in this environment. Paul is always one to stress the importance of diligence and excellence (vs 11). The commodity of time is a precious gift and must be utilized for the benefit of the kingdom (Psa 90:12). The discipline of prayer is an essential and it is to be employed at any time. The balance of the chapter is about meeting the needs of the saints. If we are those who offer God our best we will excel in all of these various offices and functions. Our interests will always be focused upon others as opposed to self-serving alternatives. The key to fulfilling the attributes of chapter 12 is all centered around the first two verses. The first two verses are very much tied into Romans 6-8. If we understand and embrace the Cross, and come to appreciate the power of Sin, the true function of grace and the law as well as learning to make right choices we will do well with these verses. If we choose to by-pass, neglect or give little heed to these subjects we will fall short in being able to fulfil these verses. How well would we do with Rom 12:1-2?