JOB 37:1 – 39:30 and ROMANS 14:1– 23
Elihu is now going to bring forth God’s perspective concerning Job. He expresses a reverential fear in considering the weightiness of God’s Word. He speaks of the voice of the Lord in powerful terms and for good reason. It was the voice of the Lord that created the heavens and the earth. It is the voice of the Lord that brings life to dry and lifeless bones. (Eze 37) One of the best descriptions of the power and majesty of the voice of the Lord is found in Psalm 29:
Psa 29:4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
He then describes what His voice accomplishes; what His voice is able to put into motion. He speaks for snow to be placed upon the earth and it is accomplished. Elihu’s words in verses 5-12 seems to sum up the familiar verses from Isa 55:10-11:
Isa 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
What a preparatory collection of statements to present to Job before speaking God’s Word into his situation. He now tells Job to stand still and meditate and contemplate upon the words that he just heard, to think upon the wondrous works of God. One can already imagine a humbled state of mind after considering some of the things that Job had said concerning God. This is the power of an anointed witness. A man or woman who has been exercised in their own life has an ability to skilfully apply the sword into the life of another. We are called to not judge others lest we ourselves be judged (Math 7:1). In reading further in chapter 7 it goes on to say that to the extent we allow judgement to come into our own life we can then be used to speak correction into the life of others (Math 7:5). Elihu, unlike the three friends of Job is in a positon to speak in God’s stead.
The first question that Elihu asks Job is a question that will be asked throughout the next few chapters. “Were you around when God caused his light to first shine” (vs 15)? Can you explain how you become warm when the south winds begin to be stirred up? Perhaps you can teach and speak to us about these things and what we can say to God seeing that you can ask such questions of Him” You can sense the hint of sarcasm in Elihu’s words to Job in verses 19-24. By now Job is probably feeling a certain dread due to the weighty words that came forth form the lips of Elihu. It reminds me of Nathan when he was able to confront David after his sin with Bathsheba. These are not ordinary men whom God uses to polish His extraordinary sons. The Fear of the Lord is an anointing that can rest upon such people and I feel it is being seen here. The ultimate purpose of this trial is to bring Job through; to purge him of deeply entwined pride and to bring him to a greater stage of righteousness. This is the ultimate purpose of this precious anointing of the Fear of the Lord. It is also one of the 7 spirits of the Lord seen in the Holy place of Moses Tabernacle. May we be pursuers of this precious anointing:
Psa 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
The Lord now speaks expressly through Elihu to Job. He rebukes Job for making many speeches without the knowledge of God. In many of his responses he was speaking as if to men and not God. He prepares Job to gird himself up and be prepared to answer and make his claim. God takes Job back to the time of creation and asks him where he was at the foundations of the earth. Here is a brief paraphrase; If you were then let me know and give an account. Were you involved in its measurements and did you help when the foundations were being fastened? Job was probably beginning to feel very small as God is taking him to task for his comments. Even though Job is being humbled he is being given a profound picture of the greatness of God from creation onwards. God is dealing with him and is getting after issues however we are seeing a beautiful picture of the majesty and power of God. These are things we may know but they are being presented in an overwhelming and awe inspiring manner. I feel my own faith and appreciation for who God is gaining new heights as I read these verses. Our God is truly a majestic God. The balance of this chapter is pretty much filled with similar incidents of His creation where the Lord asks if he can explain how God interacts within His creation.
In verses 31-33 God asks Job about the heavenly constellations; he is given a view of the vastness of God’s exactitude in the courses and arrangement of the stars. Though the Book of Job is an ancient one there is understanding of astronomy. The wonderment of the heavens was something that captivated David and helped to give perspective in his relationship with Almighty God.
Psa 8:3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
Psa 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Psa 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Psa 8:6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
This is the place that Job is being brought into as God goes so far beyond the understanding and knowledge of Job. David had his sets of trials and shortcomings but he did have perspective concerning the God of the heavens and the mortal earthbound state of man and that God would still choose to take notice of him. The Lord will continue with Job in chapter 39.
God had already asked Job about where he was at the time of His creative work. He also asked about Job and what his thoughts were regarding the stars, their course and respective constellations. God does not stop there and proceeds to ask Job his thoughts about how the animals bring to birth, when they bring to birth and how they function in their lives. There is mention of a unicorn in verses 9-10 which could be a reference to a type of rhinoceros with its single horn. The description of its function is more like a buffalo which is used for ploughing for the planting of seed. The Lord then speaks about the peacock and ostrich and the manner in how they manage their eggs of young (vs 13-17). In particular God goes into detail about the laying habits of ostriches. They seem oblivious to their young in certain places as the eggs are neglected. One can assume that God has deprived the ostrich of wisdom and instinct due to her disregard for her young but in actuality it is an inner wisdom that man cannot perceive that allows the young to hatch in unique climates. The Lord was implying to Job as to whether he understood this process and if he was around when God ordained it so.
In verses 19-25 the Lord speaks to the glory and valour of a horse. He asks Job if it is he who had given the horse its strength and lack of fear. Here is another brief paraphrase; Did you give the horse its speed as it gallops with its head forward into the midst of battle? Were you part of its design and involved in the planning of the horse when it was brought forth? In verses 26-30 the Lord then brings Job to the different birds of the air. Job, answer me this one, was it you who taught the hawk to fly in its beauty stretching its winds towards the south or was it you who commanded the eagle to make its nest on high while giving it the ability to see its prey from a great distance? Can you see how ridiculous Job’s arguments were in light of the questions coming forth from God? Remember, God earlier told Job to stand firm and be ready to give an answer.
It had to be very hard for Job as his arguments are now put before God‘s perspective. At the same time God is allowing Job to see facets of His creation which will only enhance his relationship with God. This overwhelming bombardment of God’s creative glory will change Job and it will make allowance for any resident element of pride and self-sufficiency to come to the surface. I feel this to be God’s primary intent in this whole ordeal. What can Job or any man say to God as the splendour and nature of His creation is being conveyed with such powerful force? Yes, the words of God through Elihu hit Job hard and rendered him speechless as he saw the folly of many of his statements. At the same time it’s as if the Lord is bringing Job alongside Himself in bringing him back to the time of creation. In the beginning you can see how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were intricately linked at the time of creation. Though Job is being rebuked he is being given a tremendous revelation and insight into who God is; to see in a fresh way just how powerful and majestic He is and then to see how puny man really is in the midst of it all. The real mystery then is why it that God takes such pleasure and notice of a man? David was amazed and filled with wonderment which we saw earlier in Psalm 8. What better way in dealing with the resident pride in man than to stand before God and be shown aspects of the creation and then be commanded to give an answer as to where you were in this process. To Job this was most humbling but it was in the end a privilege of the highest order. It is so true; God’s ways are not the ways of man (Isa 55:8).
Paul is going to address some church related issues in how the body of Christ should function amongst one another. This is important because divisions and separations are taking place over several divisive issues that flow from the church. Some of these issues are really trivial in light of the bigger picture.
In verse 1-3 Paul is exhorting to not major on the minors. I guess the primary point here is to try and look at things from a broader perspective; to see the bigger picture. This was one of the lessons a dear man of God taught me in his latter years. He mentioned that as he got older he learned to be mellower and not to contend over issues that in the end do not really matter. He exhorted to save your energy and focus on the things that do count. In no wise was he speaking about compromising; far from it but rather to look at ministry from the bigger picture. If a person chooses to eat differently than you don’t make a doctrine out of it (vs 2-3). We are to be moderate and wise in how we eat but don’t be quick to judge others who may have a differing view.
In verse 4-6 Paul again warns about passing judgment on others. The problem in overly focusing on someone else is that it’s at the expense of our own need. A typical issue of contention can be over how one honours the Sabbath day. There are those who insist it has to be on Saturday while others emphasize Sunday. Paul is merely saying not to make a big issue about what day a man esteems as long as the Sabbath is honored (vs 5). Every man will give his or her account before God. Once again, if it is a matter of doctrine than its different since God’s laws and commands must always be upheld. It all comes down to properly distinguishing between the majors from the minors. Put another way to know the battles we are called to fight. Some church splits result from disputes over trivial issues.
In verse 7 Paul presents a sobering reminder that our life, the way we live our life does have an effect upon people. This is especially true as we progress in our walk with God. Our life becomes more like an open book or epistle that people observe and take note from. What is the message and primary take away that our life speaks to others? Paul wants this truth to settle into the hearts and minds of his audience because our life is a message. What is the story and message that comes forth?
2Co 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
Paul then reminds us that we live for the Lord, we are His and that we were created for His glory and honour (Rev 4:11). Paul then follows this up by emphasizing that we will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ (vs 10-12). Life is about accountability. As a child growing up I would have a dreaded fear of my scholastic report card. It summarized and assessed that which I had learned over the past few months. It was great if the report card was good because it was something I would happily showcase to my parents. It helped to be mindful of these reporting periods because it stirred me to seek to give a better effort so that I would be able to stand confident and assured on that day. If the report card was substandard (which was often the case) it allowed for my parents to make needed adjustments to help ensure a better future result. We have these opportunities in our walk as believers. Paul was one who warned on judging ourselves that we not be judged (1 Cor 11:31). David constantly cried out for a pure heart; to have a heart examined by the Lord to see if there was any hidden wickedness within him (Psa 139:22-23, Psa 26:2). This is a healthy approach in living life as a believer. We must never forget that each and every one of us will one day stand before our eternal judge to give an account. These exhortations of Paul, if applied will help to ensure a report card that will be honorable before God.
As leaders we need to be sensitive about being a stumbling-block to others. Let’s say for example I would be a person who would enjoy a glass of wine on occasion with my dinner. (I don’t by the way) One glass of wine would not inebriate me or cause me any kind of problem so for me it is not an issue. Let’s say I am at a restaurant and someone who maybe struggles with alcohol sees me with a glass of wine. This person could take license in seeing that I as a pastor am drinking wine and conclude that is ok for him to do likewise. The difference may be that he struggles with alcohol and it becomes strengthened because of my example. This is only an example being cited to make a point. Our lives and how we live does influence people. Paul goes to great lengths to help us be mindful of these things.
The kingdom of God is defined in verse 17 as righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Paul is trying to get the focus on what really matters; it is not a matter of what we drink or eat. The kingdom of God is righteousness and righteous living, the peace of God and the joy of the Lord. The first 16 verses spoke of minor issues in light of what the kingdom of God is truly all about. It is God’s righteousness coupled with peace and joy which are fruits of the Holy Ghost. Once again the primary takeaway from chapter 14 is the ability to not major on the minors but to put priority on true kingdom living. How we appropriate true kingdom living is again derived from the route we have taken in our respective Roman journey. Are we travelers of the “narrow road or the by-pass”?
Paul will pick up on similar themes as the tour continues into chapter 15.