Morning Light – April 1st, 2016

ml_2016Today: [Job Twenty-Two] Rejecting the Opinions of Men. In this chapter we hear thankfully for the last time from Elipaz. In his final assault on Job all the gloves are off and he excoriates and denounces Job utterly. His idea of repentance (in his view) is for Job to simply humble himself and acknowledge how wise and correct Elipaz is. He tells Job that if he will simply agree with him that everything will get better. In this regard Job will have to decide does he listen to men or does he hopefully get over his resentments against God and find a true place of humility and restoration?
[Job 22:1-30 KJV] 1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said, 2 Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? 3 [Is it] any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or [is it] gain [to him], that thou makest thy ways perfect? 4 Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment? 5 [Is] not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite? 6 For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing. 7 Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry. 8 But [as for] the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it. 9 Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken. 10 Therefore snares [are] round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee; 11 Or darkness, [that] thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee.
This chapter marks the last time we hear from Job’s friend Elipaz. In Elipaz’ discussions with Job he originally began with platitudes and generalizations. He then moved on to a doctrinal treatise about the punishment of the wicked by the hand of God. Now if he could not be any more plain his assault on Job’s character and reputation is naked and brutal. In Elipaz’ opening salvo he basically says to Job “who do you think you are?” He has listened to Job’s protestations of his innocence and his complaint against the Almighty and to Elipaz it is all just a measurement of Job’s colossal narcissism and false opinion of his own self worth. He looks upon this man who suffering is legendary in all human history and simply mocks him saying in sarcastic jest “oh how my heart bleeds for you”.
Elipaz goes on to declare that Job’s wickedness is great (in his opinion). He brings up controversy from Job’s past and accuses him of mistreating his family in financial matters. He charges Job with refusing to clothe the naked or to give drink to the thirsty or feed the hungry. Again as Zophar he implies that Job has been dishonest in real estate transactions and also for leaving widows destitute without any effort to undertake in their behalf. As you listen to the accusations of Elipaz and Zophar you cannot help but think there is a history to these remarks that reflects business transactions between them where they were jealous of Job coming out ahead.
The attacks of strangers upon you when you are prospering is hurtful nonetheless – how much more the accusations of supposed dear friends when you are suffering? Why does Job keep listening and why does he keep answering these men? We can see in Job’s character a deep vulnerability to the opinion of others. Not only does he care what people think – he wants to defend himself and cannot rest unless others agree with him. Even in deep suffering and physical pain he is driven obsessively to compel others to agree with his point of view and see things his way.
Have you ever made this mistake? Jesus spoke of this in John’s gospel in a manner that truly struck me and challenged me as a young man:
[John 5:44 KJV] 44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that [cometh] from God only?
In your lifetime you will constantly find yourself held up to the regard of others. If you choose to do anything of consequence with your life and be anything other than a bystander in the kingdom you will be criticized. You will be misunderstood and marginalized by strangers and vilified and maligned often by friends and by family. You must make up your mind are you going to fill your heart and occupy your mind with what God says about you or what men say? This can be very, very difficult because we get lonely. We want friends and loved ones to understand and support us. For those standing up to walk in the kingdom and put God first this will be the exception and not the norm.
12 [Is] not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are! 13 And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud? 14 Thick clouds [are] a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven. 15 Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? 16 Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood: 17 Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them? 18 Yet he filled their houses with good [things]: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me. 19 The righteous see [it], and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to scorn. 20 Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth.
Elipaz reminds Job that God is bigger than he is. He warns Job and compares him to those who were swept away in the flood in Noah’s day. He tells Job he is on the path to further calamity and suggests that anyone who truly pursues good and rejects evil will rejoice – thus making a vieled inference that he is glad to see Job suffer and that Job’s aguish is gratifying to Elipaz because it underscores that God punishes the wicked and rewards the just. Here we see a very painful reality – there are those close to you who do not respect your character who will secretly find it acceptable to see you suffer. This all comes under the heading of “I told you so…” Your suffering becomes a commendation of their own opinion of their wisdom in expecting and secretly wishing that you would fall on your face. Just go ahead and forgive them. Ultimately Job’s deliverance comes when he prays for these men who are bitterly and savagely brutalizing him with their words. Make up your mind now not to answer them, but to love them and let them go.
21 Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. 22 Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart. 23 If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles. 24 Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the [gold] of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. 25 Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver. 26 For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God. 27 Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows. 28 Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways. 29 When [men] are cast down, then thou shalt say, [There is] lifting up; and he shall save the humble person. 30 He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.
Elipaz in mocking sincerity tells Job to get right with God. He tells Job to receive instruction from the mouth of God (which he himself thinks he is). So many times you can share with others what God is speaking to you and they will say “well yes – God quickened that to YOU but not to me…” but they themselves will believe and expect you to believe that every word out of their mouth is very God. Elipaz goes on to tell Job to lay up God’s words (read – Elipaz’s opinion of things) in his heart and things will get better. In other words Elipaz is saying to Job that if he will simply relent and agree that he is wrong and Elipaz is right then things will be right with Job’s world. He goes on insisting that the reason why Job’s prayers are unanswered is because Job has not accepted what Elipaz has to say about him.
In the midst of this we see a well known passage in verse 28 about decree:
[Job 22:28 KJV] 28 Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.
In the midst of very uninspiring and uninspired words here is this gem of truth about God working through the words of our mouth to bring about blessing in our lives. How can this be a reliable truth coming from such a one as Elipaz? Remember Balaam’s ass. Even a broken clock will give the correct time twice a day. In the book of Job there are many verities and gems of revelation to those who go to the trouble to sift through all the tiresome and dreary words of these men to find jewels of truth.
Remember that truth is where you find it and where you find it is not always in polite company. There is in the book of Job broad themes of instruction regarding suffering and understanding it’s existence in our lives and how to posture ourselves in humility before God in the midst of difficulty. There are also particular references that give glimpses of deep revelation that are so singular that they almost feel like you are taking them out of context. You have to be open in your heart to the value and divine breath of God in the scriptures. Jesus and the apostles many times quote the Old Testament in part and completely out of context. Be open minded and willing to receive and see what God wants you to see wherever you find it and through whom God chooses to communicate.

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