Morning Light – April 20th, 2016

ml_2016Source: Today: [Job Thirty-Five] Today: [Job Thirty-Five] Does God Say No to His Promises at Times? In this chapter Elihu continues to chastise Job for his self-righteousness. Job is so convinced of his own self-worth that he concludes there is no advantage in being good or evil because (in Job’s view) God isn’t paying attention. Job is so entrenched in his need to justify himself that he would rather question God that evaluate his own human condition. When we develop theology that allows for God to at times choose not to make good on His own promises we are doing the same thing. Is this legitimate? Does God at times arbitrarily decide to suspend His own clear promises to us in pursuit of some higher purpose?

[Job 35:1-16 KJV] 1 Elihu spake moreover, and said, 2 Thinkest thou this to be right, [that] thou saidst, My righteousness [is] more than God’s? 3 For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? [and], What profit shall I have, [if I be cleansed] from my sin? 4 I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee. 5 Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds [which] are higher than thou. 6 If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or [if] thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? 7 If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand? 8 Thy wickedness [may hurt] a man as thou [art]; and thy righteousness [may profit] the son of man. 9 By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make [the oppressed] to cry: they cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty. 10 But none saith, Where [is] God my maker, who giveth songs in the night; 11 Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven? 12 There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of the pride of evil men. 13 Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it. 14 Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, [yet] judgment [is] before him; therefore trust thou in him. 15 But now, because [it is] not [so], he hath visited in his anger; yet he knoweth [it] not in great extremity: 16 Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.

In this chapter Elihu continues to confront Job concerning his self-righteousness. In verse 1-3 he asks Job “do you think you are more righteous than God?” At the end of the last chapter Elihu tells Job that he has added rebellion to his sin and in justifying himself through accusation against the goodness of God and the forbearance of God in behalf of fallen humanity. Like a lawyer he follows up in this chapter challenging Job asking the question “do you think this is right?”.

Elihu remonstrates with Job because Job has complained that there is no benefit in sinning or not sinning because (in Job’s view) God is not paying attention and will neither reward righteousness or punish the wrong doer. In effect Job’s accusation is that whatever God does is not connected in any way with the actions of man. Theologians call this God’s “ineffable” nature which means that God is incomprehensible to man and therefore we cannot rely upon Him to be consistent in His dealings with us.
Is this true? Is it not possible to have some sense of understanding about the nature of God? Is God so schizophrenic that it is impossible to know what He will do next? The apostle Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians:

[1Co 2:14-16 KJV] 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

What that tells us is yes God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts but He WANTS US and DESIRES for us to understand Him and to rely upon Him. In the instance of His promises we often experience a contradiction of unanswered prayer in our lives. Does God give Himself the right to deny His own promises? If He says in 1 Peter 2:24 that “by His stripes were are healed…” can God or will God arbitrarily decide on a case by case basis whether He will keep His own word? We tend to think so because not everyone who stands (or attempts to stand) on this verse is healed.

Theologians and many Christians make the suggestion “God always answers prayer but sometimes He says no…” If that is true then what about the sinner’s prayer? Jesus provided healing for our body and salvation for the soul in the same stroke on Calvary. Therefore, if we at times ask God for healing and He says no then we would be compelled by that thinking to believe that those who ask Jesus into their heart may or may not be received by the Father. In that line of thinking if God arbitrarily and for inscrutable reasons denies His own promise then there may be those who think they are born again but they actually are not because theoretically God may have decided not to accept them. This is ridiculous reasoning but consistent with the thinking of Christian culture if one chose to carry their common suppositions out to their fullest degree. Consider the words of Paul:

[2Co 1:20 KJV] 20 For all the promises of God in him [are] yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

What this means is that God doesn’t make up His mind about His promises on a case by case basis. There are times we do not receive an answered prayer even when we think we have met all the conditions of faith believing but that does not give us the right (as Job) to conclude that God has somehow decided it would be better for us not to receive the clear, undeniable and positive promise of His word. Why do we do this? Because like Job men would rather deny the faithfulness of God or redefine the idea of His faithfulness rather than to question themselves. The fact of the matter is there are many reasons why prayers go unanswered but none of them include as a legitimate supposition that God has arbitrarily chosen to deny the plain promise of His word.

There are a myriad of human factors involved in the matter of unanswered prayer that often escape us frankly because we are more prone to question God than to question ourselves. The reason we don’t question ourselves is because our idea of God forces us to come to a conclusion (as Job) that we are perfect and sinless or at least no more sinful than our neighbor. If your concept of God is that of an austere and inaccessible being enthroned upon a mountain somewhere it is very difficult to live in self disclosure, vulnerability and transparent humility. On the other hand if you foster the understanding of the mercy of God and the love of God that is evoked by the picture of Jesus dying for us on the cross then perhaps you can afford yourself to look past the cracks in your religious armor and find areas of fracture that need to be healed and transformed in order to put you in a position to see prayer answered on a more consistent basis. John wrote also on this subject of unanswered prayer:

[1Jo 3:19-23 KJV] 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
We see here that the human heart can acts as a prosecutor at times condemning us to a life of unanswered prayer. You must allow what Jesus did for you on the cross to speak louder that the voice of your own unsanctified conscience at times. Even though you think you have all the faith in the world if your idea of receiving from God is from the perspective of your obedience or religious performance then your conscience will deny you because your conscience instinctively knows your righteousness is not sufficient to leverage God to act in your defense. Paul made this statement:

[Heb 10:22 KJV] 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Your conscience can only justify you on the basis of your own moral quality. Your conscience was never created to take into consideration the separation caused by sin therefore it will in error justify or condemn you without taking into consideration what God has done for you in Christ. You must look beyond the internal assessment of worth based on your own moral quality and look to the cross as Moses said when the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness (representing Christ) “look and live”. When we look to Jesus and away from ourselves we then begin to develop a view of ourselves and the world around us through the lens or filter of God’s mercy through the shed blood of Christ poured out in our behalf in order to secure for us the positive promises of God.

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