Elihu has a lot to say about Job’s accusations against God. He wastes no time reminding those gathered that God is just, something Job’s arguments have been in contradiction with. Elihu also reminds us that God’s justice isn’t in favor of one person or another, but it comes to all, but even within His justice, His love shines for us. Job wanted justice and retribution on his own terms, but that is not the way of actual, godly justice.
Where is the Problem?
For Job has said, ‘I am righteous [and innocent], but God has taken away my right; although I am right, I am accounted a liar. My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’ What man is like Job, who drinks up derision like water, who goes in company with those who do evil and walks with wicked men? For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing when he takes delight and is pleased with God and obeys Him.’Job 34:5-9 AMP
Are we as righteous as we think? What is the true state of our inner-being, our spirit, our mind, our heart? These are questions that the book of Job prompts us to ask ourselves.
On the outside, Job did everything right, even God called him upright and blameless. Yet when mighty trials and hardships came, Job’s heart revealed itself. The true state of his inner-being was made apparent.
In reading Elihu’s summary of Job, I see a familiar argument. It is one where we argue that our good deeds should outweigh all the wrongs we have made against God. One where the problem lies not within us, but within God. We bring all sorts of arguments of how God has messed things up, or even the blame that there isn’t a God because things are so messed up. We tend to do one of two things: Work to bring so much good as we try to outweigh the bad; or we take a hands-off approach and worry about ourselves.
It is impossible for God to do wrong, and for the Almighty to act unjustly.Job 34:10 CSB
God cannot do wrong, and wrong-doing cannot be a result of Him. Not because He’s the one making the rules, but because righteousness and justice are a part of His character. Anything that is opposite of His character isn’t from Him. So where does it come from then? From the part of us that has been infected with sin. God does not take a hands-off approach, quite the opposite actually, but He also will not override a person’s freewill in order to bring about true good and justice. He provides the opportunity, but it is our choice whether we accept it or not.
As we’ve talked about, Job did what was right, but he didn’t do it with God. He did it by himself. He used his good deeds as a get-out-of-jail-free card. His works weren’t coming from a place of intimacy with God. His works were not a result of an inside-out relationship with God, but from an outward relationship with man. I’m not saying he put on a show per se, but the state of his inner-being showed that his good works, no matter how righteous or well thought of by the assembly, did not do anything to change him inside.
Then when the attacks came and he lost everything on the outside, what did he have left on the inside? Job accused God instead of contemplating where he himself was at fault. Like us, Job said, “The problem must lie with God, not with me.”
Where does our faith really lie? In our deeds? Or in God?
If we were faced with Job’s situation, would we maintain our innocence––that we have done no wrong––and place the blame on God? Or would we seek God, humble ourselves, and ask Him to reveal any transgression or sin that we have committed against Him?
Would we, too, claim, “A man gains nothing when he becomes God’s friend”? Or would we remember that God is everything?
Justice for All
For God pays a man according to his work, and He will make every man find [appropriate] compensation according to his way. Surely God will not act wickedly, nor will the Almighty pervert justice.Job 34:11-12 AMP
God operates in grace and mercy, but He is also just. He does not allow an unjust consequence for our actions––or rather He does not deal out injustice. As we’ve already covered, God is justice and therefor will not operate in anything outside of His unchanging character. When there is injustice, it is from God’s enemy, our enemy, the Accuser.
Because God does not operate in injustice, that is why, though forgiveness is given, there are still consequences––a harvest––for our actions, both good and bad. As Christians, we are familiar with the law of sowing and reaping. In worldly terms it’s called Karma. It is the idea that what you give out is what will be returned to you.
There is no sin that cannot be forgiven except one and that is the denial of Jesus Christ.(Matt. 12:31-32) As Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthian church, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Cor. 6:12) Why is there only one unforgivable sin? Because it deals with the state of our inner-being, the place where God’s breath brought us into an eternal state.
Job’s actions were good and seen as righteous, but his heart had become distant and was probably starting to darken. He was being consumed by the opinion of men, including himself, instead of God’s opinion of him. A truly righteous man does not continue accusing God. A man who walks God knows that God will bring about true justice and will make all right even when it seems like everything is still going wrong.
The truth of Elihu’s statement is that God will not act out of spite or condemn anyone just because He feels like it. He leaves the choice to us, the temporary and eternal choices, and then allows the consequences of our choices to befall us, again both good and bad consequences. God works to lead us away from the wrong choices as much as He can, but if we hinder Him then that is on us.
God is not partial to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of His hands.Job 34:19 CSB
God cannot be swayed by a person’s influence. He cannot be bought by any means. A person’s earthly rank means nothing to Him. What matters is a person’s heart. What matters is their standing with Him.
Even so, He does not favor one over another. He is an impartial God. What He does for one, He will do for another.
God is just and justice is not imbalanced.
I think of Paul and Peter. Peter walked with Jesus, was close to Him during His life on earth. Paul denied Jesus and killed Christians. If you look at these two men individually then you would see they were vastly different. Peter was a fisherman. Paul was a Pharisee scholar. One was poor and had to work. One was galavanting across the nation with special permission from the High Priest to kill Christians.
Yet both are considered with high regard as fathers in the faith. Jesus gave both Peter and Paul second chances. Their ministries were almost parallel to one another in some ways. Their upbringing and who they were before Jesus didn’t matter to Him. Both of them died for their faith in Christ and did so still honoring Him. They trusted Him unto death.
Their ministries came from knowing Jesus on the inside and poured out into their outward lives.
God did not spare Job hardships because he was considered righteous. Nor did He spare David, the one who is known as a man after God’s own heart, from hardships and trials. What was the difference in these two? The state of their heart in relationship with God.
When confronted with his own wrongdoing, David repented and sought God. He drew nearer to God.
Shall God’s retribution [for your sins] be on your terms, because you refuse to accept it?Job 34:33 AMP
Can we ask God to favor us when we condemn another for the same actions? All sin is against God, there is no greater or lesser sins, apart from the one. Can we ask God, then, ‘Pardon my sin, but do not pardon theirs’? Or ‘Show me mercy, but bring them their justice.’ In such an act we ask God to pervert justice.
God does not favor one person over another. He does not, and will not, pervert justice for a single person. In the same way, His salvation is not available for one and not another. It is there for all to accept or deny as they decide. The outcome of how we will spend the rest of our eternity for that decision is a just one. If you wonder why, it is simplest as this: We either choose to dwell in sin or in Jesus. Sin cannot live in God’s presence, so if we choose to remain in that sinful state then we cannot live in God’s presence.
Because they turned aside from following Him and would not consider or show regard for any of His waysJob 34:27 AMP
God does not cause destruction. By stepping away from following His way, we open ourselves up to sin and the fallout that comes from it. It is always our choice which way we go––to follow or reject Him.
You might be questioning right now, ‘What about Job?’ For this I will remind you of the end of his story. He not only repented of his wrongdoings, he drew nearer to God, and placed himself in a position, from the inside-out, to be blessed by God even more than he had been before. God knew the act Satan brought against Job was unjust and in the end, He made it right.
Job turned away from his sin, the encroaching darkness upon his inner-being, and sought Life. Job placed himself in a position where he could receive justice in his earthly life, not just his eternal one.
I know that doesn’t always happen, but it could. Until then, there is God’s grace and mercy. His choice to bless us and guide us even as we operate in our own freewill.
If God should determine to do so, if He should gather Himself [that is, withdraw from man] His [life-giving] spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.Job 34:14-15 AMP
We breathe because He has given us breath.
What is man without God? To think of a world without His breath makes my heart break, my spirit mourn.
God’s breath, like His love, is a covering over us. A life-giving covering. A protection. That protection remains for all of His creation. It is His act of mercy no matter our freewill decision, to be given this life and to live it, to receive the goodness that comes from it. We meet His grace and mercy even if we don’t know it. Yet I pray that everyone would come to know Him.
We don’t have to experience the agonizing justice of an eternal dwelling without God because in His grace and mercy, He has already paid that price for us. And just like Job, it is our decision to make, to place ourselves in a position of being closer to God. It is our choice whether we go beyond the surface-level of His life-giving Spirit and breath in this life.
Will you stop accusing God and seek Him instead?
If we stop seeking our own form of justice and seek God instead, then we will know, understand, and receive true and eternal justice.
But in order for that to happen, we have to stop pointing an accusing finger at God and take an honest look at ourselves.
Trust me, life with God is far better than life on opposing sides.
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