Look, I fully understand how times can be tough for us. I can personally testify to that. Never in my life have I considered I would face being on disability and sometimes struggle to get out of bed. No, I am not complaining, I am simply telling you that I understand.
But I also know my Father’s heart, and understand his workings in our lives. The Prophet Zachariah said,
I will bring a third of the people through the fire.
I will refine them as silver is refined.
I will test them as gold is tested.
They will call on me, and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people.’
They will reply, ‘Yahweh is our Elohim.’” (Zechariah 13:9)
These times of struggle are not attempts to make you grovel in dirt and make you beg for mercy! NO! That is not how our King operates in our lives. Sometimes I hear “believers” say, “The Lord gave you that sickness to teach you something.”
I’ll tell you what, I hope you never have children if that is your view of parenting! Not only is it child-abuse, but if it exists, I hope there is a special place in Hell for those who are that kind of parent!
If you have been taught that Yahweh abuses His children to instruct them, you need to become a Berean. Those were the folks Luke testified as being “more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Just because you heard something from a “special” Bible teacher, you better dig into Scriptures yourself. Our God is not the one causing our problems! Solomon understood this. In Proverbs we read,
“People ruin their lives by their own stupidity,
so why does God always get blamed?” (Probverbs 19:3)
I often encourage you to read my study of Job. Not because I am so important and possess such wisdom and insight; that you must hang on every word I speak. No, no. But because that study, unlike most everything else I have written (aside from the Song of Solomon) I can assure you was Spirit breathed. Truly, those studies brought me into the riches experiences and understanding of our Lord and His desire for us to love Him and to understand His ways.
In the story of Job’s experience, he was suffering horrendous pain, and three of his friends came to, in their minds, comfort Job. Sadly, their “comfort” was more religious babble than Godly support. The of one of the “friends,” was Eliphaz. Eliphaz had offered more insight in his weak understanding, than comfort, but near the end of his comments he had to take one more attempt to prove his point.
Since Job had refused to acknowledge any transgression as the cause of his affliction, he obviously had to be dealt with a little more directly. Eliphaz is going to tell him in detail some possible ways that he may have grieved the Lord.
Now remember, all the way through this story, the friends show their ignorance of the character of God. They appear to exalt Him by talking about His greatness and holiness, but they don’t seem to have any real acquaintance with Him, and yet oddly, later, Eliphaz urges Job to a personal knowledge of God. Go figure. Then again, he is just like many believers who truly believe they know God, but have absolutely no evidence in their life to prove such knowledge.
Eliphaz looks at Job and asks, “is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to Him if you were perfect?”
Yeah well, the Word does indeed say, “the Lord delights in His people. He takes pleasure in them that fear Him.” Obviously, Eliphaz didn’t know anything of the heart of God.
“Is it because you are good that He is punishing you?” he sarcastically continues. As Eliphaz sees it, simply by Judging the extent of the reproof Job was receiving, his wickedness must be very great. His iniquities must have been unending since there seemed to be no end to his suffering!
You see, Eliphaz’s favorite weapon is sarcasm. Almost his first words to Job are clothed with this. After listening to everything that had been said, he sees that it is hopeless to convince Job by these flank attacks. He is going to cast aside all cover, and simply say what is on his mind for the last time. Job had just said that he knew they were referring to him with their stories about the fate of the wicked. Therefore, Eliphaz is going to speak out.
Job, “isn’t your wickedness great?” You’re simply receiving your portion in all the suffering that has come on you. It is a judgment for your sins, cries Eliphaz, as he goes on to enumerate these sins.
Job must have robbed his brothers; stripped cruelly the poor; withheld water from the weary, and bread from the hungry; been deaf to the cry of the widow; taken advantage of the fatherless; therefore the snares were around him, and sudden fear troubled him. Couldn’t he see that he was in darkness, and deep water?
Worst of all, Job was saying in his heart that God did not know all this; the Lord was too high and too hidden with clouds as He walked on the vault of heaven to see what Job was doing.
From the pedestal of his assumed knowledge of God, Eliphaz looks down on this poor sin-punished friend of his. “Will you keep to the old path that evil men have trod?” Aren’t you going to take warning by their fate—they who said to God, “Depart from us”?
In his final appeal, Eliphaz’s candid speaking now turns to pleading, because he genuinely wants to help Job. If Job would just acquaint himself with God, he would be at peace, and good should come to him and not evil. Eliphaz would even pray for him to receive instruction from the mouth of God, and to “lay up His words in his heart.” Because, in Eliphaz’s view, it was sad to see such havoc as appeared in Job’s life because of his persistent refusal to listen to the advice of the friends.
If Job would just return to the Lord, he would be built up, instead of being torn down; if he would put away unrighteousness from his home, and lay his treasure in the dust, the Lord Himself would be his treasure.
If Job could delight himself in the Lord, he would lift up his face to God without the terrors that he talks about; his prayers would be answered; he would be able to fulfill his promises to God; power and authority would be restored to him, because he could “decree a thing” and it would be done; instead of darkness, light would shine on his ways; he would be able to say confidently to those who were cast down “there is a lifting up;” and he would be used once more to help, and bless others. Souls would be delivered because he had put away unrighteousness, confessed his transgressions, and made clean his hands.
Yes, Phaz, this is all perfectly true. You are accurate in your assessment of the power of God’s grace. However, it has nothing to do with Job’s (or our) behavior. Job had never left the heart of God.
Job doesn’t reply to Eliphaz right away because the presumption that he is a transgressor and the accusation of wrongdoing — with this renewed exhortation to put away sin and seek God — is more than he can answer. The iron is entering his heart, and he can only pour out his heart to God.
“Even today my complaint is bitter” Job groans in his pain. If only he could get access to the Throne of God, he would spread out his case before Him; if he could just get His verdict, and understand His will, he would be satisfied. If he could even come to the seat of Jehovah, he is sure the Lord would not contend with him in the greatness of His power. He could give heed to His servant, and permit him to reason with Him, so that he could be delivered from all the cruel judgment of his friends.
Job admits that he doesn’t have a specific word from God in his deep trial. It seems that whichever way he moves—forward, backward, to the left or to the right, he can’t perceive a trace of His Presence or His workings.
This hiding of God causes the bitterest pain of all; but it is useless laboring to find Him when He withdraws Himself. No agonizing in prayer or writhing in self-effort can compel Him to unveil His face when He hides Himself in thick darkness.
Whatever Eliphaz may think about it, even though he calls Job’s complaint rebellion, Job is determined to hold to his convictions. The Lord “has broken him down on every side,” and there is no possibility of “keeping up appearances” now. God has hidden Himself from him, and he does not know why!
“But if I can’t see God, He can see me!” If I don’t know the path He is leading me in, He knows it and that is enough. He has placed me in the crucible of trial, and when the fire has done its work, He will bring me forth as gold.
In spite of all the suffering and the complaining, Job’s endurance, of what was almost unendurable to a human being, helps us to see again and again how Job was really made to understand his position by the inner teaching of the Spirit of God. All the way through this story, we see the division between the inner and the outer man through the language he uses.
As we listen to his outpourings of grief, it seems as if his spirit was lost in the bitter cries of his flesh. Yet again and again his spirit breaks out in a tenacity of faith, which assured him, in the face of outward circumstances, he was still in the hand of God.
It is said of Abraham that:
“When hope was dead within him, he went on hoping in faith . . . With undaunted faith he looked at the facts . . . yet he refused to allow any distrust of a definite pronouncement of God to make him waver. He drew strength from his faith, and, while giving the glory to God, remained absolutely convinced that God was able to implement his own promise. This was the ‘faith’ which was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Once again we see Job, at the moment of deepest despair—when he is driven to an agonized cry to his friends for pity — his spirit breaks free in triumphant faith in the Living God. His faith is again anchored on the Rock. Now, when Eliphaz boldly deals with him as a transgressor, (and he is dumb with the obvious impossibility of answering him), he is able to steadfastly rest in the faithfulness of God, and to understand what the Lord is doing with him.
Job remembers that gold is always purified by fire. He has already learned the need for sacrifice for the remission of sins, but now he realizes that there is also a trial by fire for the “gold” of God’s chosen, and true gold will stand the fire and only lose the dross.
Job had suffered a great deal of distress under the charges of evil doing, and bitterly cried to God to show him his transgressions. But as soon as he saw his Redeemer to be his heavenly Vindicator, his spirit began to rest in a calm assurance and dependence on God. He knew now that the Lord was only trying him; not punishing him as his friends had said.
The apostle John told us that if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence (or as one translation renders it: boldness) before God. Job knew that he had not swerved from his fixed purpose to walk in the ways of God. He declared his foot had held fast to His steps; that is, his foot of faith had been planted firmly on every fresh step forward, because the Lord had been his strength, making his feet like hind’s feet to walk on the high places of His truth.
Not only that, Job could say with a clear conscience that he had not “turned aside” or “gone back” from anything that he knew to be the will of God; he had “treasured up the words of His mouth” and esteemed them more than his “necessary food.”
Right here is where we have the secret of Job’s fear of the Lord, and dread of sin. He knew what it was to receive “words from His mouth.” Those words remain in your heart like letters of fire, they can’t be erased or forgotten, and are of greater value to spirit, soul, and body than even “necessary food.”
Jesus told Satan that “man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
Does that include the written word, too? of course! The Spirit of God speaks through the Scriptures and makes every word as alive as if it was from the very mouth of God. Without that, we are plainly told that the letter kills; it is the Spirit alone, speaking through the letter, that gives life.
Job’s knowledge of the character of God becomes very clearly understood again and again. Here he shows that he knows Him as the One with Whom there “can be no variation, nor a shadow that is cast by turning.”
This is a God that never changes, could not be hindered, or turned aside from fulfilling His purposes. Job could rest assured that the Lord would perform every desire of His heart for him. “And many such plans He still has in store” Job adds — many blessed purposes are in His heart for me, and He will take His own way to fulfill them. I only know that “whatever His heart desires, that is what He does,” no one can turn Him aside.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts
It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.