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Friday, January 15, 2016

God Speaks, Part 2


God Speaks Through Weather Conditions
“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.” (Job 37:5)

“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.” (Job 37:5)
Elihu asks, “Listen to this, Job: stop and consider God’s wonders.” (Job 37:14) 
Elihu adds his final point as he adds one final point to his description on how God speaks. God speaks through inclement weather. He offers two main points: 
  • God uses inclement weather conditions to command man's attention by revealing his helplessness and need, “He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour, he stops every man from his labor” (37:6-7). Weather disrupts work. 

A snow storm and torrential rain prevent outside activity. Inclement weather interrupts planting season and harvest; it also reveals man’s inadequacy. Man is omni-competent via his sin-nature, but all of his outside activities are hindered when rain storms drench and flood and snow storms ice his way. Inclement weather reveals man’s helpless as it halts work efforts; man can do nothing to change the weather. 
  • God uses weather conditions to command man's attention by revealing the greatness of God, “The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?” (Job 37:22-23) 
Throughout the ages unregenerate man has devised ways to appease the gods (through song, dance, self-mutilation and sacrifice) who they thought controlled the weather. In their heart of hearts they know Someone powerful exists who may intervene and change weather conditions. A sense of reverence overcomes men whose lives are disrupted by strong weather conditions. 
God has chosen the vehicle of suffering to speak to Job. Suffering accomplishes the same thing that inclement weather accomplishes: It demonstrates man’s helplessness and need and it lifts his eyes heavenward. 
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"But if they do not listen they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge. But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction" (Job 36:12,15).

It is amazing how much press/attention celebrities draw when they suffer difficulty, disease, or death of a family member. For some reason we think that their wealth and celebrity status insulate them from the pain and suffering experienced by "common folk." To be honest, as I hear about their pain I feel both compassion and relief; compassion over their loss and relief that their wealth and celebrity status and my lack thereof are not contributing factors in suffering. Suffering is no respecter of persons. No one escapes this life without feeling pain and loss, paying taxes and experiencing death. 

Like Job and his friends we rarely think about the "cause and effect of suffering" unless we or someone close to us suffers. We are prone to forget God, death, and eternity. Suffering reminds us to think and live soberly. 
God speaks through suffering. He says different things to different people.
  • To the suffering wicked: Life is more than "eating, drinking, and being merry;" therefore, preparation must be made for that Day when all mankind will stand before God. "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Elihu warns those who won't listen that "they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge."
  • To the suffering righteous: Life is more than "eating, drinking, and being merry" (Luke 17:27-28, 30), therefore the righteous ones must live as a kingdom people now. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2. See also 14:7). They must view all of life through the lens of eternity. Every thought and action must be considered in the light of that Day. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10). 
With the words "he speaks to them in their affliction" Elihu encourages those who persevere in their suffering. Suffering has a sobering effect as it prompts humanity to ask penetrating and eternity-oriented questions. Suffering has its place in this world. It began when Adam and Eve chose to walk in unbelief as they ignored the Word of God and ate from the forbidden tree. And it won't end until that Day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Until then, you can play the blame game like Job's friends if you want to or you can hear God speak to you in the midst of your pain. Up to you.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Job 35:1-37:24
  • As you read Elihu's response to Job, make note of how he describes God's justice, sovereignty, and benevolence in his dealings with man and all of creation. It may be helpful to make three columns as a visual demonstration.
  • What are God's standards in judging people?
  • How do the prayers of the proud (and wicked) differ from those of the humble (and the righteous)? 
How can man, who cannot understand the workings of nature, dare to think that he/we can possibly understand God and His ways?

Turning truth into prayer
Read Psalm 145 out loud as a praise to our awesome and mighty God. Pray for those in your life who are suffering. Pray that "the peace of God which passes all understanding" will guard their hearts and minds as they trust in Him.