Job 35: A More Satisfying Answer
December 15, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
So Elihu continues his rebuke of both Job and of Job’s so-called “comforters.” In this chapter he focuses on Job. Elihu is saying that Job is wrong for criticizing God. When Job says that he (Job) is in the right and God is wrong, Job has a diminished view of God. What difference does anyone’s sin or anyone’s righteousness really make to God anyway?
“If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand?” (35:6-7).
Elihu seems to view God as so distant from the affairs of people that what we do has no consequence to God.
He has, here in this chapter, an almost deist view of God, that God is distant and uninvolved in human affairs. He will not listen to the prayers of the wicked, neither will he listen to the prayers of Job:
“How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him” (35:14).
What Elihu is really saying is that to try to ask why suffering is happening is pointless because God is not a God that it is wise to ask such questions about. He is so much above and beyond any real human interaction that to even engage in these sorts of debates about God is utterly meaningless.
“So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words” (35:16).
But then, as if in total contrast and in deliberate contradiction to what Elihu has been claiming, at the end of the book God speaks! He intervenes! His word comes! God is not distant and uncaring; he is not silent. He is a speaking God. Elihu’s view of God—distant, uncaring, deist, utterly “other”—is not right either.
Sometimes when you are suffering it can almost be comforting to take refuge in the idea of a God who does not care. When C.S. Lewis was going through profound grief, as he wrote in his masterful A Grief Observed, what he noticed was not that he was struggling to believe in God, but what he feared was the kind of God he might end up believing in. That is, Lewis did not fear he was going to stop believing that God was sovereign, but that he might stop believing that God was good. It can, at times, seem easier to give up banging your head against the problem of the evil—and to solve that problem by saying it is meaningless, for God is so utterly sovereign that even to ask it of him is pointless.
But that is not the Christian way. There is a more satisfying answer. The answer to the problem of human suffering is found in the suffering of the God Man. There is a Word that will be spoken, the word of the cross, and that word will show the love of Christ for us even in our suffering.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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