Today’s Bible Reading: Job 34-36:33; 2 Corinthians 4:1-12; Psalm 44:1-8; Proverbs 22:10-12
Elihu continues his long speech in Job 34 in which he misquotes Job (Job 34:3-4). Sin always starts with misunderstanding. Just like Satan convinced Eve of something that wasn’t true, Satan convinces us of similar thinking. Elihu thought he knew what Job said. But Job never said any of these things.
The majority of the world believes that God sends people to heaven or hell based on how they lived. Elihu demonstrates this erroneous understanding when he says that God “treats people as they deserve” (Job 34:11). But this is not true. We are all sinful creatures who deserve to be separated from God in hell. But God, out of His love for us, has offered us what we don’t deserve – eternity in heaven with Him. This is not based on our behavior but in spite of it. Heaven is a free gift from God that is ours for the taking. All we have to do is simply accept it.
Elihu is like so many who talk about God as if they are some expert (Job 34:16, 36:4) but really don’t know anything. Such people are dangerous and should not be listened to. Those who don’t know their Bibles are susceptible to their bad theology and inaccurate assessments. If you want to know God then read His word, pray to Him, and hang out with others who do the same.
One thing Elihu says that is right is that God is mighty but He does not despise anyone (Job 36:5). God is so awesome, so powerful, and so secure in who He is that there is no need for Him to hate. Hate is not part of His character because it cannot be. Hate is reserved for creatures, like humans, who are fixated on self. Hate of others is simply a way of loving oneself. God is fixated on us and therefore hates no one. He doesn’t hate gays. He doesn’t hate women. He hates no one.
Paul tells us why some people do not believe the new message he wrote about in yesterday’s passages – Satan has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe (2 Corinthians 4:4). Notice that it is the mind that Satan blinds. Our lives are a constant battle over what we believe. God tells us one thing. Satan tells us another. Its up to us to decide what, and more importantly who, we will believe.
Make no mistake – Satan is the ruler of this current world (2 Corinthians 4:4). God has given Satan the opportunity to reign on this earth to test people. Following the ways of the world as opposed to following the ways of God is simply to follow Satan.
Many people take offense to the Gospel message because they think Christians are just arrogant people who want to point out other people’s sin and impose their beliefs on everyone else. But that is just another lie of Satan that people in hell will regret believing. Christians do not tell others about Jesus for their own sake. We tell others so that they too will have an opportunity to embrace God’s truth and escape hell (2 Corinthians 4:5).
Human beings are like clay jars in the ancient world: common, fragile, and so ubiquitous as to have no real intrinsic value. Yet God chose to place the treasure that is His amazing glory into us (2 Corinthians 4:7a). He could have chosen to use only the fine china reserved for special occasions. But instead He chose the everyday dishes. Think about this. It is absolutely stunning that God, who is above everything we can imagine, would do such a thing.
The reason God did this to demonstrate His own power (2 Corinthians 4:7b). We have no power on our own. It all comes from God.
Before Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road he lived a life of ease. After deciding to live for Christ, his life became very difficult (2 Corinthians 4:8-11). But that was no matter to Paul. He was happy to go through it all so that others could learn about Jesus, believe in Him, and have eternal life in heaven (2 Corinthians 4:12).
God the Son gave up His rights in heaven and came to earth in a simple flesh-and-bone container and lived as we lived (Philippians 2:5-8) . Similarly, we should not chase after the pleasures and seductions the world offers. Just like Jesus died so we could have life; just like Paul suffered so the Corinthians (and others) could know Jesus… we should be willing to sacrifice comfort and endure difficulty for the sake of others.
God gives the victory. It may seem like we, in our own strength, conquer our enemies. But that power really comes from Him (Psalm 44:5-7).
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