In a sermon on “The Silence of God,” James Emery White says, “Many of us have experienced the silence of God. We cry out to God, and there seems to be no answer. We pray, pouring out our hearts, only to hear the words echo back without a reply. The maddening thing is that we have been conditioned to expect a direct relation between input and output. If we work a certain number of hours, we will reach a certain level of success. If we place our children in the right schools, enroll them in the right programs and practice the proper procedures, they will turn out as we hoped. If we invest our money strategically and wisely, we will receive a fair return on our investment. When we cry out to God and nothing happens, how can we help but feel something’s not quite right — and that the problem is with the Listener?”
That’s where Job has been since about chapter 3. Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and now Elihu try to convince Job he’s wrong – problem is with him, not the Listener. Elihu’s theology, understanding of God, better than 3 amigos but…incomplete; led to wrong application in his speech against Job. Elihu thought he understood glory of God; hinted at the principle that God loves those who love him first, but never answered Job’s question, the question of the day.
A. question of the day v.2-4
what’s in it for me?
perhaps because of intense marketing pressure that’s part of American culture – just buy this brand, sign up for this program, take this pill, you’ll be so much better off
has become part of educational system and its philosophy: Outcome Based Education – structure and plan what happens in classroom to achieve particular result
here’s a question: is that the model we find in Bible? No! Ex. 20:2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery….Do this, Don’t do that.”
how am I better off?
closely related to previous one, just different time perspective
first question: prior to decision, why should I do what you say, what’s in it for me; second question: evaluation afterward, now I’ve done that how’s it working out?
why even bother looking again for right kind of relationship? working when welfare pays more now? going to church when….? doing what is right when it costs me….? following God when it hurts this much?
Why Should You Be a Christian? If value of choosing Christian worldview / lifestyle is measured by outcome, how is it possibly worth it?
but…you have to look at big picture!! past here and now to eternity, next life; stay the course, you have heaven to look forward to
perhaps you, someone you know, says: don’t talk to me about Sweet By and By, I can’t bear pain of next hour
how Satan wants you to think – you should be in it for the benefits; when they dry up, oh well, time to switch brands
closest Job came to thinking wrongly and Satan winning – had Job seriously thought his way down that road, would eventually been sorely tempted to abandon God
remember Satan’s comebacks to God: Job 1:10-11 “You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” Job 2:5 “But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”
no surprise Satan uses promised results as his own marketing strategy: think how much you’ll know (Adam and Eve); how good you’ll feel (Solomon); how popular you’ll be (David, census)
important to remember what kind of promises God has made: Matt. 5:3-11
“Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted….Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”
Jesus didn’t promise: “Blessed are you when you repent of your sin and trust in Jesus, for all your trials and tribulations will instantly disappear.”
important both for ourselves, what we experience, and how we communicate the Gospel to others
don’t forget answer to Paul’s prayer: 2 Cor. 12:9And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
B. God of glory v.5-8
might wonder how are these seeming paradoxes possible: blessing in middle of grief? of persecution? strength made complete in weakness?
who is the God who made those declarations? Look up, see the clouds, not the bottom ones, the ones all the way up there?
God is out there, beyond the clouds, atmosphere, gravity, planets, and he’s big, really big, immense in greatness / glory
God existed prior to anything else, depends on nothing outside himself for his existence; was completely fulfilled when there was only God – he freely chose to create to display his own glory and receive glory from his creation (Isa. 43:7)
because God is absolutely independent of everything outside himself, because he is absolute sovereign over all things, nothing created can add to or detract from God (Rev. 4:11)
man’s praise does not make God more glorious; nothing his children bring to him adds to God’s store – it was his to start with!
mankind’s sinful actions do not diminish God’s glory; may detract from his reputation among men, but God not contaminated by man’s wickedness – true even when it is those who claim his name who are being wicked
much has been done in God’s name that is sinful, awful, reprehensible, etc – Crusades / Inquisition notable and big examples
extends all the way down to abusive churches and personal relationships – those who claim to follow Christ and obey his teaching but sin against God and mistreat others
judge what kind of God the God of Bible is first by what he has revealed in the Bible, then look at his kids
but, Elihu, if God is so much “wholly other”, does he even care??? if you cannot either add to or take away from God, do you even matter to him? if you do matter, how do you know that when life really stinks and God isn’t saying anything? must be other dimensions to God and his character than just his transcendent and glorious majesty
C. God of love v.9-14
what about prayer? does it work, and if so, why? Elihu’s response: don’t even bother pray if you have wrong attitude; God won’t bother to listen
implied in that is concept that perhaps God will hear and answer right kind of prayer from right kind of person
think back to response to 9/11/01 – what was it people really wanted, why for a time more interested in church attendance?
God to take care of the bad guys? assurance that somehow it would all turn out right in the end?
were they really seeking after God? or just the benefits he could provide if he chose? Elihu: “they cry out for help…but no one says, “Where is God?”
sadly increase in religious interest, church attendance back then just a blip; once life returned to normal, most fell away
God doesn’t listen to empty talk because God’s first desire is to give himself, then his goodies
but, Elihu, how does God respond to the humble? you’ve addressed problem of the proud, how about those with a heart like Job? does the silence mean God doesn’t care and isn’t listening? that prayer is just an exercise? see James 4:6; Luke 18:10-14
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
D. God with usCol. 1:15-20Heb. 2:14-18
so if God is holy and glorious and majestic and self-existent, and at same time listens to some prayers, what motivates God? why did he listen to tax collector, was he listening to Job, will he hear your prayer?
the one who “is the image of the invisible God, … by whom all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, …in whom all the fullness of God should dwell,and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
Since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
why did he do that? because he loved fallen sinners and determined to do all necessary for their salvation
he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins; Christ loved the church and gave himself for her
love is not an abstract concept for God; his love is expressed in suffering, in humiliation, in passion and death
God is not increased or diminished by any of his creatures actions or experiences; however, God can honestly say “I feel your pain”; the Lord Jesus’ suffering was real, he experienced it for our benefit, so he could help us
God is not a cosmic vending machine – put in your token, push the button, take your selected goodie. He is Sovereign ruler of all things whose thoughts not ours, ways not ours. But…stooped to take on humanity, has done everything required that sinners might be reconciled to him. God has committed to working out all things for their good and his glory. Our part: respond in repentance and faith to working of his Spirit: turn from sin, turn to God in faith believing he will keep his promises, rely on his all-sufficient grace to sustain you whatever you are experiencing.
World full of lost, confused, frustrated, hurting people who need to do the same. Must hear truth about their need, God’s solution, provision of a Savior. Live like a child of God, depend on him moment by moment for everything you need. In process, show and explain to all you can that it is worth it to be a Christian.