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arrogant young man January 15 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Job 35, 36, 37

Arrogant Presumptions

To be “arrogant” is defined by Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, 2nd College Edition, © 1980, p.77, as being full of “unwarranted pride and self-importance, overbearing, and haughty. People like this will not listen to anyone - they are so right. They will not even listen to God. This is the behavior of which the Biblical patriarch, Job, who lived around the time of Abraham (more...), was accused. Has anyone accused you of being arrogant when you proclaimed your righteousness in certain situations? Have you presumed people are guilty when they proclaim their innocence? What is right for us to do?

Job was a righteous man who was an excellent father and businessman. He helped the poor and widows, and anyone in need. He encouraged people. He lived his life to please the LORD, and he avoided doing any evil. Satan told God that if Job lost everything he would not be so holy and righteous - he would curse his maker. God allowed him to test Job. On one day Job lost his business, his family (except his wife), and his wealth. Still Job did not curse God but praised him

and said: “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
(Job 1:21-22, NIV)

Satan appeared before God once more and asked that he might take away Job's health and then Job would curse God. God allowed it. Job was therefore afflicted with a very bad skin disease (probably boils) and was miserable. Added to his misery was his wife telling him to curse God and die and three well-meaning friends who came to comfort him. Hearing Job justify his righteousness, however, they lectured him, accusing him of wrongs that surely led to the loss of his business, family, health, and reputation. Certainly, God only punishes the wicked.

When his three “friends” Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar ran out of arguments, however, a younger companion, Elihu spoke up. He was quite disgusted and angry that the arguments of Job's friends did not convince him. Elihu was the youngest member of the group. Out of respect he waited until Job's friends had expended their arguments. Then, in veiled pride he said he had a better answer. What was Elihu's answer to Job's defense?

Elihu defended God. He said God is greater than man; we would expect a man to defend himself, but God does not have to defend himself; He is transcendent. This is true, but Elihu went farther in his argument.

He [God] does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked. Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it (Job 35:12-13, NIV).

Elihu says God does not answer Job because of his wickedness and arrogance. He continues..

If they obey and serve him [God], they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment. But if they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge, (Job 36:11-12, NIV).

This argument is no different from Job's friends. Elihu continues,

But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you. (Job 36:15-17, NIV)

This young man's argument was that God was afflicting Job to draw him back into a good relationship with him. Job is therefore suffering because he is laden with God's judgment upon the wicked. Job must repent so that he might receive the good things which are laid on God's table.

Elihu tells Job it is wrong to challenge God. He rightly expresses God's transcendence.

God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, “You have done wrong?” Remember to extol his work, which men have praised in song (Job 36:22 –24, NIV).

How great is God-- beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out (Job 36:26, NIV).

In other words, Elihu says to Job, in your arrogance you are challenging the eternal God who is transcendent in understanding above all. Shouldn't you be praising him instead of accusing him? Elihu, like Job's friends, is right in what he says, but he is wrong in his application; Job was speaking from his miserable pain and great discomfort. It was wrong that Job was challenging God, but in Job's case, what he spoke about his integrity was otherwise true.

As a storm approaches, Elihu uses it as an illustration of God's might and Job's comparative weakness. He wants him to take note of the powers of nature, which God directs, and to fear the Almighty One.

Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God's wonders. Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge? You who swelter in your clothes when the land lies hushed under the south wind, can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” (Job 37:14- 18, NIV).

Once again, Elihu's point is that God is transcendent in might and understanding.

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 37:23-24, NIV).

In this, Elihu hints that Job is not wise in his heart for accusing God, for God is transcendent in wisdom and understanding; therefore, he does not afflict the righteous.

Job, in his intense and unexplainable sufferings, had become defensive. His speeches were bold and arrogant, but that is not what brought his troubles upon him. Neither did wickedness bring trouble upon him. It is true that God is transcendent in might and understanding and that he is completely just and righteous, so why are his friends so quick to say that they understand the ways of God?

Why do the righteous suffer? While we may have theological understanding that suffering happens because there is wickedness in the world (James 1:15; Romans 5:12; 8:20-22; John 16:33), or that God is judging someone for sin as Job's three friends and Elihu testify, or that God is making us into better Christians (James 1:2-4), conforming us into his image (Romans 8:28-29), or that it all works to the glory of God (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:36). In truth, however, we do not always know what God's purposes are in particular situations (Romans 11:33-36). And if we do not know, it is wrong to guess and fill some afflicted person's head with non-sense and a false sense of understanding. Who is arrogant except the person who speaks presumptively? Nevertheless, what this younger man said about God is true - God is transcendent in might and understanding, and this provides a prelude to the final scene in which God speaks. We will see this in our next Bible study.

Lessons to live by:

  • Do not add to the burdens and pain of those who are suffering physically or emotionally with hurtful words and pretence that you have all the answers; that is arrogance.
  • God is transcendent in might and understanding, but God is also personal and wants a relationship with us. He offers us spiritual light and life (more...).
  • Continue to walk prayerfully and humbly before God and encourage those who are afflicted.

Today's Bible Memory Verse:

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 37:23-24, NIV).

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