Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

God Does All These Things to a Man to Bring Back His Soul

Elihu gives a wonderful portrait of God's grace.

Job 33:19-33 (ESV)

“Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out. His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness. He sings before men and says: ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.’

“Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life. Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. If you have any words, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

The only thing wrong with what Elihu is saying here is that he’s saying it to Job. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful portrait of God’s grace. He misreads Job but he wouldn’t be misreading me.

God does discipline us. His desire is for us to grow in our knowledge of him and He doesn’t hesitate to give us painful wake-up calls if they’re what we need.

But notice how close to the truth Elihu’s pre-incarnate vision of our mediator is. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom;’

Christ is much more than the angel mediator that Elihu envisions, but the parallel is still useful. The main function of Elihu’s mediator is to declare to man what is right for him. That is, to “translate” God’s will, so that man can know what he’s supposed to do.

Jesus did this in a surprising passage that everyone knows, but no one seems to get.

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ – Matthew 7:22-23 (ESV)

The real goal isn’t doing lots of nice things for Christ; it’s knowing Him and Him knowing you.


But how? How do I get to know Christ better and have Him know me better?

There’s no special trick to this. In fact, looking for a trick is exactly how to miss the point. If your goal is to get closer to God, then you will. There are some obvious things to do, like love God and love your neighbor. That means study His word and obey it, and do charity.

People fear that it’s possible to be serious about this and yet still fail. Not a chance.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

 

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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