I don’t know if this is going to come out right or not, but as I read Job 35 this morning the wonder I’m experiencing is that our God is a God of nuance.
Nuance. I think that’s a good word. What I mean is that on most continuums our God does not simply reside at one end or the other. Except for continuums like that of good and evil, our God is not bound to only one side. Rather, He is the continuum. He is the Alpha and the Omega.
For example, on the continuum defined by mercy on one end and judgment on the other, our God operates throughout the continuum. Merciful and yet rendering judgment. Mercifully judging and judging mercifully. Sometimes showing mercy followed by judgment, other times rendering judgment and then mercy. Different shades based on His purposes.
A God impossible to be defined, in many aspects, as an “either / or” God. A God who doesn’t easily fit into a box. A God of nuance.
It’s something that Ellihu says to Job that triggered the wonder . . .
“Look at the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds, which are higher than you. If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against Him? And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give to Him? Or what does He receive from your hand?”
(Job 35:5-7 ESV)
If I’m picking up what Elihu’s laying down with this argument, it’s something like, “Job, you have been incessantly claiming to act more righteously than God. You say that righteousness, your righteousness, obviously does not pay and therefore God is unjust? But really Job, does what you do make any difference at all to what God does? Man’s sin doesn’t harm a sovereign God, neither does man’s righteousness benefit a holy God. In the end, God is God and what you do, or don’t do, really doesn’t impact Him.”
And if God were a God of only one end of the continuum or the other there’d be some merit in Elihu’s assertion. But our God has not attached Himself to some well-defined, never to be altered continuum. Instead He has purposed to bind Himself, in a sense, to those He determined to create in His own image. To love them as He is love. To commune with them as He has ever known communion within Himself. To link His glory with their lives. And in order to do that God works along the continuum. Different shades for different circumstances. Different manifestations of the character of God according to His divine purposes.
So, does our sin affect God? Yeah. It grieves the Holy Spirit of a good God. It commands the deserved wrath of a holy God. And it so moves the hand of a loving God that He acts by sending His Son to die on a cross to pay the wages for our sin. An “either / or” God either has to judge all sin because it is sin or ignore all sin in order to spare His people. But a God of nuance is able to be both just and the justifier.
. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show Gods righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
(Romans 3:23-26 ESV)
God’s righteousness shaded with divine forbearance because of an atoning sacrifice of His doing, and His alone. Yeah, our sin has impacted the Almighty God.
What about our righteousness? Does He care about that? After all, no matter how holy we might become, what is that to the One who is Holiness?
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness . . .
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
(Isaiah 61:10a, 62:3-4 ESV)
Our righteousness matters. Christ not only having died to take away our sin, but having lived to impute to us His righteousness as our eternal covering. To credit to our account His holiness. Our righteousness mattering so much to our God that He provides it through His Son and imparts it through His Spirit. And thus, we bear His beauty. And thus, He delights in us.
Our is not a God who sits on one end of the scale and says, “Work your way to Me.” But ours is a God who has ventured out. One who has entered our world as Emmanuel. Seeking the lost. Binding up the wounded. Carrying home the lame.
A God who operates on the continuum. A God of nuance.
Known through His abundant grace. Worthy of infinite glory.