The Right Filter

Elihu presents the encore argument.

Jobs other friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite are done talking. Though they came to Job to “show him sympathy and comfort him” (Job 2:11), in trying to make sense of why Job is suffering they have instead speculated on what nature of sin he must have committed that would merit such devastation in his life. But Job doesn’t budge in declaring his righteousness and demanding a day before the throne of the Great Judge in order to plead his case. And so, the friends are frustrated into silence, “they ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1).

Cue Elihu. Not sure where he came from, but he’s been listening for awhile. And he’s been getting angry. Angry at Job “because he justified himself rather than God” (32:2). Angry at Job’s three friends because “they had failed to refute him, and yet had condemned him” (32:3 CSB). And so the youngest among the these five men, burning with anger, thinks to provide the answer to the question that no one else has been able to provide.

In essence, Elihu rebukes Job’s friends for condemning Job for sin which Job hasn’t committed. He also rebukes Job for his self-justifying arrogance that because he had no sin God needed to explain Himself. And, most importantly, he reminds his elders about the need for the right filter — that we are to see life’s circumstance in light of who God is rather than see God in light of our circumstance. That hit home today in my reading in Job 34.

“Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that He should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that He should do wrong. . . Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.”

(Job 34:10, 12 ESV)

Whatever the situation, whatever the circumstance . . . however you try and factor God into it, God cannot act wickedly, He cannot do wrong, He will not pervert justice. Full stop. That becomes at least part of the filter for processing problems, for discerning dilemmas, for figuring out a fallen world.

Job faltered in this filter and demanded God explain himself and defend His sense of justice. For his friends’ part, though Job was, in fact, blameless, upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil, his friends had to manufacture a sin narrative in order to convince themselves that God wasn’t “doing wickedness” through what He let befall Job. Both forced an answer to an impossible question — why do the righteous suffer? — because they wavered in their understanding of God.

I’m also reading in Jonah this morning, and filter comes into play there as well. In Jonah’s case, instead of arguing with God, he actually tries to flee God’s presence rather than go to Nineveh because he clearly understands the nature of God and doesn’t want to accept the “unjust” (at least in Job’s mind) implications of God’s character.

And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.

(Jonah 4:2 ESV)

Subject God to the filter of our understanding, or subject ourselves to the filter of His revelation concerning Himself? See circumstance and judge God, or see God and live out circumstance in light of who He is?

Seems to me that’s what I’m picking up from what’s being laid down this morning — the need for the right filter.

Only by His grace. Always for His glory.

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1 Response to The Right Filter

  1. Audrey Lavigne says:

    AMEN!!!

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