A daily devotion for December 20th

Tried To The End

Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man!

Job 34:36

The unique thing about Elihu's presentation is that he does not attempt to speak out of his experience. He is not an old man who has been taught certain lessons by life. His claim is that he is speaking out of what God has taught him by the Spirit, and, therefore, he is sharing the insights and wisdom of God. And as Elihu's speech unfolds, we can see that is true. It is in accord with the revelation of God elsewhere in scripture, so God is speaking and answering some of the cries of Job's tormented heart through this young man.

What Elihu is saying here is that Job is obviously speaking out of ignorance of the nature and true character of God, and therefore he needs further treatment. Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost he says. He doesn't desire this because he wants to increase Job's agony but because only that will bring Job to the truth, so he asks that Job's trials go on until he sees what he is doing.

Job is a righteous man. His heart is right, and he wants to serve God, but he thinks that he can do it by his own just efforts. The toughest lesson God has to teach human beings is the lesson of seeing the evil in what we think is nothing but good. We always think that our efforts to behave ourselves by obeying the truth, as we understand it, are acceptable to God. The hardest lesson of life is to learn that our righteousness is as filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). It is only dependence upon His gift of righteousness that will ever be acceptable in His sight. That is what Job is finally learning. It is the struggle of Romans 7 here in the Old Testament. Paul, whose heart was right, wanted to do what God wanted and was trying his best to do it, but instead it all fell apart, and he cried out, What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me (Romans 7:24)? And the word of faith comes in: It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). You are righteous, not by trying, but by accepting what God has said by His gift of righteousness.

Job is learning that his righteousness does not come about by his own efforts here. Remember that God initiated this contest, not Satan. God said to Satan, Notice my friend Job? See what you can do with him. God had something to teach this man, and maybe that is what God is saying to many of us. When we think our heart is absolutely right before Him, we have failed to grasp the one basis upon which we can be right before Him, and that is why trouble often comes.

Father, my heart is humble as I see how mighty are Your ways. What a marvelous Being You are, Lord. Help me to take the place of the learner and be taught out of humility and weakness that I might be strong because of Your loving grace.

Life Application

Have we grasped the tough lesson from our loving Father that our best good deeds, if done in our own strength apart from the Spirit, are an abomination to the Lord?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Your God is Too Small

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