Your God Is Too Small
A daily devotion for December 21st
1 Elihu continued:
2 "Bear with me a little longer and I will show you
that there is more to be said in God's behalf.
3 I get my knowledge from afar;
I will ascribe justice to my Maker.
4 Be assured that my words are not false;
one perfect in knowledge is with you.
5 "God is mighty, but does not despise men;
he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.
6 He does not keep the wicked alive
but gives the afflicted their rights.
7 He does not take his eyes off the righteous;
he enthrones them with kings
and exalts them forever.
8 But if men are bound in chains,
held fast by cords of affliction,
9 he tells them what they have done—
that they have sinned arrogantly.
10 He makes them listen to correction
and commands them to repent of their evil.
11 If they obey and serve him,
they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity
and their years in contentment.
12 But if they do not listen,
they will perish by the sword
and die without knowledge.
13 "The godless in heart harbor resentment;
even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.
14 They die in their youth,
among male prostitutes of the shrines.
15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction.
16 "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.
17 But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked;
judgment and justice have taken hold of you.
18 Be careful that no one entices you by riches;
do not let a large bribe turn you aside.
19 Would your wealth
or even all your mighty efforts
sustain you so you would not be in distress?
20 Do not long for the night,
to drag people away from their homes.
21 Beware of turning to evil,
which you seem to prefer to affliction.
22 "God is exalted in his power.
Who is a teacher like him?
23 Who has prescribed his ways for him,
or said to him, 'You have done wrong'?
24 Remember to extol his work,
which men have praised in song.
25 All mankind has seen it;
men gaze on it from afar.
26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.
27 "He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams ;
28 the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?
30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.
31 This is the way he governs the nations
and provides food in abundance.
32 He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.
33 His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.
1 "At this my heart pounds
and leaps from its place.
2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
and sends it to the ends of the earth.
4 After that comes the sound of his roar;
he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
he holds nothing back.
5 God's voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,'
and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'
7 So that all men he has made may know his work,
he stops every man from his labor.
8 The animals take cover;
they remain in their dens.
9 The tempest comes out from its chamber,
the cold from the driving winds.
10 The breath of God produces ice,
and the broad waters become frozen.
11 He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
12 At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.
13 He brings the clouds to punish men,
or to water his earth and show his love.
14 "Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God's wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?
17 You who swelter in your clothes
when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
hard as a mirror of cast bronze?
19 "Tell us what we should say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
Would any man ask to be swallowed up?
21 Now no one can look at the sun,
bright as it is in the skies
after the wind has swept them clean.
22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
God comes in awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
24 Therefore, men revere him,
for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart? "
God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? (Job 36:22).
Elihu's final word to Job is a great and beautiful passage in which he sets forth in marvelous language the glory of God. It runs from chapter 35:22 through chapter 37. First, God is beyond human instruction. Notice how he begins:
God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him? Then, he reveals another important fact in chapter 36:26: God is beyond human understanding:
How great is God beyond our understanding! Finally, Elihu reveals in 36:30-31 that God acts beyond the rigid categories and reasons of humans:
See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea. This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance. God uses His natural powers for both blessing and judgment alike.
And then, beginning with chapter 37, we have such a marvelous description of a great electric storm that many of the commentators feel that this was an actual occurrence, that a storm began to break out at this moment, and Elihu used it as a vivid example of what he had been saying about God. If any of you have ever been out on the prairies and seen an electric storm break out, you will know what a terrifying and awe-inspiring experience it is--with the lightning crackling and splitting the sky and the roaring of the thunder. It is a magnificent experience, and this is what Elihu begins to describe in verses 2-4:
Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back.
Then he speaks of how God sends the snow and the rain; he sends tornadoes, the whirlwinds, and the frost; he controls the cycles of the weather. Next time you are watching a weather report on television, and the broadcast shows a satellite picture, notice how it appears in spirals. This is what Elihu refers to in verse 12:
At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them.
Then he tells us why:
He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love(Job 37:13). God has many reasons for doing things; we are not always certain what they are. God's wisdom is inscrutable. He goes on,
Can you join him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze? (Job 37:18) Job can do none of these things.
All the way through the Bible, from beginning to end, the only man or woman who ever receives anything from God is the one who comes with a humble and contrite heart. If you think you have something to offer Him or that you have achievements that nobody else can equal, you cut yourself off from the wisdom and knowledge of God. But those who come humbly, contrite, waiting upon God, asking Him to teach them, will find that God will pick them up in grace and power and glory and restore them.
Lord, thank You that in Your majesty and power You are also a God of grace and mercy.
Life Application: Do we try to reduce God to manageable size, and compete with him for control? Or do we humbly receive him as our Father-provider and our Savior and Lord in Jesus?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.