Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Law and Gospel from Elihu the Buzite

White Horse Inn is doing a short series on the gospel in Job.  The latest podcast took up Elihu’s response to Job and his three friends.  Elihu has been listening patiently and attentively hoping to to find wisdom in the conversation of the older men.  Job has been pleading his cause: no intentional unrighteousness has been committed:
Surely you have spoken in my ears,
        and I have heard the sound of your words.
You say, “I am pure, without transgression;
        I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me.
Behold, he finds occasions against me,
        he counts me as his enemy,
he puts my feet in the stocks
        and watches all my paths.”  (Job 33:8-11)
Elihu rebuts with a weighty blow:
Behold, in this you are not right.  I will answer you,
        for God is greater than man.
Why do you contend against him,
        saying, “He will answer none of man’s words”?
For God speaks in one way,
        and in two, though man does not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
        when deep sleep falls on men,
        while they slumber on their beds,
then he opens the ears of men
        and terrifies them with warnings,
that he may turn man aside from his deed
        and conceal pride from a man;
he keeps back his soul from the pit,
        his life from perishing by the sword.  (Job 33:12-18)
Elihu reminds Job that God is responding but in a way he is not recognizing.  Though Job may not have committed intentional sin, he is still guilty as a member of the human race.  God has been making himself known.  His holy requirements are ever before them in the everyday affairs of life.  In abundant mercy, God restrains the intentions of mankind’s sinful, self-destructive ways lest a worse calamity befall.  He sends continual reminders of the vast expanse between holy Creator and fallen created.  Still men fail to comprehend the message and has not learned what David wrote: I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you” (Psa 16:2).

As in Job’s case, there are those times when someone is faced with suffering, and death seems certain.  Even then the Lord is extending his grace, and much more than any has considered possible.
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.” (Job 33:19-28)
“If there be for him an angel, a mediator”—this is the very one for whom Job had sought, yet beyond his imaginings.  This one is sent from God, not to “argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor” (Job 16:21), but to declare mercy and grace.  That mediator would declare deliverance based on a ransom with the end result that the person is restored better than from where he had fallen.  His righteousness and relationship to the Lord can be restored, and there will be fullness of joy in recounting his wicked, sinful condition that was due punishment but received overflowing mercy and grace.  All this he brings it to pass to bring sinners to himself.
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.  (Job 33:29-30)
The above tale is not a fanciful scenario painted by Elihu to encourage Job, but is a plan organized and implemented by the Lord of Glory himself.  Our mediator, Jesus Christ, was purposefully sent to redeem a people:
This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  (Acts 2:23)

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  (Gal 4:4-5)
All this because of his love for us.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  (John 3:16-17)

No comments: