Job 35:1-8 (NIV) 1 Then Elihu said: 2 “Do you think this is just? You say, ‘I will be cleared by God.’ 3 Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me, and what do I gain by not sinning?’ 4 “I would like to reply to you and to your friends with you. 5 Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you. 6 If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? 7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? 8 Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself, and your righteousness only the sons of men.
On verses 1-8: Elihu is reminding Job that God is way above us (v5). God is not worse off because we sin against Him or better off because we obey Him (v6-7). Rather it is we who are worse off when we sin against Him and we who are better off when we obey (v8). For God did not give us His commands for His benefit, as if God’s well-being depends on whether we are disobedient or obedient to Him. Rather, God gave us His commands for our benefit, because He loves us. As we like to say at Thrive, God’s commands are not prison bars to limit your happiness; rather God’s commands are guard rails on a highway to protect you from falling into the pit. When we respect those guard rails, we are the ones who benefit. When we disregard those guard rails, we are the ones who lose out.
So don’t think that God’s happiness or personal well being hinges on whether we obey Him or not. God is way too big for that. If God is ever affected by our sin, it’s because as a loving Father, He hates to see His children make foolish choices that cause them to suffer.
Job 35:9-16 (NIV) 9 “Men cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. 10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, 11 who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?’ 12 He does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked. 13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it. 14 How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him, 15 and further, that his anger never punishes and he does not take the least notice of wickedness. 16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words.”
On verses 9-16: What is Elihu saying here? In verses 9-13 Elihu describes the situation where someone comes to God only when they are in trouble (v9), and when they do come to God, they do not do so with a humble, reverent attitude, but rather with pride in their heart (v10-11). As a result, God does not listen to them (v12-13). For God opposes the proud (James 4:6).
In verses 14 to 15 Elihu says that Job has gone one step further than that. For Job is now accusing God of not being present, of not punishing evildoers and not taking notice of wickedness. If that is the case, how much less should God listen to Job, Elihu says. Elihu concludes that by complaining about how God does not see him, Job is speaking empty words that will not get him anywhere with God (v16).
What can we learn from all this? How much you hear from God and experience Him depends greatly on your attitude toward Him. If you are largely indifferent to God most of the time, but then in your moment of trouble you cry out to God with a prideful, complaining, angry heart, then don’t be surprised when you don’t get much of a response. You won’t hear from God if you keep saying, “I don’t see Him. He’s not there. He’s not listening. I’m just waiting but nothing’s happening. God’s not doing anything. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t notice.”
But if you come to God with a humble heart that is surrendered, available, hungry for Him and joyfully waiting on Him, that’s when you give God room to speak into your life.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You oppose the proud but give grace to the humble. As I fast and pray, I’m reminded that You don’t owe me anything. You are God and so high above me. And yet thank You that You love me and care for me too. So I surrender to You. Please help me to wait on You, delight in You and hope in You alone. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!