Grace and Sovereignty

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Job’s First Claim and Judging God
Job said, “I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. Behold, He findeth occasions against me, He counteth me for His enemy, He putteth my feet in the stocks, He marketh all my paths” (Job 33:9-119I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. 10Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, 11He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths. (Job 33:9‑11)). Job claims God is not being fair, for he has judged himself to be innocent, yet God has treated him as an enemy and using His superior power has stepped on him and his family.
Elihu responds, “Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against Him? for He giveth not account of any of His matters.” Elihu upholds the sovereign rights of God.
As sovereign, God doesn’t owe us any explanations for anything that He does. In the greatness of His heart He gives many explanations for many things that He does. But the moment I feel that He owes me an explanation for anything, I’m out of my place as a created being, and I’m on the ground of my own self-sufficiency. “Why dost thou strive against Him?” Graciously, He gives us many answers, and He wants us to come and seek answers from Him for the whys and wherefores of life. But we cross over onto the wrong side of the question when our hearts demand them and we think we have the right to them.
“If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness” (Job 33:2323If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness: (Job 33:23)). In the Darby translation there is a footnote concerning the expression “his uprightness.” It says, “His uprightness in judging himself.” Oh for that “one among a thousand” who will help the saints of God by bringing them into the presence of the Lord so that they judge themselves, so that they see themselves in the light of God. Elihu is such a one. The result is of remarkable benefit to Job, because Elihu brings him into the presence of the Lord, and there he judges himself and receives the benefit.
Job’s Second Claim
and Righteousness
Job said, “I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment. Should I lie against my right?” (Job 34:5-65For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment. 6Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression. (Job 34:5‑6)). Job claims the right to make his own judgment in a matter between himself and God. This is wrong. Job is claiming that God is unrighteous, because he is righteous and yet God is not treating him any differently than He is treating the wicked.
Elihu responds, “What man is like Job, who  ...  walketh with wicked men. For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God. Far be it from God, that He should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that He should commit iniquity. For the work of a man shall He render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.” Again Elihu upholds the sovereign rights of God. God is righteous. (God being righteous and sovereign is the foundation of all morality.) God is sovereign, and so we are never to stand in judgment about anything He does. God judges us; we are never to judge Him.
While man has no right to set his own judgment against God’s, Elihu upholds the truth concerning God. God never does wickedness; the Almighty never perverts judgment. He in whose hands the whole earth is held is the “all-just” one. His eyes are upon man, seeing all that he does. And when He chooses to act, He does not hold court, but acts according to His sovereign rights and power. He hears the cries of the afflicted, and He acts upon their behalf in judgment of the wicked.
Job’s Third Claim and Rebellion
Job said, “I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: that which I see not teach Thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more” (Job 34:31-3231Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: 32That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. (Job 34:31‑32)).
Elihu responds, “Should it be according to thy mind? He will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.  ...  Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom. My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men. For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.” The more Job argued and multiplied his words, the more he sinned. Elihu correctly charges Job with refusing the judgment of God in His ways with Job. Should God be bound by Job’s judgment of the matter?
At this point Elihu introduces another important thought into the conversation that the Lord adds to later and which is crucial to knowing and accepting the judgments of God. He says that Job has been speaking without knowledge and without wisdom (vs. 35 JND). God alone, as sovereign, is all-knowing. All judgments He makes are based upon His perfect and complete knowledge of everything. Man never knows everything. Consequently, man has no right to question any judgment of God’s. Correct judgments depend upon correct knowledge.
In chapter 28 Job gives an excellent and interesting treatise on wisdom, concluding with the statement, “And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” We might understand as Job did concerning wisdom and still have to learn the same lesson as Job. Wisely, Job did fear the Lord and in understanding he did depart from evil. God says so in the very first verse of the book. Yet Job wrongly condemned God. Why? Wisdom and understanding require knowledge. No man has full knowledge. A properly wise and understanding man is one who learns not to trust in his own knowledge, but who always depends upon God, who alone knows all. He is a man who trusts in the judgments of God and not in his own understanding or wisdom. Unlike Elihu, Job’s three friends got their knowledge from their own experiences rather than from God.
Job’s Fourth Claim and Arrogancy
The fourth time Elihu quotes Job, he says, “Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God’s? For thou hast asked of what profit it is unto thee: what do I gain more than if I had sinned?” (Job 35:2-32Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God's? 3For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin? (Job 35:2‑3) JND).
Job compared how he acted with how God acted and judged that his actions were more righteous than God’s. Having gone that far in his thinking, he questions the gain of being righteous, since, in his mind, God treated him no better than He did a sinful man.
In answering, Elihu first turns Job’s statements around so that they are viewed from God’s side of the question instead of Job’s — a very helpful principle to follow in seeking to understand spiritual things. Job had said, What profit is it to me to be righteous? Elihu responded, What profit is it to God if you are righteous? What does He gain? “If thou be righteous, what givest thou to Him?”
Job had admitted that he could not see God in the matter. He had searched for Him and could not find Him. Why wasn’t God coming out to deal with him face to face with someone to act as judge? To this Elihu answered, “Although thou sayest thou dost not see Him, judgment is before Him, therefore wait for Him. But now, because He hath not visited in His anger, doth not Job know his great arrogancy? For Job hath opened his mouth in vanity, and made words abundant without knowledge” (Job 35:14-1614Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is before him; therefore trust thou in him. 15But now, because it is not so, he hath visited in his anger; yet he knoweth it not in great extremity: 16Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge. (Job 35:14‑16) JND).
Elihu’s statement illustrates that God is not only sovereign in His ways but in His timing. When we do not see, then “wait for Him.” Elihu charges Job with arrogancy. While God is righteously angry with man, He is patient and long-suffering in His ways with him. Man uses that very time of patience to become bold and arrogant in his judgments and actions against God.
Upholding God’s Righteousness
After responding to Job’s specific statements, Elihu continues to speak in order to “ascribe righteousness to my Creator.” To summarize what Elihu says: “God is mighty.” “God is exalted in His power: who teacheth as He?” “God is great, and we comprehend Him not.” God is “doing great things which we do not comprehend.” In His ways with us, He may use His creation “as a rod, or for His land, or in mercy.” God is “perfect in knowledge.” What can we teach God? He concludes, “The Almighty, we cannot find Him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: He will not afflict. Men do therefore fear Him: He respecteth not any that are wise of heart.”
D. F. Rule