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Posts Tagged ‘justice’

socialjustice

In Exodus 22 and 23 we find God’s words about what social justice looks like.  He adds detail to many of the 10 commandments here.  We begin in Exodus 22:16.

Verses 16-17 pertain to the fifth and seventh commands.  God’s law states here that any man who seduces a woman had better be ready to take that woman for his wife.  He was required to pay bride price to her father and marry her if he did such a thing.  If the father forbid the marriage, he was still required to pay the bride price without receiving her.

This law indicates several things.  Firstly, we find that the Lord is concerned with men who take advantage of young, vulnerable girls.  There was never, ever a time in history where God approved of a man coercing a young girl to have sex, using her for his pleasure, and discarding her.

Secondly, we find that it must always remain up to the parents to give the blessing for marriage to their children.  Even in such a poor circumstance where a girl has been exploited for her naivety or the marriage has been prematurely consummated and a man must pay for his lustful actions with her, it is still ultimately up to her Daddy to approve of and allow the marriage.

In verse 18 the Lord warns of the acts related to sorcery.  Sorcery includes fortune telling, spirit calling, and any other occult practices.  God attaches the death penalty to any such practices.  Therefore, we would do well to consider how serious an offense and how dangerous a practice these things are for God’s people.  Matthew Henry writes of his day: “By our law, consulting, covenanting with, invocating, or employing, any evil spirit, to any intent whatsoever, and exercising any enchantment, charm, or sorcery, whereby hurt shall be done to any person whatsoever, is made felony, without benefit of clergy; also pretending to tell where good lost or stolen may be found, or the like, is an iniquity punishable by the judge, and the second offense with death.  The justice of our law herein is supported by the law of God recorded here.” 

Verse 19 speaks to the sexual practice of beastiality.  The penalty for such an actor was death.

Verse 20 is regarding sacrificial practices to other gods.  This is a breach of the 2nd command and is idolatry.  The penalty was death.

Exodus 22:21-24 and 23:9 pertain to foreigners, widows, and orphans.  If God’s people mistreated anyone in these groups, it came at the cost of a curse upon they and their own family.  Mistreatment for the poor and oppressed was punished by God himself who promised to destroy the men who would do such a thing, make their wives widows and their children fatherless.

In 22:25-27 is God’s law against extortion.  We find fairness and sympathy in lending as God’s rule.  We are called to return whatever we borrow quickly, always thinking of the lender’s generosity and need above our own.

In 22:28 we are taught not to criticize God or any governmental leaders in an angry or abusive manner.  God is sovereign over all men and therefore we must trust him rather than hating the government and blaming God for their actions whether they be wrong or right.

Exodus 22:29-30 is concerning our giving to God.  We are to give the best of everything to God first.  The firstfruits of our labor, our harvest, our children, and our possessions all belong rightfully to God.  For the people in the time of Exodus this meant the first of their crops, the firstborn child, and the best animals were to be given to God first – without delay.  This passage is particularly convicting because it reveals how little we actually give back to God.  Do I give the best of my time, my money, my children – all that I have been given – back to God?  That’s a great consideration to make in our day and age (as all of these Old Testament laws are.)  Let us not delay or hold our best back from the Giver of all.  Matthew Henry says this: “Let not young people delay to offer to God the firstfruits of their time and strength, lest their delays come, at last, to be denials, through the deceitfulness of sin, and the more convenient season they promise themselves never arrive.”

Verse 31 of chapter 22 pertains to meat that still had the life blood in it.  Jews were not permitted to eat such meat.

Exodus 23:1-3 and 6-8 speak of justice toward our neighbor.  If everyone is agreeing about a person whom we know we must stand against the majority and speak rightly.  Condemning or darkening an innocent man when we know the truth is an affront to God.  Likewise, failing to do justice to a guilty man on the basis of his poverty is just as bad.  No one is to take a bribe.  Bribes corrupt justice from the inside out.

“Bearing false witness against a man, in a matter that touches his life, has in it all the guilt of lying, perjury, malice, theft, murder, with the additional stains of coloring all with a pretense of justice and involving many others in the same guilt.  There is scarcely one act of wickedness that a man can possibly be guilty of which has in it a greater complication of villainies than this has.  Yet the former part of this caution is to be extended, not only to judicial proceedings, but to common conversation; so that slandering and backbiting are a species of false witness-bearing…he who raises, or knowingly spreads a false report against his neighbor, especially if the report be made to wise and good men whose esteem one would desire to enjoy, sins as much against the laws of truth, justice, and charity, as a false witness does – with this further mischief, that he leaves it not in the power of the person injured to obtain redress.” Matthew Henry

Finally, in 23:4-5 we find that we must show mercy even to those who hate and abuse us and help them if they are found in need.

“If we bring back our neighbor’s cattle when they go astray, much more must we endeavour, by prudent admonitions and instruction, to bring back our neighbor’s themselves, when they go astray in any sinful path.  And if we must endeavour to help up a fallen ass, much more should we endeavour by comforts and encouragements, to help up a sinking spirit, saying to those that are of a fearful heart, be strong.  We must seek the relief and welfare of others as our own.” Matthew Henry

 

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defend

In Exodus 21:12-32, we have more laws concerning slaves, and, more generally, laws given to authorities in regards to those called to submit under them.

In verses 12-14 and 18-28 we find the Lord elaborating on the sixth commandment that he had just given: You shall not murder.  It is not enough that we might not kill others, but the manner in which death or injury occurs – if it is by our hands – is also a matter of great consideration.  We know this is true even in our court system today.  Trials are set to determine how, why, and in what manner injury or death occurred and punishment is then aptly dealt to the offender.

In verses 12-14 and 20-21 we have a distinction made between getting into a fight and causing death vs. premeditated murder.  Because the first action is considered accidental, that offender was to be given a place of refuge – exile, but refuge.  Because the second action is purposeful and premeditated, that offender was to be executed.  If, however, there is a fight and a man injures another without causing his death, the offender is obligated to take care of the man he injured until he is well by paying all his lost wages.  If the injured party is a slave, in the first case the master is not to be avenged because the loss of his slave is financial punishment enough for the master who injured him.  If, in the second case it was a slave, the master shall be avenged for the murder of his slave.

Verses 26-27 instruct that if a slave loses an eye or a tooth, he shall go free.  God cares about those under authority and he makes provision for them in their distress.

Verses 15-17 make clear that anyone who abused or cursed his own parents was to be put to death.  Death!  God is extremely serious about the respectfulness and obedience  – or lack thereof – of children.  We parents ought to spend time considering this portion of the law as it pertains to us and to the fifth commandment.  Our children’s lives depend greatly upon our instruction and discipline to them as children.

In verse 16, God forbids kidnapping or person stealing of any sort.  Both the kidnapper and the one who buys or receives the stolen person was to be put to death.

Verses 22-25 give instruction on the murder and injury of unborn babies.  Even if the death is accidental, the penalty for killing an unborn child was death.  Or, whatever injury that unborn child sustained was to be done to the offender.  God is serious about injury and death caused to unborn babies and he always has been!  This should make us think very carefully about how precious and special unborn lives are in the eyes of God.  He punishes anyone who would injure unborn children – even accidentally – and whatever a person does to that baby ought to be done to the offender.

This is a law we still see practiced in our day.  Have you ever wondered why it is considered murder to kill an unborn child when a pregnant woman is attacked or injured, but it is considered a choice when she injures or kills that baby herself?  God makes no distinction.  Those who injure and murder unborn babies will be held accountable either in this life or the next.

Finally, in verses 28-32 God gave laws concerning attacks by animals over which men had ownership.  As it is today, the owner is responsible for their own animal and if it attacks a person, that owner will be held responsible.  The first time your animal kills, the animal is to be put to death.  If you fail to put your animal to death and it kills a second time, you and the animal are to be put to death or pay a heavy ransom for your life.

In these details of his overarching law, God imparted wisdom to the very real issues men were sure to face.  By these laws, we are able to recognize the character to f our God, both his justice and his mercy.  God is not partial to the master over the slave.  He is not partial to the man over the unborn baby.  He is not partial to the animal over the human.  God is not partial, period.  God is just in every situation where human beings of any social status, age, or condition are injured or killed.  He is always merciful to the one who is injured and calls always their abuses to account and make restitution.  We would all do well to consider these things.  For in so doing, we learn Our God’s heart, his concern, his compassion, and his wrath when human beings are injured – whether purposefully or accidentally.

 

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In the very short book of Obadiah, this little known prophet speaks a word of both judgement and encouragement.  Obadiah’s book is only one chapter but R.C. Sproul notes that the authority of his message is seated in the authority of God rather than the prominence, or lack thereof, of this messenger.  Sproul’s observation is something we can put into our pocket and remember when a word of truth comes to us from an unknown or unlikely source.

Obadiah writes his prophesy primarily for two reasons or to two groups of people.  He begins:

The vision of Obadiah.

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom:
We have heard a report from the Lord,
    and a messenger has been sent among the nations:
“Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”

Obadiah is writing about Edom.  Edom took part in a military assault on Jerusalem.  Judah was defeated and Edom prospered.  Both were covenant people of God.  Justice was not obvious during this time and it could easily have seemed to the people of Judah that they were living in opposite world.  We often feel the same way, too, when evil triumphs over good and wrongdoers win while the innocent suffer.  This is where Judah was.  Obadiah writes this message to make clear to both the people of Judah and the people of Edom that justice was coming.  God used Obadiah to convey also that he had great concern and compassion for the people of Judah.  He is writing to his people for both warning and encouragement, respectively.  Both groups needed this message.

God’s people of Judah needed to hear and understand that they were not forgotten and that God did indeed see their suffering.  They needed to know that God was deeply concerned for them and that it doubtless would be made right in time.

God’s people of Edom needed to hear that God was not pleased and their their victory and prosperity was soon coming to an end.  They needed to remember that God punishes injury – especially injury done to his own people.

Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
    you shall be utterly despised.
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
    you who live in the clefts of the rock,
    in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,
    “Who will bring me down to the ground?”
Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
    though your nest is set among the stars,
    from there I will bring you down,
declares the Lord. ~Obadiah 1:2-4

Here, in verses 2-4, God is saying, “Hey Edomites – hey group of people who hurt my people, who by the way are your people too – I am going to make you small among the nations.  Maybe your brothers could not overcome you but I can.  I can and I will.  And God does do just that and fulfill this prophesy.

Why?

Your pride, Edom.  The reason you are being brought low by God himself is because of your pride.  Your pride has deceived your heart.  You may think you’re safe and high and mighty but I – the God of the universe – remember me? – I will bring you down and make you small.  Maybe your brother could not succeed against you and your pride but I can.

Furthermore, in verses 5-9 God goes on to share some more bad news with the people of Edom.  Obadiah assures them that the very people they trusted in – the worldly friends they made at the expense of their brothers – those guys were not their friends at all.  The prophet tells them that the worldly people they trusted in and used to hurt their brothers would be used by God to bring them down.  The ones they trust will be the ones who will conspire against them.  This is justice.  Edom betrayed his brothers so he would be betrayed by those he trusts.

“Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
    shame shall cover you,
    and you shall be cut off forever.
11 On the day that you stood aloof,
    on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
    and cast lots for Jerusalem,
    you were like one of them.
12 But do not gloat over the day of your brother
    in the day of his misfortune;
do not rejoice over the people of Judah
    in the day of their ruin;
do not boast[e]
    in the day of distress.
13 Do not enter the gate of my people
    in the day of their calamity;
do not gloat over his disaster
    in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
    in the day of his calamity.
14 Do not stand at the crossroads
    to cut off his fugitives;
do not hand over his survivors
    in the day of distress.

15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.

As you have done, it shall be done to you;
    your deeds shall return on your own head. ~Obadiah 1:10-15

The prophet goes on saying that Edom will be ashamed and cut off forever.  That is a pretty harsh word and the reason given for it is the violence done to their brothers.  God is saying that this injustice they have done has not gone unnoticed.  It is not a small matter.  God is not about to overlook their treachery.  They joined the enemy in order to get ahead and they injured their own people on purpose all for their own benefit and false security.  God is saying, “I saw what you did and judgement is coming.”

Consider verse 11.

 On the day that you stood aloof,
    on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
    and cast lots for Jerusalem,
    you were like one of them.

Remember when you acted like you didn’t see foreigners taking everything from your own brother’s house?  Remember when you sided with the enemy against him and participated in their assault against your own people?  Well don’t gloat about your victory.  Don’t rejoice.  Don’t boast.  Don’t loot.  Because guess what?  The day of the Lord is near.  God’s justice is coming, boys.  As you have done, it shall be done to you.

The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
    and the house of Joseph a flame,
    and the house of Esau stubble;
they shall burn them and consume them,
    and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau,
for the Lord has spoken. ~Obadiah 1:18

Esau.  Esau, this is what happens when you sell your brother out for a bowl of soup; for worldly gain; for selfish ambition; for self-centered self-worship.  You lose.  God sees.  God’s wrath repays.  R.C. Sproul puts it this way: “Edom is doomed because they broke the law of brotherly compassion by joining, in malicious merriment, with God’s enemies as they destroyed Judah…The exploitation of a brother’s adversity showed that Edom’s true loyalty was toward getting ahead in the world, in disregard of moral and spiritual absolutes. The seeds of Edom’s moral character were sown by their ancestor Esau, who shows that he cares more for earthly enjoyment than for God’s kingdom by despising his birthright of covenant blessings and marrying Hittite wives.”

Wow.  Think how encouraging it would be for the people of Judah to hear this in their place of felt betrayal, defeat, and humiliation.  Friends, God sees the injustices done to us.  He sees when your own friends and family betray, injure, and side with the enemy for their own advancement and benefit.  God is concerned about that kind of thing.  Even in the dark places of loss, loneliness, and rejection dealt by those who should have loved and protected us, God is working.  He will bring justice and appropriate discipline to those who wrong his own people.

Therefore, we must take Obadiah;s words to heart lest we begin to doubt God’s goodness in those times.  May our brothers who betray us repent before they are judged and may we know God’s love for us as we wait for either his justice or their repentance.  Amen.

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 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. ~ Acts 18:1

Let’s begin with Paul.  Here’s a guy who used to be the poster child for religious hypocrisy.  He had been passionate about rules, manmade regulations, and punishing, disgracing, and even approving of the murder of anyone who did not submit to and obey those practices.  He was the epitome of self-righteousness.  That is what he was.  This is exactly who he was before his conversion.

Miraculously, Paul was changed by none other than the power of God.  Here, now, in our eighteenth chapter of Acts, we find him Paul the missionary rather than Saul the murderer.  Now, he is traveling from place to place sharing the gospel with whomever he can whenever possible.   Now, he was a great evangelist missionary.  He went to people who were just like he had been previously to try and show them the truth of the gospel.

That’s what we find him doing in Acts chapter 18.  Verse one says he left Athens and went to Corinth.  In Athens he had preached in the synagogue and the marketplace every day.  (Acts 17:17) Every.  Single.  Day.  He points everyone in the vicinity to Christ.  He understands exactly how to answer them.  He knows all their objections and arguments before they even make them because, remember, he was what they were not too very long ago – lost.

He lands in Corinth and what does he do?

And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. ~Acts 18:2-4

First Paul makes some Jewish friends.  He gets to know some people who are in his line of work and he stays with them.  Then, he goes to the synagogue.  He goes into the most religious place of his time and the text says he “reasoned.”  He reasoned with everyone there every…single…week.  This would be like one of us going to a church who was operating in error every week and trying to explain to the leaders what the Bible actually teaches.

How did these very religious men react to his weekly gospel preaching and repetitive apologetics lessons?

When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. ~Acts 18:5-7

Paul is testifying about Christ and the religious people “opposed and reviled him.”  In other words, they called him a liar.  They publicly slandered and abused him any way they could.  They did all they possibly could to hate him and rid their religious club of his true words and his teaching.

So, Paul leaves – but not without shaking the dust from his clothing and publicly denouncing their abuse and unbelief while professing his innocence as well.  Then what?

Instead of hopping right into another synagogue, Paul goes next door to the house of a man named Titius Justus.  So, next door to the synagogue he just got hated out of, he plants a church of pagans – well, Gentiles – who generally did not know God at least in any formal way.  But Justus did.  This house church becomes the seed of none other than the Corinthian Church.

This is truly amazing.  It is encouraging to know that justice took place in the house of a man who just happened to be named “Justus.”  It is in Justus’ house that God begins a great work in a city in desperate need of the gospel.  Awesome.

Next, the ruler of the synagogue gets saved along with his whole family.  The Holy Spirit comes to Paul and tells him to keep speaking and teaching.  The Holy Spirit encourages Paul and he continues in Corinth for a year and a half.

Later, the Jews gang up on him again and bring him before the civil authorities.  Verse 12 says they “made a united attack.”  All the unbelieving Jews band together to falsely accuse and discredit Paul.  It doesn’t work out well for them because the authorities end up beating the new synagogue ruler, Sosthenes, and dismissing the case.  (Acts 18:17)

What goes around comes around, folks.  These guys hated Paul and abused him for loving them enough to tell them the truth and the gospel faithfully – week after week – and they reaped exactly what they sowed.  Paul, on the other hand, planted a successful church by the hand of God.  The reason he succeeded is because he obeyed the Holy Spirit and because he absolutely, positively refused to compromise with religious regimes and falseness that centered on man’s work and self-sufficiency.

The gospel is all about God’s work.  Religion is all about man’s work.  I don’t know about you, but I am not the slight bit interested in the latter.

Be encouraged.  If religious people hate you, and they will if you tell them the truth – especially when they are operating in gross error, you are in good company.  They hated Paul, too, and he was the greatest missionary who ever lived.  And, of course, we can’t forget how much they hated Jesus.  With that, I leave you with Jesus’s words to the religious pretenders of his day:

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” ~John 8:39-47

 

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quote

The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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beyou

Moses fled from Egypt out of fear.  He had killed an Egyptian man on behalf of the Hebrews.  When he realized someone had seen the crime, he ran away into the desert to a place called Midian.

In Midian, the Bible says Moses sat down by a well.  Some women came to draw water and were attacked by shepherds.  For the third time, we see Moses act on behalf of the weak to serve justice.  His actions prove a pattern of character.  Moses was a defender of the weak – like unto God.

Despite his sin, the Lord blessed Moses for his courage and gave him a home and family in Midian.  He became  a shepherd.  God provided for Moses and prepared him for his future work of delivering Israel.

Moses was not on a mission to save all God’s people when he struck down the Egyptian.  He was looking to save one.  He wasn’t looking to be the judge of all Israel when he sought to reconcile two Hebrew men.  He was trying to make peace between two Israelites.   Moses did not expect to gain a family by standing up for a few women in distress.  In all of these instances, Moses was just being who he was.  He was doing what God-fearing men do – protecting, defending, and seeking justice for the weak and oppressed.  He sounds a lot like his mom.  God used his courage and hunger for justice and, over the next forty years, grew him into a great deliverer.

What we don’t see is Moses running around vying for a position.  He had one that he, apparently, did not overly value, in Egypt.  We don’t see him seeking favor with men or worrying what would happen if he stood up against evil.  He acted impulsively according to his instincts.  We never see him asking God to make him a leader for Israel.  In fact, when called to leadership he attempts to decline by making excuses.  All Moses’ life is weaved together by nothing less than the providence of God.  From his birth to his need to defend to his desert escape to his new-found foreign family, all the way to his calling, his courage, and his great task of delivering Israel out of Egypt, God sovereignly gave Moses all things according to his own will.

Here is a lesson for us – for we who chase the doing rather than living in the being of our humanity.  We needn’t busy ourselves seeking positions or popularity among God’s people – or any people for that matter.  The way to pleasing God is not found in frantically finding a way to become a front-runner for him.  Instead, we ought concentrate on simply being who we are in him.  We ought to focus on being like him – hungry for justice, quick to defend the weak and oppressed, recklessly abandoning all that is opposed, and trusting fully in his providence.

That is who Moses was.  It wasn’t that Moses just so happened to be in the right place at the right time.  It was that Moses was just the right man for the life God had called him to live out.  The very same thing is true for each of us.  Act Be accordingly.

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After Elihu introduces himself and makes known his concern and love for Job, he begins a defense which represents God and his justice.

“Hear my words, you wise men,
    and give ear to me, you who know;…

For Job has said, ‘I am in the right,
    and God has taken away my right;
6 in spite of my right I am counted a liar;
    my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’ ~Job 34:2, 5-6

Elihu again proves respectful.

 Firstly, before he even begins, he counts his listeners – those older men with whom he clearly disagrees on this matter – wise men.  He does not discount their understanding or insult their intelligence.  And it’s not patronizing.  This young guy knows that his elders may indeed be in the wrong here, but he recognizes that they deserve honor and respect for all the experience, know-how, and qualifications they bring to the table.

Secondly, he again quotes Job.  He does not put words in Job’s mouth or assume any unseen motives.  Elihu proves wise by focusing only on the facts as stated by Job himself.

He goes on to make his case, not in an effort to make Job look bad or satisfy himself with how right he is, but to restore Job’s spiritual thinking and reconcile him to the God they both loved.

His method?  Magnify God’s justice.  Assure men of God’s goodness.  Remind Job of the sure judgement of all.  Confront specific sins.  Urge repentance.

Job had spoken foolishly while bearing an exceptionally heavy load of grief.  Elihu knows the danger and temptation Job faces if he continues in self-pity.  He knows what will become of Job if he becomes self-righteous.  

Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty  ~Job 34:17

Is God wrong, Job?  Or are you?

 Elihu shows Job what was wrong with what he’d said.  It’s not that God isn’t just, it’s that humans cannot understand his justice.

Men of understanding will say to me,
    and the wise man who hears me will say:
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge;
    his words are without insight.’
36 Would that Job were tried to the end,
    because he answers like wicked men.
37 For he adds rebellion to his sin;
    he claps his hands among us
    and multiplies his words against God.” ~Job 34:34-37

Unbelieving people are going to think you are more foolish than they!  By disrespecting God you are disrespecting yourself!  You sound like someone you are not, Job.  Submit to the wisdom of God’s providence and trust him in your time of suffering.  

Elihu shows Job how damaging to his good reputation and witness his wrong words and thoughts were.  

Easy for Elihu to say, right?  I know.  So how did he keep from being taken for a know-it-all-I-have-all-the-answers jerk to a guy who didn’t need to hear it from some young punk who couldn’t begin to understand the difficulty of his listener’s circumstances?

He entered humbly.  He made sure Job knew beyond the shadow of a doubt beforehand that he was a friend; an advocate who was certainly on his side.  He exhibited patience and waited for the proper time and opportunity to speak.  He avoided hearsay and presumption and dealt only with facts directly stated by Job.  He was respectful even though he was righteously angry and in disagreement with Job.  He focuses on the truth of God rather than his own opinions or preferences.  He wasn’t wishy-washy or cowardly with his exhortations.  

If anyone was wise, it was Elihu.  I have much to learn from him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQQMJ2u6fGE

 

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