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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2010
(Part 6)

JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS

Our theme for 2010 is about the justice and righteousness of God. “The Almighty­we cannot find him; he is great in power and justice, and abundant righteousness he will not violate.” (Job 37:23, RSV). “God’s power is so great that we cannot come near him; he is righteous and just in his dealings with us.” (Job 37:23, GNB).

Job, though just and righteous, suffered much. As such, the justice and righteousness of God came into question. Not that it is a question whether God is just and righteous,[1] because He is, but it is a question about where, in the situation of Job, do we see the justice and righteousness of God.

The discussions of Job’s three friends and Elihu with him kept going to the aspects of justice and righteousness. They saw Job’s severe suffering as a consequence of his being unjust and unrighteous, while Job maintained that he was just and righteous, and so could not understand why God would allow him to be severely afflicted.

Eliphaz:

  • “Reflect now, what innocent[2] person perishes? Since when are the upright[3] destroyed?” (Job 4:7)
  • “Can a man be righteous as against God? Can a mortal be blameless against his Maker?” (Job 4:17)
    “What is a man that he should be blameless, one born of a woman that he should be righteous?” (Job 15:14)
  • “Is it of advantage to the Almighty if you are just? Or is it a gain to him if you make your ways perfect?” (Job 22:3)
  • “God delivers him who is innocent; you shall be delivered through cleanness of hands.” (Job 22:30)

Bildad:

  • “Should you be blameless[4] and upright, surely now he will awake for you and restore your rightful domain” (Job 8:5)
  • “How can a man be just in God’s sight, or how can any woman’s child be innocent[5]? (Job 25:4)

Zophar:

  • “If you remove all iniquity from your conduct, and let not injustice dwell in your tent, surely then you may lift up your face in innocence” (Job 11:14-15a)

Elihu:

  • “To show him what is right for him and bring the man back to justice” (Job 33:23b)
  • “Surely, God cannot act wickedly, the Almighty cannot violate justice.” (Job 34:12)
  • “Your wickedness can affect only a man like yourself; and your justice only a fellow human being.” (Job 35:8)

Job:

  • “Upright men are astonished at this, and the innocent aroused against the wicked.” (Job 17:8)
  • “till I die I will not renounce my innocence. My justice I maintain and I will not relinquish it” (Job 27:5b-6a)
  • “Let my enemy be as the wicked and my adversary as the unjust!” (Job 27:7).
  • “I wore my honesty like a garment; justice was my robe and my turban.” (Job 29:14)
  • “Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!”

In the face of our many questions, in the face of continuing affliction and suffering of the just and righteous, in the face of prosperity of and lack of punishment for the unjust and unrighteous, in our brokenness in spirit, we can only exclaim: “The Almighty! Just and righteous is He.”

Before God finally spoke, Elihu spoke. God used Elihu as a sort of introducer of the main speaker. God used Elihu to express the reality of who He is and what our proper posture, in the face of our questions, is to be. “The Almighty! we cannot discover him, pre-eminent in power and judgment; his great justice owes no one an accounting.” (Job 37:23, NAB). Our posture is simply reverential fear and humility.

In turn, before Job had his final say, Bildad gave his third speech, the last discourse of all three friends of Job. Unlike all the other speeches before, it is very short. But it reflects Elihu’s “introduction” to the main and final speaker, God. It is reflective of the aspects of our theme for 2010.

First, God is great and we are simply to be in awe of Him. “Dominion and awesomeness are his who brings about harmony in his heavens. Is there any numbering of his troops? Yet to which of them does not his light extend? Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clear in his sight.” (Job 25:2-3,5). God is awesome in His majesty.

Second, we are thus to be humble and unquestioning in the face of God’s greatness. “How much less man, who is but a maggot, the son of man, who is only a worm?” (Job 25:6). If the perfect creation of God, the moon and the stars that shine forth in the heavens, are not bright in relation to God’s awesome brightness, then how much less are we, imperfect creatures that we are, in relation to God. We are nothing before a great and awesome God.

Third, we look to justice and righteousness. In regard to being just and righteous, we are not, but God is. “How can a man be just in God’s sight, or how can any woman’s child be innocent?” (Job 25:4).

Job was blameless and upright, who feared God and avoided evil (Job 1:1). But still, he was sinful, born in original sin. Even if he indeed was righteous, it was still nothing compared to the righteousness of God. God is perfect, we are not. John says: “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn 1:8).

Further, even if Job was just, it was nothing compared to the justice of God. Isaiah says: “all of us have become like unclean men, all our good deeds are like polluted rags” (Is 64:5a).

Let us recognize who we truly are, sinners in need of redemption. Despite this we are called to the perfection of God. Such redemption and holiness come through the fire of God’s purification, by means of affliction and suffering. Such is the way of the cross.

As we suffer and endure, let us look to God. And let us always exclaim: “the Almighty! Just and righteous is He.”

* * *

(November 19, 2009)


[1] Though indeed there in the world are those who, in the face of injustice and suffering, question the justice and righteousness of God.
[2] Innocence here refers to being just. “Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!” (Job 31:6).
[3] Upright = righteous.
[4] Blameless = just.
[5] Innocent in this instance refers to righteousness. A child is not yet in a position to be just or unjust. On the other hand, a child is conceived in original sin.

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Our Theme for 2010- Part 6[PDF]
 
 
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