Scripture Focus: Job 35.12-14
12 He does not answer when people 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…
Reflection: God’s Not Deaf
By Erin Newton
I assume most have dreamed about being in danger and suddenly couldn’t make a sound. Mouth gaping wide, no noise comes out. There is no one to hear the call for help. How terrifying!
Elihu waited until the end before adding his commentary. There is hope that the words will be kinder with the young friend. Unfortunately, he is just as hurtful. He denies Job’s claim to righteousness and suggests that God will not listen because of Job’s sin. Job is stuck in a nightmare of suffering. Elihu thought Job’s prayers were silent screams.
Elihu emphasizes the transcendence of God. He views God as removed from the experiences of humanity. In verses 6-7, Elihu states that God is unaffected by sin and gains nothing from righteousness. To this friend, sin is a human problem and righteousness is only beneficial for humanity.
Understanding the nature of God is difficult. We know from creation and prophetic visions that God is transcendent. Millard Erickson defines transcendence, “God is separate from and independent of nature and humanity.” In short, it is his “otherness.” But this is not the entire picture.
Job argues that God is intimately related to humanity. In this way, God is immanent. The prologue of the heavenly scene allows us to see how closely God is concerned with Job’s life. The permission given to Satan comes with strict boundaries. Job declares that his own life is the breath of God within him (Job 27.3).
James Wharton suggests, “It is possible that God is both infinitely more transcendent and infinitely more personally engaged with human beings than either Elihu or Job has any way of knowing?” Again, amid dialogue between the four friends, we are struck with the tension of truths.
In our own lives, we struggle with moments of wishing God was nearer to us. The pressure of illness, the dark cloud of grief, the uncertainty of politics, the vast void of loneliness. We often feel like each prayer is a nightmare-choked silent scream. But the truth is that God is overwhelmingly concerned about your life. Yes, yours.
The fear that God may ignore your peril, the doubt that your pleas are being offered to a deaf God are not founded in truth. Do not let your heart nourish such lies. Elihu understood God’s transcendence but discounted his immanence. Rejoice in the truth that God is with us, our Immanuel.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show us the light of your countenance, O God, and come to us. — Psalm 67.1
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Job 35 (Listen – 1:33)
Psalm 46-47 (Listen – 2:15)
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