Job 11:5

Last week I came across an article with an interesting title,

"Is God Republican or Democrat?"

I had to smile when I saw that. One of the quotes from the article is supposedly from Winston Churchill who reportedly said, (I haven't been able to verify this quote.)

"If you are not a liberal when you are young then you have no heart. If you are not a conservative when you are old then you have no brains."

A better quote is from President Abraham Lincoln. At one point during the Civil War it was suggested to him that God was on their side. Lincoln replied,

" 'Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side, my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.'"

In our text Zophar thinks that God is on his side. He thinks that Job is wrong and that he, Bildad and Eliphaz are right. Zophar sincerely believes that God is on their side. We see this in verse 5. He said to Job,

"Oh, how I wish that God
would speak, that he would
open his lips against you…"

He wanted so much for God to speak against Job, to prove Job wrong. Zophar's mistake was that

he thought that God was on his side and God wasn't.

Zophar was so wrong. We know from the end of the book of Job that God wasn't on Zophar's side. In Job 42:7 we read,

"After the Lord had said these things
to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite,
'I am angry with you
and your two friends,
because you have not spoken
of me what is right,
as my servant Job has.' "

Job's three friends had to take seven bulls and seven rams to Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for themselves. God told them that Job would pray for them and that He would accept Job's prayer and, (Job 42:8)

"not deal with you according to your folly.
You have not spoken of me what is right,
as my servant Job has."

Unfortunately there have been many people like Zophar and this two friends Many people have thought that God was on their side when in fact God was very displeased with them. Jesus spoke of this in John 16:2 when He said to His disciples,

"They will put you out of the synagogue;
in fact, a time is coming
when anyone who kills you will think
he is offering a service to God."

It's remarkable how people can be so deceived. People can commit murder and think that God is pleased with them. But it's not possible. As John wrote in 1 John 4:20,

"If anyone says,
'I love God,'yet hates his brother,
he is a liar.
For anyone who does not love his brother,
whom he has seen,
cannot love God,
whom he has not seen."

So we need to be very careful in thinking that God is on our side. We need to make sure we are on God's side.

In Numbers 12:2 we read that Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of he married a Cushite woman. They said,

"Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?
Hasn't he also spoken through us?"

When Moses took a Cushite wife they thought that Moses sinned and that this was an opportunity to bring Moses down a notch or two. They thought that God was displeased with Moses and that He was pleased with them. They thought that Moses was wrong and they were right. It seems they were jealous that God had placed Moses above them. So they spoke against Moses.

They thought they were right. They thought God was on their side. One of the points that Calvin makes in his commentary on this is against how we have to guard against seeking to exalt ourselves. He said,

"how blind and furious is the lust of dominion."

It was certainly blind in Aaron and Miriam. God heard their words against Moses and He was very angry with them. He afflicted Miriam with leprosy and she had to be confined outside the camp for seven days.

Those who crave power are always displeasing to God. As the Holy Spirit teaches us in 1 Peter 5:5,

"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble."

In Numbers 16 we read about the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram against Moses. They opposed Moses and Aaron and said to them, (Numbers 16:3)

"You have gone too far!
The whole community is holy,
every one of them,
and the Lord is with them.
Why then do you set yourselves
above the Lord's assembly?"

Later, when Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, they said, (Numbers 16:12–14)

"We will not come!
Isn't it enough that you have
brought us up out of a land flowing
with milk and honey
to kill us in the desert?
And now you also want
to lord it over us?
Moreover, you haven't brought us
into a land flowing with milk and honey
or given us an inheritance
of fields and vineyards.
Will you gouge out the eyes of these men?
No, we will not come!"

They thought that the Lord was with them, that He was on their side. They thought they were holy. Yet they opposed Moses. What happened to them? The earth opened and swallowed them and their households alive.

The next day some of the remaining people opposed Moses and told him that he had killed the Lord's people. Again, God was angry with those people and sent a plague on them that killed 14,700 of them. It was only the quick action of Moses and Aaron that more weren't killed. Aaron stood between the living and the dead and offered incense and atonement for the people and thereby stopped the plague.

We see something similar in the Old Testament. In Numbers 11, when the Spirit was put on the 70 elders they prophesied. But we read that Eldad and Medad had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. We read, (verses 26–29)

"Yet the Spirit also rested on them,
and they prophesied in the camp.
A young man ran and told Moses,
'Eldad and Medad are
prophesying in the camp.'
Joshua son of Nun,
who had been Moses' aide since youth,
spoke up and said,
'Moses, my lord, stop them!'"

But Joshua was totally wrong. Moses said to him,

"Are you jealous for my sake?
I wish that all the LORD'S people
were prophets and that the LORD
would put his Spirit on them!"

Many of the people who opposed Jesus thought that God was on their side. In John 9, after Jesus gave sight to a man who had been born blind, the leaders were incensed when the man sang the praises of the one who had healed him. When he did this, (John 9:28–29)

"they hurled insults at him and said,
'You are this fellow's disciple!
We are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but as for this fellow,
we don't even know
where he comes from.' "

Because Jesus healed people on the Sabbath day they thought that He had to be displeasing to God. They thought that He had to be evil. Indeed, the Pharisees said that Jesus was in league with the devil. They said, (Matthew 9:34)

"It is by the prince of demons
that he drives out demons."

The religious leaders of Jesus' day thought they were so right. Indeed, they way they treated Jesus was an indication of how they would treat His disciples.

That's the way it was for Saul of Tarsus and others. Before he was converted, Saul of Tarsus held the coats of those who stoned Stephen to death. Acts 8:1 tells us that,

"Saul was there,
giving approval to his death."

Saul was a Pharisee who was devoted to the law. in Philippians 3:4–6 he spoke of what he was like before he became a Christian.

"If anyone else thinks he has reasons
to put confidence in the flesh,
I have more:
circumcised on the eighth day,
of the people of Israel,
of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew of Hebrews;
in regard to the law, a Pharisee;
as for zeal,
persecuting the church;
as for legalistic righteousness,

But it's not just non-Christians who can get things wrong. Even the best of saints, those who love the Lord the most, can at times think that they're right when they're wrong. Peter told Jesus He would never go to the cross. When Jesus told Peter that He had to go to Jerusalem, suffer and be killed, Peter took Jesus aside, rebuked Him and said, (Matthew 16:22)

"Never, Lord!
This shall never happen to you!"

Believers can be so blind. But it's not just the best of saints that can get it wrong—the worst of saints do it even better. Not so long ago many churches in our own country were racist. I recently read a story where First Presbyterian Church in M, A. apologized for it's past racism. That story contained the following anecdote,

"A black woman walked into First Presbyterian Church in the early 1970s, taking a seat midway up the pews. As soon as she sat down, a white woman stood up and left."

How could a Christian be so racist? In 1956 the congregation had adopted a motion which stated,

"no member of the Negro race (will) be received as a member of our Church or seated in the sanctuary for regular worship."

Locally it was known as,

"that church that wouldn't let black people in."

But it's not just race where churches go wrong. I've heard of churches which show a deference to those that are rich. To them the golden rule is,

"Those who have the gold make the rules."

There are churches that have little regard for the poor, for the prisoners, for women who are pregnant out of wedlock.

But what about you?

The first application from this is simple—

are you in the faith?

Are you a Christian? Which doctrines do you have wrong? Which biblical doctrines do you fail to put into practice in your life? So many Christians are like Zohar in that they look down on others and think that they are better than them. They think that God is on their side when He is not. You dare not be like that. It's with good reason the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:5

"Examine yourselves to see
whether you are in the faith;
test yourselves.
Do you not realize that
Christ Jesus is in you—
unless, of course,
you fail the test?"

The second thing we should note is that

this doesn't mean that there is no truth.

It doesn't mean that no one gets it right. Remember what Pilate said to Jesus? (John 18:38)

"What is truth?"

The world today is a lot like Pilate. Many think that truth is relative.

But one of the things that is evident from all the examples I've quoted is that there was truth in each situation. People were wrong because they didn't understand the truth or rejected the truth. In each case there was the right. In each case people could have done right instead of wrong. Zophar thought he was more righteous than Job. Rather than opposing Job Zophar should have realized the truth of what Job was saying and supported him.

There is truth. Jesus came to show us the truth. In John 14:6 Jesus said,

"I am the way and
the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me."

One of the great purposes of Jesus' work was to secure the Spirit for us, to give the Spirit to us. Before we were in darkness, but Jesus came to give light, to show us the truth. Indeed, He is the truth.

In John 17:17 Jesus prayed to the Father for His disciples and said,

"Sanctify them by the truth;
your word is truth."

We also need to hold fast to the truth of Scripture. You need to judge everything by the Word. To love a life pleasing to God we need the Word of God, we need the truth of God.

Although we as individual Christians, even as a group, can get many things wrong, we know the gospel is true. We can make judgments about doctrine and know what is true. As the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8,

"But even if we or an angel from heaven
should preach a gospel
other than the one we preached to you,
let him be eternally condemned!"

And in 2 Timothy 3:14–17 he told his son in the faith Timothy,

"But as for you, continue in what
you have learned and have
become convinced of,
because you know those
from whom you learned it,
and how from infancy you have known
the holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you wise
for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and
training in righteousness,
so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work."

In 1 Timothy 4:13–16 Paul wrote,

"Until I come, devote yourself
to the public reading of Scripture,
to preaching and to teaching.
Do not neglect your gift,
which was given you through
a prophetic message when
the body of elders
laid their hands on you.
Be diligent in these matters;
give yourself wholly to them,
so that everyone may see your progress.
Watch your life and doctrine closely.
Persevere in them,
because if you do,
you will save both yourself
and your hearers."

Thanks be to God that we don't have to be in doubt about what is true and what is false. God has given us His truth. We can and should judge everything by it.

Thirdly, Zophar's mistake shows us that

as Christians we really need to get things right

Zophar was wrong and he failed Job. Rather than helping Job, he harmed him. He also failed in being a witness for God. We dare not be like him.

Sometimes Christians can be so wrong that unbelievers can see the injustice of what they're doing. Unbelievers will use that against Christians. For example, I mentioned racism earlier. We all know that racism has no place in Christianity. Anyone who follows God's Word, who follows the Bible won't be racist. The Bible tells us that we are to love others as we love ourselves. The Bible tells us that this even applies to our enemies. The only way that someone can be racist is be totally ignoring that command. The Bible is agains racism. Racism is not a blot on true Christianity. It's a blot on professing Christian that have been racists. We should also note that Christians led the fight against racism.

But past racism by professing Christians has damaged our witness today. When Christians present the biblical teaching on homosexuality and abortion unbelievers will equate such positions as exactly like the past racism of some Christians. They will say that just as Christians were wrong about racism in the past so today we're wrong about homosexuality and abortion.

If you try to engage them in argument many of them won't even listen to you. Such truths fall on deaf ears when you speak to people who equate past racism as the same as being against homosexuality and abortion. They think they're right.

Christians, if we are going to gain a hearing in today's society, we need to be pure, holy, harmless, loving others. We need to get these things right.

Fourthly, this shows us

how much we need to depend on the Spirit of God and the Word of God.

We know from Scripture that Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the truth.

As we saw with Peter, even Christians can be blinded by Satan. After Peter said that Jesus would never go to the cross, Jesus said, (Matthew 16:23)

"Get behind me, Satan!
You are a stumbling block to me;
you do not have in mind
the things of God,
but the things of men."

We need the Spirit to lead us in the truth.

If you're not a Christian, you should understand that there is truth. Jesus came to show us the truth—that we're not all right as we are, that we need to repent of our sins, that we need to trust in Jesus. Here's how Paul put it in Titus 2:11–15,

"For the grace of God that brings salvation
has appeared to all men.
It teaches us to say No
to ungodliness and worldly passions,
and to live self-controlled,
upright and godly lives in this present age,
while we wait for the blessed hope—
the glorious appearing
of our great God and Savior,
Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us
from all wickedness and
to purify for himself a people
that are his very own,
eager to do what is good.
These, then,
are the things you should teach.
Encourage and rebuke with all authority.
Do not let anyone despise you."