Sermon:
Job 34:1-8 – PERSPECTIVES ON CHAOS

Eight elderly people die as a result of the fire at a nursing home in Quakers Hill, Sydney on Friday. Four of our Chaplains are deployed. Shock seared, soot stained survivors stare from stretchers as ambulance personnel tend to them. Many more lie in intensive care fighting for their lives. Wide eyed, frightened, wrinkled faces search for reassurance.

Job sits in the ashes of despair. He understands such tragedy. He lost ten of his children in one day. He lost his career, his wealth, health and support of his wife and friends. While He is suffering excruciating pain from a terminal disease, his friends badger him, saying that God is punishing him because he has sinned.

Fridges, washing machines, large bookcases and a host of heavy objects later, we are here. The hired truck must be returned today and my bones are weary. Ben and Mike are heroes. This is our twenty first place of residence. 4.15 am and I sit at the dining room table. Study is filled with boxes of books waiting for release.

At present I perceive my world according to my pain among the chaos of the boxes, but that’s a limited perception of the multiple layers of my life. What you see, hear, taste, touch and smell describes only this moment and even then not adequately. So too with Job.

Insistent demands from Elihu break the silence of my morning as I explore Job 34. What do I need today that would give me heaven’s perspective on earths dilemmas?…

WISDOM

Elihu - “Listen to me, you wise men. Pay attention, you who have knowledge.” (Job 34:1-2 NLT) Is this sarcasm? He calls them wise but I get the distinct impression that he thinks he is the only wise person on hand. “Listen to me! Listen to me!” Lord give me wisdom tempered with a little humility.

DISCERNMENT

“What man is like Job, who drinks scorn like water?” (Job 34:7 NIV). Elihu speaks of Job drinking up scorn like a camel drinks water. Camels can store a large amount of water for a journey and Elihu says that Job is bottling up irreverence, arrogance, rebellion. Is this PROJECTION? Elihu likes to quote Job but anger and conceit make unsubstantiated JUDGMENTS and interpret Job’s honesty as irreverence. He accuses Job of keeping company with evil people (Job 34:7-8). Notice that the only company around at the time are the four of them who seem determined to make wild accusations, lacking real discernment? Who’s calling who a camel drinking up scorn!

Job says, “The ear tests the words it hears just as the mouth distinguishes between foods.” (Job 34:3 NLT). Discernment is like the senses, but it is different. Discernment helps me perceive that which cannot be seen, felt, heard ... I can hear words but fail to test their meaning. I can see a man covered in boils but my senses will not help me discern the unseen world of his predicament. Lord give me discernment unshackled from baseless