The sinner's excuses answered.
I. One excuse is that the Bible cannot be true because it represents God as unjust. It represents God as creating men and then condemning them for another's sin. To this the answer is: (1) The Bible always represents the sinner condemned as really sinning himself, and as condemned for his own sin. (2) Children are never punished punitively for their parents' sins. The evil that befalls them through their connection with their parents is always disciplinary, never punitive. (3) Everywhere in the Bible men are condemned only for their voluntary sins, and are required to repent of these sins, and of these only. Indeed, there can possibly be no other sins than these.
II. Again, it is objected that God is unmerciful, vindictive, implacable. He would not forgive sin until He had first taken measures to kill His own Son. The answer to this is plain. It was not an implacable disposition in God which led Him to require the death of Christ as the ground of forgiveness. It was simply His benevolent regard for the safety and blessedness of His kingdom. The giving up of Jesus Christ was only a voluntary offering on God's part to sustain law, so that He could forgive without peril to His government.
III. Another difficulty is this: the Bible always assumes that sinners cannot do right and please God with a wicked heart. Can we make ourselves a new heart? Yes; you would have done so long ago if you had not resisted God in His efforts to move you to repentance. The Holy Ghost is necessary, but only to overcome your voluntary opposition.
C. G. Finney, Sermons on Gospel Themes, p. 103.
I. The wisdom put into the mouth of Elihu when the three friends had failed reminds us of what we are taught elsewhere in the Bible: that there are times when traditional authority must give way to truth, when he who is young may instruct those who are aged, when out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God has ordained that very strength which the world most needs. Each generation must learn not only from that which has gone before, but from that which is coming after, it.
II. The book of Job impresses upon us that there are problems beyond the power of man to exhaust, and that in the certainty of that uncertainty it is our privilege to rest. The human mind, it may be well said, may repose as calmly before a confessed and incontrovertible difficulty as before a confessed and discovered truth.
III. The third lesson is found in Job's words "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." He was called from dwelling on himself and his own virtue to feel that he was in the presence of One to whom all earthly intelligence and wisdom seem insignificant. Calamities bring us into the presence of Him before whom we must feel a sense of sin and infirmity. The self-abasement of Job is a necessary element of that perfect and upright character of which he is the type.
IV. This sense of the vastness of the universe, of the imperfection of our own knowledge, may help us to understand, not indeed the origin of evil and suffering, but something of its possible uses and purposes. Distrust of ourselves, self-abasement before the Judge of all mankind, charity for others—these are the gifts which often are the best results of distress, of doubt, and of difficulty.
A. P. Stanley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 289 (see also Addresses and Sermons in America, p. 133).
References: Job 36:2.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1403. Job 36:5.—Ibid., vol. xxiii., No. 1380; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 12.
Discipline is the art or system of learning generally any little things. It is very much the same as instruction or education. But because teaching or education is often a very hard thing, and accompanied with severity, discipline has come to be taken in a severe sense, for we generally associate it with pain and hardship. This discipline or training is among the things which God promises to the righteous. Consider the discipline of joy.
I. The beauty of nature is one of the truest joys of life; and it will give a grandeur and a holy and happy solemnity to our delight in a lovely prospect and our enjoyment of a river, or a sea, or a mountain, or a garden, or a flower if we recognise that delight as preparatory to our possession of Paradise and our right habit and use of a fairer and lovelier world.
II. We may take the same view of society. Perhaps the greatest end for which society is given us is that by the social graces we may learn the social glories. Our social meetings are the rehearsals and the beginnings of the amenities and the comforts of the saints.
III. Look at the discipline of joy in your own experience. Have you never found that it was the affliction that hardened you, but that it was the joy that softened you? Did you never walk proudly through a trial to be humbled by a mercy? And is not that joy discipline? You will be a wiser and happier man when you have learnt to let your joys be your schoolmasters for Christ and heaven.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 14th series, p. 21.
References: Job 36:10.—J. Vaughan, Sermons, 14th series, p. 29. Job 36:26.—Parker, Fountain, April 29th, 1880. Job 36-37—S. Cox, Expositor, 1st series, vol. xi., p. 264; Ibid., Commentary on Job, p. 463. Job 37:6.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 6. Job 37:14.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 221.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Job 36". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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