Have you ever spent much time in total darkness? As a hunter, my normal day spent afield will start with a walk into the woods in the dark. When I have set up a stand in a somewhat unfamiliar spot, I have often used the aid of “bright-eyes”, which are reflective thumbtacks that I would have stuck into the side of trees that will reflect brightly when the light of my flashlight hits them in the dark. So I would follow a trail in to some marker I would have left on the side of the trail, which would indicate to me that I need to then start looking for my bright-eyes to help guide me to my stand. Unfortunately, I can think of several times in which my bright-eye spacing was obviously too great and I have spent many anxious moments frantically shining my light around to try to locate either the bright-eyes or my tree stand. So while I have never been truly “lost”, even the idea of not knowing exactly where I was in the dark is definitely enough to get my heart pumping and definitely causes me to look forward to the first beams of morning light.
Our passage today reminds us of the difference of being in the dark verses the light. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we read, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Paul says that the unbelievers are blinded and are walking in darkness. However, unlike my example of being in the darkness in the woods, the vast majority of unbelievers are not aware of the darkness they are in. In fact, many of them would consider us Christians to be the ones who are blinded, whereas they would consider themselves to have been “enlightened”. Truly the god of this world has done a masterful job blinding the hearts of those who walk in darkness!
However, we also see the remedy for those who walk in darkness in verse 6, which says, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The answer for the blindness of an unbelieving heart is a supernatural work of the Spirit of God in which He shines the light of the gospel into one’s heart, stripping away the blinders of darkness that Satan has over their eyes. I rejoice in the fact that light IS greater than darkness and that He has done this work in my life. May we do our part in shining the light of the gospel into our dark world today!
Elihu is the whipper-snapper in the group. He was nameless from the beginning of the book, so some think he is the narrator speaking to the character of Job. Others believe he is actually present during the dialogue between Job and his three friends. Whatever the case, he claims, “Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am formed out of the clay” (Job 33:6). He may sound bold, but he is balanced. In a way, he is confirming he is frail as dust, but he also wishes to shine some light upon Job’s dilemma with divine wisdom.
Paradoxically, Elihu embodies humility in his response which contrasts with Job’s growing austerity. In an effort to vindicate himself, Job has fallen into the trap of pride. The pressures of life do reveal what lays undisturbed within our hearts. As we will soon read, God questions Job, whittling his pride down to size, but Elihu revealed this truth from the beginning, “God is greater than man” (Job 33:12).
How does Elihu explain the trials of Job? He wishes to alter Job’s perspective a little. Initially, for punishment trials are not intended, but for preservation. “God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not” (Job 33:14). God wishes to intervene in man’s life to shape and direct him so he may “withdraw man from his purpose and hide pride from man” (Job 33:17). The purpose of trials is to keep “his soul from the pit” (Job 33:18). In some cases, the trials may take a man to the brink where “his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers” (Job 33:22).
What is man’s hope? Listen! Listen to the messenger who shows “unto man his uprightness” and “is gracious unto him” (Job 33:23-24). You will see Job concurs with this wisdom later when he says, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: Yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:4–5). In the trials of life, God is the one speaking “once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.” Our response should be silence and not speaking; hearing not haranguing; listening not lecturing.
If you love God and find yourself in the throes of temptation, remember God’s work is to shape and direct your life. He may be reaching into your life on a deeper level than you may realize. Listen to the messenger. Your vitality will return whether in this life or when you “shall see his face with joy” (Job 33:26). “He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light” (Job 33:28).
Just like a blind man I wandered along
Worries and fears I claimed for my own
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.
I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night
Now I’m so happy no sorrow in sight
Praise the Lord I saw the light.
I never had a watch until I was thirteen. Mom said I needed to be home for supper at five but how was I to know what time it was? Most of my time as a youngster was spent in the woods of the local park that had railroad tracks running through it. I quickly figured out when the green railroad signal light shone, it was time to get home. If I were to get home late, depending on how late, there was a chance I would be sent to my room without supper. As a growing boy, who could eat his weight in groceries, I did my best to minimize tardiness.
However, if my activities took me away from the train signal and into the neighborhood how did I tell time? This past Saturday, I was in the car waiting while my wife ran into a store. With window down, I was transported to another place and time. I was a child again as I listened to chimes from two different churches. That is what I told time with! In those days, almost every church played chimes on the hour from about 8 AM to 6 PM. They would range from a bell clanging the number of hours in the day to heavenly hymns. Moreover, they reminded me to give God time.
Saturday reminded me of a peace this land once had. A time where there was not as much strife and there was more love for each other going around. We long for times like that, but instead of looking backward we must look forward to Him who controls the future.
Psalm 48 describes a similar situation. Jerusalem has had its ups and downs throughout history, but never count her out. She is the timepiece we all must watch. Keeping an eye on Jerusalem will let us know when it is getting close to supper time (with the Lamb). “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Ps. 48:1-2).
Someday soon, Jerusalem will be what God intended it to be-a city of peace!. Furthermore, the occupants thereof (the saved) will hear all kinds of praise and heavenly tunes. We will lift up our voices and join in the hallelujah chorus-“Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death” (Ps. 48:11-14). “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev.22:20). God is always on time!
“Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy.” Winston Churchill observed this personally as he stood at the helm of Great Britain during some of the most turbulent years in their modern history. Another man who understood the casualties of war were more than fallen patriots on the field would be David. Someone else said, “The first casualty of war is the truth,” and you begin to see the unraveling threads of David’s reign in these first few chapters of 2 Samuel. His compass for truth spins a little.
If you value life, you can’t help but feel ill after reading 2 Samuel 1-4. Take a moment, though, and notice some of the inconsistencies which plague David’s leadership. David and his mighty men have been back in Ziklag for only two days when they receive word from an Amalekite, Saul is dead. How ironic for this to be the case since Saul was responsible to eliminate the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15. Once David learns of Saul and Jonathan’s death, he is overwrought with grief. However, when Asahel dies in battle and nineteen of David’s mighty men, you do not see a hint of a tearful song from David. Then in 2 Samuel 3, Joab murders Abner, and David eulogizes his death, “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?” (2 Samuel 3:38).
Another interesting inconsistency is the messenger who supposedly finished Saul off on the battlefield and the two men who killed Ishbosheth in bed receive capital punishment immediately, but Joab’s murder of Abner merits only the remark, “These men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness” (2 Samuel 3:39).
David was emotionally charged which moved him to take a stand against God’s enemies but also clouded his judgment in crucial matters close to home. Paul gives us pertinent instruction when he says, “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them…See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:10–11, 15–18).
We can easily resign control of our lives to any number of powerful influences. In Ephesians, it is wine, but it could easily be emotionalism. There are many things we can admire about David’s life. He was the “man after God’s own heart,” but choosing emotionalism to be your master is never a fruitful choice. Prove what is acceptable. Reprove the works of darkness. Walk circumspectly. Redeem the time. Be filled with the Spirit. He will lead you in the ways of wisdom you desperately need when tragedy strikes.
Arabian horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute obedience from the horses and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of course, they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience stop. They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience, he gives them a signal to go back to drink. Now, this may be severe but when you are in the trackless desert of Arabia and your life is entrusted to a horse, you had better have a trained obedient horse.
The wilderness journeys of these people are much like those Arabian horses. They are being conditioned to readily recognize that God is totally in control. God will lead where he sovereignly deems helpful. He will provide miraculously. He will protect.
Much like any of us in similar situations, the Children of Israel did not care much for the training. They began to complain. “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Exodus 15:24). How dangerous is complaining? We do it all the time, right? Winter has lasted too long. The weather is too hot. My car doesn’t cooperate. Dinner isn’t my favorite. It happens without us giving it a thought.
There are a few dangers of complaining. First, it cripples you. Complaining makes you the victim of circumstances which discourages you. Staying mentally healthy during a wilderness trial is crucial. Jesus taught his disciples to “rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Appreciating what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have could be the helmet of salvation which protects your mind in life’s struggles.
Complaining also infects others. In the Bible, we are warned against “defiling” others. This word is a fascinating picture. It means to “paint in color.” Every time we complain, we taint the minds of others by flinging paintbrushes of paint on them. After a while, the paint is caked on you and you feel rotten! “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
Lastly, complaining dishonors God. Complaining is really a lust for more. Such unfulfilled desires lead to anxiety or anger and in the end, hopelessness and despair. Complaining is an undercover vice which spoils the vines of gratitude in our lives. Ask the Lord to help you think on things which are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and good report (Philippians 4:8). Every circumstance you face is another test for you to grow in obedience to God.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).