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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Job 4:7, "Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?"

This morning, everything in the Bible is true, but even certain places in the Bible truthfully retell someone's lies. When Satan tempted the woman in the garden, he told her a lie, but the Bible is true in relaying that lie as a lie. We understand that those words are not true, but it is true that they were spoken at that time, place, and circumstance. Likewise, through much of the book of Job, an ongoing dialog is transpiring between Job and his three miserable comforters: Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad. When reading the words of the three comforters, we must remember that the things they said can fall into one of three categories (that I have found): 1. the words are true, 2. the words are false, 3. the words are true but misapplied to Job's case. Certainly, the first two are more easily discernible than the last, for it is always easier to spot an improper concept than an improper application. The verse before us was uttered from the mouth of
Eliphaz, and I believe it to fit in the second category above: a lie.

Many times, statements can be hedged into a corner and be correctly applied to that one minute point, but they cannot be overarching and general principles that apply everywhere. Certainly we understand that the innocent and righteous person is not going to be cut off or perish eternally. That point is clear. But, does that principle apply in a more generalized way? Can the concept Eliphaz espoused be applied in the general sense to which he ascribed it? To answer these questions, it behooves us to look at the world in which we live to discern the truth (or lack thereof) of the concept.

The term innocent can be most aptly described as "not guilty" or "free from moral crime." The term righteous is most adequately described as "upright and inclined to goodness." So, in the world today, can a man free from sin or moral crime perish? Can a man inclined to goodness be cut off? Certainly, righteous and innocent people have been convicted in courts of law for crimes that they did not commit. Innocent people have perished under the law, even though their perishing was unlawful. Good people do suffer in this present, evil world, and many times, we can suffer evil for no wrongdoing of ours (as Job suffered). Peter tells us to rejoice when we suffer as a Christian, but not to rejoice if we suffer as a murderer or thief. (I Peter 4:5-16)

As a brief aside from this topic, one of the most disturbing things done today in the name of religion is the preaching that observance of Christ's teachings brings the good fortunes of the world unto us. Many preachers, so-called, preach great, swelling messages that basically equate gain with godliness. Gain, by worldly sense, is not tied to godliness, as some of the richest and goodliest persons in the world's eyes were some of the more reprobate individuals in their conduct. Our real gain in this life is being content with godliness. When we are satisfied to follow after the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and might, we find sweet peace that comes from fellowship with God. Whether we have the worldly possessions or not, great peace ensues to the child of God in the knowledge of God's Spirit-felt presence.

Therefore, when looking at the cursory comforts and things of life, one cannot logically say that the innocent never perish and the righteous are never cut off. Looking at the only truly innocent One that embodies righteousness itself, our Lord and Saviour was certainly cut off in many ways. He was cut off from loyal followers as His crucifixion is marked by the scattering of His most devoted followers. He was cut off from all the upper social groups of the day. He never sat upon an earthly throne to rule over His people, but His life was cut off and perished for crimes that He did not commit. Our sins and transgressions were laid upon Him, many false charges were hurled at Him to indict Him in civil courts, and His death showed forth that an innocent and righteous person can be cut off in this life.

We may, in the future, be called upon to give our lives in the service of our Master. In the days to come, man may say, "Recant or die!" My hope for myself is that I would choose death rather than to deny the very Lord who gave Himself for me. Our possessions may be stripped from us for trying to preach the gospel and follow the Lord's teachings, and our families may be imprisoned to "force" us to follow the status quo of the day. My prayer is that these things do not happen, but surely, church history is replete with such circumstances to show that such has happened.

Eliphaz's point was that Job must have been guilty (not innocent) and wallowing in it (unrighteous), which merited his dreadful circumstance of having his children killed and his possessions taken from him. The fact of the matter is that the devil had wreaked havoc on Job's life, and the Lord shows ultimately supreme in that the end of Job's trial shows forth the Lord's original statement that His servant Job was one that eschewed evil and did not serve Him for nought because of the rich blessings that God had bestowed upon him. Job did not charge God foolishly (although he is upbraided by God for justifying himself). God justifies Job in the sight of the miserable comforters that proves they did not understand his case and plight.

Our end, beloved, is one of blissful peace and joy, and thanks be unto God that we are not eternally perished and cut off. By the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, we will appear before God innocent (as if we had never sinned) and completely inclined unto goodness in His throneroom. Because of this end, may we press forward in the service of God not worried about what man may do or say. Indeed, the Lord's blessings are rewarded unto us for diligently seeking after Him (Hebrews 11:6), but those rewards are spiritual and not to be confused with natural wealth. Some of God's children are blessed with natural wealth, but our blessings of spiritual wealth far outweigh any natural circumstance. Therefore, may we renew the plow of service unto Him, not charge Him with our problems, not seek to justify ourselves (He will do that), and always understand that if we perish in this life or are cut off from the land of the living that our happy estate with Him is a reservation that will never be taken away. (I Peter 1:3-6)

 



In Hope,

Bro Philip