Sermon for March 29th, 2020

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Job 35:1-16

1 Elihu continued and said:
2 “Do you think this to be just?
    You say, ‘I am in the right before God.’
3 If you ask, ‘What advantage have I?
    How am I better off than if I had sinned?’
4 I will answer you
    and your friends with you.

5 Look at the heavens and see;
    observe the clouds, which are higher than you.
6 If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
    And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?
7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him;
    or what does he receive from your hand?
8 Your wickedness affects others like you,
    and your righteousness, other human beings.

9 “Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out;
    they call for help because of the arm of the mighty.
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
    who gives strength in the night,
11 who teaches us more than the animals of the earth,
    and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?’
12 There they cry out, but he does not answer,
    because of the pride of evildoers.

13 Surely God does not hear an empty cry,
    nor does the Almighty regard it.
14 How much less when you say that you do not see him,
    that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!
15 And now, because his anger does not punish,
    and he does not greatly heed transgression,
16 Job opens his mouth in empty talk,
    he multiplies words without knowledge.”

The Book of Job: (Un)Worthy

Most of you who know me know that I often like to start off my sermons with a joke, something lighthearted before we get into the heavy stuff. But since today's worship service is a Locke family production, I thought I'd give my youngest son the opportunity shine with a few of his favorites. A warning here: I can't promise that they will have anything to do with the sermon itself!

(Jonah's jokes)

Thank you, Jonah. For the past four weeks, we've been reading through the Book of Job--without a doubt my favorite book of the Bible. In this story, a man named Job, who is described by the Bible as "blameless and upright" loses everything: his family, his wealth, his home, and even his health. In his despair, he is visited by this three best friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. They sit in silence with him, they try to comfort him, they argue with him (like good friends do) and then, unable to help any more, they fall into silence again.

But then in chapter 32 of the Book of Job, a new character shows up. His name is Elihu, and he appears out of nowhere and begins to speak with authority and confidence. I imagine that Job and his friends are scratching their heads, saying "Who is this guy, and who does he think he is?" Those questions are never answered, and by the end of chapter 37, Elihu disappears just as mysteriously as he came.

Our text today--chapter 35--is right in the middle of Elihu's speech, and