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REFLECTION: Pause for Thought

Elihu’s message from Job 37:14…..

 

 

The world in which we live can often be a very noisy place. Building sites are not generally known for silence! You will hear the rumble of a cement mixer, the scream of a drill, and the varied sounds of tools and gadgets as work goes on. Demolition sites are not quiet places either. There is the dull thud of a great weight suspended from the arm of a tall crane repeatedly hitting a wall, followed by the crash of falling masonry. We pity people who have to live along a busy road and therefore suffer the constant roar of traffic as buses, cars, lorries, and motor cycles go past incessantly. If you happen to be flying from a busy airport you may experience first hand the uninterrupted noise of aircraft engines as you walk across the tarmac to board your plane. The worst noise, however, may be that of a pneumatic drill breaking up the road surface or a pavement. Workmen are equipped with the necessary safety gear, including ear-mufflers, but pedestrians without such protection will endeavour to keep as far away from the deafening drill as possible.

 

Have you noticed how some people seem to choose noise? It may not be a great noise, but so many shops have music playing all through the day. Waiting rooms, too, are places where often radio programmes are being broadcast. Is there a reason for this? Could it not be that we do not like to be quiet and to be left to our own thoughts? People who live alone often crave company and feel the need to have the radio or TV on in the background all the time – often taking little notice of what is actually being spoken about. Those who like to keep fit are frequently seen jogging along the road wearing headphones so that they can enjoy their chosen music.

 

Many churches are noisy and busy places because people like it that way. Perhaps silence can be frightening or unnerving. We want to avoid it. Missionary Jim Elliot was right when he said, “The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements – noise, hurry, crowds. Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” But we must remember that God is not encountered so much in the noise and in the activity as He is in the stillness. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps.46:10). When Elijah stood before the Lord upon a lonely mountain, “a great and strong wind” tore the mountain and broke the rocks in pieces, “But the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11,12). The LORD manifested Himself in the stillness, and Elijah came to know that He is indeed God.

 

Elihu, although he was younger, lived at the same time as Job. He asked Job to hear him for a moment and advised him simply to “stand still” and then “consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14). Many words had been spoken – some of them without a great deal of understanding on the part of those who had uttered them. It was time to cease speaking and to be still in order to consider some of God’s wonders. What had God done? What marked Him out, or distinguished Him, from all others? From our New Testament perspective, we can consider three of His “wondrous works”.

 

 

THE WONDER OF CREATION

To begin with, we need to consider the wonder of Creation. Carlton Buck wrote the hymn, “Creation shows the power of God”. In it he said that those who see “must stand in awe, for miracles abound.” The Bible is not a science textbook, but neither does it contradict true science. Genesis 1:1 presents the fact of Creation. The Almighty God is the Creator. Genesis is in the “history section” of the Bible and is intended to be understood literally. God did not employ evolution: He created everything recorded in the first chapter of the Bible in six literal days.

 

When we look up into the night sky and view the starry host and the vast expanse of space, we are admiring the work of His fingers (Ps.8:3). There are wonders all around for those who pause to consider. We can learn lessons from a colony of ants (Prov.6:6). How amazing it is to watch the swallows and other migratory birds returning to the northern hemisphere every spring time after a journey encompassing thousands of miles. How do they manage to navigate with such accuracy – not only reaching the same country as last year, but the very same building? In the autumn they spread their wings once more and vanish from our shores. Is this a mere coincidence? Does it not rather demonstrate the wisdom of the Creator? This is just one of His many “wondrous works”.

 

Beauty, we are told, is in the eye of the beholder. This ancient saying, which can be traced back to Greek literature in the 3rd Century BC, suggests that beauty is subjective. What one person finds beautiful may mean nothing to someone else. However, when we are contemplating God’s Creation, beauty is right there before us. A marvellous view across sweeping countryside from a hill, or the stillness of a sunset on a clear evening – scenes like this can speak to the soul. Those with eyes to see it can witness more of the wondrous works of God.

 

 

THE WONDER OF AN ORDERED UNIVERSE

Another wonder ought to be considered. We live in a world where, naturally, order prevails. There is seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night (Gen.8:22). Sunrise and sunset can be calculated with absolute precision, as can the tides. Astronomers have studied the orbit of each planet and the path of the moon. Why does this earth retain its prescribed orbit and not hurtle off into outer space? Why do the planets not veer from their courses and collide with one another? Why does the sun remain in its precise location? If it was slightly closer to the earth, or slightly further away, the outcome could be catastrophic. This planet might become uninhabitable – or at the very least an inhospitable place to live.

 

Questions like this demand an answer. Is it a sheer coincidence that such order prevails? No, the answer is found in the Word of God. The Son of God is upholding all things by the word of His power (Heb.1:3). At Creation God spake and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Ps.33:9). A powerful word was spoken, and the universe came into existence. It is that same word of power which has sustained everything ever since. Order prevails because God is in control. This is another of His “wondrous works”.

 

 

THE WONDER OF SALVATION

A third wondrous work cannot be ignored – the wonder of salvation. Sin had entered the human race through the disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden, bringing death in its wake. Its effect had been felt universally. Mankind was doomed. God had introduced a sacrificial system whereby an innocent victim could die for a guilty sinner, as seen in the animal sacrifices of old. These sacrifices, however, were inadequate. The root problem remained. What could be done?

 

In order to overcome sin’s disastrous effect upon the human race God sent His own Son into the world in human form. The Lord Jesus Christ came willingly to die for sinful people. He did not simply possess a finite, human life. As the Son of God He was an eternal Being. By-passing the source of sin found in man who would produce a son in his own likeness, Jesus was born of a virgin and had no human father. He therefore inherited no sinful nature and remained the pure and holy Son of God. He suffered willingly on the cross and experienced the punishment meted out by a righteous and holy God before laying down His life. He paid the penalty demanded on account of sin and at the same time demonstrated both the great love of God and His own love.

 

Salvation has been provided, but we must avail ourselves of what has been done. There is no such thing as automatic salvation. Individually, we must see in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ the answer to our need. We must turn from sin to God, humbly acknowledging our guilty state before Him and asking to be saved through the work of God’s own Son upon the cross. Those who respond by receiving the Lord Jesus as Saviour are born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. They become a new creation in Christ. What a wondrous work this is! Lost and guilty sinful people can be forgiven and can receive eternal life. The death of Christ upon the cross demonstrates both God’s justice and His love. Both meet together and are completely satisfied. Who could have devised such a great plan but God Himself?

 

 

CONSIDER THE WONDROUS WORKS OF GOD

Did Elihu really understand the significance of his words when he encouraged Job to stand still and consider the wondrous works of God? Rather than engaging in further debate, he saw the need to focus the attention of his listeners on One who was far greater than they were. It was time be quiet and ponder the incomparable works of the Almighty. We also need to give them our attention.

What wondrous works these are! They provide us with adequate reasons to praise the Lord. Two songs of praise are recorded quite close together in Revelation. Voices in heaven are heard declaring, “Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev.4:11). A little later we hear the words of a new song: “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev.5:9). The theme of the first song is Creation. The Lord is worthy to receive praise because He is the Creator, and all things were created for His pleasure. The second song is concerned with Redemption. Endless praise is given to the dear Lamb of God who shed His blood for us. All heaven declares, “Thou art worthy!”

 

The wondrous works of God should call forth our praise. We often need to stand still and consider what God has done. If we will praise Him eternally for His wondrous works, should we not start to praise Him now? “Lord, open our eyes to see more of those wondrous works!”

 

 

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:9