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What Does God Need?

Some of the debates we have in Christianity relate to the role of women and the role of divorcees in the church. One of the techniques used to minimize restrictions on women and divorcees is to emphasize their potential for serving God. In other words, it is argued that they need to fill certain roles because if they are restricted from certain roles in the church, then God loses out because their talents are not being utilized. Sometimes it is argued that a woman or a divorcee is the most qualified person for a certain role. These sound like compelling arguments, but there are several passages that teach us this is the wrong way to approach the topic.

Background

Let’s start in Job 35. At the beginning of Job’s story, he was very wealthy. Then suddenly all his possessions were destroyed, his children were killed, and Job himself was afflicted with boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. Job and his friends debated why this had happened. Job’s friends tried to convince Job he was suffering because he had sinned. Job insisted God had turned against him for some unknown reason.

Elihu tried to convince Job he was wrong.

This debate ended without resolution, at which point Elihu offered his opinion.

Job 35:1 Then Elihu continued and said,
Job 35:2 “Do you[Job] think this[Job’s self-assessment] is according to justice?
Do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God’s’?

Notice the word “this”. “This” refers to the second line of verse 2. In other words, “this” referred to Job’s self-assessment. Job believed he was righteous and Elihu asked him if his assessment was just.

Job 35:3 “For you[Job] say, ‘What advantage will it[Job’s righteousness] be to You[God]?
What profit will I[Job] have, more than if I had sinned?’

Elihu quoted Job in verse 3. According to Elihu, Job asked God how his suffering helped God. Job also pointed out that if he was going to suffer even though he was righteous, then there was no benefit to being righteous.

Job 35:4 “I[Elihu] will answer you[Job],
And your friends with you.
Job 35:5 “Look at the heavens and see;
And behold the clouds — they are higher than you[Job].

In verse 5 Elihu reminded Job that the clouds are much higher than Job. In other words, Job was insignificant. Since Job was insignificant, Job couldn’t possibly do anything to hurt God or help God.

Job 35:6 “If you[Job] have sinned, what do you accomplish against Him[God]?
And if your transgressions are many, what do you do to Him?
Job 35:7 “If you[Job] are righteous, what do you give to Him[God],
Or what does He receive from your hand?
Job 35:8 “Your[Job] wickedness is for a man like yourself,
And your righteousness is for a son of man.

In verses 6-8 Elihu said that ultimately Job’s sin cannot hurt God and Job’s righteousness cannot help God. This would be true of all humans. The reason it is true is because we are nothing compared to God and He doesn’t need us at all. He can exist without us just as easily as He exists with us. Us trying to do something for God is like an ant trying to do something for humans. We cannot hurt God anymore than an ant can imprison a human.

Job 35:9 “Because of the multitude of oppressions they[men] cry out;
They cry for help because of the arm of the mighty.
Job 35:10 “But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
Who gives songs in the night,
Job 35:11 Who[God] teaches us[men] more than the beasts of the earth
And makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’

Verses 9-11: Even though men are oppressed and cry for help, they do not turn to God.

Job 35:12 “There they[men] cry out, but He[God] does not answer
Because of the pride of evil men.
Job 35:13 “Surely God will not listen to an empty cry,
Nor will the Almighty regard it.
Job 35:14 “How much less when you[Job] say you do not behold Him[God],
The case is before Him, and you must wait for Him!

Verses 12-14: God does not listen to prideful men; therefore, God will not listen to Job when Job whines that God doesn’t answer him immediately.

Job 35:15 “And now, because He[God] has not visited in His anger,
Nor has He acknowledged transgression well,
Job 35:16 So Job opens his mouth emptily;
He multiplies words without knowledge.”

Elihu ended by saying Job’s response to God’s silence was to speak ignorantly.

Humans cannot help nor hinder God.

The key verses in this passage are 3 and 6-8.

Job 35:3 “For you[Job] say, ‘What advantage will it[Job’s righteousness] be to You[God]?
What profit will I[Job] have, more than if I had sinned?’

Job 35:6 “If you[Job] have sinned, what do you accomplish against Him[God]?
And if your transgressions are many, what do you do to Him?
Job 35:7 “If you[Job] are righteous, what do you give to Him[God],
Or what does He receive from your hand?
Job 35:8 “Your[Job] wickedness is for a man like yourself,
And your righteousness is for a son of man.

Elihu believed humans cannot possibly do anything that helps or hinders God. If this is true, then what is the point of obeying God or serving Him? If we can’t help God, then what does it matter how we live our lives?

The author of Job did not indicate whether Elihu was right or wrong, he merely recorded what Elihu said; therefore, we can’t use this passage to answer that question.

God doesn’t need sacrifices nor temples.

In Psalm 50 God told the Israelites He doesn’t need food or drink.

Psa. 50:12 “If I were hungry I would not tell you,
For the world is Mine, and all it contains.
Psa. 50:13 “Shall I eat the flesh of bulls
Or drink the blood of male goats?

Through the prophet Isaiah God told the Israelites he doesn’t need a house to live in. Instead, God wants humility and fear.

Is. 66:1 Thus says the LORD,
“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?
Is. 66:2 “For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

The book of Acts tells us Paul taught this concept that God doesn’t need anything from humans.

Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;
Acts 17:25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;

God wants obedience.

1 Samuel 15 tells us God wants obedience more than anything else.

1Sam. 15:22 Samuel said,
“Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
1Sam. 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.

Notice verse 23. Rebellion against God is as bad as divination and idolatry.

Hosea taught that God wants obedience more than anything.

Hos. 6:6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Jesus told His disciples that obedience equals love.

John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me;

Elihu believed humans cannot do anything to help or hinder God. Psalms, Isaiah, and Acts teach that God doesn’t need sacrifices to eat and drink nor a temple to live in. 1 Samuel and Hosea teach us God wants obedience more than anything.

We need to focus on obedience.

The Bible places restrictions on women and divorcees. One of the arguments that has been used to minimize those restrictions is that women and divorced people have talent and ability that need to be used for serving God. However, as we saw in 1 Samuel 15, God wants obedience more than he wants our talents and abilities; therefore, it is more important for women and divorcees to follow the Bible’s restrictions than it is for them to use their talents and abilities.

“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”

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