God created you not mainly to do things for him, but to delight in him. The more we enjoy God, the most he is honored, and our very purpose in life is fulfilled.
“If you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.”
These are the words of Eliphaz in Job 22:24–26, spoken to his friend Job. Job had lost all ten of his children in one night. All of his livestock was dead or stolen. His wife had turned against God. And he was covered with boils. His friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, had sat with him for seven days in silence (Job 2:13). But now they were speaking. “If you lay gold in the dust . . . the Almighty will be your gold. . . . Then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.”
When Job’s trial was over we read this: “The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has’” (Job 42:7). And yet, what could be more right, or more beautiful, than to say to someone, “If you lay gold in the dust, the Almighty will be your gold, and you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God”?
I regard that sentence as true and beautiful and right. Because you can find that truth all over the Scriptures. Compared to God and his infinite value and preciousness, all the gold in the world is like dust. That is true. And therefore, in him, you can have more delight, more enjoyment, more pleasure than you can find in all the gold at Fort Knox or in all that it can buy.
And yet when Eliphaz spoke these words to Job God was angry. Why? Because he used them as an indictment against Job. In the preceding verse Eliphaz said, “If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents . . .” (Job 22:23). Eliphaz and his friends could not conceive that Job was a man of justice and that he loved God more than he loved gold, because if he had been a man of justice and a man who loved God supremely, he would not be suffering this much.
And in that, they were dead wrong. And God was angry with them, because they took truth and turned it into a cruel indictment against a good man because they did not think that such suffering and such goodness could be in the same person. And they were wrong. And God was angry.
The reason I am beginning here with these words of Eliphaz is that I want to talk about the truth that he spoke, and I want you to be aware that it is possible for me to speak about this truth in a way that would make God angry. I want to heighten your vigilance as you listen. I want you to realize that every time you hear someone speak, the true things they speak may be mingled with false things. True things may be spoken along with half-truths. True things may be spoken from a proud, unloving heart. True things may be spoken in cruel ways. True things may be spoken that are out of balance with other truths. It is possible for a Christian preacher to be like Eliphaz.
I have alerted myself, and I am alerting you: it is possible to speak truth about the preciousness of God and about delighting in God in ways that make God angry. I am putting your minds on high alert, lest you remove every biblical filter from your brain and become like a mere sponge to everything you hear.
When you lift your hands in passionate praise at this gathering, you are not being asked to turn off your brains. You are being summoned to think clearly about the truth of the lyrics you sing, and you are being summoned to feel deeply about the beauties of Jesus Christ. And that is true of this message as well. I want you to think carefully and feel deeply.