My intention this morning was to read just a piece of Elihu’s argument; however, I found I could not arbitrarily stop until reading the entire narrative. I’m really glad I did and I encourage anyone who has a chance to bathe in the beauty of these words as he argues against Job and his friends by painting an incredible portrait of our God, the Almighty, the Creator, the lover of my soul.
Elihu “became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him.” (Job 32:2-3)
Apparently, Elihu has been quietly waiting in the corner as his elders spoke, but he is no longer able to contain himself.
not one of you has proved Job wrong;
none of you has answered his arguments.
Elihu presents himself as one who is wise, even though he is young; one who will reveal the issues that no one else has been able to articulate. “My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know.” (Job 33:3). He’s being careful and respectful as he begins, but he is answering the call of the Spirit to speak truth.
God does all these things to a person—
twice, even three times—
to turn them back from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on them.
Elihu boldly tells Job to listen to his speech and if he has something to say to speak up. He sums up Job’s entire argument with this: “For he says, ‘There is no profit in trying to please God.’” (Job 34:9). Listen, men of old, and hear this clear message:
It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.
Who appointed him over the earth?
Who put him in charge of the whole world?
If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath,
all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust.
God is the Almighty, he is to be honored above all else. Elihu begins his argument by realigning his friends thoughts. To underscore the power and majesty of God, he presents these questions:
If you sin, how does that affect him?
If your sins are many, what does that do to him?
If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand?
The rhetorical question is answered in part in the next verse: “Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself, and your righteousness only other people.”
Here we have a very interesting theme presented in the middle of the mayhem: sin disrupts our fellowship. The moral right and wrong is not for adding to our heavenly reward account, it is for the body of Christ, for the building up of each other. How can we make disciples is we are focused otherwise? We simply can’t be effective. God doesn’t need our sacrifices and he certainly doesn’t need our approval.
Elihu makes the case against Job. God does not respond to the cries of the arrogant,
How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him,
that your case is before him and you must wait for him,
and further, that his anger never punishes and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.
So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words.”
The case against Job and his friends is a lengthy one, but here’s a wonderful verse to keep hidden in your heart:
God is mighty, but despises no one
Elihu continues his vivid description of God well into the next chapter, words that provide perspective, comfort and fear all at the same time. God is powerful, amazing, dancing in the lighting, bathing in the depths of oceans–God is so powerful and majestic while at the same time caring and compassionate. Awesome God indeed!
As he comes to a close of his colorful speech, Elihu leaves a question for Job:
“Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.”
All our troubles pale in comparison to God. This may not alleviate the temporary pain of this life, but when held in proper perspective, my cries out to God to explain himself to me fall short and, quite frankly, seem embarrassing. Who am I to question God? When I see the psalms question God, does that give me liberty to lash out at our Creator?
Lord, help me to hear the words of Elihu and learn. As the words flow through my mind this morning I am comforted, humbled, sad, elated, filled with joy and ashamed–all at the same time. In the end, though, I think I have regained some perspective on the present difficulties and my cup of hope is filled, even overflowing. Teach me, Lord, to share this with others. Help me to find words and actions that demonstrate this lesson.