Job and his three friends are still silent as Elihu preaches on…and on and on and on. He threw Job’s words back in his face…I am innocent and What have I gained by obeying God. Job did make the first statement but the second is not accurate. Never did Job make a bargain with the evil one. That is what the evil one said Job would do, but he never did. Eliphaz had already gone down this road earlier in chapter 22, and he came to the conclusion that neither man’s piety or his inequity would make any difference in the character of God. Still Elihu thought it was necessary to dredge it up once again. Elihu asked his listeners to look up to the heavens and see how far away the clouds were and imagine how much farther away from them God was. Nothing man might do could possibly travel that far and change God in heaven.
Next Elihu asked the listeners to look at human society. Now, our sins or good works just might change things here. He reminded people that God grieves over man’s sins and is happy when we are obedient or faithful, but we cannot bribe God. Our mistakes cannot and do not threaten God. His character is the same regardless of what we might do or not do. Elihu’s self-importance reached new highs as we moved into chapter 36. Perhaps the people listening in were getting restless. He had been speaking along time, so he asked them to bear with him for just a bit longer. He told everyone listening that he got his knowledge from afar. So, either he is boasting of wide knowledge again or getting his knowledge right from heaven. Calling himself one perfect in knowledge shows no evidence of humility whatsoever.
Elihu maintained that God is mighty and does not despise men but keeps His purpose. That purpose is to punish the wicked and help the afflicted. Next, he contrasts God’s dealings with the arrogant wicked and the afflicted righteous. The wicked are put to death and the righteous receive justice. Job thought God was ignoring him, but God keeps His eyes on the righteous and eventually transforms their circumstances. He lifts them from the ash heap to the throne. God sets them free from their chains. He chastens those of us that He might correct us and teach us the right way to live. If we learn our lesson and obey, God will bless us once again. If we rebel, He will destroy us. Elihu spoke of those who were unclean, most likely referring to male shrine prostitutes. He chose this image as a picture of the very depths of shame and sin. The wicked not only die young, but they die in shame.
In his best self important wisdom Elihu saw dangers ahead for Job and he was more than willing to share them. He was worried that Job might look for some shortcut for getting himself out of trouble and in doing so he would miss the message God had for him. Elihu thought someone with money might try to buy Job out of trouble, which is interesting since no one wanted anything to do with Job. His second fear for Job was that he would take his own life. Job had often spoken of a longing to die. Job even spoke often about night and darkness but Job was a man of great faith and he wasn’t about to not enter into the Lord’s presence uninvited. Elihu was also worried that Job would simply give up, forget about God, and enter into a life of sin. But again, Job was a man of faith and he was intentional about avoiding evil and sin. Remember he always offered up sacrifices for his kids after they had a feast just in case they might have committed a sin. Lastly, Elihu encouraged Job to find a new vision of the greatness of God and start praising Him. Elihu went back again to his premise that God wants to teach us through our suffering and in those sufferings we are to thank and praise Him. The last part of Elihu’s speech was to tell Job and anyone still listening that God is great and we do not know Him. He illustrated this with works of nature and how God controlled the seasons. Elihu actually had a pretty good grasp of the water cycle of nature. He described the storm and how it is formed. He began with the formation of clouds followed by the release of power by the lightening and the sound of thunder. For Elihu the lightening was the weapon of God and the thunder His voice. Storms reminded Elihu of God’s sovereignty and goodness. From the autumn storms comes the winter ice and snow. What we would refer to as meteorological events, Elihu saw as evidence of the work of Almighty God. He described the warmer winds in the spring that began to thaw the snow and ice and the south wind, the scirocco, that brings the stifling heat. The sky resembles brass, with no rain in sight and the heat is oppressive. It wasn’t that Elihu was applying for a job as the local stations weatherman. He was trying to get Job to understand how little he really knew about God and how mighty God really is.
Elihu followed this up with three rhetorical questions. Could Job explain these things? Could Job control them? And finally, if you cannot explain these everyday things of nature how will you ever prepare a court case to defend yourself before God? Elihu followed this with a warning. Challenging God could very well lead Job to get swallowed up by God’s judgement. You cannot even look at the sun but you want to meet God face to face? Job remained silent. He had already come to the same conclusion in chapter 28 after he pondered the works of the Lord in the world.
With all of his lack of humility and verbosity, Elihu did have a few good things to say. Job needed to hear some of what Elihu said. Elihu’s use of the rhetorical questions was preparation for the 77 questions God will ask Job. And unlike his three friends, Elihu assessed Job’s problem accurately. Job’s actions may have been right, he was not the sinner his three friends accused him of being…but his attitude was wrong. Job was not exactly the saint he saw himself to be. As time progressed Job was slowly moving to a defiant, self righteous attitude that was not healthy at all. It was this know it all attitude that God will expose and destroy when He appears to Job to question him. God does not acknowledge Elihu but he was helpful to Job. Unfortunately, Job wound not accept it.
In the east you can see a storm brewing miles away and you can watch it develop as it approaches. It is possible that while Elihu was speaking, an actual storm was brewing in the distance; and when he finished speaking the storm broke over the people. And God was in this storm, the very storm He spoke to Job out of. Now Job will get exactly what he has been asking for…a personal meeting with God. The question is…is he ready…and are you?
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W