Tonight seemed like a good time for “candy.” By that I mean, a favorite passage in scripture. Turning to the book of Job to see again what a great and amazing God we serve,[these words ‘great’ and ‘amazing’ seem trite and empty in light of modern usage, but consider again what words can better describe our God!!] I looked at Elihu’s message.
Elihu was a proper young man. He waited for days to speak and those who had much more age than himself to give their opinions. He gave ear to the reasons given by some “very old” men who were renowned for their wisdom, and listened while they tried in vain to convince Job of the sin which had caused his trial. Further, he listened as Job, again in vain, tried to convince them that he had done nothing wrong.
After all this waiting, through 29 recorded chapters of speeches, Elihu opens his mouth and speaks for the next 5 chapters [33 – 38]. The other men had by this time ceased to answer Job because “he was righteous in his own eyes,” so finally Elihu had a turn.
Elihu’s passage opens with the Holy Spirit’s commentary on Elihu’s anger, explaining in no uncertain terms that Elihu was angry… with everyone. With Job because he justified himself rather than God, and with his friends because they condemned Job even though they found no answer.
This is where I paused, went back, and read again. Elihu was not reproved by the Lord at the end of the book, in fact, it was directly after Elihu spoke that God answered. Elihu was justly wrathful because of the wrong focus everyone had. Elihu accurately diagnosed Job’s malady. He was trying to justify himself rather than God.
Job was busy throughout his life living for God as an Old Testament saint would through good works, yet when one day his life fell apart, he stopped, looked inward, and tried to find what was wrong with him. He was righteous enough to not doubt God, yet he could see no reason why God would be ‘punishing’ him. His friends came and, knowing the knowledge of the time as they did, proposed that Job sinned. Again and again they argued that Job sinned, and he tried to show that he had not any more than others.
In all this, Job and his 3 friends were missing the forest for the trees. They were looking at what Job had done wrong, or not done wrong, but Elihu put the focus in the right place. He was angry with Job because he was trying take the blame finger away from himself when he should have been trying to bring glory to God. Have you ever done this? I find it quite easy to do. When life doesn’t go as we expect, we stop and take stock of the situation, often looking inward to see what we might have done wrong. This is what Job did. What he should have done instead was to look to see how he could continue to live in a way that would bring glory to God. It appears from other passages in the book that Job felt to a certain degree that his time of usefulness for God was over since his prosperity was gone. While this idea was common then, and continues to flow from the mouths of wealthy prosperity gospel teachers today, it is far from the truth. God allowed this trial in Job’s life in order to more fully achieve the purpose for which he was created – bringing glory to God and fellowshipping with Him.
With the first reason for Elihu’s anger, I find myself condemned with Job. His second reason for being angry was that Job’s 3 friends condemned Job, even though they did not find an answer. It seems that they saw a problem, and applied their experience to it with a kind of herd mentality. They had all lived a long time and all repeatedly saw that God judges the wicked. Therefore, when they saw what appeared to be supernatural intervention in a negative way, the immediate assumption was that Job was being judged for wickedness. This answer did not fit in this situation, yet they continued to try to make square Job fit in their round hole. It is a caution to us to not immediately assume causality from probability. In all probability they were right, but they had not thoroughly considered all the options and so ended up wrong. It is easy for us to see people who live in different ways and immediately peg them as a certain kind of person.
Case in point, I’ve been enjoying some studies on basic Bible interpretation recently, yet sadly, much of it is new to me. Based on that statement, you could assume that I am not [or have not] been much interested in Bible study in the past, however, that would be an untrue assumption. Rather, I’ve been to a certain degree lazy, and to another degree missing certain truths either through a lack of teachers teaching on these subjects, or else to a sad lack of understanding among a great many of our current teachers in some relatively elementary Biblical principles.
Job’s friends could not see how his situation was not judgment from the Lord, and he could not see the Lord for himself. Both are easy pits to fall into, but if fallen into, relatively easy to recover from. Elihu and God both seem to have prescribed the same solution. Look to God, study His creation, Who He is, and the history of His dealings with mankind. Elihu was justly wrathful. Job and his friends had their focus wrong. Would he have equal reason to be wroth with us today?