The Book of Job-Chapter Thirty-Six:
"Elihu Continues"

Maybe he should just stop. But he doesn't:

 

Verses 1-2: "Elihu also proceeded, and said, Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf."


This young man is confused. Ah, such is youth (but not always, and not always just the young are confused!). Things get confusing if we assume too much power unto ourselves when we attempt to share God's message.


Verse 3:
"I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker."


It's a short trip from righteousness to arrogance. That's what's happening here. Listen to this one:

Verse 4: "For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee."


But this isn't about slamming young Elihu or anybody else. That isn't the point we need to make. You see, this kind of arrogance happens in my ministry too. I might not state my arrogance as openly as Elihu did, but if I'm not cautious, I'll start to deny God's power and promote my own. I'm learning the hard way, daily, that ministry driven by ego, fear, greed, etc. won't stand the test of time. Not for Elihu or any of us. It's not that God doesn't want us to minister with confidence and energy, but this spiritual arrogance often has harmful unintended consequences. But Elihu
has not kept his ego in check. And something in him (and it's not something good) just won't stop. This is yet another road to spiritual havoc, and I well know of it. I confess to you, beloved, and to the Lord that I can identify with this young man.

Verses 5-9: "Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom. He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor. He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted. And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction; Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded."

He's singing Job the same old refrain: "You have suffered because of your hidden sins." Job doesn't even try to respond anymore. Maybe he's exhausted from all the attacks we've heard in this book. Wouldn't you be?

Verses 10-14: "He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity. If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge. They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean."

Even if Job may have tuned him out by now, we will see that God is still listening to Elihu as He has been to all the speakers all along. Job is the target of Elihu's attack, but God is being defamed also. This is an unintended consequence of Elihu's arrogance. If Job is being disciplined by his Lord in this manner when we know God said that Job actually was a "righteous man," well, that makes the Heavenly Father sort an abusive parent, doesn't it? You can't have it both ways. That's a problem in the ministry when we try to create OUR own theology. It skews the very Image of God.

Elihu's final rant begins. And he will barely pause to breath until we reach the end of the next chapter. Then, at last, a new speaker will join the dialogue. I will outline Elihu's statements, as best I can, in parenthesis:

(I. For his many transgressions Job must now come to God in fear - God wants to be feared more than understood, anyway:)

Verses 15-19: "He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression. Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness. But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgment and justice take hold on thee. Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee. Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength."

(II. Job's righteousness and faith have been a masquerade all along. His suffering is a natural and righteous outcome and there is no mystery in it:)

Verses 20-25: "Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place. Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction. Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him? Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity? Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold. Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off."

(III. Major Bible translators disagree rather sharply on this final passage of chapter 36. Here the KJV seems to reinforce a description of God we've seen before as a detached juggernaut of power. Others (NIV, RSV, etc.) interpret Him more as One firing out lightning bolts, thirsty for revenge. Angry and deadly accurate:)

Verses 26-33: "Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out. For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly. Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle? Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea. For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance. With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt. The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour."

Either way, regardless of its translation into English, I just don't buy it. For me this serves only as evidence of a ministry that has gone off the rails. We need better than this, and will have it. But first we must bear with Elihu just a little longer and glean what we can.

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