Person: “Blah blah blah…I’m right.”
Person’s friends: “Blah, blah, blah…we’re right.”
Person: “Blah, blah, blah…this is what God is like….blah, blah…that’s why I’m right.”
Person’s friends: “Blah, blah, blah…no, this is what God is like….blah, blah…that’s why we’re right.”
Person’s friends: “Yeah, whatever.”
Have you ever heard this before? I have. But guess what? I just summed up 30 or so chapters of Job.
To recap the book of Job, God (for His glory and for the display of His worth) allows the devil to strike Job with every disaster, calamity, heartache and sickness he could. Job lost his family, possesions and health all in a reasonably short time, yet the Bible states that Job’s first reponses to these disasters were righteous. Then for the next 30 chapters, Job and his friends argue theology on why all of this happened. Job’s friends believe that it’s judgment for his sin and Job declares himself righteous and that God had no reason/right to do all that was done to him. Finally, many speeches later, the Bible says:
The words of Job are ended. So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. (Job 31:40 – 32:1)
I have seen these sentences over and over again in real life. There are people who God decides to refine and while they respond rightly at first, they slowly over time become offended with God, questioning His ways and His rights. Then you have the people and friends who judge that offended person stating that they deserved it or something. All of this does nothing to glorify God. In the name of “comforting people” or “exposing the truth” we are taking the focus off of God.
The problem is that many of the people arguing about what God is like don’t know what God is like. They think He is like them while He is totally other than.
That’s why I love Job 32-39. After Job and his friends stop speaking, a young man named Elihu speaks up. According to his opening words, he’s been there the entire time. In all the debating he decided to let the older ones speak first since their age can mean they may be more wise, but when he realizes that no one has answered rightly nor spoke of God rightly, he became righteously angry.
Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong. Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger. (Job 32:2-5)
Elihu then goes on a long speech describing what God is really like. At the end of his sermon, he gives us this truth about God:
Behold, God is great, and we know him not. (Job 36:26)
He then launches many questions at Job challenging his knowledge and understanding of who God is. Elihu asks Job things like:
Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancingst of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge, you whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind? Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror? (Job 37:14-18)
After Elihu finishes his speech declaring the sovereignty of God, this is what the Bible says:
Then (!!!) the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”
During the whole book of Job while Job and his friends are arguing, God is shown to never say a word. But once someone steps up and defends who God is rightly, He shows up and settles everything. At the end of the book, God calls Job on his arrogance and his friends on not speaking right of Him…but He never calls out Elihu. Some say that Elihu was so wrong that God just ignored him since he was young, but God has no problem correcting people, regardless of their age. I believe the only one who spoke rightly of God in the book of Job was Elihu. This is confirmed since many of the things Elihu says are directly repeated by God Himself. I think that’s a pretty good sign that you’re speaking rightly of God.
I long for the spirit of Elihu to rise up in our churches especially among young people; a spirit that knows God but above all realizes that He is God. I see it happening more and more with the Reformed/New Calvinism movement that’s sweeping this nation. I desire people to stand in the face of tribulation and disaster and claim to the masses that “our God is in heaven and He does all that He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)
In this age of enlightment and postmodernism, there is a tendency in the church to explain and understand everything. Yet the Lord cannot be explained or fully understood. He says in Isaiah:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Even Paul, when asked if God was unjust in predestining people to hell says:
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:19-20)
We must reclaim a higher/right view of God. I am reminded by what Beth Moore once stated at a college conference:
If ever in your pursuit of higher knowledge God gets smaller in your mind, you are being deceived.
I am praying that God would stir many to start speaking of God rightly in situations and conversations. I believe, like in the story of Job and Elihu, that when one starts speaking rightly of God, it invites God to come and speak the final word. God loves and is drawn when people speak rightly of Him. Sometimes we must look at people, troubles and even ourselves and say “God is sovereign. We gotta deal with it.” God isn’t pleased when we put Him on trial, but the Lord delights when, in the midst of suffering, we declare that He is good and right in doing all that He has done.