The wisest thing you’ve said so far
“Therefore men fear Him; He does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.“ – Job 37:24 ESV
OK, I’ve officially had enough of Elihu. He is a highly eloquent, but loquacious young man who just doesn’t know when to shut up. While he has a lot of wonderful things to say about God in these two chapters, he still will not relent in his attacks on Job. He accuses Job of wickedness and assures him that he is suffering at the hand of God for his sinful actions. He tells Job to repent of his sins and all will go well with him. “If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant” (Job 36:11 NLT). Elihu’s is a simple and simplistic view of God. He keeps talking about the majesty and incomprehensibility of God, yet he seems to have God boxed in and figured out. He alone knows the ways of God. He even brags that he speaks on behalf of God. “Be patient with me a little longer and I will instruct you, for I still have words to speak on God’s behalf” (Job 36:2 NET). He even brags that his wisdom is perfect and complete. “For in truth, my words are not false; it is one complete in knowledge who is with you” (Job 36:4 NET). But the wisest and most accurate thing Elihu says is found in the last thing he says. “Therefore men fear Him; He does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit” (Job 37:24 ESV).
If only Elihu would listen to his own counsel. Here is a young man who is wise in his own conceit. Not only does he have Job figured out, he has a handle on God as well. For all his spouting about God’s majesty and power, his god is really a small, petty, vengeful and reactionary god. But his god is not the God of the Bible. He doesn’t know or understand the ways of God. None of us do. Just about the time we think we have Him figured out, He surprises us. We will never know His ways. We can never predict His actions. But we can rest assured in His character. He is a loving God. He is a holy God. He is a righteous God. He is a God of judgment. But He is also a God of mercy. Where we get into trouble is when we start trying to determine what He is doing in the world or in the lives of those we know. We can jump to wrong conclusions and assume things like the earthquakes in Haiti or Chile were to punish them for their sins. We don’t know that. We can’t assume that. We cannot claim that. Because we do NOT know. Rather than try to figure out the why, we need to ask God what and how. What does He want us to do about it? How does He want us to react to it? We know God has a purpose. We know He has a plan. Our job is not to try and figure out the cause of what has happened, but to reach out in love and compassion to those who are caught in the midst of it.
I have no problem with Job’s friends pointing out that Job MIGHT have sinned and that his suffering is a result of that sin. But once Job denied it, they needed to move on and help Job seek God in the midst of it all. They needed to point Job back to God and keep him focused on the mercy and love of God. We need to do the same with those in our lives. We need to do the same with ourselves as we go through difficult times. Instead of looking for the reason behind what we are going through, we need to look for the God who is ultimately in charge of all that goes on in the world. We need to ask Him to examine our hearts, expose anything that needs exposing, but more importantly, open our eyes so that we might better see Him.
Father, help us to look for you in any and all circumstances. Not as our judge or executioner, but as a loving Father who has nothing but our best interest at heart. Help us to focus on You and not the circumstance. Help us to see You instead of searching for explanations. May we learn to be true friends and godly counselors to those you bring in our paths. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men