6 “For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
7 He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
8 Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13 Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen.
14 “Hear this, O Job;
stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
15 Do you know how God lays his command upon them
and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
16 Do you know the balancings of the clouds,
the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,
17 you whose garments are hot
when the earth is still because of the south wind?
18 Can you, like him, spread out the skies,
hard as a cast metal mirror?
19 Teach us what we shall say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.
20 Shall it be told him that I would speak?
Did a man ever wish that he would be swallowed up?
21 “And now no one looks on the light
when it is bright in the skies,
when the wind has passed and cleared them.
22 Out of the north comes golden splendor;
God is clothed with awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty—we cannot find him;
he is great in power;
justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.
24 Therefore men fear him;
he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.” – Job 37:6-24 ESV
Elihu continues his impassioned defense of God by emphasizing His sovereignty over creation. This God of whom Job has taken issue is the same God who controls the weather and, by extension, all created life. God is behind every storm and every drop of rain. He produces thunder, lightning, ice, wind, heat, and cold from His throne room in heaven, controlling the fates of all living creatures. Their habitats are directly impacted by His sovereign will and their well-being is under His providential control.
“He directs the snow to fall on the earth
and tells the rain to pour down.
Then everyone stops working
so they can watch his power.
The wild animals take cover
and stay inside their dens.” – Job 37:6-8 NLT
It’s not difficult to discern the point behind Elihu’s lofty rhetoric. This young man has not gotten distracted or forgotten about Job. This entire speech is intended to drive home his disdain for Job’s continued demand for an audience with God. Elihu finds Job’s personalized approach to God to be offensive. In his estimation, Job has gotten too comfortable with his relationship with the Almighty and has lost sight of His glory and splendor. Job is too demanding and has become far too casual in his conversations with Yahweh. He treats God like a peer when he should be cowering in fear and begging for mercy.
But Job and Elihu have strikingly different understandings of God. For Job, God is all-powerful, but also intimate and personal. He cares about the plight of His children and hears them when they call to Him. This is what has Job so perplexed and confused. He has suffered greatly and call out repeatedly, but God has not responded. His caring and compassionate God is acting in a way that is contrary to his nature.
Job is not demanding anything from God. He is simply asking for clarity on his circumstances. He wants to know why he is suffering and when he might expect to find relief. Job’s cries to God are not meant to be disrespectful; they are simply the impassioned pleas of a desperate man who longs to find relief and restoration. A quick review of Job’s comments provides insight into his thinking and the motivation behind his heartfelt cries to God.
“What I always feared has happened to me.
What I dreaded has come true.
I have no peace, no quietness.
I have no rest; only trouble comes.” – Job 3:25-26 NLT
“At least I can take comfort in this:
Despite the pain,
I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
But I don’t have the strength to endure.
I have nothing to live for.” – Job 6:10-11 NLT
“My days fly faster than a weaver’s shuttle.
They end without hope.
O God, remember that my life is but a breath,
and I will never again feel happiness.” – Job 7:6-7 NLT
“If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
O watcher of all humanity?
Why make me your target?
Am I a burden to you?
Why not just forgive my sin
and take away my guilt?
For soon I will lie down in the dust and die.
When you look for me, I will be gone.” – Job 7:20-21 NLT
Job was not being disrespectful; he was being brutally honest. The unbearable nature of his pain and loss had left him in dire need of expiation or an explanation. He wanted to know the why behind his suffering. Why had he lost his entire fortune? Why had all ten of his adult children died in a freak accident? Why had his reputation been dragged through the mud and his integrity been destroyed by the unjust comments of former friends? Why had God not intervened or simply destroyed him? If Job had done something worthy of all this devastation, why had God not left him alive? If he was innocent, why would God not come to his defense and acquit him of all the false charges against him?
But Job wasn’t stupid. He knew God was holy, righteous, and transcendent. The Almighty was not a man whom Job could order to appear in court and answer for His actions.
“…how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?
If someone wanted to take God to court,
would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?
For God is so wise and so mighty.
Who has ever challenged him successfully?” – Job 9:2-3 NLT
Since God is the righteous Judge of the universe, Job knew he stood no chance of successfully arguing his case or achieving an acquittal.
“God is not a mortal like me,
so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
If only there were a mediator between us,
someone who could bring us together.” – Job 9:32-33 NLT
These statements reveal that Job had a deep respect for God but they also display the depth of his despair. He knew God was his only hope but he felt as if he had no access to the only One who could justify or judge him. Among his friends, Job’s guilt was a foregone conclusion. It was an open-and-shut case that left no room for denial or debate. Yet, Job kept reaching out to God for a second and more vital opinion on the matter.
Then there was Elihu. His view of God was admirable and, for the most part, accurate. He saw God as a powerful and unparalleled in glory. He was the transcendent God who ruled over all creation and reigned in mighty and majesty. He was without equal and worthy of honor and obedience. Elihu’s God was completely righteous and always right. He was free to do as He pleased and whatever He did was just and fair. No one should dare to question His ways or doubt the efficacy of his actions. That’s why Elihu took exception with Job’s constant complaints aimed at the Almighty. As far as Elihu was concerned, Job was out of bounds and way over his head.
And Elihu kept trying to remind Job that his circumstances were the result of God’s divine judgment. He was in this predicament because he had failed to show God proper respect.
“The clouds churn about at his direction.
They do whatever he commands throughout the earth.
He makes these things happen either to punish people
or to show his unfailing love.” – Job 37:12-13 NLT
From everything else Elihu has said, it’s doubtful that he believed Job was the recipient of God’s unfailing love. All the evidence was stacked in the favor of God’s judgment. It was obvious to Elihu, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that Job was guilty and deserving of everything that had happened. These four men had no idea what Job had done to merit such a harsh punishment from God but they were convinced that he had done something.
As Elihu begins to wrap up his lengthy and meandering speech, he devolves into the use of sarcasm, attempting to humiliate and belittle Job.
“So teach the rest of us what to say to God.
We are too ignorant to make our own arguments.
Should God be notified that I want to speak?
Can people even speak when they are confused?” – Job 37:19-20 NLT
He mocks Job for his incessant demands for an audience with God. In Elihu’s estimation, Job is a fool at best and a blasphemer at worst. He views Job as an ignorant sinner who has no respect for the God of the universe and is destined to suffer the consequences for his impiety and immorality.
In a false display of compassion, Elihu encourages Job to change his ways and show God the respect and honor he deserves.
“We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty;
but even though he is just and righteous,
he does not destroy us.
No wonder people everywhere fear him.
All who are wise show him reverence.” – Job 37:23-24 NLT
But this will prove to be the last words that Elihu or his companions will speak. Their time to pontificate and postulate is over. Now they will hear from the One for whom they claimed to be speaking. The very God whom they thought they knew was about to expose the ignorance of their ways. And much to their shock, God would begin His speech by addressing Job directly. Their friend would get his wish. The transcendent, all-powerful God of the universe had heard Job’s cries and was ready to speak.
But what comes next will prove to be a surprise to all the parties involved. Everyone, including Job, is about to get a lecture from God that will leave them at a loss for words and in need of an overhaul of their theology.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.