Meditations in Job : 65. Elihu’s Final Words
Job 37:23,24 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?
In verses 27 to 33 of chapter 36 Elihu has considered God’s greatness in the light of what He does in terms of nature, the elements. As we start chapter 37 he expresses his own heart about this: “At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place. Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.” (v.1,2) Now much of what follows is an extension of this, as he comments on various elements of God’s activity, and as he speaks about the lighting and thunder (v.3-5), the snow, rain and ice (v.6-13).
But then, following on from this, he asks Job if he has the same knowledge that God has? “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. Do you know how God controls the clouds” (v.14,15) He expands this in verses 14 to 18 and then asks Job if, in the light of God’s greatness, any of us dare question Him: “Tell us what we should say to him; we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness. Should he be told that I want to speak? Would any man ask to be swallowed up?” (v.19,20). Really, he is saying, when you think about God’s greatness, it is stupid to dare to challenge Him; He’s in a different league to us!
Think about it, he continues, “Now no one can look at the sun, bright as it is in the skies after the wind has swept them clean.” (v.21) i.e. can anyone look at the sun in a clear sky? Of course not! So what about the Lord? “Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty.” (v.22) When His glory comes we realise that likewise we cannot even look at Him (implied).
His conclusion? “The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.” (v.23) i.e. God is so great that He is beyond our reach and in His unchanging righteousness, He always does good and therefore never oppresses people – that we need to trust in! What should be our response to Him? “Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?” (v.24) We should just revere and worship Him without question for He is so much greater than us that he can disregard what we think is wisdom, what we think ins the right path, for His knowledge and wisdom is so great that He KNOWS what is the right path (implied).
Thus we come to the end of the six chapters of Elihu’s speaking. Whether it was just one long speech or several broken speeches is not fully clear, but as he moves through from arguing against what he has heard Job say, eventually he comes to consider the Lord Himself, and in that he concludes, there’s nothing more to say. When you think of it, the Lord is so great and we are so small, that any thought of us trying to hold God to account is really futile! When anyone reads the Bible and sees the works of God, then they will see One who is so much greater than us that He defies definition. We can say that He is the Designer-Creator of the world and that He upholds and maintains this world, we can say that He is all-wise and all-knowing and all-powerful and all-loving, but beyond that we become unwise if we try to go much further. His goodness and salvation was revealed through His Son, Jesus Christ, and all of this shows us – if we have eyes to see – that if we want to argue with God, we are really very silly!
At the end of the book Job eventually says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5,6) Once he encountered the Lord he knew how stupid he had been to argue. When Isaiah had a vision of the Lord he declared, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isa 6:5) When the apostle Peter caught a glimpse of who Jesus was, he cried out: “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Lk 5:8) When Ezekiel saw something of God in a vision, we read, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown.” (Ezek 1:28) When the apostle John saw the risen Jesus in a vision, he recorded, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” (Rev 1:17)
The testimony of Scripture is consistent and we would do well to heed it and ensure we are not like those foolish atheists who dare to challenge Almighty God, for again the testimony about Jesus is very clear: “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 1:9-11) One day EVERY knee will bow. Why make it worse with foolish words now?