“He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God,” reads the prelude to Elihu’s speech. Know what’s funny? When I first read the book, I liked Elihu the best. He seemed right on. But one of the few things we’re told about him is that he answered in anger, rather than love or compassion. We don’t get to hear anything else aside from him talk for a while after that because he lets no one butt in, but keeps telling people to shut their trap and listen to him. Very mature, Mr. Youngest-in-the-Group. But maybe I should give him grace. He did sit through Job and the old guys going back and forth for quite some time before he started talking. That would probably be enough to try any young man’s patience. But really, this kid takes it too far.
As I’m flipping through my notes, one thing that’s interesting is the way Elihu’s argument works out. The headings of my chapters read, “Elihu rebukes Job, Elihu asserts God’s justice, Elihu condemns Job, Elihu extols God’s greatness, Elihu proclaims God’s majesty.” It’s interesting to me that Elihu adopts his own condemnation of Job as God’s condemnation, and that God can only be great and majestic after Job has been condemned. Health and wealth theory, anyone?
Elihu was angry because Job wasn’t justifying God. Know what God has to say to Elihu and the other friends?
When God begins his answer to Job, he starts like this, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”
So apparently God doesn’t need people condemning for Him or justifying Him. Interesting.
Instead of telling Job to shut up and sit down (as his friends have been saying this whole time), God instead opens the forum for debate. “Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.”
God doesn’t address Job’s problems. He doesn’t go on the defense. Instead He launches into one of the most beautiful descriptions of creation in the Bible. Part of what’s so beautiful about this description is that it is a thousand small moments that are entirely perfect—the way an eagle soars, a baby deer, etc. These are majestic images of a God who loves his creation so intimately He sees all the heroism of a war horse, the untamable spirit of a wild ox, the vulnerability of a fawn, and it brings Him pleasure. He is the God who guides the constellations into place and directs the lightning. He is present. He is there.
The entire description is framed in questions. At the end of this first speech, God again asks for a response. “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”
And Job (for the first time, perhaps) has no answer.
The dialog continues. God asks, “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” This time, God isn’t asking questions. This time He tells Job to make himself into a god, “Then I will also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.”
God goes into questions again as he talks about the mighty fire-breathing crocodile (definitely a Biblical dragon, which means they were real). In the transition from questions back to statements, God says, “No one is so fierce that he dares to stir [the Biblical dragon that proves dragons exist] up. Who then is he who can stand before me? … Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”
What did Job have to say? Coming up next.