Elihu’s words are completely unexpected. And that’s the way God works. When you are hurting and in pain, when your life is too stressful and confused, we desperately want to find the key to bring restoration, to find the right class, read the right book, do the right thing to find peace. But there is no formula. I might be able to pass on to you good advice, wise practices, but ultimate peace and reconciliation is totally between you and God – and you have no choice but to look to him and be amazed as to how he will bring you peace, who he will use, what circumstances God will knit together.
Let’s look at Elihu….Job’s other three friends droned on and on with hollow answers. “Just get over it” people sometimes say -- it is not that easy. “It could be worse,” somehow doesn’t perk you up when you are depressed. “It’s your own fault” is hardly words of comfort. Elihu is different. Of the four friends, the first three are reprimanded by God (READ Job 42:7) but not Elihu. Elihu is different. Six chapters are given to Elihu to speak, the longest portion of the book, even longer than God’s upcoming speech.
I love the transition verse from the three friends of Job to Elihu (READ 32:1)…. Perhaps what Elihu has to say fits the arguments of Job because of the timing, / a fresh voice that is heard, perhaps it is a sincerity on the part of Elihu for he is quite passionate, even angry (READ 32:2-3), but it is more than any of that. Elihu makes sense! Elihu has his finger on the pulse of Job’s distress and he has insight none of the others have. Elihu reveals the wide open secret: God himself.
When your heart is bruised, the worst is for pain and depression to become a way of life... I remember the day when I was 9-10 years old, and I fell (jumped, actually) off the roof of the CR parsonage, I sprained my ankle, the pain was severe, and I was carried over to our house to the couch and my mother hovered and she was a pushover bringing me a blanket and food and looking so worried, it was nice. Then an hour later my mean father came home, he took one look at me and laughed. He wasn’t going to let me feel sorry for myself. That’s what Elihu does for Job. He refused to let Job settle for glibness, discouragement as a way of life, and his words cause Job to lift up his eyes to God himself, to get outside of his own little answers and gain a healthy perspective of God.
God is the answer we miss so easily. When our heart is bruised we dance all around the answer, trying to make ourselves feel better, looking for the right words, blaming anybody that says the wrong thing. Elihu has a different way. He points to God as the answer.
Back to Elihu… READ Job 32:4-12… Elihu is the surprise, the human hero of the book in some ways. Elihu reminds me of another New Testament character: John the Baptist. John the Baptist’s purpose was to prepare the people and point the way to Jesus Christ: John 1:29: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’” This is what Elihu does for Job: points the way to God.
Job’s Sin To understand Elihu’s message, you have to understand Job’s sin. Job’s sin is really rather simple. The sin of Job is common today when we struggle. Job was wounded, and in his pain and suffering, rather than go to God for comfort he blamed God. I deserved none of this! Job declares over and over and over again, and in the process he blames God for his misery. Here is one line wonderfully demonstrating Job’s sin: “God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me” (Job 30:11) That may be the way Job feels, but it’s not true, but the biggest problem is that Job in the process of blaming God is pushing God away. God is the only one that can bring healing to Job, and instead Job pushes God away. I boldly call this sin, because that is the very essence of sin – to put a wedge between ourselves and God. When people get angry with God, blame God, rewrite God into their own image: “a loving God would never _________”
Satan is at the heart of the problem with Job – we were let in on that heavenly exchange in the first few chapters of the book, and Job blames God. He gets it wrong! The first three friends of Job were filled with hollow answers that made no sense: it’s really Job’s fault, be thankful its not worse, just accept your lot in life – Elihu gets angry, and like John the Baptist, he points the way to God, not as the one to explain, to rationalize, to figure out – Elihu points the way to God for Job’s salvation. Comfort. Elihu is unexpected, the youngest, never expected to speak, yet the Lord filled him with wisdom for the moment. John the Baptist spent his days in the desert, “wore clothing made of camel’s hair…ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6). The unexpected. God will use the unexpected to bring healing to your broken heart, it cannot be planned, but you can anticipate. Look to God to bring the right person, the right “coincidence,” healing words, to transform you and change you. Perhaps you will be somebody else’s Elihu/John the Baptist, pointing the way to Jesus Christ, for those that are struggling and questioning God, the very one you are blaming and trying to fit into your box, is the one that will bring you comfort and strength. I am thinking maybe this is even a primary role for the church, to be the Elihu of Sumas, to point the way to God…. Listen to the wise words of Elihu: Job 33:8-9, 10-17. Elihu’s counsel is to listen for the voice of God, a vision in the night, later in Job 35:10, Elihu refers to God giving songs in the night. The counsel to bring healing of a bruised heart is to listen for the songs of God, to cling to the angel, one in a thousand, be amazed by even the tiniest of glimpses of a vision of what God is doing.
Healing begins through the vision of God. The most amazing people are those who are clearly imperfect in body or spirit, yet the see God’s vision for them, a joy in their heart. It’s not the quality of their body, the human strength, the perfect life that makes men and women complete and whole, it’s the spirit of God poured into us through God’s spirit, an awareness and acceptance of God who created us. Job 36:13-16 is worth reading again…
Underline the word “wooing.” I will vote for this verse as one of the amazing verses of Job, perhaps a key to understanding. Like a young man trying to attact the attention of a young girl, God is wooing us to his side, when we have a bruised heart, the answer is not to turn away from God trying to figure him out and putting him in a box of our design, the answer is not to come to some greater understanding, the answer is to respond to God, draw closer to him, for he is wooing us in our distress, this is ALWAYS TRUE, no matter how we feel. We get mad at God for allowing heartache, but God is wooing us, because he loves us, cares for us, God is NOT our enemy when we are wounded, God is wooing us to himself.
Elihu continues with a vision from God for Job: “the comfort of your table laden with choice foods.” The wonderful news is that Elihu, at last, is speaking Job’s language. Sprinkled through-out Job’s words is are some amazing glimpses of hope – wonderful statements of faith from a wounded man, but that is the Easter message in two weeks. Elihu builds upon Job’s most positive moments and encourages him to dare to be an optimist, dare to lift up his eyes to heaven: “Look up to the heavens and see…” (Job 35:5). Elihu’s are needed because the easy way out is to be a pessimist, to see everything that is wrong, to be lazy and complain, and that is human to see everything that is wrong, but Elihu says to look up to heaven, do not look within at your own misery, do not listen to the hollow answers of critics, but look up, for there is the greatest vision. God, the maker of heaven and earth, is wooing you. I wish I could take the time to read the entirety of about Job 36:22 to the end of 37. Here is a vision of God like no other, an amazing vision of the Lord, Elihu at his best. The words are healing, the vision is powerful of an amazing God. Elihu overwhelms Job, reminding him of the greatness of God… READ random verses… this is healing, this is preparation for God himself…
Vision is the the capacity to see a compelling picture of what is good and right and amazing, Vision inspires people and people respond with openness to God; vision describes that which is desirable, which could be, which should be; that which is attainable. A godly vision is right for the times, right for the church, and right for the people. A godly vision promotes faith rather than fear. A godly vision motivates people to action. A godly vision requires risk-taking. The bravest people are those who are huring that dare to believe in God’s goodness, A godly vision glorifies God.
Henri Mattise, the great painter said, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”
Do you have a bruised heart? Look to God for healing. God may send you an unexpected person, an Elihu, or a John the Baptist to point the way to Jesus. Your grief may be overwhelming, you may feel stuck, but you need to look up with faith and recognize that God is wooing you, the Lord wants to bring you comfort and strength. Dare to envision two eyes that can see, everything in you may want you to feel sorry for yourself, get angry, turn away from a God that could allow such suffering, death, broken relationships, heartaches, pain, but that is Satan’s design, not God’s. God is inviting you to be transformed and changed and fill you with a desirable vision of what’s coming. Be amazed by what God will do. Be amazed by God. And everything will be made new. Amen.