The Lord said to Job, “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” -Job 40:8
Round and round we went; these three friends and me, the discussion becoming less diplomatic and the accusations less subtle with each turn. They were determined to convince me that I was some great sinner who deserved what I had gotten, and I was just as determined to convince them of my righteousness. Finally it was obvious to all of us that we’d come to an impasse.
Then a young man who’d been standing on the sidelines listening spoke up. He said his name was Elihu, a Hebrew word meaning “He is my God.” He was the son of Barakel whose name means “God blesses.” Elihu was obviously angry with me for asserting my own righteousness and also with my friends for failing to persuading me otherwise, condemning both God and me in the process. Being younger than the rest of us, he had held his tongue out of respect, but now seeing that we had exhausted all our arguments, he took a deep breath and joined our conversation.
He paid due homage to our greater maturity, saying that while he’d been listening for some time he’d kept quiet out of respect for our presumed wisdom. But then he reminded us that true wisdom comes not from the advanced years of the speaker but from the Spirit of God dwelling within him.
Then he politely but clearly rebuked my friends for failing to prove me wrong, and informed them that he would now do so. He wouldn’t be using their tired old arguments, he said, but would use mine, turning my own words against me.
“You have said in my hearing,” he began, “That you are pure and without sin, clean and free from guilt, and yet God has found fault with you. But I tell you that in this you are wrong.”
Then he told me that God speaks to us in many ways, warning us of the dangers of our attitudes and actions in dreams and visions as well as through others. The problem is that we often don’t perceive it. When push comes to shove He’ll even use the calamity that is the consequence of our behavior to chasten us. But if even one angel in Heaven intercedes for us, having seen a spark of repentance, He’ll restore us. He does this so that in our relief we’ll extol God’s greatness and mercy proclaiming to our brothers, “I didn’t get what I deserve!” where before we had complained. “I don’t deserve what I’m getting.” All I had accomplished by my loud complaints and protestations of innocence was to condemn God!
“Far be it from God to do evil,” Elihu said. “It’s unthinkable that He would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. He’s the one protecting you from the judgment you deserve. If He decided to withdraw that protection every single person on Earth would immediately perish. To your sin of self-righteousness you’ve added rebellion against God’s justice. You should be tested to the utmost for answering God like a wicked man. He doesn’t need to convene a court and hear witnesses to determine if you’re guilty. He sees every move you make and hears even the thoughts of your heart. There’s nothing you can do that escapes His notice and nowhere you can hide that He can’t see.”
“You complain that the wicked prosper while you get punished, in effect saying, ‘What’s in it for me to be righteous?’ but let me ask you this. What’s in it for God? How do you hurt Him by sinning? And how do your good deeds help Him? Is He not God whether you’re good or evil? Do you think you have anything He needs? Your sin only hurts you and your good deeds only benefit those few recipients around you (Job 35:8). Your belief that you can affect the Creator of the Universe on His Throne in Heaven one way or another is simply another sign of your arrogance and pride.”
“But by His actions He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction. Are you naive enough to believe that no matter how much wealth you acquire, it would be sufficient to gain entry into such a place without Him? He loves you enough to go to any length to bring you there, not because you have anything He needs, and not because your absence would somehow deprive Him, but because He knows how much being there would bless you.”
Where did this guy come from? Though young in years, he certainly had things pegged when it came to our position before God. His claim that one perfect in knowledge was among us, and that his knowledge had come from afar has led many who have read this account through the years to wonder if Elihu wasn’t sent straight from the Throne of God Himself! Maybe he was the angel mediator he had spoken of, or even our Great Intercessor, the Son of God.
Regardless of who he was, all my friends had done was make me angry but this kid’s words had pierced my very soul and I could tell by the way he was spinning up that he was far from finished. Little did I know that my comeuppance was just beginning. When he was done the LORD Himself would have a turn. Well, I can’t say I didn’t ask for it. Stick around. It’s always fun to see someone else get theirs.