After Job and his three friends concluded their unprofitable discourse, we see God’s man come on the scene. God loves us so much that He sends a true messenger of God. Elihu means God of Him. Elihu definitely belongs to God, and God has much to say through Elihu the prophet.
Elihu begins by stating the problem with Job, “He justified himself instead of God.” Self-justification is dangerous because we justify our motives instead of seeking the motives of God. We become right in our own eyes. We see ourselves as victims, not deserving of affliction because we have done right. May we fear and tremble in His holy presence, never degrading to this place of blindness. We can use scripture to justify ourselves. We can use accomplishments done in Jesus’ Name to justify ourselves as well. If this is how we respond, God responds, “give them up to their own way.” Proverbs 1:31…they eat fruit of their own way and filled with their own devices.
JOB 32:2–3 – But the anger of Elihu…burned; against Job his an-ger burned because he justified himself before God. And his anger burned against his three friends be-cause they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.
Revealed are the problems with the dialogues. The answer has always been in these verses. Understanding the Book of Job requires you to understand these two verses. Leaving out these verses distorts the whole story of Job. Depreciating Elihu’s value to the Job dilemma obscures the mystery of why—why did this happen—why did God select a righteous man. “But the scripture is cut and dry.” Not so fast—God hides scripture, especially from those dull of hearing, those trying to figure it out apart from revelation. When found, however, the story of Job jumps off the pages of the Bible into the hearts of those looking for the answer to their affliction.
Job pleaded his case as though he was innocent with no sin. On the other hand, the friends preached restoration, God’s character, and wisdom that they learned from God, but their much speaking had no answer. Making matters worse, they condemned Job, giving him no help of deliverance—they had no answer! Who wouldn’t be confused reading Job?
Observe and carefully note: Many in ministry think that all they have to do is interject some accurate information about God, restoration, or counseling. However, if you do not provide the answer from heaven for that moment for that person, you will have a ministry of wood, hay, and stubble. You will have a ministry of the three friends. Fear God in this I beg you. When you preach and counsel those in their affliction—is there an answer or just information?
Elihu had the answer! Elihu waited for the three wise and older men to speak first, even though he had the answer. Have you ever been in a small group of people after church, in Sunday school, or in other gatherings, and you find certain individuals (maybe even you) always dominate the course of the conversation with their much knowledge? You leave those settings not edified. An Elihu, however, waits for the moment when there is no answer and speaks from heaven the Master’s answer that cuts to the heart and restores. I desire to be as Elihu, waiting for compassion to move me with a word that has His answer.
JOB 32:6–22 – So Elihu…spoke out “I am young in years and you are old; Therefore I was shy and afraid to tell you what I think. I thought age should speak, and in-creased years should teach wisdom. But it is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding. The abundant in years may not be wise, nor may elders understand justice. So I say, listen to me, I too will tell what I think. Behold, I waited for your words, I listened to your reason-ings….Indeed, there was no one who refuted Job, not one of you who answered his words…..Words have failed them (the three friends)….I also will tell my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me. Behold, my belly is like unvented wine, like new wineskins it is about to burst. Let me speak that I may get relief; let me open my lips and answer. Let me now be partial to no one, nor flatter any man. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away.”
Even though the ministry of the prophet is profitable, every believer is a prophet in speaking the word from heaven that confounds the wisdom of elders. We have the breath, the Spirit of God teaching us, and causing us to learn in a few days what might have taken these wise friends a lifetime to achieve. God will use an exegesis (detailed study) of scripture in our life, causing us “to rightly divide His truth,” but in addition, the minister must hear from heaven. Those hearing from heaven, as Elihu, must be bold to tell what they think! Do not let the supposed wiser or elder of knowledge prevent you from declaring all you are hearing and must speak—wisdom that provides God’s true understanding of a matter. On the other side, let us not get goofy, becoming trouble-makers; wait for the elders to speak and if there is no answer for one in affliction, speak what God is saying for the moment.
“Not one of you who answered his words….Words have failed them.”
“Words have failed them,” Elihu said. “Not one of you answered his words.” It is so sad that we sit in gatherings where hurting people gather, sitting next to us, and our words fail to bring healing to their affliction. May we mature; may we bring the words that restore. When their words cry out for help, may we answer them in Christ. Many wander in affliction because not one has been found to give words that have an answer, giving words that fail not. We boast in our much Bible reading and memorization, we boast in our great feats of the Spirit, and yet we neither perceive nor rescue those around us who are painfully afflicted, drowning in sorrows.
“For I am full of words; the spirit within me con-strains me. Behold, my belly is like unvented wine, Like new wineskins it is about to burst. Let me speak that I may get relief; Let me open my lips and answer.”
Anyone who has ever prophesied can identify with Elihu. We are full of words—His words, how can we possibly contain them, or make them undelivered. Those possessing true answers that rescue are as doctors possessing the cure for great disease. Who can restrain them from administering the answer to the ailments of the doomed?
“Let me now be partial to no one, nor flatter any man. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away.”
Words that flatter are words that puff up the natural man, the external man, but cannot minister words reaching the core of man’s issue. For it temporarily treats the symptoms of the disease, but the disease still ravages the insides. May we fear God as Elihu did.
In Job, Chapter 33, Elihu rehearses back Job’s dialogue—dialogue needing to be reproved. Elihu tells Job that his depiction of God and his reasoning for the purpose of his own affliction is not just. We deceive ourselves, many times, into thinking that we know the purpose to why we were afflicted, but the result is never fruitful. Many think they are suffering for righteousness sake; in actuality they are suffering for not using Godly wisdom. There are multitudes of teachers who spread false doctrine and suffer because of it, but their deception tells them this is because they are suffering for Christ. There are those misusing the gifts of God, causing extensive reproach; they are deceived into thinking their suffering is for righteousness sake. You might be one imposing your will upon those you influence, and when afflicted you still never see this contradiction to the steps of Jesus. Jesus will leave you to your way no matter how much praying or studying of scripture that you may do. You must not be resistant to the dealings of God.
Suppose you are devoted to God, and let us suppose you do not get your way at the customer service counter of a retail store—and you act ugly. Do you not see that this simple affliction is the result of having contrary ways to God’s ways? Another common way we tend to stay blind to God’s dealings: you are driving and someone cuts you off—better yet—drives slowly in front of you, what is your response? Was it an automatic response of the fruit of patience, forbearing wrongs suffered? If this was not your response, when afflicted have you searched your heart to have these immature, sometimes wicked responses dealt with? Discern your affliction and always look in your heart for that which does not resemble Jesus, avoiding deception.
An excerpt from “Temple Builders: The High Calling”
John Robert Lucas