What does it say?
This final part of Elihu’s speech seems to reveal a very cut-and-dried theology. He’s clearly committed to the concept of God’s inalterable and incomprehensible sovereignty. Careful reading also makes clear that his theological system holds out no hope for any real relationship with a loving God. He’s convinced that God simply does what he wants, Job is a self-righteous hypocrite (35:2) and will get what he deserves in due time. Elihu’s faith seems intellectual and systematized, and his concept of God cold, uninterested and distant.
Elihu presumes to speak for God (36:2), confident that his theology is rock solid and completely correct. He offers eloquent words concluding that God’s majesty and power are beyond our finding out (Job 37). Like the older men before him, he expounds wonderful and profound truths without much of a clue how to apply them to the messy stuff of real life
What does it mean?
Before leaving Elihu’s intervention, I believe there are important lessons for us to learn. All four men that have addressed Job profess commitment to the absolute authority of God and his truth, and they all quote truth in impressive arguments. They do not, however, agree. The difference is not God’s truth, but their incomplete understanding and misapplication of that truth.
Nothing breaks genuine communication faster than for one to exclaim in frustration or anger, “Well, I just believe the Bible.” Rarely is that the issue. The root of most misunderstanding between believers is not that one or more suddenly stop believing the Bible, but simply that none of us possesses complete understanding. In spite of that, like Elihu, we often presume to speak for God, as though he was incapable of speaking for himself.
How will I respond?
Do I sometimes give the impression of presuming to speak for God, or that my views of God are undoubtedly correct in every aspect? Do I give the impression that because I believe the Bible I am always right about what the Bible says? Have I hurt or confused someone to whom I should apologize?
How do others perceive me? Do I use words and phrases that give the impression of having all the answers? Do I cut off genuine communication with “dead end statements” like “I just believe the Bible”? How can I grow in my understanding and application of the Bible? Until I learn these lessons, I will not be effective in the mission.
What is one communication habit that I can eliminate today to be a more humble communicator of God’s truth, more sensitive to others and more Christ-like?