Thursday, November 06, 2003

Job 36, 37: Elihu Praises God

This essay is #43 of an ongoing series on the book of Job. Click here to start at the beginning.

Elihu's Praise

A storm cloud has appeared and is heading in the direction of Job and the company of people around him. Elihu sees it and uses its imagery to offer praise to God's goodness and power and control. I will have more to say about this storm when we get to chapter 38.

Here is the beginning of Elihu's praise:

Yes, God is great—beyond our knowledge! The number of his years is unsearchable. He draws up drops of water; they distill the rain into its mist, which the clouds pour down and shower on mankind abundantly. Who can understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion? See how he scattered his lightning about him; he has covered the depths of the sea. It is by these that he judges the nations and supplies food in abundance. With his hands he covers the lightning, and directs it against its target. His thunder announces the coming storm, the cattle also, concerning the storm’s approach. (Job 36:26-33)

There is the description of the storm clouds approaching. "By these he judges the nations and supplies food." Weather works to the blessing and judgment of mankind, and it is the Lord that directs its ways. It is a tool in His hands. Notice the complete description of the water cycle here. Evaporation to clouds to precipitation. This is placed side by side with anthropomorphized imagery of hands that seemingly grab lightning bolts and hurl them. Note the reference to cattle announcing the coming storm. Often the animal kingdom have sensing abilities beyond the humans.

The coming storm is a metaphor for the storm in Job's life. Until recently, Job's life has been watered by the hand of God, but now he is in the midst of the storm. 

Elihu continues:

At this also my heart pounds and leaps from its place. Listen carefully to the thunder of his voice, to the rumbling that proceeds from his mouth. Under the whole heaven he lets it go, even his lightning to the far corners of the earth. After that a voice roars; he thunders with an exalted voice, and he does not hold back his lightning bolts when his voice is heard. 

God thunders with his voice in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. For to the snow he says, ‘Fall to earth,’ and to the torrential rains, ‘Pour down.’ 

He causes everyone to stop working, so that all people may know his work. The animals go to their lairs, and in their dens they remain. 

A tempest blows out from its chamber, icy cold from the driving winds. The breath of God produces ice, and the breadth of the waters freeze solid. He loads the clouds with moisture; he scatters his lightning through the clouds. The clouds go round in circles, wheeling about according to his plans, to carry out all that he commands them over the face of the whole inhabited world. 

Whether it is for punishment for his land, or whether it is for mercy, he causes it to find its mark. (Job 37:1-13)

As with the weather so it is with all things. God is sovereign. His understanding is beyond ours. I love this comment especially, "He causes everyone to stop working, so that all people may know his work." Sometimes weather shuts down our regular lives and gives us a day off. Like an enforced Sabbath, mankind should take such times and get to know the Creator behind the universe, weather, and their very lives.

What is the weather outside your window like today. Give thanks to God for it. He is working some of His purposes through it.

Elihu continues:

Pay attention to this, Job! Stand still and consider the wonders God works. Do you know how God commands them, how he makes lightning flash in his stormcloud? Do you know about the balancing of the clouds, that wondrous activity of him who is perfect in knowledge? You, whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind, will you, with him, spread out the clouds, solid as a mirror of molten metal? Tell us what we should say to him. We cannot prepare a case because of the darkness. Should he be informed that I want to speak? If a man speaks, surely he would be swallowed up! (Job 37:14-20)

Elihu here foreshadows the questions that Job will face when the Lord speaks to him. The point is simple. If you cannot understand and direct the ways of the weather, how can you claim the upper hand when dealing with God. "You, Job, get hot when its hot and cold when its cold. Who makes it cold or hot?" We must understand that God is righteous and that He will work things according to wisdom. His purposes and ends are good. We must trust. Elihu has provided a proper ground for Job's humility.

The sun will come out after the most powerful storm:

But now, the sun cannot be looked at— it is bright in the skies— after a wind passed and swept the clouds away. 

From the north he comes in golden splendor; around God is awesome majesty. As for the Almighty, we cannot attain to him! He is great in power and justice, and abundant righteousness; he does not oppress. Therefore people fear him, for he does not regard all the wise in heart.”  (Job 37:21-24)

Elihu with these final lines of his speech tells Job that there is a bright sun that will appear when the storm is over. But let us understand that God is:

  • Full of glory
  • Awesome in majesty
  • Almighty
  • Great in power and justice
  • Abundant in righteousness
  • And he does not oppress.

No matter what in the storms of life, these are the things about God that we should remember.

Friday: Introducing the final speaker

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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