From Job 35-37
When people are in the midst of suffering it is easy to neglect recognizing the LORD’s majesty and power reflected in the world around us. The LORD speaks and commands this world. Today Elihu reminds Job of the LORD’s thundering voice.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Elihu is still continuing to rebuke Job for justifying himself and not God.
Elihu comments on an interesting point Job has made. Are people better off if they do not sin? The underlying logic suggests the righteous are blessed by prosperity. But Job believes he is innocent, yet he has had all his family and possessions taken away from him. In light of his suffering Job has questioned whether he is better off (Job 35.1-3).
Elihu counters that God gains or loses nothing by Job’s behaviour. His sins and transgressions cannot hurt him. He must punish wrongdoing as Judge. But sins do nothing to change who he is, his power and majesty. Likewise if Job was righteous he would give him nothing as well. His righteous deeds and good avail nothing for God. The only people Job could affect by his wicked and righteous deeds are the people around him (Job 35.4-8).
Elihu turns it around. God blesses the people of this world. He teaches and gives them wisdom. But they do not seek him or sing his praise. So when they call out for his help he does not answer, because they are proud. Their cries are faithless, empty (Job 35.9-13).
Job has implored God and it seems God has ignored him. So Elihu directs his comments at Job. He is no better than the people he has described. Job utters the empty cry. Or does he? (Job 35.14-16)
Elihu will then begin to describe the greatness of God. God is righteous. God is the creator. He does not leave the wicked unpunished, nor does he stop looking out for the righteous. If people are caught in transgression he corrects them. If they listen they serve him, if they don’t they will perish. Elihu warns Job away from iniquity. God cannot be questioned, he does no wrong. In justice God judges the people (Job 36).
In today’s passage, Elihu speaks about the power of the LORD’s voice.
37 “At this also my heart trembles
and leaps out of its place.
2 Keep listening to the thunder of his voice
and the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
3 Under the whole heaven he lets it go,
and his lightning to the corners of the earth.
4 After it his voice roars;
he thunders with his majestic voice,
and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard. (Job 37.1-4)
Elihu is in awe of the LORD’s voice.
The LORD does many of his great works by speaking. Rather than writing.
He utters a command and creation responds to his word. Words like ‘thunder’, ‘rumbling’, ‘lightning’ and ‘roars’ capture the power of his word, his spoken word.
5 God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
6 For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour. (Job 37.5-6)
The LORD commands creation and it does his bidding. Israel had snow. Not something we think about often. The LORD commands it to fall on the earth.
7 He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
8 Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens. (Job 37.7-8)
The LORD has power over men. He ‘seals up their hands’. Probably referring to the actions of men. Good or bad actions? I suspect Elihu refers to the LORD preventing them from following through with their evil plans. He is in control and puts a stop to evil. He judges and punishes it. ‘Seals it up’. The following verse says similar things, this time about beasts. They are put in their place. They remain in their dens and lairs, not going out to hunt.
9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world. (Job 37.9-12)
First snow, now ice. Elihu’s attention starts to return to the LORD’s voice. His mouth and breath. His power over creation.
13 Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen (Job 37.13).
Elihu concludes this first section dividing the intent behind the LORD’s verbal commands.
The LORD speaks to correct evil, to promote the wellbeing of his land and to express his love.
Elihu now applies this to Job.
14 “Hear this, O Job;
stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
15 Do you know how God lays his command upon them
and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
16 Do you know the balancings of the clouds,
the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,
17 you whose garments are hot
when the earth is still because of the south wind?
18 Can you, like him, spread out the skies,
hard as a cast metal mirror? (Job 37.14-18)
Elihu has reminded Job of the power and majesty of God. Suffering can blind people to who God is. So Elihu asks him a series of questions, highlighting who God is and comparing him to Job. Job is meant to feel insignificant.
Elihu now ridicules Job.
19 Teach us what we shall say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of darkness.
20 Shall it be told him that I would speak?
Did a man ever wish that he would be swallowed up?
21 “And now no one looks on the light
when it is bright in the skies,
when the wind has passed and cleared them. (Job 37.19-21)
Sarcastically suggesting if Job knows more about the LORD, he should teach them.
22 Out of the north comes golden splendor;
God is clothed with awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty—we cannot find him;
he is great in power;
justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.
24 Therefore men fear him;
he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.” (Job 37.22-24)
Elihu also trembles and is humbled before God. God has awesome power. His voice is thunder and lightning. He controls all creation to correct the land or for love of those he chooses to bless. Job cannot compare to God. He is clothed with awesome majesty. We cannot find him, justice and righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him.
Story of Jesus
In the gospel, Jesus likewise refers to the power of God working through creation. Its really easy to forget about the works of the LORD when we are in the midst of suffering and the worries of this world.
26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Mt 6.26-30)
Elihu reminds us of the power of the LORD’s voice working in his creation. Job was in danger of forgetting. Jesus picks up on the same theme. God provides and cares for this creation.
Look around at creation. Know the LORD is speaking. Continue to trust in him.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.