John T. Willis

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Elihu--Part 7 [Human Beings Cannot Comprehend God]--Job 36:24-37:24

Elihu concludes his speech[es] declaring that no human being, including Job, can even begin to comprehend God--God's nature, God's works, God's feelings, God's purposes, God's ways in the world, including human life. Clearly, Elihu beautifully prepares Job to listen to God, and ushers Job into God's presence, which will follow immediately in Job 38:1-42:6.

This final speech or section of Elihu's speech is recorded in Job 36:24-37:24. This falls naturally into two parts, as indicated by the emphatic new introduction in 37:14: "Hear this, O Job."

I. Elihu proclaims that Yahweh is "great, and we do not know him"; "the number of his years is unsearchable"; Yahweh "does great things that we cannot comprehend" [note especially Job 36:26; 37:5]. Elihu illustrates this by describing a thunder storm. Job 36:24-37:13.
a. Elihu reminds Job that earlier generations had "sung" great songs portraying God's "mighty acts." All people have viewed this, and everyone watches this from afar. 36:24-25.
b. Elihu declares forthrightly that God is great, and we do not know him; the number of his years is unsearchable. 36:26. How absurd it is for a human being who lives at most 100 years of age can comprehend the powerful, eternal, wise God of the universe who has always existed and always will exist.
c. Elihu gives his example. Notice he begins with the word "For" in 36:27. God brings clouds and causes rain: Can ANYONE understand HOW this happens? Oh yes--we can describe these phenomena on earth. But HOW does this happen? Can WE make this happen? God is incomprehensible. By rain, God "governs peoples and gives food in abundance." The Bible claims that God causes rain and through rain causes seed to produce plant to produce food. We seem to think this just happens at Wal-Mart or at the grocery store. Verses 33:27-33.
d. God's thunder is powerful. The Bible calls thunder "the voice of God." God commands snow and rain to fall on the earth. Animals retreat because of the thunder and rain and snow. God does all this "to accomplish all that he commands them" for various purposes: (1) for correction or punishment; (2) for the land; (3) for love. In all these, GOD DOES NOT ALLOW this. On the contrary, God CAUSES IT TO HAPPEN. 34:1-13. The idea that God "allows" rain to fall or plants to grow is a modern scientific idea, but is not biblical. Note especially Job 36:31; 37:12-13.

II. Elihu now challenges Job to explain HOW God works in the world. Job 37:14-24.
a. Elihu pauses and emphatically challenges Job to "stop and consider the wondrous works of God." verse 24. Job has been talking and arguing and contending. Elihu says it is time to STOP--and listen to God. We all need this advice.
b. Does any human being KNOW HOW God causes lightning and clouds? God alone does "wondrous works" and God is "the one whose knowledge is perfect." Verses 15-17. Human knowledge is always imperfect. God's knowledge is perfect. Remember that Elihu has already made this point in Job 36:4.
c. Can a human being spread out the skies. Human beings cannot "draw up a court case" against God because we are "in the dark." This is absurd and out of place. Verses 18-20.
d. Elihu points to God's whirlwind coming "out of the north." "Around God is awesome majesty." We human beings cannot find god. God is great in power, justice, and abundant righteousness. Verses 21-23.
e. The ONLY position of human beings is to "fear"=stand in awe of God. Obviously, God "does not regard any who are WISE IN THEIR OWN CONCEIT." Verse 24. Once again, Elihu emphasizes that Job's problem--our problem--the human problem--is pride, self-centeredness, ingratitude. Job was "blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil," and Job was very PROUD about his righteousness. This is OUR problem. The Book of Job reveals our problem, and attempts to help us to deal with this problem.

What are YOUR responses to Elihu's speech in Job 36:24-37:24? Share YOUR ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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