Elihu and God

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The book of Job has always been a fascinating book to me, probably because the majority of my childhood Sunday School teachers told me it was the hardest book in the Bible to understand. I never understood that logic.

I have puzzled over the idea of God and Satan in a contest over whether Job would curse God. I have pondered the greatness of God as He stated it Himself to Job. I have walked through my own suffering with Job and been humbled before my Creator. Lately, I've been pondering something in Job, however, that seems a bit out of the norm.

Job has several pretty obnoxious friends, but they knew God--or so they thought. I've heard the sermons and read the book and argued with friends over who was right and why they were wrong. The conversation that has bugged me for years about Job was a conversation I had with a Presbyterian friend of mine, who was firmly convinced that Job was in the wrong and that Elihu had it all right.

So recently, since I was at this spot in my Bible reading schedule, I opened the book of Job to read Elihu's argument. Now, because of my suffering, I generally approach the book of Job with the idea that Job is human, his friends are human, a few of them are jerks, Satan is bad, and God is God.

I've been trying to discredit Elihu for years, because he was so frustrated with Job, but my friend was correct. Elihu was *right.* And this young guy made that fact as clear as he could to his elders. Rather strongly. I cringed reading the passages, and then I stopped to think.

Elihu had no idea what the grace of God was. He explained God's mercy, and His judgment, and His goodness, and His blessing, but this pre-Christ young man did not understand the grace of the God he revered and served, and he was unable to offer that grace to Job.

In the next few chapters, I think he might have learned a bit, as an all-powerful God swept out of a whirlwind to confront Job with His... Godness. As Job fell to his face before his God, I wonder if Elihu might have wondered at his own words about God, or if he prepared to watch Job die for falling so short.

At the end of the book, I think God shows Elihu the grace he didn't understand. When God instructed Job to sacrifice for his friends, Elihu's name is curiously excluded. Elihu knew the truth of God, but I think that through his experience with Job, he gained an understanding of the grace of God. And in a way, I think that was the coolest gift of all for this guy who knew everything.


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