No one likes a smug believer. Elihu thinks that Job, broken though he is, is actually smug in his conviction that God will vindicate him (35.1).
Here are the main planks of his objections to Job. Each is wrong, but subtly so. Have a think as you listen to Elihu:
God is too big to bother with you (ch.35): whether sinners or saints, Elihu is convinced that God won’t trouble Himself with them. “He does not answer when men cry out” (v.12). He is holy, set apart, and sovereign. We may cry out to Him, but to expect God to answer, according to Elihu, is foolish presumption.
God has thunderbolts stored up for sinners (ch. 36): Elihu is right, God has. Thunderbolts are His speciality (v.29-30). Smiting sinners is His business (vv.8-11), and in His mercy He warns them of the judgment to come (v.12).
The trouble is, Elihu is unwittingly tripped up by his own convictions. Take the statement in v.36, “how great is God, beyond our understanding” (v.26). It’s true. But it’s more true than Job has yet realised. Elihu hasn’t yet seen the mysteries of God’s workings, which include undeniable grace and mercy. You might say, neither has Job, yet. Maybe we haven’t really grasped this, either. But it is the undeniable truth in Christ: God has thunderbolts of saving grace prepared for sinners through His Son.
God is beyond our reach (ch.37): “God comes in awesome majesty. The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power” (vv.22-23). He is. We can’t get ourselves to heaven. We cannot understand God. We cannot even work out how to live this side of death. We cannot find God.
But He can find us. He can teach us how to live, He understands us, and He can get us to heaven. We are not beyond His reach. In fact, He is reaching out to us.
Every church has its Elihus. They have zeal, and they have theology. They often lack, though, a theology suffused with grace. Elihu should have known that the God of heaven, and the God of His covenant people, is a God of great covenant grace. Believe Him. And then share the God of might and mercy with the broken. And at the centre, remember Jesus. “No one has ever see God; but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known” (Jn.1.18).
A Prayer to Pray
Lord God Almighty, Lord of heaven and Lord of the manger, thankyou for all that You are. Thankyou that all of Your grace and glory is found in Jesus. Fix my heart on Him, especially when my heart is broken with suffering. And may the comforts You give me be exactly those comforts I gladly share with others. Amen.