Before reading this post, I suggest you check out Pastor Paul LeBoutillier’s (Calvary Chapel – Ontario, Oregon) message on Job 32-42 for context. The clip below contains Pastor Paul’s commentary for Job 32 only…
Have you ever had to “get real” with a friend or colleague in distress? Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where saying what needed to be said felt like threading a needle…or a roundhouse kick to the trachea.
If so, rest assured: You’re not alone. We’ve all been there at one point or another.
Yet, while stirring a storm in tranquil seas is never fun, there’s something to be said about the willing word spoken at the perfect time, in the face of the opposite spirit.
‘Cause truth is: When verbal courage is expressed through perseverance, vulnerability, and fearless articulacy, it carries the power to inspire change.
Enter Elihu, the unsung hero in arguably the most underrated book in the Old Testament – Job.
For those unaware, the book details the life of Job, a righteous man who honors God despite immense suffering. Not only is Job the first poetic book in the Bible, but also the first to address themes of theodicy, the vindication of God’s justice in the light of humanity’s suffering. After losing his children, servants, wealth and health, Job’s wife and closest friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) tempt Job to curse God and die (Job 2:9); however, after multiple arguments between Job and his opponents concerning the source of his suffering (chapters 4-31), we finally find Elihu making his debut (32:6-22):
Then Elihu…burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong. Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.
And Elihu…said, “I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’ But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.
Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.’ Behold, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say. I gave you my attention, and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job or who answered his words. Beware lest you say, ‘We have found wisdom; God may vanquish him, not a man.’ He has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches. They are dismayed; they answer no more; they have not a word to say.
And shall I wait, because they do not speak, because they stand there and answer no more. I also will answer with my share; I also will declare my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me. Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away.”
I mean….you talk about a ‘confrontation clinic’! Clearly, Elihu’s charge is one of the most comprehensive and honest critiques in all of Scripture…and he’s just getting started.
Let’s break the next few chapters down…
- In Job 33, Elihu calls out Job for saying he was without any sin and that God would not answer. Elihu says, “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than any mortal.” (v. 12)
- In Job 34, Elihu pivots off his rebuke to emphasize God’s justice: “It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.” (v. 12)
- In Job 35, Elihu again censures Job: “Indeed, God does not listen to [the arrogant person’s] empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it. How much less, then, will he listen, when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him.” (v. 13-14)
- In Job 36, shifts to highlighting God’s greatness: “How great is God, beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.” Elihu rightly points Job to God’s might, saying, “Listen to this, Job; / stop and consider God’s wonders.” (v. 26)
- Finally, in Job 37, Elihu drops the mic (v. 23-24), emphatically bringing Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to their figurative knees. As for Job, not only does he break his silence, but acknowledges Elihu’s criticism and in response, his own godly sorry (42:1-6). At last, Elihu’s persistence as a timely mouthpiece had come full circle.
Now, I bet you’re wondering what’s my point in bringing up Elihu, in summarizing these random passages.
To be fair, I could settle for…
- Truth spoken in love leads to understanding/repentance.
- Truth stands firm and perseveres through weakness.
- God speaks to and through man for His highest good.
- We are vessels of clay, anointed and appointed as His Godsend.
…however, what really grips me is God’s faithfulness to provide what we need to hear His voice and know He’s greater than our circumstances.
Yes, we can be correct in our theology and speak it coherently, but if it’s detached from God’s fatherheart of mercy, if it fails to lead one towards grace and discernment…can we honestly say we’re living as Kingdom influencers?
Granted, I know courage doesn’t necessarily imply perfect execution of proactive action. After all, the truth can get messy. But I guess this is why I love the story of Elihu so much.
For starters, Elihu doesn’t look for the platform; the platform finds him. He doesn’t speak when he feels like it but waits until ignorance and/or arrogance compels him (34:18-20). And before he even utters a word, he calibrates his thoughts to God’s perspective, allowing humility and confidence to saturate his speech. Perhaps this is why he refers to Job and his companions as “wise men” (34:2) in spite of their pride and valued his role as God’s embouchure more than his right to be right. Whatever the case, Elihu burned for God’s Word to be known (chapter 38), ultimately making a way for repentance to be realized.
May we all seize the opportunity to go and do likewise within our arenas of influence.
Looking ahead, I’ll aim to write a sequel post on how we can be modern-day Elihu’s in today’s marketplace. For now, my encouragement to you is to consider how Elihu beheld the truth and his assignment to speak it. Then dare to apply it in your own life, regardless of whose (i.e. Job or Elihu) shoes you’re in, and live the question…
‘Cause frankly whatever sole your soul is in, if you walk in humble obedience and the firm belief that God will use it to reflect His very best, then He’ll undoubtedly guide you whenever you have to speak the whole truth…and nothing but the truth.
You got this.
One thought on “Do You Elihu? (Part 1)”
What signs does HaShem send unto damaged g’lut Israel? Observance of halakot, they serve as the Divine signs – comparable to the plagues which befell Par’o by the hand of HaShem through Moshe. From the times following the Creation, the heart of Man expresses strong inclinations to chisel away at righteous upright behavior; its tuma impatience prefers physical violence over rational diplomacy. Form which lacks substance, to what does it compare? Ritualized observance of halakot – divorced from prophetic mussar. The classic story of Egyptian bondage. Par’o only recognized the plagues and the damages; never once did he take to heart Divine mussar דרך ארץ. This יסודי distinction defines the k’vanna of the opening working blessings of the Shemone Esri:
אתה חונן לאדם דעת, ומלמד לאנוש בינה: חננו מאתך דעה בינה והשכל: ברוך אתה ה’, חונן הדעת.
Par’o refused to validate within his heart any prophetic mussar; his Yatzir rejected דרך ארץ as a life walk – also known as t’shuva. Young king Shlomo directly compares to juvenile king Rehav’am; both rejected the advise given by their fathers’ senior most trusted advisors. This common denominator likewise occurs in Par’o when his advisors informed him that Egypt lay in ruins.
King Shlomo did not consult with Natan the prophet, he simply decided to build both his personal Court of law, together with his pyramid like Temple. King Shlomo’s court prioritized his personal rule, which subordinated unto oblivion the Torah commandment – to established Federal Sanhedrin courts. The last commandment that Moshe accomplished during his lifetime – he established 3 small Sanhedrin Federal courts from conquered land which enlarged the 1st Republic.
King Shlomo, by contrast, prioritized grand construction projects, this forced labor, in conjunction with his disgraceful foreign wives, drained and estranged the good will of the people. Opposition to the rule of the house of David sprouted into open rebellion during his lifetime. Rehav’am, son of Shlomo, never governed as king before the ten Tribes rebelled against the promised increase of his fathers’ oppressive rule. Avoda zara tends to gloat about its grand and glorious splendor, and its great and brilliant wisdom. The Book of מלכים, its satire mocks the conceit by which avoda zara behavior tends to strut. Comparable to the pompous goose march-step made by Fascist and Communist soldiers in the 20th Century.
A specific, but general example which explains avoda zara – Xtianity. Church advocates, as a general rule, ardently pursue evangelism. The wicked criminal war crimes committed by church priests, ministers and lay personnel throughout history – pushed off with the excuse: “they were not real Xtians”. Ignorant of brutal war crimes and criminal terrorism, zealant Xtian evangelists resemble – the hardened heart of Par’o. Monotheists preach that only one God lives. Yet these pious ‘true faith’preachers, never once consider the first commandment revealed at Sinai. The tuma Yatzir: blind to the obvious, the opening line ofגיטין א:א:לפי שאין בקיאין לשמה teaches a powerful mussar, which alas, Reshonim scholarship failed to grasp.
The Shoah and the Armenian Genocide: both, examples of “Genocide-in whole”. The Young Turks and Nazi Party, their leaders made unilateral decisions that committed their nation to perpetrate racial genocide. Civil Wars throughout history have witnessed a disproportionate proportion of domestic, racial ethnic genocides. But revolutionary politics does not in and of itself produce racial wars. Attila the Hun: 372-454, the Crusades:1095-1270, Genghis Khan & the Mongol invasions:1220-1650, atrocities in the Congo 1885 – 1908, the Namaqua genocide 1904 – 1908, the Amer-Indians of North America: 1565-1924 — these mass slaughters of human life did not necessarily occur due to political revolutions or Civil Wars. The criminal element in all cases of racial war, viewed from the specific lenses of church guilt, these violent lunatics Universally assume that their target victims exist as inferior sub-humans. Something on par and similar to the command of General Sheridan which permitted poachers to illegally invade Indian territories, to exterminate the Indians buffalo food source. Comanche Chief Tosawi reputedly told Sheridan in 1869, “Tosawi, good Indian,” to which Sheridan reportedly replied, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” This crude and barbaric response succinctly sums up the motivations of extreme racial prejudice; the basis for the Catholic prayer about the perfidious Jew.
Had a dream that interpreted the k’vanna of the niggun of Hava Nagila. A powerful mussar walks a narrow line, it does not bounce from subject to subject, rather it clings to a simple idea that arouses the אומץ לב of joy within our hearts, the Will to possess the land. 1948, the declaration of National Independence, Yidden danced the Hava Nagila niggun of the Sadigura Hasidic dynasty that made aliya to Israel on the eve of WW2.
Written either by Avraham Zevi Idelsohn or Moshe Nathanson, the former made its first recording in 1922. It’s a simple niggun: Come let us be glad, and rejoice. Arise brethren with a joyful heart. Traditionally sung together with blowing the shofar. This niggun goes together with Shalom aliechem which Yidden traditionally sing to invite the sanctity of shabbot.
Prior to the evening first meal, which begins with a blessing pronounced over wine and bread. The blowing of the shofar together with this niggun – so inspires the heart. The k’vanna of Hava Nagila – to enliven the heart; to rise up against the Yatzir Ha’Ra and steel our Will, for the coming hard fight, to possess and conquer the land.
Wheels within Wheels, the spirit of HaShem contained within the wheels. The vision of the Divine Chariot, from which rabbi Akiva derived his פרדס kabbala sh’itta of Talmudic scholarship. The circular dance of joy, expressed on Chag Sukkot, focuses upon the liberation from g’lut, rather than the bitter cold night of g’lut. It recalls the opening war to capture the walled city of Jericho, the opening battle to conquer the land – the reason HaShem brought Israel out of Egyptian slavery.
Yidden recall through Hava Nagila the courage of king Hezekia, when he stood toe to toe with Sennacherib, the Assyrian king. Torah victory in war requires HaShem to first judge the Gods whom the Goyim worship. Tehillem teaches: trust not in the power of the horse. Israel conquers and takes possession of the land, not through tuma wisdom and military prowess. Slaves thumbed our noses at Par’o following the P’sach night, when the head and hands of the fallen Egyptian Gods lay shattered upon church and mosque floors.
Yidden dance forming a circle to arouse the Divine Spirits within us to overcome our dread and fear of giants in the faith of עמנו אל – first HaShem wars against the Gods whom the Goyim worship, only thereafter does Israel rejoice victorious over our enemies – the latter, utterly and totally destroyed. Another memory dance, Yidden feel exhilaration recalling the vision of destroyed chariots; the obliteration of the army of Par’o, corpses cast upon the shores of the Sea of Suf. Traditionally Yidden stand in shul when the פסוקי דזמר “blessing” comes to
אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל את השירה הזאת