Truth From Unlikely Sources
May 8, 2019
The Bible is not an easy book to deal with. The scriptures say some tough things about the truth of the human race. The Bible itself proclaims and proves that it is God’s own Word. The Bible is God’s truth. The Bible is reflective of God’s perspective regarding human affairs and issues. The Bible is the proclamation of God Himself concerning His identity, nature, character, purposes, and promises, and how we as people contrast Him in every way. When Jesus came into the world and taught Nicodemus that it is necessary to be “born again,” it was not because God values certain traits and habits that we are conceived with. Jesus taught that we need to be spiritually regenerated because the condition we’re born in is inglorious, unprofitable, and corrupt in the eyes of God. Jesus’ instruction calls all people to relearn EVERYTHING about life so as to surrender our ways to God’s supreme goodness and righteousness.
It is not easy to accept these truths. Most people don’t like hearing they’re wrong about one thing or another, let alone God’s accusation that we are all wrong about everything, and requiring a change that we can’t produce on our own. It is not easy to receive God’s wisdom, which is compared to light. Light exposes the secret things in the dark. Light makes things clear and observable. The Bible does the same for the human soul. The scriptures themselves are compared to goads – that which is used to poke and prod sheep, but for good purpose to lead them in the right direction by correcting their course. The Bible refers to itself as the sharpest of swords, designed to surgically divide the soul that God desires to preserve from the corruption of our flesh. These descriptions can be challenging. When the prophet Ezekiel was commanded to “eat the scroll” of God’s testimony and Word, it was bitter to his stomach. It was hard to digest. Still, it is the words that give life, and for these reasons, all of God’s people are called to deal with the difficulty of God’s truth, no matter how difficult we think it is.
There is another factor that makes God’s Word difficult to receive. Sometimes, people don’t approve of the vessel that God uses to make His truth known. This point is made most clear in the testimony of Jesus. Jesus was the Word of God in flesh, yet He was despised, and rejected. He was a Man acquainted with sorrow and grief on account of the rebellion His own people waged against Him. They ridiculed Jesus’ family, His upbringing, and figured His claims as the Son of God to be ridiculous compared to what they knew of His life on earth. The people saw miracles, heard truth spoken with clarity and authority, and yet, could not get past the fact that all of that was coming out of a thirty-year old man that never went to seminary. The scriptures state that God will often use the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. When God took the form of flesh, He could have taken any form He wanted. He could have taken a form that would have demanded great honor and respect. Instead, God came lowly and humble in appearance, as a servant because it is His nature. It was hard to digest the truth of Jesus’ Words from a young man that looked as He did.
This was not the only time God used an unlikely and unexpected vessel to communicate His truth. This was not the first time God used the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. The testimony of Job explains that God used a young man named Elihu in a similar capacity to shut the mouths of those who had spoken out of turn about Him. The Book of Job shows that Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Job himself had a lot to say about God, and even wished that God would appear and speak to vouch for their words as they spoke them. However, the things that these four men said, might have been true in one sense, but were misrepresentations of God as Truth. These men were said to be old and wise. These men were said to have great experiences with the Lord. Job was well recognized by his community and peers as being a man of God. Even God Himself recognized Job as an upright and blameless man. Still, even the best of God’s people misrepresent the glory and greatness of God. Even those with the best testimonies have times where they fail in their witness and pervert His truth. When these things happen, though some may appear to be wise, solid, mature Christians, God will send unlikely people to speak humbling truth. That’s exactly what God did with Elihu.
The testimony of Job 32:1-22 explains that Elihu was a young man that had been listening to and observing the entire debate between Job and his friends. The Bible doesn’t specifically state his relationship to Job or his friends, other than he was just an observer and considered himself a friend too. We know that Elihu was a young man, but his age is not specifically stated. He testifies that he was young, and was apologetic for his age. He figured that his age might have disqualified him from making his points in the midst of Job and his friends, who were much older and assumed to be wiser. However old Job and his friends were, Elihu was much younger; maybe even considered to be like a child to those who were Job’s peers. Regardless of his age, Elihu was zealous for God, knowledgeable about God, and bold to speak the truth about God, whether it was received by the older guys or not.
When Elihu started speaking, he showed that, while young and zealous, he was respectful and honorable. Elihu showed he had integrity and humility by essentially asking permission to speak. He confessed that, while he heard the whole argument between Job and his friends, he restrained from interjecting his opinions and points out of respect for the elders. He figured to be unqualified to speak with those men, giving them the benefit of the doubt that their age also produced experience and wisdom that he didn’t have. Elihu waited to speak with Job and his friends because he didn’t want to be rude or prideful. He respected age and the wisdom that should come from age. He honored the words that were spoken, even if those words were wrong, giving the elder men an opportunity to clarify themselves. It was not until all of the men were silent that Elihu asked permission to speak. This way, Elihu’s remarks could be made truthfully.
The scriptures explain that Elihu spoke with “wrath.” This means that he was zealous and passionate in his discourse. He heard all that Job and his friends had to say, and was exceptionally anxious to speak truthfully. He bit his tongue while the elder men misspoke for so long. Once they were done, he was ready to erupt. His relationship with God is made clear too. Elihu’s offense against Job and his friends was not at them personally. Elihu was disgusted with certain things that each man said pertaining to God. With Job, Elihu was upset that his words made it seem like Job was justifying himself. In other words, Elihu felt Job was being self-righteous in his defense of himself. While Job was not a hypocrite, he was not perfect. Job never claimed to be perfect, but the manner in which he spoke of his testimony seemed pompous to Elihu. Elihu felt that God should have been given the credit and glory more candidly and clearly instead of Job tooting his own horn about the good things God had done through him. Here, it is important to recognize how important it is to ensure God’s name is exalted above our own when we speak of the things God does in our life. Elihu was offended simply because Job explained the work of God as though it was done as a credit to Job. This is not what Job meant, but it is what was communicated. Therefore, Elihu had good reason to be offended.
Elihu was also offended by the fact that Job’s friends were so quick to condemn Job, but had such a weak argument in their accusations. The Book of Job seems long, but the arguments that go between Job and his friends are short in real time. Though it seems like their bickering goes on for a long time, Job was able to shut the mouths of his friends quite quickly. Since Job was able to silence his friend’s accusations so quickly, why were they so passionate about Job being condemned? If their argument was so weak, and their opinions so frail, why were they so passionate against Job? Elihu was offended by this too. Should any person be zealous against another person as their judge when they have such little information and such a weak argument to prove them guilty? Only God is able to justify and condemn, yet Job’s friends were quick to assume God’s position and do His job so poorly. Elihu was offended with the way they represented God.
This is what compelled Elihu to speak. Though he confesses that his words were merely his opinions, sparked by the urgent convictions in his heart, his words were spoken to uphold the integrity of God against men who compromised His name. When it was appropriate to speak, Elihu confessed that, while he was young, and was merely speaking his opinions based on convictions of his heart, he was qualified by God to speak. He confessed that, traditional thinking assumes older people have good experience that produces fruitful wisdom. Elihu explained the truth. Just because a person is old, doesn’t mean they are wise. Age doesn’t always produce good experience that produces fruitful knowledge. Elihu explained that God is the One that provides wisdom. Since He is not a respecter of persons, He does not discriminate whom He gives wisdom to. Age is not a prerequisite for wisdom from God. Elihu said this to qualify that, just because he was younger than Job and his friends, didn’t mean that he didn’t have wisdom from God. His words needed to be considered seriously.
Elihu had sat silently long enough. When Job and his friends spoke, Elihu explained that it was like he was ready to burst like a wineskin. He was speaking only to relieve his conscience. Before speaking, Elihu prayed to God that his words would be spoken with impartiality, not seeking to flatter anyone, or condemn anyone. Elihu just wanted to speak well of God. The scriptures go on to show that Elihu will speak better than Job and his friends. Elihu shuts the mouths of all four men, and when God spoke, He rebuked everyone except Elihu. Though Elihu’s words were tough and sharp, they were true. They were delivered with passion, but also with restraint. Elihu sought to speak well of God to please God, not himself or some other person. Thus, when a heart is passionate for God and prepared to speak well of Him, God will use that person as His instrument of righteousness regardless of how foolish or unqualified they may seem.