“But now, hear my speech, O Job, and listen to all my words. Behold, I open my mouth; the tongue in my mouth speaks. My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Answer me, if you can; set your words in order before me; take your stand. Behold, I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay. Behold, no fear of me need terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy upon you. “Surely you have spoken in my ears, and I have heard the sound of your words. You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold, he finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy, he puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.’ “Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword. “Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out. His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness. He sings before men and says: ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.’ “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life. Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. If you have any words, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” (Job 33:1-33 ESV)
Most of the commentaries I have read this morning find some fault with the rebuke of Elihu. I think however that we can learn a lot from the way this young man takes both his friends (last chapter), and Job to task.
Job obviously does not think that he has led a pure and perfect life. Otherwise he wouldn’t have offered up sacrifices in the past. He has however made suggestions in the midst of this trial that he has done nothing to deserve the suffering he in enduring. He mentions in chapter 9 that he is blameless, and not guilty in chapter 10. Other places he speaks the same way and Elihu picks up on this when he summarizes Job’s words back to him in verse 9: “You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me.”
When we are in a formal argument with another person, ready to rebuke, or simply having a normal day to day conversation, we should always be able to summarize the person’s thoughts back to them. This shows that we were listening well enough to keep the other persons ideas lodged in our brains so we might speak towards the actual issues.
Elihu asks Job in verse 5 to answer him if he could, and to “set your words in order before me.” Elihu is not asking Job to do something he himself is not currently doing. Elihu has prepared his case by placing his words and ideas in order. The same word is used other places for arranging items on a table, preparing an army for battle, presenting a prayer to the Lord, or preparing a meal. Words and ideas are to be placed in an order similar to a Sargent arranging his troops for battle. When they are arranged, then a stand is to be made.
I realize that this is not the main point of Job chapter 33. But like I mentioned in a previous chapter, Elihu is one of my favorite character in the Bible and I think we can learn lots from him. Orderliness is a concept that reflects the way God actually is. When he speaks, he speaks in order. The Bible is arranged in a certain order, history is ordered around a certain Person (Jesus), and heaven will be a place of perfect order. Having dominion over our creation demands that we order it. Order reflects God. Disorder and chaos reflect the devil, and hell will be filled with it.