(Read Job Chapter 35 as a family)
There are a couple of verses in the chapter that are very interesting. Verses 5-8 say this:
Look at the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds, which are higher than you. If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him? And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him? Or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness concerns a man like yourself, and your righteousness a son of man. (Job 35:5-8 ESV)
The picture here is of God exulted in the throne room of heaven. He is far above the realm of mankind. One person on earth does a righteous act and looks up to the heavens to see how it has affected God. Another person, out of spite towards the Lord, decides to blaspheme his name before the crowd of an MTV music awards. This person declares that if God were alive, he should prove himself before the crowd and strike the speaker dead. He waits in silence looking upwards to see how his sin has affected God.
Elihu is teaching us an important truth regarding the transcendence of God. He far transcends the heavens so much that the sinful and righteous deeds of man do not affect the function of heavens economy. Thinking that our deeds on earth matter raises the level of authority of man to a higher degree than they belong. We are made of the dust from the earth. We are here one moment and gone the other. This of course is not the complete and whole story, but is a part that is good to be reminded about.
God not only transcends his creation, but is immanent in it. He has come close to us in Jesus, and sends the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of his beloved children. We learn in other portions of the Bible that we can grieve the Holy Spirit. We also learn that the angels in heaven rejoice over a single sinner who repents. So Elihu’s teaching on the transcendence of God is not the whole story, but is a true and important part that we need to be reminded about. We can fall into the trap of thinking we are so important, that the world revolves around us and our decisions, and we matter so much. Elihu is reminding us that we made from the dust of the earth, and will one day return to the ground from which we were made.