Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Boldness of Youth

The second of the revelations I gained during my latest reading of the book of Job also has to do with that fourth of Job's buddies, Elihu. In my previous post, I described how Elihu rebuked the other three of Job's friends, rebuked Job himself, and proceeded to set them all straight.

It was Elihu's own explanation of his boldness which caught my attention in Job chapter 32. In verses 6 and 7, Elihu begins by explaining why he had not spoken up earlier.

..."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.'
Elihu was being polite and respectful to his elders, yet to his dismay, he did not hear what he considered to be the truth about Job's current situation. He held his tongue until his elders had finished speaking. In itself this is a good lesson, but what happens next is really the exciting part of this story. The remaining verses in chapter 32 are an explanation of his need to speak. In particular, what struck me were verses 8 - 10.

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.'
God alone brings the wisdom, through the Holy Spirit. It is He that makes us understand truth because He is Truth. We understand love because He is Love. We can only understand anything at all, because He IS.

Elihu goes on to say,

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.
This boldness continues for pages and pages, as Elihu exclaims God's glory and majesty, then dares to rebuke the elder men around him with the Truth that the "breath of the Almighty" had shown him. Elihu did not flatter them in any way. His impartiality toward these men was because of the truth that the Holy Spirit placed within him; the same Holy Spirit that indwells every believer today. We have full access to that Truth in our everyday lives. What a generous gift.

Now I don't see this as a license to go about spouting my opinion on any and all things, rather I see it as a sober responsibility to ensure that the opinions expressed are those gained from the wisdom imparted by the Spirit. That being said, it was a great revelation to me that spiritual wisdom is as much granted as it is learned, and that I may trust the Holy Spirit to help me see the truth and to share that with others as it becomes appropriate. I figure that there will always be someone older than me; certainly someone wiser also, yet God promises to give me the wisdom, if I will ask for it.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."
-- James 1:5 ESV

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thunderously Abba

I recently read through the book of Job. With so many of us struggling in this most recent crisis, of both economic and spiritual origins, I thought it wise to see how God interatcted with a guy who had it all, lost it all and regained it all and more. I came away with two strong messages from this particular reading of the book, so here goes with revelation number one.

Job's story is perhaps familiar to you, but let me summarize briefly if I may. Job is a man who was recognized as righteous. He is successful, and by all indications, he is wealthy. The story also opens with some questions about Job's children's activities. Well, God allows Satan to test Job up to the point of death, and Job is stripped of nearly everything. His health, his family, and his wealth are all destroyed. His wife even tells him to "Curse God and die."

Later a few buddies drop in to "encourage" Job. He listens to their counsel faithfully, rebuts some of their accusations against him, and tries to justify himself before God. The fourth of these buddies was named, Elihu. Now Elihu was out to set all of these men straight. His monologue begins in chapter 32 and continues through chapter 37. It is in chapter 36 where Elihu describes the greatness of God, and I found myself understanding his description as one of a loving father. Now you may not read it that way, because there is a lot of language dealing with judgement, but fathers have to deal directly and, yes, sit in judgement over their children. It is a crucial part of being an effective father. Note verses 10 and 11,
10He opens their ears to instruction
and commands that they return from iniquity.
11 If they listen and serve him,
they complete their days in prosperity,
and their years in pleasantness.
That sounds an awful lot like an effective father to me, yet my eyes were further opened when I got into chapter 37. Elihu begins to extol the majesty of God. He describes God's voice at that of a wondrous thunder.
5God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
Our God, who's voice of thunder is wondrous beyond comprehension is also our father, our dad, our abba. He is... Thunderously Abba.

Stay tuned for part two...