“Is the Spirit of the Lord impatient?
Are these His doings?”
Elihu had just finished giving a tremendous explanation of God’s workings, then he turns to Job, and Job is silent. It rather reminds me of an altar call where no one comes forward. Here the preacher gave a real good sermon that should have brought tears to everyone’s eyes, but no one comes forward. He waits . . . but no one comes. How embarrassing! Oh, no . . . What do you do in a case like this?
Well, Elihu turns to the other three and appeals to them as men with knowledge to listen to what he has to say. He begs them to search out the matter with him, because if Job isn’t going to acknowledge what is right, “We can discern for ourselves . . . let us learn for ourselves what is good.” He then proceeds to discuss Job’s attitude and language right in front of him.
That is where Elihu the man and not Elihu the messenger comes out. It is amazing! Here he was clearly expounding the wisdom of the Lord while under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. After he pours out his heart and there is no response, he gets self-conscious and sensitive and figures Job’s silence to be scorn and cries, “What man is like Job, who drinks scorn like water?”
I suppose it is not all that amazing. It is no different than a man like Noah, who pulled one of the greatest feats of faith of his time and immediately after it was all over got falling-down drunk!
We do it all the time ourselves. During a church service we may give forth a beautiful word of prophecy or exhortation, and right after the service start complaining about the music director or something else.
It would be like giving a real super-duper talk on holiness and zeal and right afterward praying for folks, being clearly under the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit—being real holy and spiritual. Suddenly being distracted by thoughts of lust as a beautiful, shapely young woman comes up for prayer.
Why? How could that happen? Well, simply because we live in an earthen vessel that is weak at times and in many ways we are still immature in the power of God. We are treating the precious pearls of God’s wisdom like marbles for us to play with.
Still, if we are going to be true messengers of God, we need the patience of God as well as the message! Elihu was so sure he had the light of God on Job’s problems, he probably expected an immediate result to everything he had said. However, he should have just given the word and gone on his way. He failed to remember propriety and Job’s position with the others around him. Why did he expect Job to confess that the word met his need? That it hit the mark? God had humbled Job and it was not Elihu’s job to add one jot to the humiliation.
Elihu really was taught in the ways of God, but his impatience makes us wonder if he had actually experienced this “school of suffering” himself. Sometimes it is very easy to discern spiritual truths quickly but then we have to be careful that the light does not outrun our experience.
Sometimes we mess up just like Elihu did. If the person responds right away to our message, we get all excited and happy. However, if they do not respond because of some reserve of temperament or intensity of emotions and they just stand there silent, we get impatient. We attribute their silence to some wrong cause. We assume they have a hard heart, pride, or whatever reason we may create at the time. When we do that, we lose touch with the gentle working of the Holy Spirit. They end up without help or in deeper despair than before.
Elihu delivers his message. Then, when Job is silent, Elihu pours out a whole bunch of verbiage from his own mind to try to emphasize the Lord’s message. Instead of quietly leaving the Word with God, who would “watch over (His) Word to perform it” because “His word is not without power.”
I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have cooperated with the Lord, carefully and slowly depending on Him for every word. The Holy Spirit bearing witness by holding the person’s attention, until I failed to discern that the message had been delivered and began adding my own mess to explain or press home the message from God. Unfortunately, the Lord does not watch over our words to perform them and they are without power—except the power to add confusion.
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
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