The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? [“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together? “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?”]
This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 24. If chosen, it will next be read aloud in an Episcopal church by a reader on Sunday October 21, 2018. It is important because God finally responds to Job, not only showing that patience is indeed a virtue but showing why Job was a righteous man that God knew would pass Satan’s test.
The last we read from the Book of Job (the previous Sunday, Proper 23), it was from chapter 23. Now, we have moved ahead to chapter 38. In between three friends came to counsel Job, basically saying no true God would punish the righteous. Then, from out of nowhere, comes this person named Elihu, who rebukes those three, saying there is good reason for the righteous to be punished, because it can prevent sin.
When Elihu spoke, everyone listened.
The character named Elihu is questioned by modern scholars, as possibly a late addition to the book, because Elihu was not mentioned early in Job and he is not mentioned after his monologues cease. Elihu spoke in the last part of chapter 34 and all of chapters 35-37. Here, in chapter 38, is God finally responding to Job … not Elihu.
The name Elihu means “He Is My God.” This means Elihu is not a physical character, but the Holy Spirit within Job. It is the Holy Spirit within Job that has made him a righteous man, as no man alone it capable of withstanding the sufferings of a physical life without the presence and assistance of the Holy Spirit. Elihu is, therefore, the reason God accepted the challenge by Satan, because Satan was right that no ordinary man punished unjustly will remain faithful to God.
In the Gospel reading that this Old Testament reading is associated with, Jesus told James and John of Zebedee that no one can be allowed to sit at the right hand or the left hand of Jesus, to sit in his glory, because Jesus was not the one who could grant such a request. That had to come from God, and then it was only for those who had been prepared to receive His glory – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not sit beside one, like Job’s three friends did, but within one, as Elihu did in Job.
Imagine yourself as the Temple-Tabernacle, with the Law written inside the ark in your heart, with the high priest being the Christ Mind that makes offerings at this holy altar inside you.
The Epistle reading that associates with this Old Testament reading is from Paul’s letter to the Hebrew-speaking Jews of Rome, when he told all Apostles there to have Jesus Christ as their high priest. Jesus Christ is not a high priest that is to the right or the left, or above in Heaven. Jesus Christ is one’s high priest when he has been resurrected within one’s being. As such, Elihu was the Christ Spirit within Job, meaning Job was a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek also.
When one sees Elihu as within Job, one can then see how chapter 38 is God’s response to Job, after Elihu had spoken through Job. When one sees how Elihu equates to Jesus Christ, Elihu is then relative to what John wrote at the beginning of his Gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3)
When one reads this response by God, realizing that Job had “the Word” within him, a whole new light shines. The Hebrew word translated as “darkens” (“maḥ·šîḵ,” rooted in “chashak”) also means “hides, conceals, or obscures.” As such, the first question asked by God is, “Who is this that conceals counsel by words without knowledge?”
The answer is now understood to be:
“The high priest Elihu speaks the Word within thy servant Job, who has no opinion of his own to voice.”
The question that follows, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” is now answered by Elihu, who strengthened the man he was within, so the answer would be, “I was with you Father, in the beginning.”
The whole of this reading changes complexion. It ceases to sound like Angry God, who was perturbed that the mortal He knew [God is omniscient] would not succumb to the sores of Satan, unjustly. Job would not lose faith because of Elihu being with Job. God knew that because God sent Elihu to be in Job. The whole of this chapter now sounds like Loving God having a nice chat with His Son, the High Priest in Job.
Hey Son. Finger bump!
As an optional Old Testament reading selection for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for the LORD should be underway – one has the high priest Jesus Christ within one, bringing with him all the knowledge of God – the message here is to gird up your loins (regardless of one’s human gender) and find the strength of Christ within you.
As I write these interpretations week in and week out, I am able to churn them out regularly because I spend little time looking up what someone thought about this reading or that reading. If I had to depend on what someone else had to say, I would just let someone else say it and save myself a lot of time trying to duplicate what comes from the brains of others. Sometimes I recall a reading and bits of pieces of things I have written before, but I always approach a reading like it is the first time.
In this process (which is not some grand plan or checklist of intelligent things to do), I find myself going back in time, as though I lived the events of the reading. By feeling a part of the past, I am able to understand the past just like I understand the present. Insight whispers to me, saying “Look this up” or “Go over there.” I follow those leads and astonishing revelations come forth. The timing of the Age of Information helps a lot; but … without the Interlinear assistance of Greek translations (Greek is Greek to me), the ability to search ideas and concepts, people, places and thing I previously knew nothing about, God could certainly ask me, “Who is this that conceals counsel by words without knowledge?”
“Not I, Lord,” I would say. “You know that.”
“Lord, you know.”
What I find every time is amazing to me. I write these for my own benefit. It is a joy and a passion. I thank God for letting me use my computer to voice His Word.