In the book of Job, Elihu brings us wisdom that the older men sitting in front of him are lacking. Job gets off track and declares his innocence before the Lord, a dangerous thing. The other three friends declare that they understand exactly what God is doing and they offer no comfort to Job, a dangerous thing. And only when the frustrated Elihu speaks do we start really getting some wisdom.
When Elihu speaks in the text below, he will open to us two significant truths that we need to keep hold of today.
13 Who gave him charge over the earth,
and who laid on him the whole world?
14 If he should set his heart to it
and gather to himself his spirit and his breath,
15 all flesh would perish together,
and man would return to dust.
Elihu shows us, in his questions and thoughts here, two important things. First, he reminds us that God is not under the authority of any other power. God is the authority, the ultimate judge. Second, he shows us that God is the necessary being, the one upon which the entire universe rests.
In verse 13, Elihu asks, “Who gave him charge over the earth, and who laid on him the whole world?” What is the obvious answer? Nobody put God in charge. God is the Creator. God is the one by whom, for whom, through whom the universe exists.
That truth must remind us that God is not, therefore, subject to any sort of outside judgment of his actions. God is not judged by an external standard of justice. God is not measured by a law or a standard other than himself. We do not look at God’s actions and then look to someone or something else to check to see if his actions are OK. God is the measure that determines righteousness. God is not subject to any other measure.
Then, in verses 14-15, Elihu says to us, “If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” This is the idea that God is necessary to the existence of all that is. If the Lord were to stop upholding the universe by his will and his power, the universe would cease to exist. God makes the universe be. The universe contributes nothing to the existence of God.
Realize that both of these points come as a response to Job’s accusations of injustice on the part of god. And thus, these points should also come to modern folks who accuse God of injustice. When a person indicates that the ways of the Lord do not meet their personal understanding of what is right, they need to recall that God, not mankind, is the standard of what is right. So, it should not surprise us one bit that God does not fit our description of how things should be. God is straight while we are crooked. God is even while we are warped. God is holy while we are sinners. And God measures us; we do not measure God.
And when a person thinks to himself or herself that they will walk away from the Lord, we also need to remind them that God is necessary for their very existence. They live by his mercy and in accord with his sustaining power. To turn and think they will make a point against God by not following him is not to harm God. We are subject to the judgment of the Lord. We are dependent upon the Lord. He has never been and will never be reliant upon us.
May we allow verses like these to remind us of the old truth that God is God and we are not. God is Master and we are his subjects. God is right and we are naturally wrong. And the only way for us to be right is for us to shape our view of the world to match the revelation of God in his holy word.