Desire to Justify (Job 33:32)

If you have anything to say, answer me;
Speak, for I desire to justify you.

Job 33:32

The time of Job’s three “friends” speaking has drawn to a close and Job has finished his rants as well. At this point, a new player in the book speaks up: Elihu. Some folks think that Elihu was there, but wasn’t mentioned because he didn’t say anything until now. There may be some truth in that. Others think that Elihu is a pre-incarnation appearance of Jesus Christ, a theophany. Considering that Elihu will leave off speaking and God will start and no further mention will be made of Elihu at all, there is merit in this position.

This morning, I’m not concerned so much with who Elihu is or where he comes from. I am concerned with his motivation for speaking to Job and his “friends.” Elihu begins what he has to say by asserting that God does, in fact, use dreams and illness and other methods to turn wicked people from their wickedness.  God is God and therefore has the entire spectrum of possible methods at His disposal. Does he use sickness? If it will achieve His goal, He might. What about warning people in dreams? Does it all over the OT.  Visions? Prophecies? Direct instruction? Check. Check. And check. See, God is not limited with regard to how He corrects people. He will do as seems best to Him. And what seems best to Him is best for us. Elihu then gives Job and the others a moment to object. He says, If you have anything to say, answer me. He offers an invitation to refute what he has said. Into the silence, he adds this: Speak, for I desire to justify you. And that is what struck me this morning.

Speak, for I desire to justify you. gives the invitation to refute anything that has been said amiss. But there is silence. No one says anything because what Elihu has said is right. What I find amazing about this is the silence. In the modern world, a person who had just been delivered a verbal smackdown is as likely to sputter and stammer and make a lot of noise but say nothing. Sure, words would come from their mouth, but it would be sound and fury and signify nothing. We’ve lost the ability, in our modern world, to shut our mouths when we have a verbal coup de grâce delivered. We keep talking like a chicken with its head removed keeps running — without direction or purpose or hope of reversing what has just happened.

Speak, for I desire to justify you. also explains Elihu’s motive for speaking. Elihu is not looking to condemn Job. This is a nice change from the three “friends” who have been doing just that for chapters. I think I, and many a modern American believer, could learn something from Elihu. Too often, believers speak to non-believers in a condemning fashion. And this makes sense, because we have often condemned the person in our heart before ever opening our mouth. The trouble is demonstrated by Job and his “friends.” When his “friends” come to him with condemnation, Job has a great deal to say. When Elihu comes with a desire to justify Job, there is silence. The reason for approaching someone is of vital importance.

I was thinking about the term justify and how many people have their methods of explaining it that make sense to them. But I’m a lover of words (of the Word become flesh, in particular), and the term actually clicked in my head this morning. The paragraphs above are left-aligned. They line up and stay in line on the left side of the page. Text that is right aligned lines up with the right side of the page and centered text tries to straddle the middle of things. But justified text aligns on all sides — this paragraph being an example. It is not aligned on one side or the other, but all around. Justified text is completely in alignment. Elihu wants to justify Job, to make him completely in alignment with God.

What about me? Am I seeking to help people become completely aligned with God and His will for their lives? That is what He wants. He wants every man, woman, and child to be completely in alignment with Him and His ways. And He wants me to approach others with that goal in mind.


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