Job 35-37, Psalm 144
The purpose of John the Baptist’s ministry was to prepare the minds and hearts of the people to be sensitive to the ministry of Jesus Christ. In Mark 1:2-3 he quotes Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3, “Behold, I send My messenger before your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:’Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight'”. As we come to the end of this long series of debates between Job and his friends, though Elihu gets some things wrong, unlike the other friends, in this final section he gets a lot right, and in so doing is preparing the heart and mind of Job for the final section of this book, when God speaks.
As opposed to the condemning comments by the others, Elihu says in Job 35:5, he states that God’s ways are higher than Job’s. In 35:6-8, he states that because God is so much higher, that our righteous acts and transgressions really have more effect on others than God. In 35:14, he states that God is just, but we must be patient and wait for His justice. In 36:5, he rightly states that God despises no one. He then goes on to exalt God and direct Job’s attention to many of God’s doings which are unfathomable to the minds of men. He also does what Jesus often did, he used his surroundings to teach. In this case he uses the gathering storm and clouds.
Though much of the chapters on the debates taught us what not to do when talking to someone who is suffering, this final portion gives us some good instruction. Like Elihu here, and like John the Baptist, we are to prepare the hearts of those we speak to for the Holy Spirit. Our job is to plant seeds and water them. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” When we encounter one who is suffering do we give them too much worldly instruction like Job’s other friends, do we give them mindless platitudes, do we utter some pat verses that we have memorized, or do we listen and take the opportunity to plant seeds for the only One who offers true hope. The person who planted the seed in me (her name I don’t know and she has no idea the effect she had) saw me grieving at the bedside of my mother who had just passed and simply put her hand on my shoulder and recited Psalm 23 in it’s entirety. Nothing more, nothing less. May we all take the situations that are presented to us and like this hospital worker, plant the seed that leads to true peace and hope.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: