Keep Listening

A week ago I started in on Elihu’s discourse before Job. Then, as I read Job 33, I was feeling like this kid in the crowd had something worth listening to. A week later, having read Job 37 this morning, I’m still thinking that’s the case.

Unlike Job’s other miserable comforters (Job 16:2), Elihu doesn’t accuse Job of secret sins, hidden behind what must have been a life lived behind a righteous façade (Job 1:1), as the only explanation warranting the suffering that God had permitted in his life. Instead, he warns Job against allowing his suffering to lead to sin.

“Take care; do not turn to iniquity, for this you have chosen rather than affliction.”

(Job 35:21 ESV)

As I commented last week, like the perfect opening act before the LORD God comes upon the stage, Elihu encourages Job to not forget who this God is that Job accuses of injustice and demands a hearing before (Job 13:3, 22; 23:3-7).

“Behold, God is exalted in His power; who is a teacher like Him? Who has prescribed for Him His way, or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’? Remember to extol His work . . . ”

(Job 36:22-24a ESV)

And that’s exactly what God is going to do when He calls Job on the carpet, tells him to “dress for action like a man”, and says, in effect, Go ahead, you teach Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:1-4). God is going to show Job how to remember to extol His mighty works.

But in chapter 37, Elihu primes the pump:

“Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. . . . the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge . . . “

(Job 37:14, 16b ESV)

And it’s in this priming of the pump that an exhortation to Job resonates with Pete. That a charge to one who is damaged, down, and disoriented rings deep within one who is worn, weary, and tired of wondering, “What’s going on?”

“Keep listening to the thunder of His voice . . . ”

(Job 37:2a ESV)

Listen, listen. The same Hebrew word, shama, repeated twice. Once as an imperative, a command; once as an infinitive, a verb-acting noun. Listen, and keep listening. Listen carefully (LEB). Listen closely (NASB). Hear attentively (NKJV). Hearken diligently (YLT). Keep listening (ESV). Listen, listen.

Job was done. Elihu says, Man, keep listening! Keep straining to hear the thunder of His voice, especially when the cacophony of your circumstance tries to drown it out.

“God thunders wondrously with His voice; He does great things that we cannot comprehend.”

(Job 37:5 EV)

We can get so caught up with the inner voice of our complaints that we fail to be still and listen for the thundering voice which reminds us of the great things He has done, things we cannot comprehend. But when we keep listening, when we actually hear the thunder of His voice — even when it comes as but a gentle whisper at times — it puts our circumstance in the context of the incomprehensible. And that, is a good thing.

Elihu’s words way back then, a much needed exhortation for this guy now. How I need to keep listening. To the testimony of creation, “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). To the truths of Scripture, with a heart readied as good soil — “those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Lk. 8:15).

Maybe that’s why I was ready to hear the thunder of His voice as I moved on to my next reading this morning . . .

When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

(John 19:30 ESV)

It is finished!

He does great things that we cannot comprehend.

In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37).

Keep listening to the thunder of His voice.

By His grace. For His glory.

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