Divinely Inspired Words
Day: 32 | Plan: Suffering and Sovereignty
Today’s Reading: Job 32
Job 32:18-20 (NIV) “For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me … I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.”
In Job 32, we hear a bold claim. Elihu professed that the words he was about to speak … the words we are about to read … came directly from God. The question that comes into play, both in Job’s day and for us today, is when a person makes such a claim, how can we know their words truly are from God?
Let’s begin our time together today by reading what happened before Elihu made this pronouncement about his divinely inspired words. Job and his friends had bantered back and forth for nearly 30 chapters. During that time, Elihu remained quiet.
But now Job was silent.
Job’s friends were silent.
And God remained silent.
Elihu took that opportunity to insert himself into their discussion. Initially, he chose to hold his tongue because he was younger than Job and his friends. Elihu said respect for his elders, and the wisdom that supposedly came along with their age, motivated him to patiently wait his turn. (Job 32:4; Job 32:6-7)
But, the longer Elihu listened, the angrier he became. Job angered Elihu because he seemed to care more about defending himself and his name than defending God and His name (Job 32:2). Job’s friends riled him up because they failed to convince Job of his sin, yet they still judged and condemned him. (Job 32:3; Job 32:12)
Elihu believed the time had come for a fresh voice – an impartial voice – to speak up and defend God. (Job 32:21-22) That someone was him. Elihu insisted Job and his friends listen to his words not only because their words had failed but also because the words he was about to speak were divinely inspired words sent directly from God.
Elihu felt not only inspired but impassioned to speak: “For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me; inside I am like a bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst. I must speak and find relief; I most open my lips and reply” (Job 32:18-20).
Elihu believed he had a mandate from God, and if he didn’t speak, he would explode.
Did Elihu truly hear from God? Were his words really God’s words? We hear similar claims from people in our day and time. The question that immediately comes to mind in these conversations is how do we know whether someone is truly hearing from and speaking on behalf of God?
We know from Scripture that God does speak to and through His people. Paul writes, “what we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).
Since God does speak through His people, when someone like Elihu makes this claim, we should carefully listen to each word and pay attention to their motivations.
Specifically, we should test and measure their words against Scripture, determining whether they contradict or line up with God’s Word. It’s also helpful to discern the speaker’s motives. Is he partial or impartial? Is she motivated by anger or genuine love and concern?
It seemed Elihu sincerely desired to be that friend who would point Job back to God. To remind Job of what he knew to be true about God. But we also know anger and frustration motivated Elihu’s words. (Job 32:5) So, as we continue to study Elihu’s speeches in the next few chapters, let’s remember to weigh them wisely and keep his motivation in mind.
Prayer: Father, I’m so thankful that You speak through Your Spirit and Your Word. When I hear someone claiming to speak for You, lead me to Your Word. Point me to Your truth. Grant me knowledge and understanding as I seek discernment regarding their words. Give me wisdom as I seek to determine whether he or she is impartial and neutral and speaking Your truth. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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