Then Elihu said: “Do you think this is just? You say, ‘I am in the right, not God.’ Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me, and what do I gain by not sinning?’ I would like to reply to you and to your friends with you. Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you. If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself, and your righteousness only other people. – Job 35:1-8
Ah Elihu…what a sensitive young man ready to comfort his elder Job in his time of trouble…not so much. “Gaze at the clouds so high above you”…this is a telling clue to the posture and perspective of Elihu. He clearly sees God as a distant cloud that could not be with us…let alone carry us like a son or daughter. He feels the need to set Job straight in his “misunderstanding” of the way things are with God.
Elihu concludes that our sins do not affect God and neither does our righteousness. I am not sure how Elihu knows this with such certainty, especially at his tender young age — but I guess thinking back on my college days I was pretty cocky and confident as a young man too. Why do the young tend toward idealism and overconfidence about how much they know? Perhaps the same hormones that drive us to high school dances impart this sense of self assurance. Whatever the reason I think Elihu is mistaken.
I think God cares very much about our sins and our righteousness. Not in a school headmaster sort of way, but rather as a parent cares for the proper feeding and clothing of their child…because they love them.
God does not want us to go about our lives wandering and hungry — sleeping in dry stream beds. He wants us to sink our roots deep into the one river, so that our spirits can grow and thrive. In order to do this God must tend to our sins and righteousness.
God has done this through the “cloud” that came down to earth — His son Jesus. We need not gaze at him “so high above us”. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He wants to be invited into our hearts and souls. We need but ask and He will fill our souls with His spirit just like the cloud filled the temple of the Israelites.
Prayer: Thank You God for caring about our sins and righteousness, and sending Your son Jesus to show us the way.