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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Gleanings from Elihu
"I thought age should speak, and increased years should teach wisdom. But it is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding..." - Elihu† the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram


This reminds me When John the Apostle references Christ as the key of David. Recall in Isaiah 22, a man named Shebna who was in charge of the royal household - the household where King David had once lived. The Lord removes Shebna and replaces him with Eliakim, taking the key to the house of David away from Shebna and setting it upon Eliakim's shoulders, so that no one can get in or out except that Eliakim opens the door for them. Having the key to the house of David meant that Eliakim and only Eliakim could lock the door. If it was locked no one could get in, and if it was unlocked no one could be kept out. That authority was given to Eliakim by God, and expressed poetically in this way: When he [Eliakim] opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open. When John the Apostle writes (in John 10) that Christ is the door to the sheep, he is referencing the same idea - the idea that no one enters except through Him, likewise in the book of revelation (c.f. 3:7), where John refers to Christ as holding the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and shuts and no one will open. I understand this to refer to entrance into the kingdom, and so should you. But I further understand the nature of that entrance, that it is through grace by faith - through an understanding that does not come about through intellect, wisdom or age, but through a spiritual endowment whereby a person is able to understand spiritual things.

This the Apostle Paul echoes when he writes that "the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God" - the things of the Spirit of God are "shut" to the natural man, and the natural man can find no way in himself to "open" these things because they are spiritually discerned. Unless the Spirit reveals them, you cannot discern them. But when the Spirit reveals them, you neither can deny them. It is in fact just such an act of revelation that brings about our salvation; that is what we speak of when we say by grace, for God is not obliged by our sin to endow us with spiritual discernment whereby we believe the gospel and are saved. The reality of it is given in an act of grace. It is not that we comprehend what the gospel is, its mechanics, and tenets - it is that we are given grace in this manner: that we are suddenly able to put our trust in God.

When Elihu says that it is the Spirit of God who gives understanding, he is saying a profoundly true thing, but the wisdom of Elihu doesn't end there.

"Why do you complain against Him That He does not give an account of all His doings? Indeed God speaks once, Or twice, yet no one notices it."‡ - Elihu


I hear this complaint from time to time amongst new believers. Why doesn't God take any notice of me? I pray, but I never get the sense that God is there, or that he is answering, or even hearing my prayers. I feel like I am talking to nothingness, and my experience seems to confirm that!

Well, Elihu got it right. It isn't that God doesn't take notice, or that God doesn't respond, it is that you are ignorant of God's ways, and in the fog of that ignorance you are looking for something that is altogether different than what is supposed to be there.

"In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds, then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that He may turn man aside from his conduct, and keep man from pride; He keeps back his soul from the pit, and his life from passing over into Sheol.
°"
- Elihu


Here Elihu describes one way in which God turned men away from their sin in the days before Christ. He gave them dreams at night, when they slept. The end result was that they woke up convicted of where the line between sin and righteousness was drawn. In those days at least, God would sometimes make these things plain to men in their dreams, for the purpose of correcting their pride in waking life, and in so doing, keeping them from eternally shipwrecking their soul. Elihu's argument is that God isn't silent, rather it is men who are deaf. He isn't emphasizing that God speaks through dreams, he is emphasizing that God speaks through the revelation of our wickedness, and His righteousness - that putting these things before us, is like lighting a path for our feet, so that those who receive light, can walk by it.

Now, lest we imagine that God intends the primary means of convicting us of our sin and of the righteousness way we are to walk is supposed to be through our dreams, I remind you that this is no longer the ministry of dreams, but of the indwelling Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and of righteousness through the message spoken by Jesus, recorded by the Apostles, and delivered to us as the canon of scripture. It is as though the author of Hebrews knows that men are puffed up with pride, and will eventually demand personal revelation in the form of dreams, whispers, intuitions and daydreams, such that every indigestion will be interpreted as "a word from God"; I say, it is as if this is the reason he has written so clearly that God no longer speaks to his children like that. (c.f. Hebrews 1:1-2) But Elihu doesn't stop with dreams:

Man is also chastened with pain on his bed, and with unceasing complaint in his bones; so that his life loathes bread, and his soul favorite food. His flesh wastes away from sight, and his bones which were not seen stick out. Then his soul draws near to the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there is an angel as mediator for him, one out of a thousand, to remind a man what is right for him, then let him be gracious to him, and say, 'Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom'; let his flesh become fresher than in youth, let him return to the days of his youthful vigor; then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, that he may see His face with joy, and He may restore His righteousness to man. He will sing to men and say, 'I have sinned and perverted what is right, and it is not proper for me. 'He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, and my life shall see the light.' Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.¤ - Elihu


Elihu spells out what John later summarized: God chastens whom He loves. The purpose of this chastening is to keep a man from going to the pit. It is one of the ways in which God interacted with His children in the past, and which John's summary tells us in the book of revelation (c.f. 3:19), and continues to interact with us today.

But the wisdom of Elihu broadens out:

If He should determine to do so, if He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.†† - Elihu


Here we learn that the life that we are living owes its existence to God's sustaining Spirit. It is the unquenchable life of God that animates (today) every single human being on earth, so that no one can say that his life is his own. We are debtors to God in all things except sin.

Elihu understood that wisdom comes from God, not from age or intellect. He understood that our sin or our righteousness does not help or hinder God, but affects other people. He understood that God is not absent in our lives, but thriving in them, even when we are blind and deaf to His presence. He understood that it was arrogance that blinded people, for this was the heart of his argument against Job - an argument that God did not rebuke or correct.

These are just a few of the truths that stood out this morning as I passed through Job in my morning reading of scripture. Each truth a reinforcement of themes that permeate the whole of scripture, light upon light. I figured since I hadn't posted in a while, I might just post this.




† c.f. Job 32:7 [NASB]
‡ c.f. Job 33:13-14 [NASB]
° c.f. Job 33:15-17 [NASB]
¤ c.f. Job 33:18-30 [NASB]
†† c.f. Job 34:14-15 [NASB]

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posted by Daniel @ 7:32 AM  
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