Sin leaks, and creeps, and repeats. The multi-generational narrative form of the Old Testament doesn't hide this from us, in fact, it paints it vividly in painful details of children living with the consequences of their parent's sins and, all too often, allowing those sins to form patterns that they live out themselves.
The redemptive arc of the Bible is long, and it bends towards the King, who came from the line of Ruth and Boaz, a line that endured the horror show of the end of Judges.
Job wasn't ready. You know when God starts a conversation by telling you to dress like a man that it is going to be good. God essentially says to Job, alright mate, put your big boy pants on, and pay attention. And then the questions begin, and they are God's questions exposing Job's limitations when compared to God's lack of those very same limitations.
When I re-read the story of Samson today, it was no less tragic but I could see some of the strands of grace. A man with low impulse control, who is remarkably gifted by God's Spirit but who cannot control his ego, his temper or his sex drive ends up being weakened and humiliated, and the only glimpse of redemption comes in the form of self-destructive revenge, and yet, God uses Him in the ongoing advance of His Kingdom, and gifts him grace and power, in spite of himself. That's just like God, to love and empower and work through really flawed people.
Elihu strikes me a little bit like a young man who stumbles into Calvinism for the first time. Extremely passionate, very vocal, long-winded, lacking nuance, and rapidly running out of friends to yell at.
There is a difference then between the Spirit's gifts and the Spirit's fruits. The gifts are just that...gifts, given to us as a kindness of God. The fruits though require life long growth and care. They grow out of a life of walking in the Spirit. This should still be our focus and desire, that we would grow fruit. If God has given you remarkable gift, great! Be humble, be thankful, be faithful, and walk a life that focuses on fruit and not just gift. I have met too many Christian leaders who are incredibly gifted and also jerks. The reason for this is that we celebrate gift over fruit.
In this season of extreme refining for the people of the world, we have an opportunity to realign where we put our trust. For many of us, our temptation is to look to the very things that enslaved us for years, without looking to our Lord or even consulting Him on what to do next.
In the midst of the global suffering occurring through COVID-19, we once again find ourselves with the questions of Job and his friends. We want to know how God works, and we want simple answers for what He is doing in the world. While many of them may be found, and while the Scriptures and revelation of Jesus Christ within them offer us all we need to know about the nature of God, and lots of information about His work, there is still an element of mystery to His work in the world that we simply must accept, lest we misrepresent Him like Job's friends did, or we attempt to paint Him into a corner like Job did.