"I'm back, Job. I think that line ('I'm Back' or 'We're Back') is from some American horror film, Job. We have this genre of movies in our culture which are designed to scare the beejezus out of people. What used to be the ghoulish terror of corpses coming back from the dead in the old time horror movies has now been replaced with spiritual content--that is, people are demon-possessed, and the demons knock things over and wreck your life. Thus, when you hear them say in a horror movie, "we're back," you are supposed to start shrieking in terror all over again and then eat your popcorn and enjoy the flick. But, I hope I am not like that, Job. I don't want to inflict that kind of terror on you.
So, let's get to where we left off. I still am trying to assess the full weight of the combined speeches of Elihu and God on you. I so admired you when you put your signature on the complaint near the end of ch.31. You were so right, so defiant, so unswervingly committed to your own sense of yourself and the world. You had so completely explained your situation to yourself, had gone over your case so many times in your mind, checked every sentence for possible leakage, that you knew that you had to be declared right. Would God contend with you in the greatness of his power? "No; but he would give heed to me" (23:6). You knew that you would bring forth your case to a successful conclusion (23:7). All I could say was "Go Job!" "Your are my man!"
And then this guy Elihu begins to speak. He makes four speeches over the next six chapters. 'Boy, was he wordy,' you must have thought. But, then again, so are you. Yikes. Maybe you thought at first that there was also someone else in the world as self-centered as you. That's a scary thought, isn't it? And I bet you silently resolved that you wouldn't listen to the guy. But, guess what? Maybe that is why Elihu said absolutely nothing for about 30 verses. He is like a hammer thrower that just keeps spinning in the circle and never letting go of the hammer. Around and around he goes. Tighter and tighter he coils himself. There has to be an explosion sometime, you must have thought. And maybe it is just this reality that got you to notice what Elihu was saying. You must have looked at him first with a note of intolerance, then with some bemusement, and then with absolute wonder. 'How can this guy keep talking and saying absolutely nothing?' you must have wondered.
But you know what the effect of that was on you? You, probably unwittingly, began actually to listen to what he had to say. You are so amazed that he actually will say something eventually that you are curiously able to listen to what he says. That is, Elihu's long introduction is an attention-getting device, a rhetorical trick to make you notice him. And it worked, didn't it, Job? And, you paid attention to him, didn't you? And not only that, but when he finishes his first speech to you in 33:32, he makes the most unexpected request of you. He says, "If you have anything to say, answer me." Huh? Someone is actually asking you to say more? You must have been so shocked to hear him say this that you couldn't respond. I don't take your lack of answering him as a sign that you have folded your arms across your chest and stopped your ears; I see you rather looking at this unlikely creature with stupefaction written all over your face, as if you are saying to yourself, 'Who is this guy?'
So, this is the thesis I will be developing here, Job. Elihu's words to you actually penetrated that external shell and lodged deeply in your heart. To put it in biblical language, Elihu's words wooed you. Elihu will woo you and God will clobber you. Good cop, bad cop? Elihu seems to be aware he is speaking for God, and I wonder sometimes if what God said to you surprised Elihu. In any case, Elihu's words will strum a different chord, will hit you deeply. But that raises the rather insistent question--what enabled you, Job, to hear Elihu? Why didn't you just turn him off like you had the friends?
I think it wasn't anything conscious that you did, Job. That is, you are so seemingly aware of yourself, not letting anyone get through to you, that there is no way that you would have rationally said, 'Ok, let me hear Elihu. Yes, he is making some good points.' There had to be something in what Elihu said that short-circuited the mind or that bypassed the mind, Job. Something in his tone or his words was like music, music which speaks directly to the heart and bypasses the ratiocinative capacities of the brain. Thus, my conclusion for now. If we are to learn to hear anew, those of us who are so terribly stubborn, it will be because something breaks through to us and appeals to us on a different level than that of the mind. It will have to be a message that cuts straight to the heart. And, still we may resist it. But it will not come because we say, 'Yea, Elihu, that is a great idea!' No way. Isn't that true for you, Job?
I confess, Job, that I really didn't think I had anything to say to you today. Maybe Fritz Scholder was right.