Job 32 Ė 37 part 7
Tonight we will be examining Elihuís response to Job in chapters 32 Ė 37.
Job 32:1 So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.† 2 Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God.† 3 Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.† 4 Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job.† 5 When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused.
In Jobís last speech, he silenced his friends because they didnít feel like they could tell him anything new that would change his view of himself. Next, we are introduced to another man that was there to hear everything that had transpired between Job and his friends and he became angry at Job and his friends.
He was mad at Job because he tried justify himself instead of justifying God. He was mad at Jobís friends because they had not found a way to refute Job, yet they still condemned him as a being a wicked man. Even though Elihu is much younger than these men he is about to show more wisdom than the rest of them as he deals with Job and his friends with a different approach.
Roy Zuck summarizes the difference between Elihuís response and Jobís friendsí response:
ďWhereas Elihuís three elders had recommended that Job repent of willful sin committed prior to his calamities, Elihu recommends (1) that Job repent of pride that developed because of his suffering, and (2) that Job exalt Godís work, (36:24), consider His works (34:14), and fear Him (37:24). The three counselors had claimed that Job was suffering because he was sinning, but Elihu explained that he was sinning because he was suffering! His suffering led to an attitude of pride before God and a questioning of Godís ways. The triad diagnosis pertained to sinful actions in Jobís past experience, whereas Elihuís diagnosis dealt with sinful attitudes in Jobís present lifeĒ (Wayne Jackson, The Book of Job p. 69).
It also interesting that God rebukes Jobsí 3 friends at the end, but he does not rebuke what Elihu says.
Job 32:6 So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said: "I am young in years, and you are very old; Therefore I was afraid, And dared not declare my opinion to you.† 7 I said, 'Age should speak, And multitude of years should teach wisdom.'† 8 But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.† 9 Great men are not always wise, Nor do the aged always understand justice.† 10 "Therefore I say, 'Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion.'
As a general rule, the older you are, the more wisdom you have, and young people should respect their elders, but as Elihu points out just being older or successful in life doesnít always mean that you are wise, and sometimes someone younger can have more wisdom, and Elihu believes that is the case this time, and he wants them to listen to him now as he makes his own opinion known.
Elihu goes on to say how he listened careful to what Jobís friends said, but they were never able to convince Job of living in sin, and he lets them know that only God can vanquish him. Elihu cannot hardly wait to give his opinion. He says:
Job 32:18 For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me.† 19 Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent; It is ready to burst like new wineskins.† 20 I will speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer.† 21 Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; Nor let me flatter any man.† 22 For I do not know how to flatter, Else my Maker would soon take me away.
I am sure all of us have experienced this before. Sometime we hold our tongue for a long time under certain situations, but as some point, we cannot stand it any longer because we must speak out. I like how Elihu in concerned about showing partiality or flattering someone because he just wants to speak the truth without prejudice.
Next, Elihu speaks to Job and implores him to listen to him because he is going to utter pure knowledge and he challenges Job to answer him if he can. Previously, Job said he wished he had a spokesman between him and God, and now Elihu says that he is that man.
Job 33:6 Truly I am as your spokesman before God; I also have been formed out of clay.† 7 Surely no fear of me will terrify you, Nor will my hand be heavy on you.
Elihu doesnít want Job to fear him because he just a man, and he will not punish him. He recounts how Job proclaimed his innocence and how he believed that God had made him His enemy and treated him poorly, but he disagrees with Job and says:
Job 33:12 " Look, in this you are not righteous. I will answer you, For God is greater than man.† 13 Why do you contend with Him? For He does not give an accounting of any of His words.††
Elihu wants to know why Job thinks he can possible contend with God about this situation because God is not to be questioned about such things. Job had claimed that God had not answered him, but Elihu says that sometimes God speaks to man in their dreams or in a vision at night, but man does perceive it.
In verse 17 Ė 28 Elihu take a different approach of why Job is suffering so. He claims that God is trying to rescue him from the pit of death before he sinks deep into sin, and if he will respond and repent, then he will restore his flesh back to like it was, and his life will be restored. So, he does not think God is punishing him for sin, but is chastening him so that he will not go into the grave with sin.
Job 33:29 "Behold, God works all these things, Twice, in fact, three times with a man,† 30 To bring back his soul from the Pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life.† 31 "Give ear, Job, listen to me; Hold your peace, and I will speak.† 32 If you have anything to say, answer me; Speak, for I desire to justify you.† 33 If not, listen to me; Hold your peace, and I will teach you wisdom."
Not only will God do this for man 1 time, he will do it for him three times so that his soul might be saved from the Pit so he can rejoice and live in the light. Once again, Elihu challenges Job to answer him. If he can, Elihu will be his spokesman and will justify him by proclaiming his righteousness. Job does not speak at this time and Elihu continues to teach him his wisdom.
Job 34:2 "Hear my words, you wise men; Give ear to me, you who have knowledge.† 3 For the ear tests words As the palate tastes food.† 4 Let us choose justice for ourselves; Let us know among ourselves what is good.† 5 "For Job has said, 'I am righteous, But God has taken away my justice;† 6 Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.'† 7 What man is like Job, Who drinks scorn like water,† 8 Who goes in company with the workers of iniquity, And walks with wicked men?† 9 For he has said, 'It profits a man nothing That he should delight in God.'
Elihu wants Jobís friends to listen to him carefully so they can understand the true nature of Jobís claims for righteousness and his claims for Godís supposed injustice. Elihu recounts Jobís complaints. Job believes he is righteous and has been punished by God unjustly.
He accuses Job of drinking scorn like water and being like the wicked men because of his false accusations against God, and Elihu is appalled that Job has expressed the idea that he can see any advantage over serving God or opposing him. When Job expressed this thought in some of his speeches, I believe he was referring more to the idea that there is no advantage of who will suffer or not suffer in this lifetime because he also expressed in previous speeches that in the end that the wicked would not be able to stand before God.
While it is true that both the wicked and the just can physically and mentally suffer alike, Christians have a big advantage over the nonChristians because we can pray to God for strength and we know that this life is temporary, and we have the hope of living in heaven for eternity where there will be no more suffering or pain.
Starting in verse 10, Elihu defends the justice of God. He says that God can do no wrong and that will judge men fairly based on their works. Since God receives His authority from no one if He wanted to, He could end all of humanity by simply taking our life back just as easy as He gave it. Elihu says:
Job 34:17 Should one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn Him who is most just?† 18 Is it fitting to say to a king, 'You are worthless,' And to nobles, 'You are wicked'?† 19 Yet He is not partial to princes, Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands.† 20 In a moment they die, in the middle of the night; The people are shaken and pass away; The mighty are taken away without a hand.
In other words, if God hated justice, why would He govern us? As taught throughout the Bible, God does not show partiality between people because they are all the same to Him. Elihu confirms what Job was saying, good and bad things happen to the just and unjust.
Elihu goes on say how God knows exactly what we are doing in our lives, so He does not have to make a investigation of anyone life because he already knows all about them. Therefore, no one can say that God is unjust and he points how God will punish the wicked and hear the cries of the oppressed.
Elihu finishes up in this chapter focusing on Jobís case:
Job 34:31 " For has anyone said to God, 'I have borne chastening; I will offend no more;† 32 Teach me what I do not see; If I have done iniquity, I will do no more'?† 33 Should He repay it according to your terms, Just because you disavow it? You must choose, and not I; Therefore speak what you know.† 34 "Men of understanding say to me, Wise men who listen to me:† 35 'Job speaks without knowledge, His words are without wisdom.'† 36 Oh, that Job were tried to the utmost, Because his answers are like those of wicked men!† 37 For he adds rebellion to his sin; He claps his hands among us, And multiplies his words against God."
Elihu wants to know if Job thinks that God should come down to his level and agree to his terms just because he claims to be innocent. Elihu agrees with Jobís friends that Job is not speaking with knowledge or wisdom and he wishes that Job would be tried and made to suffer to the utmost since he speaks as a wicked man as he rebels against God and resists the wisdom of what is being told to him.
Elihu continues in chapter 35:
Job 35:2 "Do you think this is right? Do you say, 'My righteousness is more than God's'?† 3 For you say, 'What advantage will it be to You? What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned?'† 4 " I will answer you, And your companions with you.
Elihu is responding to Jobís comments he made earlier about how he could not see the advantage of living a pure life over a sinful one. Elihu wants Job to observe the heavens and realize that whether man does good or bad it does not affect God, but it does affect man. When he says this, He is not saying that God doesnít care what man does. Also, Elihu is condemning Jobís self righteousness.
Job had also claimed that God was not answering the prayers of the righteous when they cried out, and Elihu answers this charge as well starting in:
Job 35:9 "Because of the multitude of oppressions they cry out; They cry out for help because of the arm of the mighty.† 10 But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker, Who gives songs in the night,† 11 Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?'† 12 There they cry out, but He does not answer, Because of the pride of evil men.
Elihu says that is true that sometimes God will not answer those who cry out, but only if they are crying out of desperation. In other words, if they have left God out of their life and then they only turn to Him when their back is against the wall then He may not answer them. This reminds me of how some people are today. They only cry out to God when things get beyond their control, but before that moment, they had not walked with God or praised Him prayer, yet they expect God to bail them out because they finally decided to call on Him in prayer.
Job36:13 Surely God will not listen to empty talk, Nor will the Almighty regard it.† 14 Although you say you do not see Him, Yet justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him.† 15 And now, because He has not punished in His anger, Nor taken much notice of folly,† 16 Therefore Job opens his mouth in vain; He multiplies words without knowledge."†
Elihu is saying that God doesnít pay that close attention to empty talk such as Job has been saying. Even though Job claims that he cannot see Godís answer in all this, he tells him he must wait for Godís timing on this matter. Elihu feels that God has held back his anger and has not made Job suffer as much as he should, and he believes that Job is taking advantage of Godís mercy by continuing to speak vain words against God.
In chapter 36 Elihu changes his speech and exalts Godís goodness, and in chapter 37 he proclaims His majesty. We will be looking at the last two chapters in their entirety, but they will require little comment from me because the message is clear.
Job 36:2 "Bear with me a little, and I will show you That there are yet words to speak on God's behalf.† 3 I will fetch my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.† 4 For truly my words are not false; One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.† 5 "Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one; He is mighty in strength of understanding.† 6 He does not preserve the life of the wicked, But gives justice to the oppressed.† 7 He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous; But they are on the throne with kings, For He has seated them forever, And they are exalted.† 8 And if they are bound in fetters, Held in the cords of affliction,† 9 Then He tells them their work and their transgressions -- That they have acted defiantly.† 10 He also opens their ear to instruction, And commands that they turn from iniquity.
Elihu believes he has perfect knowledge of Godís goodness, and he wants them to pay attention. His basic message is that God does not despise anyone, and he is fair and just and will punish the wicked and lift up the oppressed. He will let the sinner know what he has done and command that he turn from his sin. If does, Elihu says:
Job 36:11 If they obey and serve Him, They shall spend their days in prosperity, And their years in pleasures.† 12 But if they do not obey, They shall perish by the sword, And they shall die without knowledge.† 13 " But the hypocrites in heart store up wrath; They do not cry for help when He binds them.† 14 They die in youth, And their life ends among the perverted persons.† 15 He delivers the poor in their affliction, And opens their ears in oppression.† 16 "Indeed He would have brought you out of dire distress, Into a broad place where there is no restraint; And what is set on your table would be full of richness.† 17 But you are filled with the judgment due the wicked; Judgment and justice take hold of you.
If the wiked obeys and repents from their sin, they will be blessed, but if they continue in their sin they will perish. God looks out for the poor and the oppressed, and Elihu believes that Job will be restored from his suffering he would repents. Until he does, he believes Job will continue to suffer the judgment of the wicked. While Elihu has certainly spoken with more wisdom than Jobís friends, many of his accusations against Job are misguided.
Job 36:18 Because there is wrath, beware lest He take you away with one blow; For a large ransom would not help you avoid it.† 19 Will your riches, Or all the mighty forces, Keep you from distress?† 20 Do not desire the night, When people are cut off in their place.† 21 Take heed, do not turn to iniquity, For you have chosen this rather than affliction.† 22 " Behold, God is exalted by His power; Who teaches like Him?† 23 Who has assigned Him His way, Or who has said, 'You have done wrong'?† 24 " Remember to magnify His work, Of which men have sung.† 25 Everyone has seen it; Man looks on it from afar.† 26 "Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; Nor can the number of His years be discovered.† 27 For He draws up drops of water, Which distill as rain from the mist,† 28 Which the clouds drop down And pour abundantly on man.† 29 Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, The thunder from His canopy?† 30 Look, He scatters his light upon it, And covers the depths of the sea.† 31 For by these He judges the peoples; He gives food in abundance.† 32 He covers His hands with lightning, And commands it to strike.† 33 His thunder declares it, The cattle also, concerning the rising storm.
Elihu wants Job to pay attention to the wrath of God so he can turn from his sins because if he doesnít, God could take away his life with one blow and no amount of money can change Godís decision. So, he wants Job to learn from his affliction and turn away from iniquity.
Elihu stresses how good God is and how powerful and all knowing He is. Since He is our Creator and no one can even come close to His wisdom, Elihu wants Job to understand that he should be rejoicing and praising God even in his suffering instead of having a pity party. Elihu gives several examples of Godís power that we can observe with our eyes.
Elihu make a great point. If we would take more time to observe the goodness of God and the power He has, we would learn be more thankful even if we are suffering.
Elihu continues his thought in:
Job 37:1 "At this also my heart trembles, And leaps from its place.† 2 Hear attentively the thunder of His voice, And the rumbling that comes from His mouth.† 3 He sends it forth under the whole heaven, His lightning to the ends of the earth.† 4 After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, And He does not restrain them when His voice is heard.† 5 God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend.† 6 For He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth'; Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.† 7 He seals the hand of every man, That all men may know His work.† 8 The beasts go into dens, And remain in their lairs.† 9 From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind, And cold from the scattering winds of the north.† 10 By the breath of God ice is given, And the broad waters are frozen.† 11 Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds; He scatters His bright clouds.† 12 And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance, That they may do whatever He commands them On the face of the whole earth.† 13 He causes it to come, Whether for correction, Or for His land, Or for mercy.
Elihu continues to show Godís majesty and power by showing how God created the forces of nature and no man can change these forces. Even the animals are forced to seek shelter from the weather. God has made it possible for us to live, breath, eat because of the laws of nature He created, and He uses nature sometimes to punish man so they will pay attention to their circumstance and turn back to God. Other times He uses it to bless the land or show His mercy.
Job 37:14 " Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.† 15 Do you know when God dispatches them, And causes the light of His cloud to shine?† 16 Do you know how the clouds are balanced, Those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?† 17 Why are your garments hot, When He quiets the earth by the south wind?† 18 With Him, have you spread out the skies, Strong as a cast metal mirror?† 19 "Teach us what we should say to Him, For we can prepare nothing because of the darkness.† 20 Should He be told that I wish to speak? If a man were to speak, surely he would be swallowed up.† 21 Even now men cannot look at the light when it is bright in the skies, When the wind has passed and cleared them.† 22 He comes from the north as golden splendor; With God is awesome majesty.† 23 As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him; He is excellent in power, In judgment and abundant justice; He does not oppress.† 24 Therefore men fear Him; He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart." †
Elihu wants Job to understand that there are many things about God that he or no one else can fully understand Him, but we must respect His ways because He has perfect knowledge. Elihu chides Job when is basically says if you are so smart tells us what we should say to God almighty. We cannot even hope to begin to instruct God in all His wisdom.
Even if Job had a chance to stand before God, Elihu says he would be swallowed up by His mere presence. Just as man struggles to look at the light from the sun, he cannot even begin to look at God because He is too majestic. Elihu ends his speech pointing out how majestic God is and how he does not show partiality to any who are wise of heart.
While Elihu assessment of was not perfect, he spoke with more wisdom and came closer to what Jobís problem was than Jobís three friends. Perhaps this is why only Jobís 3 friends are rebuked in the end by God. Job does not respond to Elihuís speech. Perhaps Elihu struck a cord with Job that silenced him or maybe he didnít have a chance to respond before God begins to speak to him from a whirl wind.† Next week, we will examine Godís response to Job.
Elihu has pointed out some great truths that we should take to heart. God is always aware of what is going on in our lives and He will be there to lift us up. When we sin, He wants us to repent and turn back to Him. If we take the time a be still and know that He is God and think on how majestic He is, we will learn to be thankful and happy about what God had done for us and will do for us. If we do this, it will keep us from having so much self pity.