Elihu, Self-Designated Spokesperson for God: Chapter 33
Can I just say it? Here we go again! Long-winded Elihu once again chides Job: If you’ll just LISTEN to me…
First of all, you have great informality in Elihu’s manner of speaking to Job directly, which the others did not do. And secondly, you see the pride with which he speaks. As a young man, he was ready to prove himself, to show that he was just as wise and Godly as the rest of them claimed to be.
In fact, he thought himself MORE wise, and MORE Godly, claiming to be the very spokesman for Job before God Himself. Elihu talks too much, is incredibly conceited, and tends to repeat himself. But probably his most grievous offense is the fact that he ONLY sees Job as an unrepentant sinner.
He is condemning an innocent man!
You’re Not Sinless, Job!
Elihu makes it entirely plain that he heard what Job claimed about himself. That he was pure, had no transgressions on him, that he was completely innocent, and had no iniquity in himself.
However, thinking back, we can see that Job never once claimed to be without sin or without transgression. In fact, he knew that his fleshiness could not even stand before God and his righteousness. Consider Job 9:2, 28; Job 13:26, and Job 19:20. Job knew his faults. He owned them.
So. We know that in Elihu’s conceit, he hadn’t actually HEARD Job, but rather deduced within himself that he must think himself pure to believe that he is “innocent”.
Maybe God Answered You Already, Job?
As he continues his righteous speech, Elihu tells Job that perhaps he came to him and he didn’t realize it. Maybe in a dream? Maybe in a vision in the dark of night?
Yes, it’s true that God is greater than man. No one denies this, especially not Job. But still, Elihu had no right in assuming to speak for God, or to be Job’s spokesperson before God.
Dreams Vs. Visions
Many people believe dreams and visions to be the same thing, but they are not. Dreams happen in the subconscious mind during sleep. Usually, a person has to enter REM sleep for this happen, after about four hours of uninterrupted sleep.
A “vision”, on the other hand, can happen in that state between sleeping and waking. A person can be awake, but the dark night pushes out all other stimuli so there are no diversions that would subtract to the vision God brings.
Elihu’s Continued Speech
Even though he had just suggested that perhaps Job had had a dream in which God spoke, he still goes on to say that the suffering he is now going through is likely God’s way of speaking to him.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “The chastisement of sickness and the flagellation of pain whip the sinner back to him who alone can save him. These are the black dogs of the Great Shepherd wherewith he brings wandering sheep till they come again under his crook, and he leads them into green pastures.”
So the idea is a common one for many, that trials, sufferings, and pains of the flesh are a way for God to bring back the wandering sinner. Which would be a great commentary for one who was actually in some sin. But Job was not.
Elihu goes on, in his very wordy speech, to say that perhaps God sent a mediator or messenger. Whereas the others have spoken to the fact that God’s judgment must surely have come upon Job for some sin, Elihu forces home the statement that if Job will just admit his sin, he would be restored.
Still, fresh new words cannot mask the message that has been stated over and over already by the other friends. They believe Job to be a sinner who is unjustly blaming God. They say if he will only repent, everything would take a massive turn for the better.
The end of this chapter wraps up in much the same way it started. Elihu continues to tell Job to just hold on, he’s going to teach him wisdom.
Elihu’s Accusations: Chapter 34
Moving into chapter 34, Elihu continues to bring up things Job said and then add his “wisdom” to it. He is still not characterizing Job’s words correctly because he claims that Job said he was sinless.
As many people do, when trying to pick apart what they believe to be the root of a brother’s or sister’s problems, Elihu picked only the parts of Job’s conversation that would help him prove a point. Yes, Job was rash throughout chapter 10, but he never claimed that he was completely without sin.
Becoming much bolder than the other speakers, Elihu blatantly attacked Job, accusing him of “drinking up scorn” as if he was thirsty for it. But he also adds in the lie that Job had said that there is no profit in serving God.
God’s Moral Order
The idea that a man reaps what he sows was a part of Elihu’s speech here. But he’s missing the point that this is a general application and not a spiritual law that means good deeds will automatically create good things in the life of the one that does them. If that were the case, we’d all be in trouble!
It’s true, as Elihu, Job, and the others all agreed, that God does not pervert justice and He does not do wicked things to His people. However, the confidence of this group of “friends” bends a little too far in assuming they completely understand God and His work and ways.
Overall, Elihu considers Job’s outward expressions of agony in this horrible time as Job’s condemnation against a just God. The truth was, in fact, that the agony Job was experiencing was brought on because of his love for God, and His respect for God’s Word, Law, and Deeds.
God’s Judgments Are Perfect
Nothing is hidden from God. Again, the words of this young, long-winded friend ring true. But he aimed this warning specifically at Job, telling him if he didn’t repent, God would view him as someone who had completely turned against Him.
His message to Job was as clear as he could make it. God never does the wrong thing! However, the very basis of that idea if flawed from the ground up. If God is, as we know Him to be, Sovereign, then he does everything that can be done. If everything that He does is right, then by the very definition of this theory, everything that “happens” would be “right”, in which case evil would, of the necessity of definition, disappear.
Elihu’s Strong Advice
The idea was quite clear and has been throughout this book, that Job’s friends think he should repent of this secret sin he’s committed. Elihu, as you can see in this chapter, takes it a step further.
He is speaking about “anyone” but that “anyone” here happens to be Job. He said he should man up and take the discipline. Then he tells him to admit all his guilt, even that from long ago. And that he should submit to God and allow Him to teach through this agonizing lesson.
Elihu is obviously angry and offended… and arrogant. Even as arrogant as he believes Job to be. He really applies the pressure in telling Job what he needed to do. Of course, he thought he was doing the right thing. He thought that his very bold and blatant speech would shake Job to the core and make him finally do what they all thought he must do to be recompensed.
Job, Inviting God’s Judgment?
Apparently, “wise men” thought Job was completely without wisdom in the way that he was acting in his current situation. They believe him to be speaking a way that is often only heard from men who are wicked. So, with that in mind, Elihu believes that with a little extra suffering (tried to the utmost), maybe he would finally reach his breaking point and repent.
There is simply no compassion, no empathy, in Job’s friends, and certainly not in Elihu. Of course, we have to remember, neither they nor Job had the insight offered to us in chapters 1 and 2 of this book. Job knew he was blameless, but none of them realized this was actually satan’s hand at work. A test.
Instead, Elihu believed Job was just adding to his already horrendous sin, whatever it was, by being rebellious in his refusal to repent. In closing this chapter, he repeated his open criticism of Job that was far bolder than any words used before him.
I cannot imagine having “friends” like these, can you? And Elihu, of all people… a young man who should have been at least respectful of his elders, was probably the most severe in his speech towards Job. Yes, it could be that he was just really trying to drive home his fear that Job was, literally, about to be lost to God forever. But still, almost everything he’s said has already been said, and a far more respectful tone.
Have you ever had a friend that you rebuked in hopes of helping them? Have you ever had a friend rebuke YOU in this way? What are your thoughts on their behavior this far into the book of Job?
Lord Jesus, it’s hard to read the way Job’s friends spoke to him, mostly because we already know both the beginning and the end of the story. But for me, Lord, I just ask that You would always give me eyes to see the bigger picture! If I ever see a brother or sister and think I know what’s at the root of their pitiful circumstances, give me revelation or at least the good sense to keep my mouth shut! Help me to be even a fraction as merciful as You would have me to be, Father, and I’ll never fail to praise and honor and glorify You! In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen!