33 “But now, Job, listen to my words;
pay attention to everything I say.
2 I am about to open my mouth;
my words are on the tip of my tongue.
3 My words come from an upright heart;
my lips sincerely speak what I know.
4 The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
5 Answer me then, if you can;
stand up and argue your case before me.
6 I am the same as you in God’s sight;
I too am a piece of clay.
7 No fear of me should alarm you,
nor should my hand be heavy on you.
Elihu turns from addressing the four men to addressing Job alone. He begins with some bold claims about his position and right to speak. He says that his motives are sincere and honest. (verses 1-7), this is followed by references to Job’s questions/complaints (verses 8-11). He then addresses Job with his answers(verses 12-33).
Elihu asserts that Job has had a complaining attitude toward his suffering and a hostile attitude toward God. God does not have to answer to man (verse 13), he then goes on to say how God reveals himself to mortal men and that he will restore a man when he responds favourably to suffering.
Job’s three friends all came with an attitude that they were wiser than Job but Elihu appears at this stage to have had a little more humility. He wanted to hear from Job, he wanted to understand and he reminded Job that he was a mere man as Job was.
A direct encounter with God or even an angel would have gripped Job with terror and fear but if God were to communicate through an ordinary man then it would not appear so alarming or burdensome.
Sounds like a template for the incarnation of God.
8 “But you have said in my hearing—
I heard the very words—
9 ‘I am pure, I have done no wrong;
I am clean and free from sin.
10 Yet God has found fault with me;
he considers me his enemy.
11 He fastens my feet in shackles;
he keeps close watch on all my paths.’
12 “But I tell you, in this you are not right,
for God is greater than any mortal.
13 Why do you complain to him
that he responds to no one’s words?
14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.
Elihu paraphrased Job’s words and communicated back what he thought was the intent and heartbeat of what Job was saying. This is a good model for counsel.
Connection always wins over correction! However, he does bring one thing to the table that he feels that Job must hear right at the beginning and that is that God answers to no one, If Job could embed this in his thinking then everything else will at least have some intellectual perspective even if it is hard to grasp emotionally. He used his speech in order to prepare Job to meet with God.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber in their beds,
16 he may speak in their ears
and terrify them with warnings,
17 to turn them from wrongdoing
and keep them from pride,
18 to preserve them from the pit,
their lives from perishing by the sword.
In verse 14 Elihu tells us “For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.”
Elihu used two stories to explain this idea. The first story is in verses 15-18. This sounds like Eliphaz’s strange dream (Job 4:12-21). The second story sounds rather like Job’s life.
In both stories, the man was not expecting God to speak. But God had an important message to get across to both men.
This dream is like Eliphaz’s dream (Job 4:12-21). But there are important differences:
· In Elihu’s story, God spoke by the dream. In Eliphaz’s dream, a strange spirit spoke.
· In Elihu’s story, the message was that the dreamer himself must stop his evil behaviour. But in Eliphaz’s dream, the message seemed to be that Job must stop his evil behaviour.
It may be that Eliphaz’s dream really was from God. Possibly God was warning Eliphaz to stop his evil behaviour. Eliphaz however, had his own interpretation a targeted Job (Job 22:2-10).
Perhaps God was speaking to Eliphaz. But Eliphaz did not want to hear God’s message.
It wouldn’t be so unusual. I wonder how many sermon’s I have heard through the years and thought that this would be a good message for some specific person, a friend, my wife etc., and deflect the idea that God actually has something to say to me. …or even worse I have prepared a sermon with someone in mind that they need to hear this message without engaging with the scripture and immersing my own heart in God’s counsel. Maybe it’s just me that has that issue but I suspect not.
19 “Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain
with constant distress in their bones,
20 so that their body finds food repulsive
and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
21 Their flesh wastes away to nothing,
and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
22 They draw near to the pit,
and their life to the messengers of death.
23 Yet if there is an angel at their side,
a messenger, one out of a thousand,
sent to tell them how to be upright,
24 and he is gracious to that person and says to God,
‘Spare them from going down to the pit;
I have found a ransom for them—
25 let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;
let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—
26 then that person can pray to God and find favour with him,
they will see God’s face and shout for joy;
he will restore them to full well-being.
27 And they will go to others and say,
‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right,
but I did not get what I deserved.
28 God has delivered me from going down to the pit,
and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’
29 “God does all these things to a person—
twice, even three times—
30 to turn them back from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on them.
31 “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.
32 If you have anything to say, answer me;
speak up, for I want to vindicate you.
33 But if not, then listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”
Elihu came as a type of mediator for Job. The thrust of his message was that God does not act in a whimsical way and that there is purpose in suffering. God allows suffering for spiritual benefit.
The idea of a “ransom” being necessary to secure a person’s redemption and to avoid the deserved judgment is presented here and written about centuries later in Romans 5:6-11.
Some scholars believe that Elihu was presenting himself as the mediator that job needed (9:31-33). This may have been his intention but he most certainly was not the mediator that Job sought. Job needed an intermediary who could be a “ransom” for him. This is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5-6).