Job 42

forgiveness-copy-e1435428741640

Job 42:1-6

42 Then Job replied to the Lord:

2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”

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Job’s response appears to have been immediate, humble and repentant. Still without the answers that he was wrestling with and still in his suffering but his attitude was different and heart was responsive,

He was not confessing the sins that Eliphaz and his other friends accused him of, presumably he was innocent of such misjudgements but rather this was a dispute with God about his justice.

Job recognised God’s sovereignty, his ultimate goodness and felt extreme disappointment with himself for lacking faith that his hand was at work in his present suffering.

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Job 42:7-8
Epilogue

7 After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”

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These verses seem strange. Job’s friends were wrong in their approach but were at times theologically on point, there doesn’t appear to me too much to differentiate their behaviour with Job’s behaviour and it may appear that they all deserved the same punishment.

Job is identified as a servant of God. A servant is someone who carries out his master’s work. Job was in some way identified as carrying out God’s work (Job 29:14). Acting on behalf of God !

Job was already God’s servant when his suffering began (Job 1:8). And Job was still God’s servant during his trials (Job 2:3). In verses 7-8, God emphasised 4 times that Job was God’s servant.

In the culture of the day there was a special relationship between a servant and his master. Someone who insulted a servant was also insulting the servant’s master. See Mark 12:1-9. A master would try to punish the person who insulted his servant. The master would feel that the person was insulting the master’s own honour.

In 2 Kings 2:23-24, some youths insulted Elisha. It was as if they were insulting God himself. Bears came from the wood and attacked the youths. If the youths had insulted an ordinary man, who was not a servant of God such a terrible thing may not have happened. But Elisha was acting on behalf of God.

Eliphaz said that Job was evil (Job 22:5). This would be a stupid thing to say about any innocent person. But Job was a servant of God. So Eliphaz’s stupid words were insulting God.

A servant’s primary responsibility was to be loyal to his master. Job did all that he could to be loyal to God. He maintained that loyalty when he heard his wife’s foolish advice to curse God and die (Job 2:9-10). Job did not blame God in chapter 3.

Job’s friends accused Job. His friends arguments led him into a path of blaming God in order to maintain his own innocence. Their poor stewardship of the situation had led Job into this dark place.

So God was angry with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.

God could have punished Job’s friends. But instead, God wanted to forgive them. So God told them to kill some animals. Then, they should burn the animals as gift to God. The animals would suffer the punishment that the friends deserved.

This later became a pattern of life for his people. God often wanted such sacrifice to give a physical demonstration of his punishment and mercy. Ultimately Jesus became the sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-10).

Job prayed for the friends because he was God’s servant. So Job was able to pray on behalf of his friends. This also was a shadow of what was to come, first through the priesthood and later through Christ himself (Hebrews 2:17, 4:14).

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Job 42:9
9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
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In the preceding verses Eliphaz is told to get seven bulls and seven rams and sacrifice them.

The number 7 is used 735 times in the Bible (54 times in the book of Revelation alone). If we include the words ‘sevenfold’ (6) and ‘seventh’ (119), the total jumps to 860 references.

Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). It appears to derive its meaning from being tied directly to God’s creation of all things. According to Jewish tradition, the creation of Adam occurred on October 7th, 3761 B.C. (or the first day of Tishri, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar). The word ‘created’ is used 7 times describing God’s creative work (Genesis 1:1, 21, 27 three times; 2:3; 2:4). There are 7 days in a week and God’s Sabbath is on the 7th day.

The Bible, as a whole, was originally divided into 7 major divisions. They are 1) the Law; 2) the Prophets; 3) the Writings, or Psalms; 4) the Gospels and Acts; 5) the General Epistles; 6) the Epistles of Paul; and 7) the book of Revelation. The total number of originally inspired books was forty-nine, or 7 x 7, demonstrating the absolute perfection of the Word of God.

There are at least seven men in the Old Testament who are specifically mentioned as a man of God. They are Moses (Joshua 14:6), David (2Chronicles 8:14), Samuel (1Samuel 9:6, 14), Shemaiah (1Kings 12:22), Elijah (1Kings 17:18), Elisha (2Kings 5:8) and Igdaliah (Jeremiah 35:4).

In the book of Hebrews, written by the apostle Paul, he uses seven titles to refer to Christ. The titles are ‘Heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1:2), ‘Captain of our salvation’ (2:10), ‘Apostle’ (3:1), ‘Author of salvation’ (5:9), ‘Forerunner’ (6:20), ‘High Priest’ (10:21) and the ‘Author and finisher of our faith’ (12:2).

Job’s friends obeyed God, they went to Job and asked his aid and interposition, and obtained it. The Lord accepted Job in this intermediary priest type role. Job is therefore a type of Christ, not merely in his sufferings, but also as mediator for his friends who had so completely misjudged him and misunderstood him.

Their only chance of being forgiven was for Job to accept them and pray to God for them. God had already accepted Job. They knew they must go to Job in humility, having rejected him already. This had to be one of the hardest things they had ever done.
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Job 42:10-15
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

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Job prayed for his friends which is evidence that there was no longer any bitterness towards them. He forgave them and God forgave him. God’s restoration was immediate and abundant.

Friends, prosperity, family and long life were all restored to Job.
There was a point in Job’s life when he imagined he would be prosperous and successful all his life and then it was all taken from him. His dominant thought was that he was going to die. He didn’t see his suffering coming and then in the midst of his suffering he had no idea what lay ahead of him.

This is the nature of life and it’s twists and turns. Our footing in life can seem secure but something can come left from centre and pull the rug from under our feet or suddenly we can be escalated into an arena of life that we did not expect or choose.

We have no idea about what may be happening in the spiritual realms that may have an impact on our earthly life.

Job looked after his daughters carefully. Usually only the sons would share the family’s wealth. It is interesting that his daughters are named and his sons are not.

I think the purpose of this text is most likely to inform us about how Job dealt with his girls so that is why their names are mentioned and not the boys.

Possibly, the author wants to draw our attention to two things in the text.

There were no other women in the land as beautiful as Job’s daughters.
According to the Old Testament, the inheritance was only given to the males of the family and not the females. The sons were given an inheritance. The only reason girls were given an inheritance was if there father were to die without having a male heir (Numbers 27:8). If a girl were given an inheritance then she was not allowed to marry anyone other than a man from her father’s tribe. God did not allow the inheritance of one tribe to pass along to another tribe (Numbers 36).
The names have special meanings.

The first daughter’s name is Jemimah = “day by day”

This may have been a reminder to Job that after all of his sufferings he would need to live one day at a time. Keep everything in the day.

The second daughter’s name is: Keziah = “cassia”- a spice; a powdered bark like cinnamon

This spice is also mentioned in Psalm 45:8 “All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia ; Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.”

His third daughter was named:

Keren-happuch = “horn of antimony” used by ladies of that time to apply eye cosmetics

The names of the girls, the beauty that is mentioned is perhaps  indicative that the suffering in Job’s life had come to an end.

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Job 42:16-17
16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
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Tradition says that Job was about 70 when his troubles began which would mean that he would have been about 210 when he died which seems to be about right for the patriarchal period.

After the flood, God said that men would not continue to live for more than 120 years (Genesis 6:3). And Psalm 90:10 says that a normal life is 70 or 80 years.

Because of verse 16 and some traditions or customs that are mentioned in the book, it is believed that Job lived in very ancient times. If so, the Book of Job may be the oldest book that still exists.

There are many lessons that we can draw from this book and it is rather easy to see something of ourselves in Job and an example of our struggle with the fairness and unpredictability of life. It is however less common to think of ourselves as one of the judgemental friends who labelled Job’s struggle and made many assumptions about what was going on and yet that is quite possibly just as significant for most of us (especially those of us that would think of ourselves as religious or having a faith).

It’s something for me to think about. I am most certainly someone who can identify both with Job and his friends. The good news is that all were forgiven and found their connection with God.

That’s the end of my journey into the wisdom literature. I hope that you have found it helpful and insightful. Some of the material has been lifted from my most recent journals since early in 2017.

In my personal studies, journal reflections I am now working my way through the book of Genesis which I am finding incredibly inspiring and encouraging. I look forward to publishing that in my blog at a later date.

Tomorrow, I will begin a new journey into the Psalms. The original reflections on the Psalms began on my recovery journey in the Summer of 2015. I have been rereading my journals from that period and they bring up a lot of stuff for me. A lot of sadness about the darkness I was in and also an appreciation of how God allows us to grow. The Psalms were my anchor in that initial period when I could barely whisper a prayer. I could at least wrestle with the Psalms and learn to pray through them.

After the Psalms I dug into Luke followed by Acts (or Luke the sequel as I like to call it), 1&2 Corinthians, Zephaniah, Nahum & Habakkuk before landing into the wisdom literature. This is a taste of things to come.

My desire is to get through the whole Bible within a 7 year period and from thereon publish an evolving commentary and study series building on the framework that was ignited by my recovery and journey back to some kind of spiritual health.

If you find it helpful or insightful then I thank God that he has made it useful to you as well as me. I hope you will stick with me for this adventure and that we will grow together in our knowledge of God and our faith.

Please note that though I love to write I am not claiming any theological expertise, I have borrowed a lot of material from other sources and rephrased it in my own words and it’s just one mans journey wrestling with himself and God in the light of the scriptures. It’s written with a reasonable level of articulation and grammar in an accessible style that I hope is easy for you to understand and not too academic or pious. It is far from perfect …imagine it as a sketchpad.

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Job 38

a creation

Job 38:1-3
The Lord Speaks
38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
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Job had requested to meet God. He assumed that God would act like a judge by vindicating him and explaining the reason for his suffering. However, he believed that God had caused his trouble. He wrestled with the idea that God may be a cruel enemy(Job 16:9-14). He argued that he himself was right and that God was unfair (Job 32:2).
God now enters the dialogue out of the storm and instead of giving the answers that Job requested he lists a number of things that Job could not explain or comprehend.

Job had spoken of his own greatness and had taken the position of advising God (Job 23:13-17; Job 24:1). Hearing God’s speech however exposed his erroneous thinking (Job 42:1-6).

God’s speech is a little reminiscent of Jesus words in Luke 12:13-15. A man asked Jesus to act as a judge. The man wanted his fair share of his inheritance. But Jesus refused to be the judge. Instead, Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach the man about where he should place his security.

There are a total of 39 questions in chapter 38, which easily ranks it as the chapter with the most questions in all the Bible. When added to the 20 questions in 39:1 – 40:2, the total comes to 59 questions that God asked Job in the first cycle of interrogation. The second cycle 40:6 – 41:34) contains another 24 questions. The significant thing about these questions is that Job cannot answer a single one! God answers to no one.

Some are the same questions that Elihu had asked Job. Now, God demanded Elihu to answer the same questions. If he knew God better than Job, then he could answer the questions.

Verses 38:4-38: The questions cover a wide range of the marvels of God’s creation, with the emphasis placed on the inanimate world: earth (verses 4-7), sea (verses 8-11), the dawn (“dayspring” verses 12-15), unseen wonders (verses 16-21), weather phenomena (verses 22-30), and heavenly bodies (verses 31-38).

In verses 4-11 we will read how God challenged Job’s wisdom immediately with an inquiry about Job’s lack of omnipotence and omnipresence. Proverbs 3:19-20 and 8:22-31 reveal the connection between God’s wisdom and creation.

In verses 4-38 God asked Job if he participated in creation as He did. That was a crushing, humbling query with an obvious “no” answer.

In verses 4-7 Creation is spoken of using the language of building construction.
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Job 38:4-7
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
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Suddenly everything that has been brought to the table in the discussion about God’s ways and his intervention with Job is put in it’s place with this first question alone
Job was not there at the creation. But Job had spoken as if he was wiser than God (Job 23:13-17). He knew nothing of how the world was formed or of the heavenly realms. His friends also knew nothing.

What about me? I am quick to decide that God has caused or allowed something to happen because of a certain observation or judgment I have made but my understanding is so unbelievably limited. I would not count myself as wise as Job and yet sometimes I can act as though I know the mind of God or have some special insight.

I should probably shut up and let God be God. He is better at it than me. He’s been doing it a lot longer and he has never made a mistake in his entire existence. My life however is littered with mistakes, erroneous judgments and dishonesty to cover my tracks.
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Job 38:8-11

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

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God’s power over the sea by raising the continents is described. God set the laws of nature in motion which restrains even the sea!

We get a little more insight to the DNA of creation in Job’s encounter with God. Centuries later when Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples asked the question “Who is this that controls the wind and the waves”. They would have been familiar with this passage in Job. They perhaps were asking a rhetorical question!

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Job 38:12-15
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
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I am such a morning person. I love the break of day when first light appears and most days I am lucky enough to see it and experience it. I love the quiet and the peace and seem to experience a very special connection with God and my own spirituality in those moments. There is something special about the early morning. One time I remember driving through the Highlands in Scotland just as day is breaking we experienced some of the most breath taking sights. A stag looking very majestic watching us from a distance, mist on a beautiful lake.

and No, I have never been able to give orders to the morning or shown the dawn it’s place. At the break of day and first light everything looks new and untarnished but you see it’s imperfections as the day moves forward and interacts with humans.

Dark activities take place at night when they cannot be seen. Most of my extreme behaviour either took place at night or was schemed during the night. Daylight brings clarity and focus.

The point in these verses is that as dawn rises it brings light and exposes the evil deeds in the same way we take the edge of a cloth and shake it to get the dirt out of it.
In the darkness everything is seen in shadows but the detail can be seen when light breaks
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Job 38:16-21

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!
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A series of unanswerable questions continues as God challenges Job and his friends with what do you know?

The sources or the depths of the sea? Do you know where they are? Have you been there?

Job had wrestled with what happens after death in chapter 3 and chapter 26 but of course God knows exactly what happens after death. Job barely knew anything about the earth, the planet he lived on let alone what is outside of that.

Where does the sun go at night? What happens to the darkness during the day? Are older people really wiser … Job you are really not that old at all !

We may know a little more than Job did in his day but still the more we know and discover, the more we are baffled and filled with wonder about the things we don’t know about or the complexity and perfection of design in the universe.

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Job 38:22-30
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
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God controls the weather. End of story. We have no control over the weather, we barely can predict the weather. He is in control of wars and battles.

Job was not sure that God would act as judge (Job 24:1). Later he remembered that every evil person will die (Job 24:18-24). In a situation where death intervenes he can no longer cause trouble. Therefore death is like God’s judgement. The result being that the evil man is snuffed out and those that are still here are no longer under his tyranny.

There is a lot of war recorded in the Bible. War is established under the designs of man for reasons of control, power, fear, pillaging resources and whatever else causes war. In these wars, God would be impartial (Joshua 5:13-14). Instead, God would use them to serve his own purpose and will.

God intervened in some spectacular ways in some of these battles. In Joshua 10:13-14, God delayed the end of the day. In the same battle, he caused large hailstones to fall from the sky (Joshua 10:11). These were a clear display that God’s people did not win the battle by their own strength. God won the battle.

God controls the weather. And he uses the weather for his own purposes. He even waters the grass where nobody lives (verse 27). A man would not choose to water that grass.

Everything is under his sovereignty and he is in complete charge. This is a world where rivers flow to the sea but the sea does not get over full, rain comes down, water turns to ice … Job and his friends had no clue how all that occurred or how this complex and beautiful world is synchronized to provide perfect living conditions with incredible provision.

Really, what could they bring to God? What could they offer him? What can they question him about? What about me? Here I am complaining about work and life and tiredness and yet God has given me all I need and taken care of me in a way that is way more than I deserve. Incredible.
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Job 38:31-33

31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

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Pleiades, Orion and the Bear (Arcturus in some translations) are stellar constellations of the stars. What does Job and his friends know about the operations of the heavens? What do we know? Again we may know more than the ancients but everything newly discovered brings with it many more unanswered questions.

The stars were of great use to the ancient world and they would be watched with great care. The stars are like a calendar, because different stars appear in each season. The stars also helped travellers with their navigation.

Job and his friends would have known the patterns of stars but would not be able to explain how God arranged them or how they came into being.

There are millions of stars that we cannot see and don’t have much idea about. The distances between the stars are immense. God created the stars. Scientists and astronomers have discovered a lot about the stars and the data is mind blowing. We can celebrate our brilliant minds that filled with the ability to work out all this data but we are only describing what God has already done. The description of Gods handiwork .
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Job 38:34-38
34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?
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Job and his friends had just watched a storm. It had given them insight into the power of God. The lightning was a visible reminder of God’s power. The rain changed the solid ground into mud. Job had said that God’s power was like the power of a storm (Job 26:14). Of course a great storm is a mere shadow of God’s power. Some storms are spectacular and even scary.

I can remember one time when I was about 18, I visited Yugoslavia on holiday with my family. I experienced the most incredible thunderstorm all around the mountains. I had never seen such a scary storm. English storms seemed tame by comparison. The dramatic setting of the mountains and the sea and the ferocity of the storm was a combination that made me think about God and his power. There are times the weather can make us feel vulnerable and exposed and be aware that all we have to protect us is God. Even our most brilliant engineering and clever structures and buildings can be crushed by the weather or a flood or some natural force that reminds us of God’s power. We have no control over the weather.
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Job 38:39-41
39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?
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God switches his discourse from the control of the cosmos to the provision of food for wild animals. Job does not even have any part to play in taking care of the beasts of the earth.

God has taken care of all the minute details in creation and the sustainability of the earth to ensure that all of creation is taken care of.

Lions lay in wait for God to provide their food, ravens do not wait for their food to come to them, they make a lot of noise and go searching for their food but God takes care of the raven and the lion.

The point is that God has taken care of all of the details of provision throughout creation in a way that everything has been perfectly balanced. What has Job done? What does he know about the eco system and perfect sustainability? Evidently not much.

Job 36

weather

Job 36:1-7
36 Elihu continued:
2 “Bear with me a little longer and I will show you
that there is more to be said in God’s behalf.
3 I get my knowledge from afar;
I will ascribe justice to my Maker.
4 Be assured that my words are not false;
one who has perfect knowledge is with you.
5 “God is mighty, but despises no one;
he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.
6 He does not keep the wicked alive
but gives the afflicted their rights.
7 He does not take his eyes off the righteous;
he enthrones them with kings
and exalts them forever.
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I started out by liking Elihu but now I really begin to take a strong dislike. 

Although there is some accuracy in what he says about the nature of God he appears arrogant and cocky in believing his words come directly from God. 

His main accusation against Job is his misrepresentation of God being unfair or unkind. This is perhaps true. Elihu may be accurate in his assessment of Job but the way he carries himself makes him difficult to hear. 

I think about this dilemma and the challenge to my heart is two fold. If I am in the position of delivering an assessment, a judgment or even feedback it would be prudent to give careful thought to my delivery and how I carry myself so that my hearer can hear the message. It may even be a case of asking myself honestly am I the best person to deliver this message.

If I am in the position of recipient my challenge is to cut through the noise and the emotional obstacles that may come with the delivery and ask myself “what is the message? Is it true? Is it reasonable? What do I want to do about it? 

I begin to wonder how many friends Elihu had and indeed who he was… perhaps indeed a prophet to usher on the presence of God or perhaps a later fictional addition to the text as some scholars suggest. We don’t know much about this mysterious character but he appears to be giving an accurate assessment of the nature of God but is a bit off the mark in his insensitive dealings with Job. What’s the lesson here? Listen to the message not the messenger perhaps?  Listen to what’s behind the message not the immediate emotional response?
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Job 36:8-12

8 But if people are bound in chains,
held fast by cords of affliction,
9 he tells them what they have done—
that they have sinned arrogantly.
10 He makes them listen to correction
and commands them to repent of their evil.
11 If they obey and serve him,
they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity
and their years in contentment.
12 But if they do not listen,
they will perish by the sword
and die without knowledge.
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Elihu along with Job’s friends, were relating difficulties in this life with being out of fellowship with God.

This is erroneous thinking. All of the apostles who followed Jesus, except for one, were believed to have died a martyr’s death. That in itself discredits the theory that Elihu had here. These apostles suffered for doing good, not for doing wrong. Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. In fact following God rarely …if ever equates to an easy life.
2 Timothy 2:12 informs us that “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us”
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Job 36:13-15

13 “The godless in heart harbor resentment;
even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.
14 They die in their youth,
among male prostitutes of the shrines.
15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction.
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Elihu identifies the issue of resentment being the source of sin that even when God enslaves them to a destructive way that they do not cry out for help, they are resigned to this empty way of living and become embroiled deeper in the downward spiral. He says they die in their youth. Maybe this is not physical death but rather spiritual death. In other words they become unresponsive to spirituality.

The practice of shrine prostitution is mentioned which was part of the pagan religious practices of the ancient world.
The idea of God speaking through suffering is also brought to the table. This is when we are perhaps most responsive to God’s prompts and his calling to us out of the world and all the mess that we have surrounded ourselves with.

Elihu in his arrogance was speaking some profound spiritual truths.
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Job 36:16-21

16 “He is wooing you from the jaws of distress
to a spacious place free from restriction,
to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.
17 But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked;
judgment and justice have taken hold of you.
18 Be careful that no one entices you by riches;
do not let a large bribe turn you aside.
19 Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts
sustain you so you would not be in distress?
20 Do not long for the night,
to drag people away from their homes.
21 Beware of turning to evil,
which you seem to prefer to affliction.
———————————-
It appears that Elihu is saying that Job may have been delivered from this disaster if he accepted it in the right spirit and now he was getting what he deserved. His gold and riches were no longer of use to him. They could not save him from all of this. 

Job had wanted God to end his life and yet Elihu was saying that he should not dare to make such a wish. His part in this was to just patiently accept the affliction that God had put upon him.

If this passage tells me anything about human nature, it is our ability to express in a very authoritative fashion positions on stuff we don’t have any clue about. Our ignorance is only equalled by our pride and arrogance.
———————————-

Job 36:22-26

22 “God is exalted in his power.
Who is a teacher like him?
23 Who has prescribed his ways for him,
or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?
24 Remember to extol his work,
which people have praised in song.
25 All humanity has seen it;
mortals gaze on it from afar.
26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.
——————————-
The focus and emphasis shifts from Job to the almighty as Elihu emphasizes the greatness of God that no man can fathom. He cannot be taught anything by man, he cannot be corrected …stop, look, contemplate and be amazed !!

——————————-

Job 36:27-33

27 “He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams;
28 the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?
30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.
31 This is the way he governs the nations
and provides food in abundance.
32 He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.
33 His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.
————————————
Elihu makes a declaration about who controls the weather and then God’s power in the rain storm. This was a typical question in the ancient world. God is the ruler of all nature. This beautiful Hebrew poetry describes God’s command of the weather and nature.

In Job 26:14, Job said that man’s experience of God was like a whisper. But God’s greatness was like the thunder. Job and his friends were about to have a greater experience of God. 

A storm was approaching. Elihu described the storm. The men were sitting outside (Job 2:8; Job 2:13). So they carefully watched the storm.

First, the men saw the clouds (verses 27-29).

Then the men saw the distant lightning. And they heard the distant thunder. It was not raining yet. But the storm was coming closer. Even the cows realised this. When a storm approaches, cows do not continue to eat. Instead, they sit on the ground (verse 33).

When we observe nature or watch nature in some way we cannot help but be fascinated at the beauty, the design, the detail. I have moments of mindfulness sometimes when I walk into work even in the urban surroundings I can notice a plant or a movement in the clouds.
I cannot help but think of God. Sometimes all we need to do is to slow down enough and look beyond the concrete that we are surrounded by and notice how nature works to bring us back to the presence of God.

Job 35

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Job 35:1-8
35 Then Elihu said:
2 “Do you think this is just?
You say, ‘I am in the right, not God.’
3 Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me,
and what do I gain by not sinning?’
4 “I would like to reply to you
and to your friends with you.
5 Look up at the heavens and see;
gaze at the clouds so high above you.
6 If you sin, how does that affect him?
If your sins are many, what does that do to him?
7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,
or what does he receive from your hand?
8 Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself,
and your righteousness only other people.
————————————————–
This section is introduced with the Hebrew word vaya‛an. The translation being “And he answered”; the word “answer” being used, as it is often in the Scriptures, to indicate the commencement of a discourse.

This leads me to believe that Elihu had paused at the close of his second discourse, possibly with a view to see whether there was any inclination to reply.

In the next 16 verses we read that Elihu continues to address Job’s complaints, first of all his thinking that there appeared to be no advantage to being righteous (verse 3), which Job had said, as recorded in 21:15 and 34:9.

The first part of his answer is that Job gained nothing by sinning or not sinning because God was so high that nothing men do affects Him (verses 5-7). It only affects other men (verse 8). Job had also complained that God did not answer his prayers when he cried under this oppression (see 24:12:30:20). Elihu rather harshly gave 3 reasons why Job’s prayers had not been heard: pride (verses 10, 12), wrong motives (verse 13) and lack of patient trust (verse 14).

In other words, Job appeared to be saying, ‘God does not care whether a man is innocent or not. I thought that God would help me because of my good deeds. But in fact, I am suffering as an evil person deserves to suffer. So when I did these good deeds, I was wasting my time.’

Elihu disagreed. He felt that this was a foolish and stupid attitude.
It would be overly simplistic to suggest that if we do what is right then we will avoid suffering because God will bless us and at the same time it would be dismissive to suggest that God does not care whether we do things his way or not.

God in his infinite wisdom designed the universe and formed us in his own image. He knows what works and what doesn’t work. It is an act of love to give us a way of living that fulfils our design. His desire is that life goes well and our relationship with him flourishes and is expressed by our own will and desire …otherwise it would not be a relationship at all.

On the other hand to do right and avoid suffering would assume that everyone in all of human history would make the right choices and live by their design which of course is not what has happened, In fact we have all asserted our own will and made a decision to be the God of our own lives and that extrapolates out causing a ripple effect down the corridors of time and across all humanity in the present moment as well as setting a flawed template for the future.

This is our predicament today and was the predicament in Job’s day. The good news is that plan goes beyond the immediate, the here and now and at a certain point in human history he made a very personal intervention in the form of Jesus and as a result the possibility of a complete rebuild occurs in every individual’s life and the eternal plan remains a possibility for all that will accept it.
————————————————–
Job 35:9-13
9 “People cry out under a load of oppression;
they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth
and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?’
12 He does not answer when people cry out
because of the arrogance of the wicked.
13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea;
the Almighty pays no attention to it.

————————————
In Job 24:1-12, Job had spoken and complained about the lack of justice for the oppressed,  Elihu reasoned that the oppressed may not truly cry out to God but rather just complain about their situation. That their true desire was not God but was pain relief or relief from their oppression and perhaps his thought was that this was the case for Job.

The question to ask myself here is am I seeking the presence of God or am I seeking for my life to go well? This can often be the dilemma of the journey to faith and we can be so easily be confused or deluded about that. Of course there are benefits to walking faithfully but there are also challenges and difficulties. It can be a thorny journey. We are called to stand up and stand out, be different and the result of that can be a world that is set against us. There are no guarantees that life will go well or our suffering will cease. We are equipped perhaps to handle these things with perspective because the true blessing is the presence of God in our lives.
————————————
Job 35:14-16

14 How much less, then, will he listen
when you say that you do not see him,
that your case is before him
and you must wait for him,
15 and further, that his anger never punishes
and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.
16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk;
without knowledge he multiplies words.”
———————————
Elihu’s assessment on the situation was that God had gone easy on Job. He had not experienced the full weight of his anger and God had in fact overlooked Job’s foolish words.

Job was not expressing gratitude. Instead, he was constantly arguing that he himself was innocent. He was constantly insisting that God should help him. Job was acting as if God deserved blame for Job’s troubles. Whilst his suffering was great he appeared to be in a state of self pity.

In all of the various discourses within the book of Job we find an ongoing wrestling from all parties about the nature of God, the character of God and judgment of each other. Not much has changed in believing circles over the years. Elihu and Job’s other friends had all spoken elements of truth about God and his ways as well getting a few things wrong but often they were delivered in an insensitive way that did not help Job move forward. The question in my mind is this:Is it more important to be right? or is it more important to be effective?

Being effective is not compromising the truth it’s just emphasising the truth in a way it can be heard. In the past there are many times I can recount where being right was more important but if others cannot hear it because of the way it’s delivered then of what value is it?

Job 34

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Job 34:1-4

Then Elihu said:
2 “Hear my words, you wise men;
listen to me, you men of learning.
3 For the ear tests words
as the tongue tastes food.
4 Let us discern for ourselves what is right;
let us learn together what is good.
——————————————————
Elihu addressed Job and his accusers. His approach was to quote Job directly (verses 5-9), then respond to his complaints, but at times he misinterpreted Job’s remarks, and at other times he put the words of the accusers in Job’s mouth. The most obvious example was in saying that Job claimed to be sinless and perfect (verse 6). Job however, acknowledged his sin (7:21; 13:26).

Like everyone else in the story, Elihu was not aware that God had pronounced Job innocent (1:8; 2:3). In answer to Job’s complaints that God seemed unjust, Elihu reminded Job that God was too holy to do anything wrong (verse 10), he was in fact … fair (verses 11-12), powerful (verses 13-14), just (verses 17-18), impartial (verses 19-20), omniscient (verses 21-22), the supreme judge (verse 23), and the Sovereign who does what He wills (verses 24-30).

34:1 – 35:16: In chapter 34:1 through to 35:16. Elihu answers two arguments crucial to Job’s position. First, against Job’s charge that God has wrongly afflicted an innocent man. Elihu answers that God’s absolute sovereignty (34:13-15) and omniscience (34:21-28) ensure His justice. 

Second, against Job’s position that righteousness does not bring about the blessings of life and divine favour, Elihu answers that neither sin nor righteousness cause any change in God (35:5-7). Further, Job has denied the teaching value of suffering (35:11), and has failed to have his prayers answered because they are vain (35:13).

The opening four verses usher in the following discourse …

Elihu heard the other men’s arguments. They all insisted that they were wise. They were however fixed on their own opinions and there’s little evidence that any of them would consider the opinions of Job or each other. Elihu either makes a genuine or perhaps sarcastic appeal that they reason together and listen to each other.

Although the text has mentioned only four people up to this point, the fact that Elihu was silent until chapter 32 is perhaps indicative that others were now present, and Elihu was making his appeal to a larger group of men.

Elihu now appears to have an air of arrogance as he calls them to pay attention to his words.

The words he uses seem to be great sentiments but in context perhaps quite condescending being presented by such a young man addressing his elders.

He had corrected Job for judging, and now he said that he and these other men would judge this matter for themselves. It seems quite bold.
——————————————————

Job 34:5-15

5 “Job says, ‘I am innocent,
but God denies me justice.
6 Although I am right,
I am considered a liar;
although I am guiltless,
his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.’
7 Is there anyone like Job,
who drinks scorn like water?
8 He keeps company with evildoers;
he associates with the wicked.
9 For he says, ‘There is no profit
in trying to please God.’
10 “So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.
11 He repays everyone for what they have done;
he brings on them what their conduct deserves.
12 It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,
that the Almighty would pervert justice.
13 Who appointed him over the earth?
Who put him in charge of the whole world?
14 If it were his intention
and he withdrew his spirit and breath,
15 all humanity would perish together
and mankind would return to the dust.
—————————————–
Elihu took issue with Job’s protests of innocence. He was saying that Job’s words sounded like the words of the wicked. He was not saying that Job was evil but he was actually arguing that it is better to be evil than to be good. His words seemed as if he was dismissive of God.

In verses 10-15 Elihu emphasises some basic truths. He appears to use rhetorical amplification and uses a lot of words that do not add anything that has not already been said.

That said, these are important tenet’s to cling to and reminders that there is another explanation for Job’s suffering to the suggestion that he is being punished by God for his sin or that God himself is unjust and unfair or cruel.
—————————————–

Job 34:16-30

16 “If you have understanding, hear this;
listen to what I say.
17 Can someone who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn the just and mighty One?
18 Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’
and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’
19 who shows no partiality to princes
and does not favour the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?
20 They die in an instant, in the middle of the night;
the people are shaken and they pass away;
the mighty are removed without human hand.
21 “His eyes are on the ways of mortals;
he sees their every step.
22 There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness,
where evildoers can hide.
23 God has no need to examine people further,
that they should come before him for judgment.
24 Without inquiry he shatters the mighty
and sets up others in their place.
25 Because he takes note of their deeds,
he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed.
26 He punishes them for their wickedness
where everyone can see them,
27 because they turned from following him
and had no regard for any of his ways.
28 They caused the cry of the poor to come before him,
so that he heard the cry of the needy.
29 But if he remains silent, who can condemn him?
If he hides his face, who can see him?
Yet he is over individual and nation alike,
30     to keep the godless from ruling,
from laying snares for the people.
———————————–

The Hebrew words shift from the plural to the singular here, as Elihu shifts his attention away from the friends and back to Job. This time, Elihu declares that an unjust God is unthinkable, because if God was unjust, He could not be God and everything would fall apart. God is a God of order and not a God of chaos!

Abraham’s question in Genesis 18:5 springs to mind…”Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Elihu said, “if it was dangerous to levy such an accusation to an imperfect earthly king, how much more dangerous was it to say to the Creator of the universe?”

God is the author of life he chooses life and death without any respect for an individual’s position or station in life.

God’s sovereignty is key to our worldview. He is either fully God or not God at all.
·     Pilate thought that he had power over Jesus. But Jesus replied that Pilate’s power came from God – John 19:10-11.
·     When King Nebuchadnezzar did not give honour to God, he became mentally ill. For 7 years, he behaved like an animal. Other men ruled his country. But then Nebuchadnezzar became humble. He praised God. And God appointed Nebuchadnezzar to be king again (Daniel chapter 4).
·     King Herod died a horrific death soon after he refused to give honour to God (Acts 12:21-23).

God is the judge of every person who is established on earth as a power and authority.

Elihu defended God against Job’s criticism that God was neglectful and absent.

He asserts that the omniscience of God is a security against his acting unjustly. He knows exactly each man’s powers, capacities, temperament, temptations, and circumstances, and will deal with all of it without partiality or prejudice.

God knows everything man does, thinks, and even is. He knows the heart and motives of every individual that ever was, is and will be!

We may flatter ourselves, or cheat others, by covering our wicked actions with plausible pretences and professions. But we cannot deceive God, nor keep our hearts and ways from his sight. It’s a scary thought when applied to ourselves but a comforting thought that gives security when applied to others.

Bottom line is that though we try, we cannot hide from God (Psalm 139:11-12). I spent most of 2015 running from God and of course he caught up with me and brought everything crashing down around me. It was in my best interests even though my immediate reaction was one of self pity. 

Over time he helped me unpack that and unravel it all. Amazing. He knew the reaction I would had and he chose the perfect moment. Any sooner and he may have got a response but it would not have been wholehearted and any later it would have been too late … I would have perhaps been unresponsive or in oblivion due to the path of self destruction that I was on.
God’s knowledge is not skewed like human knowledge. He judges with perfect wisdom and perfect precision. (Psalm 139:1-4).

Verse 23 is not referring to the judgment of the last days, but is more about the general accountability toward God that man experiences on a daily basis. The point Elihu made was that God did not need to go through all of the routine of examination and cross examination of the court to get to the sentence. God knows our works (34:25).

Even though this was not spoken directly to Job, it was a derogatory statement made about Job. He was saying that Job was wrong in asking God to consider his situation.

Job had been hugely influential. He had in fact, most likely been a judge. Elihu and Job’s so-called friends, probably would like to take Job’s place as judge. They were all jealous of Job. Elihu said that God had destroyed Job to set one of them up as governor.

He had made a true statement that God rules the earth by elevating one man to be a ruler and tearing another down. 

However, he was misunderstanding the situation of Job’s case.

In Job’s culture, a judge would select a day when he would act as judge. Everyone who needed the judge’s help would wait for that day. On the appointed day, they could go to his court. The judge would then preside over the issues that were presented before him and make decisions.

Job knew that God was a judge. But Job thought that God’s servants were waiting in vain (Job 24:1). Job thought that God may never select a day to act as judge. He was impatient in this respect.

Elihu did not agree. He explained that God is much better than any human judge. God is always acting to help us. He does not need to select a date. He does not even need to ask questions. He already knows our deeds and he will judge when he is ready, choosing exactly the right moment.
Job spoke about poor people who cried to God. Job thought that God would not help them (Job 24:10-12).

Elihu did not agree. God heard their cries. And God will act to help them at the time when he decides. He will punish their cruel rulers. And he will appoint new rulers.

Elihu was saying that Job had offended the poor and the afflicted. This was the exact opposite of the truth. Job had been the champion of the poor and the afflicted.

But God does not always stop the rule of evil men immediately. Sometimes he allows evil men to rule nations. God uses it all in his ultimate purpose. We are called to pray in such situations (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Our calling is not to complain but to pray, trust God, be supportive of our rulers but ultimately obey God rather than men (Acts 4:19).

Most of the statements that Elihu was making, were the same statements Job had made himself. Job was not only aware that these things were wrong, but had made absolutely sure that he was not guilty of any of these things. Job was not a hypocrite
———————————-

Job 34:31-33

31 “Suppose someone says to God,
‘I am guilty but will offend no more.
32 Teach me what I cannot see;
if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.’
33 Should God then reward you on your terms,
when you refuse to repent?
You must decide, not I;
so tell me what you know.
——————————————————
The battle that Job and his friends had and the battle that we have is that we think we set the terms on issues of what can best be described as crime and punishment. The problem is that we barely know anything and have a very limited view first of all of the incident itself and more importantly of the heart of the person committing the crime and the heart of the victim, we also fail to see the consequential damage and ripple effect through all of humanity and our environment. 

God however sees everything with absolute clarity and the more I dig into Job the more I am convinced that we know remarkably little and that we are in no place to question how God will deal with stuff. All I have in my arsenal is that whilst I will do my best in my limitations to do what is right there is absolutely no point speculating why things happen or don’t happen. It’s really not my business.
Job complained that God did not act immediately to punish (Job 24:1). Elihu also spoke about this subject in Job 33:27-28.

God will not be regulated in His dealings by what men may think. He does not consult men. He decides the extent and the limits of his discipline, he chooses the timing and he knows the perfect time to snuff out the life of a man. He sees every knock on effect of everything. Our view is extremely limited.

The three friends and Elihu tried to get Job to say that the chastisement from God was because of some sin he had committed. They wanted him to ask God to forgive him. Job knew of no sin that he had committed. He could not ask for forgiveness, without knowing what he had done wrong.

Job had already asked God to reveal to him where he had failed. Job was a man of a pure heart.

Elihu believed that Job wanted God to listen to him and do it his way. He also was saying that it would not matter what Job wanted, God would do deal with it on his own terms and Joel was in no position to dictate terms. God would not be influenced by anyone’s explanation. Elihu wanted Job to answer this. It seems that Elihu wanted to control Job and his response in some way.

I remember when I was beginning to come to my senses, several people had fairly strong opinions about what repentance would look like for me and how I should deal with stuff. I was quite resistant at the time and was told by one brother that I was putting everything on my terms and life is not like that. I felt I was right in dealing with it the way I chose to deal with it because always I had pandered to other people’s whims and I wanted to deal with things thoroughly and with authenticity. 

Was it on my terms? Yes, I think it was. There was no model or precedent to imitate. This was the first time our church in London had seen such a dramatic high profile falling from grace. To this day I think I took the best action dealing with it in the way that I did. I had to get comfortable or least comfortable with the discomfort of being misunderstood.

Is this how God would have wanted me to deal with stuff? Should I have thrown myself at the mercy of the congregation, or was it best to have the one to one conversations with people over a period of time, removing myself from the fellowship and reconnecting with individuals on a personal level? I think I chose best but either way could have been acceptable to God.

The point is that we sometimes want to control people’s responses for whatever reason and we try to play God when God is perfectly okay at playing God himself. He has been doing it a lot longer than we have and he has never made a mistake in his entire existence. Speaking for myself, I have made more than a handful of mistakes & erroneous judgments about the heart and motives others. It’s just not pretty!
——————————————————

Job 34:34-37

34 “Men of understanding declare,
wise men who hear me say to me,
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge;
his words lack insight.’
36 Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost
for answering like a wicked man!
37 To his sin he adds rebellion;
scornfully he claps his hands among us
and multiplies his words against God.”
———————————————

After a promising start, Elihu concluded that Job was guilty because he expressed anger and frustration against God rather than maintaining a posture of repentance and silence.

Job’s wrestling was labelled as rebellion by Elihu. Whilst Job’s friends have charged him with being a wicked man, Elihu stopped short of this but could not accept his position or his wrestling with God. He took a rather religious position.

This rather pious stance failed to recognise the authenticity and honesty in Job’s wrestling but misjudged it as rebellion. 

 

Job 33

Listen

Job 33:1-7
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.
———————————————

Job 33:8-14

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.
—————————————————————

Job 33:15-18

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.
————————————————————-

Job 33:19-33

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.”

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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).

Job 32

intervention


Job 32:1-5
Elihu

32 So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him.4 Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 5 But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.
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Job’s final defence provoked a response from a fourth friend – the young man “Elihu.” You get the impression from the text that these speeches were quite intrusive and were born out of listening to what was going on between the friends. They do however prepare the way for even more “intrusive” speeches from God himself!

Elihu was a “Buzite”. His ancestry can be traced to the Arabian tribe of Buz (Jeremiah 25:23). The “family of Ram” is unknown.

“Elihu” means He is my God. “Barachel” means God blesses. These names both indicate that Elihu was a believer in the One True God.

Elihu took a new approach to the issue of Job’s suffering. Angry with the other 3, he had some new thoughts, but was very hard on Job. Elihu was angry, full of self-importance and verbose, but his approach was refreshing after listening repetitiously to the others, though not really helpful to Job.

After Job had finished his speech which was met with silence from his friends then Elihu stepped in.

There are differing opinions about Elihu. I have read a lot of commentary that suggests that Elihu was foolish and merely repeating what Job’s friends had already said but packaging it slightly differently but it appears that he was more balanced, fair and accurate without the bias of Job’s friends. He exercises some wisdom and eventually introduces God himself.

Elihu’s main idea was that God is fair. Job’s other friends said that they believed this. But they themselves were unfair to Job. However, Job was not always sure that God is fair. If God was always fair, it did not explain his trouble. In all this however, Job did feel sure that God would be a fair judge.

Job wanted a friend who would act like a lawyer (Job 9:32-35; Job 16:19-21). He needed someone to intercede with God on his behalf. He hoped that God himself would step in and sort this out. We know that ultimately this is fulfilled in Jesus.
In the context of all of this Elihu acts like this lawyer. The book of Job is written in such a way that it seems as though Elihu arranged for Job to meet God. There was nothing special about Elihu, he was not a prophet as such or anything more than an ordinary young man but his words were from the Holy Spirit (Job 32:8; Job 36:4).

Elihu was probably one of a number of onlookers who witnessed the debate between Job and his friends. In the six chapters devoted to his speeches, the emphasis seems to be fourfold:
1. Absolute reverence for God,
2. Sensitivity to sin
3. Purpose in suffering
4. The danger of spiritual pride

In this early part of Elihu’s intervention he lives up to the caricature of “angry young man”. The word “wrath” occurs four times in verses 2-5. He explains that he has kept silent because of his youth, but now feels compelled to speak.

This was actually stating that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had run out of things to accuse Job of. Job knew that he was not guilty of the things they had accused him of. They thought Job was righteous in his own sight. Job had not made that statement. He had only defended himself from their accusations, which were untrue.

Elihu was angry with Job for self-righteousness, and with the friends for false accusations and unsuccessful arguments.

Elihu was polite. He respected the older men. He did not interrupt them.
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Job 32:6-8

6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
“I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
7 I thought, ‘Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.’
8 But it is the spirit in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
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Elihu makes a very refreshing introduction. He had waited for his elders to speak assuming that they would impart wisdom. He clearly had some strength of opinion about the whole situation but his first step was to listen carefully to all that was being said. James’ letter in the new testament informs us that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. That is wisdom in of itself. In highly charged situations it takes a lot restraint to avoid jumping in.  There is a lot of wisdom in listening and attempting to understand different perspectives.

There is also a big difference between worldly wisdom and spiritual wisdom
(1 Corinthians 1:18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:27). The Holy Spirit teaches us about the ways of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12). Job had complained that his friends were not speaking by the Holy Spirit (Job 26:4). Their statements about God were not always accurate (Job 25:6).

Elihu had listened, reluctant to speak but in the end decided that he had something to say. God had somehow put it on his heart to speak knowing that it is the breath of the Almighty that ultimately gives understanding.

There have been plenty of occasions when I should have said something but instead kept quiet and many occasions when I spoke and it would have been better to listen.

I think to some degree wisdom about when to speak and when to listen comes with age and experience but true wisdom comes from God. I know men my own age who I struggle to listen to because everything is bound up in their own opinion and worldview and they deliver a warped view of the way things are or should be with such strength of conviction it’s hard for others to ask honest questions let alone disagree. At the same time I know people half my age who have considerable wisdom. A few weeks ago when a young 19 year old and my own 17 year old son delivered the sermon at church I was blown away at how articulate they were and the measured wisdom of the message as well as the way that they delivered it. It was delivered with such calm maturity.
James 1:5 informs us that if we lack wisdom then we should ask God who gives generously without finding fault …
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Job 32:9-14

9 It is not only the old who are wise,
not only the aged who understand what is right.
10 “Therefore I say: Listen to me;
I too will tell you what I know.
11 I waited while you spoke,
I listened to your reasoning;
while you were searching for words,
12     I gave you my full attention.
But not one of you has proved Job wrong;
none of you has answered his arguments.
13 Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom;
let God, not a man, refute him.’
14 But Job has not marshalled his words against me,
and I will not answer him with your arguments.

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Elihu continues with this refreshing approach as he simplifies the notion of wisdom to “doing what is right” and the aged do not have the monopoly on that.

Elihu spoke like a lawyer. He had listened to the other speeches. He thought carefully about them. But the three friends’ arguments did not impress him. He saw that they had no evidence to accuse Job. He believed that Job’s speeches were better than theirs.

The three friends had failed to prove that Job was guilty. But they were still accusing Job (verse 3). They did not say, ‘We were wrong.’ Instead, they said, ‘God will prove that Job is wrong’ (verse 13). Elihu thought that they were unfair to Job. But Elihu would not be unfair.

This mysterious character appears to initially level the conversation with fairness and impartiality.
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Job 32:15-22

15 “They are dismayed and have no more to say;
words have failed them.
16 Must I wait, now that they are silent,
now that they stand there with no reply?
17 I too will have my say;
I too will tell what I know.
18 For I am full of words,
and the spirit within me compels me;
19 inside I am like bottled-up wine,
like new wineskins ready to burst.
20 I must speak and find relief;
I must open my lips and reply.
21 I will show no partiality,
nor will I flatter anyone;
22 for if I were skilled in flattery,
my Maker would soon take me away.
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Similar to the Old Testament prophets Elihu felt a heavy burden to say something. Sometimes this burden is described as a heavy weight (Nahum 1:1; Malachi 1:1). It was the work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Spirit is described as a wind that was blowing through them (John 3:8). The Hebrew word for ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ are the same.

Elihu spoke like a lawyer. He promised impartiality and fairness and was aware of his responsibilities before God.