Change on the horizon

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-seventh in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

Many Bible commentators criticize Elihu as prideful and disrespectful. Perhaps in the judgment, along with Chorazin (et al) (Mat 11:21-23), he will face stiff condemnation. On the other hand, he is a young man, so we older ones should lessen our vitriol and increase our permission, with respect to his critical nature. We cannot overlook his doctrinal errors, but may nevertheless see him in a good light as one who loves God and has many wonderful thoughts.

Neither he nor the older men have considered the possibility that God has not brought Job to ruin for his sins but rather for his good. Indeed, there are times when reversals are not for the purpose of punishment or even of discipline. Reversals do test our faith, but when they are not served to us for any gross sin, then we must seek deeper understanding. The superficial view blocks the sun of God’s glory in Job’s terrifying trial, and we cannot see God’s hand of help.

Job 36:1-4 NIV Elihu desires to continue in his discourse, even though he has taken more time than the older men. He believes that what he has to say is from the mouth of God.

Job 36:5-7 NIV He explains to Job: God is evenhanded with the mighty and the weak, but unmerciful to evil men. He exalts the righteous to rule with kings.

Job 36:8-10 NIV Here we see a softening of Elihu’s previous words in Chapter 35 that God will not “make repayment” to the prideful man, or in Chapter 34 where he denies that Job has any standing with the Almighty. He returns to his insight of Chapter 33 that God will deliver the soul of the repentant.

Job 36:11-14 NIV Yet, Elihu considers Job a reprobate who refuses to come down from his high horse and is heaping up God’s wrath.

Job 36:15-17 NIV If Job would only confess his wrongs, he would by now be restored. Now who is determining God’s timetable? Previously, Elihu condemned Job for thinking God was late in coming to his aid.

Job 36:18 NIV Elihu had originally offered to be a ransom for Job. His words as God’s messenger would effect Job’s release from his trial, for he would realize he needed to change his ways.

Job 36:19-21 NIV He warns Job not to continue in his opposition to repentance, but to embrace the affliction that has resulted from his sins. Of course, for Job to agree with him, he would need to deny his integrity.

Is Job right to refuse to deny his integrity? What do you think?

Job 36:22-23 NIV Elihu speaks eloquently for God: No one should ever dispute God’s works. Likewise, no one should think he infallibly understands the purposes of God in the events of life.

Job 36:24-25 NIV All men of God should be careful to testify that God is good all the time. Their witness is in plain view and others will take it to heart.

Job 36:26 NIV A wonderful thought!

Job 36:27-31 NIV It is through rain or drought that men know God's judgment of their behavior. Without rain, they will not eat.

Job 36:32-33 NIV There seems to be a change in the weather stirring; Elihu’s thoughts turn to the phenomenon of rain. God has designed his creation to water itself yet he controls the cycle. (This was written before the heavy hand of geoengineering.)

We perceive a storm approaching in the distant thunder, and the cattle know it, too, by their perception of atmospheric change. Thus, the thunder may serve as confirmation to the stirring of the cattle that we see first. Likewise we can discern God’s warnings to us through events in our environs, if we pay attention.

How perfect are the ways of the Lord. No matter how intense our suffering, we will rest in his lovingkindness. At times his love is only perceptible by his power to preserve us whole, despite Satanic assault, degradation, insults, catastrophe, bereavement, loss and grief, and self focus.

Our God is not a legalist

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-sixth in a series

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Job 35:1-3 NIV In any lengthy proceeding it is easy to lose track. That is why meetings have secretaries, trials have court recorders, and cities have newspaper archives.

The liar can forget what he earlier insisted on, and the honest person may forget the good things he has said. Who can keep track of all our words? Only God.

In Chapter 35, Elihu accuses Job of believing himself to be more righteous than God.

When Job said, What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? (Job 21:15) he was parroting what the unrighteous say, in effect, when they explain why they behave badly.

For himself, Job understood he was not a perfect man: If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. (Job 9:20) He was confused as to why God put him in his trial (Job 10:15), and he defended his integrity (Job 27:6), but did he ever say there was no reason under heaven to practice good behavior and do right? No.

Elihu believed that Job’s words taken as a whole implied that the Lord was unjust. Some will agree with Elihu, and others will say they heard Job crying out for answers, which we all must do when we are in a trial.

Elihu frowned on Job’s desperate moaning. Stop crying out to God on the basis of your own righteousness — as though your good behavior should merit God’s answer!

Yes, Job had felt that God loved him and heard his prayers because he carefully followed God's ways. Elihu will now explain why that way of thinking is all wrong.

Job 35:4-8 NIV First, why should man assume God is in any way affected by his behavior? He is not! Ones bad or good behavior affects only other people.

Elihu's concept of God is flawed.

If it is true that because God is so great and so high, the innocence or guilt of a petty human being is a matter of profound indifference to his Maker, on the ground that it can bring Him neither gain nor loss, we are landed, we see at once, on a very gloomy shore. We reach a conclusion fatal to all religion. - Bradley (ref)

Next, Elihu denies that God will have regard for the prideful man.

Job 35:9-14 NIV Prideful people like Job do not cry out in praise to God, crediting him for man’s unique capabilities and thankful for his divine watchcare. Therefore God does not answer nor even regard them, and much less will he regard Job who has set God on his own timetable.

Perhaps the best thing we can point out about Elihu's insights is that they are not true. Thank heavens the Lord hears the prayers of the prideful who belong to him. True, he will discipline us, but he will not forsake us.

Job 35:15-16 NIV Elihu, the dogmatist, is waiting for God to lower the boom on Job, and when he does, that will shut Job up.

Some may say that God is like Elihu –or vice versa– in that he promised: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mat 12:36-37) In the context of the passage, however, “careless” is defined as those words spoken by legalists who reject Christ.

Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, except for the blasphemy against the Spirit (Mat 12:31) Imagine! EVERY sin and blasphemy except one. God is NOT legalistic. God is love.

Who is Elihu, really?

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-fifth in a series

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Job 34:1-4 NIV Elihu addresses Job’s friends In Chapter 34, and indirectly, Job. Perhaps he did not feel comfortable to confront him since Job was older and due respect.

He starts by inviting any wise men to hear him. Evidently he considered himself wiser than the others.

Job 34:5-6 NIV Though Elihu invited those present to truly hear him, did he afford that same courtesy to Job? He heard Job’s words, but did he listen to him? Listening requires more than the ear; the inner man must hear, too.

Elihu heard Job incriminate himself, but he did not pay attention to the cry of his heart to reestablish his relationship with God.

In the previous post, we asked, Could Elihu be a Christ figure to Job? Is he a messenger who ransoms the sinner? Early on, the answer is: no. If anything, in Chapter 34 Elihu reveals himself to be more a Satanic figure, an accuser whose goal is to discourage.

It is not hard for Satan to use anyone whether young or old, to carry out his schemes, unless we are on guard and resist his advances. In this instance, he came as an angel of light, a divine messenger. (2 Cor 11:14)

Job 34:7-9 NIV Once again, Job comes under the glaring spotlight of a critical man who judges him for his words without regard for his extreme circumstances. Job gets no ‘wiggle room’ from anyone.

Do your friends throw each word you say into your face? If so, would you consider their behavior a character flaw?

If one expresses pain in painful circumstances, is he a scornful man? Should Job be allowed to say some things without being judged?

God will call Job a faultfinder, but does he consider Job to be ‘fair game’ for men to criticize him? What happened to Miriam and Aaron and to Korah when they criticized Moses? (Num 12:4; 16:16) What happened to Laban when he sought to undermine Jacob? (Gen 31:12) What happened to Ham (Canaan) when he scorned Noah? (Gen 9:24-25) But was Job special to the Lord as were Noah, Jacob and Moses? If so, why? We will return to this question in later posts.

Already, Elihu sounds like the friends of Job whom he considers to be less wise than himself. His accusations are biting and devouring of Job’s spirit.

Job 34:10-12 NIV Elihu is in agreement with the friends that Job’s sorrows are evidence of his misdeeds and crimes. God will not pervert justice for he is also righteous.

Job 34:13-15 NIV The all-powerful God is in complete control and could easily erase us.

Listen, wise men:

Job 34:16-22 NIV God is no respecter of persons.

Of course, these words are directed to Job, not to his friends, for it is obvious to all that Job is that noble man who came under the impartial judgment of the omniscient God.

Job 34:23-28 NIV Here, Elihu is answering Job’s plea for God to meet with him to explain what he has done wrong to deserve such desolation. He states that God owes no wicked man a trial or an audience. The wicked are merely done away with and in a visible fashion so that their judgment by God is plain. This is deserved because of their sins against the poor and afflicted. Furthermore, God is not amenable to man’s entreaties nor his pleas for mercy:

Job 34:29-30 NIV Elihu believes God will not restore the man who sins. This is one way he prevents the godless from reigning— and ruining a populace.

Job 34:31-33a NIV Perhaps this was a direct question to Job. Or, is Elihu challenging the older men to decide whether God will bow to man’s requests for an audience or for his kind consideration if a man will repent?

Job 34:33 NIV Elihu challenges the friends to agree with him that God should not bow to the requests of an evil man.

In this he goes further than the friends who promised Job God would renew his life if only he would turn from his evil. Elihu believes God owes no man the favor of restoration. If a man rejects God’s law in the first place, why would God owe him or show him any mercy? Not possible!

Job 34:34-35 NIV Elihu insists the men should agree with him that Job will receive no mercy from God. Job's terrors prove he is guilty!

Unlike Job’s friends, Elihu does not believe God will help the man who repents. Even were Job to reject his own sin, he could not expect to live without penalty. But in any case, he has not confessed and repented!

Job 34:36-37 NIV Elihu finishes his speech by revealing his heart of stone. He is pharisaic in his view that God is an unforgiving, unrelenting taskmaster. But that description fits Satan, not God.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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