Who is Elihu, really?

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-fifth in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

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.

Is Elihu a Christ figure to Job?

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-fourth in a series

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Job 33:1-6 NIV In Chapter 33 Elihu begins to address Job. His opening statement to the friends has been made: Time now to express what is in his heart, which he believes will set Job straight.

Job has cried out for God to show him his faults (Job 19:7; 23:3-7; 30:20; 31:35). “Behold” Elihu believes he has come instead of God to explain his trial to him. (vs 2)

This is generally not the way of the Lord. Though a man or woman may be as the voice of God to another human, there is nevertheless a difference between hearing the voice of the Lord and hearing it through a friend or teacher. In the end when God directly speaks to Job, Job is humbled and sees God in a new way.

But do Elihu’s words help to prepare the way for Job to receive the instruction of God? Is Elihu to Job as John the Baptist was to Israel?

Let us begin to consider this possibility by looking at verse 5, “If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up.”
John the Baptist was confrontational with the Pharisees. Does Elihu likewise see Job as an hypocrite? Though he insists that he, too, is only a man “formed out of clay,” does his challenge to Job belie a superior attitude? If so, he would not be like John, a man appointed by God to prepare the way of the Lord.

Job 33:7-11 NIV Job never said that he was “clean without transgression” nor that he was innocent. In fact, he said, “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 NIV) However, he has defended himself from the false accusations of his friends; he has refused to agree with their aspersions. Also, he does not feel his punishment fits his crimes.

Job 33:12-13 NIV Job would not argue that man is greater than God, but he is seeking an audience with him.

Is it true that God will give no account of any of his matters? What about when Paul entreated the Lord three times that the thorn in his flesh be removed? (2 Cor 12:7-9) The Lord did answer him, explaining his rationale in this matter. There are times when God shares with man his purposes.

Job 33:14-18 NIV Elihu explains that God may at times turn a wayward man from his missteps through speaking to him in a dream or night vision.

Job 33:19-22 NIV Another way God prevents man from pride or perishing by the sword is through physical pain and illness.

Job 33:23-24 NIV Also, a stubborn man may be turned from folly by a messenger to whom God says: Deliver him from going down to the pit. God perceives he has found a man who by his service can rescue the perishing. The messenger saves the sinner from destruction. Thus does the messenger serve as a ransom, as a valuable prize or sum to purchase the sinner's heart and life, to retrieve and rescue it from delusion and evildoing.

Elihu sees himself in this role. Now we have advanced from asking if he is like John the Baptist to wondering if he is a Christ figure to Job!

Job 33:25-28 NIV The outcome of the messenger's service shall be that the vain man will be completely refreshed in his spirit. His desire will be to restore what he may have stolen. His repentance earned by the messenger will deliver him from evil to light.

Job 33:29-33 NIV Elihu promises he will be that special messenger to Job.

Some commentators write that since these verses are prophetic with respect to the role of Jesus Christ, we need to carefully consider Elihu's words. (one reference)

Of course, it is not the message or words of Jesus that save sinners, but rather the blood of Jesus. However in the context of this analogy, it is the messenger himself who serves as a ransom, and this evokes New Testament passages that speak of Christ as our ransom. (Mat 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim 2:6). Thus, we will consider Elihu's statements and insights thoughtfully. He will speak for four more chapters.

The debut of Elihu

Job Sees The Light - Thirty-third in a series

Hover over the Scripture references to read the verses under discussion

Chapter 32 introduces a new character, Elihu, a young man with a keen interest in theology and in the heated exchange between Job and his friends.

Commentators differ widely on his person and contribution to the scene. “Because he appears, dominates all discussion and then abruptly leaves, some modern commentators think that he wasn’t really part of the story and was inserted into the account later by the author or another editor.” (ref)

He does not abruptly leave, but is cut off when God begins to address Job. However, for six chapters Elihu is given the stage, an interminable monologue from the standpoint of all, but particularly for Job.

Job has remained standing in spite of the loss of his children, servants, herds, and health; despite taunting by disrespectful ruffians and gentry alike —not to mention his enemies; notwithstanding successive reprimands and insults from his three friends to convince him to repent, while enduring satanic and demonic attack on his emotions and mind as he suffers through the loss of his relationship with God. Now, must he also suffer confrontation by a manic underling?

This shows us that no matter how long a trial may go on, it can continue even longer. God's timetable is behind a veil. But his purposes are always right.

In Job, God is at work to create a new man and let nothing stand in his way. Job must be brought to birth, and he is now in his ninth month, a long and weary month to bear. Remember though, in this analogy, our triune God is the mother and Job is the unborn. Which one has the more difficult time? God is with us in our trials, not forgetting our confusion and need for answers and light. He groans with us. (Rom 8:26)

Job 32:1-3 NIV Elihu sees his opportunity to shine when Job’s friends stop arguing with him because they see him as incorrigible. He enters the fray of the discussion from a dangerous motive: anger. Who kindled his wrath? Well, probably, Satan.

We find out he may be related to Abraham as the son of Barachel the Buzite. Abraham's brother, Nahor, had numerous sons (Gen 22:21-22) and Buz was one of them (but he was not the only Buz in the Bible).

One commentator has noted that Elihu is the only man with a genealogy, proving he was not a fictional character. His name means My-God-Is-He and is termed by scholars as a Hebrew name.

Job 32:4-9 NIV Elihu makes a mistake in polite dialogue by stating that Job’s friends are very old (Job 32:6 KJV). Why not simply say, “older”? He further states that great men are not always wise — another insult. But he is angry, and wants all to agree that young men can receive God's wisdom.

Without a doubt John the Baptist's elders saw John as an upstart without sufficient credentials. However, Age is no just measure of wisdom. There are beardless sages and greyheaded children. (Trapp)

Job 32:10-14 NIV Elihu adds new insult to injury by challenging Job’s friends not to think that it must be left to God to convince Job simply because they have had no success. Elihu plans to answer with actual wisdom, not by parroting their speeches. He has not been defeated in debate by Job, but they have!

Job 32:15-18 NIV It was not clear to Elihu that Job was unreachable. He was convinced he could make an inroad to Job's stubborn heart. He felt he MUST have his say!

Job 32:19-22 NIV We shall see what the fermentation of a young mind will bring to the table. We are already sure, though, that it will not flatter — anyone!

As wonderful as youth is, many better endowments come with age.

Attention Readers

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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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