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JOB 32-37
Notes / Commentary: The Message of Elihu

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Evaluation of Job & 3 friends (by compiler of book)

  1. JOB: righteous in his own eyes; justified himself rather than God.

  2. THREE FRIENDS: couldn't refute Job yet condemned him [OR (according to some) implied condemnation of God].

Defense of Elihu's speeches (by Elihu)

  1. Though I'm younger, I have wisdom. (32:6-9)
    1. source is Spirit of God [OR: spirit from God]
    2. (yet he showed respect for the aged)
  2. I've carefully listened to both sides; I've prepared my case. (32:10-14)

  3. They have failed... now it's my turn... I'll be unbiased. (32:15-22)

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Initial evaluation of Job's complaint

  1. Listen Job, and test my words. Respond to them if you can. (33:1-7)

  2. You criticize/complain about God, for not answering your charges. (33:8-11)

  3. THIS IS BACKWARDS. Rather than GOD listening (and responding) to you, you should listen (and respond) to God. (v. 12-14)

God Has Communicated

    These two examples do not imply that God speaks to all people in this manner. Nor does it imply that God even HAS to speak - Elihu later reminds Job that God has a right to remain silent, if he wishes.

  1. DREAMS (example: Eliphaz) (v. 15-18)

  2. PAIN (example: Job) (v. 19-21) IF the purpose of the pain is for communication by God, he will use it to teach the individual. IF the person listens, restoration will come. (v. 23-28)

  3. God does these things to spare a person from an even worse fate - the "pit." (v. 29-30)

  4. Listen to my words; respond to them, if you can. (v. 31-33)

Additional comments about dreams.

Elihu is not referring to the "fortune telling" dreams that people often claim to have, today. The world is filled with people who claim to have "visions" and "dreams" - people trying to get mystical insights about "God's will," but who are unwilling to follow God's clearly revealed will, in the Bible. Elihu's comments do not endorse this attitude.

  1. We must remember that God did sometimes use dreams in the Bible, to reveal his will to the prophets. This would include interpreting the dreams of others (mostly rulers and people in authority), when the dream had special significance. (This did not occur very often.) [The false teachers were also convinced that they had dreams and visions from God, so the mere presence of a dream or vision didn't prove it was from God.]
  2. The book of Hebrews tells us that the way God communicates to us today is different from the way he communicated "in the past" (Hebrews 1:1). This fact should influence the way we understand statements, such as Elihu's comments about dreams. (Note also that in Elihu's day, the Bible had not yet been written.)
  3. In this context, Elihu gives the same specific purpose for BOTH of these forms of communication (the dream and the pain). They were specifically given as warnings, to spare the recipient from going to the down to the "pit." This focus has little in common with many of the "dreams" and "visions" that people claim to have, today.
  4. To Elihu, God had an active role in ALL of reality. He could use "natural" means to accomplish his will, as easily as he could use "supernatural" means. Elihu did not hold to the modern-day view, which splits reality into two "compartments" - the "supernatural" realm, where God is active, and the "natural" realm, where he isn't. To him, God often used naturally-occurring events (including dreams and pain) to remind or teach people the types of things mentioned in this passage. [God's use of naturally-occurring events to accomplish his purposes is called "Providence" - a concept that was strongly emphasized in the Old Testament and by many Christians in the past, but which is largely ignored today. God uses nature and circumstances to accomplish his purposes, to reveal his will, and to show his wisdom, power and glory.]

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Job's Claim and Evaluation of It

  1. Listen, all of you, and let's determine together what is right. (v. 1-4) [See the verdict in v. 34-37.)

  2. CLAIM: Job is Innocent YET he is being unjustly treated by God (v. 5-6). This means (according to Job) that godliness has no value (v. 9) (Job implies: "If I am godly... then God should reward me.")

  3. EVALUATION: This is a scornful attitude. This is the type of thing a wicked person would do. (v. 7-8) [Job might not have realized what he was doing.]

Elihu's Reply

  1. DEFINITION (34:10-15; also some of the verses later in the chapter): relationship of God to man:
    1. GOD is by nature:
      • ONLY just and impartial; unable to do wrong (v. 10,12,17)
      • supreme; unable to be influenced or corrupted by outside forces (v. 13,19)
      • with full comprehension of man; unable to make mistakes (v. 21-24)
    2. MAN by nature: 100% dependent upon God for his existence (v. 14-15) [Therefore God has a right to do as he wishes with man. (See the APPLICATION, below.)]

  2. APPLICATION: God's judgment of man (34:16-33):
    1. GOD:
      • he destroys the wicked (v. 11, 25, etc.)
      • impartially; without mistakes
      • he has a right to do so
      • he also has a right to wait, to delay this judgment (v. 29-30)
      • in either situation, he is in complete control - nothing has gotten "out of hand."
    2. MAN:
      • he has no right to complain about the way God chooses to deal with man (whether judgment is immediate or delayed) (v. 29-30)
      • he has two alternatives (v. 31-33):
        1. submit to God's ways in repentance and humility (v. 31-32)
        2. demand his own way in stubbornness and pride (v. 33)

  3. VERDICT AGAINST JOB (who has chosen the second alternative). (34:34-37):
    1. His speech is foolish. (v. 35) [NOTE : The Bible's concepts of "wisdom" and "folly" includes the correct application of one's knowledge. They also have moral and spiritual dimensions to them. (The issue is not merely the presence or absence of intelligence.)]
    2. He needs and deserves this testing (because what he has done has encouraged and promoted sin) (v. 36-37).
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Job's Demands

  1. He wants God to admit that HE (Job) is right (v. 2) [This is ARROGANCE.]

  2. (Since God has not yet admitted that Job is right...) Job is complaining that being righteous has little value or benefit. (v. 3) "It didn't help me." "He could care less about me." [This is IMPATIENCE.]

  3. NOTE Sometimes our consciences whisper, "Are you sure you should be saying this?" But what we want to say seems to often speak louder than our conscience, and we listen to that instead.

Elihu's Response

  1. What does moral conduct (such as righteousness) influence? (35:4-8)
    1. NOT God's actions (vs.5-7) [We cannot manipulate God's sovereignty to our own ends.]]
    2. BUT mankind (v. 8) [Moral conduct has value, but not for manipulation.]

  2. Many people try to use God as a means of escape from undesirable circumstances (v. 9). (35:9-13)
    1. They have self-centered reasons: they try to get God to change the circumstances, rather than accepting the circumstances and trusting God (who would encourage and teach them). (v. 10-11))
    2. So God ignores them (because they are arrogant and self-centered). [They are saying that THEIR desires are first in importance. They are being self-centered, but are accusing God of being self-centered!] v. 12-13

  3. Job - being arrogant and impatient - deserves even less attention by God. (35:14-16)
    1. This is especially true because of his complaining accusations against God. (v. 14-15))
    2. God has no reason to listen to empty words. (v. 16)

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God's Interest in Mankind

  1. Pay attention to what I am about to say...

  2. About God's judgment:
    1. It is consistent and unchanging.
    2. God punishes the wicked and blesses the righteous (v. 6-7) [EMPHASIS: God's power and justice]
  3. God teaches the afflicted (v. 8-10) [EMPHASIS: God's wisdom and teaching skills]

Application to Job

  1. Without repentance, a greater sorrow will come. God is using trials (in a just manner) for the purpose of greater blessings (v. 16-17)
    1. Don't look for an escape from what he is doing (attention on self, rather than on God) (v. 18-21)
    2. (v. 22-26)
      • Look to God and his awesome power
      • Look at his wisdom: the amazing way in which he teaches man! (None can do better!)
    3. PRAISE GOD, DON'T CRITICIZE HIM! He is totally overwhelming! (v. 24-26)

An Example: The LORD Teaches Us by the Storm

[If we are willing to pay attention!]

  1. It shows the greatness of his power. (He is in 100% control) (v. 27-30)
  2. It shows his wisdom. (He teaches us, IF we will listen) (v. 31+)
  4. SIGNIFICANCE (37:14-18):
    1. His wisdom and power is beyond our comprehension! (37:14-18)
    2. SINCE THIS IS SO... (37:19-21)
      • SINCE we are unable to comprehend God's greatness in creation...HOW MUCH LESS are we able to confront God himself!! (we would be CONSUMED!) (v. 19-20)
      • We cannot look at the SUN...HOW MUCH LESS can we look at GOD! v. 21

Preparing to Meet God (partially veiled by the cloud)

  1. HERE COMES GOD...majestic and just! (v. 22-23)
    1. NOT confrontation and dispute (we would be ignored, not regarded by God)
    2. BUT FEAR (see 28:28) (we would be regarded by God)
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Dennis Hinks © 1989, 2005