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Elihu, A Righteous Man of God

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Job 32:1-5


So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.  Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God.  Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused. Job 32:1-5


(1) Did Elihu have a right to be angry? We are intoduced to Elihu as an angry man. That right there is enough to turn some people off and immediately take a negative look at this newly introduced visitor of Job's (he has been there throughout the conversation). However, were the feelings of anger such a bad thing? Is there such a thing as a righteous anger?

David, in the 45th Psalm writes to be angry, but do not sin:

How long, O you sons of men,
         Will you turn my glory to shame?
         How long will you love worthlessness
         And seek falsehood?  Selah  
 But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly;
         The LORD will hear when I call to Him. 
         
 Be angry, and do not sin.
         Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.  Selah  
 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
         And put your trust in the LORD. Psalm 4:2-5

What was David saying to be angry about? Was it not the fact the people were turning the glory of God into shame and loving wothlessness and falsehood? Is this something to get angry at? Yes, for we are to hate sin and when the Lord's people are loving the emptiness of what this world has to offer and praising works of man instead of glorifying God, it is wicken and shameful. As righteous children of God we are to feel angry about this, but not as an excuse to sin and act badly ourselves, but to be movitated to admonish the sinner and to keep sin out of our lives.

The same admonition is repeated in Ephesians 4. As Paul is directing the church to stay way from sins that harm each other (including anger), he quotes David's Psalm, “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath,  nor give place to the devil," (vss 26-27).  Paul's point is: Stay away from the sins of lying, bitterness, anger, etc. and to help you with this, feel anger towards sin itself and that it has permeated the church. However, we are not to allow this anger to give ourselves the excuse to mistreat one another, as we are not to give opportunity to the devil to tempt us and add to the already present sins. Nor are we to go to bed feeling angry as harboring anger is feeding and nurioushing it to develop into a sinful attitude. As righteous people we are to hate sin, but we are never to excuse ourselves from thinking or acting sinful in order to try and rid the sin in the lives of those around us.

In order to say if Elihu's anger was right, we must examine what he was angry about as well as his actions produced by his anger.

(2) Elihu was angry at Job. How can anyone be angry at such a blameless man who was in extreme suffering and grief?! Isn't that enough to disqualify Elihu as a righteous man? To answer that we must see what Elihu was angry about:  "Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God." Was it right for Elihu to get angry at Job for justifying himself and calling God unjust? Yes! But what about a man who is suffering greatly? Yes! There is no scripture in all of the Bible that allows man to sin in mind or action if he is suffering. There is also no scripture that allows a lack of wisdom or falsehood just because a person is suffering. Afterall isn't that one characteristic of Christ we love so much, that while he suffered no sin came out of His mouth, nor did He sin in any way?

 Here are a few of the statements from Job that Elihu is refering to:

Are Your days like the days of a mortal man? Are Your years like the days of a mighty man, that You should seek for my iniquity and search out my sin, although You know that I am not wicked, And there is no one who can deliver from Your hand? Your hands have made me and fashioned me, An intricate unity; Yet You would destroy me. Job 10:5-8

 I am one mocked by his friends, Who called on God, and He answered him, the just and blameless who is ridiculed. Job 12:4

God has delivered me to the ungodly, And turned me over to the hands of the wicked. I was at ease, but He has shattered me; He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces;  He has set me up for His target. Job 16:11-12.

As God lives, who has taken away my justice, And the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter...My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live. Job 27:2,8

Elihu is correct in his charge against Job, for God charges Job with the same:

Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said:“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.” Job 40:1-2

Righteous men, such as Job, could be tempted with thoughts that God is unjust due to the confusion concerning what seems like discrepencies, such as (1) God hears the prayers of the faithful so why is God not answering my prayer, (2) Righteousness is rewarded and sin punished so why am I suffering so, (3) God is in control of all His creation so why is He causing or allowing so much suffering.

Elihu will begin to respond to Job's accusation that God is unjust and God, Himself, will correct Job and Job's repentance will follow.

(3) Elihu was angry with the 3 friends.This doesn't bother us so much because we ourselves were angry with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. We understand Elihu's anger and we feel satisfaction in the retribution these 3 friends are getting from Eliphaz's anger towards them. But that isn't enough, we must see what, in particular, Elihu was angry about in regards to these friends, in order to see if it was a righteous anger: "Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job," (vs 3). Also, "Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused," (vs 4). 

The three friends believed Job suffering was punishment from God because of sin. As the discussion continued the charges of sin increased to the point the three men were accusing Job of terrible sins that they had no proof of. The three men gave Job no truthful insight into why Job was suffering so, they only condemned a righteous man without evidence that any sin existed.

 These six things the LORD hates,  Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 
      A proud look,
      A lying tongue,
      Hands that shed innocent blood, 
      A heart that devises wicked plans,
      Feet that are swift in running to evil, 
      A false witness who speaks lies,
      And one who sows discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19

CONCLUSION:

As we continue to examine Elihu in chapter 32, we will see that he was a respectful man intent on justifying God without fear and bias. His anger was directed at unrighteousness and his sense of justice took away any fear of intimidation by man or desire to be accepted. He stood for truth, without regard for his own popularity. He neither excused a righteous man's sin, nor did he condemn without evidence.

In the next study I'll continue with Elihu's speech as he talks about age and wisdom (or a lack thereof), respecting the aged, and impartiality.


For I proclaim the name of the LORD:
Ascribe greatness to our God.

He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice, 
A God of truth and without injustice; 
Righteous and upright is He. Deut. 32:3-4


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Elihu, A Righteous Man of God

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Some of the most important people in the word of God are often overlooked; these righteous people may be overlooked in our lessons or our discussions because not much is said about them or it may be we aren't seeing the depth of their importance when it comes to being spiritual examples. I believe both of these reasons hold true with Elihu, including the fact that some have seen this man in a bad light, calling him a "johnny-come-lately" and forcing his wrong beliefs about Job and God. I may be wrong, but I see nothing wrong with the man, except maybe a bit of human ignorance we all have and I'm not even sure of that. Perhaps as we go through Elihu's speech we can determine if there is any misjudgments or untruths in what he says. As of now, I see Elihu as a wise, self-controlled man of ethics who gives no one special regard over the TRUTH.

In this issue I am going to look at the man, Elihu, and if all goes well, next month we can begin looking at his speech and try our best to determine if this was a righteous man of God or someone who jumps in at the last minute and causes Job more emotional pain by his misjudgments of Job and God. Is Elihu equal to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar or is he quite distinct from the other three friends?

Let's look at Job 32 and list what we can learn about the man, Elihu. We will use these characteristics of Elihu to help us better understand his speech.

1. Evidently Elihu was present during all or most of the conversation between the 3 friends and Job as 32:1-3 points out he was angry at what all four of them said. When we read the word of God we need to remember that the Holy Spirit often does not reveal all the details of a particular circumstance; sometimes He later reveals a missing piece of the story and sometimes we may never know all the facts. In this case Elihu wasn't mentioned from the beginning of the book probably because there was no need to mention him as he was sitting back in silence and listening to the conversation.

2. Elihu was passionate when it came to truth and justice. 32:2-4: Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. 3 Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.
4 Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. 5 When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused.

3. Elihu was a good listener.  32:11-12: 11 Indeed I waited for your words, I listened to your reasonings, while you searched out what to say. 12 I paid close attention to you; A good listener hears what is being said and patiently waits for the opinion being expressed to be completed before a response is given. Even if opinions expressed give rise to anger, a good listener waits and hears all that's being said. (see verses in #2).

4. Elihu was the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram. Buz was the second son of Nahor, Abraham's brother (Gen. 22:20f), who is listed with Dedan (Jer. 25:23) and seems to have been an Arabian (Gen. 10:7; Ezek. 27:15,20). Ram was not identified, but possibly he was a small Arabian tribe or clan. It is unique that his ancestry was so definitely specified while that of the other three men were not. -Homer Hailey, A Commentary on Job, pg 276

5. Elihu was much younger than Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. 32:4,6: 4 Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job; So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said: “I am young in years, and you are very old;

6. Elihu was respectful and honored his elders. 32:4, 6-7, 16: 4 Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job. 6 So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said: “I am young in years, and you are very old; Therefore I was afraid, And dared not declare my opinion to you.  7 I said, ‘Age should speak, And multitude of years should teach wisdom.’   16 And I have waited, because they did not speak, Because they stood still and answered no more.

7. Elihu understood the souce of wisdom.  32:7-9:  7 I said, ‘Age should speak, And multitude of years should teach wisdom.’ 8 But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. 9 Great men are not always wise, Nor do the aged always understand justice.

8. Elihu is a self-controlled man. 17 I also will answer my part, I too will declare my opinion, 18 For I am full of words; The spirit within me compels me. 19 Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent; It is ready to burst like new wineskins. 20 I will speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer. (Also, see scriptures in #5 and #6)

9. Elihu was an impartial man, respecting no man over another. 32:21-22:  21 Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; Nor let me flatter any man. 22 For I do not know how to flatter, Else my Maker would soon take me away.

More characteristics of Elihu will come out as we continue to hear his speech and we'll add those as we continue in our study.


Becoming Wise Men 

by Steven Harper

When Job had suffered some great losses due to the devil's personal attack on him, we are told “when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him” (Job 2:11). [Some friends!] We later find that another man, Elihu, was also present during the discourse between them and Job (Job 32:1) and that, after these men were done, Elihu had something to say.

Elihu had patiently listened to Job's three friends and their accusations against Job and he had patiently listened to Job's response to their accusations, justifying himself rather than God (Job 32:2,3). Elihu patiently waited to hear what these men had to say because these three friends were “years older than he” (Job 32:4) and Elihu wanted to show respect for them and their years. But he was not happy with what he heard! When Elihu finally spoke, he first said, “I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’ But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right” (Job 32:6-9). As patiently and respectfully as he could, Elihu basically told these men, "Just because you are older then me doesn't make you wiser!" — and he was right!

I can speak from experience about how Elihu felt then. A few times, in my younger years [and even occasionally, now], I have had older Christians, preachers, and elders give me a kindly pat on the back and a patronizing smile as they told me, "You're young…you'll understand when you get older," or elders simply dismiss my observations because, well, I was not as old and 'experienced' as they were. When I look back at a few of those occasions when this was how I was treated, I consider what I said and did then and I'm still wondering just when it is I am going to 'understand' what they were talking about then, because it still doesn't match with Scripture! I would like to meet those who told me to "wait until you get older" so I could revisit their words and actions and see if they have a better explanation for what they said and did than a reference to what they saw as my youthful ignorance.

Old age doesn't necessarily make a man wise — it just means he is older. And that assumption by many [that old age equates with wisdom or vice versa] is what is troublesome to me as a 'young' man who is also a disciple of Jesus Christ. If we are waiting for wisdom to come to us just by the passing of time, we are in for a sad disappointment! If we are waiting for the day when we will wake up with a sudden infusion of wisdom just because the calendar shows we have successfully made it through another 365 days [366 this year], or if we think that wisdom will suddenly come bursting forth from our lips when we hit that 'magical age' [whatever it is], we are seriously mistaken!

If wisdom does not come by merely the passage of time, then how do we become wise? And what makes us wise — as God defines wisdom? It would be wise [as always] to consult God's revealed Word on the matter, and so let us do just that.

The Beginning of Wisdom. We might be familiar with the words of the wise writer, who said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Wisdom is not a matter of going to the right theological seminary or the brotherhood college, but in the fear of the Lord! Though it sounds contrary to conventional wisdom and 'common sense', just remember that God has told us “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (I Corinthians 3:19); we are not measuring wisdom by what man says, but by what God says. God says the beginning of wisdom is fearing Him.

As thoughtful and as well-meaning as the friends of Job were, they did not understand the workings of God nor did they even know the life of Job, yet they willingly and freely made assumptions about Job (cf. Job 8:6; 22:5) and about God's part in his sufferings (Job 5:17; 8:20; 22:4). What was missing in all their words was any knowledge about what was actually happening [because they did not know the circumstances]. If they had listened to their own words about God (Job 8:3) they might have recognized their own presumptuousness in speaking for God. When we do not know why some things have happened, it is better to fear God and remain silent than to open our mouths and spout foolishness, as they did. How many times have we heard people, after some natural disaster, questioning why God did this to them? Such comes from the mouths of men who do not fear [respect] God!

Fearing [respecting] God is so important that one man concluded that fearing God and keeping His commandments is our whole purpose in life (Ecclesiastes 12:13)! If we would but learn this at an early age, we would be, what some say, "wise beyond our years." [But we would know the truth, that wisdom does not necessarily come with age!]

Growing in Wisdom. When my children began schooling, it was exciting to see them learning. From time to time, they would remind us what they had learned and they would recite the knowledge they had gained. That was exciting, but it was even more exciting when we saw them at some point later realize that the knowledge they had gained could actually be put to use and they then figured out how to do something because of their knowledge gained, and the application of it [the meaning of wisdom]. As they continue to get older and as they mature, it is always refreshing [and a relief] to see the proverbial 'light bulb' come on when they put two and two together and come up with answers on their own, using their knowledge and the wisdom they have newly acquired. I would be worried, however, if they were still excited about telling me they knew what two plus two equals! They — and I — expect growth in knowledge and wisdom!

For the disciple of Jesus Christ, we are also expected to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18) so that we are not led astray by those who will twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16). We should be willing to listen to the counsel of God and of wise men who will lead us in the right paths, and not trust in our own wisdom (Proverbs 12:15); the wise one listens more than he speaks (Proverbs 10:19), and that alone will make even the foolish ones appear to be wise (Proverbs 17:28).

But the wise one is also one who wins souls (Proverbs 11:30). The wisdom he speaks of here is not necessarily learning a method of teaching the lost so they can obey the gospel [though that is certainly one way], but the wisdom of learning and applying God's righteousness to our own lives so that the world may see Christ living in us and be persuaded that it is a life worth living — one to which they might also aspire to live. If we never go beyond the basics of our faith, we will have a hard time convincing others they should follow Christ. There comes a time when we “ought to be teachers” (Hebrews 5:12), and this comes by increasing in knowledge and wisdom.

We must continue to desire the pure milk of the word (I Peter 2:2), but we must be willing to move on to the 'meat' when the time comes (cf. Hebrews 5:14); that comes only through exercise of our senses to discern between good and evil [spiritual growth]. When we continually do this, we will grow in spiritual wisdom and will be more able to withstand attacks against us. Let us not be foolish in thinking the wisdom will come with age.

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Elihu, A Righteous Man of God

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Job 32

Wisdom 

  • Wisdom is not an automatic product of old age. God gave man the ability to learn and gain insight, but wisdom gained must come from applying what is learned according to truth, justice and righteousness.  While Elihu remained silent because he respected the aged, he also hesitated to respond at the beginning because he expected these older men to speak wisdom. However, he found out the opposite would be true with these men; "great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice." 
Judgement
  • Job justified himself rather than God. (vs 2)
  • Even though the friends didn't find an answer to Job's suffering, they still condemned Job. (vs 3)
  • Elihu does not show partiality. He does not take sides in the conversation, he points out wrong with Job as well as the 3 friends. "Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; Nor let me flatter any man. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away."

Conversation:

  • Elihu was respectful of the other men's age and he, with patience, waited to speak, even though he felt like he was about to burst. (vs 4, 18-20)
     

Indeed I waited for your words,
      I listened to your reasonings, while you searched out what to say.

  I paid close attention to you;
      And surely not one of you convinced Job,
      Or answered his words—

  Lest you say,

      ‘We have found wisdom’;
      God will vanquish him, not man.

  Now he has not directed his words against me;
      So I will not answer him with your words.

  “They are dismayed and answer no more;
      Words escape them.

  And I have waited, because they did not speak,
      Because they stood still and answered no more.

  I also will answer my part,
      I too will declare my opinion.

  For I am full of words;
      The spirit within me compels me.

  Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent;
      It is ready to burst like new wineskins.

  I will speak, that I may find relief;
      I must open my lips and answer.

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Why Elihu is misjudged by so many

(and it's a shame because he is such a fine example of respect and fairness)

"Yahwe begins with the declaration that the last speaker (Elihu) was a darkener of (the divine) counsel...There is much corruption and possibly some interpolation in Elihu." --Encyclopædia biblica
..
 “It is obvious that Elihu does have some glaring faults: he talks too much; he repeats himself; he is enormously conceited. Worst of all, like the other friends, he seriously misreads Job’s problem as being one of unrepented sin, and as a result he condemns a righteous man.  Despite all the good that might be said of Elihu, the fact remains that he really is an astonishingly pompous little windbag. He takes the entire first chapter, for example, plus portions of the second, simply to clear his throat and announce that he has something to say.”  (Mason)

 "Corrupt, conceited, unfair, astonishingly pompous little windbag." This is how some see Elihu. Plus, years ago I heard a gospel preacher call him a "Johnny-come-lately," and didn't have much good to say about him. These descriptions are so far from the truth and rather than thinking he is just another misinformed, biased friend, we need to see the true Elihu who respected Job enough to not only want to help him, but to show him his error based on fact. We see a man whose righteous anger came to light in regards to the misjudgment of Job and especially God

The misconceptions of Elihu's character, I believe, come from these factors:

(1) "Johnny-come lately?" Elihu has been called a "johnny-come-lately," because he hasn't been mentioned in the first 31 chapters, leading to the wrong conclusion that he showed up late and decided to voice his opinion without really knowing what all had transpired. How this false idea can come about, I'm not sure, because Elihu said he waited until the older men were finished talking, "(I) dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, 'Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom,'" (32:6-7). He also said, "I paid close attention to you," (32:12) and in his speech he repeats words that Job and the friends had said. Evidently Elihu had been there from the beginning of the conversation and, who knows, he may have been there long before the three men arrived.

(2) An angry young man? Elihu's insides had been like "wine that has no vent; ready to burst like new wineskins," and he needed to speak so that he could "find relief." Because of this we picture a man who just blurted out words a mile a minute, pouring forth his frustration in verbal tones that reflected irritation and frustration. We read about his wrath being aroused (32:2-3) and we picture an angry young man just giving it to his elders without any thought to self-control.

First of all, why would Elihu exhibit such patience and self-control in remaining quiet throughout this very long conversation that had just taken place, even when the conversation had angered him, and all of a sudden become a different personality without any thought of controlling himself? Does it make sense? Isn't it possbile the false condemnation of Job and misjudgment of God had angered him while still possessing self-control? Haven't you ever seen a person, young or old, who had the truth on his/her side and argued with calmness and respect? Have you ever been that person? There are many people, of all ages, who possess this maturity about them so why not Elihu?

(3) No different than the other three friends? We make a mistake by following the pattern of past conversations. We have just gone through speech after speech that contained wild, unfounded accusations, following by Job's defense and emotional pleading to God for answers and by the time Elihu comes into the picture we're irritated at the three friends, heartbroken for Job as well as put off by his misjudgments of God. Our thinking is pretty much negative at this point. We are feeling very protective of Job and we're fatigued by the droning of the friend's accusations. We are so glad when they are finally silenced and then Elihu begins and what does he begin with? He disciplines Job right off the bat. More negative! Come on, give Job a break! But that is not what Elihu wants to do. Elihu wants to make Job a better man, as well as providing him comfort, and he knows Job can not be comforted as long as he blames God for his suffering and accuses Him of injustice. Elihu cares about Job's soul and peace of mind and he knows the best way of comforting Job is providing him with truth, even if that entails discipline.

(4) Angry, harsh tone of his words? We tend to read Elihu's conversation in an angry, harsh tone. Try reading his words in a soft, kind voice; firm but caring. See the difference it makes?

(5) Arrogant? Elihu's is often looked upon as arrogant, insolent and full of self-glorification. After all he begins by saying, "My words come from my upright heart; my lips utter pure knowledge." Isn't that enough to judge him as conceited and so full of himself that he proceeds to give himself the right to tear down a righteous man such as Job?

The fault in this idea comes from not taking Elihu's comments in context and examining why he gives such a description of himself. We need to examine if his so-called self exaltation originates from pride or could it be a matter of wanting to Job at ease by letting him know his intention is not to attack Job with false accusations and cruel objectives.

(6) No where does it say Elihu was inspired, therefore he makes mistakes in his speech and that makes him no different than the other three?If Elihu wasn't inspired would that mean he had to have selfish motives and make foolish comments? Is it possible for one to possess wisdom and not be inspired? Elihu readily admits he is just a man as Job is ("I also have been formed out of clay," 33:6) and he gives no pretense of being anything more. His desire was to justify Job (33:32) and, at the same time, teach him wisdom (33:33). Did Job need wisdom? Yes, Satan had tempted him with extreme suffering that, in turn, had tempted him to question God's motives. Job needed justification to his friends and wisdom concerning his God.

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It is intriguing that the good man, Elihu, is so misjudged by readers in a book that is all about misjudging God and man. It's an interesting twist that helps prove man's inability to have perfect wisdom, knowledge, and understanding in his own experiences in life as well as in another's. This gives support to the lesson learned in the book of Job:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. (Pro 3:5-7)

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Elihu, A Righteous Man of God

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Job 32-33

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1. Show no partiality. (Job 32:21-22) Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; Nor let me flatter any man. For I do not know how to flatter, Else my Maker would soon take me away.

2. Speak from an upright heart and utter knowledge, not opinion. (Job 33:3) My words come from my upright heart; My lips utter pure knowledge.

3. Recognize we ourselves are only human and truth is from God. Job 33:6 Truly I am as your spokesman before God; I also have been formed out of clay.

4. Our purpose is to help, not terrify or intimidate. Job 33:7 Surely no fear of me will terrify you, Nor will my hand be heavy on you.

5. Carefully listen and hear the words of the other person. (Job 33:8) "Surely you have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words..."

6. Once you have facts and not heresay, be honest and open about the problem you have with what the other person said or did. (Job 33:8-12) "Surely you have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words, saying, 'I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent, and there is no iniquity in me.Yet He finds occasions against me, He counts me as His enemy; He puts my feet in the stocks, He watches all my paths.' Look, in this you are not righteous. I will answer you, For God is greater than man."

7. Make sure the other person is listening to what we are saying. If both of us are talking at once no one is hearing the other. Also, be sure to listen to the response of the other. (Job 33:31-33) "Give ear, Job, listen to me; Hold your peace, and I will speak. If you have anything to say, answer me; Speak, for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; Hold your peace, and I will teach you wisdom."

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Elihu's Discipline and Correction of Job

(Part 1)

Job 34

ELIHU'S CHARGE AGAINST JOB 

  1. Speaks without knowledge
  2. Words without wisdom
  3. Answers like a wicked man
  4. Is rebellious and multiplies his words against God

Job speaks without knowledge,
His words are without wisdom.’
Oh, that Job were tried to the utmost,
Because his answers are like those of wicked men!
For he adds rebellion to his sin;
He claps his hands among us,
And multiplies his words against God.” Job 34:35-37

ELIHU'S EVIDENCE: JOB'S OWN WORDS THAT CAN'T BE DENIED 

1. God is not just in regards to Job and his innocence.

For Job has said, ‘I am righteous,
But God has taken away my justice;
Should I lie concerning my right?
My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.  Job 34:5,6

2. It doesn't profit man to serve God. (This will be dealt with in next month's issue when we get into chapter 35.) 

For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing That he should delight in God.’ Job 34:9

ELIHU'S CORRECTION AND DISCIPLINE OF JOB USING TRUTH ABOUT THE ALMIGHTY'S JUSTICE

SCRIPTURE TO BACK UP ELIHU'S WORDS

10 “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. Psa. 145:17

11 For He repays man according to his work, And makes man to find a reward according to his way. 12 Surely God will never do wickedly, Nor will the Almighty pervert justice.

He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. Psa 9:8

13 Who gave Him charge over the earth? Or who appointed Him over the whole world? 14 If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, 15 All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. Acts 17:23-25

16 “If you have understanding, hear this; Listen to the sound of my words:

He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Mt 11:15

17 Should one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn Him who is most just? 18 Is it fitting to say to a king, ‘You are worthless,’ And to nobles, ‘You are wicked’?

Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Isa 29:16

But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? Rom 9:20-21

9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? Heb 12:9

19 Yet He is not partial to princes, Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands. 20 In a moment they die, in the middle of the night; The people are shaken and pass away; The mighty are taken away without a hand.

17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. Deu 10:17
.
6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. Gal. 2:6

21 “For His eyes are on the ways of man, And He sees all his steps. 22 There is no darkness nor shadow of death Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You. Psa 139:11,12

23 For He need not further consider a man, That he should go before God in judgment. 24 He breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry, And sets others in their place. 25 Therefore He knows their works; He overthrows them in the night, And they are crushed. 26 He strikes them as wicked men In the open sight of others, 27 Because they turned back from Him, And would not consider any of His ways, 28 So that they caused the cry of the poor to come to Him; For He hears the cry of the afflicted. 29 When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble? And when He hides His face, who then can see Him, Whether it is against a nation or a man alone?— 30 That the hypocrite should not reign, Lest the people be ensnared.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales Isa 40:12-15

31 “For has anyone said to God, ‘I have borne chastening; I will offend no more; 32 Teach me what I do not see; If I have done iniquity, I will do no more’? 33 Should He repay it according to your terms, Just because you disavow it? You must choose, and not I; Therefore speak what you know.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. Rom. 9:14-16

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Correcting in Kindness

David Maxson

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.  2 Timothy 2:24-26
 
Sometimes we are presented with the responsibility of talking to a brother or sister who is sinning or needs correction for some reason. This is a dangerous position to be in since it is so easy to be filled with impure motives when doing this (Matthew 7:1-4; Galatians 6:1-2). Before going to correct anyone, you should review what Paul says in this passage.
 
First, we must not be quarrelsome but kind. We must never needlessly offend or insult. We must avoid judging hearts, always assigning the best possible motives to any action (Matthew 7:1; 1 Corinthians 13:7).
 
Second, we must correct with gentleness. We cannot compromise the truth for the sake of someone's feelings, but at the same time we must not use the Word as a club. We must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
 
Finally, we must not be haughty or self-righteous. We must look at the one we are correcting in mercy, seeing them as captives of the devil who have been deceived. Our goal is not to put them in their place but to snatch them out of the clutches of our adversary. 
 
God, when we must correct someone, gives us courage to say what needs to be said, but also wisdom and mercy to say it in the right way.

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Elihu's Discipline and Correction of Job

(Part 2)

Job 35

Moreover Elihu answered and said: Do you think this is right? Do you say, "My righteousness is more than God's? What advantage will it be to You? What profit shall I have more than if I had sinned?"

(1) Notice Elihu responds to Job and his companions (vs 4). Why would he include the companions in his response?

Elihu recognized the friends "heaped up words against Job" that were not based on truth. The friends had implied that only the wicked could suffer to the degree Job was suffering, therefore Job must be wicked. I believe Elihu is setting out to prove this idea about Job as well as Job's charge against God were both wrong.

(2) While Job never these exact words that he was more righteous than God or "what profit shall I have more than if I had sinned," the implication is there in some of Job's complaints (see also 34:9).

The commentators who place Elihu on the same level as the other three friends make a big issue out of the fact that Elihu charged Job with saying something he didn't say. In part they are right, in that those exact words were said by Job in describing the wicked (21:7-15). Job is refuting Eliphaz's speech that the wicked always suffer when actually, at times, the wicked live in prosperity and die at an old age. Job describes the wicked as saying there would have been no profit to them to serve God as they have prospered without Him. 

I'm not totally sure why Elihu said this unless he was using Job's own words in order to help Job understand his mindset was the same as what he had accused the wicked of: Describing righteousness to himself apart from God. While Job never came out and said, "What profit shall I have more than if I had sinned," he did imply such during his complaint against God:

9:14-24. After accusing God of "crushing" him and "multiplying wounds without cause," he goes on to say, "I am blameless...He destroys the blameless and the wicked. If the scourge slays suddenly, He laughs at the plight of the innocent. The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, who else could it be?" Again, Job never said he was serving God for nothing, but in this statement he made it shows his thinking that it doesn't matter to God if you're blameless or wicked, God gets some sort of enjoyment from seeing the plight of the innocent and preventing righteous judgement on the earth.

You may think, surely Job didn't believe God actually laughs at the trials of the innocent, but that is exactly what he said. Righteous men can falter and later Job repents of speaking on things he didn't understand. I've mentioned this in the past, but in my early 20's after my son's heart surgery at 5 years old, a series of events happened where I felt like we were just pawns of a game God was playing with humans. The thought came at a very painful time and thankfully I thought differently the next day and repented of thinking evil about God and misjudging Him. 

9:27-31 is even more clear on why Elihu said what he did about Job:   If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face and wear a smile,’ I am afraid of all my sufferings; I know that You will not hold me innocent. If I am condemned, Why then do I labor in vain? If I wash myself with snow water, And cleanse my hands with soap, Yet You will plunge me into the pit, And my own clothes will abhor me.

16:6-17: "He tears me in His wrath, and hates me; He gnashes at me with His teeth; (vs 9), I was at ease, but he has shattered me (vs 12), He pierces my heart and does not pity (vs 13), my face is flushed from weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; although no violence is in my hands, and my prayer is pure."

 (3) Elihu responds:

Homer Hailey in his commentary of Job book describes Elihu with "cocky self-assurance" and that Elihu had "lost none of his ego." With all due respect, I disagree. I believe Elihu is speaking in all confidence because he understands God is not unjust nor does He take pleasure in the suffering of a righteous man. Wouldn't we speak the same way? If we were talking to a brother or sister in Christ and they were saying God didn't care about them and even laughed at their plight, would we not speak with all confidence and "speak where the Bible speaks"? 

34:10-12:  “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity. For He repays man according to his work, And makes man to find a reward according to his way.Surely God will never do wickedly, Nor will the Almighty pervert justice.

35:5 - "Look to the heavens...behold the clouds which are higher than you." There is no creation so humbling than looking up at the sky and seeing how low...how small we are. If we are ever tempted to think our reasoning excels God's then the first thing we can do to help straighten out our pride is look to the heavens.

35:6-8 - How do our sins or our righteousness affect God? Do our transgressions harm God? Does our righteousness give something to God He doesn't already possess to a much greater degree than ourselves? Our sins and our righteousness only affects mankind and has no bearing on who God is, the judgements He makes, nor do they change God's character in anyway.

So, Job, your righteousness nor wickedness (as proposed by the friends) has affected God's judgment as God's ways are not determined by man's ideas of Him but rather God determines how man should walk before Him.

35:9-13 - During oppression man cries out to God for help but where is man's gratitude to God for the blessings that flow, "who gives songs in the night."

God does not answer the cries when:

  • Evil men are full of pride.
  • When man's talk is empty.

35:14-16 Job, although you say you don't see Him (or his justice), be assured God is just and you must wait on His righteous judgment in His time.

God has been patient and has not punished Job's vain speeches, nor his words that weren't according to knowledge. 

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"To Speak on God's Behalf" 

Job 36:1-21 

 

Have you ever had a friend who had been suffering greatly and in her anguish she began to accuse God of being unjust and apathetic about her situation? If so, what was your first inclination to do? Was it to defend God? Did you begin to speak on behalf of God and explain that He does care and is just. Did you encourage your friend not to misjudge God and not to give up on Him? If so, then you can understand Elihu's confidence as he continues in his discipline of Job's misjudgment of God.

Elihu also proceeded and said:

2 “Bear with me a little, and I will show you
That there are yet words to speak on God’s behalf.
3 I will fetch my knowledge from afar;
I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
4 For truly my words are not false;
One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.

Contrary to what some believe, I don't think Elihu was bragging on himself. He had heard the three friends speak out of line when it came to describing Job as a great sinner as well as stating their knowledge was superior. Elihu had also heard Job speak from his inner pain and confusion, charging God with injustice. I believe Elihu is making a point that his knowledge he is about to impart is solely coming from what God has revealed about Himself and He is going to ascribe righteousness to his "Maker."

5 “Behold, God is mighty, but despises no one;
He is mighty in strength of understanding.
6 He does not preserve the life of the wicked,
But gives justice to the oppressed.
7 He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous;
But they are on the throne with kings,
For He has seated them forever,
And they are exalted.
8 And if they are bound in fetters,
Held in the cords of affliction,
9 Then He tells them their work and their transgressions—
That they have acted defiantly.
10 He also opens their ear to instruction,
And commands that they turn from iniquity.
11 If they obey and serve Him,
They shall spend their days in prosperity,
And their years in pleasures.
12 But if they do not obey,
They shall perish by the sword,
And they shall die without knowledge.

13 “But the hypocrites in heart store up wrath;
They do not cry for help when He binds them.
14 They die in youth,
And their life ends among the perverted persons.
15 He delivers the poor in their affliction,
And opens their ears in oppression.

Elihu states characteristics about God:

  • He is mighty and despises no one.
  • He is mighty in understanding.
  • His mind is not to preserve the wicked but to give justice to the oppressed.
  • He does not turn from the righteous but rather He exalts them.
  • If they are bound in fetters and cords of affliction, He will instruct them of their wrongdoing and command they turn from iniquity.
  • If they obey God and serve Him, He will give them a life of prosperity and years of pleasure but if they do not obey, they will perish and die without knowledge.
  • The hypocrites die young among the perverted persons but he delivers the poor in affliction and opens their ears in oppression.
16 “Indeed He would have brought you out of dire distress,
Into a broad place where there is no restraint;
And what is set on your table would be full of richness.

17 But you are filled with the judgment due the wicked;
Judgment and justice take hold of you.
18 Because there is wrath, beware lest He take you away with one blow;
For a large ransom would not help you avoid it.
19 Will your riches,
Or all the mighty forces,
Keep you from distress?
20 Do not desire the night,
When people are cut off in their place.
21 Take heed, do not turn to iniquity,
For you have chosen this rather than affliction.
 ,
Elihu disciplines Job further by pointing out:
  • God would have taken him out of dire distress but he is being judged as the wicked and because of Job's attitude, his suffering lingers.
  • Beware of the wrath of God for no riches or mighty forces can keep you from distress and from the hand of God.
  • That Job should not desire the night (death) but rather be careful not to turn to sin for he had chosen this rather than affliction.

The difference between Elihu's discipline and that of the three friends is that Elihu is focusing on Job's attitude and misjudgment of God rather than focusing on why Job is suffering, as the three friends were. He knows the Lord is righteous and just and he is set to defend this truth. In the next lesson he will continue in his defense of God and will focus on His power and wisdom in His creation.

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Stop and Consider the Wondrous Works of God

"But you are full of the judgment on the wicked; judgment and justice seize you. Beware lest wrath entice you into scoffing, and let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.   Will your cry for help avail to keep you from distress, or all the force of your strength?  Do not long for the night, when peoples vanish in their place.  Take care; do not turn to iniquity, for this you have chosen rather than affliction.  Behold, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him?  Who has prescribed for him his way, or who can say, 'You have done wrong'? "Remember to extol his work, of which men have sung.  All mankind has looked on it; man beholds it from afar.  Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. Job 36:17-26

Change your way of thinking, Job! Elihu didn't know why Job was suffering, but he did know Job needed to refocus on the benefits that can come out of affliction. Rather than complaining as the wicked do (the strength of his cries are not going to work for relief) and rather than longing for death, Elihu was telling Job to focus on the greatness of God. Focus on His power and remember His works of which men have sung. God is so great that mankind can not come to an understanding of His great and mighty works. God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. (Job 37:5) "Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God." (Job 37:14)

Elihu begins the task of refocusing Job's thinking from self-pity to the wonderful works of God. He begins with describing the delicate mist of rain and proceeds to the gathering of clouds in a storm and the crashing of the thunder where his “heart trembles and leaps from its place.”  “He sends it forth under the heaven. His lightning to the ends of the earth. After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice.”

“God thunders wondrously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend.” From thunderstorms to the coming of winter, God is marvelous in His works. The delicate snowflakes can stop man and beast in their track when they become a downpour (37:7-8). God declares His presence and puts mankind in subjection by the scattering of the lightening, the voice of the thunder, the whirlwind and the north winds which bring heavy snow and ice. By these declarations of power, man is subject to the elements whether he desires to worship the creator or not; he has no choice but to submit to Almighty God.

Even in the delicate rain man is being put in subjection for without rain there would be no food. “He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter His lightning. They turn around and around by His guidance, to accomplish all that He commands them on the face of the whole earth.” God has created all these marvelous works that we have named “weather” for three purposes: “(1) Whether for correction, (2) or for the land, (3) or for mercy (37:13).

Elihu proceeds with the warmth of summer and the  “balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge.” Elihu asked Job if he could, like God, spread out the skies, strong as a cast metal mirror (without clouds, perhaps, indicative of drought).

As Elihu is helping Job rein his thoughts into the great power and wisdom of God, he further admonishes Job to be careful how he speaks to the Almighty God! He asks Job if man should tell God what to speak.. come on, Job, teach us what we should say to the Creator! He knew Job was a righteous man who would understand that God is so awesome, so mighty, so powerful, so just and righteous that man can't come close in comparison. Mankind is left in his humble state fearing such greatness that can not be comprehended!

Job 37:19-24 Teach us what we shall say to him; we cannot draw up our case because of darkness. Shall it be told him that I would speak? Did a man ever wish that he would be swallowed up?  "And now no one looks on the light when it is bright in the skies, when the wind has passed and cleared them. Out of the north comes golden splendor; God is clothed with awesome majesty.  The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power; justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit."




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September/October 2017