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Job 33:1322; 36:812comment (0)

July 4, 2013

By Douglas K. Wilson Jr.

Related Scripture: Job 33:1322; 36:812


Explore the Bible 
Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile



Job 33:13–22; 36:8–12
This week’s lesson introduces readers to a new character. Elihu is a young man well-schooled in etiquette, waiting patiently for continual indictments from Job’s companions to wane and allowing Job to speak his own defense. Elihu’s previous silence culminates in anger as Job fails to repent and Zophar, Bildad and Eliphaz are unsuccessful in convincing Job of his impertinence before God. From Job 32–37, his theological diatribe is recorded, in which he respectfully yet passionately seeks to convince his elder about the error of his ways and attitudes.

Who is this Elihu, whose words are followed immediately by the chastising words of Yahweh in chapters 38 and following? His name means “He is my God.” Scholars lack unanimity as to his identity. He is not included in the original list of companions, and he is absent from the final list, prompting critics to suggest that this section was added to the text sometime after the original composition. Others simply view him in light of the present canon as another companion whose courtroom prosecution of Job lacks the authority of God’s testimony. Whoever he is, it is his words that are the focus of our lesson.

Receive God’s Revelation (33:13–16)
Elihu cites personal revelation for God here, confronting Job for his apparent obstinance: “God speaks time and again, but a person may not notice it” (33:14). Throughout the Old Testament, writers regularly refer to the general revelation of God through His creation and the special revelation of God through His prophets. Here, Elihu directs Job’s attention to visions and dreams, which were common occurrences prior to Moses but seldom afterward.

God’s handiwork is evident all around us. The heavens declare His glory (Ps. 19:1). Creation announces His order and design so clearly that no one can reasonably deny the existence of our Master Designer. By witness of special revelation through the prophets and apostles, God bears witness of Himself, His purposes and His ways. As we receive His words by faith and submit to God’s revelation, we will learn to trust Him more, regardless of our immediate circumstances.

Recognize God’s Reasons (33:17–22)
Elihu speaks wisdom and truth in the midst of his accusations against Job. God gives men ears to hear what He is saying. Why? “In order to turn a person from his actions and suppress his pride” (33:17). God has His reasons for allowing humanity to suffer. One of those reasons is chastisement. Here we find the accuracy in Elihu’s testimony.

Job suffers as a result of his poor behavior and pride, according to Elihu. This man assumes he is God’s apologist, unaware of the real reasons behind Job’s suffering. Herein is the danger of presuming to speak for God. By assigning motive to God without His expressed revelation, we become guilty of transgressing the third commandment. We misuse the Lord’s name when we speak on His behalf without His revelation to us (Deut. 5:11; 18:20).

Christians know that God works all things together — including suffering — for our good (Rom. 8:28). This statement is not a guarantee of health, wealth and temporary prosperity. Rather Paul continues by explaining God’s eternal purpose: “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (8:29).

Respond to God’s Refining (36:8–12)
According to Elihu, financial security demonstrates right standing with God. He implies that God is obligated to grant justice within our lifetime (36:11). Once again, Elihu presents an incomplete picture of God and presumes to speak for Him.

The “Messenger of the covenant” is like a refiner’s fire (Mal. 3:2), separating precious metal from worthless dross. Jesus is the Messenger, initiating the New Covenant, establishing it with His blood (Luke 22:20). The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). Like refining fire, suffering is an instrument to purify authentic faith. Are you ready?

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