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FRAMEWORKS: Job

(Return to Old Testament Contents)

 

Context:

Because Elihu's speech covers six chapters, we provide this simple overview to help the reader see where they are in each chapter:

Ch.32: Introducing Elihu

Ch.33: God IS a Communicator

Ch.34: Job has got it wrong!

Ch.35: Misguided Questions?

Ch.36: God IS Just

Ch.37: God IS Supreme

  

FRAMEWORKS: Job 33: Elihu – Part 2 of 6: God IS a communicator

   

[Preliminary Comments: After his introduction, we now see Elihu aiming more directly for Job, by challenging him to listen to him [v.1-7] and contesting his claim to be pure [v.8-12]. He then picks him up on saying God wouldn't speak to us [v.13] but points out that He speaks through dreams and even through suffering!!! [v.14-22] but His aim is always to bring us to repentance and face the truth about ourselves [v.23-26] so that we may testify about His forgiveness and restoration [v.27-30]. He concludes by inviting Job to respond if he wants [v.31-33]. He says nothing.]

   

    

v.1-7 He calls Job to listen to him

   

v.1  “But now, Job, listen to my words; pay attention to everything I say. 

v.2 I am about to open my mouth; my words are on the tip of my tongue. 

v.3 My words come from an upright heart ; my lips sincerely speak what I know. 

v.4 The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 

v.5 Answer me then, if you can; stand up and argue your case before me. 

v.6 I am the same as you in God's sight; I too am a piece of clay. 

v.7  No fear of me should alarm you, nor should my hand be heavy on you. 

 

[Note: Elihu asks Job to focus on him for he seeks to come from a place of righteousness, not threateningly but certainly with a challenge.]

 

 

v.8-12 He recalls what he heard Job saying about his innocence

  

v.8  “But you have said in my hearing— I heard the very words— 

v.9 ‘I am pure, I have done no wrong; I am clean and free from sin. 

v.10 Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy. 

v.11 He fastens my feet in shackles; he keeps close watch on all my paths.' 

v.12 “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than any mortal. 

 

[Note: He challenges Job over what he has said – he is righteous but God has been harsh with him. You shouldn't blame God – implied.]

 

  

v.13-18 But God does speak, for instance in dreams…

   

v.13 Why do you complain to him that he responds to no one's words? 

v.14 For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it. 

v.15  In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, 

v.16 he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, 

v.17  to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, 

v.18  to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword. 

 

v.19-22 …. or through suffering

  

v.19 “Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in their bones, 

v.20 so that their body finds food repulsive and their soul loathes the choicest meal. 

v.21 Their flesh wastes away to nothing, and their bones, once hidden, now stick out. 

v.22  They draw near to the pit, and their life to the messengers of death. 

 

[Note: Job has complained that God won't talk to him. In fact in 12:4 he had said he had called on God and He had answered him, but he did say he wanted to talk to God [13:22] yet God seemed elusive [ch.23]. Indeed he did cry out to God but God didn't seem to answer [30:20] and throughout his main feeling is of having been abandoned by God and cannot get a reason from heaven why. Elihu maintains that God speaks through a whole variety of ways – dreams, or circumstances.]

 

   

v.23-26 But God sends help to bring repentance

v.23  Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright, 

v.24 and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them— 

v.25  let their flesh be renewed like a child's; let them be restored as in the days of their youth'— 

v.26 then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God's face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. 

  

[Note: Elihu maintains that God does send helpers to teach us and redeem us and, even though it may take time [implied] we will be redeemed.]

 

 

v.27-30 Then they can testify to the truth of their failings – and deliverance!

  

v.27 And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. 

v.28 God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.' 

v.29 “God does all these things to a person— twice, even three times— 

v.30 to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them. 

 

[Note: All of the work of God [following from the previous passages] is to help us come to repentance and face our sin and then His salvation available to us.]

 

 

v.31-33 To conclude, he invites Job to answer

  

v.31 “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. 

v.32  If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want to vindicate you. 

v.33 But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

 

[Note: If Job has an answer to this, he ought to speak up.]

 

Concluding Comments: Ironically Elihu takes a similar stance to Job – I come with an upright heart [v.3], but to be fair his charge is that although Job proclaims his innocence, his biggest fault is in blaming God [v.10-12]. Perhaps unfairly he takes Job's words, spoken as generalities in the midst of anguish, and chides him for them – that God doesn't respond to anyone's words [v.13]. He maintains that God does speak all the time though we fail to hear Him [v.14] and uses dreams as well as speaking through the difficult circumstances of life [v.15-22]. He DOES speak and His goal is to bring us to face the fact that we are sinners and offer us salvation [v.23-30]. He maintains he wants to defend and help Job [v.32] and so if Job has anything to say, say it now. [v.32,33].

Without doubt there is a lot of truth in his words in this chapter but, yet again, one feels there is a lack of compassion for Job and understanding of his plight and anguish. At the beginning of the chapter there is lack of knowledge because Ch.1 & 2 show God IS the cause of Job's plight. Job IS right in attributing it to Him, but the test is the way we say it – from rebellious anger or in submissive humility. Perhaps in the midst of his terrible anguish Job has not been wholly right in his attitude but, as Jesus declared, “ Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” (Jn 8:7)]

 

    

Continue to Chapter 34