719.) Job 33

"Elihu teaches Job" by William Blake, 1805 (Morgan Library, New York)

Job 33 (New Living Translation)

One of my trusted advisers has suggested that I offer an abbreviated study on Job.  So we will be looking at only 13 chapters of Job, instead of the full 42.  It seems to me a merciful thing to do for you, my readers!  (You are, of course, welcome to read the whole book on your own!)

Elihu Presents His Case against Job

Job’s three friends have been insisting that Job is suffering because of some past sins.  Now a new speaker comes, a young man, and introduces a new viewpoint.  He does believe, with the others, that suffering is always related to sin; he says in 34:10-11 —

Listen to me, you who have understanding.
      Everyone knows that God doesn’t sin!
      The Almighty can do no wrong.
He repays people according to their deeds.
      He treats people as they deserve.

But Elihu also says that suffering has another purpose:  to correct and restore us, and keep us on the right path.

1 “Listen to my words, Job;
pay attention to what I have to say.
2 Now that I have begun to speak,
let me continue.
3 I speak with all sincerity;
I speak the truth.
4 For the Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
5 Answer me, if you can;
make your case and take your stand.
6 Look, you and I both belong to God.
I, too, was formed from clay.
7 So you don’t need to be afraid of me.
I won’t come down hard on you.

So it is clear from just these few lines that Elihu is wordy, he repeats himself, he is conceited.  One commentator has said, “Now he joins in with a combination of deference and cocksureness that captures the pose of youth that sees a little, but sees it clearly.”

_________________________

8 “You have spoken in my hearing,
and I have heard your very words.
9 You said, ‘I am pure; I am without sin;
I am innocent; I have no guilt.
10 God is picking a quarrel with me,
and he considers me his enemy.
11 He puts my feet in the stocks
and watches my every move.’

This means that young Elihu had not heard Job carefully.  Job certainly knew that he was a sinner in a general sense and could not be considered righteous compared to God.

  • Therefore my words have been rash (Job 6:3)
  • Why then do You not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? (Job 7:21)
  • How can a man be righteous before God? (Job 9:2)
  • I know that You will not hold me innocent (Job 9:28)
  • For You write bitter things against me, and make me inherit the iniquities of my youth (Job 13:26)
  • Though I were righteous, my own mouth would condemn me; though I were blameless, it would prove me perverse (Job 19:2)

–David Guzik

_________________________

12 “But you are wrong, and I will show you why.
For God is greater than any human being.
13 So why are you bringing a charge against him?
Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?
14 For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it.
15 He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they lie in their beds.
16 He whispers in their ears
and terrifies them with warnings.
17 He makes them turn from doing wrong;
he keeps them from pride.
18 He protects them from the grave,
from crossing over the river of death.

19 “Or God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds,
with ceaseless aching in their bones.
20 They lose their appetite
for even the most delicious food.
21 Their flesh wastes away,
and their bones stick out.
22 They are at death’s door;
the angels of death wait for them.

23 “But if an angel from heaven appears—
a special messenger to intercede for a person
and declare that he is upright—
24 he will be gracious and say,
‘Rescue him from the grave,
for I have found a ransom for his life.’

Mark 10:45 (English Standard Version)

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

_________________________

25 Then his body will become as healthy as a child’s,
firm and youthful again.
26 When he prays to God,
he will be accepted.
And God will receive him with joy
and restore him to good standing.
27 He will declare to his friends,
‘I sinned and twisted the truth,
but it was not worth it.
28 God rescued me from the grave,
and now my life is filled with light.’

So, according to Elihu, suffering is the Lord’s way of correcting and healing those whom he is saving.  Suffering is helpful when we turn to God for patience and understanding, or when we learn a deeper dependence on God, or when we become more gentle towards others in their difficulties, thereby showing God’s light to the world.

_________________________

29 “Yes, God does these things
again and again for people.
30 He rescues them from the grave
so they may enjoy the light of life.

Psalm 56:13 (English Standard Version)

For you have delivered my soul from death,
   yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

31 Mark this well, Job. Listen to me,
for I have more to say.
32 But if you have anything to say, go ahead.
Speak, for I am anxious to see you justified.
33 But if not, then listen to me.
Keep silent and I will teach you wisdom!”

_________________________

Music:

“Your Precious Blood Has Ransomed Me” — Allen Froese.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Blake.  http://davidanthonyporter.typepad.com/.a/6a00e55043abd08834012876ca9e0c970c-pi
big deal.  http://www.lmnotees.com/store/images/products/guys_90_M4.jpg
I am a sinner.   http://rlv.zcache.com/sinner_saint_tee_tshirt-p235686692349703037zvxce_400.jpg
cross on black.  http://www.saintpatschurch.org/images/web/cross-dark-background.jpg
Romans 8:28.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_tHPCHQwXRpQ/SKJS3CFFkgI/AAAAAAAAAhs/18v_ySBwfNc/s400/Romans8v28.jpg
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