Read Job 33
33 “But now, Job, listen to my words;
pay attention to everything I say.
2 I am about to open my mouth;
my words are on the tip of my tongue.
3 My words come from an upright heart;
my lips sincerely speak what I know.
4 The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
5 Answer me then, if you can;
stand up and argue your case before me.
6 I am the same as you in God’s sight;
I too am a piece of clay.
7 No fear of me should alarm you,
nor should my hand be heavy on you.
8 “But you have said in my hearing—
I heard the very words—
9 ‘I am pure, I have done no wrong;
I am clean and free from sin.
10 Yet God has found fault with me;
he considers me his enemy.
11 He fastens my feet in shackles;
he keeps close watch on all my paths.’
12 “But I tell you, in this you are not right,
for God is greater than any mortal.
13 Why do you complain to him
that he responds to no one’s words?
14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber in their beds,
16 he may speak in their ears
and terrify them with warnings,
17 to turn them from wrongdoing
and keep them from pride,
18 to preserve them from the pit,
their lives from perishing by the sword.
19 “Or someone may be chastened on a bed of pain
with constant distress in their bones,
20 so that their body finds food repulsive
and their soul loathes the choicest meal.
21 Their flesh wastes away to nothing,
and their bones, once hidden, now stick out.
22 They draw near to the pit,
and their life to the messengers of death.
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,
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—
25 let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;
let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—
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.
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.
28 God has delivered me from going down to the pit,
and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’
29 “God does all these things to a person—
twice, even three times—
30 to turn them back from the pit,
that the light of life may shine on them.
31 “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;
be silent, and I will speak.
32 If you have anything to say, answer me;
speak up, for I want to vindicate you.
33 But if not, then listen to me;
be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”
Following his rebuke of Jobs’ other friends, the young and fiery Elihu finally shares his “right” opinion, stating what he believes the others could not. With a new character being introduced, it seems at first that we can have hope. Finally a friend who can speak the truth! It may have been exhausting for you to read chapter after chapter of his friends trying to be significant and not helpful. And rather than Elihu being someone with genuine wisdom, we read about a friend speaking out of arrogance.
Let’s examine Elihu further. We learn a lot about who Elihu believes himself to be: an honorable man who’s wisdom surpasses his years, so Job should heed to him. Then he twists Job’s words, claiming he believes to be “clean and free of sin” (v. 9). And yet Job made sacrifices before God (an act only done by someone trying to atone for their sins), which we learned from Job 1:5. Then Elihu brings up the point that God does speak to us through visions. He goes as far as to say that God actually did send someone to Job–it was just not received. If Job did receive it then God would bless him. And there it is folks: the black and white teaching all of the friends.
What can we learn from Elihu’s message here? As with many of the words given by Job’s other friends, it’s not that they’re giving him entirely false advice, it’s just incomplete and not applicable to Job right now. But in many ways, it is for us. Verses 22-28 paint this picture of a mediator saving someone from going in the pit because there is an alternative payment and now they can be redeemed and walk in the light. This is the Gospel! While Elihu probably didn’t fully understand this prophecy he was telling, we can remember the truth of these words today. In the midst of a chapter that is discouraging for us to read of yet another friend failing Job, we have the blessing of being reminded of the newness of the Gospel, so let it not be overlooked! Sit in the truth of what we now get to put our hope in today.
- What characteristics of Elihu do you also see in yourself?
- In what ways does Elihu say God communicates with us? Do you believe this to be true today?
- Verses 29 and 30 are echoed in Lamentations 3:22-23 “his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” What does this reminder mean to you?
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