From Job 32-34
The redeemed person tells others they sinned but they did not receive the full punishment of death. This is Elihu’s understanding of Job’s situation. In the gospel, a sinner asks for mercy and goes home justified before God.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
This next series of chapters has a new voice in the dialogue. Elihu has been waiting for his elders to speak wisely to Job of his suffering and convince him of his sin. He is frustrated at their inability to turn Job or convince him of his supposed sin. Even more he is angered Job has not declared God to be in the right.
Today’s passage is a continuation of his speech which started in chapter 32.
33 “But now, hear my speech, O Job, and listen to all my words.
2 Behold, I open my mouth; the tongue in my mouth speaks.
3 My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely.
4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
5 Answer me, if you can; set your words in order before me; take your stand.
6 Behold, I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.
7 Behold, no fear of me need terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy upon you.
8 “Surely you have spoken in my ears, and I have heard the sound of your words.
9 You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me.
10 Behold, he finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy,
11 he puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.’ (Job 33.1-11)
Elihu is confident he speaks with integrity and authority even though he is younger than all the others. He is the product of God’s creation like the others. Pinched from a piece of clay. God is the one who molds and shapes them for his purposes. He assures Job he has nothing to fear in what he is about to say.
What do you think of the way Elihu introduced himself to Job?
Elihu notes what Job has said previously. He recognises Job thinks of himself as innocent and has done nothing to deserve his suffering. He also notes Job blames God for what has happened to him even though he is without transgression.
12 “Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man.
13 Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’?
14 For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.
15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds,
16 then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings,
17 that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man;
18 he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword. (Job 33.12-18)
‘In this you are not right’. Job is wrong to accuse the LORD of wrongdoing. He points at what God does in order to prevent people for entering into greater calamity. God does this without people recognising he is doing it.
God acts to prevent people from sinning. He sends them dreams and visions to warn them of the consequences of wrongdoing. He does this so ‘he may turn man aside from his deed’ and ‘keep back his soul from the pit’. Otherwise called Sheol.
Have any of your dreams made you rethink something you were thinking about doing?
This preventative action is good. God is acting in man’s best interest by doing this.
19 “Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones,
20 so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food.
21 His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out.
22 His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death.
23 If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him,
24 and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom;
25 let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’;
26 then man prays to God, and he accepts him;
he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness.
27 He sings before men and says: ‘I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me.
28 He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.’ (Job 33.19-28)
God also rebukes sinners with pain and sickness. He does this such that when he sends someone to call them to repentance (‘declare to man what is right’) he will be more inclined to turn away from his sin because in doing so his pain and sickness will be relieved.
The man prays to God, and he accepts him.
Elihu has seen this happen. Sinners who have come to repentance declare the praises of God who forgave their sin without payment and restored them to righteousness.
These actions are good. God is acting in man’s best interest by doing this.
29 “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man,
30 to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.
31 Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.
32 If you have any words, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you.
33 If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” (Job 33.29-33)
Elihu reminds Job of all the good things the LORD does to turn people away from sin and destruction. Elihu says all this to vindicate the LORD and encourage Job to repent. Elihu believes if Job repents he will be restored to righteousness – justified.
In the gospel Jesus tells a story of a man’s justification. Like the man Elihu described, he also recognises his sin and prays to the LORD for mercy.
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 18.9-14)
Elihu speaks well of God. He does acts to prevent people from sinning and he does seek to turn people from their sins. Jesus story about the tax collector reveals the LORD’s heart. He is willing to forgive those who humbled themselves before him and ask for forgiveness. They go home right before God.
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