JOB – ELIHU’S REBUTTAL CONTINUES

(c).  Elihu’s Second Rebuttal  <34:1-37>

Just as the tongue tastes food and determines what is palatable, hence the ear tests words so that we can  “discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.” <34:4 (NIV); cf. Heb.5:14; 1 Thess.5:21>; thus Elihu invites Job and his friends to listen and learn as he deals with what he considers to be Job’s false theology <see 19:7; 27:2>. He now addresses two more of Job’s allegations; first that God was not justified in His actions <34:5-6>; and secondly that there is no profit in trying to please God <34:9>. In his answer to the first assertion he says that God cannot be unjust because He is God <34:10-12; cf. Gen.18:25; Rom.3:5>, “He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.” <34:11 (NIV)>. He continues to develop this concept by showing God as creator <34:13-15> and as Sovereign <34:17-30>. “If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.” <34:14-15 (NIV); cf. Gen.2:7>; God as The Creator put the breath of life into mankind and withdrawing that breath would put mankind back where we were taken from – the earth. God cannot do evil and as Sovereign He can only be righteous, “He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.” <34:11-12 (NIV); cf. Rom.1:28-32; 2 Cor.5:10>; an unjust ruler cannot govern successfully <34:17; cf. 2 Sam.23:3-4>, and will show partiality <34:19>; while the Sovereign God sees everything <34:21; cf. Jer.32:19; Prov.15:3; Heb.4:13>. God, then, has no reason to further examine mankind because He has noted all our ways, and since we have no intention of turning away from ungodliness, and have no regard for His ways, He remains silent so no one can fault Him <34:23-30; cf. Rom.1:18-32>. His question to Job therefore is: “Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent? You must decide” <34:33 (NIV)>, and this is the issue to all mankind today!

And so Elihu adds to his accusation of Job, “‘Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight.’ Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man! To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God.” <34:35-37 (NIV); cf. 38:2; 42:3>.

(d).  Elihu’s Third Rebuttal  <35:1-16>

Elihu now addresses another comment that Job had made in earlier conversations, inquiring of Job; Do you think this is just? You say, ‘I will be cleared by God.’ Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me, and what do I gain by not sinning?'” <35:2-3 (NIV); cf. 13:18; Psa.42:1-2, 9; 43:9>. Each of us should be free to express our thoughts to God just like the Psalmist. So Elihu continues to give his interpretation; “I would like to reply to you and to your friends with you.” <35:4 (NIV)>, suggesting that Job look up to the heavens and see that his sin does not influence God, and his self-righteousness and wickedness impacts only himself and those around him <35:5-8>. “Men cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker..” <35:9-10 (NIV); cf. Lk.18:9-14; 23:39-43>; the wicked are only concerned with themselves and their complaints but never acknowledge God for His goodness and mercy in His amazing grace, unrestricted charity and instruction to all mankind <35:10-11; cf. Matt.5:45b>. He then suggests that if God does not respond to the appeal of mankind there must be a good reason; it is because of their arrogance and their meaningless appeal <35:12-13; cf. Psa.66:18; Deut.1:43, 45; Prov.15:8>. So in Elihu’s human wisdom he declares that Job, although he may not be arrogant, speaks without knowledge, so God will not listen to his complaints; “How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him, and further, that his anger never punishes and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.” <35:14-15 (NIV); cf. Psa.10:2, 11; Hos.7:2; Amos 8:7; Titus 1:10; 1 Cor.4:20; Jude 10>.

(e).  Elihu’s Conclusion  <36:1—37:24>

“I get my knowledge from afar……one perfect in knowledge is with you.” <36:3-4 (NIV)>, as he continues to speak of God’s righteous and trustworthy administration, it is evident that his reference here of perfection in knowledge is applicable only to God <cf. 37:16; 32:8>, and such knowledge is available to all who will search for it. He proceeds to speak of the supremacy of God which guarantees the accomplishment of His purpose <36:5>. In His righteousness and justice, God does not differentiate the self-righteous from the ungodly; “he tells them what they have done — that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil.” <36:9-10 (NIV)>; and if they obey they will enjoy prosperity and contentment; but if they refuse to obey they will perish without that perfect knowledge <36:11-12; cf. Eph.4:18>.  The ungodly are resentful and stubborn and have a short life-span; and to those who are suffering affliction, God speaks <36:13-15; cf. Rom.2:5; Amos 4:11; Psa.107:1-43 (note v.43)>. Elihu’s reasoning is that God’s compassion brings people back to Himself <cf. Hos.2:13-15>, so he cautions Job not to be enticed with riches for great wealth cannot sustain him in his distress <36:18-21>; and such is the warning to all of us in this present age, “Be careful that no one entices you by riches…..Beware of turning to evil” <36:18, 21 (NIV)>. Elihu continues to encourage Job to magnify God’s greatness in His control over the rain and the storms and the magnitude of His providential dealings which are not comprehensive to mankind, but are of divine grace to unworthy mankind; “God is exalted in his power…..How great is God — beyond our understanding!” <36:22, 26 (NIV)>. Elihu is excited at this and encourages Job to listen to the roar of God’s voice as it is heard in nature; God unleashes His lightning which is followed by the roar of His thunder <37:1-4>; and continues to describe God’s awesome control over His creation <37:5-13>, and the marvelous ways in which He speaks and works; “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.” <37:5 (NIV); cf. Mk.7:37a>; His purpose is that all mankind will be conscious of His command over all that is on the face of the earth, within the earth, and that is contained in the heavens above, all of which “do whatever he commands them” <37:12>. He then suggests “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.” <37:14 (NIV)> the wonders of Him who is perfect in knowledge <37:16b; cf. 36:4>. Considering all of God’s wonders, His wisdom, power and knowledge; how can Job confront God to inquire why he has to endure all the suffering he is experiencing <cf. 31:35>, such excellency in power and wisdom of God should lead all mankind to fear God and submit to his discipline and not to suggest that God is unfair <37:17-21>. So Elihu concludes his debate by preparing Job for God’s solution to his suffering; “Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty. The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?” (or “for he does not have regard for any who think they are wise.”) <37:22-24 (NIV); cf. Rom.11:3; 1 Tim.6:16; Isa.63:9; Lam.3:33; Ezek.18:23; Eccl.12:13; Micah 6:8; Matt.10:28; Eph.5:15>.

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