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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Facing Trials: Job [13]

Job, has lost all, and has endured the words of his friends. He believes in God, but has an issue or two with him.  He is trying to make sense of the age-old question: "Why do the good suffer?"

Now another man enters the discussion...ELIHU

Text: Job 32 - 37

Of all the people in the book of Job none is as mysterious as Elihu, "son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram" (Job 32:2). He suddenly appears on the scene and just as suddenly leaves, not to be heard of again.

We can make a guess, that all of Job's suffering has attracted the attention of many. Elihu has patiently waited until the others exhausted what they had to say.

He explains his behavior:

"I am young in years, and you are old; that is why I was fearful, not daring to tell you what I know.
I thought, "Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.” (Job 32:6-7)

Sadly, as Elihu implies and we have seen, "advanced years" do not always bring wisdom.

This makes me think of the advice Paul gave to Timothy, while he was a young pastor:

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12) That is good advice, but apparently none that Elihu ever heard or listened to.

Elihu starts his speech politely, and he initially seems to be trying to help, but he doesn't seem to have much in the way of tact.

Elihu says, "So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words." (Job 35:16) Nowhere does Elihu speak this harshly to the three friends, only to Job. 

Furthermore, Elihu is behaving almost as if Job were an unbeliever, which is not the case at all.

Elihu says:

"He [Job] keeps company with evildoers; he associates with wicked men. So listen to me, you men of understanding far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong. He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves. (Job 34:8, 10-11)

Elihu goes on and on about God's justice. But he says almost nothing about God's love. Consequently his presentation is also one-sided.

From Elihu's shortcomings, and from the three friends, we can learn what not to do to someone who is down and out, namely, speak to him in a loveless manner.


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