And He Healed them all: What about Job? Part III.mp3
I have heard MANY sermons on Job, listened to many teachers use Job as an example, read books and commentaries about Job and I have never seen any of these writers even mention Elihu! What makes this amazing is that the book of Job only has 6 major personalities and Elihu says more any anybody except Job himself, so overlooking Elihu is rather difficult.
Out of the entire book…
- Job speaks about 20 chapters (3,6,7,9,10,12-14,16,17,19,21,23,24,26-31)
- Eliphaz speaks 4 chapters (4,5,15,22)
- Bildad speaks 3 Chapters (8,18,25
- Zophar speaks 2 chapters (11,20)
- Elihu speaks 6 chapters (32-37)
- God speaks 5 chapters (38-42)
The only thing which I can attribute to this mystery of “missing” Elihu, is that his presence and words run so contrary to the established theology almost everyone teaches about Job, that one HAS to avoid him in order to make their point!
Elihu was a young man who had listened very attentively to the entire exchange between Job and his three friends. He had understanding which clearly outstripped all of them (including Job). Never the less, Elihu holds his peace until those who were older than him had spoken all they had to say.
It is also imperative to recognize and embrace the fact that God corrected EVERYONE for what they had said about this entire event EXCEPT Elihu! This is WHY Elihus words are the key to understanding what was really happening in this book. As we will see in a moment, Elihu desired to provide a spiritual covering for Job and represent Job before God (Job 33:6) – a thing which God wanted Job to do later for his three friends (Job 42:7-9).
In Elihu’s opening words he expresses wrath and anger towards Job and his three friends…
“Then the wrath of Elihu, … was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.“ ~ Job 32:2-3
Then Elihu tells them how he’d listened to their arguments and found them lacking in general understanding and wisdom (Job 32:6-9). He then explained that the God had given him wisdom and that it was growing within him to the point where he had to speak it out or he thought he’d explode(Job 32:16-20). [Much like Jeremiah – Jer. 20:9]
Then Elihu says two things which gives the reader the keys to understanding this book…
“If there is a messenger for him, A mediator, one among a thousand, To show man His uprightness, Then He is gracious to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom'” ~Job 33:23-24
“Give ear, Job, listen to me; Hold your peace, and I will speak. If you have anything to say, answer me; Speak, for I desire to justify you.” ~ Job 33:31-32
Elihu, Job’s Covering:
In the above verses Elihu offers to be Job’s spokesman to essentially represent his case before God. In so doing he, though younger than Job, places Job under a spiritual covering.
What’s a spiritual covering?
First off it is a term I am coining for the purposes of this article, the term “spiritual covering” has no biblical significance as a term whatsoever, however it does represent a principle which is well established throughout scripture.
A spiritual covering is a person to whom God delegates authority to preside over, protect, provide for or simply to stand in the place of another.
We see this in…
- The life of Joseph who was placed in a position of privilege in Egypt in order to provide a covering for his family (all of which were older than him except Benjamin). In this case his covering provided food, land and status within Egypt which they could not have enjoyed without Joseph.
- Abraham intercedes and thus becomes a covering for Lot (and anyone who was righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah).
- Moses intercedes for and thus becomes a covering for Israel.
- All of the judges who protected Israel and delivered them from idolatry.
- Every king who ever reigned (even the evils ones who God rose up and used to judge His people and eventually reconcile them.)
- The Kinsman redeemer. Boaz provided a covering for Ruth. In this case it meant male authority over her (concerning her), natural provision, social status and the love of a husband.
NOTE: Please remember that the status women enjoyed under the Old Covenant was God’s commandment as a provision FOR them and was NOT the result of a male dominated culture. God is the One Who instituted marriage and the male as the head or covering of the female. This is a blessing not a statement of value! I have to say here, that I am tired of the whining of feminist so-called Christians who claim that male headship and authority was a outmoded “cultural issue” do to male bigotry. While I agree that it was cultural – it is imperative that we recognize that GOD HIMSELF established the parameters and laws of the Jewish culture! If one does not like that they need to change gods.
- Elders in the old and new testaments.
- Mothers and fathers for their children.
There are many, many more examples, but these are literally just the ones from the top of my head.
So a fair question at this point would be, “Where do you get the idea that God delegated authority to Elihu to provide this covering?”
Well the first reason is because Elihu said so.
The second reason if because God never corrects anything that Elihu said, while at the same time correcting everyone else in the book. This is strong evidence that God supported the words of Elihu!
Now, the words Elihu used are a little cryptic in most English translations so let me explain them more clearly.
In Job 33:23-24, Elihu says that God looks for a messenger or a mediator. These words are important as is their context.
1st – the messenger is for “him” meaning God. We know that because of what the messenger reveals – “God’s uprightness”.
What is a messenger? The word is Malak and is the same word used for angels. It simply means to dispatch as a deputy; a messenger; one delegated to represent another or speak their words – an ambassador.
What is a mediator? It means an interpreter or teacher.
So Elihu was delegated with authority from God to represent God’s uprightness and interpret what was happening to Job in that light.
“If there is a messenger for Him, A mediator, one among a thousand, To show man His uprightness, Then He is gracious to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom'” ~Job 33:23-24
That God looks for mediators under the Old Covenant is evidenced by these verses Ezek. 22:29-31. It is also clear from these verses that God does not always find one. However, in the case of Job, God found a mediator named Elihu!
So where does the covering come in?
“Give ear, Job, listen to me; Hold your peace, and I will speak. If you have anything to say, answer me; Speak, for I desire to justify you.” ~ Job 33:31-32
The word justify is a TERRIBLE translation! It is actually the Hebrew word for atonement which means a covering.
The word atonement is so misused in the church today because it is used in connection with Jesus’ blood which is blasphemous. Now I understand that it is used by those who do not understand the meaning of the word and so is NOT meant to show disrespect for Jesus’ precious blood, but it is a horrible statement none the less. Jesus’ blood did not simply “cover” our sins (that is atone for them) but His blood entirely eradicated them – taking them once and for all out of the way!
So Elihu was saying to Job “I desire to act as a covering for you”. Again, this is something which Job later did for his three friends.
Taking the plunge (the end of the ‘Cliffhanger’)?
Thank God for the end of the ‘Cliffhanger’! Up to this point God has used a literary device known as a ‘Cliffhanger’ to submerge us into this man’s story.
Up to this point it was any man’s game!
Maybe Eliphaz was right.
Maybe Bildad was right or maybe it was Zophar!
Perhaps, because Job appeared to be right in his initial statements in chapters 1 & 2, Job was right all along!
Well God does not leave us hanging over the precipice forever…
Center Stage…in steps Elihu
Elihu takes Job’s words and recounts them back to Job, using them to reveal his ignorance and Gods uprightness. For clarity, Job’s words are in gray and Elihu’s words are in red (since they represent God).
“Surely you have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words, saying,
‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent, and there is no iniquity in me. Yet He finds occasions against me, He counts me as His enemy; He puts my feet in the stocks, He watches all my paths.’
“Look, in this you are not righteous. I will answer you, For God is greater than man. Why do you contend with Him? For He does not give an accounting of any of His words. For God may speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it.” ~ Job 33:8-14
“Let us choose justice for ourselves; Let us know among ourselves what is good. “For Job has said,
‘I am righteous, But God has taken away my justice; Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’
What man is like Job, Who drinks scorn like water, Who goes in company with the workers of iniquity, And walks with wicked men? For he has said,
‘It profits a man nothing That he should delight in God.’
“Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity. For He repays man according to his work, And makes man to find a reward according to his way. Surely God will never do wickedly, Nor will the Almighty pervert justice.” ~ Job 34:4-12
It is interesting to note that what Job said about there being no ‘profit’ to delighting in God, was something Israel said many years later as is recorded in Malachi 3:13-15.
“Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the LORD, Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, And that we have walked as mourners Before the LORD of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.’ “ ~ Mal. 3:13-15
Notice that God calls those words “harsh against Him.” In other words they are not true!
“Men of understanding say to me, Wise men who listen to me: ‘Job speaks without knowledge, His words are without wisdom.’ Oh, that Job were tried to the utmost, Because his answers are like those of wicked men! For he adds rebellion to his sin; He claps his hands among us, And multiplies his words against God.” ~ Job 34:34-37
“Moreover Elihu answered and said: “Do you think this is right? Do you say, ‘My righteousness is more than God’s’? For you say,
‘What advantage will it be to You? What profit shall I have, more than if I had sinned?’ “
I will answer you, And your companions with you.
Look to the heavens and see; And behold the clouds— They are higher than you.
If you sin, what do you accomplish against Him?
Or, if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to Him?
If you are righteous, what do you give Him?
Or what does He receive from your hand?
Your wickedness affects a man such as you, And your righteousness a son of man.” ~ Job 35:1-8
After this Elihu breaks into a glorious display of knowledge concerning God’s justice and wondrous power. Just as his monologue ends in chapter 37, God personally takes up where Elihu left off. I personally enjoy God’s wit and satire for I recognize it in His words to me many times over my life.
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
“Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! …” ~ Job 38:1-5
Throughout the next 2 chapter God humbles Job with unanswerable questions and displays of His power and uprightness.
Job only speaks a few words here which begin to reveal a heart beginning to change.
“Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said:
“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” ~ Job 40:1-5
For the next chapter God drives His point home resulting in Job’s total surrender and it is beautiful!
The end is better than the beginning…
Chapter 42…oh thank God for chapter 42!
“Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” ~ Job 42:1-6
Man do I love Job! He has a heart inclined towards God!
Sure, he messed up.
Sure he wrongly accused God out of ignorance.
Sure he was willfully ignorant concerning the goodness and protection of God which he should have known intimately by this time in his life.
Sure he placed too high a value on material and earthly things and did not trust God with them – but that was due to his ignorance. Willful…albeit, but ignorance none the less!
HOWEVER! – He listened to counsel even when it came through the mouth of a young boy and he humbled himself before His God when he heard His voice!
Job says something here which is necessary for any Christian at some defining point along their journey.
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” ~ Job 42:5
I said that myself about 7 years ago and my life has never been the same!
I thought I knew God, and in some basic and elementary ways I did. I was his child and I knew much ABOUT Him and even had established relational trust in some areas on my journey with Him.
Much like Job however, I had allowed the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of wealth and the pride of life to obscure what little of His face I had actually seen. Then when I had reached the bottom, God found a messenger and a mediator for me to declare God’s uprightness.
In the end I said something very much like Job, “now my eyes see You”. Only for me (being born again), the thought of abhoring myself turned more into abhoring my past and everything which kept me from His loving arms for all those years.
I had no condemnation, only a little sting of regret that was immediately drowned in the ocean of His presence. It reminds me of the line in the song, “How He Loves” by independent artist John Mark McMillan.
The specific lyric I am referring to is,
“So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…He loves us“
Do those lines make you blush – if not then it is not having the desired impact.
God’s passionate love for us should have several elements which impact the soul. Two of which are surprise and a hint of embarrassment.
His love is passionate, deep, unabashed and unapologetic – Oh, how He LOVES!
After Job’s declaration of dependence upon God and humility under Him, God turns His attention to Job’s friends/accusers.
“And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite,
“My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.
Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you.
For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” ~ Job 42:7-8
Notice how God always has the back of a man who walks uprightly!
God refused to entertain satan’s accusations of Job only serving God for gain (though He did not refute it – He simply did NOT confirm it).
Now before Job’s friends, God does not mention His correction of Job nor Job’s subsequent repentance. He only points out their wrong and their need to humble themselves before God and Job to be pardoned.
It was not that God was unconcerned that Job’s friends learned the truth, it was just that God was honoring Job by letting him tell on himself. God knew that Job would set the record straight and tell his friends the whole of the truth.
How do I know that?
Because Elihu said that was the result of one who has been saved from the pit of destruction.
“Then he looks at men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right, And it did not profit me.’ “ ~ Job 33:27
So, AFTER Job did for his three friends what had been done for him by Elihu…
“And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” ~ Job 42:10
The book of James tells us that this was the “good” God was intending to bring out of this opposition from the enemy.
“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” ~ James 5:11
It appears that God may have also added 2x to Job’s life – for after these events Job lives another 140 years seeing grandchildren and great grandchildren to four generations!
Finally, no story is complete without seeing its effect on God. Hear what God said about Job and allow yourself to hear the deep satisfaction God enjoys in His heart over His servant Job.
“So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD commanded them; for the LORD had accepted Job.“~ Job 42:9
Again the English translation fails us. What God actually says here is…“For the Lord had Job’s face.”
What does that mean?
Before, God only had Job’s situational allegiance out of a sense of respect and dread, but NOW God had Job’s face…meaning his undivided attention and adoring loyalty.
God IS good and this only shows that Job is a TERRIBLE example for those who believe God brings sickness on people to bring glory to Himself through their sickness. God received glory from the man Job in the end, not the terrible attacks of satan against him not even in Job’s initial responses to them.
In the end, God got what He had always wanted – He got Job!
***We will have a few more closing thoughts about Job on Wednesday as we continue our study in, “And He healed them all”.