Elihu speaks of the Wonders & the Power of God

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Job Elihu

Wednesday 3/20/24

Title: Elihu speaks of the Wonders & the Power of God

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Elihu speaks of the Wonders & the Power of God

Last week we introduced Elihu who in my opinion is a major player even beyond Job’s friends and is an integral part of leading Job to his much desired encounter with God. 

Due to time we exited our teaching last week before finishing chapter 33, having left off having read verse 28.

So let’s continue on to verse 29 in Job 33.

“(29) Behold, God works all these things, Twice, in fact, three times with a man,  (30)  To bring back his soul from the Pit, That He may be enlightened with the light of life.  

(31)  “Give ear, Job, listen to me; Hold your peace, and I will speak.

(32)  If you have anything to say, answer me; Speak, for I desire to justify you.  

33)  If not, listen to me; Hold your peace, and I will teach you wisdom.”

Elihu’s desire was to justify him. 

Job’s friends were trying to help him by pointing out what they just knew was the problem. 

Job had been trying to justify himself by maintaining his view of his own righteousness. 

God however, sent this young man to justify Job through humility.

Job 34:1-37, 

“(1) Elihu further answered and said:  

(2)  “Hear my words, you wise men; Give ear to me, you who have knowledge.  (3)  For the ear tests words As the palate tastes food.  

(4)  Let us choose justice for ourselves; Let us know among ourselves what is good.  

(5)  “For Job has said, ‘I am righteous, But God has taken away my justice;  (6)  Should I lie concerning my right? My wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’  [Job 27:2]

(7)  What man is like Job, Who drinks scorn like water,  (8)  Who goes in company with the workers of iniquity, And walks with wicked men?  

(9)  For he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing That he should delight in God.'”

It is ALWAYS important to not cherry pick verses either for quoting, forming an opinion and certainly not any doctrinal belief and this is a great example of why.

In our western world way of thinking, Elihu seems to paint a picture of Job in verses 7 & 8 which is entirely out of step with the man we have come to know him to be. Though some of the arguments of his friends pointed to the possibility that Job had actions which were wicked, there was never any confirmed examples of such and certainly not of his keeping company with the wicked. So where does Elihu get this?

Well I believe it is explained in the next verse which begins with the words “For he has said…”. In other words, Elihu is not making a literal accusation of Job’s keeping wicked friends, but that by extension Job’s words are consistent with the counsel of the wicked. 

Remember Paul’s exhortation in Thessalonians, Evil company corrupts good morals. Meaning that the company you keep will have an impact of your thoughts and view of God.

This is a particular danger for those who work among unbelievers. You might be paired with a work partner who is a homosexual. Over time, through discussion you learn that this person otherwise has decent morals, helps others and is generally a kind, nice person. The external appearance of being a clean, nice person begins to eclipse the fact that they are living in ongoing and unrepentant sin. That such is a violation of God’s word and a rejections of His laws and person. You become desensitized to the fact that they are not just a person who has homosexual desires but who out of respect for God and His law refuses to pursue that lifestyle – they are a practicing and unrepentant homosexual.

My reason for this example is that I have witnessed this and even at times felt its influence as well. There ARE nice people in the world but who wholly reject Jesus as Messiah, Lord and God. Such people are children of darkness and though we might have passing affiliations with them or even be their kin, we cannot open our hearts in such a way as to sympathize with their sin. And such WILL eventually happen if you of your own free will keep company with them without taking firm stance on where you stand.

Now how does all of this fit this simple set of verses? Well it is in the fact that what Elihu claimed to be true of Job was only true in that his thoughts and words were consistent with someone who was a wicked and godless person.

I cannot stress enough that the words “FOR YOU HAVE SAID..” are the WAY in which Elihu claims his words regarding Job are true. And on some level, they may have been true in that Job may have thought those thoughts and spoken those words because in his distress he began to consider what the wicked say as possibly the reality of what he had been experiencing. This he could have done without ever physically kept ongoing companionship with the wicked.

You might think this a stretch but recall if you will that Jesus said a thief includes one who just wishes he could possess the possessions of another. That an adulterer was someone who simply craved to sexually own another person’s spouse as their own. That to murder all one needed to do was to hate his neighbor without a cause. All of these sins are seen as having been committed even without participation in the physical act!

In like manner I believe Elihu makes this pronouncement against Job.

Job 34…

“(10)  “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity.  

(11)  For He repays man according to his work, And makes man to find a reward according to his way.  

(12)  Surely God will never do wickedly, Nor will the Almighty pervert justice.  (13) Who gave Him charge over the earth? Or who appointed Him over the whole world?  

(14)  If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath,  (15)  All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust.”

Unrelated to our study here but still a very powerful truth – this passage provides scriptural proof of God’s work and involvement in man. 

Our very spirit – the part of us which is not part of us at all – it is in fact WHO we are. That essential essence which makes us ourself – is the very breath of God! 

That is what makes us eternal. That is why we cannot cease to exist. Nothing about God can cease to exist and we are made from Him.

That in some way the breath of God is already in a fetus is clear in that John lept in his mother’s womb at the presence of Jesus as well as the medical fact that a fetus is in fact breathing through the umbilical cord. There is a need for air in exchange for carbon dioxide even in the womb.

The breath of God being the source of all spirits is also a great proof against the idea of angels breeding with humans as many believe happened prior to the flood.

God is called the Father of spirits in Numbers 16:22; Numbers 27:16; Zechariah 12:1 & in Hebrews 12:9. Of course we would know this regardless since God created ALL THINGS – not some things but ALL THINGS!  

The spirit that animates a body – ANY body comes from God! 

If angels even could have somehow created physical bodies by some supernatural power and thereby make themselves creators alongside God. They would also be making Him a liar for He said,  “All things were created by God AND FOR HIM and FOR HIS PLEASURE THEY WERE CREATED”.

And even if they could make bodies which could bridge the species barrier which God commanded in Genesis could not happen in that everything was to reproduce AFTER ITS OWN KIND. Even if they could overcome all of these impossibilities they still could not have given the fetus life. 

The spirit COMES FROM GOD! 

If God were to animate such an egregious creature as a union like this would produce, He would be 100% complicit in their sin and thereby it would be no sin since He would have agreed with it!

Little keys like this are peppered throughout scripture and they serve to help us in times when people offer silly and audacious interpretations to events in scripture. 

Job 34…

“(16)  “If you have understanding, hear this; Listen to the sound of my words:  

(17)  Should one who hates justice govern? 

Will you condemn Him who is most just?  

(18)  Is it fitting to say to a king, ‘You are worthless,’ And to nobles, ‘You are wicked’?  

(19)  Yet He is not partial to princes, Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands.

(20)  In a moment they die, in the middle of the night; The people are shaken and pass away; The mighty are taken away without a hand.”  

All of this is echoed in David’s words in Psalm 62:9-12… 

“(9) Surely men of low degree are a vapor, Men of high degree are a lie; If they are weighed on the scales, They are altogether lighter than vapor.  

(10)  Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them.  (11)  God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.  (12)  Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; For You render to each one according to his work.”

Job 34…

“(21)  “For His eyes are on the ways of man, And He sees all his steps.  (22)  There is no darkness nor shadow of death Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.  

(23)  For He need not further consider a man, That he should go before God in judgment.  

(24)  He breaks in pieces mighty men without inquiry, And sets others in their place.  (25)  Therefore He knows their works; He overthrows them in the night, And they are crushed.  

(26)  He strikes them as wicked men In the open sight of others,  (27)  Because they turned back from Him, And would not consider any of His ways,  (28)  So that they caused the cry of the poor to come to Him; For He hears the cry of the afflicted.  

(29)  When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble? And when He hides His face, who then can see Him, Whether it is against a nation or a man alone?— (30)  That the hypocrite should not reign, Lest the people be ensnared.  

(31)  “For has anyone said to God, ‘I have borne chastening; I will offend no more;  

(32)  Teach me what I do not see; If I have done iniquity, I will do no more’?  

(33)  Should He repay it according to your terms, Just because you disavow it? 

You must choose, and not I; Therefore speak what you know.  

(34)  “Men of understanding say to me, Wise men who listen to me:  

(35)  ‘Job speaks without knowledge, His words are without wisdom.’  

(36)  Oh, that Job were tried to the utmost, Because his answers are like those of wicked men!  

(37)  For he adds rebellion to his sin; He claps his hands among us, And multiplies his words against God.”

Everything Elihu says here is correct, though he might be reading into Job’s actions more intention than it deserves. Now, remember that Elihu is never rebuked by God like Job and his friends are. Remember also that such is not necessarily because every charge he brings against Job is correct, but rather because he does not misrepresent God as all of them have.

This next chapter introduces a thought which is consistent with the way things play out for Job and is great advice to all of us.

Job 35:1-16, [We are now back in the New English translation]

“(1) Then Elihu answered:  

(2)  “Do you think this to be just: when you say, ‘My right before God.’  

(3)  But you say, ‘What will it profit you,’ and, ‘What do I gain by not sinning?’  

(4)  I will reply to you, and to your friends with you.  

(5)  Gaze at the heavens and see; consider the clouds, which are higher than you!  

(6)  If you sin, how does it affect God? If your transgressions are many, what does it do to Him?  

(7)  If you are righteous, what do you give to God, or what does He receive from your hand?  

(8)  Your wickedness affects only a person like yourself, and your righteousness only other people.” 

Elihu is quite correct here in turning this thought around and rewording it. Elihu is telling Job that he is asking the wrong question, which is often the case with human kind. 

We tend to view the entire universe through our narrow, myopic, self-focused lenses. We do this sometimes from known selfishness and other times because we have not yet matured enough to realize our preoccupation with self in an area of our lives. Regardless of the reason however, the net result is the same.

Elihu says, rather than asking what does it benefit me to do good, we should ask what does God get out of our obedience? Is He IN HIS PERSON any better if we practice righteousness or any the worse if we don’t?

The obvious answer is God remains unchanged regardless!

To even a mildly intelligent person this begs the question. “Then why does God require it of me if it does not benefit Him?” 

The answer is because it is what you were created for and therefore it benefits YOU and those around you!

“(9)  “People cry out because of the excess of oppression; they cry out for help because of the power of the mighty.  (10)  But no one says, 

‘Where is God, my Creator, Who gives songs in the night,  (11)  Who teaches us more than the wild animals of the earth, and makes us wiser than the birds of the sky?’  

“(12)  Then they cry out – but He does not answer – because of the arrogance of the wicked.” 

Meaning that even when the oppressed do cry out, they do not cry out TO God, but rather AGAINST their oppressors.

“(13)  Surely it is an empty cry – God does not hear it; the Almighty does not take notice of it.  

(14)  How much less, then, when you say that you do not perceive Him, that the case is before Him and you are waiting for Him!”

Now the NKJV says it this way,

“Although you say you do not see Him, Yet justice is before Him, and you must wait for Him.”

While I like the truth this teaches, it is evidently not an accurate translation which can be excused the translators of the NKJV because the Holman was 22 years later during which time there has been much discovered which has better refined our understanding of the Hebrew.

I truly like the Holman best here because I think it presents the points in a clearer way. It translates verses 13&14  like this…

“(13) Indeed, God does not listen to empty cries, and the Almighty does not take note of it–  (14)  how much less when you complain that you do not see Him, that your case is before Him and you are waiting for Him.”

Now continuing with the New English translation…

Job 35…

“(15)  And further, when you say that His anger does not punish, and that He does not know transgression!  

(16)  So Job opens his mouth to no purpose; without knowledge he multiplies words.”

This last phrase uses the exact words God uses against Job as He begins His interrogation of him in chapter 38.

Job 36:1-33, 

“(1) Elihu said further:  

(2)  “Be patient with me a little longer and I will instruct you, for I still have words to speak on God’s behalf.  (3)  With my knowledge I will speak comprehensively, and to my Creator I will ascribe righteousness.  

(4)  For in truth, my words are not false; it is one complete in knowledge who is with you.”

Okay… well that seems a bit arrogant doesn’t it?! 

Well, reading all that Elihu both has and will say, doesn’t seem to accord with a person who is arrogant, and so we need to see if any other understanding of these words are viable or if Elihu simply did show a display of blatant arrogance here!

It has been observed that in Job 37:16 it attributes “perfection in knowledge” to God and so it is possible that Elihu was referring to God rather than himself here in chapter 36 verse 4

It has also been suggested that Elihu may have been a prophet and as such would in fact possess “knowledge fetched from afar” given by direct revelation of God and would therefore be able to reveal perfect knowledge – again making his reference of “perfect knowledge” a reference to God Himself Who inspired Elihu’s words. To me this is both plausible and a little bit of a stretch. Elihu does seem to possess wisdom beyond his years and may in fact be a prophet. The problem is that nothing in the book of Job makes this clear, so it seems to be inadmissible even if it IS correct.

Poole has another suggestions saying

…the meaning may be this, Thou hast not to do with a novice, but with one who hath accurately considered, and through God’s grace doth fully understand, these matters; therefore hearken to me.”

Of course, we cannot rule out the idea that Elihu was SO confident as to border on arrogance. However, while we cannot categorically eliminate that option it does not fit well within the demeanor of everything else he says. Especially when in just a few verses Elihu admits that God is great – beyond our knowledge!So I am inclined to view this as either a reference to God Himself, revelation God gave to Elihu directly OR some anomaly of language which we cannot quite work out.

Job 36…

“(5)  Indeed, God is mighty; and He does not despise people, He is mighty, and firm in His intent.  (6)  He does not allow the wicked to live, but He gives justice to the poor.” 

The meaning of this verse has to be read in the flow of the entire thought. We know that the poor do in fact receive justice, but according to God’s Own words it is not always realized immediately and in some cases not even in this life.

As such the understanding of God not “allowing the wicked to live” has to be understood from the vantage point of the end analysis. If God destroyed the wicked the moment they committed wickedness there would be no room or time for repentance. 

So as in all matters where God’s justice and judgment are concerned, we have to consider the full picture which comprises many parts including time. A subject which is addressed in the next verses.

Job 36…

“(7)  He does not take His eyes off the righteous; but with kings on the throne He seats the righteous and exalts them forever.  (8)  But if they are bound in chains, and held captive by the cords of affliction,  (9)  then He reveals to them what they have done, and their transgressions, that they were behaving proudly.  (10)  And He reveals this for correction, and says that they must turn from evil.” 

“(11)  If they obey and serve Him, they live out their days in prosperity and their years in pleasantness.  (12)  But if they refuse to listen, they pass over the river of death, and expire without knowledge.”  

“(13)  The godless at heart nourish anger, they do not cry out even when He binds them.  (14)  They die in their youth, and their life ends among the male cultic prostitutes.” 

Well here’s an interesting translation. You know I believe there are times when being super literal can be a detriment and lead to misunderstanding. This is one of those cases.

The entire phrase “ends among the male cultic prostitutes” is ONE Hebrew word. The idea being intended here is that of uncleanness and shame. This is why some modern translations give the general sense only,

The New Revised Standard version has “their life ends in shame”

The New American Standard has “and perish among the reprobate” 

And the New Living translation says that they “die…after wasting their lives in immoral living”.

So Elihu is saying that the godless nurture anger in their hearts and do not cry out to God even when He corrects them (which is the meaning behind bind). They die comparatively young in shame among the reprobate and immoral.

Job 36…

“(15)  He delivers the afflicted by their afflictions, He reveals Himself to them by their suffering.  (16)  And surely, He drew you from the mouth of distress, to a wide place, unrestricted, and to the comfort of your table filled with rich food.  

(17)  But now you are preoccupied with the judgment due the wicked, judgment and justice take hold of you.”

Elihu nails it! He recognizes what we have noticed from the beginning – Job is preoccupied with notions of this entire trial being a matter of judgment when it isn’t!

I don’t mean to insinuate that Elihu perfectly understands what IS happening to Job, only that Job’s attention is being directed far too much in the wrong direction! However, depending on how we understand the next few verses it is at least possible that Elihu did see and understand this as a trail intended to reveal the depth of Job’s devotion to God.

“(18)  Be careful that no one entices you with riches; do not let a large bribe turn you aside.  

(19)  Would your wealth sustain you, so that you would not be in distress, even all your mighty efforts?  

(20)  Do not long for the cover of night to drag people away from their homes.  

(21)  Take heed, do not turn to evil, for because of this you have been tested by affliction.” 

This is a difficult verse. The word translated as “tested” is also translated as chosen.

The NKJV has this as, “Take heed, do not turn to iniquity, For you have chosen this rather than affliction.”

This would lead the understanding in the direction of what some commentators believe is true. That the iniquity spoken of is a desire for death rather than to endure this affliction. 

If this IS the intended meaning, then Elihu is warning Job not to seek and desire death because such would be evil. Rather he should embrace the affliction and through it discover God’s words and will. And such an understanding of these words would certainly be supportable by what Elihu has and will say immediately surrounding this verse. Remember he just told Job that God delivers the afflicted BY THEIR AFFLICTIONS” and that He “reveals Himself by their sufferings”.

Nevertheless I believe the Holman may have it right by translating it as,

“Be careful that you do not turn to iniquity, for that is why you have been tested by affliction.”

In this translation you can have two things being spoken simultaneously and congruently. It would in part agree with what is suggested by the NKJV as well as suggesting that Elihu is encouraging Job not to give up at the last hour… just before the finish line and so prove the devil right. 

That such is precisely WHY Job was being tested – so as to eventuate in revealing evil in Job

The way in which this could run congruently with the suggestion offered by the NKJV is that the evil to which Job might be tempted to turn is to seek death – perhaps even at his own hands so as to end his suffering. 

Such would be iniquity and would result in his testing by the devil to reveal evil in his character rather than good. It would reveal self-reliance rather than trust in God for deliverance.

Job 36…

“(22)  Indeed, God is exalted in His power; Who is a teacher like Him?  

(23)  Who has prescribed His ways for Him? Or said to Him, ‘You have done what is wicked’?  

(24)  Remember to extol HIS work, which people have praised in song.  

(25)  All humanity has seen it; people gaze on it from afar.  

(26)  “Yes, God is great – beyond our knowledge! The number of His years is unsearchable.  

(27)  He draws up drops of water; they distill the rain into its mist,  (28)  which the clouds pour down and shower on humankind abundantly.  

(29)  Who can understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of His pavilion?  

(30)  See how He scattered His lightning about Him; He has covered the depths of the sea.  

(31)  It is by these that He judges the nations and supplies food in abundance.” 

Though an interesting word choice, Elihu is not wrong here! Consider these verses in which God is said to employ the stormy wind to do His bidding.

Psalm 148:7-8, “(7) Praise the LORD from the earth, You great sea creatures and all the depths;  (8)  Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;”

Psalm 107:24-30,“(24) They see the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep.  (25)  For He commands and raises the stormy wind, Which lifts up the waves of the sea.  (26)  They mount up to the heavens, They go down again to the depths; Their soul melts because of trouble.  (27)  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end.  (28)  Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses.  (29)  He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.  (30)  Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.”

Ezekiel 13:9-14, “(9) My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.  (10)  “Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar— (11)  say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down.  (12)  Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’ ”  (13)  Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it.  (14)  So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”

Job 36…

“(32)  With His hands He covers the lightning, and directs it against its target.  

(33)  His thunder announces the coming storm, the cattle also, concerning the storm’s approach.”

We are ending here so as to use chapter 37 as a segue into God’s confrontation of Job from the whirlwind next week!

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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