Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Job- Chapter 34

Job 34

-An accusatory tone pervades Elihu’s words in this chapter as he begins to sound more and more like Job’s other three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. He respected his audience of elders and called them “wise men,” as he beseeched them to listen further to his message. “For the ear tests words, as the palate tastes food.” He wanted them to choose for themselves what was right and good. Job had maintained his righteousness before the LORD, yet Elihu chides him for his complaints against God for taking away his rights. This was a plausible argument, especially when we consider the biblical command to become “slaves” to Christ Jesus (Romans 1:1; 6:18, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1). In fact, Paul asserts that we as believers should be ready always to give up our rights (1 Corinthians 8-9). Elihu persisted in saying that Job had lied about his rights because he complained about an incurable wound that was brought about in spite of his innocence in regards to transgression. Elihu almost seems to mock Job now at this point, making him out to be exceptional in his derision directed at God. Elihu further marks Job as one who “goes in company with the workers of iniquity and walks with wicked men.” This is an untrue statement and God will vindicate this in the end (Job 42:9). Elihu took offense at Job’s remark about it profiting a man nothing when he is pleased with God (Job 21:15). Because of all these things that create tension in this young man to the point of speaking in the assembly, he beckons them to continue listening to him as men of understanding. He states accurately, “Far be it from God to do wickedness, and from the Almighty to do wrong (James 1:13).” His next sequence of words can be called into question though. He offers much of what we might call, “a works based theology,” with his quote, “For He pays a man according to his work, and makes him find it according to his way.” However, he turns back to fact in asserting that God will never act wickedly, nor will He ever pervert justice. He then offers some practical theology in regards to the LORD’s authority over the earth and world. No one can stand against the Almighty, and if He determines to do something, no one can stop or thwart His actions. Elihu puts it like this, “If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His Breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust (Job 34:1-15).”

-As the next poetic section begins, Elihu once again calls his audience to hear him and listen to the sound of his words if they have understanding. Can we say “conceit” yet of the character of Elihu? He questioned some inconsistencies he’s seen in this world. He relates them serendipitously to Job. He feels he has to defend God’s justice, and he presumes Job had condemned the LORD, the “righteous mighty One.” He also states that Job had dishonored God by defaming His worth and calling His servants “wicked ones.” Elihu rightly defends the impartiality of the LORD and His creative and sustaining powers. He offers truth to the omniscience of God in the statement, “For His Eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps. There is no darkness of deep shadow where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. For He does not need to consider a man further, that he should go before God in judgment.” In fact, Elihu maintains that God is perfectly capable of breaking into pieces the mighty men of this world who question Him without inquiry. Why? Obviously because the LORD knows it all already. He is the One who sets “others in their place,” knowing their works, striking them, overthrowing them, and crushing them at His discretion when they turn aside from following Him having no regard for any of His ways. These oppressed by God, which he insinuates is Job here in this case, have caused the poor and afflicted to come to the Sovereign in their cries for help. But, when God keeps quiet, there is no one to condemn Him. When the LORD hides His Face, no one can behold Him. This goes for both nation and man. God answers to no one “so that godless men should not rule, nor be snares of the people (Job 34:16-30).” We can easily discern Elihu’s consternation for Job in these powerful words of allegation. He truly believes Job is condemning God for his own misfortune, which was egregious (Job 19:7; 30:20).

-Now Elihu pronounces his arraignment of Job’s perceived nonrepentance and rebellious spirit against the Almighty. He questions, “For has anyone said to God, ‘I have borne chastisement; I will not offend anymore; teach Thou me what I do not see; if I have done iniquity, I will do it no more?’” Elihu thought Job was trying to tell God what to do. This unrepentant attitude was not helpful, in Elihu’s opinion, to making things right. Elihu asks, “Shall He recompense on your terms, because you have rejected it?” Then he implores him to choose, because he, himself, can’t in this situation. This matter was between Job and the LORD, and ultimately no one else. Elihu then exhorts Job to “declare what you know.” He was convinced that men of understanding and wisdom would conclude that, “Job speaks without knowledge, and his words are without wisdom.” He believed, “Job ought to be tried to the limit, because he answers like wicked men. For he adds rebellion to his sin; he claps his hands among us, and multiplies his words against God (Job 34:31-37).”

-*Application* While Elihu’s theology was on point to many of his deductions, he was still guilty of a condemning spirit that was not of God. At no point in the text is this young man ever extolled as virtuous by the Almighty. Why? Because great theology without love and compassion has no reward in the economy of the Kingdom of God. In fact, it really becomes poor theology when we consider it. Elihu puffed himself up, but this is certainly not a trait of the sincere-righteous man of God (Habakkuk 2:4). What we have to contemplate from this portion of Scripture is our presuppositions in finding fault with someone. Sometimes it is hard to discern whether a person is rebelling against God or just being honest with Him in a tough time. David is a great example, along with Job, of being completely raw about feelings before the LORD. Neither were being rebellious, and God actually honored their forthrightness. Before we condemn people, let’s assess ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:41-42). Only God has all knowledge of the facts in any matter.

Verse to Memorize: Job 34:21

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