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Posted By Nan

35:1-16
Elihu’s third speech is totally directed at Job. He starts by challenging Job’s idea of justice. Does Job think it is just to expect God to clear him while saying God doesn’t care if he is righteous or not? Of course Elihu has accused Job of saying something he did not say. Job did say sinners think this, but immediately condemned these words. Elihu does not appear to have been heard that. Perhaps he was already too busy preparing his killer response to listen. That is the danger of focusing more on your reply than listening to what is said. You often fail to hear what is actually said and fall into the trap of making assumptions.
Elihu’s speech is very black and white in its thinking. He totally lacks any empathy for Job’s pain and makes no allowance for Job to be able to express his pain, hurt and confusion. Yet there are examples in the Bible of other righteous men expressing their feelings when placed in similar situations. The psalms are the best place to find examples of this. For example, in Psalm 41:1-2 the psalmist expresses his deep thirst for God, later in v.9 he asks God why He has forgotten him as he mourns, suffers in pain and is persecuted. Then in Psalm 43:2 he asks God why He has rejected him. So Job is not alone in asking the age old question of ‘why suffering?’
Elihu appears convinced his understanding of God is far superior to that of Job and Job obviously needs to be reminded! As if Job could forget how great God is. Even God commended him for his love of God and righteousness.
The second part of Elihu’s speech tackles a question Job asked in 24:12. Job asked how the oppressed who cry to God for relief get no relief. He does not understand that, nor do any of us. It is one of the big questions around why God allows suffering. Why does He not answer the cries of the oppressed? I do not think we will ever know that answer. Not this side of heaven. I do not think we need to know the answer. It just is. God is greater than we can ever understand. And that is the way it should be.
Elihu has decided he knows the answer. It is obviously because the oppressed have not asked properly. He thinks it is because they do not trust God’s justice and are therefore arrogant and not deserving of justice. He states that they do not recognise when God reaches out in love.
This, according to Elihu is why God has not delivered Job. He has not trusted God.
 

 
Posted By Nan

34:1-37
In this chapter Elihu splits his lengthy speech into three sections. In the first, from v2-15 he addresses the three friends, the ‘wise men’. Then in v16-33 he addresses Job and finally addresses himself.
He starts with the words ‘listen to me’. They sound arrogant, but are they? Or are they the words of a man convinced he is a messenger of God? Either way, they hint at a sense of self-importance and are in conflict with the point made in Ephesians 4:2 to bear with one another in love, which is not about point scoring or harshness but about love. If we genuinely speak God’s message we don’t do it from a place of anger, hatred and judgement, but rather from a palce of love. If you want to see how Jesus dealt with sinners, look at what He did in the gospels. His loving acceptance of people and gentle acknowledgement of their sin had far more impact than the harsh judgements of the Pharisees.
In criticising Job, Elihu oversteps himself. Initially he quotes Job’s words, but then he starts embellishing and twisting what Job has said. Job never said there is no benefit to pleasing God, yet Elihu accuses him of saying that. He also accuses Job of saying God can perform evil acts, which Job did not say, although he has come close to that in some of his anguished words. Elihu ends his words to Job with the accusation that Job claims he is guiltless and expects God not to punish him. Like the other three, he assumes bad things happen as a punishment.
Interestingly, Elihu has formed the opinion that Job speaks without knowledge. An extraordinary thing to say of a man who has devoted his life to studying the scriptures and delighted to read and observe God’s word and spend time with Him.
In truth, Elihu has failed to listen to Job, has accepted as fact that Job’s current predicament is due to sin, and has ignored the history of Job’s current predicament.
Elihu also makes statements about God’s justice being purely because he is mighty and powerful. Which is in effect saying God’s justice is right because God is more powerful than everyone else, when in fact God’s justice is right because He is a good and just God.
It sounds like Elihu is speaking from a place of ignorance of God. Like one who pours over the scriptures but does not spend time with God. It is only in God’s presence that the scriptures have their meaning.
Elihu concludes by saying that if Job has been innocently oppressed then God has not responded to his prayers because he hasn’t asked properly. In making this statement he is claiming all oppressed people throughout history were not helped because they didn’t ask properly. In this he is denying God’s timing and in doing that is denying God’s power (which contradicts his earlier statements). Instead he is implying God has to respond to be asked in the right way. This denies His choice to say Yes, No or not yet to our prayer requests.
 

 
Posted By Nan

Sorry this is late. I ran an all day workshop yesterday and it wiped me out more than I anticipated so I decided to sleep, then write the blog this morning.

Blessings, Nan

33:1-33
Elihu is young and presumably considered unimportant because his presence has not been mentioned until this current discourse. He has held his tongue in deference to the older men but now they are silent and he has decided to speak up.
First, he establishes his credentials to speak. He has an upright heart and is sincere. God made him and gave him life. Then his conviction of his own righteousness trips him. He has listened silently to the older men, seen the limitations of their arguments, and slowly become convinced of his own superiority. The one thing he lacks is humility. He thinks he is humble, he points out he is just like Job before God and taken from the clay also. But his humility is shallow.
He is convinced Job has claimed to be pure and without sin, but this is incorrect. Jog never fails to acknowledge he is a sinner. What he rejects is the claims of outrageous sin by his friends.
Elihu is convinced Job claimed God will not talk to man, but Job did not say that. What Job did say was that God was not talking to him in his current situation, but Elihu has not been listening to Job. His attention to Job’s words has merely been to gather ammunition with which to attack him.
Jobs current situation. Now this is important to comment on. Elihu is keen Job should know his current suffering is to bring Job away from his sin and into a place of humble acceptance before God. He, like the other friends, and Job himself, is convinced Job’s troubles are a result of his sin.
Then Elihu moves on. What is needed is a mediator! One who will intercede on Job’s behalf before God. We have already heard this mentioned in this book. Job mentioned this possibility of a redeemer to intercede on his behalf before God. Elihu has picked up on this. Has he remembered Job already mentioned this, or is he convinced this is his own brilliant idea? The idea that there be an intercessor redeemer to allow Job to be forgiven again and again.
There is a strong mix of topics in Elihu’s speech. There is the young man keen to establish his credentials, then the arrogance of one convinced of the veracity of his own truth, then the patronising judgement on things he has misheard and then the redeemer/intercessor idea. To conclude, there is a return to the young man convinced of his own rightness.
It is all too common to filter other people’s words with a filter of arrogance and conviction of rightness. It is a lot harder to listen without judgement. Elihu failed in this. If you read the gospels you will see countless examples of how Jesus never judged, but listened.
Which friend would you prefer? The one who superiorly tells you how incompetent you are (implying he/she is so much better) and that you should eagerly listen and accept his/her pronouncements of superiority? Or the one who listens openly and responds with love, understanding and acceptance?
Which friend would you prefer to be?
 

 
Posted By Nan

33:1
This chapter starts out so beautifully. “Listen to my words”. Before I read the passage I am writing about, I spend time in prayer asking God to reveal to me what He wants me to learn and to show me the message He wants me to write. Then I pray for all of you who read this. I pray that God’s love may pour out upon you, and that He will reveal his message for you.
One thing that has come up in my prayers lately has been about listening to God because there seem to be a lot of words going up to heaven without the listening part. Maybe you have one of those friends who talks nonstop and never lets you get a word in. They are usually the people I find myself avoiding. There are times when I just don’t need someone like that taking up my time. I don’t think God resents us taking up His time, but I think He sometimes longs for us to listen to His words of reassurance and comfort and love. Prayer is our conversation with God, the relationship we have with Him.
So I opened my Bible and here in verse 1 is “Listen to my words”. In this passage Elihu is directing Job to listen to him, but today I hear God directing us to listen to Him.
I hear so many people speak of the difficulties of finding space to hear God, that match my own difficulties, so I am assuming you are in that place too. In the busyness of life there is rarely space to fit everything in. To spend enough time just being with God is something we all seem to struggle with. Lately I find myself coming to God in prayer and having no words to say. I just have an overwhelming need to praise God and acknowledge His gift of Creation and His immense gift of His Son and our Saviour. Then I just want to sit in His presence.
For years I believed prayer meant coming before God with a long list of things to pray about, once I had completed the obligatory thank you for this etc. Lately God has been showing me otherwise. He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows when we need time just resting in His presence. So when you come before God, don’t rush into your prayer list, spend time just sitting in His presence, with your focus on Him and His love and let Him minister to you.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. … Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:25,32-34 NIV.
God is willing to hear your petitions but He wants you to just be in His presence, leave behind the busyness of life, and just sit with Him and let Him minister to you. No striving, just love.
 

 
Posted By Nan

32:1-22
Now Elihu talks.
He is younger than the other friends. It is not certain if he came with the other three, but it is apparent from his words that he did. Presumably his youth led to him being considered unimportant so he was not listed with the other friends and he remained silent while they spoke. Now the other friends have been silenced by Job’s arguments and Elihu feels he must speak.
Elihu is angry with Job because Job has focused on justifying himself, rather than justifying God. He is angry with the other three because they condemned Job despite not finding anything to accuse him of. To Elihu this amounts to an accusation against God.
Elihu starts by offering an excuse for breaking convention and speaking. He says he deferred to the older men and to their age and wisdom. However, he contends, it is the breath of God, the spirit within man, that gives him understanding. The old do not have a premium on wisdom or knowing right from wrong.
Then he speaks of how he listened respectfully to the words of the older men. But he was disappointed that none of them answered Job’s arguments. He believes the men omitted an important argument that the Spirit of God has revealed to him. He feels compelled to speak.
It is an interesting situation. A young man who defers to the social conventions of his time and his respect for his elders. He defers to their wisdom but is dismayed that the words he feels within him are not spoken by these men. He feels constrained to remain silent because the convention is to allow the more senior men to speak. Have you ever found yourself in that situation? Or on the flip side, have you ever been part of a group of people arguing about faith and ignored or shut down the words of a younger person? But, what if God has given an important message to the younger person? What if your rules that protect the supposedly wise and shut down the younger person prevent God’s message from being revealed?
Remember Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 21:26 “… whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” NIV
Being a servant means being humble. Humility means stopping and letting others speak. Letting others have the answers. Not always being the wise one who knows everything. It means accepting you don’t have all the answers. It means accepting that God sends messengers of all ages and He expects His message to be honoured. So welcome the Elihu’s among you, and listen to them respectfully as you except others to listen to you.
 

 


 
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Nan
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