Is it my imagination or is it really true: the more people have, the more quick to anger they are? Text message last week: “We’re blocking access to a [particular] store. wow. what a horrible industry. What angry customers who can’t get in at 8 am.” Not just there, seems to be common affliction in virtually every part of life – at home, at work, at play, on the road in between.
Bad part is, anger one of those emotions that rarely encourages others to do the right thing for the right reason. Often, if it provokes response, is a negative one – reaction against the one giving vent. At other times, one who is object of someone’s anger shuts down, refuses to respond in any way even when temperature gets back to normal.
Chapter 32 introduces new character on stage of Job’s drama: Elihu. Not the one we expected; Job 31:40 “the words of Job are ended.” Appears words of E, B, Z ended back in chapter 25; are told in Job 32:1 they have nothing more to add. Now would be the opportune time for God to enter Job’s story, answer his challenge, resolve the hanging plot threads. Instead, a stranger appears, someone so unknown that author thought it necessary to include his lineage so would have at least a little credibility. Meanwhile the definitive conclusion God will bring to the debate must wait, be postponed while Elihu has his say.
Descended from Buz, nephew of Abraham, much younger than the four men we’ve met already. Did have one thing in his favor: parents had taught him manners, he followed them at least to extent of waiting until his elders had finished before he spoke.
Elihu’s basic premise stated in verse 9: Age is no guarantee of wisdom. Put another way: just because you have reached advanced age doesn’t mean you get it all right, see everything clearly. AND, just because I’m young doesn’t make me ignorant and unwise. Well….will have to see about that!
Elihu comes on stage, says his piece, leaves and not heard from again. No one responds to him, even God in his final analysis has nothing to say about Elihu. Is hard to tell from the “script” what effect his words have, other than delaying the conclusion. Little indication that he persuaded Job or his three friends in any way. Very possible Elihu’s underlying attitude hindered his effectiveness, especially with Job. He’d been beat on repeatedly by his friends, what’s the chance he will listen to an angry young whippersnapper?? Even if what he says is right! Will come back to that thought later.
Elihu was full of anger, full of words, but not full of grace and compassion.
A. Elihu was full of anger v.2, 3, 5
aroused against Job (2a)
perhaps, probably three friends got frustrated with Job; tried their best repeatedly to persuade him, they thought for his good, Job remained unmoved by their arguments
Elihu couldn’t see past the immediate, even for all his professed insight; definitely lacked ability to grasp Job’s suffering from Job’s perspective – knowing what Job knew about God and himself, having experienced what he had at hand of God
Elihu approaching a “real life” situation from viewpoint of a theologian, not a pastor; what Job needed was a shepherd who would bind up his wounds, wipe the tears from his eyes and help him see God
aroused because he justified himself rather than God (2b)
Elihu heard all Job had said (11) assumed he fully grasped what Job meant – heard Job defending his innocence, questioning God to know what he was up to, assumed Job was pleading his own merit with God
did not consider that Job truly was righteous and genuinely loved God – Job 2:3 “have you considered…”; that kind of true godly character shows on the outside, too!
and Job was right, God did not have reason to destroy Job: “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil. He still retains his integrity, even though you incited Me against him, to destroy him without just cause.”
Elihu did not factor in that Job had declared his sinfulness already: Job 14:4 “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.”
Job knew he was guilty of sin before God; also knew he was forgiven and God wouldn’t hold it against him – Job trusted God to accept his sin offering and forgive him based on what that sacrifice represented
Elihu didn’t know yet that God considered Job fit to act as priest and intercessor for his friends: Job 42:8 “… my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.”
aroused against his three friends because they had found no answer but condemned Job (3)
this time Elihu was right – E, B, Z had no proof of Job’s guilt, no evidence either from own observation or other witnesses, but still treated him unjustly; took position “just look at the symptoms, he must be guilty of something”
maybe Elihu got around to it eventually, but would have done better to hold off being angry with Job and deal with the three amigos first
because there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, his wrath was aroused (5)
Elihu headed for dangerous territory here: “burned with anger” ESV toward E, B, Z but not for a good reason
Elihu one of those fellows who believes every question, especially one about theology, must have an answer; if the old guys with their bi-focals can’t see it, he with his young eyes and clear vision sure can
might think Job’s comforters should have stopped talking sooner; point is they did eventually realize they didn’t have satisfactory answer
what they all needed to learn, we need to grasp as well: God isn’t obligated to give us answer to all our questions – far better for us to know God than simply to know answers
two significant problems with Elihu and his anger: it added wrong kind of fuel to his response, making it harsh and hurtful; it distorted his vision of Job and Job’s circumstances; expression “seeing red” is a good and accurate one
B. he was “full of words” v.8, 10, 17-18
certainly was! Elihu has more lines than anyone else except Job, even more than God – 159 to 123 verses (18)
this guy doesn’t come up for air either! like a balloon filled with air, instead of tying it off you let go of it – doesn’t stop until air is all gone, that’s Elihu
takes the stage, has his lines memorized – don’t interrupt him, he’ll have to start over; has to recite them all in one go, about a 12 minute monologe without commercial break
claims knowledge from God (8, 18-19)
believes that inspiration will make up for his lack of experience, lack of maturity, give others reason to listen to him
claims a spirit within him that compelled him to speak; so full of words that would explode if he couldn’t let them out
previously Eliphaz claimed to hear from God: a voice in the night (Job. 4:16); now Elihu, crediting his inability to keep quiet to Spirit of God
expressed his opinion (10, 17)
in spite of his lofty claim to have received his knowledge directly from God, Elihu lacks the courage of a true prophet
every genuine prophet of God and many false ones begin declaration with “thus says the Lord”, not “let me tell you my opinion, let me explain what I know”
Elihu had been sitting on sidelines, watching and listening to words go back and forth, had reached conclusion that he saw real solution to Job’s problem
the longer Job and three friends kept talking past one another and not getting any closer to satisfactory answer, more frustrated Elihu became
can almost hear him thinking: “what’s the matter with you guys? solution is right there in plain sight? how come you don’t get it? it’s obvious to me!”
C. he was not full of grace and compassion v.20
believed he was speaking for God, but first reason for speaking: that he “may find relief”
how different from passage Lord Jesus read in synagogue at beginning of his ministry: Isa. 61:1”The spirit of the sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has chosen me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners”
had no more understanding of first two chapters of Job than E, B, Z
Elihu perhaps came a little closer to right view of God, better balanced than three friends, still in the dark concerning Job
Elihu maybe went to seminary and the other fellows didn’t; although Elihu got the facts, had the knowledge, he greatly lacked wisdom
Elihu, because of youth, inexperience and immaturity, did not know how to use his knowledge for Job’s good; more importantly Elihu didn’t intend to help Job, at least not at first
Job 32:12 “not one of you convinced Job, Or answered his words”; in other words, “ there was no one proving Job wrong, not one of you was answering his statements!” NET
Elihu was looking for relief from his frustration by proving Job wrong and his friends incompetent; perhaps later, if they would listen to him, Elihu would get to the helping part
contra Col. 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.”
even if everything Elihu said was precisely on target, his speech and motives lacked things essential to godly conversation
gracious: displaying grace of God present in you; seasoned: palatable and wholesome (good tasting and good for you); how to answer: saying what will edify (encourage development of Christian character)
Rom. 14:19 “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
If you want to, need to get angry at something, do this: look at the cross and get angry at what makes the cross necessary. Lord Jesus said: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” People need to be drawn to the Lord Jesus because they are naturally alienated from him. Is sin nature with which we’re born that eventually gives rise to actual sin that separates us from God. That is what makes the cross necessary.
If you and I are going to handle our own cross well, must first come to Cross of Christ; be reconciled to him, find cleansing from our own sin. BTW, need that cleansing repeatedly throughout life. Get angry at your own sin, put it to death. Then, get angry at sin in the world and show compassion to sinners. Has God been gracious to you? Is his grace present and active in your life? Show that to others, speak to them what will be good for them. Declare good news of salvation and forgiveness for sin and hope of eternal life found in Christ.