The Book of Job-Chapter Thirty-Three:
"Pretending to be Jesus"
In the New Testament the Church is warned against the arrogance of youth and inexperience (see I Tim. 3:6). The wrath of young Elihu is now oozing a similar type of error. Here's what he says:
Verses 1-3: "Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words. Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth. My words shall be of the uprightness of my heart: and my lips shall utter knowledge clearly."
"My speeches...my words...my tongue," and so on, do you see it? Maybe inexperience is an excuse for this kind of self-centeredness. Even though no longer young in years or as a Christian I still fall into this pit at times.
Verse 4: "The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life."
C'mon, Elihu. God made everybody and breathed life into a little sparrow, too. You may not be as enlightened as you think you are. And, with this challenge to Job, I guess your respect for your elders is also out the window:
Verse 5: "If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up."
But what comes next is almost unbelievable. Elihu harkens back to chapter 9 at verse 33. At that time Job in magnificent fashion cried out for a Savior, an Advocate to stand between God the Father and mankind and to bring sanity and peace to worship. This moment was supreme in our little study. But instead of profiting spiritually from Job's insight, Elihu has become deluded by it:
Verses 6-7: "Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee."
He thinks he IS Christ. At least a good enough one for Job. I want to interject here that even though most of us today would not try to supplant Jesus directly like this, we have to take care that we don't try to take the place of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others and ourselves. Even the greatest Christian, most knowledgeable, and one who has listened to all the evidence of a given situation CANNOT consistently lead any of us in the Way of Life. Christ promised us His Holy Spirit to be our Comforter, Companion, and Guide through life. Beloved, don't put the advice of any man above the Spirit's call. Does that apply to all that I am trying to teach you right now? Certainly! In the end it's all between you and the Word of God as found in the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. Sadly, the errors of Elihu are very much alive and active today. And none of us is immune to them.
Now speaking as Job's self appointed advocate and savior, Elihu will offer his version of Job's "case:"
Verses 8-11: "Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying, I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths."
If you're familiar with Job's story you can judge for yourself if Elihu is representing Job well. In my opinion his summary is not totally inaccurate, but it's not very kind to Job. Elihu is not the lawyer I would want for anything this serious.
But now Elihu REALLY goes way too far. He attempts to answer for God. Even if what he was saying were fully accurate, the attitude would still be all wrong. In God's work it's not always what you say, it's the way you say it. And sometimes it's not even the way you say it, but it's much more. It's what is actually in your heart. People fool easily sometimes, but the Lord is never fooled by spiritual pride and aggrandizement. My own failures in this area bother me far more than anything Elihu has said or done to Job. Nevertheless, his approach here with Job has become quite despicable.
Verses 12-13: "Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters."
You don't understand God. But I am special, Elihu says. I have a "special" line to God. I can enlighten you:
Verses 14-23: "For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain: So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:"
Now with even more spiritual arrogance Elihu claims to know God's inner most thinking:
Verse 24: "Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom."
This young man is just guessing about all this, I think. There is a certain logic to what he says but it's a bluff, really. We all know, in hindsight, that Satan is the driving force is Job's miseries. What Elihu brings forth is a God Who somehow enjoys or profits from playing cat and mouse with suffering people. His concepts are not very far from those of Job's older friends who Elihu has distained. Doesn't this sounds a lot like their (and, at times, Job's) works for rewards program:
Verses 25-30: "His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness. He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living."
Well Job, "Any questions?"
Verses 31-32: "Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak. If thou hast anything to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee."
But Job remains silent. It's very difficult to argue or reason with deep spiritual arrogance. And, as I believe is true with Elihu, it can be even harder to recognize it creeping into your own heart and taking over. We have reached another sad state. Will Job ever find true, healing counsel? Not yet, and not from Elihu.
Verse 33: "If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.