Elihu has been sent by God to speak to Job in preparation for God’s own words beginning in Chapter 38. He testifies that God’s spirit has been “breathed” into him with understanding far above that of Job or his friends (32:8). While he listens patiently, Elihu is filled with righteous anger for two reasons: 1) Job’s claim that he is innocent of sin; and 2) that Job’s friends cannot prove Job wrong.
The surprise comes when Elihu accuses the men of falsely claiming the very thing I gave Job credit for over the past two weeks – the definition of wisdom! Elihu says:
“Beware, lest you say, ‘We have found wisdom’…” (32:13).
I was half right in concluding Job respected God more than his friends; but I was wrong, too, in not questioning Job’s claim of innocence before God. This is a sticky wicket, because we know that God has invited Satan to afflict “my servant” Job with his horrendous calamity and no mention is made of any sin by Job. God says Job is “blameless” (1:8, ESV).
But Elihu puts this in the proper perspective by indicting both Job and his friends. Thus Elihu shows that Job has sinned in the debate with his friends! The Commentary Critical quotes Jeremiah 9:23-24, saying this is the “great aim of the Book of Job”:
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things, I delight,’ declares the Lord.”
In other words, both Job and his friends, in their passionate desire to prove the other wrong, have boasted boldly and forgotten about their common lack of wisdom compared to the wisdom of God.
Chapter 33 is astonishing. It contains every facet of the Cycle in one chapter! Starting with Elihu’s unity with God, Elihu points out how God speaks to man (commands); how men are subject to temptation by claiming lack of sin; how this leads to disobedience in accusing God of injustice and disunity by saying God has targeted Job unfairly; which leads in turn to warnings from God (in this case through Elihu); and to judgment in the form of Job’s affliction.
Thankfully, of course, the Cycle does not stop with judgment, but concludes with the never-ending love of God, repentance, and restoration to unity with God! Find these and celebrate them in your own life:
“If there be for him an angel…to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from…the pit; I have found a ransom;…let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness…’He has redeemed my soul’…God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man,…that he may be lighted with the light of life” (33:23-33).
Who is the ransom? Who is the redeemer? Elihu concludes:
“Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; be silent…for I want to justify you…listen to me, be silent, and I will teach you wisdom” (33:31-33).
Where shall wisdom be found? In the ransomed redeemer, Jesus, and his Father God, who passionately desires to declare us innocent because of his never-ending love!
We shall see his face and shout with joy!