Reading through the Bible together

Monday, July 29, 2013

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For those who started reading late, Elihu is the young man who jumped in to speak after Job finished his speech in chapter 31. In chapter 32 as a young man probably 30 years old and his first time speaking in public, he asked permission to speak. In this chapter he starts his speech.


In a long opening paragraph he asked Job to carefully listen to him and to all that he is going to say (verse 1). He is to listen to the words and knowledge that come from his mouth, that are on his tongue and lips, and that come from the uprightness of his heart (verses 2-3). First, he concurs with Job and Moses that the “Spirit of God [Holy Spirit] made me” (verse 4). It was protocol for the speaker to mention the role of the Spirit as Job did it in Job 27:3 or the spirit of understanding as Zophar did in Job 20:3, but Elihu says that his spirit was a spirit of understanding based on reason. So he invites Job to respond if he feels to do so (verse 5). He establishes the fact that he also has a responsibility to God just like Job and that he too was formed from clay [affirming the Genesis creation report] (verse 6).


How can Job affirm the “formed out of clay” statement of Moses in Genesis 2:7 when Genesis was written by Moses until years later? Simple. Moses cited Genesis 1-5 from the Book of Adam (Genesis 5:1). It is possible that when Moses ran out of Egypt the night he killed the Egyptian by manslaughter his mother gave him the Book of Adam. The creation report was known to the pre-flood generations and to Noah and his posterity. Adam had over 900 years to confirm the report, and Methuselah overlapping with Adam and also with Noah who lived until Abraham. There is no question that the Word of God is certain and authoritative.


Elihu acknowledges that he is human and that what he says will not be heavy on Job as if God was speaking to him (verse 7). Similarly, Elihu does not consider Job’s words as if God was speaking because “you spoke in my hearing” (verse 8). He then quotes Job who said, “I am innocent without transgression. I am clean and I have no iniquity, but God finds occasions against me and watches all my paths (verses 9-11). 


Job is right because God is taking care of him although he is placed in the presence of the enemy of God [Satan]. Now Elihu takes offense against Job’s statement: “Behold this: You are not right” (verse 12). “Why do you argue with God?  He does not have to give account to you of all that He says and does (verse 13). Then Elihu starts answering two points of Job: he is innocent so why the suffering and secondly, where is an investigative judgment and where he can get an advocate. Elihu says that in prophecy God answers in one or two ways to humans who cannot see as they should (verse 14): dreams and visions of the night (verse 15); and “He opens the ears of men to hear and then seals His instruction to them” (verse 16). The reason God reveals Himself, says Elihu, is to restrain a man from a deed that will lead to his destruction or perishing by the sword (verses 17-18).


Elihu thinks that if a man is strong in the faith then God will provide only success to this individual. Man “is disciplined with pain upon his bed and in his bones” (verse 19). He then describes what happens to the sick: “his life causes him to turn back from bread, and his soul from choice food” (verse 20). “He sees his flesh wasting away and his bones begin to stick out which before had not been seen” (verse 21). “His soul draws near to the grave and approaches the pit” (verse 22). Elihu brings in the doctrine that an angel is over each person and if that person is near to God, he can be declared upright and the blessings will follow (verse 23). God is gracious and says: “Redeem him from descending into the pit. I have found ransom” (verse 24). This angel for Elihu, contrary to Moses and Job, is not Christ our Advocate, who needs no additional intercessor, but is a high-ranking angel “one out of a thousand” who can serve as an Advocate on behalf of humans. The Bible does not support this alternative Intercessor story. The only ransom that God the Father found is Christ, not an angel, neither before the cross nor after the cross.


From his point of view, Elihu thinks that the sick person who is innocent will be healed. Restoration will bring more youthfulness to him (verse 25). The sick person pleads with God and hides his face in prayer. God will delight in him and restore to man his righteousness (verse 26). Elihu thinks that God lets humans stand in a row and whoever says: “I sinned, and I have perverted what was straight and no profit was there to me” (verse 27), that person “God redeems and keeps from perishing and his life shall see the light” (verse 28). Elihu feels that God does this not only once, but twice and three times with a man (verse 29). God brings a man’s soul back from the pit to be lightened with the light of life (verse 30).


Elihu asks Job to listen well. If Job has something to say he can. It is Elihu’s wish to justify Job (verses 31-32). If Job has no words, then he should keep quiet and Elihu will teach him (verse 33).



Dear God,

The purpose of us reading the Scriptures is to gain a proper understanding of Your character and personality. It is security for our salvation to know You and interact with You. Guard us against all superficial light talk about Your way of salvation. Amen.


Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea