Reading through the Bible together
A bit more uncertain about himself, since he wants to teach wisdom without experience and still in his youth, a total no-no in those days, Elihu “raised his voice” and asked the wise men to listen to him, knowing that wisdom comes with age and life experience, which he lacks. He knows that critical ears will be testing his words (verses 1-3).
He appeals to general consensus as a means to establish truth “let us choose judgment for ourselves, let us know among ourselves what is good” (verse 4). In the Catholic persuasion, truth is established by tradition, what is handed down by the church fathers, and by church councils in which the vote of majority and papal decrees present a final conclusion that may override biblical norms. Elihu is appealing for the same instruments of truth, namely consensus of the majority. Edward Heppenstall at the Adventist Seminary said in a lecture, “truth is truth regardless of the vote of the majority, referring to biblical authority above human decisions.”
Elihu did not include Job in this consensus by saying that Job claims he is righteous and that God deprives him of judgment (verse 5). According to him, Job supposed to have said, “Upon my judgment, I call man a liar.” My wound is incurable. It came without transgression” (verse 6). Elihu says that wisdom has us consider all classes of people in society: wise men and strong men, even workers of iniquity and men of wickedness, the poor, afflicted, men of heart and understanding, and kings and princes.
Then he asks: “Who is as strong as Job who drinks in opponents like water” (verse 7). Elihu accuses Job of going on the road to accompany workers of iniquity and walk with wicked men (verse 8). Job already explained that he went to find the miserable and helped them by giving them labor. But Elihu is blaming him for associating with the sinners. Also he accuses Job of saying, “there is no benefit for a desire to please God” (verse 9). This is a twist of what Job actually said, since Job wanted to make the point that it is very important to realize that even if you have a desire to please God, the benefits can be taken away from you, but this should not confuse you.
Elihu then asked the men with understanding hearts to listen to him: “God’s actions are apart from iniquity and evil” (verse 10). Accompaniment with evil people is not God’s way, separation is. There is a certain truth in what Elihu is saying, but the rule is not complete extraction from society, although the time for that will come at the end, but interactiveness without participating in their wrongs is the way to live. Elihu feels that God repays the deeds of man, and according to the way he lives he will find his reward (verse 11). “Therefore certainly, God does not cause wickedness and the Almighty does not cause evil judgment” (verse 12).
The dilemma in the thinking of Elihu will become clearer as we go further. Elihu is working outside the reality of the Great Controversy, and in spite of his claim to wisdom, he will end up with a false concept of God and will not be able to explain the abnormal actions of human behavior. He will then try to ascribe all results, good and bad to God. Elihu stressed the sovereignty of God and that by itself is not wrong, because who gave authority to God over the earth, and who placed the whole inhabited world under His care? (verse 13). If God would put in His heart to withdraw the His Spirit, all flesh would perish and humans would return to the dust (verses 14-15).
Elihu is not finished and wishes to say more. He asks: Should one who hates judgment rule? Job was one of the nobles of his times who lost everything. So Elihu says that while kings and nobles are to be respected (verse 18), it is not right to lift up princes and nobles to regard the rich before the poor. All people are the work of God’s hands. Elihu stresses equality so that Job should not expect special treatment for his status. All die and are then without anything (v. 19-20). God’s eyes are upon the ways of man and He sees His steps. The wicked cannot hide from God (verses 21- 22). He says that God does not put extra pressure upon man to walk before Him in Judgment (verse 23). Elihu is trying to bring the logic out that Job was punished for his wrong, a wrong that God did not force on him for punishment.
Because Elihu does not work with a clear picture of the future, he tries to interpret all future deeds of God with the wicked in their present lives and Job is one of the wicked. God “shatters the mighty without number and puts others in their place” (verse 24). Because God recognizes their deeds, during the night He turns away and smites the wicked and they are crushed (verses 25-26). Elihu says the wicked are smitten because they “turned away from God and did not consider His ways. However, the cry of the poor and afflicted God hears (verses 27-28).
Elihu has the socialistic doctrine that all rich are bad and all poor are good. This is not biblical. Poor in the gospels are “the poor in spirit.” Moses knew it very well and so did Job. Moses lost his princely status, Job lost his noble status but Elihu had neither. He is trying to create a materialistic God who blesses with money and punishes with bankruptcy. This was not the view of Job and Moses. “When God is quiet and hides His face from man and nation who can see Him?” Hypocrites shall not rule or the people will be ensnared (verses 29-30).
Elihu has a different view of God’s Grace and God’s punishment. He continues, “If anyone says to God, ‘Evil I did, I will not do so again’” (verse 31). “Should God repay it according to those terms?” (verses 32-33). Elihu feels that men of understanding will speak to such a man him and a wise man will listen to him, but Job speaks without knowledge (verses 34-35).
Then Elihu prays: “My father, Job will be examined unto the end, unto the repentances in men of iniquity” (verse 36). Elihu suggests the examination is not finished and the end is not yet and what is needed is repentance of evil people. He feels that Job is adding transgression to his sin by multiplying his words about God (verse 37). By now Elihu is speaking softly because it was a long speech.
The young wish to speak and they do so with a great lack of experience. They easily criticize and cast aside. But what we pray for is patience that as time proceeds they will realize their shortcomings and take their positions for leadership more appropriately. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea