Well, after filling Job with hope, Elihu in his second and third speech really starts rebuking Job “for Job has said, ‘I am in the right, and God has taken away my right’” (Job 34:5) and “he has said, ‘It profits a man nothing that he should take delight in God.’” (Job 34:9). Part of Job’s problem is that he sees God as unjust, unfair, and unwilling to explain what is going on.
And, again, don’t we do the same? Don’t we often demand an answer from God about why we suffer? And that we think it’s unfair and unjust of God not to answer us? Don’t we think that if we would just know why we suffer, it would make the suffering bearable? But you know what: explanation is a poor substitute for faith. Are we not commanded to “walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7)?
Let’s hear what Elihu has to say: “Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. For according to the work of a man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him. Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. Who gave him charge over the earth, and who laid on him the whole world? If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust. […] In a moment they die; at midnight the people are shaken and pass away, and the mighty are taken away by no human hand. For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps. There is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves. […] Thus, knowing their works, he overturns them in the night, and they are crushed.” (Job 34:10-15, 20-22, 25)
Elihu defend God’s character saying that God is righteous and just in all His dealings with man. God is the just and sovereign ruler, rewarder and judge. In other words, nothing man does is hidden from the eyes of God, and thus man gets exactly what he deserves according to his works. We are to trust in God in knowing what is best for us.
Elihu continues: “Look at the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds, which are higher than you. If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him? And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him? Or what does he receive from your hand? […] Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out; they call for help because of the arm of the mighty. […] There they cry out, but he does not answer, because of the pride of evil men. Surely God does not hear an empty cry, nor does the Almighty regard it. How much less when you say that you do not see him, that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!” (Job 35:5-7, 9, 12-14)
Elihu tells Job that God is not under any obligation to answer man, or to give any reason for His actions. God is greater than man and so far beyond man that there is nothing man could do to God’s benefit. God is infinitely holy. Man is full of pride. God is righteous. Man is unrighteous. Thus since God is not dependent on human beings for anything, a person has no leverage with God. No amount of our good works benefits God or puts Him under obligation to anybody. Isaiah 64:6 says that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” It is only by our dependence on the gift righteousness in the person and work of Jesus Christ that we will ever be acceptable to Him.
Elihu counsels Job to be patient and wait for God’s justice, for Job has been speaking prematurely and foolishly.
Elihu’s Rebuke #1: An Introduction
Elihu’s Rebuke #2: God Is Gracious
Elihu’s Rebuke #3: God is Just
Elihu’s Rebuke #4: God is Great
Elihu’s Rebuke #5: Suffering as a Discipline
Elihu’s Rebuke #6: Conclusion