Yesterday I introduced Elihu by looking at his introductory words in Job 32:2 – 33:7. Today we will look at the first of the four speeches in the remainder of Job 33 (verses 8 to 33). Elihu begins addressing Job’s point that because God has been silent so far in all of his suffering, that this must mean that God is his enemy (that God is angry at him). Elihu says: “Surely you have spoken in my ears, and I have heard the sound of your words. You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me. Behold, he finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy, he puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.’ Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man.” (Job 33:8-12)
Now this is interesting, because I think we often do the same, don’t we? When we suffer, we tend to cry out to God: why?! Expecting, maybe even demanding an answer from Him, preferably straightaway. And oftentimes He doesn’t. God remains silent. And we feel that God is angry at us in some way. That we have done something wrong to piss Him off, and now it is payback time, and that we need to work our way back into His love. I mean that’s how I often feel when I suffer. I cry out to God for an answer, for an explanation. And when He doesn’t give it, my thoughts go like: But I thought you loved me, God. Am I not your child? Doesn’t Your Word say, “Ask, and it will be given to you; […] For everyone who asks receives, […] Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? […] how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:7-11)?
But Elihu is saying here to Job, “Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of man’ words’? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it.” (Job 33:13-14). God does speak, but He does so in ways you may not not expect. He describes two ways God speaks to man: by his word and by suffering. “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword. Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones” (Job 33:15-19). “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, 30to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.” (Job 33:29-30).
In other words, God’s purpose in suffering is not to punish but to save. Our God is a gracious God who loves us and wants us to turn from our prideful ways of life (which leads to death), and to “be lighted with the light of life.” In other words, He want us to see Jesus as our ultimate treasure. Jesus, who said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Same wording. Elihu does not picture God as an angry silent judge but as a Redeemer, a Savior. You could say that Elihu is delivering to Job a message of hope, because he wants Job to find full restoration with God.
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