I’m going to say something you will probably find weird.
I love the book of Job.
Seriously this book is filled with so much sarcasm, witty comebacks and outright debating I absolutely love it.
Many years ago I was on my high school’s debate team and I learned to love a good reason based debate and that’s exactly what this book provides. It reads like a debate transcript at times and I felt like I was mentally awarding points to different sides as the book went on!
You probably know the basics of this book already. Job was a righteous man. Satan challenged God, saying that Job wouldn’t remain a faithful follower if he wasn’t in the middle of prosperity. And God took it all away- wealth, family, health, reputation and relationships all stripped away. Still Job didn’t blaspheme God.
In the midst of this trial, 3 of his friends show up and another comes later. After grieving with him for 7 days, they urge Job to repent and turn from whatever sin he has committed. He repeatedly declares his innocence (Job 16:17), blames God for his situation (Job 21:4), and outright challenges God to hear his case (Job 13).
The first 3 friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar all take turns debating with Job. They all approach the debate in different ways and by the end of their discussion they have failed to convince Job of anything. In Job 27:5-6, Job begins his final rebuttal and says:
“I will never concede that you are right, I will defend my integrity until I die. I will maintain my innocence without wavering. My conscience is clear for as long as I live.”
An incredibly bold and passionate statement! Job in his final statement is fierce and unwavering and by the end of it his 3 friends refuse to reply further and by any debate standards it would appear Job has won. Except for that 4th friend.
Elihu is younger than his companions and out of respect has stayed silent so far. But now his is angry.
First, he calls out his elders.
“Sometimes the elders are not wise. Sometimes the aged do not understand justice.
So listen to me, and let me tell you what I think.
“I have waited all this time, listening very carefully to your arguments, listening to you grope for words.
I have listened, but not one of you has refuted Job or answered his arguments.” – Job 32:9-12
Then he turns to Job.
“But you are wrong, and I will show you why.
For God is greater than any human being.
So why are you bringing a charge against him?
Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints?
For God speaks again and again,
though people do not recognize it. – Job 33:12-14
For the next 4 chapters Elihu reminds Job that he has no right to challenge God. That God is powerful, just and that Job is being arrogant in assuming he has done no wrong.
Chapter 38 simply says that God spoke to them out of the whirlwind. No indication that a storm was brewing, or an entrance given. God started speaking and it must have been terrifying! Because this is what God says to Job:
“Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” – Job 38:3
God said, “Brace yourself.” I can’t help but imagine a car barreling out of control. And for the next 2 chapters God reminds Job of exactly who He is. There is so much majesty in these verses! You can clearly see God is worth worshiping and following wholeheartedly and without question. And Job trembles before him, takes back everything he said and repents (Job 42:1-6).
Then God commands Job’s 3 friends to bring their sacrifices to Job because The Lord is angry that they have not spoken accurately about Him. He essentially leaves their fate in Job’s hands, saying he will accept Job’s prayer on their behalf (Job 42:7-9). And finally Job is restored– his family, his wealth, reputation– everything.
But someone is mysteriously absent. What happened to Elihu? He had the courage to speak against Job and his elders and God doesn’t include him in His rebuke. Apparently this young man’s accusations were right on the mark!
So what do we take from this? It’s a lot. Normally, I am reminded that while he was arrogant, Job did not blaspheme God or turn from following him and was rewarded for his trials.
But reading it all at once had left me with a completely different impression.
1. Do not assume you know why people are enduring a particular trial. Job’s friends assumed that his woes were a result of sin and in doing so misrepresented God.
2. Do not assume you know better than God. No where does God offer Job an explanation- just reminds his of his sovereign power and majesty.
3. Spend more time exploring and reveling in God’s character Elihu did not hold the same views as Job or his elders. He did not assume Job was being punished, but warned him of the sin he saw in that moment and reminded him of God’s character.
What a powerful message! I love every second of this book! Tomorrow- Ezekiel!