Lessons From The Whirlwind (Four)

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It is written:

Job 38:1-Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

Job has made some very serious accusations against God by this point. Please notice that God has not struck Job down for asking questions, nor has He rebuked Job for having doubts. Many people believe that it is a sin to question God, but this great Book of the Bible shows that is not the case. However, Job was wrong in his accusations against Job, and Job’s friends were wrong about their claims regarding God and regarding Job. So, God sends a man named Elihu to them who has a message.

Without a doubt, my favorite part of Job centers around a man named Elihu. He speaks in Job 32-37, and he has two main arguments that he is determined to prove.

First, Elihu is going to demonstrate to Job that God is good.

Second, Elihu is going to make it clear to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that not all suffering is a punishment from God for sin.

We are introduced to Elihu with these words:

Job 32:1-4-So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2  Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. 3  Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. 4  Now because they were years older than he, Elihu had waited to speak to Job.

We have to ask the subject of who Elihu is. Many commentators believe that he is a young impudent wretch, an arrogant twerp who had no right to speak at all during this discourse. However, the text actually suggests that Elihu spoke with God’s blessing.

For starters, notice that when God rebukes Job’s there friends, He does not mention Elihu in the rebuke (Job 42:7-8). Since God was so thorough in rebuking Job and his friends, it seems unlikely that He would not admonish Elihu if He were displeased with him.

Furthermore, there is good evidence that Elihu was actually a Prophet of God.

“We now enter an entirely new phase of the book. Since the debate between Job and his friends failed, a new, and the last character of the book of Job comes onto the scene, Elihu, a young prophet. He had been listening to the debate, and he’s going to be quoting from both sides during his speech. I call him a prophet, even though the Bible never does, but it makes several statements about him that convinces me that he is one. First, in v18, he will say he’s full of the spirit to the extent that he will burst if he doesn’t say something, which sounds like the prophet Jeremiah in 5.14, 20.9. Second, in 36.3, he claims to speak for God, and speaks from afar, which sounds like a claim to inspiration. Third, he will make a number of prescientific statements in (1) 36.27-29, the water-vapor cycle, unknown until the 19th century, and (2) 37.15, the balancings of the clouds, unknown until the 1960s. Finally, he introduces God (37.22), and God accepts that introduction! Thus, he’s not just some young upstart, as some commentators think he is. Elihu will do four things: (1) he points out that Job’s friends are wrong, (2) that Job has now sinned, (3) he introduces a new concept of suffering─it may be disciplinary, not necessarily punitive, but perhaps instructive─the Bible doctrine, (4) he introduces God, then withdraws.” (Samuel G. Dawson, Job: The Largest Collection of False Doctrine in the Bible, 149 (Kindle Edition); Bowie, TX; SGD Press)

With that in mind, let’s notice what Elihu says.

First, Elihu demonstrates the goodness of God. Indeed, he defends the goodness of God in numerous ways throughout this passage. He points out that God’s goodness may be seen in numerous ways in the Creation. First, he reminds us that God is the Greatest Good (Job 34:10-15). Furthermore, God cannot be evil because He is the perfect moral Being as demonstrated by His opposition to wickedness (Job 34:17-20). Being perfect, and being good, God is perfect in goodness. More to the point, we can see God’s goodness in that He shows long-suffering and mercy towards sinful man in giving him time and opportunity to repent (Job 36:5-9). Indeed, Job’s argument that God is unjust because of the suffering that he has experienced is here shown in a different light through Elihu: God-being perfectly good- can and does allow suffering in the Creation in order to bring about goodness!

“This is a remarkable speech because it introduces into the debate a new insight into the purpose of suffering. Job’s friends had argued that his suffering was evidence that God was punishing him for his sins, but Elihu now argues that sometimes God permits us to suffer to keep us from sin. In other words, suffering may be preventive and not punitive…. Second, Elihu quoted Job as saying that God was unjust and was treating him like an enemy (33: 10–11). This quotation was true (13: 24, 27; 16: 9; 19: 7, 11). In his speeches, Job had repeatedly asked God why He was attacking him and why He didn’t give him a fair trial. Elihu’s great concern was not to debate what Job said about himself but to refute what Job said about God….It is a mistake to say that all suffering comes from God, because we cause some suffering ourselves. Careless driving may lead to an accident that will make many people suffer. Improper eating may upset the body and cause abused organs to protest with pain. There is pleasure in sin (Heb. 11: 25), but sin causes suffering. “The way of transgressors is hard” (Prov. 13: 15). If people defy the law of God, there is a price to pay. And we must not say that all suffering is a punishment for sin. Elihu argues that sometimes God permits suffering in order to keep people from sinning and going to the pit…. The injustice of God was one of the major themes in Job’s speeches. He felt that he was being treated like a sinner, and yet God would not “come to court” and tell Job what he had done wrong. (See 9: 2, 17–20; 19: 6–7; 27: 2.) Elihu recalled Job saying that he was innocent and had been denied justice (34: 5; 10: 7; 6: 29), and that God was shooting arrows at him (34: 6; 6: 4). Elihu presented three arguments to prove that there is no injustice with God. To begin with, if God is unjust, then He is not God (34: 10–15). “Far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity” (v. 10). “It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice” (v. 12 NIV). Abraham asked, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18: 25), and the obvious answer is yes! If God is truly God, then He is perfect; and if He is perfect, then He cannot do wrong. An unjust God would be as unthinkable as a square circle or a round triangle. According to Elihu, what seems injustice to us is really justice: God is paying sinners back for what they do (Job 34: 11). In fact, God is so just that He has ordained that sin itself will punish the evildoer. (See Ps. 7: 15; 9: 15–16; 35: 8.) There is no way to escape the justice of God. Elihu emphasized that God is sovereign, and a sovereign God can be indicted by no law and judged by no court. The king can do no wrong. God was not appointed to His throne, so He can’t be taken from it (Job 34: 13). To say that God is unjust is to say that He is not God and therefore has no right to be on the throne. But God controls our very breath and can take our lives away in an instant (vv. 14–15; Acts 17: 25, 28). “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lam. 3: 22). His second argument is that if God were unjust, there could be no just government on earth (Job 34: 16–20). As a respected elder, Job had participated in local government and had helped to bring justice to the afflicted (29: 7–17). But all human government was established by God (Gen. 9: 1–7; Rom. 13: 1–7); so if mortal man can execute justice on earth, why can’t a holy and sovereign God execute justice from heaven? He can dethrone kings and remove nobles, and He shows no partiality (Dan. 4: 25, 32, 35). If the God who rules the world were unjust, there could be no order or harmony, and everything would fall apart. However, Elihu made a big mistake in singling out and emphasizing only one divine attribute, the justice of God; for God is also loving and gracious. (Bildad had made the same mistake in his speeches.) In His wisdom, God devised a plan of redemption that satisfies both His justice and His love (Rom. 3: 21–31). Because of the cross, God can redeem sinners and still magnify His righteousness and uphold His holy law. Elihu’s third argument is that if God were unjust, then He must not see what is going on in the world (Job 34: 21–30). But God is omniscient and sees all things! A human judge, with his limitations, hears a case and makes the best decision he can, and sometimes he’s wrong. But God sees every step we take, and there is no place where we can hide from Him (Ps. 139: 7–12). Job wanted God to meet him in court so he could present his case, but what could Job tell God that God didn’t already know? “God has no need to examine men further, that they should come before him for judgment” (Job 34: 23 NIV). Unlike human officials, God is not obligated to conduct an inquiry and gather evidence; He knows everything and can judge with perfect wisdom. One of Job’s complaints was that God was silent and had hidden His face from him (9: 11; 23: 1–9), but Elihu had an answer for that: “But if He remains silent, who can condemn him? If he hides his face, who can see him?” (34: 29 NIV). In Job 24, Job had accused God of ignoring men’s sins, but what right had he to judge the Judge? God waited four centuries before judging the wicked nations in Canaan (Gen. 15: 13–16) and 120 years before sending the flood (6: 3). Sinners should be grateful that God gives them time to repent (2 Peter 3: 9).” (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Patient: Waiting On God In Difficult Times-OT Commentary Job, 155-166 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, CO; David C. Cook)

This now sets the stage for God to make His appearance and to grant Job the answer to his prayers….but in ways that Job is not prepared for!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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