Zeal; and Knowledge – Job 32-34. RBT Notes, 25th January

Did Job justify himself rather than God (32.2)? Enter Elihu, who certainly thinks so. He also thinks that the friends have done a pretty poor job. If we’ve had the slow burn of insinuation and then accusation from these three friends, then now prepare for the fireworks from this new face.

This young man is in a hurry, a hurry to show the oldies that he is wise, that God is glorious, and that Job and the friends are wrong (vv.6-22). Elihu, this zealous young preacher, is going to give it his best shot, and with God on his side, how can he fail (33.1-7)?

In essence, Elihu can’t stomach the fact that Job is maintaining his innocence before God and complaining of experiencing a punishment which no sin he can discover deserves (vv.8-11). God is holy, and sovereign; He never needs to explain Himself to us. When and how He does speak and act is up to Him, and when He does, it is always for our good (vv.12-21). God is powerful and merciful, and will do anything to reach out to needy sinners (vv.22-33).

Good theology, yes? Now read ch.34 carefully. What’s wrong here? It’s this: Elihu believes in a God of beautiful sovereignty and searing holiness, but he cannot see how that God can have anything to do with sinful Job other than signal His divine displeasure. So Job must be wrong. Totally. Job can make himself hoarse insisting he is free from any sin God is chastising him for, but Elihu refuses to believe him (vv.34-37). And he will not believe that God can do other than judge Job.

What do you think? Does God launch His missiles at every sin and every sinner? Not in this life, surely? That’s right. Elihu is zealous, a worshipper of God, but has much to learn of God’s ways. God is far greater, and more mysterious than He has yet realised. And far, far more merciful, too. Look the Cross. Doesn’t the Cross teach all this to us?
A Prayer to Pray

Who is like You, O Lord? Majestic holiness, majestic mercy, and glorious purposes are all Yours. Teach me to adore, trust, and to be patient before You. You will have Your good and gracious way. Amen.

Lewis Allen

Pastor, Hope Church Huddersfield, Director of Gospel Yorkshire, husband, father of five, football follower and dreaming fly-fisherman, Daily Reading the Bible Together blogger.

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