John T. Willis

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Elihu--Part 5 [God does not hear an empty cry]--Job 35

In the debate, Job repeatedly challenged God to meet Job in a fair court trial--see Job 9:30-33; 14:7-19; 16:18-22; 19:23-29; 23:1-2; 31. As we continue Elihu's
speech[es], Elihu now responds to this challenge of Job, recorded in Job 35. This brief chapter falls into two parts.

I. Elihu reasons that if a human being is righteous, that person does not make God better; OR, if a human being is wicked, that person does not make God worse. Job 35:1-8.
a. Again, Elihu consistently "quotes" Job position to make sure Elihu is not misunderstanding or misrepresenting Job's ideas. Job claims: "I am just; I am righteous." But in spite of this, Job claims: "This does not make my life any better; there is no advantage to live a righteous life." Verses 1-3. In my opinion, this is precisely what Job proclaims. Elihu is correct.
b. Elihu responds to Job and Job's three friends (verse 4): The heavens [the sky] and the clouds are "higher than" human beings. So, obviously, God is "higher than" human beings--by definition. Verses 4-5.
c. Accordingly, if a person "sins" against God, that person does not accomplish anything against God or do anything to God. God is still God--all powerful and all wise. Verse 6.
d. Likewise, if a person is "righteous," that person does not "give" anything to God. A human being does not help God. God is God, whatever human beings may think, say, or do. A wicked human being may hurt another human being, or a righteous person may influence another human being for good. But no human being affects God as God's being and nature at all. Verses 7-8.

II. Elihu declares that God does not answer an empty cry. Job 35:9-16.
a. People cry out to God because oppressors afflict them. But they fail to honor God as their MAKER. We are so concerned about God helping us when we are hurting, but often we ignore God when our lives are prospering. Yet, the appropriate situation in our lives is to LISTEN to God and LEARN from God rather than constantly complaining because of our plight in life. Verses 9-11.
b. The fundamental problem is PRIDE. Elihu had already made this point in Job 33:17, and Elihu will continue to make this point. THIS is Job's problem. Job is "blameless and upright, one who fears God and turns away from evil," and Job is supremely PROUD of his righteousness. Verse 12. Unfortunately, we all have this problem. Oh, it sounds very "thin," but there a huge difference between being "righteous" and being "proud that that person is righteous."
c. Elihu now directly addresses Job's argument:
"Surely God does not hear an empty cry,
nor does the Almighty regard it.
How much less when you [Job] say that you do not see him,
that the CASE [court case] is before him, and you are waiting for him!"
If a human being challenges God to meet that person in a court case, this is obviously inappropriate. God does not answer to a human being. On the contrary, a human being must answer to God. This is fundamental in understanding the entire issue in the Book of Job. Verses 13-14.
d. Job's challenge to God is but "empty talk," "words without knowledge." Verses 15-16. We often think we know what we are talking about. Not so. God is all wise. We know so little. Job is "out of line" to challenge God to meet Job in a fair court case. How absurd. God will soon reverse the situation, and demonstrate that God alone is right, and all human beings are sinful and ignorant before God.

How do YOU feel about Job's challenge to God? How do YOU respond to Elihu's reply in Job 35? Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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