John T. Willis

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Elihu--Part 6 [God delivers the afflicted by affliction]--Job 36:1-23

Elihu continues his speech[es] in Job 32-37. We are ready to turn to Job 36. The next paragraph is Job 36:1-23. Elihu suggests that God uses "affliction" to help the "afflicted." At first, this does not make sense. But as we think about life, "discipline" is an important aspect of physical, emotional, and especially spiritual growth. Disciplines seems painful, but later it yields peaceful fruit of righteousness. Read Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12:3-13. My guess is that YOU have learned in your own life the importance of "discipline." Here, Elihu tries to make this point. This paragraph falls into four segments.

I. Elihu begins by asking his hearers to "bear with him a little bit more." Elihu intends to "say something further on God's behalf." Elihu wishes to extol God and God's righteousness. "One who is perfect in knowledge" is not an arrogant claim of Elihu (verse 4), but God himself, as indicated by the fact that Job 37:16 uses this same expression and clearly refers to God. Verses 1-4.

2. Elihu asserts that God punishes the wicked and supports the righteous, even though this often does not seem to be the case. God is "mighty" and does not "despise" any person. God watches over the "righteous," even when they are suffering. Frequently, even the righteous are suffering BECAUSE "they are behaving arrogantly." Elihu keeps repeating the fact that Job's problem and the problem of all human beings is PRIDE=Self-centeredness=ingratitude. If people listen to God's discipline to correct their pride, God will bless them richly; if not, he will punish them, and if they persist in their pride, they will perish. Verses 5-12.

3. If the godless persist in sin, God will punish them. But God's desire is to "deliver the afflicted by their affliction and open their ear by adversity." God works in marvelous ways, which lie beyond our human comprehension. God uses punishment and suffering and pain to refine and purify and redeem sinful humanity. Verses 13-16.

4. Finally, Elihu speaks to Job directly. "You" here is singular. Elihu tells Job that Job is "obsessed" with his idea that the wicked prosper. Elihu encourages Job to resist the temptation to call on God to punish or destroy the wicked. God will take care of all of this. Elihu declares:
"God is exalted in his power;
who is a TEACHER like him?"
What human being can say to God: "YOU [God] have done wrong?" Verses 17-23.
God is a great, wise, amazing teacher. God does not LECTURE in a class. Rather, God uses love, patience, and even suffering, to carry out God's purpose to bring all of us sinful human beings to repentance. This is Elihu's point in this section of his speech.

What are YOUR responses to Elihu's speech in Job 36:1-23? Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU. I need all the insights I need.

John Willis


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