In yesterday’s reading, we saw how Job’s 3 friends came to console him and ended up condemning him. They were guilty of a simplistic view of how life works. They see Job’s great suffering, therefore he must be guilty of great sin which he is too proud to confess. We know from Job 1&2 that this is not the case. In fact, the LORD has these words to say about Job to Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”(Job 1:8)
In the early part of his trials and tribulations, Job maintains his integrity and continues to trust the LORD. But as his 3 friends keep accusing him that he must have unconfessed sin in his heart, Job increasingly tries to justify himself. Also, as he grows in his sense of despair, he begins to think God is treating him as an enemy. His view of the LORD becomes more confused and inaccurate. One of his last responses to his friends is found in Job 31:35: “Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense – let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing”. It is Satan and not God who accuses us and tries to destroy our faith when we go through the trials of life.
In the the last part of the Book, a fourth person tries to console Job in his sufferings. Elihu is much younger than the first 3 friends, yet he makes more sense than his elders. He takes the discussion to a higher plane. He does not focus on Job’s purported sin as the cause of his calamities. Instead, he seems to believe that the sufferings of God’s people can be used by the LORD for beneficial purposes. (Job 33:14-19).
J. Sidlow Baxter writes: ” The other speakers (the 1st 3 friends) have all been bound hand and foot by the theory that suffering is necessarily the punishment of past sinning. Elihu sees beyond that, to a truer and wider meaning. Suffering is not exclusively punitive; it is also corrective……It is not only the judge’s rod; it is the shepherd’s goad”. Elihu doesn’t spend time discussing whether Job has committed sin in the past. He seems to focus on Job’s present attitude of trying to justify Himself before God and demanding a hearing with God.
After Elihu’s speech, God breaks in and speaks to Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38-41). In this speech. the LORD does not give any explanation to Job regarding why he is suffering. Instead, the LORD reveals His awesomeness and majesty which seeks to communicate to Job his smallness, ignorance and impotence in comparison to God.
It seems that the LORD wanted Job to know that He was concerned for him. But also, Job needed to “rest in God Himself, apart from explanations; and that Job should come to the end of his self-ism and find his all in God.” (Baxter) This is good counsel for us all as we go through the inevitable trials and tribulations of life. The LORD cares for us and He can be trusted no matter the situation we find ourselves in. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John