Learn from Elihu that God sends Suffering to Save his People from Pride and to Purify them
Let us turn to job 32. We going to seek to make some more progress this morning and getting through this amazing part of the word of God that ministers to us on the whole issue of suffering. This issue of suffering is something that all of us should be prepared for. So listen to the reading of God's word. We are going to read Job 32:1-22 and thereafter we will read Job 33:1-12. Here is the reading of God's word.
2 Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God.
3 He burned with anger also at Job's three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong.
4 Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he.
5 And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.
6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: "I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.
7 I said, 'Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.'
8 But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.
9 It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.
10 Therefore I say, 'Listen to me; let me also declare my opinion.'
11 "Behold, I waited for your words, I listened for your wise sayings, while you searched out what to say.
12 I gave you my attention, and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job or who answered his words.
13 Beware lest you say, 'We have found wisdom; God may vanquish him, not a man.'
14 He has not directed his words against me, and I will not answer him with your speeches.
15 "They are dismayed; they answer no more; they have not a word to say.
16 And shall I wait, because they do not speak, because they stand there, and answer no more?
17 I also will answer with my share; I also will declare my opinion.
18 For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me.
19 Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins ready to burst.
20 I must speak, that I may find relief; I must open my lips and answer.
21 I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person.
22 For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away. (Job 32:1-22 ESV)
ESV Job 33:
2 Behold, I open my mouth; the tongue in my mouth speaks.
3 My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely.
4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
5 Answer me, if you can; set your words in order before me; take your stand.
6 Behold, I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.
7 Behold, no fear of me need terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy upon you.
8 "Surely you have spoken in my ears, and I have heard the sound of your words.
9 You say, 'I am pure, without transgression; I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me.
10 Behold, he finds occasions against me, he counts me as his enemy,
11 he puts my feet in the stocks and watches all my paths.'
12 "Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you, for God is greater than man.
13 Why do you contend against him, saying, 'He will answer none of man's words'? (Job 33:1-13 ESV)
Father, we need the Spirit of God to enable us to understand the word of God, and so we have come to you asking for the Spirit to move among us. Touch our hearts, Father. We have many different needs and we pray that you might minister to those needs. We thank you that your word has the power and the capacity to touch wherever the need is and so we pray you will come now. Use both the weak preacher and the weak listeners. Anoint us by the Spirit we pray, in Jesus' name, Amen.
So at the point where we are in the book of Job, Job has finally silenced his three friends. You can tell that from the speech of Elihu. He has shown that their popular theology of suffering is not correct. They had argued that if you do sin, God punishes you; and if you do good, God rewards you. From their point of view, Jobs suffering could only be explained by the fact that there must be great wickedness and great sin in his life.
Job counteracted the arguments of his three friends by saying, "there is evidence that the wicked often prosper and do not suffer and the righteous often suffer greatly like I am." And so Job won the argument as it were and silenced his three friends. But Job still has no answers to some great questions that he has been asking himself throughout the course of his long-term suffering. Why do the righteous suffer? And why do the righteous suffer sometimes like how Job has suffered with such great intensity? And so, if you take Job chapters 1-31 and you take a theology of suffering from these chapters, you will end up with a narrow and incomplete theology of suffering. A theology of something means you look at that thing in its big perspective. To get a proper understanding of the theology of suffering, for example, you ask questions like: what is the purpose of suffering? Where does suffering come from? What does it accomplish? How is God related to suffering? What is God doing in suffering? That is what we mean by a theology of suffering.
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