Job 32-34

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

July 16, 2003


It is one of the oldest books of literature, and it examines one of the oldest problems of man. That is, why do good people often suffer, and ungodly people often prosper.

Job is being tested. He has lived a wonderful, righteous life. Satan challenged God by saying that Job only loved God because of God’s protection and goodness toward Job. So God is allowing Satan to bring difficulty to Job in order to prove to Satan and the audience in heaven that Job is better than that.

As Job’s friends show up to comfort him, they end up feeling like they have to fix Job. After all, it seems obvious to them that Job’s problems are a result of some sort of sin in his life, and these troubles are just the result of his sin. Three friends each take a turn at hurling their accusations at Job, and one by one, Job responds to his friends. Job is now done with his defense and there’s silence.

God doesn’t speak.  God doesn’t answer. God doesn’t show up just because someone thinks it’s time for a showdown.

At the famous “Speaker’s Corner” in London’s Hyde Park, a man denouncing Christianity issued this challenge: “If there is a God, I will give Him five minutes to strike me dead!” He took out his watch and waited. After five minutes, he smiled and said, “My friends, this proves that there is no God!” A Christian believer in the crowd called to him, “Do you think you can exhaust the patience of Almighty God in five minutes?”[1]

In the silence, a fifth person is introduced, a young man named Elihu.

He was not trying to prove that Job was a sinner, but that Job’s view of God was wrong.

Elihu introduced a new truth into the debate: that God sends suffering, not necessarily to punish us for our sins, but to keep us from sinning (33:18, 24) and to make us better persons (36:1–15). Paul would have agreed with the first point (2Cor. 12:7–10) and the writer of Hebrews with the second (Heb. 12:1–11).[2]

Job 32

32:1-5 Elihu’s anger

:2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.

ElihuEliyhuw – “He is my God”

BuziteBuwziy – “contempt”. It’s possible that Elihu was a descendant of Nahor, the brother of Abraham:

(Gen 22:20-21 KJV) And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor; {21} Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,

It’s possible that “Aram” is the same as “Ram”, both names mean the same thing, “exalted”.

I don’t think it was wrong that Job justified himself. He was a righteous man. God said he was a righteous man, but where Job made a mistake was in accusing God of injustice.

:3 because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.

Job’s friends had nothing to accuse Job of, yet they accused him anyway.

32:6-14 Waiting to speak

:7 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.

He waited for the older men to speak first.

:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

God can speak to and teach a young person as well as an old person.

Older people are supposed to have wisdom.

Yet God can speak just as easily to a young person, like Elihu.

(1 Sam 3:1-4 KJV)  And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. {2} And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; {3} And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; {4} That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.

God picked out a three year old to speak to because no one else was available.

In the last days …

(Joel 2:28-32 KJV) And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: {29} And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. {30} And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. {31} The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. {32} And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

:9 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.

(Psa 53:1 KJV) To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

There are many great people today who claim to be atheists.

(Rom 1:18-28 KJV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; {19} Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. {20} For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: {21} Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. {22} Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, {23} And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. {24} Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: {25} Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. {26} For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: {27} And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. {28} And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

When people refuse to acknowledge God, they become fools.  Morals get all goofed up.

:10 Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will show mine opinion.

Job’s friends were of the opinion that Job was having trouble because of some sort of secret sin.

Elihu is going to say that Job may not be punished for sin, but that God uses difficulty to correct us and keep us on the right path.

:14 neither will I answer him with your speeches.

He’s not going to say the same kinds of things to Job that the others have.

32:15-22 I have to speak

:15 They were amazed

They – Job’s friends

:19 Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.

Wine was fermented in leather skin bags. As it fermented, a gas was given off. If the gas wasn’t let out, the bag would burst.

:22 For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.


Treating others equally

These other men are older than Elihu. But Elihu isn’t talking about treating people without respect.
He’s saying that he’s not going to butter them up with flattering titles. He’s not going to be intimidated by their age or “wisdom”.  He’s simply going to speak the truth.
Be careful about giving certain people “special” treatment:
(James 2:1-9 KJV) My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. {2} For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; {3} And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: {4} Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? {5} Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? {6} But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? {7} Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? {8} If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: {9} But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

James doesn’t mean that we ought to be nicer to poor people than wealthy people.  The point is that we ought to treat everyone the same.  We have all been made by the same Creator.

The Lord Is My Shepherd
Keith Miller writes, “Years ago, when our daughters were very young, we’d drop them off at our church’s children’s chapel on Sundays before the eleven o’clock service. One Sunday, just as I was about to open the door to the small chapel, the minister came rushing up in full vestments. He said he had an emergency and asked if I’d speak to the children at their story time. He said the subject was the Twenty-third Psalm. Just as I was about to get up from the back row and talk about the good shepherd, the minister burst into the room and signaled to me that he would be able to do the story time after all. He told the children about sheep, that they weren’t smart and needed lots of guidance, and that a shepherd’s job was to stay close to the sheep, protect them from wild animals and keep them from wandering off and doing dumb things that would get them hurt or killed. He pointed to the little children in the room and said that they were the sheep and needed lots of guidance. Then the minister put his hands out to the side, palms up in a dramatic gesture, and with raised eyebrows said to the children, “If you are the sheep then who is the shepherd?” He was pretty obviously indicating himself. A silence of a few seconds followed. Then a young visitor said, “Jesus, Jesus is the shepherd.” The young minister, obviously caught by surprise, said to the boy, “Well, then, who am I?” The little boy frowned thoughtfully and then said with a shrug “I guess you must be a sheep dog.””
Be careful about expecting people to treat you differently.  Be careful about treating others differently depending on who they are.

Job 33

33:1-7 Listen Job

:5 If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up.

Elihu is challenging Job to answer the things he’s about to say.  It’s interesting to note that Job never gets to challenge Elihu.  Instead, God will interrupt and finish the arguments.

:6 Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay.

Earlier Job had cried,

(Job 9:33 NASB)  "There is no umpire between us, Who may lay his hand upon us both.

It sounds as if he saying that he is Job’s answer to prayer for someone to stand in the gap for him.

(Job 33:6 NKJV) Truly I am as your spokesman before God; I also have been formed out of clay.

This sounds a little scary.  Is it true that Elihu is representing God to Job? Keep in mind that God does not rebuke Elihu like He does the other three friends.

:7 Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.

Because Elihu is just a man, Job doesn’t have to be afraid of him.

It makes me think of Jesus.

33:8-13 Don’t accuse God

:9 I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me.

Actually, this is not what Job had claimed.

It was Zophar who had claimed that this was Job’s position (11:4).

Though Job maintained his integrity, he never claimed to be perfect (9:20-21).

:11 He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.

Job had made these kinds of claims about God – this is true (13:27).

:13 Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.

God doesn’t owe you an answer

He is God.  He is Sovereign.

(Rom 9:12-21 KJV)  It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. {13} As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. {14} What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. {15} For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. {16} So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. {17} For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. {18} Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. {19} Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? {20} Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? {21} Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

We are the clay.  Who are we to challenge the potter in what He makes?  Got problems with this?

33:14-18 God does speak

:14 For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.


We don’t listen

It’s not always that God doesn’t speak.
It’s that we don’t listen.
Sometimes He’s speaking through our circumstances – but we’re not paying attention.
All the times He’s speaking through His Word, but we don’t pick it up and spend time reading.

:18 He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.

God works to keep us from destruction.

(Jer 29:11 NLT)  For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Could it be that even in what we consider difficult times, that God might be saving us from some other disaster?
Sometimes we’re late and we get frustrated at getting a red light and having to wait.  But I wonder if some times God might have a reason for us not to get the green light we wanted.  There’s been times when I’ve realized I could have been hit by a driver running a red light if I had just been twenty feet further into the intersection.  The other day I was caught behind a slow driving old lady.  I had headphones on and was listening to a worship song.  When the lady didn’t go when the light turned green I started to get a little frustrated.  But then from out of no where, a huge fire truck came barreling through the intersection.  The lady had seen the truck and had stayed at the light.  Because she was in front of me, I had to stay too.  If she hadn’t been there, I would have gone through the intersection and been creamed.

If we begin to realize that God does have control over those uncomfortable circumstances, and if we believe He really has our best interest in mind, sometimes it’s actually possible to stop being frustrated and learn to enjoy life a little more.

33:19-28 Chastening helps us

:19 He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:

chastenedyakach – (Hophal) to be chastened

God speaks to us through pain.

In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis says, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”[3]

:23 If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness:

Here’s another way God might speak to people (through dreams, through pain) through an “angel”

(Job 33:23 ICB)  "But there may be an angel on his side. The angel may be one out of a thousand who will speak for the man. He will tell the man what he should do.

Kind of like Jesus, the Angel of the Lord.

:24 Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.


Grace in pain

Elihu is giving us a new insight into God’s motives.
Sometimes God allows pain in our lives not as punishment, but as a warning to keep us from going the wrong way.  He does all He can to keep us from sinning and ending up in hell.
Paul seems to echo this when he writes,
(2 Cor 12:7-9 KJV)  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. {8} For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. {9} And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

33:29-33 God chastens us for our good

:31 Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak.

Perhaps Job began to speak up and respond, but Elihu asks for Job to listen just a little bit more.

Job 34

34:1-9 Job charges God wrongly

:2 Hear my words, O ye wise men

Elihu now turns to Job’s friends.

:4 Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good.

People nowadays don’t often take time to really think about what they’re listening to.

Opinions about Kobe Bryant.  People seem to believe what they want to believe, not taking the time to really investigate the facts and make a wise judgment.

:6 Should I lie against my right?

(Job 34:6 NLT)  I am innocent, but they call me a liar.

Job had asked the friends if they wanted him to lie about whether or not he was righteous. Job had felt that if he were to confess to some sin, then he’d be lying.

:7 What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water?

(Job 34:7 ICB)  There is no other man like Job. He takes insults as if he were drinking water.

(Job 34:7 The Message) Have you ever heard anything to beat this? Does nothing faze this man Job?

:9 For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.

A correct rebuke – Job has been bitter, though he’s not exactly said this.

The Psalmist had trouble with wicked people prospering.  He wondered why he bothered trying to be good:

(Psa 73:13 KJV)  Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.


Profit in Delight

There is great profit when a person delights in the Lord.
(Psa 37:4 KJV)  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
(Psa 1 KJV)  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. {2} But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. {3} And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. {4} The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. {5} Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. {6} For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
(Isa 58:13-14 KJV)  If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: {14} Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

34:10-15 God isn’t wicked

:12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.

God isn’t wicked.

(1 John 1:5 KJV)  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

We may not understand all that God allows in our lives, but He is not wicked.

:15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.

Our life depends on the very breath of God.  He holds our “breath” in His hands.

If God wanted to, He could let go and we’d all die and turn to dust.

Paul said to the men of Athens:

(Acts 17:24-25 KJV)  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; {25} Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

Daniel warned proud Belshazzar about mocking God:

(Dan 5:23 KJV)  But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

34:16-30 God is impartial

:17 Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just?

Job has been accusing God of not doing what is right.

:18 Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes, Ye are ungodly?

Would you tell a king to his face, “you’re wicked”?

:19 How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes

We may play favorites with people, but God doesn’t. You might have this idea that some people are more important to God than you, but it isn’t true.

:23 For he will not lay upon man more than right;

God is fair.

:28 he heareth the cry of the afflicted.

God hears the cry of people who are oppressed and afflicted.

(James 5:1-8 KJV)  Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. {2} Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. {3} Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. {4} Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. {5} Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. {6} Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. {7} Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. {8} Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

We don’t understand when afflicted people cry and there seems to be no answer.  But God hears their cries.
We need to be patient and let God work in His time.

34:31-37 Job is wrong

:31 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:

(Job 34:31 NLT) "Why don't people say to God, 'I have sinned, but I will sin no more'?

:33 Should it be according to thy mind?

(Job 34:33 NLT) "Must God tailor his justice to your demands? But you have rejected him! The choice is yours, not mine. Go ahead, share your wisdom with us.

:36 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men.

(Job 34:36 NLT) Job, you deserve the maximum penalty for the wicked way you have talked.

:37  he clappeth his hands among us

In the Middle East, this is a way of showing anger, cursing people.

Elihu is really angry with Job.

[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1991). Be patient. An Old Testament study. (Job 32:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[2]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1991). Be patient. An Old Testament study. (Job 32:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[3]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1991). Be patient. An Old Testament study. (Job 33:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.