Today: [Job Thirty-Four] Have You Ever Mouthed off to God? In this chapter young Elihu corrects Job for railing against God. Job in his suffering feels that God has unfairly tormented him. He is convinced that he is without sin and claims that God is being unfair and is refusing to give him justice. Elihu is astonished that in the midst of his trial Job would add sin to his suffering by questioning the goodness of God. Have you ever been tempted to charge God foolishly or to question God’s presence in your life? This chapter is a sobering reminder to guard our words in times of intense personal pressure.
[Job 34:1-37 KJV] 1 Furthermore Elihu answered and said, 2 Hear my words, O ye wise [men]; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge. 3 For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat. 4 Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what [is] good. 5 For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment. 6 Should I lie against my right? my wound [is] incurable without transgression. 7 What man [is] like Job, [who] drinketh up scorning like water? 8 Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men. 9 For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God. 10 Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: far be it from God, [that he should do] wickedness; and [from] the Almighty, [that he should commit] iniquity. 11 For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to [his] ways.
In this chapter Elihu continues to answer Job calling his three friends to give heed to the conclusions that he makes about Job’s situation after hearing all of their objections and accusations. In v. 5-6 Elihu sums up Job’s statements that (in Job’s view) he is righteous and has been denied just treatment in the court of heaven. Job furthermore has declared that his wound is incurable and that he is without transgression.
You can see here the influence that Satan has on Job as he is overstating his condition when he says he is incurable. This is not true for at the end of the matter Job is completely restored and then added to beyond that. It is part of man’s fallen nature to exaggerate his situation before God. When Satan questioned Eve about the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil she added to the commandment of God suggesting that the Father say not only should they not partake of it but not to even touch it. There was actually no prohibition against touching the tree – just not eating of it. Likewise Job in his accusations against God goes beyond the actual suffering which is indeed egregious but overstates his position to further justify himself.
Elihu expresses amazement at the depth of scorn Job demonstrates against God and against his friends. The admonition of Psalm 1:1 is not to sit in the seat of the scornful. Job in allowing his three friends to sit before him and counsel him has opened himself up to deep scorn and rebellion against God in the midst of his situation. This is what is meant when I say “limit your counselors” in times of challenge and deep suffering. It is true that there is wisdom in the a multitude of counselors but they are only as good as their godly character will establish. Better to have no counsel than the counsel that proceeds from unbelief and scorn against you and against God.
12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. 13 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? 14 If he set his heart upon man, [if] he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; 15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. 16 If now [thou hast] understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words. 17 Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just? 18 [Is it fit] to say to a king, [Thou art] wicked? [and] to princes, [Ye are] ungodly? 19 [How much less to him] that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all [are] the work of his hands. 20 In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand. 21 For his eyes [are] upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. 22 [There is] no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. 23 For he will not lay upon man more [than right]; that he should enter into judgment with God. 24 He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead.
For all of Job’s convictions and his friends opinion that God is the originator and source of his suffering Elihu declares in v. 12 that God will not do wickedly. In spite of much theological assertion that God tried Job that is incorrect and it is stated plainly in this verse. Elihu doesn’t suggest whence the trials of Job were levied against him but he does state emphatically that they do not come from or arise from God’s hand.
Elihu admonishes Job and his friends for impugning the character of God and speaking so boldly in their supposed assertions of understanding the Almighty. He uses the example of daring to speak against earthly authorities. If one would hestitate to speak against an earthly prince that is only a mere mortal then Elihu is astonished that Job and his friends speak so forthrightly about God as though they were experts on His character and the nature of His rule. In verse 18 Elihu states that as it is not fitting to speak against an earthly king so it is unfit to speak against God who judges earthly kings and princes.
Even when earthly kings and leaders do wickedly we should use discretion in speaking against them. Jude wrote on this subject suggesting that we often speak unadvisedly with our mouths without respect to what the consequences might be from a spiritual perspective. Jude gives the example of Michael being guarded in his words even when contending directly with the devil himself:
[Jde 1:9 KJV] 9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
In modern culture we live under governments and regimes in the western world that are chosen by a representative process or government. Because of this we feel justified as the voting public to form opinions and openly express disapproval against leaders and government officials. While we do have the right and the responsibility to exercise our vote we must nonetheless remember the posture that Paul adopted even under the brutal regime of Roman domination:
[1Ti 2:1-4 KJV] 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
It is interesting that in the midst of great persecution that the early church was not an insurgent church nor a people giving over to the political process. They were unique that for all their outward passivity in regard to regime change and the brutal suffering they endured nonetheless through their prayers and their suffering of persecution they brought the known world to its knees in three generations when Constantine capitulated and made Christianity a protected belief system and the formal religion of the realm from whom the crucifixion of Christ Himself was perpetrated. Christians who allow themselves to be swallowed up by party politics and the upheaval of the day would do well to keep this in mind.
25 Therefore he knoweth their works, and he overturneth [them] in the night, so that they are destroyed. 26 He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others; 27 Because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways: 28 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted. 29 When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth [his] face, who then can behold him? whether [it be done] against a nation, or against a man only: 30 That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared. 31 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne [chastisement], I will not offend [any more]: 32 [That which] I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. 33 [Should it be] according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest. 34 Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me. 35 Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words [were] without wisdom. 36 My desire [is that] Job may be tried unto the end because of [his] answers for wicked men. 37 For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth [his hands] among us, and multiplieth his words against God.
Elihu addresses Job’s assertion that God has forgotten him by stating that God knows all that is happening in every quarter of the earth and that He will bring justice in behalf of the poor. He states that God hears the cry of the poor and is moved to act in defense of the afflicted. Elihu defines the ultimate goal of the Father is to give us quietness in our land. If God gives us quietness then Elihu asks who can cause trouble? We can look at the scourge of terrorism then and realize that the answer to terrorism is not to focus on the perpetrators who only bring more upheaval upon us but to look to God who will give us peace if we only trust Him and not the false security promised to us by the saber rattling leaders who have proved generationally that they have no path to peace and are powerless to protect our populations.
Elihu concludes that Job is not as knowledgeable as he thinks he is and that is words are in reality spoken without wisdom. He desires that Job come to the full end of his process in order that the rebellion he has added to his self-righteousness would be corrected and that Job would be cleansed. For us the lesson of this chapter is to see for all the energy expended by Job and his learned friends that they didn’t have any answers. It would be better in a time of trial to simply quiet ourselves before God and wait for His word to deliver us rather than to endlessly question Him and plunge ourselves deeper into sin and rebellion unnecessarily.
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