Much of the book (chapters 3 -31) contain dialog and debate between Job and three of his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Accusations are made against Job and assumptions spoken regarding God and His purposes. Then, in chapter 32 a most interesting character appears. His name is Elihu. Apparently he had been an observer to the dialog of the earlier chapters, and had remained silent due to his youth, and respect for his elders (32: 4-6). Finally, after hearing all that could be said, he could no longer hold his peace and felt compelled to speak.
In the 33rd chapter Elihu asserts some pretty strong words regarding those who foster a complaining attitude toward God, regarding human suffering.
There are several interesting points made in this chapter:
First, God does not have to answer to man. (v. 12-14) God is greater than man. Why do you contend against him,saying, ‘He will answer none of man's words’? For God speaks in one way,and in two, though man does not perceive it.
Secondly, in those days before the full canon of scripture, God reveal Himself and His plan in several ways.
- Through Dreams and Visions (vs 14-18) " For God speaks in one way,and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night,when deep sleep falls on men,while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit,his life from perishing by the sword."
- Through Pain and Suffering (vs. 19-22) “Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread,and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen,and his bones that were not seen stick out. His soul draws near the pit,and his life to those who bring death.
- Through Angelic Beings (v. 23) "If there be for him an angel,a mediator, one of the thousand,to declare to man what is right for him"
And finally, when a man responds favorably to suffering, God restores him (vs. 25-30) "let his flesh become fresh with youth;let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; then man prays to God, and he accepts him;he sees his face with a shout of joy,and he restores to man his righteousness. He sings before men and says:‘I sinned and perverted what was right,and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit,and my life shall look upon the light.’ “Behold, God does all these things,twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit,that he may be lighted with the light of life."
Elihu shows wisdom that belies his young age. I hope to look further into Elihu's discourse in future posts.