Confession time; Job is one of the books in the bible that is among my least favorite. I think that stems from its portrayal of the complete sovereignty of God and my complete unworthiness to even be ….
Anyway, Job has always been a book that was scanned as quickly as possible as it came up in my daily reading plan; something to get past quickly, like broccoli without cheese. This time however it was a little different. Oh I’m still uncomfortable with the glaring light of its vision of a completely worthy God and my abject uselessness, but my reading of Job was more studious this time. I’ve always known about his three friends*1; Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, their charge against Job, and their chastisement by God because they “you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”*2
But this is the first time I really noticed the speech of Elihu (Job 32-37). Elihu was apparently a youth, a young man who, up to that point, had kept quiet in the presence of age and its supposed wisdom.*3 Finally his anger forced him to speak.*4 He was angry with Job because Job was attempting to maintain his righteousness, but there are none righteous, no not one, and all have fallen short of the glory of God. Gee that sounds familiar. He was angry with Job’s friends because they were unable to give a decent answer to Job’s complaint; for all their “wisdom” they could not see the glory of the Most High God obliterated any possible complaint. He is compelled to speak, by their eventual silence, and to find relief from the spirit in him.*5 He spoke of the graciousness of God and His attempts to instruct, direct, enlighten and discipline the errant heart of men.*6 He proclaimed God’s justice*7, His goodness *8 and His majesty.*9 His speech seemed to grow in power, fervor as he described to power of the Creator God, His majesty, His worthiness. The more I read from him the more I found myself “Amen-ing” in my head, agreeing with him and his view of Job, his friends and most especially his view of God.
I didn’t want to do that. In my head I had always lumped him together with Job’s other friends and their eventual judgment by God, but I was having a hard time finding a problem with Elihu.
It bothered me …
I don’t like to be bothered …
so I did the unimaginable …
I read AHEAD of my scheduled reading plan. (Oh the horror!!)
Then came chapter 42, verses 7 & 8; God speaks to Eliphaz;
“My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”
“your TWO friends”???
So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job.
Where was Elihu?? He had no part in the “folly”?? Maybe his speech was correct?? Maybe he spoke of God what is right?? Maybe it’s okay if I find myself agreeing with him. Alright!! (a little head nod and a small fist pump) cool!
Then I noticed something big, Chapter 42 verse 10;
“And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
The Lord did not restore Job’s losses until he prayed for his friends … not when he prayed for himself, but for his friends …
“Anything is a blessing which makes us pray.” — Charles Spurgeon
*1 Job 2:11
*2 Job 42:7
*3 Job 32:6-9
*4 Job 32:2-5
*5 Job 32:15-22
*6 Job 33:8-33
*7 Job 34:1-37
*8 Job 36:1-23
*9 Job 36:24-37:24
“ALL Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”