Reading through the Bible: day 12

Job 32 -34

At this point in the story I’d imagine there was a bit of a pause, Job had made his case ans the Eliphaz; Bildad and Zophar were left with little in response. So the young man Elihu, who is often put forward as a possible author to the book, decides it’s time for the old men to learn something from the youth.

A criticism that has come up a few times by those who’ve read further is that we know the three friends are saying a lot of wrong stuff, but since much of what they saying is found in Christian doctrine today, how do we know which stuff is wrong? Elihu doesn’t offer an enormous amount of help here, he simply points out that they’d failed to answer Job. Thus, if we were to stop here, one might conclude that nothing they’d said was false they’d just said the wrong truths, but as we proceed over the next few days, we’ll see this is not the case.

Elihu’s gripe against Job is often said to be that Job justifies himself and not God. Which seems to really hit the nail on the head. What was perhaps not so obvious when reading Job’s statements becomes reasonably easy to pick up in the context Elihu puts it. While I have pointed out that people in the Bible successfully questioned God, Elihu makes an interesting point: we should not contend with God. To contend would be to argue. It seems to imply a trying to win situation, rather than a getting at the truth situation. Thus Job’s self righteous statements and the fact that he blamed God for what was happening, is perhaps where he went wrong, he justified his position, he didn’t focus on God’s position (initially he did: Job 1:21).

At the end of chapter 33 Elihu says he’ll teach Job wisdom. At the beginning of chapter 34, he calls the company “wise men” and adds that they have knowledge. This again is interesting since Elihu kept quiet so the older more learned men could speak, but they had failed. While they had more years, and likely more opportunity to fill their heads with facts (knowledge), the thing they seemed to lack was wisdom and understanding, something it appears Elihu actually did have.

Job 34:10-15 has Elihu’s God does only good speech. Which is significant from a Christian perspective, since is talks of God repaying for people’s works. This is significant for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Christians believe in just deserts in the afterlife (there are some exceptions), so the fact that we often see some of the wickedest people prosper, we still hold firm to a reward that is “not of this world.” Secondly, it’s significant because that reward (Heaven) is not based on doing good stuff, it’s based on surrender to the saving grace of Christ through faith. This is where things get murky, since anyone who has read James would have a few problems here. What it seems, though, is that while we’re saved by grace, and surrendering to that grace should yield a better person, people are still judged by their works at final judgement. It’s Christ’s grace that erases those sins among committed Christians, thus allowing those to withstand judgement.

What do you think?

If you want to get others involved, or have seen this post and would like to start from the beginning, then the reading through the Bible page has all the relevant posts to get started, and will continuously get updated with the daily readings and any further material that is posted on the subject of reading the Bible.


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