Job's three friends Eliphas the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite were gulity before God because of what they said to Job. How is Elihu not guilty before God? What did he say that was different from the others and considered right before God?
Job 42:7 - 9
ESV - 7 After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: "My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
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The first three men attacked Job's righteousness, and claimed that Job was being punished for a sin he must have committed, or that his children died for their sins. Their limited understanding was that God would have only inflicted Job with such pain if Job had some hidden evil. Their accusations got harsher and harsher, leading Job to exclaim "Ten times now you have reproached me!" (Job 19:3, an idiom for 'many times') (Job 4:7-8, Job 4:17-18, Job 8:3-4, Job 11:11-15, Job 18:5-21, Job 20:5-29, Job 22:45-11) Elihu, conversely, promoted the righteousness of God in taking any course of action, regardless of the good or evil of man. He took Job to task for thinking that it was futile to be good then, if the good could face trials as well as the wicked. He pointed out that the Lord will repay men for what they have done (in this life or the next), so it is very profitable to fear the Lord even if one does not see immediate benefit. The book of Job summarizes it this way: "So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him." (Job 32:1-3) Elihu justified God. While he did get after Job for complaining and failing to recognize the righteousness of God, he did not get after him for any sin supposedly causing Job's misery. "Can someone who hates justice govern? Will you condemn the just and mighty One?" (Job 34:17) - One of many comments extolling the justice of God and calling Job out that his attitude was placing his own 'justice' about God "If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself, and your righteousness only other people" (Job 34:6-8) This is one of Elihu's most important arguments, as it pointed out to Job that the righteousness of man cannot 'buy' God's favor, nor do the sins of man 'harm' God. Rather, God created his perfect law for the benefit of man.
✿ Elihu was a descendant of Buz, the second son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham (Gen. 22:20-21). Elihu must have been a very young man to be calling Job and his friends very old. He was at least young enough to be afraid to show his opinion (Job 32:6-7). ✿ It is emphatically stated three times here that Elihu's wrath was kindled (Job 32:2-3). Wrath can be kindled easily where a man's religious theories are involved. Elihu had heard several things that contradicted his religious beliefs. He was greatly provoked because of Job's self-justification and the fact that these men had no answer for his arguments While he listened the fire burned in his soul. Now that he had opportunity, he began speaking his mind to all four debaters (Job 32:6,8,10-22). ✿ Elihu considered both sides at fault and came in as a mediator between the two contending forces (Job 32:2-6). Elihu's claim as spokesman for God was without foundation (Job 33:6; 36:2). Elihu Accused Job of Three Errors: ❶ My righteousness is more than God's righteousness. ❷ What advantage will it be for me to be cleansed from my sin? (Job 35:3) ❸ What profit shall I have if I am cleansed from my sin? ✿ Elihu considered himself perfect in knowledge (Jb 36:4). This attests to Elihu's youthfulness, for an older and experienced man wouldn't claim perfect knowledge. The older and wiser one becomes, the less he has such an opinion of himself. The following two questions were directed to Job whom Elihu accused of seeking to tell God what to do and charging Him with committing wrong by afflicting him (Job 36:23-24). ❶ Who hath enjoined him his way? Or ❷ Who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity? Elihu thought that Job had complained too much about God's dealings with man. Job was guilty of claiming to be afflicted by God without cause (Job 9:17); he had also complained about God not giving him a trial so he could plead his own case before Him (Job 23:1-10). ✿ He said very little to the three friends, however, because his burden seemed to concern Job. In this respect he joined them against Job, but instead of Job answering him, the Almighty intervened, ignoring what Elihu had said altogether ((Job. 38:1--Job 40:2; (Job. 40:3--Job 41:34) and bringing the three friends to trial (Job 42:7-10). ✿ When God was through with answering Job, He addressed the three friends, completely ignoring Elihu for reasons not explained. God told them that they had not spoken of Him the things that were right, as His servant Job had done. Although He had rebuked Job for contending with Him, reproving Him (Job 40:2), disannulling His judgment and condemning Him (Job 40:8), God called Job His servant and acknowledged that, in comparison with these three friends, he had spoken right things.
First of all, Elihu addressed what the others had said, after voicing respect for their age and wisdom. 32:8 identifies God as the source of understanding in a man and this seems to be one of the foundations for what he is about to say.. He identifies Jobs' claim in 33:8- I am pure, sinless,clean and free from guilt".36:4 offers a possibly unequaled statement in Scripture that no one else has uttered; "Be assured that my words are not false, one prefect in knowledge is with you." 37:24 " The Almighty....in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress". Elihu was angry with all of them, but that was not his focus. Gods righteousness in question and that is what he spoke to. Elihu was addressing all 4 men and I believe it was the Holy Spirit in Elihu that was guiding him in what to say and for all of them to hear. I call this God's opening argument before addressing Job directly.
In general terms the book of Job is somewhat of a mirror in the face of humanity. I'm NOT saying that the whole book is a parable. The individuals are true historical figures. But God uses those circumstances and interchange of words between the characters to teach us all a vital lesson regarding our view of ourselves, our view of God, AND our view of our relationship with God. Job represents all of humanity. His three friends represent the three monotheistic religions of the world, Elihu represents The Messiah, The Christ, The Anointed One. Now, someone could bring up the argument that "Chistianity" would then have a double representation since "Christ" is supposedly part of "Christianity", one of the three monotheistic religions. To that I would respond this way: the Word of God, personified by His Son Jesus Christ, is one thing, the Christian RELIGION is something altogether different. The Word of God is Truth, "religion" is what MEN do with that Word of Truth. In essence, Job (representing humanity as a whole) believes he is righteous because he obeys the letter of "The Law". His three "Friends" representing "religions" supposedly of God, chastise Job with guilt without consoling Job with the most important points of the law which are MERCY, JUSTICE, and FAITH. Jesus chastised the scribes and Pharisees by quoting Micah 6:8. Jesus words to the Scribes and Pharisees are found in Matthew 23:23. Elihu represents God in that He comes into the "fray" of discussion at the end of all the "religious" arguments and begins by respectfully mentioning his youth. In other words he is telling Job's three friends, "You fellows should know better". Isn't that reminiscent of the time when Jesus at 12 years old was found at the temple debating about truth and religion with the so-called "doctors of the law"? Elihu then proceeds to do what Jesus said HE came to do..... To reveal The Father! So, all that said, Elihu's words had no fault because he justified God as an advocate would do. Jesus is without sin, so in the story of Job His representative Elihu, is without guilt.
Job suffered devastating destruction in various dimensions as Satan attacked him and his family. He lost his children and his entire wealth and and was struck with leprosy (Job 1:13-2:13). Job's reaction to his tragedy was with measured and godly deportment or conduct. The writer records that Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10). This is a biblical confirmation that Job acted righteously even in his worst moments of life. This proved that God's assessment of his moral integrity was perfect. Only God can carry a true assessment of our spiritual standing. He alone holds the barometer by which he tests the hearts of men (Jeremiah 17:9). Job rightly recognized and accepted that his suffering was within God's permissive will. This agrees with 1Cor.10:13. However, Job acted humanly. In the intensity of his pain, he regretted that he was ever born, a claim that indirectly touched on God's sovereignty. He openly expressed his pain and frustration. Wouldn't we do the same in our pain? This perfectly showed his weak human side. He was not perfect or sinless even as he was upright and blameless by God's grace. This is true of those in Christ too. Two of Job's three friends did not make matters any better for him. One of his friends called Eliphaz openly attributed Job's tragedy to some sin that Job may have committed. God later disproves this claim (Job 42:7). Eliphaz could not identify the specific sin but his claim is based on his limited understanding of sin and divine punishment but he had no idea that God can bring trials upon righteous. He ought to have known better! His theology about God was limited by his narrow understanding. Eliphaz's claim is recorded in Job 4-5. One question is noteworthy in his long dialogue with Job: "can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker? (Job 4:17). Eliphaz goes on to argue that if angels of God can err, how much more can an earthly mortal be found with sin? These words reveal a powerful scriptural truth that no human being can be perfect in God's eyes. The dialogue/discourse between Job and his friends runs on till Job 37 and reveals their amazing depth of theological revelation and wisdom. Elihu, who was youngest of the three friends, spoke of awesome truths about God and God later vindicated him. He condemned self righteousness and proclaimed God's goodness, impartiality and majesty (Job 34-37). When God finally speaks for the first time to Job in Job 38-39, he appears to affirm Eĺihu's thoughts and reveals His omnipotence and sovereignty to Job. There was therefore no reason for Elihu to be punished by God. He understood the mind of God much more clearly than his two elderly friends.
A main lesson from the book of Job is that if we come to God with questions, we should trust that He always stands by His word and unapologetically takes responsibility for what He does and what He allows. Our questions should not be to challenge God, but to understand. (Recall how Zacharias was rebuked for asking the same question that Mary asked, in Luke 1:18-20, 34-35.) Two big statements are made by the book of Job by what is not said; God never mentions that Satan did the attacks on Job (even though chs 1&2 reveal that) and God does not mention Elihu. Why? As to Satan, this foundational book of the Bible teaches us that, as God elaborated on in chs 38-41, God takes responsibility for everything He has made and allowed, and has no cause to apologize. As to Elihu, because God did not rebuke Elihu’s elaborate words (32:6 – 37:24), is it not because God had nothing to rebuke? “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable” (Prov. 10:19). In the law, God required capital punishment for someone who falsely claimed to be speaking on His behalf (Deut. 18:20). Throughout the OT, God gives us types and promises and foreshadows of His Son; some are of what Christ will do, how He will be born, how He will die, that He will rise from the dead, etc. Why wouldn’t Elihu be a type of Christ, whose words help us understand God’s mysterious ways? In the transfiguration, God endorsed Jesus as His Son and tells us to “listen to Him.” (Matt. 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35). In John’s account of Jesus’ baptism, Christ is the One on whom “the Spirit” descends and remains upon (John 1:33), similar to Elihu’s introductory words (Job 33:4) about “the Spirit of God.” Once we acknowledge the significance of God not rebuking Elihu, we can reread chs 32-37 to take it in as a foreshadowing of the trustworthy words that our Lord always spoke (John 8:28).
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