Elihu may not be a close friend in Job’s life, but he is an observer that is concerned about God’s relationship with Job. So far, we have encountered, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, and Eliphaz the Temanite. These three friends of Job have left the observer Elihu frustrated. But since Elihu is the youngest of them all, he has patiently waited to see some wisdom from the elderly, and Elihu is disappointed to see that an answer to Job’s suffering is still missing. Job is indeed viewing his position with God as righteous, but do not forget that Job has admitted to being a sinner, 7:20-21. Job refuses to link the cause of his suffering directly to whatever sin he has committed in the past. From our Christian perspective, we can realize that the consequences of sin affect us painfully in this life and we have an anchor of hope in Jesus, who suffered unjustly from the consequences of our sin. So can we see that Job’s suffering is directly linked to sin in this world, and not necessarily sin in Job’s heart?
The key insight Elihu offers is that no matter how much we hate suffering, it still can be used fairly or unfairly to teach us something about God, 33:14. Back in 4:13, Eliphaz claimed that a revelation had come to him in a dream. Job declared that God had frightened him with dreams and visions, 7:14. The lesson that God the Teacher wants to get across through suffering is to turn us away from sin and to defeat arrogance in us, 33:17. God’s motivation for teaching this lesson is His mercy. God wants to rescue our souls from the Pit and our lives from violent ends, 33:18. Elihu says God is so merciful and desirous of our salvation that He is willing to do all of this twice and even three times to rescue a soul from the Pit of destruction and bless a person with the light of life, 33:29-30. We must never forget that Jesus is the Light of the world. John 8:12, Matthew 5:14 & 2Corinthians 4:4.
The 3 friends (miserable comforters) of Job were right in that God does punish evil. However, that is not an adequate explanation for all suffering. It is true that God chastens and teaches us through suffering. Hebrews is a treatise on this subject. The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were suffering because of their faith because they were doing the right thing. As a result, they were tempted to give up on Jesus, Heb. 4:1-13. The writer reminds the Hebrew Christians that Jesus suffered and learned the meaning of obedience through out the experience, Heb. 5:8. God was dealing with them as a father disciplines his children. If we do not receive chastening, we have no real father (Heb. 12:3-8). The purpose of our suffering is to enable us to come at the end of our life to the heavenly Zion and to enjoy God’s presence in a greater way than we do now in Jesus, Heb. 12:22-24. Any chastening we endure is worth this grand purpose. C.S. Lewis observed that suffering we endure can be what he called, “severe mercy”. It seems severe, but the long-range impact is in fact merciful, for in fact that disappointment we endure now may save us from a worse fate later.
Elihu said wisdom doesn’t always come from the aged, 32:9, God can give it to any of us at any age, Mat. 21:16. Share it when you have it, for we may not have it long!