Job 33:12-33: Sweeter Than Any Honey
December 12, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
John 17:20-26, Revelation 9, Job 33:12-33, Obadiah 1-21
Elihu continues with his “mixed” response to Job and to Job’s “comforters.” They, the so-called “comforters,” had criticized Job for being unwilling to admit that he was deserving of his suffering. Surely he could only have suffered because he had done something to deserve it? What other reason could there be? But Job insisted that he had not done anything specific to deserve his suffering. He is not claiming sinless righteousness, just that he is not being punished by God for having done something deserving of his suffering. Instead, Job cannot figure out why God would allow such suffering to happen to him. He asks him and complains about his suffering at some length.
Elihu castigates the comforters for being unable to stop Job’s complaints, but also Job for complaining. In this second half of this chapter, he attempts to show Job where he is wrong. “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than any mortal” (33:12). Job, Elihu claims, has too small a view of God. In fact, contrary to what Elihu thinks Job has said, God does not speak. Elihu lists various, somewhat mystical, ways he thinks of God speaking. (Ironically, when God does speak at the end, it is not mystical: it is a crystal-clear word from God!) But it is not clear, not to me at any rate, exactly what Elihu thinks of Job. He seems to be hinting that he thinks that Job has sinned specifically (33:27), but then also says that he wants to defend Job from accusation (33:32). Once again, Elihu comes across as someone with more enthusiasm than sense, more passion than wisdom, and whose inexperience is causing him to jump in to solve a problem—but without the wisdom to solve it.
He says things that are true: “God is greater than any mortal” (33:12). But then he says things that seem strange (see much of the middle section of this second half of the chapter). I wonder whether the lesson we learn from reading Elihu is for ourselves to grow in wisdom. Do we live in an “Elihu” age? Where people think of their “instincts,” their “impressions,” their “opinions,” but have not put in the hard work to truly understand, grasp, and know the living God? Would you today make a fresh commitment to study God’s Word? It is pure gold, precious beyond all, and sweeter than any honey.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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