Monday, May 6, 2013

The cruelest critic

But you are full of the judgment on the wicked; judgment and justice seize you.
Job 36:17

Elihu is again flat out wrong about Job's circumstances. And as the youngest voice among Job's critics, he says things so directly that they sound crass and totally uncaring. There is little concern for Job's reality. There is a lot of protection of Elihu's own stern judgment theology.

The mistake that all of Job's "friends" make is to criticize Job and to try to convince him that the only people who end up in Job's state are men who have sinned greatly and whom God has judged. Elihu calls Job a wicked sinner. He believes God's severe judgment has fallen on Job in order to humble him into great repentance. And his analysis of Job is harsh and unyielding in this fixation with justice and the severe judgment of God.

But this extreme theology of Elihu's... a graceless mess of wrath without mercy... is hard to read at this point in the story. It is a tipping point. It goes beyond disheartening the reader... it is actually starting to make me mad as I read it! I want to tell Job to slap Elihu! I can't imagine how Job kept any restraint. It was a good thing Job was so physically exhausted in his illness. Otherwise he might have wound up sinning through assaulting Elihu!

The biggest critic of Job was a young man that Job had probably invested much time with and hoped would carry on his legacy in the future. And now Elihu has turned on him. That sort of thing can happen in life. Your confidants can become cruel critics. Job can only endure and trust that God will defend him in the proper time.

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