One commentator sums up Elihu’s argument in Job 35 as such, “Elihu’s answer was twofold: (a) Since God is supreme, He is not affected one way or the other by man’s innocence or sin, and (b) God was not answering Job’s cries because of his pride.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
Point “a” is interesting because it is true—to a point. Let me introduce you to a couple theological terms you may or may not know. God is “immutable,” meaning that He is unchanging. And, in conjunction with God’s immutability is the fact God is “impassible.” The impassability of God means that He is unaffected emotionally by human action. God is a Sovereign King whose supremacy and majesty is so far beyond us that we have no ability to change His plans or alter Him in any way.
When I see an ant in nature, it doesn’t really affect me emotionally. I don’t spend much time thinking of where it has been, where it is going, or what it’s trying to accomplish. When comparing our glory to that of God’s, we are less than an ant. In fact, the Bible encourages us in Proverbs 6:6 to go study ants as an example of hard work.
So, all that to say, is Elihu’s first point true? In God’s supremacy, is He affected by sin or innocence? The answer is obviously yes and no. As one writer states, “the most biblically and theologically accurate…conception of God depicts him as “both/and”; he is the king who cares.” (No One Like Him). In some mysterious way, God appears to limit His own power, His own supremacy to become concerned with humanity. Jeremiah 14:17 describe God crying for his people. In the Gospels, we see Jesus get angry and even weep for Lazarus (John 11:35). The Holy Spirit is grieved with our sin and how we speak to one another (Ephesians 4:30). Yes, God is a majestic sovereign King, but amazingly, He cares. He cares so much about sin, that He sent His Son to redeem humanity from it (John 3:16).
To Elihu’s second point, it’s not Job’s pride that’s the issue. The assumption is that if Job would just repent, then his suffering would end. Obviously, we have spent a great deal of time through the book of Job stating how this thought is incorrect. Suffering is not always the result of sin. In fact, the Apostle Peter says that, “it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:17). Job is a great example of that truth. His righteous suffering has encouraged God’s People for thousands of years.
I know many of you reading this today are hurting. You have big-time issues going on with health, family, work, relationships, finances, etc. There are two things you need to understand today. First, God cares and, second, suffer well. Why you’re suffering is far less important than how you suffer. Hebrews 12 illustrates that God is a good Father who will discipline His children who get out of line. Our suffering may be related to our sin—that is a thing. But, if you’re practicing your faith in an abiding relationship with the Lord—asking Him to search your heart regularly—then you probably aren’t suffering because of sin. In that case, let your suffering be a witness to those around you. Don’t waste it, but point people to the hope you have (Romans 5:3–5).
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate