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Chapter 35 (ESV)

Posted on June 19, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 35 (ESV) - And Elihu answered and said:

“Do you think this to be just?
    Do you say, ‘It is my right before God,’
that you ask, ‘What advantage have I?
    How am I better off than if I had sinned?’
I will answer you
    and your friends with you.
Look at the heavens, and see;
    and behold the clouds, which are higher than you.
If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him?
    And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him?
If you are righteous, what do you give to him?
    Or what does he receive from your hand?
Your wickedness concerns a man like yourself,
    and your righteousness a son of man.

“Because of the multitude of oppressions people cry out;
    they call for help because of the arm of the mighty.
But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
    who gives songs in the night,
who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth
    and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’
There they cry out, but he does not answer,
    because of the pride of evil men.
Surely God does not hear an empty cry,
    nor does the Almighty regard it.
How much less when you say that you do not see him,
    that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!
And now, because his anger does not punish,
    and he does not take much note of transgression,
Job opens his mouth in empty talk;
    he multiplies words without knowledge.”

Question to consider: What are some examples in scripture of God hearing the cries of an individual?

In today’s passage, Elihu once again doubled down on his accusation that Job believed there was no advantage before God for an individual to be holy since the just often received calamity and the unjust often received blessing. He asked whether the sin (or righteousness) of one man could even affect God since God transcended His creation.

Elihu’s response to his own questions was that our sin had the biggest impact on other people, and that God heard the collective cries of the multitude for justice. Elihu thought Job was filled with evil pride in thinking that he could expect God to hear his individual case. He thought Job’s complaints were therefore empty and ignorant words. This seems to contradict his initial view of God’s retribution against the wicked, but Elihu implied that Job’s calamity came against him out of guilt for a sin which caused a multitude to cry out against him and God to hear their cries. If Job had committed such a sin, there would have been evidence of this multitude. Elihu could not produce a single such outcry, let alone a multitude, or he would have done so to prove Job’s sin.

Today, we have an advantage over Elihu in having received the complete revelation of God in scripture. The very first couple in creation sinned against God, and God confronted them with it. Their son, Cain, murdered his brother Abel, and God could hear Abel’s blood crying out from the ground. King David committed adultery and murder and was able to cover it up in such a way that he looked righteous to the multitude— taking in the wife and son of a fallen hero. There was no public outcry for David’s sin, and yet God sent Nathan to confront David with it.

It is true that God is mighty and transcends His creation. When you consider the vastness of the universe, the earth looks like an insignificant speck, and an individual on the earth seems even more insignificant. Yet David still wrote, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…” (Psalm 8:3-6)

Our mighty and transcendent God sent His only begotten Son into this insignificant speck to redeem each of us and has crowned Him Lord of all. Elihu did a good job elevating the vastness of God, but he did not seem to grasp His nearness to us.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for being mindful of us despite our apparent insignificance in a vast and lonely universe. Praise be to Christ for reconciling us to You and giving us Your Spirit who conforms us to His image. Because of this, help us to boldly come before You in prayer and thanksgiving. Amen.