What Can I Expect from God?

31 1-4 “I made a solemn pact with myself
    never to undress a girl with my eyes.
So what can I expect from God?
    What do I deserve from God Almighty above?
Isn’t calamity reserved for the wicked?
    Isn’t disaster supposed to strike those who do wrong?
Isn’t God looking, observing how I live?
    Doesn’t he mark every step I take?

5-8 “Have I walked hand in hand with falsehood,
    or hung out in the company of deceit?
Weigh me on a set of honest scales
    so God has proof of my integrity.
If I’ve strayed off the straight and narrow,
    wanted things I had no right to,
    messed around with sin,
Go ahead, then—
    give my portion to someone who deserves it.

9-12 “If I’ve let myself be seduced by a woman
    and conspired to go to bed with her,
Fine, my wife has every right to go ahead
    and sleep with anyone she wants to.
For disgusting behavior like that,
    I’d deserve the worst punishment you could hand out.
Adultery is a fire that burns the house down;
    I wouldn’t expect anything I count dear to survive it.

13-15 “Have I ever been unfair to my employees
    when they brought a complaint to me?
What, then, will I do when God confronts me?
    When God examines my books, what can I say?
Didn’t the same God who made me, make them?
    Aren’t we all made of the same stuff, equals before God?

16-18 “Have I ignored the needs of the poor,
    turned my back on the indigent,
Taken care of my own needs and fed my own face
    while they languished?
Wasn’t my home always open to them?
    Weren’t they always welcome at my table?

19-20 “Have I ever left a poor family shivering in the cold
    when they had no warm clothes?
Didn’t the poor bless me when they saw me coming,
    knowing I’d brought coats from my closet?

21-23 “If I’ve ever used my strength and influence
    to take advantage of the unfortunate,
Go ahead, break both my arms,
    cut off all my fingers!
The fear of God has kept me from these things—
    how else could I ever face him?

If Only Someone Would Give Me a Hearing!

24-28 “Did I set my heart on making big money
    or worship at the bank?
Did I boast about my wealth,
    show off because I was well-off?
Was I ever so awed by the sun’s brilliance
    and moved by the moon’s beauty
That I let myself become seduced by them
    and worshiped them on the sly?
If so, I would deserve the worst of punishments,
    for I would be betraying God himself.

29-30 “Did I ever gloat over my enemy’s ruin?
    Or get excited over my rival’s bad luck?
No, I never said a word of detraction,
    never cursed them, even under my breath.

31-34 “Didn’t those who worked for me say,
    ‘He fed us well. There were always second helpings’?
And no stranger ever had to spend a night in the street;
    my doors were always open to travelers.
Did I hide my sin the way Adam did,
    or conceal my guilt behind closed doors
Because I was afraid what people would say,
    fearing the gossip of the neighbors so much
That I turned myself into a recluse?
    You know good and well that I didn’t.

35-37 “Oh, if only someone would give me a hearing!
    I’ve signed my name to my defense—let the Almighty One answer!
    I want to see my indictment in writing.
Anyone’s welcome to read my defense;
    I’ll write it on a poster and carry it around town.
I’m prepared to account for every move I’ve ever made—
    to anyone and everyone, prince or pauper.

38-40 “If the very ground that I farm accuses me,
    if even the furrows fill with tears from my abuse,
If I’ve ever raped the earth for my own profit
    or dispossessed its rightful owners,
Then curse it with thistles instead of wheat,
    curse it with weeds instead of barley.”

The words of Job to his three friends were finished.

Elihu Speaks

God’s Spirit Makes Wisdom Possible

32 1-5 Job’s three friends now fell silent. They were talked out, stymied because Job wouldn’t budge an inch—wouldn’t admit to an ounce of guilt. Then Elihu lost his temper. (Elihu was the son of Barakel the Buzite from the clan of Ram.) He blazed out in anger against Job for pitting his righteousness against God’s. He was also angry with the three friends because they had neither come up with an answer nor proved Job wrong. Elihu had waited with Job while they spoke because they were all older than he. But when he saw that the three other men had exhausted their arguments, he exploded with pent-up anger.

6-10 This is what Elihu, son of Barakel the Buzite, said:

“I’m a young man,
    and you are all old and experienced.
That’s why I kept quiet
    and held back from joining the discussion.
I kept thinking, ‘Experience will tell.
    The longer you live, the wiser you become.’
But I see I was wrong—it’s God’s Spirit in a person,
    the breath of the Almighty One, that makes wise human insight possible.
The experts have no corner on wisdom;
    getting old doesn’t guarantee good sense.
So I’ve decided to speak up. Listen well!
    I’m going to tell you exactly what I think.

11-14 “I hung on your words while you spoke,
    listened carefully to your arguments.
While you searched for the right words,
    I was all ears.
And now what have you proved? Nothing.
    Nothing you say has even touched Job.
And don’t excuse yourselves by saying, ‘We’ve done our best.
    Now it’s up to God to talk sense into him.’
Job has yet to contend with me.
    And rest assured, I won’t be using your arguments!

15-22 “Do you three have nothing else to say?
    Of course you don’t! You’re total frauds!
Why should I wait any longer,
    now that you’re stopped dead in your tracks?
I’m ready to speak my piece. That’s right!
    It’s my turn—and it’s about time!
I’ve got a lot to say,
    and I’m bursting to say it.
The pressure has built up, like lava beneath the earth.
    I’m a volcano ready to blow.
I have to speak—I have no choice.
    I have to say what’s on my heart,
And I’m going to say it straight—
    the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
I was never any good at bootlicking;
    my Maker would make short work of me if I started in now!”
33 1-4 “So please, Job, hear me out,
    honor me by listening to me.
What I’m about to say
    has been carefully thought out.
I have no ulterior motives in this;
    I’m speaking honestly from my heart.
The Spirit of God made me what I am,
    the breath of God Almighty gave me life!

God Always Answers, One Way or Another

5-7 “And if you think you can prove me wrong, do it.
    Lay out your arguments. Stand up for yourself!
Look, I’m human—no better than you;
    we’re both made of the same kind of mud.
So let’s work this through together;
    don’t let my aggressiveness overwhelm you.

8-11 “Here’s what you said.
    I heard you say it with my own ears.
You said, ‘I’m pure—I’ve done nothing wrong.
    Believe me, I’m clean—my conscience is clear.
But God keeps picking on me;
    he treats me like I’m his enemy.
He’s thrown me in jail;
    he keeps me under constant surveillance.’

12-14 “But let me tell you, Job, you’re wrong, dead wrong!
    God is far greater than any human.
So how dare you haul him into court,
    and then complain that he won’t answer your charges?
God always answers, one way or another,
    even when people don’t recognize his presence.

15-18 “In a dream, for instance, a vision at night,
    when men and women are deep in sleep,
    fast asleep in their beds—
God opens their ears
    and impresses them with warnings
To turn them back from something bad they’re planning,
    from some reckless choice,
And keep them from an early grave,
    from the river of no return.

19-22 “Or, God might get their attention through pain,
    by throwing them on a bed of suffering,
So they can’t stand the sight of food,
    have no appetite for their favorite treats.
They lose weight, wasting away to nothing,
    reduced to a bag of bones.
They hang on the cliff-edge of death,
    knowing the next breath may be their last.

23-25 “But even then an angel could come,
    a champion—there are thousands of them!—
    to take up your cause,
A messenger who would mercifully intervene,
    canceling the death sentence with the words:
    ‘I’ve come up with the ransom!’
Before you know it, you’re healed,
    the very picture of health!

26-28 “Or, you may fall on your knees and pray—to God’s delight!
    You’ll see God’s smile and celebrate,
    finding yourself set right with God.
You’ll sing God’s praises to everyone you meet,
    testifying, ‘I messed up my life—
    and let me tell you, it wasn’t worth it.
But God stepped in and saved me from certain death.
    I’m alive again! Once more I see the light!’

29-30 “This is the way God works.
    Over and over again
He pulls our souls back from certain destruction
    so we’ll see the light—and live in the light!

31-33 “Keep listening, Job.
    Don’t interrupt—I’m not finished yet.
But if you think of anything I should know, tell me.
    There’s nothing I’d like better than to see your name cleared.
Meanwhile, keep listening. Don’t distract me with interruptions.
    I’m going to teach you the basics of wisdom.”

Elihu’s Second Speech

It’s Impossible for God to Do Evil

34 1-4 Elihu continued:

“So, my fine friends—listen to me,
    and see what you think of this.
Isn’t it just common sense—
    as common as the sense of taste—
To put our heads together
    and figure out what’s going on here?

5-9 “We’ve all heard Job say, ‘I’m in the right,
    but God won’t give me a fair trial.
When I defend myself, I’m called a liar to my face.
    I’ve done nothing wrong, and I get punished anyway.’
Have you ever heard anything to beat this?
    Does nothing faze this man Job?
Do you think he’s spent too much time in bad company,
    hanging out with the wrong crowd,
So that now he’s parroting their line:
    ‘It doesn’t pay to try to please God’?

10-15 “You’re veterans in dealing with these matters;
    certainly we’re of one mind on this.
It’s impossible for God to do anything evil;
    no way can the Mighty One do wrong.
He makes us pay for exactly what we’ve done—no more, no less.
    Our chickens always come home to roost.
It’s impossible for God to do anything wicked,
    for the Mighty One to subvert justice.
He’s the one who runs the earth!
    He cradles the whole world in his hand!
If he decided to hold his breath,
    every man, woman, and child would die for lack of air.

God Is Working Behind the Scenes

16-20 “So, Job, use your head;
    this is all pretty obvious.
Can someone who hates order, keep order?
    Do you dare condemn the righteous, mighty God?
Doesn’t God always tell it like it is,
    exposing corrupt rulers as scoundrels and criminals?
Does he play favorites with the rich and famous and slight the poor?
    Isn’t he equally responsible to everybody?
Don’t people who deserve it die without notice?
    Don’t wicked rulers tumble to their doom?
When the so-called great ones are wiped out,
    we know God is working behind the scenes.

21-28 “He has his eyes on every man and woman.
    He doesn’t miss a trick.
There is no night dark enough, no shadow deep enough,
    to hide those who do evil.
God doesn’t need to gather any more evidence;
    their sin is an open-and-shut case.
He deposes the so-called high and mighty without asking questions,
    and replaces them at once with others.
Nobody gets by with anything; overnight,
    judgment is signed, sealed, and delivered.
He punishes the wicked for their wickedness
    out in the open where everyone can see it,
Because they quit following him,
    no longer even thought about him or his ways.
Their apostasy was announced by the cry of the poor;
    the cry of the afflicted got God’s attention.

Because You Refuse to Live on God’s Terms

29-30 “If God is silent, what’s that to you?
    If he turns his face away, what can you do about it?
But whether silent or hidden, he’s there, ruling,
    so that those who hate God won’t take over
    and ruin people’s lives.

31-33 “So why don’t you simply confess to God?
    Say, ‘I sinned, but I’ll sin no more.
Teach me to see what I still don’t see.
    Whatever evil I’ve done, I’ll do it no more.’
Just because you refuse to live on God’s terms,
    do you think he should start living on yours?
You choose. I can’t do it for you.
    Tell me what you decide.

34-37 “All right-thinking people say—
    and the wise who have listened to me concur—
‘Job is an ignoramus.
    He talks utter nonsense.’
Job, you need to be pushed to the wall and called to account
    for wickedly talking back to God the way you have.
You’ve compounded your original sin
    by rebelling against God’s discipline,
Defiantly shaking your fist at God,
    piling up indictments against the Almighty One.”

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