Job 33: Lessons From Elihu’s Initial Attack on Job for Detecting the Signs of a False Prophet

Introduction: Here, Elihu gave a speech to Job that might appear to be reasonable on the surface. But his words were filled with subtle half-truths, lies, or false presumptions. From Elihu’s speech, God reveals seven signs for detecting a false prophet. These include: (1) pride, (2) lies, (3) presumption, (4) discouragement, (5) doubting Jesus, (6) dissention, and (7) arrogance.

First, Elihu boasted that the Spirit of God was within him, and he challenged Job to refute his words if he could. False prophets are also often prideful and seek to bring glory to themselves. Second, to refute Job’s arguments, Elihu misquoted Job and made false claims about what Job has said. False prophets also often use lies, deceit, or misrepresent the truth. Third, Elihu falsely presumed that Job’s nightmares were a sign of God’s rebuke. False prophets also falsely presume to speak for God. Fourth, Elihu falsely listed each of Job’s ailments as proof that Job was suffering under God’s judgment. What Job needed was encouragement. False prophets also frequently seek to discourage others with false claims. Fifth, Elihu cast doubt on Job’s claim that he had an intercessor in heaven. Job had been pleading in faith for his Intercessor, who would later be revealed to be Jesus. False prophets also deny Jesus or seek to create doubts about Him. Sixth, Elihu urged Job to repent to have God’s blessings restored. Like every person, Job was a sinner. But sin was not the reason for his trials. Like Elihu, false prophets create dissention that is unrelated to God’s will. Finally, Elihu concluded this speech by boasting that he alone would teach Job wisdom. False prophets are also arrogant with regard to their own abilities.

1. Pride: False Prophets Are Prideful and Seek To Bring Glory to Themselves. Job 33:1-7.

  • Elihu claimed to speak for God and challenged Job to prove otherwise. After seeking to put Job at ease, Elihu then challenged Job to listen to the word of God given through him: “1 However, please hear my speech, Job, and listen to all my words. Behold now, I open my mouth, my tongue in my mouth speaks. My words are from the integrity of my heart, and my lips speak knowledge sincerely. The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Refute me if you can; line up against me, take your stand. Behold, I belong to God, like you; I too have been formed out of the clay. Behold, no fear of me should terrify you, nor should my pressure weigh heavily on you.” (Job 33:1-7). Elihu’s pompous claims revealed his pride: “With considerable verbosity Elihu ordered Job to listen (v. 1) and answer (v. 5). As much as possible Elihu puffed himself up so that Job would respond as if God himself were addressing him.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 322). Another observes: “We see here also the touches of pride that marked Elihu and many young men since him. He was anxious to demonstrate to Job and to the three friends of Job that he was just as good, just as spiritual, and just as wise as they were. Indeed, we can say that Elihu thought of himself as just a little more good, spiritual, and wise as Job and his three friends. He believed that he could be an affective spokesman for Job before God, even as Job had cried out for before Job 9:32-33.” (David Guzik on Job 33).1

Elihu boasted that the Spirit of God had come upon him2

  • Elihu knew how to talk religiously. Elihu tried to distinguish himself from Job’s friends by showing that he had listened to Job’s words and could speak the same type of language. For example, Job proclaimed that God created him and guarded his “spirit”: (Job 10:12). Elihu showed his agreement with Job and his knowledge of the story of creation by agreeing that: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4; Gen. 2:7). Job proclaimed that God made him as “clay” (Job 10:9). To show that he was listening, Elihu agreed that God also formed him out of clay as well: ‘I too have been formed out of the clay.” (Job 33:5; 2 Cor. 4:7).

  • A false prophet pursues after his or her own lust and interests. If a person shows outward acts of piety or righteousness, the person is a false prophet if he or she is also inwardly motivated by self-interest. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15). “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:1-3). “They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” . . . 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” (2 Pet. 2:13-15, 19). “How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, . . .” (Jer. 23:26). Every person has evil desires in their heart (Jer. 17:9). Thus, you can be manipulated by Satan to become a false prophet if you are not humble and constantly repenting of your sins. A true prophet speaks only out of love: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1). Thus, you must always stop before speaking and make sure that you are motivated by love before speaking. Are you secretly leading a double life of the flesh? If so, repent of your sins (1 Jo. 1:9). You should then preach the Word motivated by love and not self-interest.

2. Lies: False Prophets Often Use Lies, Deceit, or Misrepresent God’s Truth. Job 33:8-11.

  • Elihu claimed to have carefully listened to Job’s words, but then misquoted him. After listening to Job’s arguments, Elihu then subtly twisted Job’s words to condemn him: “You have in fact spoken while I listened, and I heard the sound of your words: ‘I am pure, without wrongdoing; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me. 10 Behold, He invents criticisms against me; He counts me as His enemy. 11 He puts my feet in the stocks; He watches all my paths.’” (Job 33:8-11). Rather than embracing truth as an argument, Elihu used the devil’s tools of lies and deceit to try to condemn Job.

Elihu twisted Job’s words and then used them to rebuke Job3

  • Elihu falsely quoted Job as claiming that he was not a sinner. Elihu began his attack by purportedly quoting Job as allegedly saying: “‘I am pure, without wrongdoing; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me.” (Job 33:9). Yet, this was a lie. Job had repeatedly admitted to being a sinner: “Why then do You not forgive my wrongdoing and take away my guilt?” (Job 7:21). “But how can a person be in the right with God?” (Job 9:2b) “For that reason my words have been rash.” (Job 6:3b). “For You write bitter things against me and make me inherit the guilty deeds of my youth.” (Job 13:26). “Though I am righteous, my mouth will condemn me; though I am guiltless, He will declare me guilty. . . I am afraid of all my pains, I know that You will not acquit me. ‘I am guilty, why then should I struggle in vain?’” (Job 9:20, 28-29). Job had stated that he was “blameless.” (Job 9:21). But God had twice affirmed this to be a true statement (Job 1:8; 2:3). What Job had done was to challenge his friends to name his alleged sin: “Who could contend with me? For then I would be silent and die.” (Job 13:19). He then made this same request directly to God: “How many are my guilty deeds and sins? Make known to me my wrongdoing and my sin.” (Job 13:23). Elihu did not respond to this.

  • Elihu also falsely quoted Job as claiming that God had invented criticisms of him. Elihu also claimed to quote Job as saying of God: “Behold, He invents criticisms against me;” (Job 32:10). But Job had never uttered these words. Job believed that God’s justice was perfect. Yet, under God’s perfect justice, he questioned how he could suffer as he did.

  • Elihu quoted Job correctly in other areas. Elihu was not someone who simply misheard the conversation. In other areas, he quoted Job’s theologically inaccurate statements correctly. For example, he quoted Job as saying of God: “He counts me as His enemy.” (Job 32:10). Job had incorrectly claimed that God viewed him as an alleged enemy: “Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy?” (Job 13:24). “He has also kindled His anger against me and considered me as His enemy.” (Job 19:11). Elihu also quoted Job as saying of God: “He puts my feet in the stocks; He watches all my paths.’” (Job 33:11). Job had also made this theologically incorrect statement as well: “You put my feet in the stocks and watch all my paths,” (Job 13:27a). Satan is frequently successful in deceiving others when he mixes lies with half-truths or deceit.

  • Never use the devil’s tools to win an argument. God can never lie. “God is not a man, that He would lie, nor a son of man, that He would change His mind; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Nu. 23:19). Those who use lies and deceit act under Satan’s influence: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Thus, even though Elihu spoke many true words, he was not speaking on God’s behalf. If you want to offer advice or win an argument, never use lies or half-truths.

3. Presumption: False Prophets Falsely Presume to Speak for God. Job 33:12-18.

  • Elihu told Job that his nightmares were God’s rebuke. Elihu then rebuked Job for demanding an answer from God and suggested that his nightmares were God’s answer: “12 Behold, let me respond to you, you are not right in this, for God is greater than mankind. 13 “Why do you complain to Him that He does not give an account of all His doings? 14 Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 In a dream, a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people, while they slumber in their beds, 16 then He opens the ears of people, and horrifies them with warnings, 17 so that He may turn a person away from bad conduct, and keep a man from pride; 18 He keeps his soul back from the pit, and his life from perishing by the spear.” (Job 33:12-18). God would later appear to Job and explain that the reasons for God’s actions were beyond Job’s ability to understand. But God would never rebuke Job. Thus, Elihu was wrong to claim to speak for God and allege that Job’s visions and dreams were a sign of God’s rebuke.

Elihu falsely proclaimed that had rebuked Job with nightmares4

  • Elihu spoke a partial truth about Job’s demand for an explanation. Elihu was partially correct when he rebuked Job for demanding an answer: “Why do you complain to Him that He does not give an account of all His doings?” (Job 33:13). Isaiah later stated that mankind does not have a right to demand an answer from God: “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker— A piece of pottery among the other earthenware pottery pieces! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?” (Is. 45:9). Paul made a similar statement: “On the contrary, who are you, you foolish person, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does the potter not have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one object for honorable use, and another for common use?” (Ro. 9:20-21). Job did lament that God would not answer him: “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.” (Job 30:20). “Oh that I had one to hear me! Here is my signature; let the Almighty answer me! And the indictment which my adversary has written,” (Job 31:35; 19:7). But Job admitted that he could not contend with God or dispute the reasons for God’s actions: “If one wished to dispute with Him, He could not answer Him once in a thousand times.” (Job 9:3). Thus, one commentator observes that Elihu’s charge against Job was misleading or incomplete: “Job had not striven against God, he had only expressed his longing to come into judgment with Him (Job 23:3). Job was striving with and against the darkness that was round about His throne, not with the justice of God, which he entirely trusted.” (Ellicott’s Commentary on Job 33:13).5

  • Elihu correctly stated that God can speak through dreams, but this did not apply to Job. Elihu stated that God can use dreams to keep a person from serious sins (Job 33:15-18). He sought to use Job’s admission of frightening dreams as proof that God had judged him. “Then You frighten me with dreams, and terrify me by visions, (Job 7:14). God states that He sometimes does speak though dreams: “He said, ‘Now hear My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, will make Myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream.”’ (Nu. 12:6). For example, God spoke to Abraham in a dream (Gen. 15:12). He also warned Abimelech in a dream not to take Abraham’s wife (Gen. 20:6). He also spoke to Jacob in three different dreams (Gen. 28:12; 31:11; 46:2). He further warned Laban in a dream not to harm Jacob (Gen. 31:24). He also showed Joseph to be His prophet through his ability to interpret dreams (Gen. 40:8; 41:15-16). He also spoke to Solomon in a dream (1 Kgs. 3:5; 2 Chr. 1:7). He also used Daniel to interpret a dream that He gave to Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:3, 19). He further spoke to Isaiah through a dream (Is. 6:1). God’s angel also warned Joseph in a dream to take the baby Jesus to Egypt because Herod was trying to kill Him (Matt. 2:12-14, 19). God also warned Pilot’s wife that Jesus was innocent in a dream (Matt. 27:19). He also spoke to Ananias (Acts 9:10), Peter (Acts 10:9-16), and Paul (Acts 16:9-10) through dreams. But this did not apply to Job. God was not sending Job visions or dreams.

  • Satan can also speak through dreams. The mere fact that someone receives a dream is not proof that it is from God. Indeed, after a dream, Eliphaz believed that he needed to condemn Job: “Now a word was brought to me secretly, and my ear received a whisper of it. Amid disquieting thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people, dread came upon me, and trembling, and made all my bones shake.” (Job 4:12-14). Eliphaz most likely received a demonic dream. Moses commanded that false dreamers be put to death for misrepresenting God: “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken falsely against the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to drive you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall eliminate the evil from among you.” (Dt. 13:5). Jeremiah also warned of false prophets who proclaim: “‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’” (Jer. 23:25). Jude also warns of false dreams (Jude 1:8). Satan was in fact tormenting Job with nightmares. Thus, this was not a message from God for Job to repent.

  • Don’t claim to represent God’s will without confirmation. Elihu proclaimed that “God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it.” (Job 33:14). The psalmist also proclaimed: “God has spoken once; twice I have heard this: that power belongs to God;” (Ps. 62:11). After hearing God speak, Job confirmed: “I have spoken once, and I will not reply; or twice, and I will add nothing more.” (Job 40:5). Elihu’s error was in claiming to speak for God when God had never done so. Eliphaz and Elihu both failed to confirm that they were speaking for God. God’s will can be confirmed through the Word, with prayer, or the confirmation of two or more witnesses (2 Cor. 13:1; Dt. 17:6; 19:15). If you claim to represent God’s will without any confirmation, you may commit the sin of presumption.

4. Discouragement: False Prophets Discourage Others With False Claims. Job 33:19-22.

  • Elihu alleged that God uses pain to rebuke sinners. Elihu carefully listed each of Job’s ailments as meeting Elihu’s exact criteria for someone suffering under God’s judgment: “19 A person is also rebuked by pain in his bed, and with constant complaint in his bones, 20 so that his life loathes bread, and his soul, food that he should crave. 21 His flesh wastes away from sight, and his bones, which were not seen, stick out. 22 Then his soul comes near to the pit, and his life to those who bring death.” (Job 33:19-22). Job was unable to sleep (Job 7:4), and his bones were in constant, intense pain (Job 30:17, 30). Elihu cited these factors as indicators for someone under God’s judgment (Job 33:19). Food had also become loathsome to Job in his intense misery (Job 6:7). This just happened to meet another one of Elihu’s criteria for someone under God’s judgment (Job 33:20). Job had further turned into skin and bones from his severe emaciation (Job 19:20). This also conveniently met Elihu’s criteria for God’s punishment (Job 33:21). But none of these facts proved that God was sending a message to repent of his sins.

  • God can use suffering to bring a sinner to repentance, but this did not apply to Job. Elihu proclaimed that God can use suffering to discipline sinners and bring them to repentance (Job 33:19, 22). The psalms are filled with laments where God did use poor health to discipline sinners: “There is no healthy part in my flesh because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.” (Ps. 38:3). “For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my guilt, and my body has wasted away.” (Ps. 31:10). “With rebukes You punish a person for wrongdoing; You consume like a moth what is precious to him; certainly all mankind is mere breath! Selah” (Ps. 39:11). “For I have been stricken all day long, and punished every morning.” (Ps. 73:14). “The LORD has disciplined me severely, but He has not turned me over to death.” (Ps. 118:18). The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon agreed that God can sometimes use pain to lead sinners to repentance: “The chastisement of sickness and the flagellation of pain whip the sinner back to him who alone can save him. These are the black dogs of the Great Shepherd wherewith he brings back wandering sheep till they come again under his crook, and he leads them into green pastures.” (Charles Spurgeon on Job 33). But this did not apply to Job. He was suffering as part of Satan’s effort to get Job to curse God (Job 2:4-6), not because of some alleged sin.

  • Don’t discourage others in their time of misfortune. Elihu knew that Job was in a weakened condition. By citing Job’s exact medical complaints as proof of some made up criteria for God’s judgment, Elihu was manipulating Job in his moment of weakness. If Elihu were representing God, he would have instead encouraged Job in the face of the unknown: “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11). If someone around you is suffering, you can best represent Jesus by offering them words of encouragement and help by directing them to Him.

5. Doubting Jesus: False Prophets Deny Jesus or Create Doubts About Him. Job 33:23-25.

  • Elihu questioned Job’s claim about his Intercessor in heaven. By referencing only a hypothetical “if” for a mediator, Elihu questioned Job’s belief in his heavenly Intercessor: “23 If there is an interceding angel for him, one out of a thousand, to remind a person of what is right for him, 24 and he is gracious to him, and says, ‘Free him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom’; 25 let his flesh become fresher than in youth, let him return to the days of his youthful vigor;” (Job 33:23-25). According to one commentator, “Eliphaz was convinced that there was no heavenly mediator who would listen to Job (5:1). In 16:18-21 Job had dared to suggest that he had such a witness, an advocate in heaven who would intercede for him, pleading as a man does for his friend . . . Elihu considered such an event only a possibility, and even then this heavenly mediator would be ‘one out of a thousand’ – a rare one indeed – who might do the job.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kgs., 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 1006).

  • The need for a mediator between mankind and God. Job showed tremendous faith in believing that he had his Advocate in heaven. Satan has access to God’s Court, and he uses that access to level charges against God’s people. Job pleaded for his Advocate to defend him. “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is on high . . . That one might plead for a man with God as a son of man with his neighbor!” (Job 16:19, 21). “Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, He will take His stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25). “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him— That we may go to court together! There is no arbitrator between us, who can place his hand upon us both.” (Job 9:32-33). Job’s pleas foreshadowed Jesus Christ. He is your counselor (Is. 9:6) and your only mediator to God the Father (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus also advocates for you in the same heavenly court: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1 Jo. 2:1b). “Christ Jesus . . . also intercedes for us.” (Ro. 8:34). “Therefore He is also able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25). “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 Jo. 5:14). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8).

  • Mankind needs Jesus as its Intercessor. The psalmist revealed that mankind lacks a human intercessor: “And He saw that there was no one, and was amazed that there was not one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him.” (Is. 59:16). “No one can by any means redeem another or give God a ransom for him—” (Ps. 49:7). Thus, everyone needs Jesus as their Advocate.

  • A false prophet denies that Christ is the son of God. Elihu was the first of many who would deny the existence of mankind’s need for its Advocate in heaven. John warns: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 Jo. 4:2-6). If someone claims that Jesus is not necessary to get to heaven, could you answer their charge?

  • A false prophet offers alternatives for salvation. Jesus also warned that “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” (Matt. 24:5). Jesus is the only way to God (Jo. 14:6). If a person claims that you will get to heaven through your good works, Jesus’ death on the cross was unnecessary (Gal. 2:21). Are you thanking Jesus for offering you the only path to heaven through His death on the cross?

6. Dissention: False Prophets Create Dissention Unrelated to God’s Word. Job 33:26-30.

  • Elihu urged Job to repent and pray to God. After acknowledging the remote possibility of Job’s Intercessor, Elihu gave Job the allegedly better option of praying for forgiveness: “26 then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, so that he may see His face with joy, and He will restore His righteousness to that person. 27 He will sing to people and say, ‘I have sinned and perverted what is right, and it is not proper for me. 28 He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, and my life will see the light.’ 29 Behold, God does all these things for a man two or three times, 30 to bring back his soul from the pit, so that he may be enlightened with the light of life.” (Job 33:26-30). After discounting the possibility of Job’s plea for his Mediator, one commentator summarizes Elihu as stating that “Prayer to God is the second possible means of escape from the pit. Since an interceding angel is only a remote possibility (‘one out of a thousand’), a more viable option is the one Elihu, less directly than the other three, urged Job to take.” (Alden p. 330). Another commentator observes that: “All this would happen only if man listened to the revelation and turned to God for grace (v. 26a). Such a redeemed person would openly admit to his sin and praise God for his grace (v. 27).” (Gaebelein, Smick p. 1006).

  • Elihu was restating the argument of Job’s friends for Job to repent. Zophar ended one of his speeches with a similar promise of hope that would come from repentance: “Your life would be brighter than noonday; darkness would be like the morning.” (Job 11:17). Eliphaz also ended one of his speeches with a similar promise of hope that would come from repentance: “You will also decide something, and it will be established for you; and light will shine on your ways.” (Job 22:28). Thus, Elihu’s words were nothing new: “In this we see that Elihu’s argument is really just the argument of the three friends of Job, merely restated and delivered with new energy. The message is: ‘Job, the problem is that you are a sinner and are blaming God. If you would give glory to God and repent, everything would get better.’ . . . Elihu thought that he knew more or could explain better than Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, but really could not.” (David Guzik on Job 33).6

  • Repentance is normally the right message, but it did not explain Job’s suffering. Although sin did not explain Job’s suffering, every person should repent of their sins. Jesus began His ministry with a call to repentance (Matt. 4:17; Mk. 1:15). His disciples also began their ministry with a call to repentance (Acts 2:38). If you say that you are without sin, the Bible says that the truth is not in you (1 Jo. 1:8). Yet, if you confess your sins, Jesus will forgive you (1 Jo. 1:9). What sins do you need to repent of?

  • False prophets cause dissension unrelated to keeping God’s Word. Like Job’s friends, Elihu created unnecessary dissension by alleging that Job needed to repent. A false prophet causes dissension that is unrelated to correcting or restoring a wayward person: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” (Rom. 16.17). A believer has a right to privately comfort a brother, a sister, or a church leader in rebellion against God’s Word (Matt. 18:15). Yet, a person who causes dissension for any other reason is a false prophet. This can include gossip, slander, putting someone down, or hurting another person. Are you causing dissention by falsely ripping people down? Or, are you correctly using God’s Word to correct and restore others?

7. Arrogance: False Prophets Are Arrogant Regarding Their Own Abilities. Job 33:31-33.

  • Elihu challenged Job and boasted that he possessed true wisdom. Elihu concluded his speech by demanding Job’s silence and promising that he would teach Job true wisdom: “31 Pay attention, Job, listen to me; keep silent, and let me speak. 32 Then if you have anything to say, answer me; speak, for I would take pleasure in justifying you. 33 If not, listen to me; keep silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” (Job 33:31-33). Job must have shrugged, turned away or rolled his eyes after listening to yet another speech with empty condemnations. Thus, Elihu felt compelled to demand Job’s attention. Rather than giving the glory to God, Elihu promised that true wisdom would come from him.

  • Arrogance does not come from God. Elihu’s arrogance showed that he was not speaking for God: “Do not go on boasting so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed.” (1 Sam. 2:3). “They have closed their unfeeling hearts, with their mouths they speak proudly.” (Ps. 17:10). “Let the lying lips be speechless, which speak arrogantly against the righteous with pride and contempt.” (Ps. 31:8). “They pour out words, they speak arrogantly; all who do injustice boast.” (Ps. 94:4). If Elihu were speaking for God, he would have spoken with humility and given God the glory for the source of true wisdom.

  • True wisdom and understanding comes from God alone. Elihu was wrong to boast that he alone could teach Job true wisdom. Even Solomon, the wisest man on Earth, proclaimed that even he could not find true wisdom through his own efforts: “I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, ‘I will be wise,’ but wisdom was far from me. What has been is remote and very mysterious. Who can discover it?” (Ecc. 7:23-24). Solomon instead revealed that true wisdom comes from God alone: “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in secret You will make wisdom known to me.” (Ps. 51:6). Solomon defined the fear of the Lord as the beginning of knowledge and God’s wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 2:5; Ps. 111:10). He defined fearing the Lord as hating evil (Prov. 8:13). God wants you to seek His wisdom through prayer, the Word, and hating evil.

  • With faith, God’s wisdom is revealed through Jesus. Paul stated that God’s wisdom was beyond his ability to find it on his own: “Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Ro. 11:33-34). But Paul revealed that God’s hidden wisdom is made known to us through faith in Jesus Christ: “that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and that they would attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:2-3). “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, . . . so that the multifaceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 3:8,10). If you lack wisdom, are you turning to Jesus in faith to find it?

  • Tests all persons who claim to speak for God. Job knew that Elihu spoke presumptuously because he previously proclaimed that true wisdom comes from God: “Wisdom and might are with Him; advice and understanding belong to Him.” (Job 12:13). God later affirmed to Job that all wisdom does come from Him: “Who has put wisdom in the innermost being, or given understanding to the mind?” (Job 38:36). God allows the devil to have the power of deception to test your heart and your love for God: “for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Dt. 13:3). Just as God tests you, you must test every spirit around you. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jo. 4:1). When someone comes to you claiming to speak for God, God wants you to test their claims the way the Bereans tested Paul’s claims about Jesus. “Now these people were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11). Are you reading the Word daily to protect yourself from deception?