February 26, 2015.
Daily Reading: Job 15-17.
Background: Job 12-14.
Concepts and Connections.
Eliphaz’s answer and accusation.
1. “It’s because you don’t [insert criticism here] enough”: Often when we are trying to comfort someone that it pains us to see in the state that they are in, we want to help them help themselves. Eliphaz’s second reply to Job is more of an accusation than words of comfort, as he tells Job that he has let go of the fear of God. He basically says, “It’s because you don’t fear God, Job.” Have you ever heard this before when someone was trying to comfort another? “It’s because you aren’t doing enough.” “It’s because you don’t love God enough.” “It’s because you haven’t been living a godly life.” We look for the answers to other’s problems in the things that they do (or didn’t do). The problem is, that is not the way God operates. Yes, it is true that God can send punishment on people for various reasons, and one of those reasons might be to get them back on the right track (see II Corinthians 7). But this is not always the reason. Bad things do not always happen to just bad people. Bad things happen to all people. If we were going to blame ourselves overtime something bad happened in our lives, then everything would always be our fault. Though you could argue that there is none who does good and therefore the bad things in our lives really do fit our “bad” nature (as Eliphaz indeed does in verse 14-16), this rationalization would necessitate that bad things happen to us at all times. Even more, the implications of this idea for us today would be that the blood of Christ is not potent enough to cleanse us from our sin, which is certainly not the case (see Hebrews 10:1-14 and I John 1:5-10). We need to be conscious of the things we say that the implications that run behind them. Perhaps it would be better to have solid evidence of a person’s sin before accusing them of it; even then, a gentle hand will do much better than harsh accusation.
2. “What do you know, anyway?” After Eliphaz accuses Job of not fearing God, he then turns to question his experience and wisdom. “What do you know, Job?” He goes on to say that there are people older than him and questions whether Job has ever entered the counsel of God. It is ironic that he is rebuking job because he is not as old/wise as the gray-haired among them, and then goes on to state his own alleged wisdom, which would likely be of the same caliber of Job in terms of age. Eliphaz can’t seem to stand the reasoning of Job, not admitting to his sin, and even calls him out for not being satisfied with the comforts of God! He does not know how Job can claim innocence when no man, nor even the heavens, can be pure and righteous before God. In Eliphaz’s mind, Job is wrong and he is too stubborn to see it. Again, there is so much irony in these words. When we read this chapter, we can easily see the harsh tone and nature of Eliphaz’s speech and we might even say “He should have never said those things!” But do we do the same at times for someone who is grieving? Perhaps not to their face, but behind their back to others, saying things like “If he/she could only see what they are doing to themselves,” or “He/she is blind to the problem.” Let us not think ourselves to be above others, nor let our own pride get in the way of comforting others. It could very well be that we are in the wrong.
3. “Let me tell you what I know”: “I will show you; hear me, and what I have seen I will declare.” Eliphaz is not shy about making his opinion known to Job. It is evident that he thinks rather highly of his own opinion, and because of this, he is blind to the possibility that Job might have actually not done anything wrong to warrant his current distress. He goes into a monolog about the unrighteous and godless man’s fate, all the while implying the sin of Job. He tells of how the wicked man is stubborn and blind to God’s power and rebuke, continuing on in his unrighteousness, destined for the sword. The wicked will not prevail, but will be brought low by the hand of God. Though these statements have a bit of truth to them in some regard, the premise that Eliphaz is taking is incorrect. He is talking about the wicked in this manner, and implying that since the fate of the wicked has also fallen on Job, then Job must have therefore be acting in a wicked way. With the blessing of reading this story from a third person perspective, we know that Eliphaz is wrong; but this would not have made his words sting any less as they were hurled at Job. Let us not take on the pride of Eliphaz when trying to comfort.
1. Miserable comforters: It seems that Job has had just about enough of his friend’s words as we get to this chapter. He calls them “miserable comforters,” and ask if their windy words will ever have an end. Why were they bent on accusing Job? What provoked them to answer him? These are questions that he entertains while rebuking them. Job essentially asks them to put themselves in his shoes by saying “I also could speak as you do, if you were in my place; I could join words together against you and shake my head at you.” He could do the same thing they were doing, but would they enjoy it? Would they be helped by it? Would it relieve their pain? Job’s pain is not relieved even after all their words of “wisdom.” They have not helped Job, for they had misjudged the problem. There was a mistake in their fundamental assumption. They assumed that Job’s sin had brought this calamity on him. But it hadn’t, and Job knew this. He tried to tell them this over and over, but they simply wouldn’t listen. They were miserable comforters, choosing rather to accuse than to sympathize.
2. When God “wears you out”: As is his style, after rebuking the words of his friends, Job turns to God to lament. He says that God has worn him out with this calamity, torn him to pieces and given him into the hands of the ungodly. He has been beaten down and worn out, and he thinks that it is all from the hand of God. Though this is somewhat true, in that God gave Satan the power to test Job (see Job 1:12, 2:6), it was not because God was mad at him for some reason, nor was it because He simply found pleasure in sending calamity on Job. Satan was allowed to test Job because Job was righteous, and God knew that he could handle it. Job is a good case study to show that sometimes when we go through hard times it is to test us, to refine us by fire so to speak, so that we come out a stronger person. In the end, Job would be blessed with more than what he had to begin with (see Job 42:12-17), but during his misery, Job could see no end to his trials (see 17:1). Though it may be terribly difficult, let us hold to the notion that when God “wears us out,” it may indeed be for the building and refining of our character. Let us keep our eyes on the Lord.
Where then is your hope? As we reach chapter 17, a first reading would make it seem that Job has lost all hope. His spirit is broken, he is mocked and the grave is waiting for him. His friends are accusing him and he feels that everyone has just wrote him off as a sinner who was in need of repentance. He looks to Sheol and the grave as they seem to beckon to him. We can truly get a sense of hopeless. However, looking deeper, some have suggested that Job was not actually hopeless at this point due to his language at the end of this chapter. He asks where is his hope, and who will see his hope. Some suggest that he sees the grave as hope, which would be different than the concept of the afterlife during this time. This can be further seen in Jobs words in 19:25-29, as he speaks of a time of seeing God after his skin is destroyed. There does seem to be an indication of hope, a hope that his friends will not see as they cannot see into Sheol when he goes down. If this is indeed true that Job was thinking this way, Job’s hope here is truly amazing in the light of his situation and the rebukes and accusations of his friends. When things are hard, somehow we need to grab on to this hope. For if we only have hope in this life only, we are of all people to be pitied (see I Corinthians 15:12-19). But this is not our hope, but rather our hope is in the Lord and in the resurrection. We have the hope of eternal life, and in this hope we are saved (see Romans 8:18-25).
Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 40-44.
To God be the glory.