We continue with the first speech of Eliphaz as he brings a word that he may sincerely think that Job needs to hear. We discovered in the prior chapter that the spiritual advice that he received in some special experience in the night is nothing other than the doctrine of demons. He told Job two things: 1) There is no way for a man to be right in God’s eyes, and 2) God could not be bothered with a creature as low and miserable as man. In the process of pressing these points upon Eliphaz, the spirit that spoke showed a defensiveness toward fallen angels in this accusation against God, saying “His angels He charges with error.”
The words of Eliphaz are not only discouraging, they are deeply wrong, no matter how sincere anyone might be who brings them to this suffering man, Job. God has made a way for us to be right in His eyes through the gift of His Son. This fact alone proves that both statements are lies. We can be counted as righteous through the righteousness and death of Jesus. God must have a great regard for man if He became a man in order to die for men. Eliphaz is not yet finished. He unfortunately has more to say.
Eliphaz has heard from a spirit that he takes to be a “holy one.” He now issues a subtle taunt to the man of God: “To which of the holy ones will you turn?” The question assumes that Job in all his troubles has been rejected by every heavenly helper. Why is he rejected? Eliphaz quotes a proverb: “Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.” Is Job a simple fool who has given in to jealousy and anger? We remember the Lord’s assessment of this great man of righteousness from the opening verses of the book: “There is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” Here is one of the key concepts that we must consider throughout this book. Job’s counselors are less righteous than he, yet they have presumed to enter into judgment against their friend. Though their claims become more obvious as the speeches continue, we can already see the subtle insinuation here that the reason why Job has suffered is because of a secret sin.
Eliphaz seems to hint that Job is a fool, and that is why his children are far from safety, that is why his possessions have been taken, and that is why he suffers affliction. All of this would not be so wrong were it not for the fact that Job was actually the most righteous man of his day. Eliphaz considers himself above Job. He says, “As for me, I would seek God.” Eliphaz thinks he understands what he would do if all his possessions were suddenly taken, if all his children died, and if he had lost all his fleshly comfort. Of course, no one can know what he would act like in such a situation until he was visited by such overwhelming affliction. All boasts of how godly any of us would be in theoretical situations of testing are empty.
So much that Eliphaz says here is actually true. Yet his suggestions are completely out of place, coming from his mouth as a reminder or correction to Job. Yes, God is great in all He is and all He does, but it is not the time or place for that reminder, and Eliphaz is not the man to give it. God does catch the crafty. God does rescue the needy. Yet His mysterious providences are so difficult for us to understand, and they could easily be misinterpreted by outsiders who do not know what He alone knows.
Consider the most amazing example of this kind of mistaken assessment, when those who were truly foolish and most unrighteous considered themselves perfectly qualified to pass judgment on the only completely righteous Man, the Man who was facing the end that one might only associate with God’s wrath and curse. Was that Man who went to the cross put in that exposed position in order to profit from the advice of lesser men? What if the passersby from priestly ranks had said to Him his best words of spiritual advice? “Blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.” Could any of them have been in a position to really understand the cross and to counsel the Son of God? “Behold, this we have searched out; it is true. Hear, and know it for your good.”
The truth is that the full reproof that Jesus faced was for our sake. Jesus would be blessed in the end, but not before facing the curse we deserved. Through it all, our Savior never despised His Father or the ways of our God. Jesus would have more than a ripe old age; He would show forth the eternal power of a divine and indestructible life. But first He would have to be cut off from the land of the living. Who can speak to such a Man and presume to tell Him the right thing to think and do? “Come down from that cross, if you are the Son of God.” His reply to them: Nothing. And He stayed on the cross. Therefore, by His stripes we have been healed, and we who are united with Him are with Him not only in His death, but also in His resurrection. It is not our place to correct Him, only to receive His love, to praise Him, and to thank Him.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, in the midst of flawed and evil messages there may still be much truth. Grant us the discernment to see the difference between truth and error. Man is born to trouble after the fall of Adam. We should trust You. You are a marvelous Provider. We know these things and we believe them. Yet there is the overwhelming fact of suffering in the tent of the righteous. Who can understand Your ways, O God? You are in charge of everything. You are the Source of our hope. We hear the good Word from many voices. Why is it that we cannot bear that Word from some men? We could read it ourselves and embrace it. Perhaps we would hear it from someone we respect and readily receive it. Give us patience. Many would speak, and many more hearts presume to have a word of correction that is not spoken. We will hear Your voice, for we are Your sheep. You are able to keep us through the day of comforters who bring no comfort.