John T. Willis

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eliphaz's First Speech--Part 2

As suggested in the previous blog, Eliphaz's first speech appears in Job 4-5. We discussed the first paragraph, Job 4:1-11. Now we continue through the next three paragraphs.

II. Job 4:12-5:7--Second Paragraph. The essence of Eliphaz's point is that NO HUMAN BEING, including JOB is RIGHTEOUS or PURE before God (note verse 17); therefore, Job should realize that Job MUST have sinned, and this is WHY Job is suffering--surely Job already realizes this.
a. Eliphaz CLAIMS that he had received "visions from the night," which terrified him, and then Eliphaz heard a VOICE:
"Can mortals be righteous before God?
Can human beings be pure before their Maker?"
Obviously, these questions REQUIRE a NEGATIVE response. "Can mortals be righteous before God?"--Of course NOT. Verses 12-17.
b. God does not trust his heavenly servants, and God charges his angels with error. So, CERTAINLY, God knows and recognizes the sins of human beings. Verses
18-21. [By the way, verses 19-21 are NOT a legitimate text to PROVE that in OT thought, there was no hope after life on earth. Forget that assumption. Read the Bible].
c. Eliphaz declares that his own experience through life leads him to conclude that wicked people ["fools"] receive punishment and destruction. They may survive for a brief time, but soon they will perish. "Misery" or "trouble" does not come from nothing. Human beings receive punishment because human beings are sinners. By implication, this is WHY Job is suffering. 5:1-7.

*Before proceeding, one needs to stop and ask--what about Eliphaz [and his friends]. Are they also "sinners"? Have they suffered? Are they suffering now? It is so easy to fault OTHERS who are suffering when we are feeling very well.

III. Job 5:8-16--Paragraph 3. In essence, in this paragraph, Eliphaz gives Job his own advice: Job, if I were in your place, I would commit myself to God, and quit complaining about my suffering. [It is always easy to give our advice to other people. Eliphaz is doing the natural human thing here].
a. First, Eliphaz declares that if he were in Job's place, he would "seek God" and "commit his cause" to God. Verse 8. This sounds great and easy--until suffering comes into one's own life. Aha!!!
b. Immediately, Eliphaz turns attention away from Job to God, and declares two great truths about God.
1. God exalts the lowly. Verses 9-11, 15-16 [this is an inclusio].
2. God punishes the haughty. Verses 12-14.
Okay, this is certainly true. But is this an INVARIABLE truth of life? AND, does this apply to JOB?

IV. Job 5:17-27--Paragraph 4. In essence, in this paragraph, Eliphaz declares that ULTIMATELY [in a very short time], God will deliver Job from his suffering and have a wonderful life.
a. Eliphaz proclaims that a person whom God reproves should be "happy," because God uses suffering to "discipline" his people. Verses 17-18. [Yes, this is a great truth. Hebrews 12:4-11 teaches this very thing, quoting Proverbs 3:11-12. This is BIBLICAL. But does THIS fit Job appropriately in Job's present situation and attitude?].
b. In verses 19-26, Eliphaz promises Job THE MOON. God will deliver Job from all kinds of troubles: famine, war, slander, fear of destruction, wild animals. AND, Job will have many descendants, and Job will live to a good old age. [By the way, Job 42:16 says that "After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children's children, four generations." Was Eliphaz right? I think not, because Job 42:7 says: "After the Lord had spoken these words of Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: 'My wrath is kindled again you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." Hence, there is much to consider as we continue through the book of Job].
c. NOTE Eliphaz's concluding statement in Job 5:27:
"See, WE HAVE SEARCHED THIS OUT: it is true.
Hear, and know it for yourself [Job]."
This is just another indication that BEFORE Job's three friends spoke, they consulted with one another, and ONLY THEN, one of them [in this case, Eliphaz] spoke their views.

NOW, STOP for a moment. (1) Job had suffered tremendously, and wanted to die. Job
1-3. (2) Job's three friends learned about Job's circumstances, went to great trouble to meet together, and then go to Job--WHY? "to console and comfort" Job--Job 2:11. (3) But when they arrived, Job was so emaciated and in suffering, that they could not say a word, but said nothing for seven days--Job 2:12-13. (4) Then Job broke the silence, and "cursed the day of his birth"--Job 3. (5) NOW, what do Job's three friends REALLY NEED? They need Job's "consolation" and "comfort." But what do they give Job? They give ARGUMENTS, ARGUMENTS, ARGUMENTS!!! REASON REIGNS.

Hey, everyone, this is the way ALL OF US BEHAVE. People need our love, our understanding, our empathy, our compassion. And what do we give them?--Our arguments. Our reason. We think THE SOLUTION to life is to EXPLAIN why this or that person is suffering. What if there is NO SOLUTION? What if people want and need our love and compassion? This might be the real lesson of the Book of Job.

How do YOU respond? What are your thoughts? Share with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis



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