John T. Willis

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Job--YOU are an overt sinner--Eliphaz's Third Speech--Job 22

Pursuing our study through the Book of Job, we come to the third series of the debate, recorded in Job 22-31. As we see, this section is different for various reasons, but we will be patient and take this once at a time. As normal, the next expected speaker is Eliphaz. In the first series, he began in Job 4-5, and in the second series, he began in Job 15. Now we come to Eliphaz's third speech, recorded in Job 22.

In Job 22, Eliphaz becomes very angry with Job, and openly accuses Job of committing obvious public sins known to Job's community and people acquainted with Job. This is a complete reversal of Eliphaz's view in his first speech, where Eliphaz agrees that Job is essentially a righteous man, who instructed many people, strenghened weak hands, supported people who were stumbling, and made firm feeble knees--see Job
4:3-4. But Job's declarations that God is arbitrary and makes Job suffer without just cause leads Eliphaz to conclude that Job is an overt sinner.

Job 22 falls into four parts.

I. Eliphaz asserts that God is so far above any human being that God is completely impartial and objective, and cannot be affected in any way by right human living. Verses 1-4.

II. Eliphaz "unloaded" on Job. Without any support, Eliphaz simply asserts that Job is full of sin: there is no end to Job's iniquities, Job has exacted pledges from his own family with no reason, stripped off the naked of their clothes, given no water to the weary, withheld bread from the hungry, sent widows away empty-handed, crushed orphans--and THIS is why Job is suffering. Verses 5-11.
[Of course, this is ridiculous. Job was "blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil"--Job 1:1, 8; 2:3. But Eliphaz is "out of arguments," he is angry with Job, and so Eliphaz "unloads" on Job, accusing Job of every sin "in the book." Reasoned argumentation has come to an end. Emotion has taken control].

III. Eliphaz claims that Job has cast Job's lot with the wicked. Wicked people declare that God can do nothing to hurt them, and blaspheme against God. Eliphaz says that in effect, Job champions this same position. Job claims that God has gone away and refuses to meet Job in a fair court trial. Eliphaz replies by saying that this view is wicked. Verses 12-20.

IV. Finally, Eliphaz resorts to the plea of his other friends [Bildad in 8:4-6 and Zophar in 11:13-30] and "extends the invitation" to Job to repent, and THEN God will forgive him and restore Job to his former prosperity. Verses 21-30. Eliphaz's words are smooth and appealing. A preacher might use Eliphaz's invitation. Watch the language:
a. "Agree with God, and be at peace," and good will come to you. Verse 21. Who could disagree with this?
b. Receive God's instruction. And here it is:
If you return to the Almighty [this assumes that Job is away from God and thus
needs to return to God],
if you remove unrighteousness from you,
if you treat gold like dust,
and gold of Ophir like stones,
if the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver,
THEN you will delight yourself in God and lift up your face to God; you will pray to God and God will hear you. When you make a decision, God will bless it. In this way, God will deliver the proud Job, and make Job appear righteous. Verses

Wow, these words sound wonderful. In another context, they might be appropriate. But from Job's perspective, this does not apply.

BUT, we are trying to follow faithfully Eliphaz's arguments or thoughts. How do YOU respond to Eliphaz in this speech? Share YOUR thoughts with others. Give me insights. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


  • thanks for the sight, it is been a great source of help in my studys.
    theology student JM

    By Blogger Jerry, at 6:19 PM  

  • I just stumbled upon your blog while looking for resources for studying Job. I appreciate your commentary on this chapter. It is so tricky to understand when Eliphaz's words sound like something I would probably agree with at some point, yet I know God condemns his words later on.

    By Blogger Julian, at 5:43 AM  

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