The First Speech of Eliphaz

John was driving home late one night when he picked up a hitchhiker. As they rode along, he began to be suspicious of his passenger. John checked to see if his wallet was safe in the pocket of his coat that was on the seat between them, but it wasn’t there! So he slammed o … More

Accusation

The chapters that follow are made up of items of discussion between Job and his three friends. Job and his friends share the same basic theology, and most of what the friends say is true, but it just doesn’t fit Job’s case. Eliphaz, the oldest, wisest and most experienced is convinced that Job is guilty of some secret unconfessed sin. (!) He rebukes Job (vv. 1- 6). (2) He gives reasons why he thinks Job is suffering (vv. 7-11). (3) He gives support to his theological viewpoint by relating a dream (vv. 12-21).  In his discussion he touches on four basic doctrinal truths).

  1. The righteous are never destroyed, but the wicked are sure to be punished (vv. 7-11).
  2. All men are imperfect in the eyes of God; therefore, even the suffering of the righteous has its justification (vv. 17-21).
  3. God can never be charged with the creation of sin and suffering, because evil is the direct result of the free will of man (5:6).
  4. Suffering serves at times to instruct the righteous and protect them from evil doing.

Eliphaz closes his discussion by asking Job to recognize and accept these four basic truths (v. 21).

He tells Job that he needs to practice what he has preached. Since nothing in Job’s circumstances points to innocence, the comforting words of Eliphaz soon turn to accusation, and the friendly discussion to a heated scene. Job is not impressed, so Eliphaz shares a personal testimony. What Eliphaz is stating is mostly truth but it is not helpful to Job.

Application

Part of what Eliphaz said was true, and part was false. It is true that those who promote sin and trouble will be punished eventually but it is false that anyone who is good and innocent will never suffer. I have no guarantee that I will not have to suffer in this life.

Job 4:1-21 (English Standard Version)

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said: "If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? Yet who can keep from speaking? Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? "Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed. The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion, the teeth of the young lions are broken. The strong lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered. "Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it. Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice: 'Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth. Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?"'

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