Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Eliphaz’s Rash Counsel (Job 4-5)

“Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:8).

Once Job broke his seven-day silence, Eliphaz took the opportunity to give him some advice. He proceeded very cautiously, asking, “If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary?” He began by praising Job for the many righteous acts he had done. He commended him for not only instructing his immediate family in the ways of righteousness but also his fellow countrymen.

Eliphaz’s praise turned into admonishment, though, as he realized that Job was not as righteous as he seemed. Eliphaz rightly assumed that calamity falls upon the wicked on account of their sin. However, he unjustly lumped Job in with the wicked, while God praised him for being upright. He intimated that Job was a hypocrite: “Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?” Eliphaz assumed that bad things cannot happen to righteous people; therefore, since such tribulation had fallen upon Job, it must have been because of his sin.

This conclusion, of course, was erroneous. The Scripture is filled with examples of pious men falling prey to the heavy hand of providence—Abel, Lot, Jacob, and, of course, David, who suffered unjustly at the hands of his enemies. Eliphaz judged Job too harshly. “Those that pass rash and uncharitable censures upon their brethren, and condemn them as hypocrites, do Satan’s work, and serve his interest more than they are aware of,” Henry wrote. Eliphaz tried to find support for his conclusions from a vision in which a voice said, “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” Henry maintains that the vision was given to Eliphaz from God not to condemn Job for his sin or to accuse him of hypocrisy, but to rebuke him for his murmuring against God. Job had questioned God’s wisdom in allowing him to live, and this vision most likely was directed against Job’s discontent. Eliphaz, however, took it too far and passed an inappropriate judgment on Job. He tried to soften his accusation somewhat when he assured Job that God would not abandon him forever. Despite Eliphaz’s bad counsel, he proved himself knowledgeable of God’s ways by reminding Job that God would deliver him, that “He shall redeem you from death” (5:20).

Read John 9:1–12. How were the conclusions of the disciples similar to those of Eliphaz? What is Jesus’s response? Does this mean that God never disciplines us because of our sin (Heb. 12:3–11)? Why is it not our place to judge another’s trials (Matt. 7:1–6)? Have you wrongly judged someone? It so, confess and repent of it today.