Saturday, January 29, 2005

Eliphaz indicts Job: Job 22

Eliphaz speaks for a third time and, in his rebuke, he asks Job this question, "Is it because of your reverence that He reproves you, that He enters into judgment against you?" (Job 22:4) Eliphaz is convinced that what was happening to Job was God's punishment for his sins. Job, by his lack of reverence and his sin, has brought this calamity upon himself. Eliphaz even accuses Job of some very specific sins:
"For you have taken pledges of your brothers without cause, and stripped men naked. To the weary you have given no water to drink, and from the hungry you have withheld bread. But the earth belongs to the mighty man, and the honorable man dwells in it. You have sent widows away empty, and the strength of the orphans has been crushed." (Job 22:6-9)
This is quite an indictment from someone who, most likely, had no first hand knowledge of Job's life (nor his sin). We know that Eliphaz and his partners each came from their own place to comfort Job. If Eliphaz lived so far from Job, how could he know personally of his sins? Yet Eliphaz condemns Job as being full of wickedness. "Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquities without end?" (Job 22:5). He refutes Job's claim that he is righteous and, instead, accuses Job of walking in the way of the wicked, "Will you keep to the ancient path which wicked men have trod?" (Job 22:15) To Eliphaz, Job is an evil man, and he is receiving his just reward for his wickedness. Job's only hope is to repent and turn from his wickedness, "Yield now and be at peace with Him; thereby good will come to you. Please receive instruction from His mouth and establish His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored." (Job 22:21-23)

Yet, for all his "wisdom", there were two things that Eliphaz failed to see. First is that God's testimony of Job was quite different from Eliphaz testimony of Job. Eliphaz saw Job as a wicked sinner, while God testified of Job, before the angles in heaven, that he was an upright and blameless man (Job 1:8). Job's afflictions came upon him, not because he was wicked, but because he was upright. They were the testings and trials of the righteous, not the punishment of the wicked. Eliphaz judged Job from his own perspective. He failed to find God's perspective; to find out how God felt about Job. We are limited in our sight, but God sees it all. Out judgment is flawed, but God's judgment is perfect. Jesus reminds us, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (John 7:24) The only way we can do this is to get God's perspective for every situation. We need to hear what God is saying, what He is judging, and then we can make since out of what is going on around us.

Secondly, Eliphaz tells job to "receive instruction from His mouth", however, God had not spoken concerning Job's sin. Before someone can heed God's words, God must first speak. Why is it that, when God is silent, we first conclude that it must be due to sin. If we have sinned, would not God speak so that we might know we have sinned and so that we might repent of our sins? One thing that the testimony of the scriptures tells us is that God is not silent concerning sin. He even has sent His Holy Spirit to convict the world concerning sin (john 16:8). God cares too much for us to be silent about our sins. God does not enter into judgment with us without first showing us our sin and giving us an opportunity to repent of it. If God is not convicting someone of their sins, that does not mean that it becomes our responsibility to convict them. Eliphaz jumped to conclusions. He failed to get God's heart on the matter and, later, he himself would be called into judgment for his rash words. Let us learn from Eliphaz and think twice before being quick to judge.

David Robison

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