Sunday, January 09, 2005

Eliphaz, Take 2: Job 15

Eliphaz takes a second shot at Job and, again, he suffers from a lack of hearing. Here is what he had to say:
"Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge and fill himself with the east wind? Should he argue with useless talk, or with words which are not profitable?" (Job 15:2-3)
Once again, Eliphaz fails to see that the issue is not who among them is the wisest. Job is not "arguing" over issues of philosophy. Job is not trying to debate his view of God against their view of God. Job is hurting and he is trying to express his pain to his friends. Job is not trying to get his friends to see his point of view. He just wants someone who will understand and who will help him make it through his difficult time.
"Indeed, you do away with reverence and hinder meditation before God. For your guilt teaches your mouth, and you choose the language of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; and your own lips testify against you." (Job 15:4-6)
Eliphaz is correct in that Job had lost some of his reverence (fear) for God, however, it was not his guilt that taught his mouth, but rather his pain. People who are hurting often say things that, in a more reflective frame of mind, they might have thought better of saying. Job needed someone who would hear past his words and into his heart.
"Were you the first man to be born, or were you brought forth before the hills? Do you hear the secret counsel of God, and limit wisdom to yourself? What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that we do not? Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us, older than your father." (Job 15:7-10)
Call me crazy, but Eliphaz seems a little insulted that Job did not agree with him. Eliphaz seems more upset that Job disagreed with him then he does about all the evil that has come upon Job. Eliphaz has moved from trying to help Job to trying to defend himself as being right. When trying to help others, we should check our egos at the door.
"Are the consolations of God too small for you, even the word spoken gently with you? Why does your heart carry you away? And why do your eyes flash, that you should turn your spirit against God and allow such words to go out of your mouth?" (Job 15:11-13)
Here Eliphaz has some delusions of grandeur. He sees his wisdom as the consolations of God for Job. Eliphaz thinks more highly of himself then he aught. Eliphaz also does not seem to understand what is going on. He talks about the "words spoken gently" with Job. What channel has he been watching? The truth is that he and his friends have been falsely accusing Job of sin, an accusation that God does not make. Eliphaz and his friends, at least to some degree, share responsibility in provoking Job against his God and in speaking what is not proper.
"What is man, that he should be pure, or he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in His sight; how much less one who is detestable and corrupt, man, who drinks iniquity like water!" (Job 15:14-16)
Eliphaz may see man as detestable, but that's not how God views man. "What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field." (Psalms 8:4-7) We are not mere animals nor simple beast before God. We are beloved and cared for by Him. We alone are made in His image and we are special to God. Perhaps Eliphaz should have concentrated more on reminding Job how special he is to God, not on how detestable he is.

David Robison

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