Friday, March 24, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 20, Eliphaz Rebukes Job,Part One

Job's three friends are growing angry with him. They still don't believe he isn't hiding some terrible secret sin. His protests of innocence annoy them instead of convincing them.

"Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied: 'Would a wise person answer with empty notions or fill their belly with the hot east wind? Would they argue with useless words, with speeches that have no value? But you even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God. Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you.'" (Job 15:1-6) Job is telling the truth but these men don't believe him. They can't believe him because that would shatter their complacency. They are not willing to accept that tragedies sometimes come into the lives of godly people. If Job is really as innocent as he seems then their entire religious viewpoint much change, and this is something they wholly reject. It's true a man reaps what he sows and that the sinner can expect discipline, but it's also true that God uses difficult circumstances for purposes other than punishment. These men can't reconcile such an idea with their comfortable theology, so they attack their friend instead.

Eliphaz says, "Don't blame me for seeing through your lies! It's not me who condemns you. Your own words condemn you when you claim to be living for the Lord and yet are dealing with such terrible hardships. God wouldn't let this happen to you if you were godly. The very words you use to justify yourself condemn you instead." This reminds me of what the chief priests and teachers of the law said of Jesus when they arrested Him to have Him put to death. When questioned He told the truth and stated He was the Son of God. "Then they said, 'Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from His own lips." (Luke 22:71) They had the same attitude as Job's friends. They said, "Your own words condemn You, Jesus. How dare you tell such a lie? Would God let His Son be arrested and tried and found guilty? Of course not! God doesn't discipline the godly. You're a sinner!"

Eliphaz has already attacked Job's integrity. Now he attacks Job's intelligence. "Are you the first man ever born? Were you brought forth before the hills? Do you listen in on God's council? Do you have a monopoly on wisdom? What do you know that we do not know? What insights do you have that we do not have? The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men even older than your father." (Job 15:7-10) These men are Job's contemporaries and they are insulted by the idea that Job might think he knows more about the Lord than they do. He says, "Even men much older and wiser than all of us know that the Lord doesn't bring trouble on the godly. Who are you to try and teach us about God?" Wisdom does not necessarily come with age. A young godly person will have more spiritual and moral wisdom than an aged person who is carnally minded. This is because, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10) To even begin to be what the Lord considers wise, a person must have a holy reverence for Him. Job has this. Contrary to what his friends think, he is qualified to instruct others in the faith. He has lived his life in the fear of the Lord, daily communing with his Maker and doing everything humanly possible to sit at the Lord's feet and learn of Him.

This next part of Eliphaz's indignant speech is so hypocritical it's enough to make us laugh out loud. "Are God's consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you?" (Job 15:11) The consolation he refers to is the "help" he and the other two friends have been giving Job. The "words spoken gently" are their unfounded accusations against him. I think Eliphaz genuinely believes he is doing something good for his friend. If Eliphaz and Bildad and Zophar didn't love Job they wouldn't have spent seven days and nights sitting in silence with him as he mourned. They wouldn't still be at his house trying to help him figure out how he may have offended God. In their minds the only solution is to break down all his defenses until he is confronted with his sin and repents of it. Then, with his relationship with God restored, Job can enjoy the many blessings God will shower upon him for his obedience.

Job's friends are an example of what not to do, but this is why the study of their words is so beneficial to us. It's possible to become so caught up in being correct in our doctrine that we fail to show mercy. There is a danger of focusing more on being right than on being kind. Even if these men had been right about Job being a sinner, their approach to him is all wrong. Their accusations are more likely to make him defensive than to bring him to his knees. The Apostle Paul instructed the godly to restore a sinner gently, not in anger as these men are doing. (Galatians 6:1) In becoming caught up in proving their point, these men are tearing their friend down. They have become more concerned with themselves than with speaking to him with love. This is not how Jesus spoke to the sinners and the outcasts. Jesus drew them to Him with love, not condemnation.

No comments:

Post a Comment