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A CONTINUING RANT

Job’s friend Eliphaz is still entertained by his own voice. He hasn’t been very comforting yet, and he harps on.

Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn? For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one. I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation. His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them. Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance. Job 5:1-5

Well, Eliphaz suggests that neither God nor any other source hears and answers Job. He goes on to relate how foolish men fail, suggesting that Job too is far from God and deserves his punishment. A modern church pickets military funerals to tell America that our sins bought our sorrows, yet they know no more about their audience than Job’s friends do. Can we judge men without knowing as God knows these people? We already read that God had a purpose and Satan had a hand in Job’s trials. Is there a purpose we do not see in our neighbor’s behavior?

Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number: Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields: To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety. Job 5:6-11

Eliphaz give good advice to seek God, but is he teaching any new lesson to Job? If my neighbor sees a dog near her yard she comes out yelling. When the owner has already demonstrated a history of responsible cleanup, she may be making an enemy of a friend. A Christian will endure and continue to do good. But some are provoked to do evil when they are railed on. The tools of anger yield a crop of vinegar.

He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. They meet with darkness in the day time, and grope in the noonday as in the night. But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty. So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth. Job 5:12-16

So Job’s friend is presenting God as being good, which is true, but he seems to suggest that Job is being punished. Why does he suppose that he has access to God’s motives? We are blessed to see God protecting the poor and weak, but we don’t know what the rich and strong may become. He can change evil for good, and knows the hearts that we hate for the good hidden in them.

Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth. Job 5:17-22

Eliphaz is actually revealing a lot of truth, but what is he doing with it? Is he really encouraging Job or just accusing him of sin? If all these good things come to the obedient, Job must be a sinner, right? Have you ever heard a sermon that sounds like the preacher is trying to use scripture as a club to whip you with? I would feel better to hear scripture that shows me comfort as David’s Psalms do. Can we assume that a brother is innocent until God gets around to judging him, or do we have to help God?

For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin. Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season. Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good. Job 5:23-27

I’m glad we know that Job is a righteous man, because God himself revealed this early in this story. Job knows that he is a peace with his own conscience, and he also knows that he is in physical pain. For being a righteous man, he is able to endure that and the additional pain of a misguided neighbor. Love is going to be called on to forgive people who are wandering far from a right path.

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