Read Job 22
22 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2 “Can a man be of benefit to God?
Can even a wise person benefit him?
3 What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?
What would he gain if your ways were blameless?
4 “Is it for your piety that he rebukes you
and brings charges against you?
5 Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
6 You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
7 You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
8 though you were a powerful man, owning land—
an honored man, living on it.
9 And you sent widows away empty-handed
and broke the strength of the fatherless.
10 That is why snares are all around you,
why sudden peril terrifies you,
11 why it is so dark you cannot see,
and why a flood of water covers you.
12 “Is not God in the heights of heaven?
And see how lofty are the highest stars!
13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know?
Does he judge through such darkness?
14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us
as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’
15 Will you keep to the old path
that the wicked have trod?
16 They were carried off before their time,
their foundations washed away by a flood.
17 They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!
What can the Almighty do to us?’
18 Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,
so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
19 The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;
the innocent mock them, saying,
20 ‘Surely our foes are destroyed,
and fire devours their wealth.’
21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
22 Accept instruction from his mouth
and lay up his words in your heart.
23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent
24 and assign your nuggets to the dust,
your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
25 then the Almighty will be your gold,
the choicest silver for you.
26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
and will lift up your face to God.
27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will fulfill your vows.
28 What you decide on will be done,
and light will shine on your ways.
29 When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’
then he will save the downcast.
30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”
After initially showing Job sympathy, Eliphaz was the first of the three friends to speak (Job 4-5). He focuses on the prosperity of the innocent, implying Job must not be innocent. Eliphaz’s second speech (Job 15) calls into question Job’s fear of God. In this chapter, Job 22, Eliphaz attacks Job’s character in a very personal way. Eliphaz emphatically declares Job’s own sin and wickedness as the source of his suffering and punishment from God.
Sitting face-to-face across from his friend, Job listens as Eliphaz condemns him for being wicked and cruel and greedy and heartless. What hurt, anger, and disappointment Job must be feeling at this moment when his friend accuses him of such sins. Harsh and all untrue. Eliphaz responds as the world would respond because he can think of no other reason for all the tragedies befallen Job. Eliphaz assumes suffering can only be the consequence of sin and God’s punishment follows. It does not occur to Eliphaz that Job’s suffering was not born of sin and that the innocent can suffer.
Eliphaz’s harsh assumptions and accusations lead him to counsel Job to repent (v. 23). Eliphaz calls on Job to pray and submit to God so that a “light will shine upon his ways” (v. 28). Oh, how Eliphaz knows so little of Job and God! Eliphaz’s retribution theology misrepresents God and leads to a misunderstanding of life.
Today, let us use this story as a reminder that we do not have all the facts. Never will we know what God knows. We must be careful when making assumptions and remember that His way will always be the right way. God’s master plan may include innocent people suffering to strengthen their faith or draw others to Him. Furthermore, we must be careful not to use Eliphaz’s advice when leading nonbelievers to Christ. God does not require repentance before He will accept a sinner (Matthew 11:28). In fact, it is the virtue we derive from Christ that leads to genuine repentance. In Job’s situation, repentance was not the solution. Trust and reliance on the one true God in all circumstances is the calling on Job’s life as well as our own (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Have you ever made assumptions that led to incorrect advice to a friend or family member? If so, have you followed up by admitting your mistake and asking for forgiveness?
- Who do you know that has relied on God during a challenging time? Reach out to that individual to let them know of their impact on you and others.
- Who can you pray for this week that is experiencing a really hard situation? Pray for this individual to rely on God’s faithfulness.
On RightNow media, watch The Gospel Coalition’s session “How Can a Good God Allow Suffering?” by Don Carson as he looks at the narrative of Job and dealing with the reality of suffering in the world. Don’t have a RightNow account? You can register for one here.
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