Introduction: Between Job 15 and 21, Job’s three purported friends engaged in their second rounds of speeches and escalating condemnations of Job. Eliphaz began the second round of attacks. He relied upon his age and experience to brutally attack Job. From Eliphaz’s mistakes, God reveals seven warnings against relying upon worldly wisdom over His Word and prayer. Relying on worldly wisdom can lead to: (1) a lack of Spirit-led compassion, (2) prayerlessness, (3) worldliness, (4) pride, (5) irrelevance / unhelpfulness, (6) spiritual blindness, and (7) cruelty.
First, at time when Job was suffering, Eliphaz accused Job of offering meaningless words, like the wind. Unlike the wisdom of Spirit-led counsel, worldly wisdom frequently lacks God’s compassion. Second, Eliphaz falsely alleged that Job’s sins had hindered his prayers to God. But Eliphaz never prayed for discernment or for Job’s restoration. Unlike Spirit-led wisdom, worldly wisdom relies on tradition and fails to rely upon God’s guidance and intervention through prayer. Third, Eliphaz was outraged that Job would not agree with the wisdom of his elders. While the Bible reveals that true wisdom comes from God’s Word, worldly wisdom emphasizes tradition over the Word. Fourth, Eliphaz was angered that Job had rejected God’s alleged gift to Job, the advice of Job’s friends. Eliphaz had become consumed with his own pride. Unlike Spirit-led counsel, worldly wisdom frequently leads to the sin of pride. Fifth, Eliphaz then accused Job of being born into sin. But this advice did not help Job. It applied just as much to Eliphaz as it did Job. Worldly wisdom can be irrelevant and unhelpful when someone faces a trial. Sixth, Eliphaz then accused Job of suffering because of sin when his charges were unsupported by any evidence. Worldly wisdom can also lead to spiritual blindness. Finally, Eliphaz told Job that he would suffer because he was under God’s judgment. His cruel words unnecessarily added to Job’s pain. Worldly wisdom is also frequently cruel and hurtful.
Eliphaz accused Job of offering empty words. Eliphaz began by dismissing Job’s many speeches and protestations of sorrow as being worthless: “Then Eliphaz the Temanite responded, 2 ‘Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge, and fill himself with the east wind? 3 Should he argue with useless talk, or with words which do not benefit?”’ (Job 15:1-3). According to the Pulpit Commentary, Eliphaz considered all of Job’s statements to be “vain, idle, inflated, without solidity or substance . . . It is observable that Eliphaz does not point out what part of Job’s discourses he considers objectionable, but condemns the whole of them under this broad and general description, which even he could not have regarded as applicable to more than a portion of what Job had said . . . The east wind was regarded as the worst of winds. (Pulpit Commentary on Job 15:1-2).1
Job’s friends used escalating rhetoric against him. Each of the attacks on Job grew more intense with time. Although Eliphaz began his criticisms with diplomatic tact (Job 4:1-3), Bildad immediately attacked Job as a wind bag: “2 ‘How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a mighty wind?” (Job 8:2, 18:2). Zophar then accused Job of saying a meaningless “multitude of words”, “boasts”, “ that “scoff[ing]” that allegedly required his strong “rebuke.” (Job 11:2). Here, Eliphaz joined in by calling Job’s word as being no better than worthless wind (Job 15:2). All three speakers had now definitively answered Job’s question as to whether they would treat his words of despair as of no greater importance than the wind: “Do you intend to rebuke my words, when the words of one in despair belong to the wind?” (Job 6:26). They did.
Eliphaz attacked Job for allegedly offering worthless protestations of sorrow2
Job needed compassion, not a lecture. In the midst of the theological debate between Job and his friends, it is easy to forget that Job had experienced a tragedy that few could imagine. Evil men first stole his animals and then murdered his servants (Job 1:13-15, 17). A fire then burned his remaining animals (Job 1:16). A storm then killed his ten children (Job 1:18-19). Job then suffered from a host of debilitating illnesses. These included: (1) painful, itchy sores from head to toe (Job 2:7-8), (2) decaying, blackened, maggot-ridden flesh (Job 30:30a; 7:5a), (3) hardened, dead flesh with oozing scars (Job 7:5b), (4) burning bone pains (Job 30:30b), (5) difficulty breathing (Job 9:18), (4) sleeplessness from intense pains (Job 30:17; 7:3-4), (5) misery and sorrow (Job 17:7; 30:27-28), (6) intense crying (Job 16:16; 16:20b), (7) ongoing fatigue and anxiety (Job 16:7a; 3:26), (8) nightmares (Job 7:14), (9) severe emaciation from an inability to eat (Job 17:7b; 19:20; 33:21), (10) a repulsive appearance and breath (Job 19:17), (11) public scorn and abandonment (Job 16:20a; 19:13), and (12) depression and suicidal thoughts (Job 6:9; 7:15-16; 9:21; 10:1). After seven days of silent mourning, Job cursed his birth (Job 3:1-10). He lamented that he did not die at birth (Job 3:11-19). He then cried out for God to let him die (Job 3:20-26). Even though Job was wrong to question God’s fairness, he was still entitled to mercy, grace, and compassion as he grieved for his loss.
Show the same compassion and comfort that God offers you to others. Unlike what the world offers, God offers you His comfort when you are feeling pain or sadness: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). God in turn asks you to be kind and compassionate toward others: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience;” (Col. 3:12). “Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32). When someone around you is hurting, offer them the same compassion and comfort that God offers you.
Eliphaz falsely accused Job of cunning deceit with his denials of serious sins. Eliphaz then alleged that Job’s lies and attempts to deceive God were only “hindering” his prayers: “4 Indeed, you do away with reverence, and hinder meditation before God. 5 For your wrongdoing teaches your mouth, and you choose the language of the cunning. 6 Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; and your own lips testify against you.” (Job 15:4-6). Eliphaz may have believed that Job’s initial laments were sincere. But he now believed that Job was lying to his friends and trying to deceive God. But God had twice declared Job to be “blameless” to Satan (Job 1:8; 2:3). Thus, Eliphaz’s attack on Job’s character was without any evidence and entirely meritless. Eliphaz further warned Job about having his prayers hindered when he failed to turn to God in prayer.
Eliphaz falsely accused Job lying about his hidden sins3
Eliphaz twisted Job’s words to attack him. Job’s friends had all now convinced themselves that Job was a treacherous sinner who falsely professed to be free from any sin. Zophar falsely alleged that Job had professed to be “pure” and “innocent.” (Job 11:1-4). Here, Eliphaz repeated this charge (Job 15:4-6). Job did profess ignorance of a specific sin leading to his tragedies, based upon the mistaken assumption that only sin causes hardships: “Have I sinned? What have I done to You, Watcher of mankind? Why have You made me Your target, so that I am a burden to myself?” (Job 7:20). “Though I am righteous, my mouth will condemn me; though I am guiltless, He will declare me guilty.” (Job 9:20). “If I have sinned, You will take note of me, and will not acquit me of my guilt.” (Job 10:14). Yet, Job never alleged that he was a human without any sin. Indeed, he asked for God to forgive him: “Why then do You not forgive my wrongdoing and take away my guilt?” (Job 7:21(a)). “ . . . my words have been rash.” (Job 6:3(b)). Job also knew that he could not make himself right with God on his own: “In truth I know that this is so; but how can a person be in the right with God?” (Job 9:2). Job even worried out loud that God would not acquit his hidden sins: “I am afraid of all my pains, I know that You will not acquit me.” (Job 9:28). Thus, there was no basis for Job’s friends to allege that he proclaimed to be a man without any sins.
Pray for wisdom and read God’s Word before you offer advice. If you wish to avoid making Eliphaz’s mistake, pray for wisdom and read God’s Word: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5). “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in secret You will make wisdom known to me.” (Ps. 51:6). “For to a person who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, . ..” (Ecc. 2:26). Are you praying for wisdom when others are in need of help?
Sin can “hinder” your prayers to God. Eliphaz warned that Job would “hinder meditation before God.” (Job 15:4). In the Old Testament, God warned that He would not hear the prayers of sinners: “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.” (Is. 1:15). “And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken falsehood, your tongue mutters wickedness.” (Is. 59:2-3(b); Jo. 9:31; Prov. 15:29; 8:9; Ps. 66:18). In the New Testament, Jesus again warns that sin can “hinder” a believer’s prayers (1 Pet. 3:7). Thus, you should always repent of your sins. When you repent and pray in humility, God will hear your prayers: “He has regarded the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their prayer.” (Ps. 102:17). Is there anything in your life that might hinder your prayers to God?
The effective fervent prayer of the righteous can accomplish great things. If Eliphaz truly believed that Job’s prayers were “hindered” because of Job’s sins, Eliphaz should have prayed as an intercessor for Job. “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (Ja. 5:16b). For example, Abraham used his faith to plead with God as an intercessor to spare any innocent people in Sodom and Gomorra (Gen. 18:23). God also spared the Jewish nation in response to Moses’ faithful prayers after they made the golden calf (Ex. 32:11-14). He again spared the Jews in response to Moses’ prayers after they rebelled at the edge of the Promised Land (Nu. 14:18-22). God again spared the Jews in response to the prayers of Moses and Aaron after Korah, 250 men of renown, and 14,700 Jews rebelled (Nu. 16:21-24). As an intercessor, Samuel also promised to continue to pray for the people’s sins (1 Sam. 12:23). David also prayed as an intercessor for God to spare the Jews after 70,000 men across all of Israel died in a plague that came about because of his sins (2 Sam. 24:17). God heard Elijah’s intercessory prayers to both stop and later restart the rain in Israel (Ja. 5:17-18). God also heard Elijah’s intercessory prayers for God to raise a widow’s son from the dead (1 Kgs. 17:21-22). Jonah also made a plea as an intercessor when his disobedience caused the men in his boat to suffer (Jo. 1:12). The apostles also continually prayed for others (2 Tim. 1:3; Col. 1:9; Eph. 1:16). “as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, . . .” (1 Thess. 3:10). You are part of Jesus’ holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). As His appointed priest, you too have the power of intercessory prayer. But it is unlikely to work if you lack faith. “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, . . .” (Jam. 1:6). Are you praying as an intercessor for those who are in need?
Eliphaz accused Job of ignoring the wisdom of elders. Eliphaz was older than Job’s father and was offended that Job ignored the wisdom that came from his life experiences: “7 Were you the first person to be born, or were you brought forth before the hills? 8 Do you hear the secret discussion of God, and limit wisdom to yourself? 9 What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that we do not? 10 Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us, older than your father.” (Job 15:7-10). Eliphaz questioned sarcastically whether Job (as a younger man) had some secret knowledge about God or had secret discussions with God that they were not aware of. This was in response to Job’s claim that he was just as wise and knowledgeable as his friends (Job 12:2-3;13:3). Although Eliphaz claimed to speak for God, he really spoke for the ruler of the world.
Job’s friends advised Job to follow the wisdom of the world. Eliphaz previously relied upon a dream to call Job a sinner (Job 4:12-16). Bildad then claimed to rely upon worldly tradition to call Job a sinner: “8 Please inquire of past generations, and consider the things searched out by their fathers. 9 For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, because our days on earth are as a shadow. 10 Will they not teach you and tell you, and bring forth words from their minds?” (Job 8:8-10). Bildad also suggested that Job had been foolish by refusing to rely upon tradition and the views of elders when determining God’s will. But the Bible is full of ancient examples of the righteous who suffered through no fault of their own. For example, Cain murdered his righteous brother Abel out of jealousy (Gen. 4:8). Eliphaz made the mistake of claiming to speak for God based solely on his personal experiences. But he never sought God’s will through prayer.
God’s Word is greater than worldly wisdom. Believers have a response when someone demands that you follow their experience over God’s Word. The Psalmist proclaimed that God’s Word made him wiser than any elder: “Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than those who are old, because I have complied with Your precepts.” (Ps. 119:98-100). Moses also stated that true wisdom comes from keeping God’s Word: “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Dt. 4:6). “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15). Are you reading God’s Word to protect yourself from bad advice?
Don’t follow tradition when it conflicts with God’s Word. Bildad and Eliphaz both argued that Job was foolish not to rely upon the wisdom of elders (Job 8:9; 15:7-10). But the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21). Thus, Jesus warns believers not to choose the traditions over His Word: “‘Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”’ (Mark 7:6-8; Matt. 15:7-9; Is. 29:13). Job later stated that true wisdom comes from fearing God, which he did: “And to mankind He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to turn away from evil is understanding.”’ (Job 28:28). If your friends and family follow traditions that are not of God, are you willing to reject them?
Failing to rely upon the Word can also lead a church astray. When a church fails to closely follow the Word, it can be carried away by false doctrines: “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.” (Heb. 13:9). “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (Eph. 4:14). When a church adopts world views to become seeker friendly and so as not to offend, it is likely to be misled.
Pray for wisdom and read God’s Word before you offer advice. If you wish to avoid making the same mistakes of Job’s friends, pray for wisdom and read God’s Word: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5). “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in secret You will make wisdom known to me.” (Ps. 51:6). “For to a person who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, . ..” (Ecc. 2:26). Are you praying for wisdom when others are in need of help?
Let the Holy Spirit guide your words of advice for others. When you pray and submit to God, the Holy Spirit will guide your words of advice for others in need: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Jo. 16:13). “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:16). God wants you to seek His guidance through prayer and the Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105; 2 Pet. 1:19). Do you pray and read God’s Word before helping others with advice?
Eliphaz accused Job of allegedly ignoring God-given constructive criticism. Eliphaz was so self-assured of his wisdom and his friends’ wisdom that he believed that Job had spurned a “consolation” from God and allegedly kind words of constructive criticism: “11 Are the consolations of God too little for you, or the word spoken gently to you? 12 Why does your heart take you away? And why do your eyes wink, 13 that you can turn your spirit against God and produce such words from your mouth?” (Job 15:11-13). By rejecting the counsel of his friends, Eliphaz believed that Job had rejected God’s counsel.
Job’s friends showed cruelty to Job in his time of need. Eliphaz's allegation that Job’s friends had spoken “gently” to him was false (Job 15:11). Zophar called Job an “idiot” for failing to repent to God: “11 For He knows false people, and He sees injustice without investigating. 12 An idiot will become intelligent when a wild donkey is born a human.” (Job 11:11-12). Likewise, Bildad bluntly told Job that he and his sons had received the just reward for their apparent hidden sins: “3 Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert what is right? 4 If your sons sinned against Him, then He turned them over to the power of their wrongdoing.” (Job 8:3-4). Bildad then accused Job of having built up a false reality regarding his piety (Job 8:11-19). After hearing Job’s bitter cries of agony about his life, Eliphaz had also previously questioned what had happened to Job’s confidence and hope in God: “6 Is your fear of God not your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?” (Job 4:6). His friends failed to show God’s love.
Pride is defined as self-love and a disregard for others. Eliphaz was angry because Job did not give him the respect that he felt was owed to him. This caused him to lash out at Job with scorn. There are many examples in the Bible where prideful leaders acted with scorn and an unloving heart toward God’s people. For example, the prideful Egyptians showed cruelty toward Jews, whom they considered to be inferior (Ex. 1:11, 14, 5:6-10). As another example, King Rehoboam’s pride caused him to respond to the people’s complaints with cruelty (1 Kgs. 12:11). During the end times, people will also become prideful and filled with self-love: “For men will be lovers of self, . . ., unloving, . . . brutal, haters of good,” (2 Tim. 3:2-3). “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:21). People will become “unfeeling, and unmerciful;” (Rom. 1:31). When you offer counsel to others, always do so in humility.
The Holy Spirit offers the real “consolations” of God. Eliphaz and his friends offered Job counterfeit “consolations” from the devil (Job 15:11). Today, the Holy Spirit offers God’s true consolations when you suffer for Him. As one commentator observes: “- The consolations of God are applied by the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter. - Jesus is the substance of these consolations, for He is called ‘The Consolation of Israel’ (Luke 2:25) - The consolations of God deal with our problem of sin; its guilt and stain and power. – The consolations of God assure us of a new heart and nature. – The consolations of God reveal a reason for sorrow that remains. – The consolations of God show us One who suffers with us; Jesus Christ. – The consolations of God compensate us for all trials and sufferings. – The consolations of God tell us of our heavenly destination and hope.” (David Guzik on Job 15, summarizing Charles Spurgeon).4 When you are hurting, turn to Jesus for consolation. He will then comfort you through the Spirit.
Eliphaz proclaimed that everyone is a sinner. After falsely accusing Job of claiming to be without any sin, Eliphaz pointed out that no human could claim to be pure and sinless: “14 What is man, that he would be pure, or he who is born of a woman, that he would be righteous? 15 Behold, He has no trust in His holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in His sight; 16 How much less one who is detestable and corrupt: A person who drinks malice like water!” (Job 15:14-16). Eliphaz’s point was theologically correct. But it did not explain Job’s situation. He also ignored Job’s agreement with this same point. More importantly, this same warning applied to Eliphaz as much as it did Job or anyone else.
Job previously agreed mankind is born into sin and turmoil. Eliphaz had previously stated that mankind is born into sin: “7 for man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7). In response to Eliphaz, Job agreed that mankind is born into bondage: “Is a person not forced to labor on earth, and are his days not like the days of a hired worker?” (Job 7:1). Job further had just repeated that everyone was doomed to live a life that “is short-lived and full of turmoil.” (Job 14:1). Because of the sins of Adam and Eve, all mankind is cursed: “Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; with hard labor you shall eat from it all the days of your life.” (Gen. 3:17). “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope” (Ro. 8:20). “Remember what my lifespan is; for what futility You have created all the sons of mankind!” (Ps. 89:47). Thus, all creation has been subjected to the consequences of original sin. But this did not explain the reasons for Job’s suffering. It was irrelevant and unhelpful.
Job also previously agreed that mankind cannot cleanse itself of its sins on its own. Job had also just admitted that all mankind is subject to God’s judgment because it cannot cleanse itself of its sins: “3 You also open Your eyes on him and bring him into judgment with Yourself. 4 Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one!” (Job 14:3-4). Because mankind cannot cleanse its own sins, mankind is in need of a Savior. But this need applied just as much to Job’s friends as it did to Job.
All are in need of Jesus because none can cleanse their own sins. Both Eliphaz and Job questioned how any person could claim to be free of sin before God (Job 4:7; 14:4; 15:14-16). The Bible proclaims that all have fallen short of God’s standards of holiness because of sin. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20; Ps. 14:3; Ro. 3:10, 23). “When they sin against You (for there is no person who does not sin) and You are angry with them and turn them over to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, distant or near;” (1 Kgs. 8:46). “Behold, I was brought forth in guilt, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5). “And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no man living is righteous.” (Ps. 143:2). Moreover, no one can claim to clean their own sins: “Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?” (Prov. 20:9). “Although you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is before Me,” declares the Lord GOD.” (Jer. 2:22). Thus, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). Thus, everyone needs what Jesus offers through faith in His sacrifice. Are you turning to Jesus to cleanse your sins (1 Jo. 1:9)? Also, repent of your sins before you try to counsel another sinner.
Be humble and cautious to avoid unhelpful worldly advice. When you are speaking from your flesh instead of your Spirit, you are not offering advice from God. This type of advice may offer temporary but not permanent help. Unlike Eliphaz, when you offer advice be careful to do so in humility because no one is free from sin. “And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, or no person living is righteous in Your sight.” (Ps. 143:2; Ecc. 7:20). “When they sin against You (for there is no person who does not sin) and You are angry with them and turn them over to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, distant or near;” (1 Kgs. 8:46). “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Ro. 3:23). Thus, counseling another person should always be done in a spirit of gentleness: “Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; . . .” (Gal. 6:1). When you correct others, do you do so with gentleness?
Eliphaz told Job that he is suffering because of his alleged sins. Relying upon just his worldly wisdom, Eliphaz then blamed Job for bringing about his own suffering from sin: “17 I will tell you, listen to me; and what I have seen I will also declare; 18 what wise people have told, and have not concealed from their fathers, 19 to whom alone the land was given, and no stranger passed among them. 20 The wicked person writhes in pain all his days, and the years reserved for the ruthless are numbered. 21 Sounds of terror are in his ears; while he is at peace the destroyer comes upon him. 22 He does not believe that he will return from darkness, and he is destined for the sword. 23 He wanders about for food, saying, ‘Where is it?’ He knows that a day of darkness is at hand. 24 Distress and anguish terrify him, they overpower him like a king ready for the attack, 25 Because he has reached out with his hand against God, and is arrogant toward the Almighty. 26 He rushes headlong at Him with his massive shield.” (Job 15:17-26). Eliphaz stated that Job would suffer in pain during his remaining, shortened days because of his sin (Job 15:20). Job would further be consumed with fear in his remaining days (Job 15:21-22). Having lost his possessions, he would go hungry (Job 15:23). Eliphaz then stated that Job had caused these calamities because of his “arrogance” before God (Job 15:25).
Eliphaz claimed that Job was bind to the suffering caused by his alleged sins5
Eliphaz was blinded to God’s loving nature. Eliphaz failed to understand God’s loving nature: “There is nothing in his words that would lead one to the conclusion that God has any love for sinful human beings. Indeed, the deity Eliphaz worshiped was mechanical; he behaved like the laws of nature; so sinners could expect no mercy.” (Frank Gaebelein, Elmer Smick, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (Zondervan Publishing House 1988) p. 929). Instead of representing God, Eliphaz represented Satan through his merciless attacks on Job.
Relying upon your own understanding frequently leads to spiritual blindness. Eliphaz was so convinced of his own worldly wisdom that he had become blinded to any other explanation for Job’s suffering. Jesus spoke in parables because most are spiritually blind and need to think hard about His Word: “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matt. 13:13). “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4). “Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” (Dt. 29:4; Jer. 5:21; Is. 29:9-10; 42:16-20; Ezek. 12:2). Thus, you should never rely solely upon your own understanding: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” (Prov. 3:5-7). Are you testing what you think is right against the Word and the Spirit?
Eliphaz told Job that he was under God’s judgment. Eliphaz finished his attack by accusing Job of being a hypocrite and warning him that he would endure under God’s full wrath: “27 For he has covered his face with his fat, and put fat on his waist. 28 He has lived in desolate cities, in houses no one would inhabit, which are destined to become ruins. 29 He will not become rich, nor will his wealth endure; and his property will not stretch out on the earth. 30 He will not escape from darkness; the flame will dry up his shoot, and he will go away by the breath of His mouth. 31 Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself; for his reward will be emptiness. 32 It will be accomplished before his time, and his palm branch will not be green. 33 He will drop off his unripe grape like the vine, and will cast off his flower like the olive tree. 34 For the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of the corrupt. 35 They conceive harm and give birth to wrongdoing, and their mind prepares deception.” (Job 15:27-35). Where Job was once prosperous, Eliphaz proclaimed that he would live in squalor during his remaining days (Job 15:27-29). Eliphaz further proclaimed that Job would live his remaining days in darkness, futility, sorrow, and pain (Job 15:30-35). Yet, like his friends, Eliphaz’s serious charges were utterly without any evidence. Thus, he relied upon innuendos: “Eliphaz brought his second presentation to an end without ever directly charging Job with these sins, but the innuendos and implications are clear.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 181).
Job’s friends compounded his suffering with their cruelty6
Be careful to never misrepresent God’s Word when you counsel others. God later rejected the advice that Job’s friends offered (Job 42:7-8). They misrepresented God. When you give advice, you must also be careful not to misrepresent God’s Word. Are you studying God’s Word to ensure you will correctly teach it?
Encourage one another with love in times of distress. Even if Eliphaz were correct in his belief that Job was a sinner (and he wasn’t), this was not the correct manner to confront Job. Even if Job had sinned, Eliphaz should have employed love and encouragement to bring Job to a better place. God wants you to be a source of encouragement to others. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). “But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.” (Heb. 13:22). Will you encourage others the way God is there for you?
Image credit: Job 15 Bible Pictures: Job (bibleencyclopedia.com)↩︎