Introduction: In a misguided effort to rebuke his grief-stricken friend Job, Eliphaz made a number of true statements about mankind’s relationship with God. Many of Eliphaz’s statements here about God are referenced as authoritative throughout the Old and New Testaments. Indeed, in Romans and in Corinthians, the Apostle Paul even quoted from Eliphaz. Yet, God later expressly rejected Eliphaz’s advice to Job (Job 42:7). God rejected his statements because they did not explain Job’s circumstances. More importantly, Eliphaz used true statements that were taken out of context as a weapon to attack Job. Many believers make similar mistakes when trying to prove that they are correct. Many use the truth as a weapon to hurt others. God’s Word should only be used in the right context. His Word must also only be spoken in love.
Eliphaz offered six truths about mankind’s relationship about God (offered out of context) and a final error. These included: (1) mankind’s separation from God because of sin; (2) sin causes suffering, (3) God’s power of redemption, (4) God’s loving discipline, (5) God’s ability to restore and protect, (6) God’s ability to provide longevity, and (7) the source of God’s guidance.
First, Eliphaz stated that Job could find no mediator in heaven. Because of sin, mankind is separated from God and needs a mediator to reach God. But this advice applied to everyone, not just Job. Second, Eliphaz stated that sinners experienced misery, and all mankind experiences misery. But this advice did not explain Job’s suffering. Third, Eliphaz correctly proclaimed that God can perform miracles and redeem His people. Eliphaz, however, incorrectly implied that Job had either failed to cry out to God or lacked faith in God’s power. Fourth, Eliphaz also correctly proclaimed God can discipline sinners out of love to restore them. But he had no evidence that this applied to Job. Fifth, Eliphaz also correctly proclaimed God can restore through healing and protection. Eliphaz, however, incorrectly implied that Job could not receive these blessings because of sin. Sixth, Eliphaz also correctly proclaimed God can bless a person with descendants and a long life. Yet, he again incorrectly implied that Job could not receive these blessings because of sin. Finally, Eliphaz proclaimed that he knew what God was doing based upon his personal experience. He was mistaken. God has instead provided His Word and the Spirit to guide you.
Eliphaz proclaimed that Job was in need of a mediator with God. As part of his misguided effort to counsel Job and bring him to repentance, Eliphaz stated that Job lacked a mediator in heaven who would advocate for him: “1 Call now, is there anyone who will answer you? And to which of the holy ones will you turn? 2 For irritation kills the fool, and jealousy brings death to the simple.” (Job 5:1-2). “Eliphaz challenged Job to call, presumably to an angel or one of the ‘holy ones.’ Such a challenge is hypothetical, but it makes the point that Job would find no help because in Eliphaz’s eyes he was an unrepentant sinner and hence a fool. To this rhetorical question as well the answer is negative: no one will answer you, and there is no holy one to whom you can turn, implying that angels are not prepared to help fools.” (Robert Alden, The New American Commentary, Vol. 11, Job (B&H Publishing Group 1993) p. 90). Eliphaz was correct to imply that Job needed a mediator. His error was to imply that Job was alone in this need. All mankind needs a mediator with God the Father, including Eliphaz. Satan used Eliphaz to take a true statement and use it out of context to hurt Job. Unless we use the truth with love, we can also hurt others in a manner than God would never condone.
All have fallen short and are in need of Jesus as Savior. All have fallen short and are in need of Jesus. “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20; Ps. 14:3; Job 4:17; 25:4; Ro. 3:10, 23). “And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no man living is righteous.” (Ps. 143:2). Everyone needs what Jesus offers through His sacrifice. If you are grateful for His suffering and death for you on the cross, how are you thanking Him? (Ro. 12:1-2).
Mankind needs a mediator to reconcile with God the Father. The book of Job establishes that Satan has access to God’s Court, and he uses that access to level charges against God’s people. Eliphaz implied that Job’s sins prevented a mediator from defending him in heaven. Eliphaz was correct that Job needed a mediator. Indeed, Job later pleaded for someone to defend him in God’s court (Job 9:32-33). “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is on high. . . That one might plead for a man with God as a son of man with his neighbor!” (Job 16:19, 21). Job, however, pleaded in faith because he believed that his Redeemer existed: “Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, He will take His stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25). The Redeemer that Job prayed for was Jesus Christ. His is your counselor (Is. 9:6) and your only mediator to God the Father (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus also advocates for you in the same heavenly court: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1 Jo. 2:1b). “Christ Jesus . . . also intercedes for us.” (Ro. 8:34). “Therefore He is also able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25). “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 Jo. 5:14). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). When you are in need, do you plead to Jesus your advocate?
Eliphaz proclaimed that sin is universal, and sin brings misery to a sinner’s entire family. Also as part of his effort to rebuke Job, Eliphaz stated that a sinner brings misery to his family. Thus, he implied that Job was responsible for sons’ deaths: “3 I have seen the fool taking root, and I cursed his home immediately. 4 His sons are far from safety, they are also oppressed at the gate, and there is no one to save them. 5 The hungry devour his harvest and take it to a place of thorns, and the schemer is eager for their wealth. 6 For disaster does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, 7 for man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:3-7). Eliphaz again used truth statements that were taken out of context as a weapon. It was true that sin is universal. It was also true that a sinner can cause pain to others, especially in their family. Yet, Eliphaz had no basis to accuse Job of being responsible for his sons’ deaths.
Eliphaz correctly proclaimed that mankind is born into sin and turmoil. Eliphaz was correct to state that mankind is born into sin: “7 for man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7). 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). “Is a person not forced to labor on earth, and are his days not like the days of a hired worker?” (Job 7:1). “Man, who is born of woman, is short-lived and full of turmoil.” (Job 14:1). “Remember what my lifespan is; for what futility You have created all the sons of mankind!” (Ps. 89:47). Yet, Eliphaz’s attack established the fallacy of his own argument. If original sin has adversely impacted all of mankind, he could not blame all of Job’s tragedies on Job’s actions. He also failed to recognize that he was also a sinner. Everyone needs Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Eliphaz incorrectly used the concept of reaping and sowing to condemn Job. Eliphaz was also correct to point out that a sinner can bring misery to his or her family (Job 5:3-6). Eliphaz had just proclaimed “ . . . those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.” (Job 4:8). The Apostle Paul also quoted this statement in Galatians and referred to it in Romans (Gal. 6:7-8; Ro. 2:6). This statement is also affirmed throughout the Bible (e.g., (Prov. 22:8; Hos. 8:7; Matt. 16:27). Yet, Eliphaz had no basis to accuse Job for causing his sons’ deaths. His statement further confused the ultimate with the immediate. Depending upon His greater plans, God may allow sinners to prosper and the righteous to suffer: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Ro. 8:28).
Eliphaz proclaimed that God was capable of rescuing Job. Eliphaz stated that he would turn to the God, who can perform any miracle, and implied that Job had failed to do this: “8 But as for me, I would seek God, and I would make my plea before God, 9 who does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. 10 He gives rain on the earth, and sends water on the fields, 11 so that He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. 12 He frustrates the schemes of the shrewd, so that their hands cannot attain success. 13 He captures the wise by their own cleverness, and the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted. 14 By day they meet with darkness, and grope at noon as in the night. 15 But He saves from the sword of their mouth, and the poor from the hand of the strong. 16 So the helpless has hope, and injustice has shut its mouth.” (Job 5:8-16). Eliphaz made truthful statements about God. Many of his statements are in fact quoted throughout the Bible. Yet, Eliphaz was plainly wrong to imply that Job had either failed to turn to God or failed to believe that God could perform any miracle.
In the wrong context, Eliphaz correctly proclaimed that God could perform miracles. Eliphaz was correct to praise God as being capable of performing miraculous wonders: “But as for me, I would seek God, and I would make my plea before God, 9 who does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number.” (Job 5:8-9). Similar praises appear throughout the Bible: “Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders.” (Ps. 72:18). “Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” (Ps. 145:3). “Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Ro. 11:33). Yet, Eliphaz’s advice was hurtful and did not apply to Job. To Satan, God celebrated Job’s faith and proclaimed that no one was like him (Job 1:8; 2:3).
God can bless and provide for those in need. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God as being capable of providing for a person’s needs: “10 He gives rain on the earth, and sends water on the fields,” (Job 5:10). Similar praises for God as mankind’s provider appear throughout the Bible: “You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; You greatly enrich it; the stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for so You prepare the earth.” (Ps. 65:9). “They do not say in their heart, ‘let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”’ (Jer. 5:24). “yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Act 14:17). Eliphaz was again wrong to imply that Job had either failed to pray for God’s provision or lacked faith in this area.
God can comfort and protect the humble. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God as the source of comfort for those who humble themselves before Him: “11 so that He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” (Job 5:11). Similar praises also appear throughout the Bible: “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jam. 4:10). “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.” (Lk. 1:52). “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk. 14:11). “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6). Eliphaz’s error was to imply that Job lacked humility.
God can frustrate the schemes of the wicked and allow His people to succeed. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God for His ability to frustrate the plans of the wicked: “12 He frustrates the schemes of the shrewd, so that their hands cannot attain success. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Job 5:12). Paul even quoted from Eliphaz’s statement in Romans: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). Similar statements also appear throughout the Bible: “The LORD nullifies the plan of nations; He frustrates the plans of peoples.” (Ps. 33:10). “Devise a plan, but it will fail; state a proposal, but it will not stand, for God is with us.” (Is. 8:10). Eliphaz’s error was again to imply that Job had failed to turn to God for protection. He made accusations without any investigation.
God can cause the wicked to fail through their own schemes. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God for His ability to cause the wicked to become caught in their own schemes: “13 He captures the wise by their own cleverness, and the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted.” (Job 5:13). Paul again quoted from Eliphaz in the book of Corinthians: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the sight of God. For it is written: ‘He is the one who catches the wise by their craftiness’;” (1 Cor. 3:19). “Where is the wise person? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Cor. 1:20). Eliphaz again took a true statement and improperly applied it to Job. His statements did nothing but cause Job needless pain.
God can cause the wicked to suffer from spiritual blindness. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God for causing the wicked to become spiritually blind: “14 By day they meet with darkness, and grope at noon as in the night.” (Job 5:14). Similar statements exist throughout the Bible: “and you will be groping about at noon, just as a person who is blind gropes in the darkness, and you will not be successful in your ways; but you will only be oppressed and robbed all the time, with no one to save you.” (Dt. 28:29). “I will bring distress on mankind so that they will walk like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; and their blood will be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung.” (Zeph. 1:17). This true statement, however, did not apply to Job.
God can rescue the poor and the weak from their oppressors. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God for his ability to protect the poor and the weak: “15 But He saves from the sword of their mouth, and the poor from the hand of the strong.” (Job 5:15). Similar statements appear throughout the Bible: “All my bones will say, ‘LORD, who is like You, who rescues the afflicted from one who is too strong for him, and the afflicted and the poor from one who robs him?”’ (Ps. 35:10). “I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.” (Ps. 140:12). Eliphaz’s error was again to imply that Job had failed to turn to God for protection from his attacks.
God can give hope to the oppressed. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God for his ability to give hope to the oppressed: “16 So the helpless has hope, and injustice has shut its mouth.” (Job 5:16). Similar statements appeared throughout the Bible: “The upright see it and are glad; but all injustice shuts its mouth.” (Ps. 107:42). This was the one area were Job needed help. He wanted to die because of his intense pain (Job 3:1-26). Yet, instead of encouraging Job to have hope, Eliphaz used Job’s despair as a weapon to condemn him. Eliphaz became Satan’s instrument to try to drive Job into further pain.
Eliphaz proclaimed that God disciplines the ones that He loves. In a context that did not apply to Job, Eliphaz then correctly proclaimed that God corrects those that He loves: “17 Behold, happy is the person whom God disciplines, so do not reject the discipline of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17). Yet, Eliphaz again had no basis to apply this to Job.
God does discipline sinners in other contexts. Eliphaz’s statement is again quoted throughout the Bible as a truth about God: “Blessed is the man whom You discipline, LORD, and whom You teach from Your Law,” (Ps. 94:12). “For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He punishes every son whom He accepts.” (Heb. 12:6). Eliphaz’s misuse of the truth again shows that Biblical principles must only be applied with love. And, a person like Job should never be accused of being punished for a sin that they did not commit. Such misguided advise can only serve to inflict needless, additional pain.
Don’t use God’s Word out of context. “[I]n Eliphaz’s case what is absolutely true is misplaced – the sick room is not the place for theological strictures that may turn out to do more harm than good. Eliphaz as counselor is a supreme negative example. Great truths misapplied only hurt more those who are already hurting.” (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. 896).
Restore one another with love and gentleness. Even if Job had sinned, Eliphaz failed to approach Job with love and 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; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.” (Gal. 6:1). “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). “May the righteous strike me with mercy and discipline me; it is oil for the head; my head shall not refuse it, for my prayer is still against their evil deeds.” (Ps. 141:5). “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,” (2 Tim. 2:25). When you confront a brother or sister who is sinning, do you do so with gentleness and love?
Eliphaz proclaimed that God was capable of healing and protecting Job. Eliphaz then stated God could heal and protect Job. He implied that Job lacked the faith to ask for this: “18 For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, but His hands also heal. 19 In six troubles He will save you; even in seven, evil will not touch you. 20 In famine He will redeem you from death, and in war, from the power of the sword. 21 You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and you will not be afraid of violence when it comes. 22 You will laugh at violence and hunger, and you will not be afraid of wild animals. 23 For you will be in league with the stones of the field, and the animals of the field will be at peace with you.” (Job 5:18-23). Eliphaz again used truth as a weapon and without love. Job had turned to God. Eliphaz never prayed or considered any other possible reason for Job’s suffering other than alleged hidden sins and an alleged lack of faith.
God can heal the sick and the brokenhearted. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God for his ability to heal: “18 For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, but His hands also heal.” (Job 5:18). Similar praises exist throughout the Bible: “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can save anyone from My hand.” (Dt. 32:39). “The LORD puts to death and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and brings up.” (1 Sam. 2:6). Yet, this advice again did not apply to Job.
God can protect persons from evil. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God for his ability to protect people from evil: “19 In six troubles He will save you; even in seven, evil will not touch you. 20 In famine He will redeem you from death, and in war, from the power of the sword.” (Job 5:19-20). Similar praises appear throughout the Bible: “The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.” (Ps. 121:7). “No evil will happen to you, nor will any plague come near your tent.” (Ps. 91:10). “To rescue their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.” (Ps. 33:19). “They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have plenty.” (Ps. 37:19). “No harm happens to the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.” (Prov. 12:21). “One who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.” (Ecc. 8:5). “And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?” (1 Pet. 3:13). But this advice again did not apply to Job.
God can give you strength and confidence when you are attacked. Eliphaz was also correct to praise God for his ability to give a person confidence when attacked: “21 You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and you will not be afraid of violence when it comes.” (Job 5:21). Similar praises again exist throughout the Bible: “You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of mankind; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.” (Ps. 31:20). “You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the plague that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that devastates at noon.” (Ps. 91:5-6). But Job did seek God.
God can give you peace when you are attacked. Eliphaz also correctly praised God for his ability to give a person peace when attacked: “22 You will laugh at violence and hunger, and you will not be afraid of wild animals. 23 For you will be in league with the stones of the field, and the animals of the field will be at peace with you.” (Job 5:22-23). Similar praises are quoted throughout the Bible: “You will walk upon the lion and cobra, You will trample the young lion and the serpent.” (Ps. 91:13). God will also one day end all conflict between mankind and between mankind and animals: “And I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful animals from the land, so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.” (Ezek. 34:35; Is. 11:6). Job was not at peace. But Eliphaz was not trying to restore Job’s peace. Instead, Eliphaz sought to attack him and use his loss of peace as evidence of a lack of faith.
Eliphaz proclaimed that God will bless a person with descendants and a long life. Eliphaz further correctly praised God for his ability to bless a person with many descendants and a long life: “24 You will know that your tent is secure, for you will visit your home and have nothing missing. 25 You will also know that your descendants will be many, and your offspring as the grass of the earth. 26 You will come to the grave at a ripe age, like the stacking of grain in its season.” (Job 5:24-26). Here, Eliphaz proposed that Job could test his relationship with God by his number of children and his prospects for a long life. This was another subtle attempt to bring Job down and force him to repent. His statements to a grieving father with serious illnesses were nothing short of cruel.
God can bless you with many descendants. Eliphaz correctly praised God for his ability to give a person descendants (Job 5:25). Similar praises exist throughout the Bible: “His descendants will be mighty on the earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” (Ps. 112:2). “The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.” (Ps. 102:28). Yet, there are many reasons why a person might not be able to have children. Eliphaz was wrong to imply that Job had lost his children because of his sins. He made false allegations without any investigation.
God can bless you with a long life. Eliphaz also correctly praised God for his ability to give a person long life. “26 You will come to the grave at a ripe age, like the stacking of grain in its season.” (Job 5:26). Similar praises exist throughout the Bible: “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives only a few days, or an old person who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of a hundred, and the one who does not reach the age of a hundred will be thought accursed.” (Is. 65:20). “There will be no one miscarrying or unable to have children in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.” (Ex. 23:26). But Job’s poor health had nothing to do with any hidden sin.
Eliphaz proclaimed to have investigated his statements based upon his experience. Eliphaz claimed that his statements were authoritative based upon when he had seen in his life. He further claimed that Job could verify his claims through similar investigation: “27 Behold this; we have investigated it, and so it is. Hear it, and know for yourself.” (Job 5:27). “Eliphaz does not claim to be delivering a Divine message, or in any way stating results which he has learnt from revelation. Rather is he declaring what he has ‘searched out;’ i.e. gathered with much trouble from inquiry, observation, and experience. He is, however, quite confident that he has arrived at a true conclusion, and expects Job to accept it and act upon it.” (Pulpit Commentary on Job 5:27).
Don’t proclaim that you can know the mind of God. “Eliphaz preaches a God who can be figured out. For Eliphaz, there are no unknowns behind the scenes; there is no drama or purpose in the heavens that motivate what God does and what He allows to be done. However, we know this heavenly drama from the first two chapters, and we see how shallow and unknowing the counsel of Eliphaz was. Job didn’t know what we know, but he could feel that the counsel of Eliphaz was wrong in his situation. ‘Preconceptions exist in our own head; if we start out with the preconception that God will never allow the innocent to perish and then we see a righteous man perishing, we will have to say, ‘You cannot be a righteous man, because my preconception tells me that if you were, God would not allow you to suffer; therefore you are proved to be a bad man.’’ (citation omitted). It was this exact reasoning on the part of the religious authorities of Jesus’ day that motivated them to put Him on the cross, and to mock Him at His crucifixion.” (David Guzik on Job 5) (italics in original).
God rebuked Eliphaz for his hurtful and misguided advice. Even though Eliphaz made a number of true statements about God, God later let Eliphaz know that His wrath burned against him for his false and hurtful counsel to Job: “It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is trustworthy, as My servant Job has.”’ (Job 42:7). The warning for believers is clear. Don’t offer advice that is not from God. Spirit-led advice is rooted in love. When a sin is confirmed through the Word and the Spirit, restore a sinner with gentleness.
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 (Jam. 1:5; Prov. 2:6; Ps. 51:6). When you pray and submit to God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will guide your words of advice for others in need (Jo. 16:13; 14:16; Ps. 119:105; 2 Pet. 1:19). Do you pray and read God’s Word before helping advice to others?