Job 4 (NLT)
Chapters 4 – 37: Friends Question Job.
This begins a long section in the Book of Job where Job’s friends counsel him and he answers them. His friends speak in more or less three rounds, with each speech followed by a reply from Job. At the end of these speeches, God answers Job and his friends and settles the matter.
Eliphaz’s First Response to Job
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied to Job:
Eliphaz came from Teman, a town south of the Dead Sea famous for its wise men. In this speech, he traces back all affliction to sin, through the natural operation of cause and effect. Eliphaz speaks again in chapter 15, with a clear depiction of the punishment of the wicked. Finally, in chapter 22, Eliphaz insists that Job has sinned and points out to him the path of restoration.
2 “Will you be patient and let me say a word?
For who could keep from speaking out?
3 “In the past you have encouraged many people;
you have strengthened those who were weak.
4 Your words have supported those who were falling;
you encouraged those with shaky knees.
5 But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart.
You are terrified when it touches you.
6 Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?
Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?
Right away we see the direction Eliphaz is going to take: It is Job’s fault. He has lost faith in God and he has lost his integrity.
7 “Stop and think! Do the innocent die?
When have the upright been destroyed?
1) Elphaz, for all his wisdom, bases his reasoning on this false assumption: that a good and innocent person never suffers.
8 My experience shows that those who plant trouble
and cultivate evil will harvest the same.
2) Why do bad things happen to good people? Eliphaz says, They don’t. He thinks Job must be a bad person. He thinks Job’s trouble is his own fault. This is his second false assumption: that those who suffer are being punished for their past sins.
9 A breath from God destroys them.
They vanish in a blast of his anger.
10 The lion roars and the wildcat snarls,
but the teeth of strong lions will be broken.
11 The fierce lion will starve for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness will be scattered.
12 “This truth was given to me in secret,
as though whispered in my ear.
13 It came to me in a disturbing vision at night,
when people are in a deep sleep.
Eliphaz claims to have received this revelation through a hair-raising dream:
14 Fear gripped me,
and my bones trembled.
15 A spirit swept past my face,
and my hair stood on end.
Job enriches our language.
Here is a quotation which has become a part of our everyday speech: My hair stood on end.
16 The spirit stopped, but I couldn’t see its shape.
There was a form before my eyes.
In the silence I heard a voice say,
17 ‘Can a mortal be innocent before God?
Can anyone be pure before the Creator?’
18 “If God does not trust his own angels
and has charged his messengers with foolishness,
19 how much less will he trust people made of clay!
They are made of dust, crushed as easily as a moth.
20 They are alive in the morning but dead by evening,
gone forever without a trace.
21 Their tent-cords are pulled and the tent collapses,
and they die in ignorance.
“It is all very beautiful, but absolutely short-sighted. Eliphaz had no knowledge of those secret councils in heaven, and was making the mistake of attempting to press all things into the compass of his philosophy.”
–G. Campbell Morgan
Probably we all understand the helpless feeling when so many things are working against us for no good reason! And then we have well-meaning friends come to tell us what we are doing wrong — yep, Job, we are there in the ashes with you!
But then what?
I think of Peter’s declaration — “Lord, to whom shall we go? YOU have the words of eternal life.” And then I remember this beautiful song. HERE is Selah and “You Are My Hiding Place.” Let us be encouraged, dear friends, in the Lord Jesus!
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.