A portion of Scripture often used as part of wedding ceremony, probably because of how many times word “love” occurs in it. Focus was not on married life when teaching first given to church at Corinth. Context in which Paul wrote well-known passage is that of church life: how brothers and sisters who are part of body of Christ should relate to one another. Job and friends lived long before turn of calendar from BC to AD. However, in today’s language, would all claim to be Christians.
Chapter 15 begins second round in dialog between Job and three friends. Good opportunity to review God’s standard: how should Christians treat one another, especially one who is in middle of intense suffering. Let’s be reminded again how God expects us all to think and say and do:
1 Cor. 13:4-7Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love is not happy with evil but is happy with the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always remains strong. NCV
Keep that in mind as we continue hearing from Job and his friends; see how well they measure up. Keep in mind in regard to you and your friends, see how well you measure up. And even more important: which is a bigger deal for you – that your friends do things the way you think they ought, or, that God is pleased with you? Much of the time Eliphaz failed to make the right choice, the one that would be pleasing to God. In the process, he encouraged Bildad and Zophar in their sin as well. May the Holy Spirit teach us how we by God’s grace can aboid the same sinful behaviors as Job’s friends.
A. you’re foolish, presumptuous and irreverent v.1-6
as second round of discussion begins, is more like second assault on Job and his integrity
asks series of questions designed to incriminate Job, convince Job his suffering was entirely his fault – Job sinned, God judged; obvious solution: repent, be blessed
based accusations on partial statements Job made, at times taken out of context – doesn’t matter how Job answers, he’s wrong
Eliphaz already, in own mind, judged Job and found him guilty; was determined by his speech to prove Job’s guilt
accuses Job of being full of hot air, expressing himself with words having no more substance than air (2-3)
Eliphaz prides himself on clearly knowing right and wrong, all the ways Job is wrong; believes his duty to correct Job, not show compassion
didn’t have to tell Job he thought Job was full of wind; his actions clearly showed what he thought
if Eliphaz had humility to really listen to Job, take him seriously, he would have showed sympathy and compassion
greatest fear: v.4 – “Your words are enough to make others turn from God and lead them to doubt.” CEV
if others hear what you’re saying and start to follow it…will be encouraged to sin – to not properly fear and reverence God
same argument Paul had to respond to: Rom. 6:1 So do you think we should continue sinning so that God will give us even more grace? NCV
Paul’s response: if you have experienced God’s saving grace, understand what grace is, you will show grace to others; if you regularly fail to be gracious to others, check your identity – are you true child of God or just claiming to be one
even more serious: if they hear you, may not even want to be a Christian
heard on more than one occasion: “why would I want to be a Christian, why would I want to do business with a Christian, the way they treat others: talk about, criticize, take advantage of others? If that’s what it means to be a Christian, want none of it.”
with no evidence to prove it, with years of history that showed otherwise, Eliphaz accuses Job of sinful thoughts (5)
when you hear something critical / questionable about another Christian – first, probably shouldn’t be listening to it; second, definitely shouldn’t just accept it; should ask yourself – does this fit what I know to be true of that person?
Eliphaz assumed, without first-hand knowledge or evidence that Job had done wrong, then sinned against Job by accusing
“I’m not judging you, I’m just pointing out how you’ve already judged yourself, just tellin’ it like I see it”, Eliphaz
Eph. 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ESV
Eph. 4:14-15 so that we may no longer be children, ….Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
Job’s friend persistently, continually beat him down telling him: Job, you’re foolish, full of hot air, speaking as though you know the truth, maybe even better than God
true Christian friend must say what “is good for building up”, what “gives grace to those who hear”, or else be silent
B. you’re foolish to challenge those more experienced v.7-16
Eliphaz keeps going – in for a dime, in for a dollar; belittling Job, his character, his self-image (7-8)
Eliphaz a good case study of what happens when someone follows pattern in James 1:14-15 “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
Eliphaz listened, sort of, to Job; thought wrong and unjust and sinful things about Job; desired to correct Job, gave in to the desire, sinned grievously against Job in his speech, which led to more sin
brings out common weapon – you’re in the minority, Job (9)
you need to submit to the experience and authority of your elders: they possess collective wisdom that far outweighs yours (10-11)
we have seen and heard and experienced far more than you, so shut up and listen: here is who God is, how God works in affairs of men
you’re letting your emotions carry you away, get in the way of your sense, get you into dangerous territory (12-13)
Eliphaz begins with good principle, ends with bad application – must seek to avoid danger of getting carried away wrongly by emotion, following emotions into actions that are sinful
compared to God you’re nothing, you have no standing whatever, no basis for a defense (14-15)
furthermore, it’s impossible for you to be that righteous (16)
unlike Job, Eliphaz was something; qualified to speak for both God and those more experienced than Job; even if he hadn’t said as much, simply thinking that way about God, Job and himself was sinful
here’s what Job understood, Eliphaz missed – God had made a way so that Job could be considered righteous
began with graciously converting him from fallen sinner into a redeemed saint who sadly still sinned; but…included a way to deal with ongoing sin: repentance, confession and forgiveness
Eliphaz would eventually come to understand that, at the end of the story – when God humbled him and his friends, required them to reconcile with Job, then through mediator (Job) seek reconciliation with God
C. you’re foolish to challenge God and his ways v.17-35
here’s why you need to listen (17-19)
we’re the experts, we know what we’re talking about, our view of God is correct
see once again evidence of imbalance in Eliphaz – spending all his time talking about God, no time talking to God or listening to his voice
good time to stop and check: if you are trying to impose your view of God and his ways on someone else, have you listened to God first? have you heard him speak to you through his Word, by his Spirit, teach you what is right and important? Eliphaz’ behavior showed he had not done enough of that
the wicked are really suffering now (20-26) – there’s worse in their future (27-34) – before they die, they will pay
may not look like it but they really are – caught in awkward spot where Eliphaz’ declarations about reality didn’t match reality – now what to do, especially if admitting wrongdoing isn’t an option?
West Coast fellow, thought could predict exact date of 2nd coming and what world could expect; day came and went, we’re still here so…..; his explanation: a spiritual event, not a physical one
uh-huh, when we give in to sinful unjust thoughts and then give them speech, we quickly compound sin and get into serious trouble
don’t let them continue to suck you in (35)
you’re headed in that direction, their fate (the wicked) will be yours too
Eliphaz not only arrogant and prideful, was a little frightened too. What if Job hadn’t sinned? What if awful sin was not the reason for his suffering? If that is true, Eliphaz understanding of God, his worldview goes out the window; he has to start all over, from the beginning, try to understand who God really is.
“You’re foolish” was Eliphaz’ charge against Job; but who was true foolish one? Wasn’t Job; Job was seeking comfort, help, answers from God about God and his ways. Even if he didn’t get what he was looking for, Job committed to trusting God anyway. Job was convinced that existence without God would be worthless, without God as friend would be hopeless.
Now what’s wrong with Eliphaz’s argument, his theological position? No consideration for grace, mercy. No attempt to edify, build up his friend. No true love shown to Christian brother. Whether it is how we comfort a suffering friend or any other area of life, we must not follow example of Eliphaz. We have a different example, the Lord Jesus.
John 10:10-11 the Good Shepherd, not the good sheep-dog: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
If God has graciously shined the light of the Gospel into your life, reflect that light to others. Is the light of the Gospel that gives life to those dead in trespasses and sins. Has Good Shepherd come looking for you, taken you up in his arms, rescued you? Good Shepherd doesn’t bark at his sheep, doesn’t chase them, doesn’t nip at their heels; Good Shepherd gives life, abundant life. If you have received that life, pass on the news of where to find it. Speak and act in ways that encourage life, that build others up and make them stronger Christians. To share that life with others, you need constant resupply: from God’s Word, the Bible. Jesus said “I am the bread of life”. We find the truth about Jesus in the Bible – who we are, what he has done for us, what he expects of us, how he equips us to meet his expectations.
Don’t be like Eliphaz – foolishly sinning against his friend and his God by thought, word and deed. Be like the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, graciously and tenderly caring for one another, experiencing that abundant life Jesus promised to supply.