Reading through the Bible together
Eliphaz sees Job’s answers as “windy knowledge” (v. 2). It clashes with the experience of Eliphaz who bases his knowledge on life’s evidence. He considers Job’s talking is “useless talk and not profitable” (v. 3). For Eliphaz answers are to be found within the limits of existence and therefore Job hinders proper respect for tradition (v. 4). Eliphaz believes that if you are good, God blesses you and if you are bad, God punishes you. Since bad things happened with Job, he must have been full of “guilt” and “crafty” (v. 5).
According to Eliphaz, the rich tradition of humans should be considered (v. 7). Job is not the “first man” born nor was he created before the hills were made. So he should listen to the majority and not limit wisdom to himself” (v. 8). The shared experience of all humans can explain Job’s situation (v. 9). Then Eliphaz added, “what do you know that we do not know?” Our knowledge is not the experience of one man but is based on silver heads older than Job’s father (v. 10).
But what Eliphaz does not understand is that someone who is connected to God and His plans is in stark contrast to someone who is limited only to earthly thinking. Christian thinkers have been correct when they pointed out that if you “liberate yourself” from the Bible, the size of your frame of reference shrinks. Jobs asks his three friends why their “eyes flash” when they feel like they have trapped him with their questions and answers (v. 12).
No one can claim purity on this earth, says Eliphaz, “no one born of a woman is righteous?” (v. 14). But Christ was righteous. He is our righteousness and that is what Job experienced which Eliphaz fails to understand. In one sense, Eliphaz is a mouthpiece for Lucifer by saying that God does not trust anyone, the same accusation of Lucifer brought against God during the Rebellion in Heaven (vv. 15-16). A second accusation against God follows: “and the heavens are not pure in His eyes” totally against Genesis 1-2 and closer to Genesis 3 and the snake.
Eliphaz speaks to Job with a frame of reference that clings to tradition (v. 17- 19). Opposite to success is the wicked man (implying Job). “All the days of a wicked man are full of pain and mourning” (v. 20). Terror surrounds his ears and robbers steal from him in peace-time (v. 21). The wicked are destined for the sword and do not have bread (vv. 22-23). Eliphaz’s view of God’s involvement with this world is one of punishment. God sends distress and anguish to frighten the wicked. Like a warrior, man wants to resist God and with a careless lifestyle he adds to his weight of sin (vv. 25-27). Cities will be destroyed and become ruins. He will not be wealthy, but still he does not turn away from that which is darkness. The wicked suffer and will lose everything. And this, according to Eliphaz, includes Job (vv. 30-33).
Help us to be not only fixed on what we see around us but to look up from whence all our help cometh. Store us safely in Your memory and heart before any days of suffering come our way. Amen
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea