Reading through the Bible together
Eliphaz feels that reality is connected to the immediate life of humans. Therefore, Job’s problem, in Eliphaz’s estimation, is himself. What you sow, you reap, is his main theme. There is no need for Job to call on the supernatural for help (v. 1) because it is foolish and dishonest (v. 2). Foolish peoples’ domains are destroyed, in war they die (vv. 3-4), and their harvest is looted (v. 5).
It is not part of the power of the earth to bring on evil. In (v. 7) Eliphaz speaks of angels coming and delivering trouble and then flying back upward. For this reason, one should seek God (v. 8), who is a Sovereign God (vv. 11-12) and does as He pleases even to the detriment of His creatures, reducing them to toys. If He wants to break His toys, who is going to stop Him? This view of the Sovereignty of God is unbiblical and misses the Revelation of His love.
According to Eliphaz, God chooses randomly the fallen ones and those that mourn (v. 11). He actively destroys men’s mental undertakings, bars them from fixing things (v. 12) and wisdom and counsel are taken away (v. 13). When God acts, they meet daily darkness. It is God’s choice when He wants to save the needy and desperate (v. 15). But there is hope for the poor (v. 16). So, everything that happens to a person is the discipline of God and should not be rejected (v. 17).
Eliphaz thought that God inflicts pain on people when He feels it is necessary, and then later heals when He feels so (v. 18). Even if there are one or seven troubles, He can protect from the evil (v. 19). In famine and war He protects the individual from death (v.20). He protects the person against gossip and nothing needs to be feared (v. 21). One can laugh at destruction and not be afraid of wild animals (v. 22). The reason is our peace-of-God approach in this present world (v. 23). With this orientation, peace is around a person and heaven is open for him now.
Eliphaz lacks a proper understanding of things—the the biblical view. The philosophical idea of self-sacrifice on the one hand and “eating and drinking, for tomorrow we die” on the other hand is the difference between Eliphaz’s view and Job’s view.
Dear God, we turn to You for all our needs, not because we want to create our own heaven on earth but because we place our hope in You to create it for us in the end. We wish to exist presently with that future hope in us. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea