TALK IS CHEAP
Lord, may I see through Your eyes today.
Read Job 4:1–21
4 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2 “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
But who can keep from speaking?
3 Think how you have instructed many,
how you have strengthened feeble hands.
4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
it strikes you, and you are dismayed.
6 Should not your piety be your confidence
and your blameless ways your hope?
7 “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
8 As I have observed, those who plow evil
and those who sow trouble reap it.
9 At the breath of God they perish;
at the blast of his anger they are no more.
10 The lions may roar and growl,
yet the teeth of the great lions are broken.
11 The lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
12 “A word was secretly brought to me,
my ears caught a whisper of it.
13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night,
when deep sleep falls on people,
14 fear and trembling seized me
and made all my bones shake.
15 A spirit glided past my face,
and the hair on my body stood on end.
16 It stopped,
but I could not tell what it was.
A form stood before my eyes,
and I heard a hushed voice:
17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If God places no trust in his servants,
if he charges his angels with error,
19 how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundations are in the dust,
who are crushed more readily than a moth!
20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces;
unnoticed, they perish forever.
21 Are not the cords of their tent pulled up,
so that they die without wisdom?’
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat on earth is God doing when there is injustice?
And so the debate begins.
“I’ve got something to say,” begins Eliphaz. “Look, Job, you need to be consistent. You’ve given good advice to others (3,4), but you can’t seem to take it yourself (5). Let me teach you.” And he does, though not with much sympathy.
And what Eliphaz and his friends will spell out for the rest of the book is that God is in control; God is just; God punishes sin and rewards righteousness; therefore, if you’re suffering, you must be sinful. This is hard to argue with. Yes, God is in control—Job 1 and 2 has shown us that. Yes, God is just. Yes, he does punish sin and rejoices in righteousness. But as we saw in Job 2, there may be other reasons for suffering.
The psalms and the prophets and the histories of God’s people are full of the innocent who suffer and of the wicked who prosper. Eliphaz is too simplistic. He doesn’t consider God’s timeline. Yes, God will punish all evil and raise up the righteous, but not necessarily in their lifetimes. In eternity the judge of all the earth will do right. And if Eliphaz can’t imagine the innocent perishing (7), how can he imagine God himself dying on a cross, the righteous for the unrighteous?
Do you know someone who is struggling today? Whether it’s by their own hand or it’s unexplainable, choose a simple way to encourage them in the Lord today.
I praise You, God, that You are just and merciful, that You made us righteous through Your Son, the innocent who suffered for the guilty.