A BITTER BLOW
Holy God, you are the Lord of Light. Grant me your light and truth from your Word today, and lead me in the pathway of your will.
Read JOB 22
22 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2 “Can a man be of benefit to God?
Can even a wise person benefit him?
3 What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?
What would he gain if your ways were blameless?
4 “Is it for your piety that he rebukes you
and brings charges against you?
5 Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?
6 You demanded security from your relatives for no reason;
you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked.
7 You gave no water to the weary
and you withheld food from the hungry,
8 though you were a powerful man, owning land—
an honored man, living on it.
9 And you sent widows away empty-handed
and broke the strength of the fatherless.
10 That is why snares are all around you,
why sudden peril terrifies you,
11 why it is so dark you cannot see,
and why a flood of water covers you.
12 “Is not God in the heights of heaven?
And see how lofty are the highest stars!
13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know?
Does he judge through such darkness?
14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us
as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’
15 Will you keep to the old path
that the wicked have trod?
16 They were carried off before their time,
their foundations washed away by a flood.
17 They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!
What can the Almighty do to us?’
18 Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,
so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
19 The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;
the innocent mock them, saying,
20 ‘Surely our foes are destroyed,
and fire devours their wealth.’
21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
22 Accept instruction from his mouth
and lay up his words in your heart.
23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent
24 and assign your nuggets to the dust,
your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
25 then the Almighty will be your gold,
the choicest silver for you.
26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
and will lift up your face to God.
27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will fulfill your vows.
28 What you decide on will be done,
and light will shine on your ways.
29 When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’
then he will save the downcast.
30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”
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.
May we have eyes to see people as God sees them and to sense God’s heart toward them. May we be filled with compassion.
If Eliphaz had been the kindest of Job’s critics prior to this third round of his speeches, he threw off all restraint in this tirade. Reading his rant, you would be forgiven for thinking he was addressing some arrogant rebel against God. He accuses Job of taking poor men’s clothes in security (v 6), outlawed in Scripture,1 and even of oppressing widows and orphans (v 9). The only evidence for this alleged sinful behavior by Job is the trouble that now afflicts him. Job later denies the charges.2 As readers of the prologue,3 we know that God is proud of Job, declaring him blameless and upright, one who fears God and shuns evil.4 It is all too easy to judge others by what we see or hear or receive in gossip. We need to ask God for his perspective on what people are suffering. Remember the warning Jesus gave that we should not judge others in case we ourselves should be judged.5
Verses 21–30 could almost be written into a religious tract. It sounds so plausible that we can imagine it being the text for next Sunday’s sermon. That would be a mistake, however, for it contains some erroneous propositions. Submission to God cannot be claimed as an automatic pathway to prosperity (v 21). To presume this is the case could lead to religious excess and error, as both Christians and other world religions have discovered. Ostentatious self-denial in throwing away one’s gold will not buy God’s answers to prayer either (vs 24–27). God did hear Job’s prayer at the book’s end, when he prayed for his friends,6 but it was not because he accepted their simplistic program. Eliphaz had yet to discover the width, length, height, and depth of God’s amazing love.7
Pray for those you know who are in deep trouble today and decide to be a genuine friend in their time of need. Plan to contact them soon.
Lord, even in the struggles of life, I want to live in such a way to please you. I look to you as only you can enable me to live such a life.
1 Exod 22:26 2 Job 31:16–23 3 Job 1,2 4 Job 1:8 5 Matt 7:1,2 6 Job 42:8 7 Eph 3:18
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