PATIENCE WITH PATIENTS
Gracious and Merciful God, help me to bring any darkness in my life to your light. Forgive and restore me Lord.
Read JOB 15
15 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2 “Would a wise person answer with empty notions
or fill their belly with the hot east wind?
3 Would they argue with useless words,
with speeches that have no value?
4 But you even undermine piety
and hinder devotion to God.
5 Your sin prompts your mouth;
you adopt the tongue of the crafty.
6 Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;
your own lips testify against you.
7 “Are you the first man ever born?
Were you brought forth before the hills?
8 Do you listen in on God’s council?
Do you have a monopoly on wisdom?
9 What do you know that we do not know?
What insights do you have that we do not have?
10 The gray-haired and the aged are on our side,
men even older than your father.
11 Are God’s consolations not enough for you,
words spoken gently to you?
12 Why has your heart carried you away,
and why do your eyes flash,
13 so that you vent your rage against God
and pour out such words from your mouth?
14 “What are mortals, that they could be pure,
or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?
15 If God places no trust in his holy ones,
if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,
16 how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt,
who drink up evil like water!
17 “Listen to me and I will explain to you;
let me tell you what I have seen,
18 what the wise have declared,
hiding nothing received from their ancestors
19 (to whom alone the land was given
when no foreigners moved among them):
20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment,
the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him.
21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears;
when all seems well, marauders attack him.
22 He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness;
he is marked for the sword.
23 He wanders about for food like a vulture;
he knows the day of darkness is at hand.
24 Distress and anguish fill him with terror;
troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack,
25 because he shakes his fist at God
and vaunts himself against the Almighty,
26 defiantly charging against him
with a thick, strong shield.
27 “Though his face is covered with fat
and his waist bulges with flesh,
28 he will inhabit ruined towns
and houses where no one lives,
houses crumbling to rubble.
29 He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure,
nor will his possessions spread over the land.
30 He will not escape the darkness;
a flame will wither his shoots,
and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away.
31 Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless,
for he will get nothing in return.
32 Before his time he will wither,
and his branches will not flourish.
33 He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes,
like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.
34 For the company of the godless will be barren,
and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.
35 They conceive trouble and give birth to evil;
their womb fashions deceit.”
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.
‘The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.’1 Pray for insight today.
Eliphaz really lets rip at Job now. Previously, he has been the mildest of Job’s friends, but he has lost patience. In a long-winded diatribe he attacks Job’s words (v 3), mocking his wisdom and understanding (vs 7–10). He also alleges that Job has been raging against God by getting angry with the friends’ so-called consolations (vs 11–13). Yet, there has been very little consolation in their words thus far. Eliphaz himself has moved radically from gentle understanding and support2 to angry confrontation. This, sadly, is often the case with chronic illness or long-standing problems. The early sweet dew of the morning can become the harsh glare of noon. Those of us who care for others in long-term need require the fruit of the Spirit called ‘forbearance’.3 This man lacked it entirely.
There follows a poem (vs 20–35) on the fate of the wicked, among whom Eliphaz firmly places poor Job, even though we know how unfair that is.4 His portrayal of the state of the wicked is dark and depressing, but the real problem is his presumption that the wicked cannot prosper in this life. Job has been declaring that they can,5 but if Eliphaz accepts this premise he cannot avoid the disturbing corollary that the innocent can also suffer.
Eliphaz is right in his depiction of the awfulness of sin, but wrong in his presumption that such waywardness is at the heart of Job’s condition. He heaps condemnation onto pain, grief and loss, without mercy, in a manner which, for us today, cannot be consistent with the faith or approach of those who follow a gracious, redeeming Christ and who know our loving heavenly Father.
Pray for anyone you know who is suffering long-term trials that seem resistant to treatment or resolution. Ask God for patience as you wait alongside them for better days.
Dear God, keep me from pulling other people down so that I lift myself up.
1 Prov 20:5 2 Job 4:2–6 3 Gal 5:22 4 Job 1,2 5 Job 12:6
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