Meditations in Job : 40. Part of the sinful human race
Job 15:14 “What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?
As we have commented before there are some Christians who focus on sin and failure and in this respect they are like Eliphaz who, you will remember is speaking against Job for the second time. Previously when he spoke, he indicated that he had received the spirit encounter and the result of that was a mindset that put man down and derided him. We reminded ourselves about being made in the image of God and of being loved by God. We may need to do that again!
So here he is having just put Job down by suggesting four times that Job’s words were rubbish. Now he goes on to speak again of the failures of mankind. Essentially our verse today says that no person born of a woman can be pure, everyone is a sinner. Now of course we have no dispute with that, for Paul said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). The difference between Eliphaz and Paul is that Eliphaz gets bogged down in it while Paul goes on to say, “and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:24). Paul only speaks of our sin in the context of our salvation. Eliphaz follows the same track that we saw in Ch.4 & 5, referring to the ‘holy ones’, the angels. In chapter 4 he had said, “If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay.” (v.18,19). Here he says, “If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!” (v.15,16). It’s the same old argument being repeated. God doesn’t trust his angels who are close to Him, so why should he trust mankind. As we commented when we considered that earlier passage, that is only true of the fallen angels, and as we now know, God loves us and sent his Son in human likeness to die for us so, no, mankind is not abhorred by God, but loved.
Eliphaz now says he wants Job to listen to him on the basis of the wisdom that he has picked up from the elders through the years: “Listen to me and I will explain to you; let me tell you what I have seen, what wise men have declared, hiding nothing received from their fathers.” (v.17,18). You obviously are clueless, Job, is what he infers here when he says patronizingly, “Listen to me and I will explain to you.” And why does he think he can teach Job some things? Because I have seen it, I have picked it up from the wise men before me who passed on all they had learnt from their fathers and “(to whom alone the land was given when no alien passed among them)” (v.19), i.e. right at the beginning when no one else was there and they were the first in the land. That’s where MY wisdom comes from! So what has he learnt from them?
“All his days the wicked man suffers torment, the ruthless through all the years stored up for him. Terrifying sounds fill his ears; when all seems well, marauders attack him. He despairs of escaping the darkness; he is marked for the sword.” (v.20-22) i.e. the wicked (who he surely associates with Job) and ruthless man will receive torment, and enemies will attack him and leave him in despair (yes, this is Job!) He piles it on: “He wanders about–food for vultures; he knows the day of darkness is at hand. Distress and anguish fill him with terror; they overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack,” (v.23,24) i.e. he feels utterly hopeless, in darkness, filled with distress and anguish. So, Eliphaz, you do understand what Job is going through, so why can’t you feel for him? Answer, because you would rather condemn him! There’s a reason behind all this, continues Eliphaz; it is “because he shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty, defiantly charging against him with a thick, strong shield.” (v.25,26) You’re a rebel, Job, and you’ve brought all this on yourself! Watch how he now piles it on Job, heaping him with more and more negatives and there can be absolutely no doubt that this is specifically about Job: “Though his face is covered with fat and his waist bulges with flesh,” (v.27) Is Job so well off that he is rather over developed? Well it’s unkind to mention it anyway! Moreover “he will inhabit ruined towns and houses where no one lives, houses crumbling to rubble.” (v.28) – his home will be desolate and as a general statement, “He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land.” (v.29) – his riches will have been taken. But it’s worse: “He will not escape the darkness,” (v.30a), the anguish of darkness will go on and on and he won’t be able to escape it. “A flame will wither his shoots,” (v.30b), the burning irritation of his sores will undermine his life, “and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away,” (v.30c), i.e. God’s decree will undermine his security and carry him away.
Note that although Eliphaz hasn’t directly referred to Job, it is obviously him that he has in mind, so now he brings him a warning in the same indirect manner: “Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return.” (v.31). Whatever you seem to be trusting in will not help you, and “Before his time he will be paid in full, and his branches will not flourish. He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes, like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.” (v.32,33). You are going to be cut off so that any fruit that was apparent will be stripped away. Job had appeared prosperous but now that is all stripped away and he has nothing. Why? “For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.” (v.34) God sorts out the godless so they will not be fruitful and when they take bribes, God’s justice will fall on them and their homes and possessions will be taken. “They conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit.” (v.35) This sort of person breeds trouble and, by implication, it will turn round and bite them!
What an example of ongoing condemnation! Now there may be a number of truths built in there but the trouble is that these generalities DON’T apply to Job. This is not happening because he had defied God (v.25,26), he is not godless and doesn’t take bribes (v.34) and he doesn’t breed trouble (v.35). These are all FALSE ASSUMPTIONS of Job in Eliphaz’s mind. Zero out of ten for wrong assessment, Eliphaz!