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JOB'S SIN EXPOSED BEFORE GOD
Eliphaz considered that he was representing God in speaking, and exposing what he imagined were the sins of Job. He first asks a question that it is well worth considering, "Can a man be profitable to God, though he who is wise may be profitable to himself?" (v.2). Certainly it is folly for anyone to think that he is doing God a favour by his righteousness, for to be perfectly right is nothing more than he should be. But in Eliphaz speaking to Job, this was beside the point, for he considered that Job was wicked, not righteous.
Eliphaz questions, "Is it because of your fear of Him that He corrects you, and enters into judgment with you? (v.4). Eliphaz considered this impossible, and therefore that Job did not fear God at all. But actually it was true that, because of Job's fear of God, God was correcting him. But what Eliphaz considered God's judgment against Job was not judgment at all, but discipline and correction.
Then Eliphaz comes out with his strong accusation against Job, though having not the slightest proof if it, "Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end? (v.5). Probably Eliphaz considered that Job's professed fear of God was total hypocrisy, and therefore Job deserved the greatest censure. Eliphaz was just the man to give that censure, for he was sure he was speaking for God. How sad was the delusion under which he was labouring! How carefully we must watch against any tendency on our own part to jump to conclusions as regards the condition of any other believer, or as regards our suspicion of anything in their life that may seem questionable. "Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:7).
A LIST OF ACCUSATIONS
Eliphaz has worked himself up to such a state that he allows his imagination to run wild, daring to make a number or specific accusations against Job that were totally false. He says, "You have taken pledges from your brother for no reason, and stripped the naked of their clothing" (v.6). He did not however say what brother he was referring to, nor of what naked people Job was guilty of harming.
He also blamed Job for what he says Job had not done in regard to providing water or food for those who needed it (v.7). How did Eliphaz know this? He would have to be acquainted with all Job's life to have any such knowledge. Of course God knew what Job had done and what he had not done, and evidently Eliphaz thought that he shared God's knowledge!
In verse 8 Eliphaz is apparently charging that Job in the past as a mighty man possessed the land, dwelling in it as though he was honourable. But according to the principles of Eliphaz, Job must have been guilty of oppressing the widows and the fatherless.
"Therefore," he says, "snares are all around you, and sudden fear troubles you, or darkness, so that you cannot see; and an abundance of water covers you" (vv.10-11). He first reasons backward from the fact of Job's sufferings, seeing this trouble as the result of Job's wickedness; then he reasons forward, telling Job that because he has been so wicked this trouble has come upon him. This kind of thing is true of many people: they argue with no basis of actual fact, but from the viewpoint of their own suppositions. Only established fact can rightly be a true basis of discussion.
GOD'S INFINITE KNOWLEDGE
In this section Eliphaz only shows how grossly unfair he is. He accuses Job of saying what Job had not said at all. Is not God in the height of heaven? And see the stars how lofty they are" (v.12). "And you say, What does God know?" (v.13). Of course God is in the height of heaven, and Job had fully acknowledged this before (ch.9:4-12). Yet Eliphaz accuses Job of saying, "What does God know?" Job had spoken in complete contrast to this, declaring that "with Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding" etc. (Ch.12:13).
Why did Eliphaz then accuse Job as he did? Because he thought he discerned this attitude underneath what Job actually said. He considered that Job was hiding something in "the deep darkness," and thought that God could not see it because clouds covered Him (v.14). Whatever it was that Job had been guilty of, Eliphaz could not see it, though that did not keep him from condemning Job.
THE WAY OF THE WICKED
Eliphaz now asks Job if he will keep to the old way the wicked men have trodden (v.15), for he is sure that Job is bent on a wicked course. He says these wicked men had been cut down before their time, with their foundations swept away by a flood (v.16). He totally ignores what Job had argued in his answer to Zophar, that many wicked men had been cut down (ch.21:7-17), for he had no answer for this. He admits that the Almighty had fitted the houses of the wicked with good things, though they had said to God, "Depart from us" (vv.17-18). But he considered that the wicked would be cut down before their time, like Job was being cut down, and thus he side-steps the fact that many wicked men fill out their lives in pleasure without any infliction of trouble. He says "the counsel of the wicked is far from me." But the counsel of the wicked was just as far from Job as from Eliphaz, though Eliphaz wanted by this statement to show himself in contrast to Job!
THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED
Eliphaz considered himself righteous and speaks of the righteous being glad at the punishment of the wicked. This will be true when God's judgments are in the earth, such as is seen in Revelation 18:20 concerning the false woman Babylon, over whose judgment the righteous will greatly rejoice. Did Eliphaz think he was right in rejoicing over Job's sufferings, and actually laughing at him? (v.19).
When he says, "Surely our adversaries are cut down, and the fire consumes their remnant" (v.20), was he not inferring that Job was his adversary, since Job had been "cut down" and was suffering the fire of God's punishment? Thus he really considered that Job was an enemy of God, not a believer at all.
APPEALING TO JOB TO REPENT
The advice of Eliphaz to Job is now seen in telling him to acquaint himself with God and be at peace (v.21). He was flatly refusing to believe that Job knew God at all, and was therefore sure Job needed to be converted to have good come to him. At least he did not consider Job's case hopeless, but Job would have to take his advice and "return to the Almighty." He urged Job to receive instruction from God. It is surely right to lay up God's words in our heart, but to accept the words of Eliphaz as God's word is a different matter. Job had not left the Almighty, therefore to tell him to return was insulting (vv.22-23). Let us never treat a suffering believer as an unbeliever.
The fact that Job was suffering was proof to Eliphaz that Job had departed from God, and if he would return he would be built up, with all iniquity being removed from him. He would be greatly blessed with the finest gold. He adds that "the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver" (v.25). This reminds us of the words of the Lord to Abram, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1). But it does not seem likely that Eliphaz was personally enjoying the blessing of realising God Himself as his own true wealth. If so, he would not have been so unfairly representing God.
A BRIGHT FUTURE - IF
Now Eliphaz paints a lovely picture of the prospect of the godly man, an incentive to cause Job to repent. It is wonderful to have "delight in he Almighty" and to lift up one's face to God, to truly pray to Him with confidence that He will bear (vv.26-27). Eliphaz adds also, "You will pay your vows." If Job had made vows, he had likely paid them, though today the Lord Jesus tells believers not to make vows at all (Matthew 5:33-37).
"You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; so light will shine in your ways" (v.28). In other words, what is spoken in faith will have positive results, and the ways of a believer will be manifest as "in the light." If one is cast down, yet has confidence that eventual exaltation will come, then God will save that humble person (v.29). Eliphaz allows the fact that a believer may be cast down, but he does not apply this to Job unless Job will take his advice to repent. But if so, then he tells Job that he will be in a position to help others, even to the point of delivering those who are innocent (v.30). In fact, Eliphaz was seeking to do this very thing for Job, considering that the purity of his own hands would deliver Job, if only Job would repent.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Job 22". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13