JOB 4:1 – 6:30 and ROMANS 3:1–31
Eliphaz is the first of the three friends of Job who will now speak. He and the others were silent witnesses to Job’s plight over the past seven days. It had to be a horrific sight for them in seeing the suffering and languishing that Job was going through. It was an opportunity to collect their thoughts and try to make some sort of reason as to why all of this was besetting Job. Though they were shocked at the level of his suffering their conclusion will settle upon something in Job that must have triggered this sudden change of fate. It is summarized in verses 7-8:
Job 4:7 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?
Job 4:8 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.
In reading the account of Job I begin to see that the three friends or comforters are very much like those who comment on Job today. They assess from purely circumstantial means because they could never see God working in a deeper way. In fact, it is the Bildads’, Eliphaz’s and Zophar’s that characterize much of today’s modern church. We will see in much of their counsel towards Job that they will be saying things that are true. They will make many statements that are true about God. The problem though is that it is often misapplied or not having relevance with regard to Job. We all like to think that we have God and His ways figured out. There is no precedent that can be drawn from in the things that are happening to Job. In reading through the following chapters it would be helpful to see which category best resembles where we are. Do we relate to Job or are we more prone to be like the comforters. This is not meant to be too hard on his friends. They did no wrong; they took time to come and be with their friend. Their response towards him is a window into the level of their spirituality. The discourse that is now taking place is really between two different groups that are seen in the church. All was well with Job and his three friends up until that day when God had that conversation with Satan. Job and his friends could interact without major theological differences. That has now all changed. This is the approach we look to take in our survey through Job. Today we do see differences of thought and doctrine within the body of Christ. It will become more distinct in the midst of a deteriorating world and culture. An examination of the primary characters will help us to see where we are; to see whether we are more like a Job or that of the comforters.
The whole of this chapter is actually a great sermon that could be preached in any church. It is rich in exhortation and revelation as to who God is. The only problem is it’s not related to Job’s situation. Eliphaz’s initial exhortation to call upon God in verse 1 is appropriate enough. The Bible makes this statement in many places.
Jer 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
God is the answer and solution to Job’s situation but Eliphaz has no idea of the unique work of grace that God is doing in his life. It gives the impression of Eliphaz having pride and superiority over Job. He then asks who then will you turn to for help? He also gives the indication that Job is envious of other men hence this fate coming upon him. Eliphaz was purporting to be spiritual yet his words were way off the mark. It is a warning for us in trying to be overly spiritual in matters. There is considerable damage that can be done if we are not careful. Job was weakened, in pain and in misery yet he possessed a much higher level of spirituality than Eliphaz and the others. This is often the case; it was certainly true with Jesus when He was upon Cross. His body while upon the Cross was mutilated and beaten. The world would never size him up as a king and champion but in reality he was a King and more. It would be easy to make comments about Christ while in his weakened state as one that somehow was not in alignment with God’s will and plan. All of the Jews and many of his followers could not properly diagnose what was occurring at the Cross. Paul came to understand it by revelation and gave a great perspective of it to the Colossian Church.
Col 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Job was accomplishing far more than even he realized through this intense suffering. Jesus, as the Son of man had moments of vulnerability as seen in one of His last cries from the Cross.
Mat 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Job is another excellent example of a type of Christ. I sometimes wonder if Jesus, as the Son of man having become somewhat acquainted with Job and his trial. One should consider many of the parallels that can be seen. His life gives many wonderful insights into the passion of Jesus.
Eliphaz continues his wonderful sermon in sharing about the wonders of God and how He deals with the pride and crafty ones. He seems to be implying that such is the case with Job. In actuality we will later see that there is a hidden pride within Job but it will not be fleshed out by the likes of Eliphaz. His words may sound smooth and encouraging but one cannot help but see a measure of pride coming forth from his own life. He is not even close to addressing the issue concerning Job. Yes, his words are true but it does not apply to Job.
The words that Eliphaz are sharing are words that have more meaning for him then Job. In verses 19-24 Eliphaz speaks of the safety that is in the Lord. Once again these are all true statements. There are many similar verses that can be found in other portions of the Bible. (Compare vs 21 with Psa 31:20, Compare vs 20 with Psa 33:19) There is an important truth here to consider. Today we are accustomed to sharing similar verses regarding how the Lord will protect His people in the day of famine and calamity. (Psa 91 and others come to mind) We can become casual and assume that just because we are believers there will be protection from the Lord. This is not what the Bible teaches and we see that Eliphaz may well fall into that category as well. Noah, in obedience had to build an Ark; he and his household were saved while all others perished. The prophet Zephaniah exhorts the last day church to seek meekness and righteousness IT MAY BE that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger (Zeph 2:3). Eliphaz is sharing many wonderful and true verses however one can detect casualness in his approach. He characterizes the majority of what is seen in today’s church. Let’s keep this in mind as we continue through the Book of Job.
Job now responds to Eliphaz after hearing his uninterrupted dialogue. He again laments his condition in anguish. He repeats much of what he shared in chapter 4 indicating to Eliphaz and the others that his words had no effect upon him other than adding to his woe. Job begins to overplay his description in what he claims God is doing to him. He speaks of poisoned arrows being stuck deep within him. There is no doubt that the pain was real and could be likened to poisoned arrows but it’s the tone of Job’s speech that mischaracterizes God. He speaks of an animal having no problem while it is eating but Job does not have that luxury. Speaking of eating it seems the only things that can be digested is that which tastes like “spittle”. That is the translation of “the white of an egg”.
Job again reverts back to longing for death and being cut off (vs 9). His whole world has become narrowed. This is a primary tactic of the enemy. He works to bring a person to the state of hopelessness. Job sees no escape, no reason for carrying on in life. It just cannot be seen in the confined prison of torment and loss. At times like this we must press forward. This is where the body of Christ can be a source of strength and encouragement. We may not be able to identify with what a person is going through but just being there can truly help. As leaders we must take note when we see people in such a narrowed place; if nothing else we can always pray. People need hope, especially when going through a period of great difficulty.
Job then takes aim at Eliphaz in verse 14. He expresses disappointment in his not taking pity upon him in his suffering. He likens his friends to a river that initially appears strong but quickly dries up with an inability to bring life (vs 15-18). He goes on to say that this river was highly anticipated to refresh and minister to those who came to its shores. It was dry and lifeless bringing great disappointment which is the description that Job gives of his friends (vs 20). His assessment was that they have overwhelmed the fatherless (which he had just become) while digging a pit for your so-called friend. In verse 29 he invites them to change their opinion of how they see this situation and speak words that would validate his righteousness in this matter. The opinion that his three friends have of him at this point is one of reproach. He understood that his condition and torment was not for the reasons they gave. Job expressed disappointment and regret at their assessment. It was not only humiliating, it was insulting as well. Don’t you think my tongue and character can discern iniquity? As this chapter closes we see the frustration level beginning to build. Let us not forget that the enemy continues to work hard behind the scenes in trying to further frustrate Job and his friends. The greater the divide the greater opportunity Satan has in prevailing in getting to Job to sin. Let us always seek to see the bigger picture.
Paul introduces this chapter by asking a question. Is there an advantage in being a Jew? He is asking this after making clear that the gospel is for both Jew and Gentile. The common Jew may wonder then if it is of any benefit in being of the circumcision. (A Jew) Paul responds by saying absolutely since it was unto them where the oracles of God have been committed. God has given to Israel a high privilege and honor. They were chosen to be an example and expression of who God is to the other nations of the world. We could say that they were to be a “priest to the nations”. Sadly, this did not work out this way in the Old Testament. In fact, Ezekiel gives a lamentable insight as to how successful Israel was in this matter.
Eze 5:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.
Eze 5:6 And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.
Israel was set in the midst of other nations to be an example. It turns out that they became more perverse than the nations they were to be an example to. The Jews then rejected the Messiah when He came as the Son of man. It is no wonder the gospel has now been released to the Gentile. So the question the people are asking Paul is whether there is still profit in being a Jew. Paul goes on to say that the unbelief of the Jews does not nullify the work of God through faith (vs 3). God is faithful to His Word, even if every man were to say otherwise. This verse has meaning for us when we see the anti-Christian tide swelling into today’s world. The spirit of this world is mobilizing itself against God and His established Laws; does that then make them invalid? Absolutely not! This is the point that Paul is making to his audience. This is also becoming an increasing issue in the church. The tide is turning in areas of God’s laws and absolutes. It may win bigger congregations and fanfare but the fact remains; God is still God and man cannot take it upon Himself to alter or change His precepts.
In verses 5-18 Paul begins to touch some “sacred cows.” This is a section that needs to be read and understood in greater measure in our day. (It is a prelude to the struggle Paul will emphasize in chapter 7.) God is justified and brought front and center when our unrighteousness is seen. God is holy and righteous in all His ways. Man’s sin and unrighteousness further establishes this fact. If God’s greatness and grace is magnified in light of our sin is it then proper for God not to judge our sin? Paul answers this question in verses 6-7. Here is the issue and it can be a difficult one to express much less understand.
We come to know the grace of God in a time of need. To grow in grace means we have a need which oftentimes materializes as a result of sin in our lives. Paul will pick up on this later as well. Do you know of any greater contrast that exists between sin and holiness? They are extreme opposites. Paul is laying it on heavily now because he wants everyone to see that they are sinners. There are none that are righteous, no not one. There is no one that seeketh after God or understands Him. There are none that do good; no not one. He adds on further woes in verses 13-18. He concludes by saying that there is no Fear of the Lord before their eyes. What Paul is doing is trying to set the stage for all men to long for and encounter the living God. To do this he has to destroy their notion of salvation by works or by the law. In the remaining verses of chapter 3 Paul will speak and refer to the Law. There is an important verse that Paul makes with regard to the law which is found in verse 20.
Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
This will be investigated in greater measure when we get to Romans 6-8. For now, Paul has his audience in a shaken state. He has shattered many of their beliefs that have long been strongholds. They are now in a position to be introduced to the remedy for all their ills. It will be a message that will have much greater appreciation and receptivity after Paul’s discourses over the past few chapters. The bus tour is approaching a road that is brighter and much more appealing. Is it possible that the journey will now become more pleasant? The passengers are wrecked, shaken and confused. This is not what they were expecting but things now are about to change. There is one final reminder that Paul seeks to give before getting to the next junction. He drills this saying over and over to all his listeners:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;