JOB – THE THIRD SEQUENCE OF DEBATE

<22:1—26:14>

(a).  Eliphaz’s Third Speech      <22:1-30>

“Can a man be of benefit to God? Can even a wise man benefit him?” <22:2 (NIV)>: benefit – an advantage; to be of service. What does mankind have to offer God that would be beneficial to God? God has given to us all that we need to live and to survive so there is nothing that we possess that did not come from God. Therefore, we learn from the Scriptures that it is our attitude that is important as we present our gifts to God <cf Mal.1:6-14>. Our wisdom is nothing to compare to God’s wisdom, so that does not benefit God <cf. Jer.8:9>; neither would our self-righteousness, since our righteousness is like “filthy rags” <cf. Isa.64:6>. God does not condemn us for our execution of righteous duties <22:4>, but rather for our wickedness and our sins <22:5>; so Eliphaz describes to Job his numerous sins <22:6-11>, Eliphaz has no proof of these accusations but assumes that Job’s present suffering is the result of sin. He reminds Job that “God is in the heights of heaven” <22:12 (NIV)> and judges mankind although He is unseen by those who have said to Him “Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do to us?” <22:17 (NIV)>; they forget that it is God who has supplied all the good things that they have <22:18; cf. Jas.1:17>. So he inquires of Job “Will you keep to the old path that evil men have trod?” <22:15 (NIV)>; for if you do, remember that the righteous rejoice in the demise of the wicked <22:19-20>. Eliphaz then closes his speech by describing the blessings of God to the righteous: “Submit to God and be at peace with him” <22:21 (NIV)>, for by doing so prosperity will return.“If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored” <22:23 (NIV)>, Job will then find delight in God, his prayers will be answered and the light of God will illuminate his ways <22:22-28>. Job will also be able to point others to God “through the cleanness of your hands” <22:29-30; cf. Prov.24:16; Matt.23:12; Jas.5:16; Psa.24:3-4>.

 (b).  Job’s Response          <23:1—24:25>

Although Job is not directing his cause of distress to any of his friends <23:2a; cf.21:4>, and even though the suffering was intense <23:2b; cf. 1 Sam.5:6>, he insists upon his integrity and desires to be able to bring his accusation before God. “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.” <23:3-4 (NIV); cf. Deut.4:29-31>; for if this was possible he knew that God would not press charges against him <23:5-6>; unlike his previous argument where he was fearful he could not defend himself <9:14-20>, he now seeks a fair trial since he is confident that he would be acquitted of any offense <cf. 13:13-19; Psa.17:1-3; 26:1-3>. He continues to express that wherever  he goes he cannot make any contact with God <23:8-9>, and his frustration builds because of his apparent inability to have his audience with God who knows that he is ethical in all his ways, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” <23:10 (NIV); cf. Psa.119:11, 101, 168; 1 Pet.1:7>. His reasoning here is in response to Eliphaz’s reprimand <22:21>, declaring that he has always submitted to God <23:11-12>. He acknowledges that God is supreme, that there is none other but Him, and He acts independently as it pleases Him, He is sovereign; “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases.” <23:13 (NIV); cf. Psa.115:3; 135:6; Lk.10:21>; and because of his faith he fears God <23:15-16>, but not to the point that he is silenced by the despondency he experiences <23:17; cf. 3:6;19:8>.

He then describes the appalling injustice that exists in the world and the scene he describes is agonizing as he cannot understand why God is silent and unresponsive; “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?” <24:1 (NIV)>, should not judgment be handed down immediately? <24:2; cf. 2 Pet.3:7; Acts 1:7>. He speaks to the stealing of property <24:2; cf. Deut.19:14>, the possessions of the poor and needy and orphans are confiscated <24:3-4; cf. Isa.1:17; Jas.1:27>, and they live by the food they can rummage <24:5-6>. Without proper clothing they spend the night in the cold and are soaked to the skin by the rain <24:7-10>, denying the accusation of Eliphaz <22:5-9>. “The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help. But God charges no one with wrongdoing.” <24:12 (NIV)>. There are murderers, adulterers, and burglary, committed by those that operate in the darkness <24:13-17>, in agreement to some extent with his friends that “evil men are no longer remembered” <24:20-22>. In conclusion he answers his question <24:1> as he states: “He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways. For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like heads of grain.” <24:23-24 (NIV); cf. 2 Chron.16:9a>; God will judge the wicked and give satisfaction to the righteous but He will do so in His time <see Jn.5:28-29; Rom.2:4-11; Rev.20:11-15>.

(d). Bildad’s Third Speech    <25:1-6>

Bildad adds nothing to the discussion but attempts to communicate the greatness of God <25:1-3>,  and the insignificance of mankind <25:4-6>. “Dominion and awe belong to God” <25:2 (NIV); cf. Zech.9:7; Rev.1:6>; the authority and dominance of God should produce fearfulness and admiration in His creatures since we all share in His goodness and grace <25:3b; cf. Matt.5:45; Jas.1:17>. In consideration of the greatness and holiness of God, “How then can a man be righteous before God?” <25:4 (NIV)>, if God does not consider the moon to be bright and the stars to be untainted, then in His estimation “how much less man” <25:4-6>; everything in God’s dominion diminishes in respect to His glory; this is Bildad’s concern. How then is righteousness characterized? The scriptures teach that all mankind is unrighteous because of inherited sin <see Rom.3:10-18, 21-22>; and we cannot attain righteousness by human effort <see Gal.3:3>. It can only be attained by faith in Christ <Rom.1:17>, and should be evident in our lifestyle <see Col.3:1-17; Psa.1:1-3; Ex.33:12-17>.

(d).  Job’s Response       <26:1-14>

Job begins his response to Bildad with stinging mockery in respect to his help and advice, “What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?” <26:3-4 (NIV); cf. 15:3-9>. Here again we see the danger in attempting to apply human reasoning in a situation where one does not know the real reason to the circumstances of the affliction of the person that needs our help. Job then continues to address the statement of Bildad in regards to God’s Dominion and Power <25:2-3>; commenting on God’s greatness in hell (Sheol), earth and heaven: “Death is naked before God; Destruction lies uncovered.” <26:6 (NIV)>; death is a reference to Sheol and destruction refers to the Hebrew word “Abaddon” the angel of the abyss (NIV Study Bible) <cf. Prov.15:11; Rev.9:11>, death and hell are exposed to the eyes of God and so are the dead that are contained therein <26:5-6>. His greatness is seen in the universe by His control over the earth, the seas and the skies, “He spreads out the northern [skies] over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.” <26:7 (NIV); cf. Psa.24:2; Isa.40:22, 26>. He concludes by commenting that he has only touched on the exterior edge of God’s greatness, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” <26:14 (NIV)> it is impossible for a mere human to comprehend the full extent of His Dominion and Power <cf. 11:7-9; Psa.139:6; Rom.11:33>.

 

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