JOB AND ELIPHAZ – SECOND DEBATE

(2)        THE SECOND SEQUENCE OF DEBATE          <15:1—21:34>

  (a).  Eliphaz’s Second Speech           <15:1-35>

Eliphaz appears to have lost his patience with Job and increases his ruthlessness of reproving him. He ridicules Job’s wisdom as being meaningless ideas, useless words and speeches with no value <15:2-3>; claiming that Job undermines holiness and impedes commitment to God <15:4>, accusing Job of verbalizing sinful expressions “Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you.” <15:5-6 (NIV); cf. Prov.16:23; Matt.12:37; 15:11, 17-18; Lk.19:22>. He continues to presume that Job is so intelligent that he could sit on God’s council, limiting wisdom to himself alone not understanding that everyone else has the same comprehension <15:7-10>. He continues to reprimand Job for replying in anger to his friends words of consolation; “Are God’s consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash, so that you vent your rage against God and pour out such words from your mouth?” <15:11-13 (NIV)>. He then repeats his earlier statement that mankind cannot be innocent or righteous for all are depraved and corrupt <15:14-16; cf. Psa.14:2-3; 36:1-4; Rom.3:10-18>.

He concludes his speech by describing the fate of the wicked <15:20-35>: he suffers torment all the days of his life; he hears terrifying sounds; he despairs darkness; he goes astray; distress and anguish fills and overwhelms him; he no longer enjoys his wealth and will not escape the darkness of death as the “breath of God’s mouth” carries him away. He should not deceive himself, for before his time is up he will be stripped of all his possessions just like a vine is stripped of the unripe grapes, or the olive tree that sheds its blossoms. And all this is “because he shakes his fist at God and vaunts himself against the Almighty” <15:25 (NIV)>. We should never lose sympathy with those we seek to comfort because they do not see things as we perceive them.

(b).  Job’s Response               <16:1—17:16>

“I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing?” <16:2-3 (NIV)> In his agony Job finds no comfort in the advice of his friends, they are only lengthy and judgmental speeches. He comments that he could do the same if they were in his place, but that would not alter the fact that he would still be in agony <16:4-6>. This is another warning for us today in our attempt to apply our human wisdom to conditions that we cannot understand or appreciate. It is agonizing to him that God has so severely punished him: “Surely, O God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. You have bound me — and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me” <16:7-8 (NIV); cf 1:19-22>; it is so dreadful for him that his extremely thin desolate and bony body (“my gauntness”) is a testimony to what he has suffered, and his perception is that God appears to be like a ferocious lion that is tearing him to pieces as his enemies laugh at him <16:9-14>. “All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target” <16:12 (NIV); cf 2:3; 6:4>, and in spite of all his suffering and weeping his testimony is; “yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure.” <16:17 (NIV)>. The heart of Job’s difficulties is that he does not see a future life and refers to this at different times in his responses, and here again he addresses the subject: “Only a few years will pass before I go on the journey of no return.” <16:22 (NIV)>, but he does express his faith in God: “O earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend  as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend” <16:18-21 (NIV)>.

As Job continues his response, he pleads with God to acknowledge that he is correct in the fact that he is not guilty of sinning, and there is no other, especially his three friends, who will agree with him; “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me?” <17:3 (NIV); cf Psa.40:17; Isa.38:14>, since it appears that God has closed their minds to any comprehension of his predicament <17:4-5>. Although it appears that God has made him an object of reproach to all the people, the righteous will hold to their beliefs or what they know to be right and grow stronger in their convictions <17:6-9>; another message to us today <cf Rom. 12:1-2>. He concludes his response by referring to Zophar’s comment <11:17> encouraging them to do better in their analysis of his condition, for since his days on earth are almost over, and his only hope is the grave, darkness, corruption, and the worms, which are now his family members, he inquires of them: “where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me? Will it go down to the gates of death?  Will we descend together into the dust?” <17:15-16 (NIV); cf 1 Cor.15:18-19, 51-57>.