1 "Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: 2 'Can a mortal be of use to God? Can even the wisest be of service to him? 3 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous, or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless? 4 Is it for your piety that he reproves you, and enters into judgment with you? 5 Is not your wickedness great? There is no end to your iniquities. 6 For you have exacted pledges from your family for no reason, and stripped the naked of their clothing. 7 You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry. 8 The powerful possess the land, and the favored live in it. 9 You have sent widows away empty-handed, and the arms of the orphans you have crushed. 10 Therefore snares are around you, and sudden terror overwhelms you, 11 or darkness so that you cannot see; a flood of water covers you.'"
A. Eliphaz's opening words should give us pause. He seems to be trying to counterract Job's excessive focus on self by denying human usefulness to God. Some theological traditions so emphasize the glory of God that humans are reduced to comparative insignificance. What do you say? Are humans "of use" to God? How so? Sometimes we wonder if we are of any use to humans; how can we be "useful" to God?
B. The question is insistent. Is God harmed by our actions or benefitted by our "blamelessness?" If you think so, isn't that a pretty self-centered view of our importance in the world?
C. Eliphaz finally accuses Job of moral fault in vv.5-9. Read aloud the litany of allegations that Eliphaz directs toward Job. Then, read aloud Job's list of moral actions he has performed in 29:11-17. Someone is not telling the truth. Whom to you tend to believe?
D. Look back at Job's accusations against God in 9:22-24. Job accuses God of moral confusion. Now Eliphaz accuses Job of immoral action. When is it right, if ever, to "play the moral card" against someone?
E. The hammer finally falls in vv.10-11. Because Job has mistreated people, he experiences snares and darkness. We have seen that darkness is one of Job's favorite words (in chs. 3 and 10) and is Job's only seeming place of comfort. Now Eliphaz accuses Job's descent into darkness as the result of his unrighteousness. Is there some blaming the victim here or do you think Job is far too morbid in his words?
12 "Is not God high in the heavens? See the highest stars, how lofty they are! 13 Therefore you say, 'What does God know? Can he judge through the deep darkness? 14 Thick clouds enwrap him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the dome of heaven.'15 Will you keep to the old way that the wicked have trod? 16 They were snatched away before their time; their foundation was washed away by a flood. 17 They said to God, 'Leave us alone,' and 'What can the Almighty do to us?' 18 Yet he filled their houses with good things-- but the plans of the wicked are repugnant to me. 19 The righteous see it and are glad; the innocent laugh them to scorn, 20 saying, 'Surely our adversaries are cut off, and what they left, the fire has consumed.'
A. Now Eliphaz moves to Job's theological faults. What "fault" does Eliphaz accuse Job of in vv.12-14? Is there any justification for this allegation?
B. Commentator Edwin Good says that Eliphaz's descriptions of Job's theological sins in vv.17-20 "verges on the irrational and inarticulate." Can you make sense of these verses? If indeed Eliphaz has descended into inarticulateness (we see how clear and persuasive he can be in 4-5), how do you account for it?
21 "Agree with God, and be at peace; in this way good will come to you. 22 Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. 23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored, if you remove unrighteousness from your tents, 24 if you treat gold like dust, and gold of Ophir like the stones of the torrent-bed, 25 and if the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, 26 then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and lift up your face to God. 27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. 28 You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. 29 When others are humiliated, you say it is pride; for he saves the humble. 30 He will deliver even those who are guilty; they will escape because of the cleanness of your hands."
A. Eliphaz's tone seems to change now. What is the tone of these last 10 verses?
B. After Eliphaz's words in the first 20 erses of the chapter, do the remainder of his words seem credible? However, isn't he basically correct theologically in what he says?
C. How many preachers have said or how many times have you heard something like v.23--"If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored...? True statement? Helpful statement in this context?
D. What Eliphaz preaches sounds so easy to achieve. Just trust God. Receive instruction from God's mouth. Lay up God's word in your heart. What better advice could we receive?