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May 1, 2023 - Job 4-7

Job is struggling. He says, “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest” (3:26). His friends “sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” (2:13) and, now, they begin to speak. Eliphaz is first. He insinuates that Job’s suffering must be the consequence of his sin; surely, Job cannot claim to be guiltless: “Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” (4:17). Surely, Job can see that that which he is experiencing is right: “Blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty” (5:17) argues Eliphaz.

It's almost as if Job cannot even consider Eliphaz’s counsel, his pain is so great. He just wishes for it all to end: “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope, that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!” (6:8-9). Job even seems to mock Eliphaz: “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray” (6:24). That is, you who know so much, tell me how I have sinned! Of course, Eliphaz’s accusations run counter to God’s own narrative about Job: “There is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (1:8) There seems to me to be a lesson, here, that is so obvious that it stunningly jumps off the pages of Scripture: Better to be judged by God than by men! And in Christ we are judged to be blameless!

The Lord will judge in righteousness,

from Him all truth and knowledge flow;

the foolish thoughts of wicked men,

how vain they are the Lord doth know.

Unless the Lord had been my Help,

my life had quickly passed away;

but when my foot had almost slipped,

O Lord, Thy mercy was my stay. –From Psalm 94 (1912)

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