Tag Archive | Eliphaz

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Eliphaz v. Job

Our Bible reading today brings us to Job 5-6

Eliphaz rebukes Job
Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. …
Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.

Hear, and know it for your good
(Job 5:17, 27)

Job’s physical misery was extreme, his wife was tempting him, and now Job had to deal with his friend’s insensitive advice. Oy. With friends like Eliphaz, who needs enemies?

In the Bible Gateway list of All Named Men of the Bible, (they also have lists of unnamed men, and the same for women, it’s a handy list!) they describe Eliphaz thus:

Teman was noted for its wisdom and this Temanite descendant was a law unto himself. His name means “refined gold” but his fine gold was that of self-glory and of self-opinion from which he would not budge. As a wise man he gloried in his wisdom, and represented the orthodox wisdom of his day. This wise man from the East declared that God was just and did not dispense happiness or misery in a despot fashion, committing people to what He deemed best.

In his first speech (Job 4, 5), Eliphaz begins by informing Job of all his affliction, namely, sin. Approaching Job in a courteous yet cold manner, Eliphaz seeks to prove that all calamity is judgment upon sin. The crux of his argument is: “Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?” (Job 4:7).

Eliphaz was so sure Job had sinned and so sure he knew God and His plan well enough to rebuke Job for Job’s invisible sins.

I think it’s a skill to be sure about what you believe, yet teachable. We should be settled in our convictions, but pliable as we add wisdom and understanding as we grow in sanctification.

Here is an example: Theologian RC Sproul, who was recently called home to heaven, for most of his career believed in an old-earth. After more study, changed his mind and believed in a literal 6-day, young earth in the end. (source).

Sadly Eliphaz was too dogmatic. He would not countenance the fact that there might be something he did not know. He was sure of his philosophical construct: that God did not penalize the righteous. Suffering comes from personal sin, either overt or hidden. But there was something Eliphaz did not know: the conversation God had initiated with Satan about Job’s piety.

Here, David Clines (recommended as best Job Commentary) weighs in:

Eliphaz here announces the premise on which the whole speech depends: if Job is suffering (and he is) and God has nothing to gain or lose personally from Job (and he hasn’t) and God is just (and he is), then Job is suffering for his sins. And is he is suffering much (as he is), it follows that he has offended much. And if there is no evidence of Job’s sins, then all his sins must be secret and observable ones. However what undermines Eliphaz’s logic is something he does not know, but we readers know; that God indeed has much to gain (or lose) from Job’s behavior; for Job is a test case for the gratuitousness of piety. If Job does not remain pious when all his blessings have been taken away, it proves humans serve God for the sake of the rewards and it shows religion up as a self-seeking practice of humans.

Eliphaz relied on the strength of his logic, rather than the frailty of human knowledge in the face of God’s higher wisdom.

True wisdom remains in God only. Whether we veer from settled conviction to extreme dogmatism, through it all we should maintain a teachable spirit. By Chapter 22, Eliphaz was blatantly calling for Job to repent of his evil wickedness (Job 22:21-23) because Eliphaz was sure Job had sinned.

Job did not heatedly rebut. He humbly expressed his longing to maintain fellowship with God so he could experience God’s love and goodness and hear from him the meaning of all his suffering. (John MacArthur Study Bible).

Who had the more teachable spirit?

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, (Proverbs 1:5).

teachable.jpg

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Eliphaz claimed to have been given a word

Our Bible Reading today brings us to Job 3-4. The speeches have begun. Job’s friend Eliphaz reproves Job for insisting on his innocence. To bolster his argument, Eliphaz claims to have had a vision or dream coincidentally on just this topic, coincidentally just recently. (Job 4:12-16). In relating this information, the words Eliphaz chooses to use are interesting. He said, “Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it.” Barnes’ Notes explains word, secretly, and little-

And mine ear received a little thereof – Dr. Good translates this, “And mine ear received a whisper along with it.” Noyes, “And mine ear caught a whisper thereof.” The Vulgate, “And my ear received secretly the pulsations of its whisper” – venas susurri ejus. The word rendered “a little,” שׁמץ shemets, occurs only here and in Job 26:14, where it is also rendered little. It means, according to Gesenius, a transient sound rapidly uttered and swiftly passing away. Symm. ψιθυρισμός psithurismos – a whisper. According to Castell, it means a sound confused and feeble, such as one receives when a man is speaking in a hurried manner, and when he cannot catch all that is said. This is probably the sense here. Eliphaz means to say that he did not get all that might have been said in the vision. It occurred in such circumstances, and what was said was delivered in such a manner, that he did not hear it all distinctly. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Some say Eliphaz did not really have a revelation from God, that he was simply using this claim to bolster his argument. Others say he truly did have a revelation, that it was truly from God. Here are two stances, yea and nay.

Argument that Eliphaz really had the revelation and that it was from God:

Some indeed have thought that this was a mere fiction of Eliphaz, and not a real vision; yea, some have gone so far as to pronounce it a diabolical one, but without any just foundation; for there is nothing in the manner or matter of it but what is agreeable to a divine vision or to a revelation from God; besides, though Eliphaz was a mistaken man in the case of Job, yet was a good man, as may be concluded from the acceptance of a sacrifice for him by the Lord, which was offered for him by Job, according to the order of God, and therefore could never be guilty of such an imposture; nor does Job ever charge him with any falsehood in this matter, who doubtless would have been able to have traversed and exposed him; (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Argument that Eliphaz really did not have the revelation and/or that it was not from God:

Apparently the words Eliphaz claimed he heard in his dream are given in these verses. For three reasons it is doubtful that the words were a revelation from God:
(a) “a word” (v. 12), not “a word of the LORD,” came to Eliphaz;
(b) the word came “secretly” (i.e., in an elusive manner, v. 12); and
(c) the message seemed to picture God as unconcerned about man (vv. 17–21).
Zuck, R. B. (1985). Job. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures

Personally, I tend to the latter, that Eliphaz did not receive a revelation from God. The above 3 evidences are pretty compelling to me. Going back to Barnes’ Notes, that the word Eliphaz uses indicates some of the message slipped away before he could catch it, Does God mumble? No, He does not. But one cannot be dogmatic. In the end, it doesn’t matter, because the words are recorded and there they shall remain.

However, a caution for us today. We know the canon is closed. God is not speaking now, except through His Son, the word (Hebrews 1:1-2). However, plenty of people who claim to be elders or teachers, august persons as Eliphaz truly was, say they have a received a word, or even a “fresh word” which they use cravenly to bolster their arguments.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap“. (Galatians 6:7, KJV). If you use God as a cover to imbue some sort of status or honor or importance to your words, you will reap a whirlwind which will rain down upon you. God spoke to people frequently in the former days, and Eliphaz’s claim of direct revelation went unremarked by Job. But as Hebrews shows us, today is another matter. Be careful.

 

eliphaz whisper