Job 15

Sermon preached on February 18, 2018 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Christians in our society find ourselves in a difficult position. In the media Christians are mocked and are portrayed as stupid or mentally ill. Last week on the TV show,
The View, Joy Behar said Vice President Mike Pence was mentally ill because he believed God talked to him. I don’t know much about the Vice President except that he claims to be a Christian. I believe God talks to his people through His Word, the Bible. Perhaps the Vice President believes the same thing. But even if he is more charismatic and believes that God speaks too him directly, I would think his theology is a little incorrect, but I wouldn’t characterize him as having a ‘mental illness’.

In addition to being mentally defective Christians are oftentimes accused of being wrong about some of the fundamental issues facing our society. In a town hall meeting in Winnipeg, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau responded to a question about certain faith groups being unable to receive government job grants. He said,

“No religious group is going to be barred from Canada summer jobs the basis of their beliefs, period. However, there are certain groups that are specifically dedicated to fighting abortion rights for women and inclusion of LGBT communities, and that is wrong.”

He’s saying that it’s wrong if you advocate against abortion. Christians who believe in the sanctity of life have it wrong. During the last election he mandated that if you were going to run for parliament as a Liberal, you had to support abortion rights. If you believed in the sanctity of life, you could not run for parliament as a member of the Liberal Party. Christians are just wrong and some vital Christian values are no longer welcome in Canada. According to Trudeau they’re not ‘Canadian values’. I get the impression that he thinks that such values shouldn’t be tolerated in the society he is trying to build.

There are many like him in our own country. Writing in the NY Times on April 3, 2015, Frank Bruni quoted with approval someone who said we need to get rid of,

“religion-based bigotry… church leaders must be made ‘to take homosexuality off the sin list.’ ”

They believe that many Christian teachings are outdated, have been proven wrong and need to expunged from society. Conservative Christians need to be re-educated.

But it doesn’t stop there. Many in our society will tell you that not only are Christians wrong and mentally disturbed, they will tell you that we’re evil. If as a Christian you’re against abortion and against homosexuality, you’re evil because you’re harming people. They will tell you that Christian are doing great harm to people by telling them that they're sinners, that they need to change. They're harming people psychologically and thus causing depression, suicide, even murder. In January 2017 there was an article in Pyschology Today titled,
Evangelical Christians Evangelizing Hate Must Be Stopped, by Mark B. Baer. They accuse us of spreading hate here and overseas.

If you analyze what these people are saying and take it to its logical conclusion, it comes down to this,

"If you just let people do what they want, even if it's what the Bible calls sinful—everything will be perfect. This earth will become a paradise. Everyone will be happy and everyone's troubles will disappear!"

Today if you call sin, sin, you're a person of hate. Prime Minister Trudeau continued his speech regarding people who are against abortion saying that some of them,

"distribute hateful flyers of aborted fetuses to try and convince people to remove the right of a woman to control her reproductive choices."

The prime minister has a strange way of thinking. He's saying that pictures of aborted fetuses are hateful, but he's implying that it's not hateful to actually abort the fetuses. He uses the euphemism 'the right of a woman to control her reproductive choices' instead of the deadly and dreadful thing that is abortion. But in his eyes, Christians and others like them are wrong and hateful when they support the sanctity of life.

How are we to react to these charges?

Our text today is not about Job's response to charges like this, so we're not going to look at that aspect of it today. If you want to look ahead at Job's answer, you can read chapters 16 and 17 this afternoon.

But what I'm going to do this morning is look at the charges themselves, because we can learn much from examining what Job's friends said to him. Many of the things said to Job by his friends were said not only to Jesus, but also to Christians today. Hopefully, looking at these charges against Job will help us to have the proper perspective on the charges against biblical Christianity today.

The first thing we should see is that

Job's friends accused him of being mentally incompetent.

I've mentioned before that it's characteristic of Job's friends to begin their speeches to him by insulting him. Chapter 15 is no different, although here it's like the insults never stop. The first points that Eliphaz makes is that Job is stupid, his words are useless and Job knows nothing. Eliphaz hits Job with a barrage of cutting insults. He says that Job is full of hot air, that he is not wise, that his own wicked words condemn him, that he ignores the wisdom of the ages, that he's a nobody, inexperienced, proud and foolish.

In verse 2 Eliphaz says,

"Would a wise man answer
with empty notions or fill his belly
with the hot east wind?"

John E. Hartley writes, (Job, NICOT; p. 244-245)

"In fact, his words have been so irate that one suspects that he must fill his belly… with the east wind. The east wind…is the strong, hot wind that blows off the desert. It is dreaded in the Near East because its dry burning heat brings days of irritability and listlessness… Eliphaz uses belly disparagingly. He is ridiculing Job, saying that his words flow from a belly filled with hot air, not from his heart, the center of reason. He thus judges Jobs resolve to argue his case directly with God to be merely useless rhetoric. His words, being without value, will have no power to persuade God."

Eliphaz says that Job is full of hot air. Some see cruelty in Eliphaz' words in that there could be a reference here to the deaths of Job's children. David J. A. Clines writes, (Job 1–20, WBC 17; p. 347)

"The east… is the sirocco or Khamsin, the hot violent wind from the desert that brought the destruction of Job's family and possessions to a climax (1:19)."

Indeed, Eliphaz's description of the wicked in chapter 15 is very cruel. Tremper Longman III notes that, (Job, p. 230.

"Eliphaz's description of the fate of the wicked in general fits the condition of Job in particular: "fire consumes (vv. 30, 34; cf. 1:16), marauders attack (v. 21; cf. 1:17), possessions are taken away (v. 29; cf. 1:17), and houses crumble (v. 28; cf. 1:19). Although the modern reader often misses the point that these barbs are all directed at Job, we can be sure that Job himself felt their sting."

Another commentator (Andersen, quoted from Clines, (p. 342) suggests that the phrase is a very coarse insult,

"empties the east wind from his belly."

That's quite the insult. Eliphaz goes on to speak of Job's' (verse 3)

"useless words… speeches that have no value"

In verse 5 Eliphaz says that Job's sin prompts his words. Eliphaz then says that the wisdom of the ages was against Job and allied with him and his friends. In verse 10 Eliphaz said,

"The gray-haired and
the aged are on our side,
men even older than your father."

Tremper Longman III writes, (Job, p. 225)

"the ancient Near Eastern idea that the older one is, the wiser one is. After all, experience, observation, and learning from mistakes are all paths to wisdom, and an older person has the opportunity to learn in all these ways over a longer period of time than a young one."

In verse 11 Eliphaz asks Job,

"Are God's consolations not enough for you,
words spoken gently to you?"

It appears that Eliphaz refers to his words and the words of his two companions as 'God's consolations'. Eliphaz is equating his words to God's words. Eliphaz is arrogant and proud.

God's enemies have always been like that—telling God's people that they are wrong

People are like that today. How do many of the world's intellectuals refer to Christians today? They say that we're stupid to believe the Bible. As Frank Bruni wrote in the NYT, saying that Christians,

"prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing."

He says that Christians need to free themselves from their prejudices and jettison parts of,

"their faith's history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity."

Do you remember what the religious leaders said to Jesus in John 8:13? We read,

"The Pharisees challenged him,
'Here you are,
appearing as your own witness;
your testimony is not valid.' "

In Luke 18:31–33 Jesus told His disciples what was going to happen to Him,

"We are going up to Jerusalem,
and everything that is written
by the prophets about the Son of Man
will be fulfilled.
He will be handed over to the Gentiles.
They will mock him,
insult him, spit on him,
flog him and kill him.
On the third day he will rise again."

Jesus also told us that they would mock us. In Luke 6:22 we read,

"Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and
insult you and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man."

The world calling the godly stupid and mentally deranged is nothing new. When the apostle Paul preached to Festus and King Agrippa and Bernice about Jesus being the Savior, he said, (Acts 26:22–23)

"I am saying nothing beyond
what the prophets and Moses
said would happen—
that the Christ would suffer and,
as the first to rise from the dead,
would proclaim light
to his own people and to the Gentiles."

At that point Festus interrupted Paul and shouted, (verse 26)

"You are out of your mind, Paul!
Your great learning
is driving you insane."

Why does the world today they call Christians insane? It's because of our message.

It's because we come preaching repentance and salvation through Jesus.

Jesus and John the Baptist came preaching the gospel of repentance. They told people that none of them were okay, that they were all going to perish unless they repented. Jesus told them they must be born again, from above. They killed Him. Why? Jesus was the light of the world and the world rejected Him because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19) In 1 Corinthians 1:23 the apostle Paul wrote,

"but we preach Christ crucified:
a stumbling block to Jews
and foolishness to Gentiles,"

1 Corinthians 1:18 says,

"For the message of the cross
is foolishness to those
who are perishing,"

Christians, the world tells you that you're foolish. Don't believe them. Cling to Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:24 refers to Him as,

"Christ the power of God
and the wisdom of God."

1 Corinthians 1:25 tells us,

"For the foolishness of God
is wiser than man's wisdom,"

Christianity is not foolishness. It is the only religion that deals adequately with the curse of sin. The curse of sin is death. How do other religions deal with that? Most, if not all of them deal with it with works. Do these 5 things and you'll get into heaven. But all that is nonsense. If the wages of sin is death it means that no one can be saved by works. We're lost. We need someone else, someone from outside our ranks, and yet at the same time someone from within our ranks. We need Jesus, the God-man, to die in our place, to take the curse of sin away. The only way that we can be saved is through Jesus. As the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21

"God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us,
so that in him we might
become the righteousness of God."

From the very beginning, (Genesis 3:15) God began to reveal this to Adam and Eve, to Abraham with the ram being offered instead of Isaac, to Moses and the whole Old Testament sacrificial system. Matthew's gospel particularly shows how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. He told the story of Jesus and he repeated wrote, (e.g. Matthew 1:22)

"All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said
through the prophet:"

Eliphaz thought he was right and most other people agreed with him. Who are you going to believe—this world or Jesus?

I've know Christian academics who have turned their backs on Christianity. Why? It could be that they want to be respectable to the world. They want to be thought of as wise. But they've made a grave mistake in following the world. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:13–14,

"For wide is the gate and broad
is the road that leads to destruction,
and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow
the road that leads to life,
and only a few find it."

Rather than abandoning the faith, they ought to embrace what the apostle Paul said in Romans 1:16

"I am not ashamed of the gospel,
because it is the power of God for
the salvation of everyone who believes:
first for the Jew,
then for the Gentile."

Christians, this means

you shouldn't stop spreading the good news.

The world today wants to change our message, to modify it.

It was the same with Job's friends. In verse 4 Eliphaz said to Job,

"But you even undermine piety
and hinder devotion to God."

Jesus was also accused of being evil. In Matthew 12:24 we read that the Pharisees said of Jesus,

"It is only by Beelzebub,
the prince of demons,
that this fellow drives out demons."

What a lie!

Jesus doesn't hate sinners. He loves them. He died for them. He urges them to repent. He has called us to do the same, to love others and point them to repentance and faith in Jesus.

It's the only hope for the world. Jesus has called us to go out into the world with that message. Continue to do it no matter how difficult it is.

Job's sufferings were part of his calling. He spoke out loudly in the midst of his sufferings, insisting that he wasn't being punished for any particular sins. Job's sufferings showed his friends that sometimes there are reasons why the righteous suffer. Jesus, the most righteous one, suffered. Why? Because it as the only way for sinners to be saved, for the righteous One to die in their place. Christopher Ash writes, (Job p. 177)

"The relatively innocent sufferings of Job foreshadow the utterly innocent sufferings of Jesus Christ, and those sufferings make grace possible in human experience. In principle, therefore, the story of Job is the story of redemptive suffering, the suffering of one that makes redemption possible for others. That is to say, the sufferings of Job, in anticipating the agony of the cross, speak ultimately of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the hostility of Job's friends foreshadows and helps us understand the hostility of the world today to the gospel of free grace."