Job 4:7-11

Sermon preached on November 29, 2015 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2015. 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.

I love some examples of faulty logic—where people draw conclusions that are not warranted. One of my favorite is the little syllogism,

Nothing is better than eternal life. A ham sandwich is better than nothing. Therefore, a ham sandwich is better than eternal life.

That's funny because it's so ridiculous. It doesn't make any sense. It's illogical. And yet, because of the fall into sin, the logic that we employ is often like that. George Lucas of Star Wars fame, once said, (Time magazine, April 26, 1999)

"I remember when I was 10 years old, I asked my mother, 'If there's only one God, why are there so many religions?' I've been pondering that question ever since, and the conclusion I've come to is that all the religions are true."

But that conclusion is wrong. All religions can't be true because they contradict each other. All, or just about all, religions claim to be the path to God. Yet Jesus said, (John 14:6)

"I am the way and the truth
and the life.
No one comes to the Father
except through me."

If what Jesus said is correct, then other religions are false. If He is incorrect, than Christianity is false. All religions cannot be true.

There are lots of funny examples of faulty logic. For example, in 1923 Charles M. Schwab was president of one of the largest steel companies, Bethlehem Steel. Yet when he died, he was broke, living on borrowed money. In that same year, Howard Hopson, was president of the largest gas company in the US, the Associated Gas and Electric Company. He died in a sanitarium struggling with psychological problems. Also in 1923, Richard Whitney was president of the NYSE. He later spent time in prison for grand larceny. That same year, Arthur Cutten was the greatest wheat speculator. But when he died years later he was facing charges of tax evasion.

Also in 1923, Gene Sarazen was the PGA Champion. He played golf until he was 92, and died in 1999 at the ripe old age of 97. At the time of his death he had lots of money.

What's the funny and totally unwarranted conclusion from those examples?

"Forget work. Play golf!"

Here's another. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans. Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans. Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans. Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans. Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and other fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Americans. The funny but totally illogical conclusion:

"It's not what you eat or drink — it's speaking English that kills you!"

Faulty logic can come from many different things—from lack of logical thinking skills, but also from insufficient facts or preconceived ideas. Eliphaz had two of these—he didn't have enough facts to draw the conclusion he had and he also had certain preconceived ideas.

Eliphaz's argument is that Job cannot be innocent because God is destroying him.

Eliphaz concludes that Job is wicked.

He says, (Job 4:7–11)

"Consider now:
Who, being innocent,
has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
As I have observed,
those who plow evil and
those who sow trouble reap it."

It sounds like Eliphaz's argument is the same as that of Paul in Galatians 6:7. Paul wrote,

"Do not be deceived:
God cannot be mocked.
A man reaps what he sows."

Eliphaz looked at Job's trouble and concluded that he was reaping what he sowed. He must be wicked. But Christopher Ash notes, (Job, p. 104)

"What Eliphaz misses—and it is vital—is that the harvest is at the close of the age… and not until then."

The Bible makes it clear that God will reward the righteous and punish the wicked—but it makes it clear in many places that this ultimate judgment takes place at the end of the age. In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares Jesus spoke about the good seed and the bad seed. When both grew up, the servants asked the owner if he wanted them to go and pull up the weeds. But the owner said, (Matthew 13:29–30)

"No, because while you are
pulling the weeds,
you may root up the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest.
At that time I will tell the harvesters:
First collect the weeds and tie them
in bundles to be burned;
then gather the wheat
and bring it into my barn."

God usually doesn't punish sin right away. Sometimes people sin and in spite of that they prosper for a long time. In the same way, oftentimes righteousness is not rewarded right away. In chapter 1 Job passed the first test with flying colors yet God didn't reward him right away. He didn't get his children back. He didn't get his possessions back. Instead things got worse—he lost his health. John Calvin notes that Eliphaz and his two friends,

"adopt a principle that is not true, namely, that God always treats men in this earthly life as they deserve."

Eliphaz looked on great suffering as being proof that someone was a great sinner. He had no conception of the innocent suffering. His theology was wrong. He has inaccurate ideas about God.

Now the great lesson for us here is that

accurate theology is so important.

We must know God's Word. We must strive to know God well. The great mistake that Eliphaz and his friends made was that they didn't know God well. They didn't know His ways. Here's what God said to Eliphaz at the end of the book of Job, (Job 42:7)

"I am angry with you
and your two friends,
because you have not spoken of me
what is right, as my servant Job has."

Eliphaz and his friends had incorrect ideas of God and His ways and because of that they did a great disservice to Job.

There is a teaching prevalent in the church today that an emphasis on doctrine is not only not important, but that it's harmful—that doctrine leads to divisions in the church and leads people to be judgmental and unkind. They will tell you that what is important is following the leading of the Spirit.

Yes, it's true that doctrine leads to divisions—sometimes even frivilious divisions, divisions that never should have happened—but in many cases divisions are absolutely necessary and important. Last week we saw that the apostle John told Christians that, (2 John 7, 10-11)

"Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge
Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh,
have gone out into the world.
Any such person is
the deceiver and the antichrist…
If anyone comes to you
and does not bring this teaching, [of Christ]
do not take him into your house
or welcome him.
Anyone who welcomes him
shares in his wicked work."

Some divisions are absolutely necessary. Jesus told the church at Thyatira that He had something against them because, (Revelation 2:20)

"You tolerate that woman Jezebel,
who calls herself a prophetess.
By her teaching she misleads
my servants into sexual immorality
and the eating of food
sacrificed to idols."

If you minimize doctrine in the church you leave the church open to all kinds of error and heresy and all manner of sinful behavior. If you don't know truth about God, about His will—you won't speak the truth to those who need the truth.

People today need the truth of God. People are suffering and dying and the world, with it's denial of God, in many cases tries to give comfort through falsehoods. You've all heard it—someone dies and they will tell you that that person is an angel now. Or if they're athiests they'll tell the grieving family that their pain is over. Others will merely say, Rest in Peace, hoping the departed will be okay. They all deny the great judgment by Jesus at the end of time. They deny what 2 Thessalonians 1:6–10 tells us,

"God is just:
He will pay back trouble
to those who trouble you
and give relief to you who are troubled,
and to us as well.
This will happen when the Lord Jesus
is revealed from heaven in blazing fire
with his powerful angels.
He will punish those
who do not know God and do not
obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
They will be punished
with everlasting destruction
and shut out from the presence
of the Lord and from the majesty
of his power on the day he comes
to be glorified in his holy people
and to be marveled at
among all those who have believed.
This includes you, because
you believed our testimony to you."

If you really want to help people—you need to tell them the truth so that they can find forgiveness in Jesus.

As far as the leading of the Spirit goes—how does He lead us?

Does He lead us by voices, by feelings, by visions? Hebrews 1:1–2 says,

"In the past God spoke
to our forefathers through the prophets
at many times and in various ways,
but in these last days
he has spoken to us by his Son,
whom he appointed heir of all things,
and through whom he made the universe."

How does Jesus speak to us now? Is the Spirit opposed to the Word? Is the Word of God, the Bible, wooden, dead, lifeless? Are we see seek God's will elsewhere? No. Absolutely not. In 2 Timothy 3:16–17 the apostle Paul wrote,

"All Scripture is God-breathed
and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and
training in righteousness,
so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work."

Scripture is what we are to use to know how to be righteous— to be thoroughly equipped for every good work. It's what we use to know what sin is.

In Ephesians 6, where the apostle Paul told Christians to put on the whole armor of God, he wrote, (verses 16–17)

"take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God."

There is no opposition between the Word of God and the Spirit of God. As Peter T. O'Brien notes, (Hebrews (PNTC; p. 175)

"The God who speaks by his word does so in and through his Holy Spirit."

Indeed if you read one of the great passages on the coming and work of the Spirit, Jesus' teaching in John 16 and 17— you'll quickly see that there's an intimate connection between the Spirit and Word. For example in John 17:17, Jesus said,

"Sanctify them by the truth;
your word is truth."

The Word is truth. The Word is what we live by. Indeed, in that great passage on the Spirit, Jesus exalted the truthfulness of the word. In John 17:12 He said,

"None has been lost
except the one doomed to destruction
so that Scripture would be fulfilled."

The Word is not dead, wooden, unspiritual. Quite the contrary. Hebrews 4:12 says,

"For the word of God
is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to
dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts
and attitudes of the heart."

Now the point of all this is that our logic must be based on and subservient to the Word of God. Eliphaz knew little of the ways of God. Rather than helping Job, rather than speaking the truth about God to Job—they spoke incorrectly. Eliphaz said,

"As I have observed,
those who plow evil
and those who sow trouble reap it."

But that's not always true.

In this life, sometimes very bad things happen to the best people.

Often the righteous suffer. In the New Testament we know that Paul suffered greatly. He describes some of his troubles that came from serving Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:24–28. He wrote,

"Five times I received from the Jews
the forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods,
once I was stoned,
three times I was shipwrecked,
I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
I have been constantly on the move.
I have been in danger from rivers,
in danger from bandits,
in danger from my own countrymen,
in danger from Gentiles;
in danger in the city,
in danger in the country,
in danger at sea;
and in danger from false brothers.
I have labored and toiled
and have often gone without sleep;
I have known hunger and thirst
and have often gone without food;
I have been cold and naked.
Besides everything else,
I face daily the pressure of my concern
for all the churches."

Serving Christ well brought all those things upon Paul. Serving God well brought trouble upon Job. We must always remember,

God has His purposes for bad things coming to the best of His people.

1 Peter 1:6–7 says,

"In this you greatly rejoice,
though now for a little while
you may have had
to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that your faith—
of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire—
may be proved genuine
and may result in praise,
glory and honor
when Jesus Christ is revealed."

James 1:2–3,

"Consider it pure joy,
my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing
of your faith develops perseverance."

1 Peter 4:12–13,

"Dear friends, do not be surprised
at the painful trial you are suffering,
as though something strange
were happening to you.
But rejoice that you participate
in the sufferings of Christ,
so that you may be overjoyed
when his glory is revealed."

Christian, serve Christ well. Be prepared to suffer for Him. Submit your mind to His will, even if you don't understand what He's doing with you. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He will lead you to glory. That path may be through suffering. That's not illogical.

But remember, suffering is but a temporary situation. Years ago we went to Florida to Walt Disney World and we took a ride. The highlight of the ride was a part where these things fell down beside you and flames shot out. It was a surprise and at first you thought something was wrong, that you were really in danger. You could feel the heat from the flames. But it was just part of the ride. It only lasted a little while. Be patient. Trust God.

Lastly, if you don't know Jesus, know that your thinking is illogical. Jesus is offered to you. Only He can save you from your sins and their punishment. And yet you are refusing Him. It's the most illogical thing in the world. Turn from your sins. Go to Jesus.