Job 5

Sermon preached on June 19, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

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.

When I was a little kid I remember hearing the first part of a radio skit that was silly, but it made an important point. I think it was about someone who landed either on earth or another planet. When they landed they had no idea where they were. The inhabitants of the place were wary of their visitor. When the visitor asked them where he was, they had a discussion about it and one of them came back with the answer. He said,

"You are here."


Obviously that wasn't much help to the visitor so he asked them to be more specific. They consulted with one another and in a minute or so came back with the rely,

"You are right here."



Both answers were true. They were accurate. But neither answer was at all helpful. Those answers were nothing but annoying.

Eliphaz's words in chapter 5 are like that. He says some things that are absolutely true. But nothing he says is helpful to Job because he misreads Job's situation.

Eliphaz is a miserable comforter because he doesn't apply the appropriate truth to Job's situation.

Eliphaz says a lot of things that are true. Paul even quotes from his speech in Job 5:13 in 1 Corinthians 3:19. Eliphaz said that God, (verse 13)

"catches the wise in their craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily
are swept away."

The apostle Paul quotes this because it's true. God thwarts the plans of those who are opposed to Him, even the wisest of them. We should be humble before God. Eliphaz thinks that Job needs a dose of humility.

But Eliphaz's application to Job is incorrect. Job is a friend of God, someone who is devoted to God, someone who loves God and has tried to please Him. Job is not someone who is using deceit to trick God or other people. Eliphaz's application to Job is completely off the mark.

Francis I. Andersen notes that the testing of Job is different in chapter 5 than it was at the beginning of Job. Satan's attack has changed. Anderson tells us that Job's testing has become more serious. Earlier,

"The Lord and the Satan discuss Job's character. Job and his friends discuss the Lord's character. Eliphaz's speech presents to Job's mind the horrible thought that God is not merely indifferent, but perverse, even demonic. Eliphaz's analysis forces Job to face this squarely, and it drives his torment to a higher pitch."



If Eliphaz is right in what he tells Job—there is no hope for Job or for mankind. Job knows that what Eliphaz is saying can't be right. If it was, God would be unjust.

Consider some of the things that Eliphaz says here.

First, he tells Job that there is no heavenly being to help him, to act as a mediator.

Eliphaz doesn't deny that there is a mediator between God and man. He actually speaks about this in Job 33:23. He said,

"Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator,
one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him,"

Indeed, in chapter 4 Eliphaz has just claimed to have a divine revelation—a spirit spoke to him. But Eliphaz says that there is no heavenly mediator that will answer Job.

What Eliphaz doing in verses 1 and 2 is implying that Job has disqualified himself from heavenly help. He's implying that God won't hear Job even if someone in heaven interceded for him. This is because Job is a great sinner. Eliphaz tells Job that it is futile for him to call out in prayer because no one will answer him. This is because God doesn't hear those who are hardened in their sin.

That's true. In Isaiah 59:2–4 God said to the people of Judah,

"But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken lies,
and your tongue mutters wicked things.
No one calls for justice;
no one pleads his case with integrity."

But the problem with Eliphaz's redeemer is that he's only for good people, people who are not really bad sinners.

How different the story of our real Redeemer. In 1 Timothy 1:15 the apostle Paul wrote,

"Here is a trustworthy saying
that deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners—of whom I am the worst."

Yes, we have to repent in order to have faith in Jesus. We have to turn from our sins. Faith and repentance always go together. You can't have one without the other. But our repentance is not a work by which we earn faith. No, even repentance is a gift of God. As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:25–26 about a Christian teacher,

"Those who oppose him he must gently instruct,
in the hope that God will grant them repentance
leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
and that they will come to their senses
and escape from the trap of the devil,
who has taken them captive to do his will."

Job, in spite of all the troubles that came His way, had a Redeemer. He knew it. In Job 19:25–27 he said,

"I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him with my own eyes—
I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!"

Job grasped that one day the One great mediator he needed would appear, the one Paul spoke about in 1 Timothy 2:5–6,

"For there is one God and one mediator
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as a ransom for all men—
the testimony given in its proper time."

What a Redeemer Job had! How wrong Eliphaz was. Job is in glory now because of Jesus and His work. Eliphaz was wrong to say that Job didn't have a supernatural mediator he could call upon.

Secondly,

Eliphaz urges Job to repent, to be humble, to appeal directly to God and to commit himself to God—and that God would bless him and he would be prosperous again.

Eliphaz appeals to his own experience and says that he has seen that bad things happen to people who resent God's providences. Christopher Ash tells us that word 'envy' in verse two, (Job, p. 108)

"has the sense of an angry, vexed kicking against what has happened to one."



It has connotations of enmity, animosity. He tells Job what a fool is like. Why would he bring that up unless he thinks that Job is acting like a fool?

He goes on to tell Job that if he did repented, God would bless and protect him, that he would prosper and have a long life. Again, much of what Eliphaz says to Job is true. There are nuggets of gold here. Francis I. Andersen says of verses 9-16,

"This credal hymn is one of the most beautiful examples of this genre in the Bible…"



Of verses 17-26 he says,

"The fifth´╗┐ poem in Eliphaz's miscellany sings of the happiness of the man who takes the troubles of life in the right spirit.""It is a beautiful tribute to the fatherly care of God…"



For example, in verse 17 Eliphaz says,

"Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty."

That's an incredible teaching. Hebrews 12 goes into some detail about this. It says, (Hebrews 12:5–6)

"And you have forgotten that word of encouragement
that addresses you as sons:
'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines
those he loves, and he punishes
everyone he accepts as a son.'"

And verses 18ff are an incredible picture of the blessings that God brings to many of His people.

Many of the things that Eliphaz mentions are great and wonderful truths. But the problem is that they are not helpful to Job. They don't apply to Job. Eliphaz misreads Job's situation. Job is not a fool. He is not a great sinner who is railing against God because God is punishing him for his sins. Job is not suffering because he is disobedient to God. It's especially ironic when Eliphaz lists the blessings of the righteous, how God protects them from disasters, Eliphaz is encouraging Job to fear God, (Christopher Ash, Job, p. 112)

"for exactly the reason the Satan said he had always feared God—for the rewards of piety rather than because God is God."




Eliphaz didn't understand Job's situation at all. He didn't understand how God was dealing with Job.

One of the great truths of the book of Job is that Job suffers precisely because he is righteous.

Some of the best Christians suffer the most suffer. That's why Job as suffering. Jesus suffered. On this earth suffering is not limited to those that are extremely wicked. It's much more complicated than that. Sometimes there are mysterious, hidden things going on. God, in His providence, in redeeming this world, in bringing His people to glory, sometimes wills that they go through intense suffering. Eliphaz has no conception of this. He has no conception of the cross. Christopher Ash writes,

"Ultimately any counsel that is devoid of the cross will be discouraging and hurtful. Eliphaz has kind intentions, but the impact of his counsel is deeply painful for Job. As Job listens to the blessings outlined by Eliphaz, it cannot escape his attention that he himself has been deprived of them all. Since the message of Eliphaz is a message of piety and religion rather than the gospel of grace, Job will be driven to despair if he believes it. Any message other than the gospel of the cross will ultimately lead suffering men and women to despair. Only the gospel of the cross can bring true comfort."


There are many applications we can make from this. But we're going to look at just two.

The first one is this:

You should recognize that God is God, and that often His ways are mysterious to us, His ways often seem counterintuitive to us, and that His ways often mean temporary suffering for us His people.

I think that in some ways Eliphaz thought he had God all figured out. He thought that if you were obedient to God, God would inevitably bless you with earthly blessings. It's almost like he viewed God as a vending machine. If you put money in you'd get something good out of it. The prosperity gospel is not true. Eliphaz could in some senses, be called a prosperity preacher.

But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in ruling the universe and His church, often has different plans for His people. In 1 Peter 4:12–14, 19 the apostle Peter wrote,

"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.
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ,
you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory
and of God rests on you…
So then, those who suffer
according to God's will should commit
themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."

When Ananias hesitated to go to Saul of Tarsus and lay his hands on him to restore his sight, God said to him about the future apostle Paul, (Acts 9:15–16)

"Go! This man is my chosen instrument
to carry my name before the Gentiles
and their kings and before the people of Israel.
I will show him how much
he must suffer for my name."

Ananias hesitated because he thought God was making a mistake. But God's providences are a lot more complicated than we can even know. In Isaiah 55 God said, (Isaiah 55:8–9)

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and
my thoughts than your thoughts."

Those providences, the providences of our Good Shepherd, sometimes involve suffering for His faithful people. In John 15:20 Jesus said to His disciples,

"No servant is greater than his master.
If they persecuted me,
they will persecute you also."

You must be prepared to trust your Savior no matter what He sends your way. Francis I. Anderson writes,

"Job had long since learnt to view his good life as a gift, not a reward, so he has no complaint when it is removed. He has submitted no petition for its restoration."



Each of us must remember that God has purposes and plans for us. Often they are very individual. In Acts 16 we see that God had plans to deliver a demon possessed girl from her affliction. God had plans to save the Philippian jailer and his whole household. God's plan for bringing that to pass involved Paul and Silas getting thrown in jail for casting the demon out of the slave girl. It was through the suffering of Paul and Silas that the jailer was saved.

God's plans for His people are individually tailored. I find it fascinating how Peter, after Jesus told him that he was going to die for His glory—Peter immediately turned around, looked at John and asked, (John 21:21)

"Lord, what about him?"

Jesus replied, (John 21:22)

"If I want him to remain alive until I return,
what is that to you? You must follow me."

Let God be God. We should all have the attitude that Jesus had in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said, (Luke 22:42)

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet not my will, but yours be done."

Secondly, we see from all this that

Christianity is not about being good and having God prosper us with earthly blessings.

Christianity is about God's grace, about being freely saved by the work of Jesus. We don't earn it, we're not worthy of it—it's all because of God's love, mercy and good pleasure.

Christianity is often about suffering for God's glory. Yes, there are great blessings associated with being a Christian. The fruits of the Spirit are so wonderful. (Galatians 5:22-23) And Romans 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:17 make it clear that there are great blessings in the future.

But there is suffering before glory. Christopher Ash writes, (Job, p 114-115)

"Although our sufferings are not payments for anybody's sin (that was entirely covered by Christ), they are necessary and have the character of redemptive suffering in the sense that they are a part of God's redemptive plan to bring the gospel to a needy world. They are 'for the sake of the elect' (2 Timothy 2:10). To understand this enables us both to see Job's sufferings as a foreshadowing of the ultimate sufferings of Christ and also to see them as continuing in the sufferings of Christians."



(p. 113-114)

"So Job's experience can only begin to be comprehended in the light of the cross of Christ. When as Christians we suffer in part as Job suffered, we do so only as those who are in some strange way filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Christian sufferings are in part a taking up of the cross, a sharing in unjust suffering, a participation in the sufferings of Christ in order that glory and honor may be brought to God on the day of Christ. Without the cross of Christ Job cannot be understood. This is Eliphaz's mistake. He and his friends will give us the best that the wisdom of the world can offer, the cream of the wisdom that comes from morality and human religion. But without the cross it makes no final sense."


Embrace God's plan for you. You are here for His glory. You are here for His kingdom. As Paul said to his son on the faith, Timothy, (2 Timothy 1:8–12)

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord,
or ashamed of me his prisoner.
But join with me in suffering
for the gospel, by the power of God,
who has saved us and called us to a holy life—
not because of anything we have done
but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus
before the beginning of time,
but it has now been revealed
through the appearing of our Savior,
Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death
and has brought life and immortality
to light through the gospel.
And of this gospel I was appointed
a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
That is why I am suffering as I am.
Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed,
and am convinced that he is able
to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day."