Monday, April 9, 2018

Year 8, Day 99: Job 5

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Job 5 is one of those chapters where I always get sucked into the wrong thinking.  This is a great chapter to lift up the need for genuinely good Bible knowledge.  After all, when we read Job 5 we read a bunch of things that sound like great advice!  Job 5:8 says, “As for me, I would seek God.”  That’s great advice, right?  Job 5:15 says, “He saves the needy from the sword of their mouth and from the hand of the mighty.”  That’s true, right?  Job 5:17-22 gives us a long string of woes that we are promised to overcome: trouble, famine, war, tongue-lashing, destruction, and beasts of the earth.  Those are all things God can overcome, right?  What’s so bad about Eliphaz’s advice?

The problem with Eliphaz’s advice is that it is contextual.  At times, the words that Eliphaz says are absolutely true!  God is the one to whom we should turn.  God can save us in our time of need.  God can overcome famine, beasts of the earth, and even powerful human beings.

However, God does not always overcome these things.  Did He not send His own son to die on the cross?  Did not the vast majority of Jesus’ disciples die in persecution?  Did God not allow His people to go into captivity not once but thrice?  (Egypt, Babylon/Assyria/Persia, Greece/Rome)  God can save us, but He does not always do so.  Sometimes He lets us receive our own consequences.  Sometimes we experience hardship so that we are in a position to minister to others.

This leads us to the real problem with Eliphaz’s advice.  Eliphaz’s advice makes a lot of sense should it be spoken to someone who does not know God or someone whose faith in God is wavering.  But that isn’t the case here.  Job is righteous by God’s own account!  When Eliphaz says, “I would turn to God,” he is make an assumption that Job is in need of turning to God!  That’s just not true here.  Job hasn’t left God; Job has been with God all along.  Job’s suffering isn’t because he is far from God.  In fact, Job’s suffering is because he was so close to God that God recommended him to Satan!

There is a time and a place for Eliphaz’s advice. This just isn’t it.  Eliphaz isn’t in danger of giving bad advice here, he’s giving ill-timed advice.  Eliphaz’s error is not taking the time to understand his audience and making assumptions about what needs to be said.

For me, this is the big teaching here.  A good Word from God isn’t a platitude that we’ve heard said again and again.  Godly messages are just as much about timing as they are about the message.  God speaks to people in their context, so should we.

When we simply speak platitudes and expressions we’ve heard other people say without first listening and understanding the context of the person to whom we are speaking, we do them an incredible disservice and likely bring damage and not hope to the relationship.