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Hope in the midst of darkness
Thoughts on Job's 2nd interaction with Eliphaz
Job 15-17

A couple of weeks ago we began to study the Book of Job together

-It introduces us to a man named Job
-Job was the most righteous man on Earth
-Satan, appearing before God-- for all are accountable to God, contended that Job only followed God because he was healthy, wealthy, and incredibly blessed.
-To prove to Satan that Job didn't follow God because of his health or any material blessing, God allowed to afflict Job-- Job proved faithful, keeping his faith in God under the most extreme circumstances. While this might sound strange, what's amazing is how confident and pleased God was with Job.
-Central to the account of Job is that he was a righteous sufferer. The things he experienced were not because he had sinned or done wrong. The hardships he went through were because he was righteous. In trying to figure this out- there is only one explanation that makes any sense--- Job points us to Jesus- the ultimate righteous sufferer.
-While suffering for righteousness sake, at first blush, is not terribly appealing, when we see such as an identification with Christ himself and hence as a part of the advancement of Christ's kingdom, that helps frame it in a new light. (see also Hebrews 11:32-40)

This morning we are going to take a look at Job 15-17.

Job 15-17 marks the beginning of the 2nd of 3 cycles of speeches that Job has with his 3 friends -who turned out to be miserable comforters

As we are in the middle of the speeches of Job and his friends and there is a whole lot of speeches to go, it's easy for us to get bogged down and impatient and want to skip ahead to the end. However, short circuiting a journey such as we are on would not be a good thing- for we are learning about a subject that universal to all people- suffering, grief, and loss - there is much for us to yet learn that we might be equipped to help those in their time of need and go through the valley ourselves.


In Job 15 Eliphaz- who was the first to respond to Job declaration that he wished he had never been born and that God would kill him, laces in to Job again.

As in the other speeches, Eliphaz is not very nice in what he says to Job and he doggedly sticks to the assertion that Job is a wicked man who is properly suffering for his sins.

Read Job 15


I. A COMMENT ON SOME OF THE THINGS THAT ELIPHAZ SAID

1. Job- you don't know what you are talking about. You are not as smart as you think. v.1-3,7-10

2. You are causing others to stumble in their walk with God! v.4

How patently untrue-- For the testimony of Job helps us in our time of trial!

3. God has been good to you- why can't you see that v.11 Talk about rubbing salt in the wound -for Job could perceive no comfort

4. Why are you so mad at God? v.12-13

Herein at least Eliphaz has noticed that Job is angry- and seems to be angry at God.

I'm not sure how angry Job was with God as he was with his friends who kept provoking him. It is true though, that Job's perception of God in the midst of his suffering had began to skew to the negative

Questions: Have you ever been mad at God? Is there any point? Can any good come from that? Does God allow it? Is there a way to respectfully disagree with God? Is God the right person to be angry with - Do we ever unfairly blame Him for our troubles?

5. Sin is your problem- all have sinned v.14-16

This is true. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23

While all are sinners- Eliphaz wrong about Job's current sufferings being related to his sin.

Interesting though... v.14 "What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?"

There is a YES answer to this problem that we have-- The answer to our sin, our impurity, our unrighteousness is found in Christ- who cleanses us from all our sins and takes away our guilt, imputing to us his righteousness- such is by in Jesus who died for our sins and rose again on the third day.

6. You are a wicked man v.17-35

In v.17-35 Eliphaz focuses on the wicked and how suffering, punishment, and despair is the only expectation for such a person.

The problem: Those who "shake their fist at God" v.25 often live peaceful and prosperous lives

The only solution to this, as noted last week when we peeked at Psalm 73 - which addresses this very problem- is to take a long view and know that a day is coming when all will appear before Christ to give an account. Perfect justice will be done.


The problem with Eliphaz's speech- which is directed at Job-- JOB WAS A RIGHTEOUS SUFFERER- akin to Christ.

Eliphaz's theology was not developed enough to factor that there was such a thing as righteous sufferers- who could bring glory to God and commendation- by going through hard times.


II. JOB'S RESPONSE TO ELIPHAZ - Job 16-17

1. You and your friends are miserable comforters- please stop talking v.1-5

While rebuking his friends for their hurtful words Job does give us a clue on how to help someone who is distressed and sorrowing- SAY KIND AND ENCOURAGING WORDS - (but not platitudes!) v.5

2. My pain is not going away v.6

"Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved; and if I refrain, it does not go away."

Where is our friend Job-- He's still in the valley of the shadow of death.
When it comes to the process of grief, there is no quick exit- (things take time) but what is most helpful and needed is supportive friends

Related to his pain: Note how Job describes himself and his sufferings in Job 16-17

Gaunt, stick thin, shriveled, worn out, near death, face red with weeping, dark shadows ring his eyes, having a broken spirit, surrounded by mockers and people who even spit in his face.

What great pain. What great sorrow.


3. It seems that God hates me

While Romans 8:31 says; "If God is for me, who be be against me" In chapter 16-17 we see a notable shift in Job's view of God- in that it darkens and turns a bit negative

Note the things Job says about God -while continuing to assert his innocence

-You've worn me out
-You've devastated my entire household
-You've wrecked my body
-God is angry with me. He's against me
-God has turned me over to the ungodly with the result that I am mocked, made fun of, and even slapped without reason
-God has crushed me and broken me
-God is using me as target practice and He keeps coming at me again and again without mercy
-God is so against me that when people mention my name, I stand an example one cursed

Some points

a. Our perceptions of God have a tendency of changing depending on our circumstances- and yet God never changes.
b. Pain and suffering have a way of skewing our thinking about God
c. The fact is: Job was most treasured to God- But Job wasn't able to make this out- though we know.

Despite how we might feel- GOD LOVES US-- See John 3:16, 1 John 4:10

4. While Job's view of God was a bit "off" he had HOPE, he still had faith in God

One constant feature through the book of Job is his faith in God- showing up in almost every speech he makes

Take a look with me at Job 16:18-21 "Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.

A couple of things about these verses

a. He makes a reference to the blood of Abel and how God heard it
b. These words of Job have a prophetic aspect to them- being fulfilled in Jesus Christ- our advocate.

I John 2:1-2 teaches us that when we who are the followers of Christ sin that Jesus speaks to the Father in our defense
c. This connects to a prior statement that Job made- In Job 9:33 Job said "If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together" The fulfillment of this is found in Christ, for 1 Timothy 2:5-6a says; "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.


Note the faith and hope of Job in Job 17:3-4

"Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me? You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph. " Job 17:3-4

What is Job asking? He's asking God to be his surety. He's asking God to come to his defense against the ridiculous charges of his friends. He's believing for God to do this.

Job's petition relates to Isaiah 50:7-9 "Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up."

Note also the faith and hope of Job in Job 17:6-9

"He has made me a byword of the peoples, and I am one before whom men spit. My eye has grown dim from vexation, and all my members are like a shadow. The upright are appalled at this, and the innocent stirs himself up against the godless. Yet the righteous holds to his way, and he who has clean hands grows stronger and stronger.

While Job kind of thought that God hated him, while he was in pain, though troubled and overwhelmed, Job kept his faith, Job kept calling on God to vindicate him, Job had a hope that God would rescue him.

No matter what happens, we need to hold on to our faith-- Despite what Eliphaz said about Job being a stumbling block to devotion to God, Job is in fact an inspiration for us

LET US SING

BENEDICTION

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies."