Eliphaz's First Speech (Part 1)
In Job 3, we considered the great patriarch's words of misery to the friends who had come to mourn with him. Job wished he had never been born or that he had been stillborn. But, since he was born alive, he now desires death and rest.

Eliphaz's first speech is recorded in Job 4 & 5. We will give general attention to his argumentation in chapter 4 today and then chapter 5 in our next lesson.

Eliphaz begins with some questions - "If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary? But who can withhold himself from speaking?" (4:2). In other words, Job, will you accept what I have to tell you? I don't know how you will take it, but I must speak--regardless.

Job's friend proceeds to complement him in four ways. He acknowledges Job as one who has instructed many, strengthened weak hands, upheld the stumbling, and strengthened feeble knees. However, now the tables have turned on Job.

Eliphaz then declares the basic thrust of his position - "Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of His anger they are consumed" (Job 4:7-9). Eliphaz and the other friends were strong believers in the notion that the righteous do not suffer or perish as the wicked do. They based this belief upon what they had observed. However, their knowledge and understanding were indeed limited. The implication of his question is simple: Job you must be guilty because of the way you are suffering!

It must be understood that Eliphaz's comments on sowing and reaping are true, but not in an absolute temporal sense (cf. Gal. 6:7; Hosea 8:7). Man does in fact reap what he has sown, but the reaping is never accomplished completely in this life (cf. II Cor. 5:10). Punishment for sin is inevitable, but not all sins are punished in this lifetime (and not all suffering is a direct punishment for sin). It is true that even if the wicked are as strong as lions, they will perish by "the blast of God," but when? Not necessarily in this life but on Jehovah's timetable. Eliphaz believed God meted out all justice in this realm. Such is simply not true.

Eliphaz attempts to strengthen his argument by appealing to a frightening vision he allegedly experienced (cf. Job 4:12-16). He builds up dramatically to two questions - "Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?" (Job 4:17). The questions demand a "no" answer. No one can be just before God or pure before his Maker.

It would seem Eliphaz is claiming his message here is from God (although I do not believe it due to a false statement he utters in 4:18). It is simply not the case that God "puts no trust in His servants." God does trust angels and has given jobs for them to do. This is not to say that some angels have not failed in their duties. Additionally, God trusts mankind with the saving message of the gospel (cf. II Cor. 4:7). It is our responsibility to take it to a lost world.

We will consider Eliphaz's words from Job 5 in our next lesson.