Tag Archives: divine earthly retribution

With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√IV. The Badgering of Bildad: Round One Ch. 8)

Job has held his own in this first round of exhortations from Eliphaz. He has defended himself against the accusation that he is under God’s discipline. And he has not caved in to Eliphaz’s claim of a supernatural vision that gives him godly wisdom. But Job’s despair continues. He wants to die. He sees himself as God’s target. Now a second friend begins his lecture.

IV. The Badgering of Bildad: Round One (Ch. 8)

Bildad is outraged at the words of Job, categorizing what Job says as “a blustering wind” (v. 2). He is angered that Job is accusing God of perverting justice, of violating what is right.

Bildad then uses words that must have deeply stung Job when he says, “When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.” (v. 4) What evidence did Bildad have for such an accusation? He simply drew that conclusion based on the horrific death the children died.

Bildad then challenges Job to seek God and repent. If he does, Bildad promises, God will restore Job’s prosperity (vv. 6-7).

Bildad then employs what I would call an argumentum ad seniorum (an argument from age). He is certain that former generations will agree with him (vv. 8-9), that those who forget God will be like reeds withering without water (vv. 11-13). Bildad warns Job that he might well perish with the godless (v. 13).

Bildad continues with his analogies from nature, comparing the godless to those who lean on a spider’s web (v. 14). They are like a well-watered plant which, when torn from its spot, is disowned by the place where it grew, a place which even says to that plant, “I never saw you.” (v. 18).

Bildad then pontificates on the ways of God. God does not reject one who is blameless (which Job obviously is not). Then Bildad promises a restoration of laughter and joy when Job repents before the Lord (vv. 21-22).

How will Job respond to this second friend? That will be our discussion in our next post.

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Posted by on December 30, 2022 in the book of Job


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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz Chs. 6-7)

We do not know if Job has left the ash-heap, but that place of silence and suffering now becomes a lengthy and painful platform of debate on the ways of God. This first friend Eliphaz, no doubt deeply concerned about Job, could no longer remain silent. His own understanding of life and the Person and works of God must be given voice. Now Job responds to this first lecture. Job matches Eliphaz’s two chapters of exhorations with two chapters of response.

III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Ch. 6)

Job begins by wishing that he could physically weigh his anguish, for it would be greater that the sand of the sea (v. 2).

But Job does not blame natural disasters or the wind or the marauding armies for his losses. He makes it quite clear that these are the Almighty’s poisoned arrows which have pierced him (v. 4). And it seems that all of God’s terrors are marshaled against him.

Job has one request: that the Lord would end his life. But he says he would have “joy in unrelenting pain.” What would be that joy? “That I had not denied the words of the Holy One” (v. 10).

Job then attacks his counselors and hurls a direct charge against his friends: They are guilty of withholding kindness from him and in effect are themselves forsaking the fear of the Almighty! (v. 14).

He compares his friends to intermittent streams that overflow when they shouldn’t and dry up when they are most needed (vv. 15-17). Caravans are desperate for their refreshing water, but find only dry disappointment. You, my friends, Job says, have proved to be of no help (v. 21). Job has not asked them for any sort of deliverance.

He then challenges them to show him where he is wrong, accusing them of casting lots for the fatherless and bartering away their friend (v. 27). His own integrity, he says, is at stake (v. 29).

III. Job’s Response to Eliphaz (Ch. 7)

Describing himself as an overworked, hired laborer, Job says he has been “allotted months of futility” (v. 3). He is unable to sleep and his body is clothed with worms and festering scabs (v. 5). Although some time has passed, his wounds have not healed.

He directly addresses the Lord by reminding Him that his life is but a breath and that his eyes will never see happiness again (v. 7). He anticipates his death, a time when he will “be no more”, never to come to his own house again. (vv. 9-10).

But Job is not resigned to silence. He will not keep silent; he will complain in the bitterness of his soul (v. 11). His torture even invades his sleep with terrifying dreams and visions (v. 14). He despises his life, would prefer to be strangled to death, and wants God to leave him alone (v. 16).

Job is convinced that God has made him His target, that he has become a burden that God will not forgive. And he hopes soon to “lie down in the dust” of death (v. 21).

But a second friend waits in the wings — and we will examine his intervention in Job’s life.

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Posted by on December 27, 2022 in the book of Job


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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√II. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round One Chs. 4-5)

Now Job’s silent companions break their silence and begin their lectures. We assume they overheard Job’s lament in chapter three. And to their ears those words of despair sounded like Job was not just cursing the day of his birth, but the God who allowed him to be born! Perhaps in their minds Job was indeed fulfilling Satan’s desire that Job curse God. They may have even thought that he was following the advice of his wife and was in reality cursing God and waiting to die.

II. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round One (Ch. 4)

Most of the rest of the book of Job records the exchanges between Job and his friends. If we take the testimony of chapter one seriously, most of their advice to Job is misguided. He did not bring these tragedies on himself by his sinful conduct. He is, as it were, a human actor in a cosmic showdown between God and Satan. He does not know this, nor do his “counselors.” And so the lectures begin.

Eliphaz begins his first lecture by reminding Job of the power of words. Job had instructed and strengthened many with his words (v. 4). Now he needs to listen so that he will be encouraged.

Eliphaz immediately raises one of the primary issues in this book when he asks, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?” (v. 7). This concept, sometimes referred to as divine earthly retribution, insists that those who sow evil in this life will experience judgment in this life (v. 8). Eliphaz states that “At the breath of God they [the wicked] perish; at the blast of his anger they are no more” (v. 9). [We will deal later with the suggestion that the wicked will be put out of existence by God, a false view known as annihilationism].

Eliphaz then resorts to a time-honored approach of those who would counsel the broken: “I’ve had a vision from the Lord!” He claims a spirit “glided past my face” at night, terrifying me (v. 15). And the spirit had a message: “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?” (v. 17). Compared to the angels, mortal man is like the dust from which he was formed, liable to being broken to pieces like pottery, subject to dying without wisdom (vv. 19-21).

II. The Exhortations of Eliphaz: Round One (Ch. 5)

Eliphaz’s round one lecture continues into chapter 5 of Job. He accuses Job of resentment and envy (v. 2). He even says that such a fool’s children are crushed in court without a defender (v. 4). Job’s children had been crushed by that wind which brought their house down! It is in this part of Eliphaz’s lecture that we get the very famous statement “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (v. 7).

Eliphaz then pleads with Job to make his appeal to God, to lay out his cause before Him (v. 8). He then rehearses the mighty works of God: unfathomed wonders, incalculable miracles, rain for the earth. God thwarts the plans of the crafty, saves the needy from the powerful, “so the poor have hope” (vv. 9-16).

It is obvious to Eliphaz that Job is under the discipline of the Lord (v. 17). Eliphaz then recounts the actions of God for those who respond to His correction. God will heal, rescue, deliver from death. You will laugh at destruction and famine and not even need to fear the wild animals (v. 22). You will have confidence that your tent is secure; none of your property will be missing. Your children will be many and you will come to the grave in full vigor (v. 26).

Lastly, Eliphaz appeals to Job and says, “We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.” (v. 27).

These words are hard and direct from Eliphaz. This first lecture is only the beginning. And Eliphaz appears to be the leader of these friends, as we see at the end of the book when the Lord specifically addresses him and says, “I am angry with you and your two friends because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” (42:7).

How Job responds to this first well-intentioned “intervention” will be the focus in our next post.


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Posted by on December 26, 2022 in the book of Job


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