Passage: Job 4-5
Eliphaz Speaks: The Innocent Prosper
4 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2 “If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
Yet who can keep from speaking?
3 Behold, you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
4 Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
6 Is not your fear of God[a] your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
7 “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?
Or where were the upright cut off?
8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity
and sow trouble reap the same.
9 By the breath of God they perish,
and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
10 The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
the teeth of the young lions are broken.
11 The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.
12 “Now a word was brought to me stealthily;
my ear received the whisper of it.
13 Amid thoughts from visions of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
14 dread came upon me, and trembling,
which made all my bones shake.
15 A spirit glided past my face;
the hair of my flesh stood up.
16 It stood still,
but I could not discern its appearance.
A form was before my eyes;
there was silence, then I heard a voice:
17 ‘Can mortal man be in the right before[b] God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?
18 Even in his servants he puts no trust,
and his angels he charges with error;
19 how much more those who dwell in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
who are crushed like[c] the moth.
20 Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces;
they perish forever without anyone regarding it.
21 Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them,
do they not die, and that without wisdom?’
5 “Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?
To which of the holy ones will you turn?
2 Surely vexation kills the fool,
and jealousy slays the simple.
3 I have seen the fool taking root,
but suddenly I cursed his dwelling.
4 His children are far from safety;
they are crushed in the gate,
and there is no one to deliver them.
5 The hungry eat his harvest,
and he takes it even out of thorns,[d]
and the thirsty pant[e] after his[f] wealth.
6 For affliction does not come from the dust,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground,
7 but man is born to trouble
as the sparks fly upward.
8 “As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,
9 who does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number:
10 he gives rain on the earth
and sends waters on the fields;
11 he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12 He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
13 He catches the wise in their own craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
14 They meet with darkness in the daytime
and grope at noonday as in the night.
15 But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth
and from the hand of the mighty.
16 So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts her mouth.
17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
18 For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.
19 He will deliver you from six troubles;
in seven no evil[g] shall touch you.
20 In famine he will redeem you from death,
and in war from the power of the sword.
21 You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue,
and shall not fear destruction when it comes.
22 At destruction and famine you shall laugh,
and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.
23 For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,
and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.
24 You shall know that your tent is at peace,
and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.
25 You shall know also that your offspring shall be many,
and your descendants as the grass of the earth.
26 You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,
like a sheaf gathered up in its season.
27 Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.
Hear, and know it for your good.”[h]
Intro: We don’t know how to comfort others. We have faulty theology that gets in the way of effective comfort. Effective comfort and effective theology go hand in hand.
It is the privilege of the comforting Christian to help others see the sovereign God in times of suffering.
Outro: We must have a category for innocent suffering. Without it, there is no Christianity. Our entire worldview is based on innocent suffering. Listen!
Jesus of Nazareth, God in the flesh, was blameless. He never broke God’s law or contradicted God’s character. He achieved true righteousness. And He suffered so that lawbreakers and sinners could be in communion with God for eternity. Do you have a category for innocent suffering? I hope so! Innocent suffering is the pinnacle of redemption and the centerpiece of our faith!
Job’s friends want the wicked to be punished now? For their sake, I’m glad God didn’t. No. Rather, God stored up wrath that we and Job’s friends deserved and poured it out on Jesus as he took our place in death (Isaiah 53). Thank God he has delayed wrath and concentrated it on His Son Jesus.
Very simply, the cross of Jesus fills the void in the faulty theology of Job’s friends. They can’t conceive of innocent suffering. But God can. And Jesus became the innocent sufferer so that we might live.
So church, you see that God intends for us to be effective comforters not just so that we can help people feel better. Not just so that we can smile again. Not just so that we can put the “nasty” behind us.
We need to be effective comforters because the only true comfort, the only lasting comfort in this life is found in the finished work of Jesus Christ and the life he brings through his death in our place. And our comfort is incomplete without Him, the one who suffered most.