Pondering Job in a Pandemic – Chapter 5

Eliphaz is still speaking here… Proverbs 10:19 tells us “When words are many, transgression is not lacking…” Job’s counsellors will prove this to be true time and time again! Yet, more often than not, not because they have nothing true to say, but the truth they say is incomplete and poorly timed.

Eliphaz’s simple point in the second part of this, his first speech, is – turn to God in confession and all will be well. All your troubles will be gone. You will know nothing but health, wealth and prosperity.

Eliphaz may have been the first Health, Wealth and Prosperity preacher. (Actually, Satan was but that is another blog post for another time!)

It isn’t that he doesn’t say things that are true.

Verse 7 – “but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward”. A famous verse from Job. A simple statement on how trouble is the common experience of humanity. This is true, of course. We live in a Fallen world. It is impossible to live in this world without experiencing trouble.

Yet, Eliphaz seems to believe that God will always free us from our troubles. He almost presents it as though God is obligated to do so.

From verses 8-26 Eliphaz outlines in black and white a picture of the “good life” and presents this as the guaranteed experience here and now of all those who “turn to God.” He concludes in verse 27 basically saying – “I know what I’m talking about, I have spoken! Listen to me and all will be well.”

Imagine the timing of Eliphaz’s words to Job… Especially verses 24-26. Job has just lost all of his animal stock, all of his children and his health. Eliphaz says – none of that will happen to one who has “turned to God.”

Elpiphaz has no category in his theology for God’s providential work in the life of His covenant children whereby He will graciously and purposefully use suffering and loss for their good and His glory.

A retired minister whom I greatly respect, Peter Adam, recently sent out an unpublished paper he has written, where he states the following:

“We have been brainwashed by our Western society to think that we can live our invincible lives in health, wealth, and happiness, that suffering and sacrifice must be avoided, and that death must be hidden and hushed up: it has become the great unmentionable.
Covid 19 is such a challenge to our comfortable Western lives. We are suffering two Pandemics at the same time: the Covid 19 Pandemic, and the Panic Pandemic!”

As Christians we can find ourselves thinking more like our culture and more like Eliphaz than we realise.

The book of Job falls within the category of Hebrew Wisdom literature as Job forever stands as a detailed description of God purifying His people (those who have “turned to Him”) through suffering.

Our God is good, all the time.

Soli Deo Gloria

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