Round two begins. Eliphaz steps back up to the mic. He has much to say, at least in words. He doesn’t really say much in substance. His message is similar to what has already been said – Job has sinned. All of this would not have happened to him unless he had sinned in some way.
Specifically, Job is accused of not fearing God (vs. 4). Even more specifically, Eliphaz pulls out the “we’re older than you and therefore automatically more wise than you card” – vs. 7-11. Job has ceased to fear God, but they fear God and the evidence for this is simply because they are older than him.
Should someone who is older be wiser than someone who is younger? Well, all things being equal, yes that would be expected and even hoped. However, it doesn’t always work that way and it certainly isn’t a formula that is based primarily on the length of one’s life.
Proverbs tell us, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”. A person only grows in wisdom as thy have grown in and continued in a fear of the LORD. The reality is a young person who is living in the fear of the LORD will often have wisdom that surpasses their years, while an older person who has been living according to their own ideas or in the fear of ___________________ (fill in the blank – others, the world, humanistic philosophy, etc.) will be foolish.
This is not an opportunity for youth to become proud – evidence they are not walking in the fear of the LORD anyway. This is also not an opportunity for the aged to give up hope as God grants wisdom to those who ask. We can pursue the fear of the LORD and ought to pursue the fear of the LORD at any point in our life.
What does it mean to “fear the LORD’? We often think of living before God in a sense of awe and reverence. This is certainly part of it. From what we have seen thus far Job has a deep sense of awe for the LORD – Eliphaz is mistaken in his assessment of Job on this level.
But there is more… Psalm 19:7-9
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
Do you notice the six pairs of bold and italic phrases? In very neat and compact poetic form, the Psalmist uses six phrases to describe God’s Word and six phrases to describe what God’s Word does in the life of God’s people. They all seem fairly straightforward except for the unexpected phrase “the fear of the LORD is clean”. Clearly in this sequence, the phrase “the fear of the LORD” is used as a descriptor for God’s Word.
This makes sense. Proper fear of the LORD isn’t just awe and wonder. It isn’t even just reverence. It isn’t even just terror, which does have a place in one’s understanding of fear for God. It is rightly informed awe, wonder, reverence and even, when called for, terror.
To live in the fear of the LORD which is the beginning of wisdom is to know God for Who He is as He has revealed Himself in His Word. It isn’t to form our own ideas of who we think God is or what we think He is like. It is to know Him truly and to then stand before Him in adoration as we behold His glory more fully.
Job hasn’t always gotten this right. He hasn’t accused God of wrong, we know that. Yet he hasn’t fully grasped the nature and character of God, which has led to times of deep confusion and bewilderment.
This will be true for any who are on the path towards wisdom and who are seeking to know God, fear Him and love Him. A characteristic of one who is on this path is his/her humble submission to God’s instruction as they continue to grow in knowledge and wisdom and their humble repentance when they see their folly.
Job is no fool… Eliphaz, resting on no more than his chronological age, does not show himself to be one who properly fears the LORD.
Where are you? Age is not the question. Do you know God as He has revealed Himself in His Word? Are you pursuing Him in His Word to know Him more, fear Him truly and love Him wholly?
Soli Deo Gloria
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