This chapter reminds us of the dangers of assumption and the irony of accusation and of why we don’t know so much in this world. We are so ingrained in human wisdom instead of divine wisdom and we need God to enlighten us with His Word.
Job 15 begins a new section in these dialogues that revolve around the question of Why. Why did God do what he did to Job? Why is God killing Job? The question isn’t about rightness, but about motivation, about immediate causes. Is Job’s suffering caused by evil, random, meaningless things?
Also, this is the beginning of the second round in the three-part series. The first round begins with the pre-modern worldview, an epistemology which claims to make sense of heaven and earth. Each man takes a different tack: Eliphaz = history; Bildad = science; Zophar = philosophy and theology. Job is the one who is challenging and proving them wrong.
Job’s first rebuttal then moves the discussion into the second section which is the modern worldview. Their epistemology is limited from what you can’t see (heaven) to only what they can see with their eyes (earth). That’s all they can be sure of, which is, in essence, a modernistic epistemology. They think they can see how the world works just by trusting their senses.
You also have to know everything they’ve already said, or you won’t get the humor, irony, or clash. This is all live conversation (a debate), and they remember what they’ve said.
Eliphaz fundamentally challenges Job, trying to identify where Job went wrong in his argumentation before. He says Job is full of hot air; he is full of emotion and anger and has no composure or intellectual ability. Emotional reasoning is never sound, and Eliphaz is accusing Job of that—“useless talk.” But just because Job is emotional doesn’t mean he can’t contradict them logically.
He blames Job for having no fear of God, even though Job 1 says Job did. Maybe Eliphaz is right, we don’t exactly how Job is talking, but we do know some of the things he’s said are hyperbolic and extreme. We can’t pinpoint an exact moment in which Job loses his fear but we know from Job 28 that he does in the end. And in that way he starts to become foolish—because he stops revering God.
Eliphaz says Job’s emotional outrage is proof he is guilty since the mouth is speaking out of the overflow of the heart. But Job could be emotional just because he’s suffering (as in Job 6 where he said how much he’s hurting). It’s not a strict cause-and-effect. So Eliphaz has jumped the gun in typical DR Principle style. Eliphaz is assuming everything Job is doing now is a response of his prior guilt. He’s just like a bad detective. He says since Job acts guilty, he must be. He can’t know what’s going on in heaven (see, he’s backing off his pre-modern epistemology), but he sees Job and his actions, and he says Job looks guilty. He’s making a connection that isn’t valid, even though it looks valid to him.
The irony of jumping the gun, of making the assumption
You are acting guilty!
Eliphaz the historian takes us back to the first man, to the pattern of life. The way the world works in history goes beyond creation. Job rebutted them earlier by saying, You can’t know what’s going on in heaven, and Eliphaz here is saying, Well, you don’t either! You don’t have a corner on the truth!
Now we are at a stalemate. Neither know. But then Eliphaz goes on because he thinks he does know. Ironic.
Eliphaz is just stealing Job’s words (cf. Job 12:3). Ridiculous. But what Job did differently than Eliphaz at this point is he presented counter-options and alternatives, evidence that he knew more. Bildad gave 6 verses about science, Job gives a whole chapter. Zophar talks about God doing incredible things for 4 verses, Job talks about it for 12. Job can out-complexity their complexity, whereas Eliphaz’s retort is baseless: it has no evidence. Eliphaz is totally blind to his assumptions and the irony in them.
The logic is that wisdom comes with age (cf. Job 12:12), but Job has already talked about that. Wisdom resides with God, not age (Job 12:13). Eliphaz sees what he wants to see, but he doesn’t realize that. You can see how modernism quickly degrades into postmodernism which says since we are biased, we can’t see objectively; we can’t know what’s right in front of our faces because we can’t actually see it. (Job will exploit this in the next ch.)
The comforts from God in this context are Eliphaz’s speech in the past. He said he had a divine revelation so that he is God’s gift to Job (Job 4:12). Job should have embraced his words (even though his arguments were never actually comforting).
Eliphaz says: Why are you so mad Job? Your anger at my words show me you are guilty. That shows me you hate the truth and are angry at God. (He equates his words with God’s words.)
This is a repeat of his idiotic logic. Everyone is evil, yes, but the logical problem is that God doesn’t always punish for evil. Evil doesn’t always require a cause-and-effect punishment. Sometimes the two don’t correlate. So he’s jumping the gun.
(Example: Frog story. You have a pet frog, and you love him. You are doing a science experiment, and so you say “Jump frog!” And he jumps. So you take out a pair of scissors and cut off a leg, and he jumps less. You repeat the process until finally you say “Jump frog!” but he doesn’t jump. You write on the report that the cut-off legs correspond to the frog’s ability to hear. Because when you said, “Jump frog!” and it didn’t jump, clearly it is because it didn’t hear me. False association of cause.)
Is Job sinful? Yes. Is Job suffering? Yes. But Eliphaz is making an assumption about that correlation that isn’t True.
People are evil, truly. But that doesn’t make Job’s pain an effect of the cause of evil.
(We are quick to judge without all the facts, but you must be very careful. Otherwise, like Eliphaz, you trust your sense over what God has declared, and that’s bad, bad thinking.
Example: Both movies with surprise endings and murder mysteries cash out on our assumptions and expectations. We expect it to go a certain way, and when it doesn’t, it surprises us. We are filled with assumptions and biases.)
Eliphaz starts to present his main case: Job you act like you are guilty. Look like, act like, smell like guilty, you must be guilty. He recounting from time past. It’s an unbreakable chain passed down from ages past, and he is enlightening Job: this is how a wicked man looks in the world.
Eliphaz gives symptoms of an ungodly man:
- Mental anguish and paranoid (21)
- Hopelessness (22)
- Social outcast (23)
- Panic-stricken and panic attacks (24)
The reason behind the symptoms of an ungodly man: He knows, deep down, he’s rebelled against almighty God. Job is guilty and knows it and has the symptoms to show it, so says Eliphaz.
He says Job is charging against God with a shield but without a sword.
Fat isn’t literal about obesity here, but of luxury and wealth and stubbornness. Godless people have money and luxury but they use it to harden their heart against God. Eliphaz says, That’s you, Job.
because of all that, God has cut him off, outside the city. They are sitting outside the city, in the ash heap, while he’s saying that, and he is saying Job you are in the very place of the guilty.
Godless people’s wealth doesn’t endure. Just like Job’s. (That’s not exactly True either.)
Job will die. He’s borrowing words from Job here, turning Job’s words upon himself, saying he confessed he was evil with those words previously.
The irony is that if everyone is evil then you can’t trust yourself. So Eliphaz again contradicts himself. This is why human reason is so flawed. Because it comes from humans who are inherently flawed.
(Two examples from literature:
Judge Crawford, in a chapter on Gen 3, says, Man obtains the knowledge of right and wrong, but he does it through evil, and so he has a distorted view of right and wrong. So if everyone knew perfectly what right and wrong is, you would need no Law. But the very fact you have Law shows that you know what right and wrong is (and we can all agree), but we can’t come to the Truth alone because we are flawed.
Professor Grant Horner, in a chapter on Gen 3, says, The problem isn’t how we read Gen 3 but in our explanation of it. If Gen 3 is true then we will naturally distort. Saying we don’t understand what Gen 3 means actually fits the story and proves the point.)
This is why we always go back to the Scripture; it’s the only thing not from a flawed source. That’s why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
The DR Principle.
Death from folly. The mechanics of history.
Job is going to argue that he was framed. What if he was? We can’t trust our senses. Movies with framed people exploit that about us. Eliphaz’s argument will collapse because you can be framed: look, feel, and smell guilty, and be innocent.