Job 4:12-21 – Eliphaz’ Vision, Question, and Conclusion

Verses 12-16 – Eliphaz discusses in these verses a vision, of sorts, that he has respecting this particular subject. Did Eliphaz really have such a vision and from where did it come? It was certainly true that in the days of Job God communicated in “diverse ways” according to Hebrews 1:1. So it would not have been beyond God to communicate with Eliphaz in such a way. At the same time, however, it wasn’t beyond evil spirits to put lies in the mouths of false prophets either (see 1 Kings 22:22). Eliphaz certainly thought that the vision was from God because he conveys the message that he learned in the vision to Job as truth, but such didn’t have to be the case.

Eliphaz says that this word was brought to him “stealthily” in a “whisper” and many other such things that give this dream the appearance of sensationalism such as “trembling,” “shaking,” “hair raising,” and an “undiscernable appearance.” He does this, it seems, in order to provide the impact that he desires it to provide. He expects Job to simply believe that this vision is truth, but later on Job responds in a rather sarcastic tone to Eliphaz, “Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions” (Job 7:14). Job doesn’t seem to buy Eliphaz’ words. And such “dreams” and “visions” ought not to be regarded when no additional evidence for their truthfulness is forthcoming. Such is the practice of many modern day religious folks who seek to persuade others to their beliefs. Galatians 1:8,9 settles the matter for the faithful, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

We know, however, that God did indeed use dreams to communicate His will to some. Joseph was told in a dream about the conception of Jesus (Matthew 1:20) and subsequently warned to flee Herod in a similar manner (Matthew 2:13). Peter had a vision in Joppa about taking the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:10ff). Joseph and Daniel both, in the Old Testament, had dreams, visions, and were instrumental in helping others understand their dreams. Today, though, we have the completely revealed inspired word of God available for us to guide our lives (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Since we have everything we need, we need not have such dreams in order for God to communicate to us some point of truth.

Vs 17 – This is the substance of Eliphaz’ contention. In essence what Elihpaz is saying to Job is this. “Job, you’re a sinner and there’s nothing you can do about that, so you can’t object to this punishment because you deserve it anyway.” Eliphaz argument is the same as many Calvinists argue today in regard to the doctrine of original sin. Since we are, they argue, totally depraved, there is absolutely nothing that we can do to be right before God and therefore we are deserving of nothing but God’s wrath. What ought we to conclude about this argument? First, it is true that all men have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). And that for that sin we merit eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). However, it isn’t the case that simply because we have sinned that we can’t make correct decisions and offer to God that which He commands us to be. When, in fact, we submit to God’s will for our lives through the covenant God has given to us, we can be right and pure before God (1 John 3:3). Under Job’s day, it was accomplished through the covenants that God made with the Patriarchs. Today, this is accomplished through the covenant of Christ (Hebrews 9:15). John says “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7). So, while it is the case that man has sinned, it is certainly not the case that man can’t be right and pure before God; he can! We should note that God, at the end of the book, says that Job’s three friends were dead wrong in their reasoning. The book serves as a powerful refutation of Calvinism in this regard.

Vs. 18-21 – As evidence for Eliphaz’ contention, he cites several examples of God’s not trusting his creation. He says in verse 18 that God doesn’t even trust his personal servants and angels. Where Eliphaz gets his information for this claim it is not evident. We know that angels that sinned and were cast down by God according to 2 Peter 2:4, but is this that to which Eliphaz is referring? It is unclear. It may simply be part of the message that he received in his vision.

The argument he makes from this point forward is that if God doesn’t trust his own personal servants and angels, the He certainly isn’t going to trust perishable man. He then cites examples as to man’s perishable nature in verses 20 and 21. But doesn’t God trust man in some things? He does. God has entrusted man throughout history to deliver His message to others: Moses, Elijah, the prophets, the Apostles, even us today. God, in fact, wants man to be His messenger. Paul says we have this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7). God has entrusted the message of the gospel to man! Let us not betray that trust, but faithfully serve Him in dispatching His word throughout the world!

Though Eliphaz understands some truths, his assumptions regarding those truths and his conclusions here are wrong. God desires man to be right and holy (1 Peter 1:15,16). God does trust man with some things and it isn’t the case that God wants men to be punished for their sins (Ezekiel 18:32, 2 Peter 3:9). When we understand these aspects about God, we come that much closer to being able to understand and endure our trials.

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