Vs. 7 – This is Eliphaz key question to Job. Both Bildad and Zophar will echo this thought but in slightly different ways. The accusation against Job is obvious. “Job, you are obviously suffering a great deal and since we know that the righteous don’t suffer like this, you’ve obviously done something horribly sinful to bring this upon yourself.” Eliphaz argument is that the innocent don’t perish and the upright aren’t cut off. Job, from their perspective, has obviously been “cut off” and is perishing. That means that Job is not an innocent man; in Eliphaz’ mind Job must have done something exceedingly wicked to bring this terrible ordeal upon himself.
We must remember that Job had not done anything wicked to bring these calamities upon himself. In fact, it was just the opposite; it was because Job was righteous that he was suffering these things. Satan’s challenge to God was that Job would curse God if God allowed Satan to take away his possessions and plague his body with afflictions. Job never did this. Job’s friends, of course, don’t know all that has gone on in heaven regarding Job’s situation and for that matter, neither does Job. Hence they assume that they know what has happened when they really don’t. They assume this based upon the false premise that the wicked always suffer.’
This was also a common assumption in the days of Jesus. The disciples once asked Jesus something very similar. John 9:2 records, “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Verse 3 states, “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Jesus certainly didn’t teach that only the wicked suffer but rather, that man’s suffering was an opportunity to glorify God.
The fact of the matter is that the innocent often suffer for the sins of others. How many countless children in the world go hungry and dying because some ruthless dictator is too selfish to share his wealth? And sometimes the innocent suffer for no reason at all. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters often claim the lives of innocent victims. These natural events are simply part of the world in which we live; there is no necessarily inherently punishment associated with these events. Certainly if God wanted to use such events as punishment for one or another He could, but the fact of the matter is that suffering isn’t innately linked with punishment, but that’s what Eliphaz suggests here, namely, that if someone is suffering, they are being punished.
Vs. 8 – Eliphaz statement is correct here. It reflects the same sentiments that Paul sets forth in Galatians 6:7,8 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” What is incorrect regarding Eliphaz conclusion is his reasoning. He reasons, “Those who sow trouble reap the same. Job is reaping trouble. Therefore he must have been sowing it.” That’s an illogical conclusion known as the fallacy of the excluded middle. So while Eliphaz does understand some true things, he reasons incorrectly regarding those things.
Vs. 9 – Here Eliphaz assumes that it is God’s anger that is behind Job’s sufferings. Certainly God is angry with those who sin and certainly God can and will use His power to destroy the sinner (see Leviticus 10:1,2 and Revelation 21:8). However, one must first show that the things that are happening to an individual on earth are truly acts of God. This is where Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Job all make a huge mistake. They all assume that God is behind the awful things that are happening to Job. Why do they make such a mistake? Is it possible they didn’t know about Satan? I don’t see how they could not have known about him given the origins of man and the role that Satan played in the fall of Adam and Eve. It is possible that they don’t believe that Satan is capable of displaying such power over the life of an individual. The bottom line is that we don’t know why they attribute all of Job’s sufferings to God when Satan was truly to blame. Nevertheless, they do.
Herein lies a mistake that many make today. They don’t realize that there is someone else to blame for suffering except God. We would do well NOT to follow the example of Eliphaz here and always consider that Satan may be the true source of our problems. There are other reasons for suffering in the world today as well. One can certainly suffer because of poor decisions that he has made. One may suffer due to another person’s poor decisions. Regardless the cause of our suffering, we must always realize that God is never to blame for that which is evil, but that He can only be responsible for good (see James 1:17). In that regard, instead of blaming God for our troubles, we ought to be praising him for the great blessings He provides. Forgetting to praise God has often led to accusing God falsely of things for which He is not responsible.
Vs. 10-11 – The Lion was considered the strongest and most fierce of creatures in Job’s day. Eliphaz uses the Lion symbolically here to show that God’s power is even greater than that of the Lion and may have been referring figuratively to Job’s material wealth and power as well. The reasoning is as follows. Even the Lion cannot resist God’s anger. The Lion’s roar, voice, and teeth are all broken before God. God can even withhold food from the Lion so that he starves and his family is scattered. One can certainly see the obvious connotation that Eliphaz has in regard to Job’s family as well. The figure is simply used poetically to reinforce the point the Eliphaz had just made, namely, that Job cannot, even in all of his power and influence, resist the punishments of God. Thus are Eliphaz’ conclusions regarding Job’s situation.