Job 4:7-11 – Eliphaz Questions Job’s Innocence

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.

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Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus is baptized

Please open your Bibles to Matthew 3:13-17.

Matthew has introduced us to the birth and announcement of the King of kings. He has brought us through the prophecies that have heralded his coming and introduced us to the forerunner that is making all paths straight for his appearance. In this section of scripture, Matthew records the heavenly pronouncement of Jesus monarchy as testified to by John the baptizer, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The King has come! His kingdom will soon be at hand.

Vs. 13 – The verse literally reads, “Then came Jesus from Galilee, upon the Jordan, toward John, to be baptized by him.” The prepositions, though translated similarly in the Authorized Version are different in the Greek. They are, in order: APO, EPI, PROS, and hUPO. Each has a little different flavor of meaning in the verse.

Jesus comes to the Jordan river from his home of Galilee where his family has lived the majority of Jesus’ life. The people in Galilee knew Jesus and his family (Matthew 13:55-56). The Jordan was so situated from Galilee that one merely had to travel down the length of the valley to whatever portion of the river on which John was baptizing.

The purpose of Jesus coming is stated specifically, namely, “to be baptized of him.” Jesus intended, in coming to John, to be baptized. For a discussion of the mode of baptism in this context, see comments on Matthew 3:5,6.

Vs. 14 – John did not want to be the one who baptized Jesus because John did not consider himself worthy to baptize Jesus. He “was trying to prevent” it. This is the imperfect tense. It is presented to us as John making a persistent effort at not allowing Jesus to be baptized by him. John’s statement, in that regard, was the instrument of prevention.

In John’s statement he said that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Did John mean by this that he needed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Or did John simply mean that he needed to be baptized in the current medium of water by Jesus? While it is true that John prophesied that Jesus was to baptize in the Holy Spirit (vs.11), when John refers to this kind of baptism, he specified the medium. John makes no such specification here, leaving us to the natural conclusion that John was merely referring to his baptizing in water. In other words, in this verse, John simply says he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Hence, the emphasis here is not upon the mode of baptism as much as the one who is doing the baptizing. Whatever the mode of baptism might be, it was John who needed to be baptized by Jesus, not Jesus by John. That must be the only point that we take out of this verse.

It is a great mark of humility and respect on the part of John the baptizer that he recognized his inferiority to Jesus. It is also at least one reason why Jesus honored him by stating that there was, prior to the kingdom, no greater prophet born among women (Luke 7:28).

Vs. 15 – Jesus answer to John was simple, yet profound. In this answer Jesus’ doesn’t disagree that John needed to be baptized by him. In that regard, Jesus doesn’t argue with John. Jesus simply tells John to now allow it for one simple reason: to fulfill all righteousness.

For Jesus’ part, John’s baptism was the “counsel of God” (Luke 7:30), and thus, Jesus, while being the sinless person that he was (Hebrews 4:15), needed not to be baptized in reference to His sins (as were all others who were baptized of John, see vs.6), but merely for the purpose of obeying God. Had Jesus not been baptized, then he would have been no different than the Pharisees (Luke 7:30), at least, in respect to John’s baptism. However, Jesus, being the obedient Son that He was, sought John out and purposed to be baptized so as to complete within Himself the will of the Father in His life (John 8:29). God’s ways are always righteous (Psalm 145:17). John’s baptism was part of God’s ways (Luke 1:15-17). Hence, to be baptized of John was necessary for Jesus to fulfill righteousness.

It is interesting in this verse to note that Jesus doesn’t say, “thus it becomes me” but rather, “thus it becomes us.” It was part of God’s plan that John participate in Jesus’ fulfilling all righteousness. Jesus thus reflects this thought in his statement with the word “us.” This is a comforting verse for those in service to God. It is comforting from the standpoint that if John, in all of his weakness and sin, could fulfill God’s purpose in being the agent to baptize Jesus, so also the rest of us in all of our weakness and sin, can fulfill God’s purpose for our life as well in whatever role God expects of us. God’s demands that we serve Him in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). It is not the rare occasion that we feel unworthy to do the things which God expects of us. However, that did not stop God from expecting John to do his job. So also it won’t stop God from expecting us to do ours. And when we do what God expects us to do in His service, then we too can fulfill our purpose in God’s plan. Like John, we need to be willing to submit to the Lord in this regard. We need to be like John instead of like the one talent man, who, only focusing upon his failures, could not take any of the abilities that God had given to him and do something with it in service to God (Matthew 25:14-30).

This verse also defeats forever the often touted excuse: “Nobody’s perfect.” Well, so what if you’re not? That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t expect one to live the way that he ought to live. Jesus didn’t allow John to use such an excuse for not doing God’s will. Why ought we to expect that he will so accept the same excuse from us? No, the “nobody’s perfect” excuse isn’t going to cut it on the Day of Judgment.

Both Jesus and John “fulfilled all righteousness” in this verse, each by doing what God expected both to do. When we, in our lives, do what God expects us to do and submit ourselves to His righteousness, then we can be counted as righteous before God as well (Romans 10:3) not merely because our doing it constitutes righteousness, but because God said we would be righteous if and when we do His will (1 John 3:7).

Vs. 16 – After Jesus baptism, he literally came up out of the water. The mode of baptism that John used is clear. It was immersion.

The heavens opened to Jesus in that those who inhabit heaven (Isaiah 66:1) testified concerning Jesus immediately after his baptism.

Much has been made out of this passage particularly in regard to the Holy Spirit’s role. We should also note that it was the Spirit of God that descended upon Jesus here, not a dove. The dove was the form or shape that the Spirit took. We need not think of this as anything more than Divine testimony that Jesus was, in fact, God’s Son.

Some have suggested that prior to this point Jesus did not have the Holy Spirit. Such a suggestion would deny the deity of Christ. The Holy Spirit was as much a part of Jesus prior to this point as after. This, however, doesn’t mean that the Spirit could not manifest Himself in some other way. He is omnipresent and shares in all of God’s attributes (Psalm 139:7-12).

Vs. 17 – The words spoken in this verse would be uttered yet again in the transfiguration as recorded by Matthew (17:5). What greater words could one expect from one’s father than these? How much more great are they when they come from The Heavenly Father? The Father was well pleased with Jesus because Jesus always did those things that pleased Him (John 8:29).

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all present in this passage. The Bible does indeed teach the doctrine of the trinity. It is an article of faith that we must accept as true as our finite minds simply cannot grasp the totality of the concept. But if we can believe a triangle has three sides, corners, and angles and yet still believe it to be one shape, certainly we can accept that the Godhead is composed of three “persons” and is yet one God. It is within Jesus that the fullness of the Godhead thus came to dwell in a man’s body (Colossians 2:9). Not only did the Holy Spirit dwell in Jesus, but the Father as well (John 14:9-11).

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Job 4:1-6 – Eliphaz questions Job’s character

In this chapter, Eliphaz begins his debate with Job. Eliphaz questions Job’s character and innocence. Eliphaz then proceeds to find Job guilty of some unnamed sin because of the great amount of suffering Job is enduring.

Vs 1-2, Eliphaz begins to speak to Job. Evidently Job’s complaints in the previous chapter have moved him to a response and rebuke. Eliphaz believes that Job is in this predicament as a direct result of something sinful that Job has done. And so he doesn’t believe that Job’s desire for relief is justified. He believes Job is getting what he deserves. Hence, Eliphaz begins with the question of whether or not speaking to Job in this regard would cause him to be “grieved” or “impatient.” It’s not that Eliphaz cares whether Job feels this way or not. The question is more really of a design to mean, “If I respond to you Job, are you going to take this in the right way?” Eliphaz then makes it plain that he is compelled to comment upon Job’s situation after the words of complaint that Job has just spoken.

Vs. 3-4 – Eliphaz acknowledges Job’s role in this society. Job was a man who was esteemed and admired by all. He was a counselor and a man of the gate. He was one of the city elders to whom disputes were brought so that they could be settled. This place of honor would be equivalent to our city counsel or perhaps an eldership in a local church. Religion was not so much separated from matters of government in that day and the distinction is not observed by either Job or his friends. Job himself recalls this position of honor in Job 29:7-17. Job had indeed instructed many and Job had also strengthened the feeble and weak. In Job 31:16-23 Job claims that he was always fair to the poor and those in need and he never took advantage of them. And, no one ever questions Job in this regard. It is thus only right for Eliphaz to acknowledge Job’s honors before he begins criticizing him. Yet those few words of praise in Eliphaz mouth don’t appear to mean very much during and after the criticisms. Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” When one is truly a friend, he will stick with you through thick and thin. Job’s friends may have been physically there for him, but spiritually, they abandoned him in his time of need.

Vs. 5 – Eliphaz words seem to contain a touch of purposeful irony. Yes, he recognized that Job was at one time in a position to assist others, but now Job, here you are in this situation where you now need the help of others. It’s almost patronizing in its content. Eliphaz’ statement regarding Job’s current situation reveals to us that he though Job to be somewhat hypocritical in his behavior. It is almost as if Eliphaz is saying, “Job helped others in the past, but now that he is suffering, he can’t help himself. When adversity comes upon him, he faints; he is troubled.” This is unfair criticism of Job. It is natural for someone in Job’s circumstances to feel down trodden. Eliphaz ought not to point out what is clearly evident here, emphasizing Job’s sufferings, but instead offer words of comfort. How many of us would walk into the hospital room of a patience whose body is disease ridden and is clearly suffering and say something like, “Well, it’s finally come upon you now.” Not only is it rude, it’s just not necessary to say. Both the one suffering and the one visiting know what the circumstances are. They don’t need to be so repeated so as to emphasize the obvious.

Vs. 6 – Again, Eliphaz appears to be mocking Job’s life. Job was indeed one who had feared God and one whose ways were filled with integrity. Thus, Job had reason to hope that his relationship with God was a good one. Eliphaz seems to be saying here, “Considering your suffering, Job, do you still believe that your fear of God and your personal integrity are reasons to hope that you have a good relationship with God?” This becomes a common element in these three’s criticism of Job. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar all question the necessity of man’s righteousness in relationship to his salvation. They don’t seem to believe that man’s righteousness ultimately makes any difference because man’s sins completely eclipse any good that a man might do (see Job 25:4-6). In that regard, they are similar to modern day Calvinists who state that there is no good thing that a person may do that would affect one’s salvation. Well, the Bible teaches otherwise. John states in 1 John 3:7 “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” Man has a personal responsibility to fear and obey God; this fear and obedience are part of God’s plan for man’s salvation (Ecclesiastes 12:13, Hebrews 5:9). Job’s friends, however, did not believe this. Hence they must conclude that Job deserves every bit of his suffering due to his own personal sins.

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