Eliphaz said – “Can a man be profitable to God? Is it for your fear of him that he reproves you and enters into judgment with you? Isn’t your evil abundant? There is no end to your inquiries. You have exacted pledges for nothing and taken clothing. You haven’t given water to the weary, bread to the hungry, showed favoritism, sent widows away empty, crushed the orphan. This is why you are terrorized and in darkness. God is high in the heavens. He can judge deep darkness. Thick clouds veil God and he walks on the vault of heaven. Will you keep the way of the wicked who said, ‘God leave us. What can the Almighty do?’ He filled their houses with good things. Agree with God and be at peace, thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be built up. Abandon gold, and God will be your gold and precious silver. Then you’ll delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. He’ll hear your prayer. He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”
Eliphaz comes out with accusation after accusation here as if to say, “Job, you’re suffering because of this thing you did, and this, and this.” The accusations are unfounded. Eliphaz takes all of this claim, essentially, that Job is responsible for the terror and darkness he’s experiencing. He boils down God’s retribution to the equation: do good = you’ll experience peace and good will come your way. Or: return to God = good things will come your way. This is an ancient version of the prosperity gospel. The tricky thing is though, that it’s grounded in some glimpse of truth – half-truths. But half-truths masquerading as full truths become complete untruths. It’s no surprise then that Eliphaz says some good things, “Abandon gold, and God will be your gold and precious silver.” But he takes it to the application that if you just trust God good things will happen to you, therefore you aren’t trusting God because bad things are happening to you. The problem with Eliphaz is that he doesn’t know the mind of God and he’s working on assumptions that are completely missing the point. Correlation doesn’t equate to causation. Job is suffering because he is righteous. He was singled out because of this very fact. God, help us to bear up, trusting in Christ and your care for us even when we don’t understand why we suffer. Help us to overlook offense when people mean well, but completely miss the essence of what’s going on. Also, God help us to hate sin and the fall even more as we suffer. God, also, help us to love well, not making accusations that are based in assumptions instead of reality. Help us to love others enough to speak into their life with a full knowledge of their circumstances.