The Plank In The Eye
February 6, 2019
The Bible teaches that there are things about God that can be known in this life, and there are also things about Him that can never be known in this life. We are finite and God is infinite. Even though God has revealed many things about Himself, there are just some things that we can’t understand. The simple nature of His aseity is hard to grasp on its own. We cannot identify with the concept that God is eternally self-existing and self-sustaining. Everything we know is dependent on something else to survive. Not God. It only gets more complicated the more we learn about Him. Therefore, it is important to always consider that, no matter what we think we know about God, we do not have the full extent of His wisdom. We might know things about God, but there are many things that remain a mystery to us. We know that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Yet we don’t know how God ties in all of the events of life to produce a good outcome. Knowing this, we need to approach the circumstances of life with a high level of humility, realizing that while we might be able to have some things figured out, we really don’t know what God is doing.
Sometimes we can let our pride make fools of us in this regard. We can pretend to know things and see things as God does, only to find out later that we don’t have a clue. With all of the problems that exist in the world, there have been plenty of people who misspoke, figuring that they knew the source of a problem and the means to fix it. Time always reveals when God has truly equipped someone with His wisdom or not. The testimony of Job shows that it is easy to look at the circumstances of others and think we have all of the answers to their problems, failing to see the issues of our own pride. This was the case for Eliphaz. In Job 5:1-7 the Bible shows that as Eliphaz continued to address Job, he became more of a devilish accuser, calling Job a fool while failing to see his own foolishness.
In Job 5:1-7 the Bible explains that Eliphaz leveraged his past experiences and knowledge to try and diagnose Job’s issues. The things that Eliphaz said were true in a general sense, but they were not true of Job. Eliphaz figured that, because he knew things about God and had received visions in the past from God, that he was somehow qualified like God, to know His reasons and purposes behind Job’s suffering. The Bible explains that suffering happens for many reasons in this life. With all of the variables of life, it is nearly impossible to identify the reasons that God permits and enforces suffering. It is nearly impossible to know what God will do with the sufferings of His people. Again, we know that God will produce good out of the sufferings of His people, but we don’t know how, we don’t know when, and we usually don’t understand the reason for our suffering until long after the suffering comes. This was true in the days of Job just as true as it is today.
Eliphaz figured himself to be an elite mind though. Eliphaz examined the extent of Job’s suffering and was sure that it was caused by God as a stiff form of judgment. Eliphaz not only accused Job of being a fool, deserving of such punishment, but also told Job that his suffering was inescapable. He mocked Job in a sense, telling Job to call out for help, but knowing that no one would be able to help him. Here, Eliphaz shows how far off base he was. It is true that no foreign god could help Job, but Job was a faithful and upright man. He was a worshiper of God and would not depart from serving Him. Job wouldn’t have called out to for help to a foreign god. Though a friend of Job’s, Eliphaz didn’t really understand the depths of Job’s spiritual integrity. Additionally, if Job would have called out for help, he would have called out to God. In this sense, God would have answered Job; maybe not with immediate restoration from his suffering, but an answer nonetheless. God’s ear is not so weak that He cannot hear the cries of His people. God’s arm is not so small that He can reach down to help the needs of His people. God’s righteousness is not such that it is absent mercy. The Bible teaches that God’s mercy endures forever. Eliphaz’s statement suggests that Job’s suffering was reflective of someone that had been cut off from the Lord so that God would no longer offer mercy to him. In other words, Eliphaz wrote off Job as condemned, and took the liberty to state that no one would answer Job’s plea for mercy, maybe not even God.
This is the exact thing Jesus commanded people not to do. Since we are not God, and His ways are past finding out, we cannot assume we know what God is doing through the intimate ways He works in the circumstances of our lives. Yes, Job suffered, but no one understood why – not even Job. No one knew that Job’s suffering was inflicted by Satan. No one knew that God offered Job over to Satan. No one knew that God was using Job as an example against Satan, demonstrating the power of His faithfulness and grace to keep His people joined to Himself despite the sufferings of His people. God didn’t send Eliphaz a special message to inform him of the things that were taking place in the spirit realm. God was not obligated to explain Himself and Eliphaz was not entitled to certain revelations.
Since this is true, Eliphaz wasn’t in any position to make sweeping declarations about Job’s fate. Eliphaz didn’t know what God was doing, so didn’t know if he was condemned or not. What person, whether a victim of God’s judgments or not, is past the point of forgiveness? Did not even the man on the cross next to Jesus receive the benefit of Jesus’ forgiveness because of His confession of faith? That man’s testimony is proof that no person ever knows what the results of a person’s life will be, no matter how things look to us. Therefore, we shouldn’t make statements as if we, like God, know the fate of another, rendering judgment on His behalf.
Eliphaz knew that foolish people receive God’s judgments, and that judgment is severe. That didn’t mean that Job was foolish. Eliphaz’s statements show how distorted human understanding can be when we rely on what we see to make spiritual determinations. Eliphaz told Job that wrath kills a foolish man. This is true. The fool who rebels against God will receive their just due. God will pour out His wrath upon the ungodly and unrighteous that deny Him. That doesn’t mean Job was a fool. Eliphaz’s statement was made in such a way so as to suggest that Job was a fool and his suffering was the wrath of God typically set aside for fools. Eliphaz went a step further to explain his confidence in the matter. He told Job that he’s seen fools before. Seeing fools before, he felt he had developed some sort of skill to identify foolishness. Eliphaz felt that this skillset enabled him to avoid being a fool; seeing the characteristics of foolishness, being able to diagnose God’s works, and avoid foolish pitfalls. Clearly, Eliphaz felt himself to be some sort of spiritual superhero. He was able to see the hearts of others while protecting himself from error. Eliphaz was able to know Job’s issues and because he considered himself blameless, his diagnosis of Job was right and true.
The testimony of Job Chapters 1 and 2 clearly show that Eliphaz was wrong about Job. Since he was wrong about Job, he was also wrong about himself. Eliphaz did not have some sort of ability to recognize fools based on things he saw. He saw Job to be a fool because of his circumstances, but Eliphaz was wrong. Eliphaz figured that Job’s suffering was punishment from God for his foolishness. That was not true. While mistakenly calling Job a fool, Eliphaz was unable to identify his own foolishness. He was unable to see the foolishness that had taken root in his own heart through pride and self-righteousness. Eliphaz figured that, since fools were judged by the destructions of their families and resources, and Job’s family and resources were destroyed, Job must be a fool. However, the fool is the one that thinks they can understand the incomprehensive ways and works of God. Eliphaz accused Job of being a fool, saying that must have been the reason for his suffering, not considering the varieties of things God might have been doing for His own glory. It is true that Job’s suffering was for a reason, but Eliphaz lacked the wisdom to know that reason. Thus, no matter how things appear to us, we are NEVER able to know the purposes of God unless He reveals them to us.
Lastly, Eliphaz made another statement, that while generally true, was not necessarily applicable to Job. Eliphaz said that all people are born into trouble. This is true. All people are conceived as sinners and born spiritually dead. None are righteous, no not one. All people fall short of the glory of God. Every heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. If not for the mercy and grace of God, we’d all be condemned. This was true of Job as it is any other person. Yet, that was not the specific reason that God was letting Job suffer. It is sin that caused Job’s suffering ultimately. If there were no sin in the world then Satan would not have charge in the world to inflict the pain that Job felt. Job was faithful, but not perfect. He had the same issues of depravity as any other person, and by extension was worthy of condemnation as another person that falls short of the glory of God. In that sense, sin was the cause. In that sense, Job was not excused from pain in this life. Still, the Bible does not reference any particular action or statement from Job that God was punishing. Eliphaz figured that Job’s trouble had found him out, still accusing Job to be a hypocrite. Eliphaz was again suggesting that his past works of charity and help for others were merely a covering for other hidden sins that God was revealing. This was not true.
As Eliphaz continued to speak to Job, he continued to reveal the extent of his own depravity and his own foolishness. Being so focused on the issues of others, he was unable to see the issues within his own heart. This is why Jesus commanded that we should not judge others: examining the lives of others from the position of arrogance as if we know what God is doing. He told us to take the plank out of our own eyes so that we can clearly see the speck in the eyes of others so as to help them then. This point proves that, if we are not first willing to examine our own hearts and deal with our own sins first, we have extremely distorted views about the issues of others and make ourselves look to be far more foolish than those we accuse.