Eliphaz now gets in his last word. He tells Job that his words (and by implication, his beliefs), while they may benefit him, they are no benefit to God (22:2-3). He then proceeds to throw out accusations against Job, as if to justify God in His “punishment” to Job. Notice the accusations in verses 6-9. This is counter to what is stated at the start of the book that Job was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (1:1). Eliphaz is bending the truth to fit his theology! Because of these sins Job must have committed, he is being punished (22:10-11).
Eliphaz goes further. He reinterprets Job’s words (at best), and puts words in his mouth (at worst) in verses 13-14. He then again asserts that this is how God has always dealt with the wicked (vv. 15-17), especially those who do not acknowledge that God has given them what they have (v. 18) – again, the implication is that this applies to Job. In verses 19-20 he speaks of the righteous enjoying the justice of God against the wicked. He is telling his friend Job that he (Eliphaz) is happy that he (Job) is being punished!
In verses 21-25, Eliphaz again calls Job to repentance and to turn from the riches of the world to the riches of God. He tells him to delight in God (v. 26), and God will hear his prayers (v. 27) and reward him with his heart’s desires (v. 28), because God exalts the humble (v. 29).
Then Eliphaz finishes with a peculiar statement – if Job were righteous, his prayers could even deliver the unrighteous (v. 30). This is what Job endeavored to to with his own children (1:6), and what he will yet do for his friends, including Eliphaz, at God’s command (see Job 42:7-9). Thus, there is a tinge of truth to Eliphaz’s final words to Job.
Job’s suffering has turned him again to complaining against God. He doesn’t even rebuke his friend this time. In verses 2-7 Job insists that, if God would hear him, God would not be able to declare him guilty of sin. This is a stark contrast to Job’s previous statement that no man is righteous before God (9:2-3)! Then in 23:8-9, Job says the problem is not his sin, but that God is not hearing him. Job then once again insists on his innocence before God (vv. 10-12), yet knows that God is sovereign and does according to His will (vv. 13-14). Job then tells his friends that he is utterly fearful of God (vv. 15-16), and complains once again that God has not taken his life (v. 17).
In 24:1, Job again goes so far as to accuse God of injustice. He laments the prosperity of the wicked at the expense of the poor (vv. 2-11) – which has not changed in thousands of years, as you know – and then complains that God allows this to occur (v. 12). Why does God allow the ungodly to prosper – the murderer (v. 14), the adulterer (v.15) and all those who call light darkness, and darkness light (vv. 16-17 – see Isa 5:20)?
In verses 18-20, Job summarizes the claims of his friends, in particular Eliphaz: such sinners are cursed and do not prosper, they die and are forgotten. Job is showing them how wrong they are! They do unspeakable acts (v. 21), yet they live and prosper (vv. 22-23). But this is the way it has always been, generation after generation (v. 24 – see Ecc 1:9-11). Job ends by challenging his friends to reason with him and prove him wrong (v. 25).
Job is right. The wicked prosper, and always have. And justice is not meted out in this world. There is no correlation between prosperity and righteousness, or between suffering and sin.
Job is wrong, though. God is just. Even in this world. Suffering in this world is a result of sin. There is a correlation, after all – sin results in suffering – but on a grander scale than worldly wisdom can grasp. Sin – not the particular sins of a particular person – sin is the culprit. And who is without sin?
Do murderers prosper? Yes! But anyone who has been angry without a cause is guilty of murder (Matt 5:21-22). Do adulterers prosper? Yes! But anyone who has had a lustful thought is guilty of adultery (Matt 5:27-28). Job’s view has narrowed. Like his friends, the here and now has become all there is. He is trying to limit God to what we can see in this world.
And this is our tendency when we suffer. When we prosper in this world, we can look to the good we will yet have in the world to come. When we suffer in this world, we so focus on our suffering that the world to come fades into the background.
Perhaps Satan knows us better than we’d like to admit (see Job 1:9-11, 2:4-5).
How well do we know ourselves?