Job 15

Eliphaz (15:1–35)

17–26 In the remainder of the chapter, Eliphaz gives a lengthy, poetic description of the fate of the wicked. Though he doesn't directly state that Job is one of the wicked, Eliphaz clearly suspects that he might be. In his description of the terrible things that befall the wicked, Eliphaz makes sure that he includes all the terrible things that have already happened to Job. If Job isn't yet wicked himself, perhaps by these warnings Eliphaz can keep him from becoming so!

Eliphaz's description of the wicked begins in verse 20. In verses 20–26, Eliphaz deals with the anxieties of the wicked; and in verses 27–35, he deals with their final destiny. Though Eliphaz's description of the wicked is accurate as far as it goes, he implies that wicked people always suffer torment (verse 20). This matches his belief that the righteous always enjoy prosperity. For Eliphaz and his two colleagues, man is either all good or all bad; there is no room in their thinking for a good man who doubts and struggles and suffers. Neither is there any room in their thinking for a God who shows mercy to a sinner; in their view, every sinner will receive his punishment in full (verse 32).

27–35 Eliphaz does admit that for a short time a wicked person might prosper—grow fat (verse 27)—but his doom will soon come. He will not escape the darkness (verses 22,30)—that is, the grave.36

However, Job knew that Eliphaz's rigid “black-and-white” philosophy was wrong. Job knew from experience—and so do we—that in this life many wicked people prosper and many righteous people suffer. Only on the day of JUDGMENT will God give a final reckoning, and the wicked will be punished and the righteous will be rewarded. In the meantime, let us not be like Job's friends and assume that everyone who suffers must therefore be a sinner. Let us support those who suffer, and not accuse them.

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