Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Does God punish sin?

Summary so far: Job is a righteous rich man, who loses everything except his life, and apparently his wife. His friends come to comfort him, and when they go to see him, can hardly recognize him. They spend seven days in silence together, and finally Job speaks, mourning the day he was born. Then Eliphaz speaks... I just want to highlight a few of the things he says. Wish I had time to go through it all. red letters are Scripture, black bold letters are comments.

Chapter 4 (ESV)
Your words have supported those who stumbled;
    you have strengthened faltering knees.
But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
    it strikes you, and you are dismayed

Job, you have been helpful and supportive to many. Now it your time to receive help and support. Not a bad thought, but perhaps a little cold or blunt at the moment. 
“Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? How about every single one. Every person eventually perishes. Part of the problem I see here is the same thing I see in modern preaching, it weighs experience and emotion over truth. Surely this man has seen or known of a child that died young, or a good person who suffered. But we attribute some evil to that person without a real basis. Perhaps that child would have become a murderer or thief. Surely Job has some hidden sin that makes him guilty. 

    Where were the upright ever destroyed? No and Yes. No one is really righteous, but several decent people have endured suffering while less desirable have prospered.

As I have observed, those who plow evil
    and those who sow trouble reap it. A generalization much like a proverb, but not a hard and fast rule. Unless you count judgment day, which I don't think he was.
17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Nope!
    Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? No again.

Chapter 5 (ESV)

Resentment kills a fool,
    and envy slays the simple.
I myself have seen a fool taking root,
    but suddenly his house was cursed.

Is he calling Job a fool? Is he blaming Job for his calamity? It sure sounds like it. Why is it that everyone looking in from the outside wants to stand in judgment?

“But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
    I would lay my cause before him.

Cannot argue with this advice! It just seems to lack a little when placed in with everything else he has to day. A little bit of truth in with a lot of mush.

17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
    so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

The word "discipline" is the Hebrew word "muwcar" and carries with it the idea of correction or chastening. Taken in the deepest sense, this means that Job, or anyone who endures trouble, can and should consider themselves blessed. (See James 1:3) Again, good advice, but taken in the context of his other comments, I think Eliphaz is more focused on the idea of God punishing Job for his sins, rather than focusing on the sovereignty of God, which I believe James is speaking of.

18 For he wounds, but he also binds up;
    he injures, but his hands also heal.

There is a very deep beauty in this verse. I wonder if either of them see it.

27 “We have examined this, and it is true.
    So hear it and apply it to yourself.”

This is what we believe, so it must be true. Listen to me. Yet did Eliphaz really hear himself? Was he listening to Job, feeling his pain, or was he just looking to justify his belief system by ascribing fault to Job and removing fault from God?

I think that there is both wisdom and foolishness in Eliphaz's response. He is a little harsh when it comes to his friend, who is frustrated and grieving. It sounds as if he begins by saying, "How does it feel now that the shoe is on the other foot? He speaks some truth, or perhaps regurgitates it without even understanding it. Again, it reminds me of those preachers I hear whose plan of study is to read someone else's book or sermon. They preach with passion, maybe even conviction, and perhaps one of the people they hope to convict is their own selves.

Or not.


Celia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Celia said...

Hey there, just wanted to drop by and thank you for the comment you left on steve-finnell.blogspot.com. I just got an invitation from him as well and I appreciated the way you expressed your thoughts.

Pablo said...

Thanks for expositing the Word of God. It also has been good having you visit over at my place.

I try avoiding judgments. There are some clear-cut areas where we need to judge. Moral judgments are critical---it's always wrong to steal, lie, kill, etc.

But in most areas we are not dealing with moral issues but preferences. In those cases, I find it better to state the need that isn't met, when something bothers me. Others are more likely to connect with my concerns.

Wishing you a great weekend!