Job’s Reply to Eliphaz
Open Your Bible
Job 6:1-30, Job 7:1-21, Romans 8:18–25
BY Lisa Harper
One of my favorite lecture series from my first seminary experience (I’ve recently begun a second seminary adventure at the “mature” age of 55!) was about having a “high view” of God. We had lively discussions in class regarding how, in our modern era’s quest to make the gospel relevant, we’ve all but lost the kind of deep reverence prophets like Isaiah and psalmists like David displayed toward God. In our bumper-sticker theology, “God is my copilot” culture, we’ve unwittingly minimized the omniscience and omnipotence of the Alpha and Omega in an attempt to make Him more accessible.
I remember being so convicted during those classes, realizing I didn’t revere God the way I should. I committed to being more circumspect in how I addressed Him in prayer and even how I carried His Word, holding my Bible as a precious treasure instead of carelessly shoving it into a suitcase or tossing it into the back seat of the car. I still hold to those convictions.
However, as I look back over my walk of faith in the 20-plus years since that class, it’s clear I’ve often overcorrected, swinging into the opposite side of the doctrinal ditch. I didn’t always have the spiritual maturity to understand that having a high view of God doesn’t mean we need to have a degrading view of ourselves. Of course, humans are wicked and depraved apart from divine grace, but after we put our faith and hope in Jesus Christ, we’re allowed to shrug into His robes of righteousness, knowing we have been adopted into the family of God as full heirs! (Romans 8:14–17). A high view of God should open believers’ hearts and minds to what our heavenly Father says about us, His beloved children.
Now, if we give Job’s three friends a big benefit of doubt, we can assume they had mostly good intentions when they delivered their self-righteous lectures. However, like a young seminarian armed with more head knowledge than spiritual maturity, their arrows missed the mark by a country mile!
Job understands the situation well. He says, “What strength do I have, that I should continue to hope? What is my future, that I should be patient?… Since I cannot help myself, the hope for success has been banished from me” (6:11,13). Job cannot change his bleak situation, despite his innocence.
But that’s the point. Job’s friends recognized the frailty of humanity and our propensity to sin, but their view of God is way too small. Without the context of God’s redemptive grace, we still make everything about us! In Romans 8, Paul points to the future, complete redemption of all creation as our hope in the midst of present suffering. Though we are currently “subject to futility,” all things will one day be fully “set free from the bondage” into “glorious freedom” (Romans 8:20). This is our hope.
“Now in this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24–25).
Job’s friends got the frailty of humanity part right, but their concept of God’s attention missed His compassionate heart. The Lord was Job’s only hope, just as He is ours. With Christ, our mere humanity is transformed into glory befitting children of God, no matter what suffering we may be experiencing at the moment.
Editor’s Note: Devotional was edited at 11:00 am on 3/14/19.