Thursday, June 18, 2009

Paul & Eliphaz

One of the challenges of the book of Job is that we get to the end of the book and God says that Job was right and his three friends were wrong. And not just a little wrong. They need sacrifices offered for their sins and prayers of intercession offered for their wrong words. Because they did not speak what was right concerning God.

This means that 3/4 of most of the book of Job is pronounced "wrong" by God, which is a little disconcerting because there we were reading along and feeling that Job's friends were making good points here and there, and golly, certain sections sound just like other things we might read in Scripture.

In fact, portions of what Job's friends say are almost word for word from Proverbs. Huh, we say, so how does that work? It's wrong when Eliphaz says it, but it's right when Solomon says it?

But it's comforting to know that we aren't the only ones who see truth in the speeches of the three friends. The Apostle Paul was also taken in by this ploy, and he goes so far as to use it in his letter to the Corinthians. As Eliphaz points out in his first speech to Job, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness" (Job 5:13, 1 Cor. 3:19). Paul understands Eliphaz to be making a true statement, and applies it to the Corinthians who thought the rivalry and sectarian behavior of the world was the same kind of wisdom needed to build the house God. Paul says it isn't, and He warns them that that kind of wisdom is actually the craftiness of the devil. And God catches those snakes in their own pits and nets.

So all that say, this suggests that our understanding of God's judgment at the end of Job must include Paul's usage. In other words, God's judgment is not just content of the words spoken but rather how they were spoken, when they were spoken, etc.

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