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"Is Not Your Wickedness Great, and Your Iniquity Without End?" (Job 22) March 23-24

Eliphaz now responds for the third and last time, giving a renewed rebuke and a call to repentance. He opens by asking of what benefit or pleasure it is to God whether Job is innocent (verses 1-3). The question itself seems absurd. It is true that God does not need righteous servants, but He does desire them. From other passages, we know that God delights in the righteous and that He experiences joy when people repent. Eliphaz's questions seem to imply that God doesn't really care one way or the other—and that Job is an arrogant fool for thinking otherwise.

Yet Eliphaz sees this as really a moot point—since he believes Job is not innocent. In verse 4, Eliphaz mocks Job: "Is it because of your fear of Him that He corrects you...?" Eliphaz sees no evidence of a right fear of God on Job's part. Instead, to him, all the evidence points to sinfulness.

In fact, as Eliphaz sees it, since Job's suffering is great, his sin must be great too (see verse 5). Eliphaz then launches into a list of specific charges of particular sins. Where in the world did he come up with these? Probably from reasoning backwards. First of all, Job's ongoing insistence regarding his own righteousness before God probably made it look like he was actually convinced of his faithfulness to God, which to Eliphaz means Job must have made a pretense of religion while neglecting important areas. The Expositor's Bible Commentary suggests: "Eliphaz felt Job had deceived himself by trusting in his ritual piety (what he had done for God) while his real sin was what he failed to do for his fellow man" (note on verses 4-11). And since Job's sufferings were the worst ever seen, his sins must have been particularly severe—social oppression and neglect being perceived as very serious in a society that viewed hospitality as one of the chief human responsibilities. It appears that Eliphaz fabricated these particular charges to fit the facts as he saw them.

There was one big problem though—these were not facts at all. They were baseless, made-up lies. Job was not like this at all, as we know from the testimony of God himself at the beginning of the book.

Moreover, Eliphaz accuses Job of thinking that God is so far off as to not be able to see what Job is doing (verses 12-14). Yet while it is true that Job has lamented God's apparent indifference to the wicked, he has also directly complained of God's overbearing watchfulness over him to pursue him with calamity. Job certainly did not think he could hide anything from God.

Notice verses 17-18. Eliphaz denounces hypocritical wicked people for rejecting God even though God has "filled their houses with good things." Did you catch that? Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar have been contending that God only curses the wicked—but here we see Eliphaz saying that God has blessed them with their possessions. Which is it? Eliphaz could not see the contradiction in his own beliefs.

In verses 21-30, Eliphaz gives a wonderful call to repentance—for a person "to submit; to be at peace with God (v. 21); to hear God's word and hide it in his heart (v. 22); to return to the Almighty and forsake wickedness (v. 23); to find delight in God rather than in gold (vv. 24-26); and to pray, obey (v. 27), and become concerned about sinners (vv. 29-30)" (Expositor's, note on verses 21-30). The big problem with this statement is that Eliphaz is making it to the wrong person. Job is innocent of the charges leveled against him. He is in no way the uncaring, wealth-obsessed miser Eliphaz has painted him as. Indeed, this man whom God called upright was just the opposite. Job will in fact repent at the end of the story, but not for any of the false accusations of Job's friends.

In its note on verse 30, The Nelson Study Bible states: "Eliphaz's prediction that God would deliver one who is not innocent through the purity of Job's hands would be fulfilled ironically through Job's prayer for the three friends [at the end of the book] (42:8-10)."

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