When we read the story of Job we often think Satan’s attacks on Job centered around the loss of his money, possessions, children, and health. Upon further reflection I would like to submit that all that was the set up for the Accuser’s real attack—Three “friends” who would piously point the finger at Job.
The first volley was thrown by Eliphaz the Temanite. When has the innocent been punished, he says? When have the evil had peace? Not in Eliphaz’s experience. God does not treat good people this way. He justifies his accusation by saying that he received this “word of wisdom” from God Himself:
A word was secretly brought to me,
my ears caught a whisper of it.
Amid disquieting dreams in the night,
when deep sleep falls on people,
fear and trembling seized me
and made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face,
and the hair on my body stood on end.
but I could not tell what it was.
A form stood before my eyes,
and I heard a hushed voice:
‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?
(Job 4:12-17, NIV).
This sounds so right, but the reality is—it is so wrong. Perhaps Eliphaz was sincere in his thinking. Part of me wants to think so, to hope so. But then that would also mean that he was unwittingly being used by the Accuser to attack Job, and in my mind, that is worse for him. Better to be a critical jerk than an ignorant pawn of the enemy.
Eliphaz claimed to have Job’s best interests in mind, to rightly understand what was going on, and what needed to be done about it. More than that, he believed he was being encouraged by God to act on that conviction. The fact is, both the beginning and the end of the book of Job tell us that Eliphaz and his two friends had it all wrong. Twice in chapters 1 and 2 God says that Job is blameless and upright, that he loves God and shuns evil, and that there is no one else like him on the earth (Job 1:8, 2:3). Job’s suffering was not a direct result of sin. And at the end of the book, God appears to Eliphaz and tells him that He is angry with him and his friends because they had not spoken the truth about Him as Job had, and required them to make a very costly atonement (Job 41:7-9).
The point? There are two:
There is a difference between accusing and convicting. God’s spirit will bring the conviction of sin, a sense that will come with the realization that you really are guilty of sin and will move you to repent and ask for forgiveness. Satan does not convict, he accuses. He points the finger at you and tells you that you are wrong. See the difference? Always be sensitive to God’s conviction. But always be wary of the accuser.
- Be extremely hesitant to speak for God. No matter what the top 40 Christian books may say, God does not have a monopoly on that “still small voice” thing. What you think is God, could just as easily be your own thoughts or even Satan whispering in your ear. If the spirit of humility, grace, and encouragement does not accompany your message of truth, you may be speaking in a spirit, but not Christ’s Spirit.