What Eliphaz Has Seen of Life
17 “I will tell you, listen to me;
And what I have seen I will also declare;
18 What wise men have told,
And have not concealed from their fathers,
19 To whom alone the land was given,
And no alien passed among them.
20 “The wicked man writhes in pain all his days,
And [e]numbered are the years stored up for the ruthless.
21 “[f]Sounds of terror are in his ears;
While at peace the destroyer comes upon him.
22 “He does not believe that he will return from darkness,
And he is destined for the sword.
23 “He wanders about for food, saying, ‘Where is it?’
He knows that a day of darkness is [g]at hand.
24 “Distress and anguish terrify him,
They overpower him like a king ready for the attack,
25 Because he has stretched out his hand against God
And conducts himself arrogantly against [h]the Almighty.
26 “He rushes [i]headlong at Him
With [j]his massive shield.
27 “For he has covered his face with his fat
And made his thighs heavy with flesh.
28 “He has lived in desolate cities,
In houses no one would inhabit,
Which are destined to become [k]ruins.
29 “He will not become rich, nor will his wealth endure;
And his grain will not bend down to the ground.
30 “He will not [l]escape from darkness;
The flame will wither his shoots,
And by the breath of His mouth he will go away.
31 “Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself;
For emptiness will be his [m]reward.
32 “It will be accomplished before his time,
And his palm branch will not be green.
33 “He will drop off his unripe grape like the vine,
And will cast off his flower like the olive tree.
34 “For the company of the godless is barren,
And fire consumes the tents of [n]the corrupt.
35 “They conceive [o]mischief and bring forth iniquity,
And their [p]mind prepares deception.”
Eliphaz declares ruin and disaster for the wicked, and while that thought may hold true, we come back again to the root of his suppositions. Which is that Eliphaz thinks only of the physical, which is a shortsighted view. As Job earlier noted, our time on this earth is short in contrast to the eternity for which we are destined.
Certainly, I don’t doubt that wicked and selfish people may have a difficult time sleeping at night, and they may experience emotional distress in return for their deeds. Those who reject God will one day face a penalty far more severe than anything that could happen in our earthly lives. But to expect that God will repay every sin with imminent death and judgment is to miss the point entirely. As Jesus told Nicodemus, the end goal is not to judge and condemn the world, but to save the world–that is, the people who inhabit this earth.
You might look at someone and think there’s no hope for them, but God might say, “Hold on, they just haven’t hit bottom yet…” In the words of one of my favorite authors, “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”
To be fair to Eliphaz, Jesus turned many longstanding beliefs of the religious upside-down, and that was a long time from Job’s day. But God hasn’t changed, and He was still full of grace and mercy in Job’s day. So if you know God, pray for those who don’t, especially those you would consider “enemies” or those you think are beyond hope–they need it most. And if you don’t yet know His saving grace, know that you are not too far gone. His love is enough for anyone who is willing to surrender their will to His. God is only a prayer away, and He hears the prayers of everyone, even those who haven’t yet called him Lord and Savior.