An unwise or un or self-centered counselor is really more interested in their perspective than they are your pain anyway. They just have to win the argument. Eliphaz doesn't want to help Job as much as he wants to be right. He's got to be right.
That's what matters. But when your argument runs out of logic, when your argument runs out of biblical support, the only thing you can do is repeat yourself and turn up the heat. Get in their face.
Dial it up. Have you ever been in a situation where things were going poorly for you and a person in your life was making it worse? What they said and what they did contributed to your pain instead of relieving your pain. That happens far too often. When you're facing times of difficulty and trial and life is not what you had hoped, you need to know how to respond and how to cope, even when others are not giving you the help you need. You can learn valuable lessons from the example of Job. Stephen takes you there with this lesson called When Fairy Tales Have the Wrong Ending.
I recently watched with my daughter the Disney animated movie Happily Never After. It was a rather unpredictable storyline, which was, I suppose, the point. There was an old wizard in a tall tower that sort of ran everything in fairy tale land. And he had a set of scales representing good and evil. And he kept them perfectly balanced. And therefore, the events of all the world turned out right. All the fairy tales come true, came true, and everyone lived happily ever after. Cinderella married the prince. Sleeping Beauty woke up. Rapunzel let her hair down and the brave prince climbed her hair and rescued her.
And Little Red Riding Hood, of course, was rescued by the woodsmen when he killed the wolf and on and on and on. The wizard made sure the scripts were followed and everyone kept to the storyline and the scales were kept in perfect balance. The problem was the wizard's two bumbling assistants. One day, the wizard decided to take a little vacation and go to Scotland to play golf.
And when he did, the assistants messed everything up and the scales got out of balance and everything started going awry. Rapunzel let down her hair and it knocked her off balance. She fell out of the tower and on top of the prince. Little Red Riding Hood got eaten by the wolf. Cinderella's mean stepmother became the ruler of the universe. And Sleeping Beauty's prince finally did arrive, but after he bent down and kissed her, he fell asleep too. It occurred to me, though, and my kids would say, Dad, you see a story and everything, an illustration.
Here we go. It's true. But I couldn't help but think as I watched that, that to many people, their version of God is something like that old wizard. It's his job to keep the scales of good and evil perfectly balanced and everybody on the script.
And if he should ever take a vacation, which we're sure he won't, but if he should ever take his hands off the scales or maybe turn a little bit too much over to his bumbling face, everything will get messed up. And the expected conclusions to everyone's fairy tale won't come true. I happen to believe that there is in reality this innate sense in many people's version of God.
This is, in fact, the way it is simply because of the way they act. When the ending doesn't match what they believe the story is all about. And it doesn't turn out like a fairy tale.
One author imagined it this way. Maybe you can identify you're driving home from work after a terrible day at the office. In bumper to bumper traffic, the guy behind you smashes into you. You then hit the car in front of you and it happens to be a Porsche.
He isn't happy. You finally get everything documented by the police. But the Porsche owner is so angry he threatens to sue you. And then you finally get home. You discover you're out of milk. The dog's hungry. He's been gnawing on the cabinets. Your kids are misbehaving and gnawing on each other. The mail is full of overdue bills and you're out of money. Your wife tells you the doctor wants both of you to come see him the first thing in the morning. And about then you think, Lord, where are you?
Are those scales just a little off right now? Tomorrow is worse than today. You lose your job, your wife gets sick, and the guy in the Porsche sues you and wins.
And on and on and on. Perhaps you can identify with a man that I have come to deeply respect and admire and sympathize over. By the time you arrive in the book named after him, the 15th chapter, you discover that Job's spirit is crushed.
His eyes are red with perpetual crying and the days are leaving him more exhausted than ever before. And those who've shown up make things worse. And the person that doesn't show up, the person who is noticeably absent is God. Consider the fact that the job has followed the script. Don't miss that.
He has done everything right. But the fairy tale that he has been living has taken a turn and things have gone awry and it's having a different ending than he expected. Now you need to know as well that when you arrive at chapter 15, this is a transition point, this begins the second round of speeches. Up to this chapter, all three counselors have spoken. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have delivered their stinging condemnation to Job. They're convinced he's in need of repentance. Well, chapter 15 begins the second round and we're going to go through it a little more quickly because basically they say the same thing all over again.
The only difference is they dial up the heat and turn on the guild just a little bit more. You may remember if you were with us the first time Eliphaz spoke, he was discretionary. He was diplomatic.
Not this time. Eliphaz has dropped his gloves and he's coming out swinging and I'll tell you this is why. He is personally offended that Job has not listened to him. He's upset that Job is not following his advice and buying into his verdict. And now he speaks for the second time. Chapter 15 verse 1, then Eliphaz the Temanite responded, Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge and fill himself with the east wind?
Or should he argue with useless talk or with words which are not profitable? In other words, how dare you ignore our wise, experienced counsel and wisdom. Verse 4, indeed, you do away with reverence and you hinder meditation before God. As if to say, Job, you have ruined my walk with God when I came to the dump to try to help you out and talk some sense into you. You've hurt my spirit.
You've ruined my devotional life with God. Friends, what do you have in this chapter is a graceless man offering words and counsel to a grieving man and he will only deepen Job's wounds. So his counsel begins with offended pride in verse 2, followed with insults in verse 3, pious condescension in verse 4. Then there's a big dose of condemnation in verse 5 and verse 6. Notice therefore, your guilt teaches your mouth.
You choose the language of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, not I, and your own lips testify against you. In other words, Job, every time you open your mouth, you dig the hole deeper than it was before. And he implies, just who do you think you are?
And now he resorts to sarcasm. Verse 7, were you the first man to be born? Were you brought forth before the hills? In other words, did you precede creation?
Do you hear the secret counsel of God and limit wisdom to yourself? What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that we do not? Both the gray haired and the aged are among us. We're older than your father.
That's classic, isn't it? He has nothing to argue with, but he now says, we're older than you. We know better. We got gray hair. You ought to be listening to us and all our venerated wisdom and experience.
We are the original wise men of the East. Eliphaz is not about to surrender his perspective. And you need to understand a little bit more why. You see, it's critically important that these counselors win the argument, that their diagnosis is correct. In fact, at this point, their diagnosis is more important than the patient.
Why? Well, because if Job is not a sinner and God is letting this happen to him, then their understanding of God is all wrong. In fact, they're afraid because what's worse, this would mean that they have no protection in life. I mean, if staying to the script is not a guarantee of health and wealth and comfort and happiness, then what happened to Job might happen to us? We got to be right.
We've got to have the wizard figured out and how he manages the scales. I mean, Job, you're not getting the ending you want when we're convinced because this isn't the way God works. You see? And so they say in verse 12, your heart has carried you away. In verse 14, you've turned your spirit against God. You can't be righteous.
This has to be your fault. Let me make two observations about Eliphaz's counsel and about wrong counsel in general. First, wrong counsel wants to support its case more than it wants to offer comfort. That counselor, that Christian worker, that pastor, that leader, that coworker, whatever, has to win the argument if they are self-centered in their counsel and their view of God is shallow.
An unwise or self-centered counselor is really more interested in their perspective than they are your pain anyway. They just have to win the argument. Eliphaz doesn't want to help Job as much as he wants to be right. He's got to be right.
That's what matters. But when your argument runs out of logic, when your argument runs out of biblical support, the only thing you can do is repeat yourself and turn up the heat. Get in their face.
Dial it up. The inside story on preachers, I'll let you in on it. You know, we learned this in seminary. At strong points, yell.
At weak points, pound pole but yell louder. Shouldn't have told you that. That's what he's doing. Secondly, wrong counsel ultimately is self-serving and self-promoting. What motive is there for serving God if God doesn't pay up? That's the God Eliphaz knows. Eliphaz is constructing a relationship with God that makes God ultimately the servant of man. We do ABC and God responds and does our bidding. Otherwise, religion isn't worth it.
Right? You see, he's playing into the very argument Satan would bring up in chapter 1 when he told God, you take away Job's family and his fortune and his health and he'll curse you to your face. In other words, make his religion not pay off and watch him take off. Take away his fortune and watch him give away his faith. You see, ladies and gentlemen, one of the key questions that you must answer and we're asking it implicitly over and over and over again is this question from Job. How do you respond when your Christianity doesn't pay off? I mean, how do you follow through with biblical commands when obedience to those commands bring discomfort? They make life worse.
They seem to make the end even more awry than it was earlier. We'd like to believe that whenever you do the right thing, good things happen. God pays off.
He pays every weekend. You don't have to wait long. You do the right thing. Good things happen, but they don't, do they? An illustration of this, I was over there at Crossroads Chaos trying to get out of a parking lot and into a lane of traffic that had stopped at the red light. You're at the mercy of the drivers in that line because by the time that line empties out as the light turns green, the lights turn red again and it fills up again. So I was sitting there and it was a lady directly across from me and there was just enough room in front of her that I believed I could get out, but I needed to wait.
Sure enough, she saw me and she waved and smiled and said, come on. I needed a few more inches. She put her SUV in reverse and backed into the car behind her. It was a brand new Jaguar.
And people that drive Jaguars are picky about their cars, you know, dents and things like that. I knew this was going to be bad. I felt so badly for this woman. She had been kind. She had been polite. She'd done a nice thing.
And it made her life worse. Ladies and gentlemen, ultimately, our motive in doing the right thing. And we need to rehearse this again and again, is not so that good things will happen, but so that God will be glorified.
Right? So that God will be glorified. Let your light so shine before men that they may see the good things you do and give you a raise. Oh, I'm sorry, that's the reverse version. No, and give you an A for attitude.
Put you on the first string because you're so cheerful. No, they may see the good things you do and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Listen, if counselors and counsel does not ultimately point us away from ourselves and toward the glory and honoring of God, chances are we just might be following nothing less than self-serving, self-promoting, comfort-seeking, ultimately compromise-allowing, self-assuring counsel.
And the premise is whatever makes you feel better, you do it. Don't worry about God. So this is the Council of Eliphaz.
How can we get this thing figured out? As far as I can tell, the wicked are in pain all their lives. Verse 20, it's the wicked that are in pain. Verse 22, they're the ones riddled with anxiety. Verse 23, they are terrified of death. Verse 25, though they regard themselves as invincible. Verse 28, their wealth won't last.
It's going to run out. They're going to lose everything. Verse 30, they will not leave an inheritance, a legacy. Verse 31, 32 and 33, and their doom is certain, convinced of it.
Verses 34 and 35. Now Eliphaz in that long list is obviously talking about Job. He barely camouflages his condemnation.
He doesn't really care. In his view and the view of the others, everything that has happened to Job is proof that he has departed from God's script. That's why he's getting the ending he's getting. So here it is, Job. Bad people don't enjoy the fairytale.
Good people live happily ever after. No wonder Job responds and I kind of see him putting his head in his hands. Chapter 16, Job answered, verse 1, verse 2, I have heard, I've heard such things.
Oh, I've heard more than I want to hear. Sorry, comforters are you all. Sorry. The word can be rendered burdensome. You do nothing more than place a greater burden on my shoulders.
I'm in the pit and you step on my shoulders. He says in verse 4, I too could speak like you if I were in your place. In other words, I could come up with this stuff if we exchanged places. He says I could compose words against you and shake my head at you. I could do that. Let's just trade, he implies.
Let's see if you can take what you're dishing out. You climb into this hospital bed. You take my place in the unemployment line. Let's exchange bank accounts.
Give me your cash and you go to bankruptcy court on Monday morning. And then let's hear how quickly you quote the verses. One author said that sometimes we have to experience unsympathetic friends in order to learn how to minister to others.
If that's true, Job is going to be a first class counselor when we get to the end of the book. For now, he's not sure he's going to make it up out of the pit. He laments in verse 6 of this chapter, if I could speak, my pain is not lessened.
If I hold back, I'm left with nothing. It's his emotional pain. He speaks of his physical state. Verse 7, God has exhausted me. I'm absolutely worn out. Socially, I'm a desolate island. Verse 7 of the latter part, you've laid waste all my company.
There's nobody around me, really. Spiritually, over in chapter 17, he says, I'm at my wits end. He says, my spirit, verse one, is broken. My days are extinguished.
The grave is ready for me. In other words, there's no way out. Every time every time one of these counselors speaks, it just sort of lowers Job closer to the grave and leaves him without hope.
But back to this issue, C.S. Lewis in his book, A Grief Observed, wrote about his own struggle after the death of his wife. And he writes with the same kind of openness and candor that Job speaks with.
He says this, this is one of the most disquieting symptoms. He's talking about the Christian life. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing him, you will be welcomed with open arms or so it feels.
But go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain. And what do you find? A door slammed in your face, a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. And after that, silence. Have you ever experienced that? That's the kind of thing you don't admit to at a prayer meeting. But the silence of God, as we watch the purposes of God unfold, we discover rich truths that come out of his suffering with God's silence. Somebody said it this way, those who suffer acutely tend to see clearly.
Job sees some things very clearly and you found that to be true in your own life, haven't you? At the time of your greatest desperation, your mind has been most open and hungry for the Word of God. At the time of your greatest, most difficult hour, your heart has been most tender to the Spirit of God, your life more available to the will of God than ever before. This is the sweetness of sorrow. This is the fruit that comes out of suffering. And what sweet fruit he has, he's already said one thing that I was amazed about and I want to go back and comment it again. Chapter 13 verse 15, you remember he says this incredible resolution, even though he slays me, yet I will trust him.
Can you imagine that kind of resolve? I'm going to point to another one or two here in a moment, but I was reading an article written by Jill Briska, the wife of Stuart Briska, who pastored for many years, since retired. She was retelling the story of David, their elementary school son. Evidently, he's going to be taken to the doctor for an appointment. And he was told by his father, Stuart, in sort of classic father, cryptic, that you have a doctor's appointment on Monday, so you're not going to go to school and you're going to be given an X-ray. That was it. That was the length of the conversation.
That was on Friday. On Monday, she wrote, David got into the car, his face white and drawn, his eyes filled with fear. And Stuart said, David, you're not afraid, are you? And he said, of course, Daddy, I'm afraid.
Why? Little David responded, because I know what an execution is. And she then wrote, the amazing thing was that he actually got in the car. He thought he was going to die.
Why did he get in? Because he trusted his father. With that kind of childlike faith and that kind of grown-up resolve, Job is willing to stay on the path. And I think part of his resolve is fueled by his clear conscience. Go back to chapter 16 and verse 17.
He says, my face is flushed from weeping and dark circles are around my eyes. And there is, however, no violence in my hands and my prayer is pure. My prayer is pure. My conscience is clean.
It's clean. And he comes out with another amazing statement of resolve in chapter 17, verse 9. You ought to circle the word nevertheless and it implies a transition based on all that he said. Nevertheless, that is, in spite of everything, nevertheless, the righteous, and he's referring to himself, will hold to his way and he who has clean hands will grow stronger. That's another way of saying, I am holding on to my character. I'm going to hold on to principle. I'm not going to cash in my faith.
I'm going to hang on to the path as I know it, even though it doesn't seem to be working out very well, I'm going to stay to it. You're also going to look up. Notice verse 19 back in chapter 16. Even now, behold, I love this statement. My witness is in heaven and my advocate is on high. My witness is up there in the heavens, he says, and I do have an advocate on high. It doesn't seem like he's my advocate, but I am convinced that my conscience is clean and the altar is fresh.
Sacrifices have been made. I have followed the path of God. And when I stand before him, I believe that he will step forward as my advocate. We know by way of further revelation, what he did not know that our advocate has a name.
His name is what? Jesus Christ, whoever lives to intercede for his children. Aren't you thankful for that advocate who intercedes for you, no matter what trial or difficulty you face, knowing that Jesus is praying for you and advocating for you before the father should strengthen and encourage you as you walk through this life.
There's more for you to learn from this section of the book of Job. And we'll bring you the conclusion to this message on our next broadcast. This is Wisdom for the Heart and our teacher Stephen Davey is the pastor of the Shepherd's Church in Cary, North Carolina. You can learn more about our ministry at wisdomonline.org. I'm glad you joined us today. Don't miss the conclusion of this lesson back here on Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-03 00:32:02 / 2023-04-03 00:41:32 / 10