Job 15:17-35 (NKJV)
“I will tell you, hear me; What I have seen I will declare, What wise men have told, Not hiding anything received from their fathers, To whom alone the land was given, And no alien passed among them: The wicked man writhes with pain all his days, And the number of years is hidden from the oppressor. Dreadful sounds are in his ears; In prosperity the destroyer comes upon him. He does not believe that he will return from darkness, For a sword is waiting for him. He wanders about for bread, saying, ‘Where is it?’ He knows that a day of darkness is ready at his hand. Trouble and anguish make him afraid; They overpower him, like a king ready for battle. For he stretches out his hand against God, And acts defiantly against the Almighty, Running stubbornly against Him with his strong, embossed shield.
“Though he has covered his face with his fatness, And made his waist heavy with fat, He dwells in desolate cities, In houses which no one inhabits, Which are destined to become ruins. He will not be rich, Nor will his wealth continue, Nor will his possessions overspread the earth. He will not depart from darkness; The flame will dry out his branches, And by the breath of His mouth he will go away. Let him not trust in futile things, deceiving himself, For futility will be his reward. It will be accomplished before his time, And his branch will not be green. He will shake off his unripe grape like a vine, And cast off his blossom like an olive tree. For the company of hypocrites will be barren, And fire will consume the tents of bribery. They conceive trouble and bring forth futility; Their womb prepares deceit.”
Eliphaz is firmly committed to a theology of just desserts. The wicked man writhes with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden from the oppressor. Dreadful sounds are in his ears; in prosperity the destroyer comes upon him. … Trouble and anguish make him afraid; they overpower him, like a king ready for battle. … He will not be rich, Nor will his wealth continue, Nor will his possessions overspread the earth.
If the experience of the wicked was anything like that, they’d mend their ways in a minute. That’s obviously not how it works. For reasons God only knows, wicked people often enjoy their wickedness (in this life, anyway). Conversely, many of the greatest saints in history were tortured or even martyred.
Eliphaz is so devoted to his theology of just desserts that he doesn’t even notice all the things around him that contradict it. As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
Eliphaz isn’t all that different from you and me. Everyone sees the world through the lens of their assumptions. This is fundamental; it’s the underlying mechanism for all optical illusions. Your brain converts what you see into what you think you should see before you even see it. Eliphaz sees what he thinks should be true. Yogi would have told him, “You need to look with your eyes.”
The great treasures of the Bible are hidden in plain sight. My trick for discovering the golden nuggets is to read a passage over and over until I don’t understand it. The first three or four times, I don’t notice what it says.
Then it hits me – and the digging starts.
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