Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you? Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your relatives for no reason; you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked. You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry, though you were a powerful man, owning land— an honored man, living on it. And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless. That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you, why it is so dark you cannot see, and why a flood of water covers you. – Job 22:4-11
Old Eliphaz is at it again poking Job while he is down. It seems that from Eliphaz’s perspective Job has some skeletons in his closet. Eliphaz is painting a picture of a rich man that is self-absorbed and careless toward his friends and relatives. This stands in stark contrast to the way God sees Job and the way Job views himself. So why the dissonance?
Eliphaz has a posture and perspective that is different than Job and God. I think this is something like the story about the three blind men who are all touching different parts of an elephant and coming to very different conclusions about the animal they have encountered. Eliphaz is seeing Job’s predicament with a lens that requires that darkness and sin in Job to explain what has happened to him. In a way Eliphaz has spiritual limburger cheese on this nose which is affecting the “scent” of all his interactions with Job.
So Eliphaz concludes that Job is “in the dark” and covered with flood water — neither of these conditions are inherently bad. We are in the dark for about half the time here on earth and floods are a natural and necessary part of a healthy hydrologic system. Just as in our spiritual lives I think it is natural and necessary to experience “dark times” and floods. These are part of the natural spiritual cycle.
I am reminded of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Frodo is given the Light of Eärendil by Galadriel. When she gives it to Frodo she says “I give you the light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” Frodo uses the light many times to counter the effects of the ring he is taking to Mordor and to battle with the spider Shebol. As a follower of Christ I believe Jesus is to be our “light of Eärendil” when all other lights go out — during dark times.
Job is definitely experiencing a dark time spiritually. The light of his life, God, has gone below the horizon for a time, and for the moment it does feel very dark for Job. Eliphaz erroneously concludes that Job is in the dark because he has chosen to be there. In the end the sun (and the Son) will rise again and Job will be restored.
Prayer: Thank You God for shining during the dark times in our lives.