The last speech from Eliphaz covers lots of ground. He begins by arguing against the presumed piety of Job compared to the Creator of all:
Can a man be of benefit to God?
Can even a wise person benefit him?
What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?
What would he gain if your ways were blameless?
This is an interesting start to his argument, almost like Eliphaz was reading Ecclesiastes and begs the “why exist” question. But Eliphaz isn’t here for philosophy 101. He immediately shifts into high gear and begins confront Job for obvious transgressions, “Is not your wickedness great?” (Job 22:5). That’s just the beginning of this tirade as he effectively jumps to Matthew 25 and accuses Job of denying the people of clothing, water and food, of sending the widow away empty-handed. Even in his day, such actions would be offensive.
In verses 12-20, Eliphaz accuses Job of suggesting that God doesn’t see what is going on, “Yet you say, ‘What does God know?'” (Job 22:13).
The final words of Eliphaz in verses 21 to 30 provide a sure path for recovery for those who have gone astray. “Submit to God…” and he will restore you, everything will be made new. Eliphaz actually ends on a high note, but the middle of his speech burns Job’s ears as he criticizes deeply and joins his friends Bildad and Zophar in accusing Job of unrepentant sin.
In Chapter 23, Job explains that if he could simply find God, he could make his case and be exonerated, but God is nowhere to be found. “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!” (Job 23:3). Searching east, west, north or south, God cannot be found; Job’s ability to defend himself is untried. A bit of self-pity wells up inside him. Poor Job.
Job recognizes that God is the Creator, the one who can and will judge.
But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?
He does whatever he pleases.
He carries out his decree against me,
and many such plans he still has in store.
That is why I am terrified before him;
when I think of all this, I fear him.
God has made my heart faint;
the Almighty has terrified me.
Chapter 24 turns to Eliphaz’s accusations about helping those less fortunate by first asking a question of God: why not set a day and time for judgment? Let us know when to show up and state our case. Why does God allow all of the thief and the murderer to continue their dark ways?
One day, however, God will deal with those who are mighty in power:
He may let them rest in a feeling of security,
but his eyes are on their ways.
For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like heads of grain.
“If this is not so, who can prove me false
and reduce my words to nothing?”
Relentlessly, Job continues to support his innocence while giving God the glory, even when he’s completely frustrated and confused. God doesn’t have to explain himself to us, though it is difficult to understand why evil appears to flourish, we do not have any authority in the court of God.
The drama continues. Job’s friends are still present, though it’s a stretch to suggest that they are being helpful–at least they’re still there!