Scripture to meditate on:
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
“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?
“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.
“Is not God in the heights of heaven?
And see how lofty are the highest stars!
Yet you say, ‘What does God know?
Does he judge through such darkness?
Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us
as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’
Will you keep to the old path
that the wicked have trod?
They were carried off before their time,
their foundations washed away by a flood.
They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!
What can the Almighty do to us?’
Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,
so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;
the innocent mock them, saying,
‘Surely our foes are destroyed,
and fire devours their wealth.’
“Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
Accept instruction from his mouth
and lay up his words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:
If you remove wickedness far from your tent
and assign your nuggets to the dust,
your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,
then the Almighty will be your gold,
the choicest silver for you.
Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
and will lift up your face to God.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will fulfill your vows.
What you decide on will be done,
and light will shine on your ways.
When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’
then he will save the downcast.
He will deliver even one who is not innocent,
who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.” – Job 22
The third and final cycle of this debate begins with Eliphaz. This time the accusations against the long-suffering Job become even more pointed, with Eliphaz charging Job with crimes the patriarch could not have even committed (verses 4-9).
Despite this, Eliphaz does raise an interesting philosophical question: Do people benefit God? It’s an interesting question. Eliphaz isn’t asking if people can worship, honor or bring blessing to God… but can we actually benefit him?
Christian Theology teaches that God is independent. He does not need anyone or anything to exist. He is his own cause and does not depend on anything outside himself. He is unchangeable.
And yet, this independent God desires to be in relationship with us. The Bible never presents God as abstract but always in the context of a relationship; if not with man then in relationship to his Son or the Holy Spirit.
So while God does not need us, he clearly desires us. After all, he created us and when we sinned, he passionately pursues a relationship with us.
God does not need us. But he chose to create us. And having created us, he has chosen to make the extravagant sacrifice of his Son in order to redeem us to himself.
“Do people benefit God? Can even skilled people benefit him?” – Job 22:2
Questions to ponder:
- How do we know that God desires relationship with us?
- What can we conclude about such a God? What can we conclude about ourselves in light of that God?