Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,…
After Job has broken the seven days' silence, each of his friends assays to comfort him, with that most irritating form of consolation - unsolicited advice. Although, perhaps, some of the critics have thought they detected greater differences Between the three friends than are really apparent from the narrative, we cannot but notice certain distinctive features. What they have in common is more pronounced than their points of difference. Thus they all three are friends of Job, who really desire to show their sympathy and help the sufferer. They all tender unasked counsel. They all assume an irritating position of superiority. They all adhere to the prevalent dogma that great calamity is to be accounted for as the punishment of great sin. They all believe in the justice of God and his readiness to forgive and restore if Job will but confess his sins and humble himself. But they manifest certain interesting differences. The first friend to speak is Eliphaz, who appears as a seer of visions.
I. THERE ARE MEN WHO SEEM TO BE NATURALLY IN AFFINITY WITH THE SPIRITUAL WORLD. All men are not able to see the sights with which these men are familiar. They are the seers of visions. Too often such men are visionaries and nothing else. They are so wrapt up in the excitement of their experiences of another world that they have no interest or capacity left for the discharge of present earthly duties. It would go ill with us if there were many such unpractical people among us. But even these men have their sphere, and there are higher visionaries to whom we should be pro-roundly grateful. It is a great descent from Paul the apostle in the third heavens to "Sludge the medium" at a seance. The follies of spiritualism should not blind us to the revelations of true seers. Even the half-mad visions of a Blake have given the world some wonderful fruits of imagination, that would never have grown on the stock of conventional worldly experience.
II. TRUTH IS NOT ALWAYS FOUND WITH THE SEER OF VISIONS. God's seer will see God's truth. If the veil is lifted from before the unseen world, some genuine revelations must appear. God has given us truths of the Bible in some cases through the visions of his prophets. But the mere affirmation of a vision is no voucher for the truth of what is said. The seer may be a deceiver, he may be a deluded fanatic, or he may see a vision of "lying spirits." Therefore what he says must be tested, and should not be accepted on the mere authority of his vision. Here was the mistake of Eliphaz, who thought to overawe and silence Job by the recital of his vision. It is safer to turn from all such pretensions to the clear "word of prophecy' and the historical revelation of Christ. Our religion is based, not on visions, but on historical facts.
III. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO CULTIVATE SYMPATHY WITH THE UNSEEN WORLD. If we are not visionaries, we need not be materialists. Though we do not look for spiritualistic manifestations, we need not be Sadducees who believe in no spirits. There is a vision of God for the pure in heart, which can deceive none, and which is the inspiration of this world's highest service. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,