The subject of debate may be perhaps thus described:
That the calamities that had befallen Job were sure evidences of wickedness on his part; and were to be taken as proof that God was against him, as one that magnified himself against the Almighty, and whose claim to be pure and upright and God-fearing possessed no good grounds, otherwise God would awake for him and make the habitation of his righteousness prosperous?
Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar to affirm . . Job to deny.
The Christadelphian, Oct 1888
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
Eliphaz feels somewhat irresistibly moved to make some remarks upon the matter now fairly before them in Job's opening remarks. Venturing tenderly, says he, "if we assay to commune with thee wilt thou be grieved?" Then, taking Job's silence for his consent, he proceeds first to notice some good things that he had known about Job; says he,
"Thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling; thou hast strengthened the feeble knees."
That he should be able to say these things of Job is to witness to him being a fatherly, shepherdly, and neighbourly man of the good Samaritan type—a man endowed with wisdom that he employed on other's behalf. But Eliphaz's initial application of the matter is contained in what follows:—
"Now it is come upon thee," said he, "and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled."
Of course Job was troubled when his own turn came; how could he help being unless he were more than flesh and blood; even Christ is recorded to have said of himself,
"Now is my soul troubled."
But this was not the whole intention of Eliphaz's remarks. Proceeding with what he had yet to say, he more and more reveals his view of the case—
"Remember, I pray thee," said he, "whoever perished being innocent? or, where were the righteous cut off?"
Then, asking this question, he seeks to supply what he conceives to be an historic kind of answer, derived from his own observations:
"Even as I have seen," said he, "they that plough iniquity and sow wickedness reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of His nostrils are they consumed."
This, though true in the abstract, was not the truth as applied to Job's case, which was rather the case of a chastened son than a punished evil-doer of the character suggested by the words of Eliphaz. Following this, he directs one of his mistaken shafts at the fact that Job passed for a just man; and as though Job had magnified himself against God, he cries out,
"Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?"
This, however, was a pointless interrogation as bearing upon Job's case—a case in which Job merely held fast to his integrity, as against the suggestions of his friends that he was the contrary of an innocent man in the matters of which they accused him.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1888
4 Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.
Why so despondent?
Well, you say, it is no use pretending to be perfect.
"If I am to be perfect before I can be saved, then I cannot be saved; that is all I have to say."
My good friend, let us look the thing fairly in the face and all round; do not go off with a half-impression on the subject. You do not deny that these are the commandments? "No," you say with a groan, " I admit these are the commandments, and I read,
' Blessed are those that do his commandments.' I try to do them honestly and faithfully; but I know I make a sorry business of it ; and I say again, if my acceptance is to depend upon my perfect success, then I cannot hope to be accepted."
My good friend and brother, you truly read our duty to the commandments, and the blessedness coming out of their observance; God forbid that I should seek to lessen the keenness of your perceptions in this direction.
But are you unwilling to open your mind to all the qualifications with which that truth is associated?
You say, " I hope not." Very well, have you never heard of forgiveness ? You say, "Ah! that is for sinners of the - Gentiles." But is there no forgiveness for Christ's brethren? Did not Christ teach his disciples to pray" Forgive us our trespasses"?
Has not John the Apostle written,
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness "?
Does not James say, in such a case of confession, "If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him"? Has not David written,
"As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy towards them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like us a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" ?
"Then I do not understand," says our faint-hearted brother, who refuses to take comfort. "If forgiveness is so easily and so bountifully available, it leaves no force in the declarations that require the doing of the will of God as the condition of our acceptance." Well, it is one of those apparent paradoxes that present no practical difficulty in the right placing of the elements of wisdom.
13 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men,
14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.
15 Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
What wrong thing did Eliphaz say? [42:7]
He said things God could not endorse. He did not intentionally say anything untrue, but evidently he was a superstitious, conceited man, and thought himself, as well by his vision as by his age, authorized to speak.
...Just so, Eliphaz! We would have wondered indeed, hadst thou in such circumstances not seen such a phantom. Thou must have had a heavy supper the night before. Thy digestion for the night had been very bad, thy nerves excitable, thy sleep a feverish doze; and in the morning, reflecting on thy vision, conceited with thine own superstitious and narrow-minded notions, hadst thought thyself highly favoured.
Highly favoured indeed!
"Great men are not always wise; neither do the aged understand judgment"
was the verdict passed upon thee by Elihu, the Buzite. And it as much affects the vision thou sawest, as thy speeches, against which the anger of Job, the anger of Elihu, and the anger of God were all kindled.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Jan 1869.
18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:
The Scripture reveals the principle upon which the Elohim of the Universe are developed by the Eternal Spirit. They are immortals, but were not always so. The Eternal Spirit, dwelling in light, is alone essentially immortal, without beginning; but all the Mighty Ones, or Gods, He has created, have at some period of their history, been subject to evil even as we.
Moses teaches this in Gen. 3:5, 22. The sagacious serpent, who had seen and heard the Elohim in Paradise"the Stars of the Dawn and Sons of God" -- told Adam and Eve that if they ate of
"the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they should be as the Elohim ('gods') knowing good and evil."
The lie he told did not consist in saying this; for the Yahweh-Elohim admitted that, in the eating, and its consequence, they had become like one of them, to know good and evil. "Behold," said He,
"the man has become as ONE OF US, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of the Lives, and eat and live for Olahm; therefore Yahweh-Elohim sent him forth from the Garden of Eden."
When this was affirmed of Adam and Eve,
"the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked,"
and they were both ashamed and afraid. This was the form of the "evil" which they experienced at that crisis; and Yahweh-Elohim testifies, that it was an evil they themselves had been the subjects of.
Those who were Elohim contemporary with Adam had once been the subjects of shame and fear; and as these are symptoms of an evil conscience, they had once been sinners; and as it is the law of the Eternal Spirit's empire, that sin works death, so they must have been once mortal : which is a conclusion in agreement with Paul's testimony, that the Invisible One "only hath immortality."
Hence though in His universe there are multitudes of Immortal Sons of Deity, yet in all that universe there is but One whose immortality is underived and that august person is He who created them. Thus all immortals but Himself were once mortal -- sinners subject to death; and while so subject as much in need of a remedial system as we.
But at the fitting up of earth as a new arena for the display of the power and wisdom of the Eternal Spirit, they who figure in the work, had attained to their eternal redemption; and had become "spirits" -- Holy Spirit corporeal intelligences -- because they had been born of the Eternal Spirit or Father.
To what orb or planet of the universe they are indigenous, is not revealed; but as they are not ab-original to an earth-born race, they are not sovereign here; but only, as Paul says, "public official spirits, sent forth for service on account of those thereafter to inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14).
Phanerosis - Elohim developed from the seed of Abraham
21 Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.
The things around us make the impression on the imagination that they are enduring that the things of God are maybe's; possible phantoms -- not more than probabilities, scarcely that -- while the affairs about us are the bird in hand -- real, valuable, and abiding.
Few would own to the thought in this naked form, and yet this is the story that all things tend to whisper in the ear of a natural man. That it is an untrue story requires but a moment's thought to see. At any given moment, things seem stable enough; but let there be time enough for taking observations, and the truth appears. All things are on the move, and the "move" is steadily towards the grave.
You see it best, perhaps, after an absence from a place for ten or twenty years. You enquire for this one and that, and they are gone! Strangers are in their places. "Dear me; what changes!" Each year brings new stones to the cemetery. The grim scythe-bearer goes quietly round, and takes first one and then another. He misses nobody. He may be a long time in calling at a particular house, but give him time, he will be there at last as sure as there is a living man in it.
Everyone knows this and sees it, yet they fail to take in the full force of the lesson.
Bro Roberts - Servants and masters