God Terrifies Job . . . Job 23-24
Eliphaz has not convinced Job: he still complains of the Almighty. If Job knew where he might find Him, he is humbly ready to approach Him, sure that he would meet with God's approval. But God terrifies Job. He sets no time for hearings. Job then courageously cites more evidence of God's misrule: He permits appalling wrongs to go unrighted and sustains the wrongdoers, although, if His eyes were upon them, they could never stand. Job defies his hearers to prove him wrong.
One by one Job's friends pass into the background. We shall not hear again from Eliphaz. He has not gathered evidence from the traveling merchants, as Job advised; instead he has delivered instruction "from the mouth of God" to prove to Job that God is not indifferent, that, while supreme in the heavens, He yet keeps watch over the ways of men. Eliphaz gave instruction that he wished to give, rather than instruction warranted by the evidence. Jeremiah would have called this false prophecy: the prophets were quick to note any travesty of their experience. The Poet is doing the same thing in the field of wisdom.
The true prophet receives his instruction from God. It is God's creative word, pregnant with threat or promise, and the true prophet delivers it as he receives it. False prophets speak suavely, yielding to popular demand, giving king and people the message they desire. Of such, says Jeremiah:
Thus saith the Lord,
I sent them not, nor commanded them:
Nor shall they bring any good to this people. [ Jer. 23:32]
The prophets receive their instruction in the form of an oracle, often called "burden"; the same word may mean "load." The prophets love a play on words, and Jeremiah indulges in one with caustic effect. The Lord is saying to Jeremiah: