Job 15 – TAKING OUT YOUR OWN WITH FRIENDLY FIRE
We engaged the insurgents from high ground, looking down on the village from behind a hummock and inside an eroded gully.
By the second day Operation Headway was running into some serious opposition from the enemy, who were firing from the crumbling ruins of an old stone wall in the village, the stuttering sound of their AK-47’s and the breath of sniper bullets all to close for comfort. We had no success in making any ground and were frustrated by their defence at each attempt.
I climbed to higher ground behind us to radio for support from the Tactical Operations Centre (TOC) and suddenly heard aircraft scream by our position, one so low that I could almost smell the pilot’s deodorant. The Fire Support Officer (FSO) explained that the aircraft were ours, but they were completing a bombing raid several miles away.
As I watched, the aircraft completed their first bombing run and then circled around for a second pass. This time, as they made their final approach, one plane peeled off, peppering our position with 20mm cannon fire.
I screamed into the microphone to the FSO, telling him we were under friendly fire, but in the rush for cover, the radio had been damaged by Shrapnel. The casing of the set had been ripped away, saving my life in the process. I felt the heat of the bomb blast that followed (Mk-20s) before I passed out, only to wake up in an Evac camp with some serious injuries. (Fictional story based on actual events).
Friendly fire occurs when there is intent to do harm to the enemy, but injury is caused to your own side. Eliphaz is treating Job as the enemy and his friendly fire is relentless.
A good friend will cheer you up when you are in hospital and experiencing incredible pain and suffering. Not Eliphaz the Temanite! When Job seeks to explain to Him that he does not know why God has a heavy hand upon him, you can hear the chatter of an M16 as Eliphaz says, in a loving way (not!), “A wise man wouldn’t answer with such empty talk! You are nothing but a windbag. The wise don’t engage in empty chatter. What good are such words?” (Job 15:2 NLT). Perhaps Eliphaz should apply his words to himself. A wise person will stop the debate at this point and start praying for the poor guy instead of trying to take him out with accusations about his sin.
But Eliphaz isn’t finished. He throws a grenade and calls Job a liar. He says, “Your sins are telling your mouth what to say. Your words are based on clever deception. Your own mouth condemns you, not I. Your own lips testify against you.” (Job 15:5,6 NLT). Perhaps you’ve experienced a person who condemns you by projecting their own weaknesses on you. Eliphaz is the one who is deceived, not Job!
Eliphaz is under the deception that he is giving Job cover fire, comforting words of encouragement instead of words designed to detonate the explosive force of accusation and judgment (Job 15:11).
Eliphaz says in Job 15:12 (NLT) “What has taken away your reason? What has weakened your vision, that you turn against God and say all these evil things?” If Eliphaz were speaking about people in general, his questions might have a great deal of impact. Listen to what he has to say, … “Can any mortal be pure? Can anyone born of a woman be just? Look, God does not even trust the angels. Even the heavens are not absolutely pure in His sight (He knew his theology and that there was a spiritual battle taking place). How much less pure is a corrupt and sinful person with a thirst for wickedness!”
The Bible says Romans 3:23 (NLT) “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” so what Eliphaz is saying is right, but he applies it to the wrong person. Job has already admitted that he has sinned in the past and that he is not aware of any sin in his life now. He says that if there is sin in his life now he has asked God to reveal it. Job has his life right with God. Sin is not the issue here!
But Eliphaz has a one track mind. Unfortunately, his aerial reconnaissance mistakes Job as one of the enemy troops. He implies that the similarities are obvious,
“The wicked writhe in pain throughout their lives. … They know their day of destruction is near. … They live in distress and anguish, … For they shake their fists at God, defying the Almighty. … Their riches will not last, and their wealth will not endure. … For the godless are barren. Their homes, enriched through bribery, will burn. They conceive trouble and give birth to evil.”
Job can’t refute that he is in pain, distress and anguish, that his wealth is gone and that he’s in trouble. But will somebody just pray for him instead of trying to take him out with accusations based on assumption?
What about me?
- Do my friends back away because of the presumptions I apply wrongly to their lives due to my own rigid thinking?
- Do they say to themselves “He misuses the Bible because he uses it’s words as a club instead of as a means of comfort.”
- Am I projecting my own weaknesses onto others in order to appear to be better than they are? Am I treating them as the enemy and using friendly fire to injure them?
- Am I so concerned with proving a point sometimes that I miss the opportunity to really listen and have something of value to give?
- Is my motivation to get people to agree with me or bring healing to their lives?
- Do I really listen to what they are saying and then try to grasp what God would have me do to help?
- Does Eliphaz need to apply his own words to himself?
If Eliphaz is flying a mission in a Jet fighter then he is dropping bombs over his own base. He is trying to take out the wrong man with “friendly fire”. Intending to take out the enemy he is causing injury to his friend. Eliphaz has mistaken Job for the enemy!
The invitation of Job 15 is simply to be careful with your words. Let’s not take out our own with friendly fire.