The consolations of God - Second in a series
The phrase consolations of God is found in the Bible only in the book of Job: Are the consolations of God small with thee? (Job 15:11).
After losing his children, servants, livestock, camels, health and appearance, as Job sat and scraped the boils that covered his body, three friends came to comfort him. Eliphaz, Zophar and Bildad sat with him for seven days in silence, mourning his losses.
Then Job spoke: Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. (Job 3:3)
Eliphaz, alarmed for his soul, said, Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? (Job 4:7) He shared a vision he had been given: A spirit had stood before him and said, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust… (Job 4:17-21)
This counsel seems to have assisted Eliphaz in his own relationship with God, as he testified: Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole… (Job 5:17-27)
Job objected to Eliphaz's exhortation. Job was a man who knew good from evil and endeavored to do right in all ways. What he had experienced was not a chastisement but a decimation! He needed much more than a clucking disciplinary word from an older friend. But the jabs continued, with Bildad and Zophar joining in.
At one point, Eliphaz reminded Job, What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us? With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father. Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee? (Job 15:9-11)
There, we see the phrase in context. A careful reading of Job 15 makes clear that Eliphaz felt that the vision and insight he shared with Job (see above) ought to have consoled him by ministering to his need for guidance. Job would have realized this, had he not been rebellious, vain and perhaps hiding a sin. Yet, it is not the word or vision that another considered so special in their life that can minister to our specific circumstance. Each of us needs his very own consolation of God.
In the end, Job was led to confess that he had considered himself to be God's equal, even to the point of challenging God's wisdom. He had been a man who thought he could be just or acceptable to God by his lifestyle. Indeed, he had worked hard every day to demonstrate his righteousness to God.
He had wanted God to explain why nearly all his possessions and loved ones were destroyed, but instead he was given a new way of seeing: Then he exclaimed, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (Job 42:5) He understood that he had been presumptuous. One cannot approach God as an equal. Isn’t this what Eliphaz tried to say?
After Job’s change of heart, God called on him to intercede for his friends. They had not been loving. Job obeyed and then God restored his life.
The Lord's own exhortation (found in Job 38-41) deeply consoled Job for his immense losses because it led to a repentance that opened his heart to see God in His glory— things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. (Job 42:3) Neither let God's consolations be too small for us nor his exhortations too great.