Eliphaz, keeping with the theme that Job’s severe suffering is because of Job’s severe sin, says to Job, “Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end?” Then Eliphaz makes a list for Job of all the potential sins Job could have committed, including taking pledges from his brother without reason, stripping the naked of their clothing, not providing water or food for the weary, neglecting the widows, etc. Job responds saying he wishes he could take his case before the Lord – “Would He contend with me in His great power? No! But He would take note of me. There the upright could reason with Him, and I would be delivered forever from my Judge.”
The Lord is a just Judge, and Job will soon have his chance to go before Him. But when Job stands before the Lord, Job will not talk about how upright and righteous he is… no, quite the opposite. Job will quickly recognize how sinful and disgusting he is next to the Holy God. However, God will show Job mercy, but not because of anything that Job has done to earn it by his good deeds. Job’s righteousness isn’t based on Job’s performance.
Bildad asks Job about righteousness – “How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?” In Genesis 15:6, God says about Abram that “he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” So Abram was called righteous solely based on his faith in the Lord. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” So what pleases God? Faith. Job’s righteousness has nothing to do with his actions or prosperity but everything to do with his faith in God. We saw Job’s faith exhibited in the beginning of his story when he built an altar to the Lord. Job was approaching the Lord through the shedding of the blood of the innocent, placing his faith in the promise of the Savior to come as a substitutionary atonement for our sins. This is the promise God gave to Adam and Eve back in the garden before He killed an innocent animal to cover the guilty (Genesis 3:15, 21). There is only one Man born from a woman who is born pure in this story, and that is Jesus Christ. And the only way He is pure is that His seed comes from the outside, from the Lord.
Later Paul will explain that we are justified and our sins and penalty of sin are removed by the blood of Christ – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8-9). Our righteousness is found under the blood of Christ. Jesus, the ultimate Sacrifice, will arrive on the scene soon, but for now, more animals will be killed pointing to the One to come, so keep reading. (Job 22:1-25:6)