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Job and his so-called friends


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#1 Travis Richey

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 01:12 PM

I have found myself immersed in the book of Job....again. I really do enjoy reading Job, and delving into all that is there. However, I have come up with some questions, and thought I'd ask them here. I so much appreciate the input that all of you are willing to share.

1. In the beginning of the book, God declares that Job is a righteous man, and does so again at the end of the book. So, does that mean that all we read of Job's words, and his questioning of God and defending himself is a proper attitude and way to react to circumstances?

2. At the end of the book, God comes down hard on Job's friends. Does that mean that we have to dismiss all of their inputs as they had this long conversation with Job?

3. Or is this more like real life after all, and what we are reading is an exchange of thoughts and ideas that any of us could come up with during such an event in our life, or a friends life, and that in fact, what is really being judged by God at the end of the book are the attitudes of the participant's hearts instead of their intellect and words. In other words, both Job and his friends each made statements of truth and statements that could be argued as false, or at least not highly recommended. But it was the dedication of Job to God (that he would not curse Him, nor refuse to believe that He knew best)that saw him through and allowed God to commend him at the end. And it was the judemental attitude of his friends that brought God's words against them.

I find the whole exchange fascinating, and each time I read through it, I see more and more in it. So how do you study Job, and what lessons do you glean from it?

#2 Julie Daube

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 08:08 AM

I have found myself immersed in the book of Job....again. I really do enjoy reading Job, and delving into all that is there. However, I have come up with some questions, and thought I'd ask them here. I so much appreciate the input that all of you are willing to share.

1. In the beginning of the book, God declares that Job is a righteous man, and does so again at the end of the book. So, does that mean that all we read of Job's words, and his questioning of God and defending himself is a proper attitude and way to react to circumstances?

2. At the end of the book, God comes down hard on Job's friends. Does that mean that we have to dismiss all of their inputs as they had this long conversation with Job?

3. Or is this more like real life after all, and what we are reading is an exchange of thoughts and ideas that any of us could come up with during such an event in our life, or a friends life, and that in fact, what is really being judged by God at the end of the book are the attitudes of the participant's hearts instead of their intellect and words. In other words, both Job and his friends each made statements of truth and statements that could be argued as false, or at least not highly recommended. But it was the dedication of Job to God (that he would not curse Him, nor refuse to believe that He knew best)that saw him through and allowed God to commend him at the end. And it was the judemental attitude of his friends that brought God's words against them.

I find the whole exchange fascinating, and each time I read through it, I see more and more in it. So how do you study Job, and what lessons do you glean from it?

Thanks for starting such a thought-provoking thread, Travis! My initial response is that it was the judgmental attitude of Job's friends that was wrong, not so much the individual statements they made. It was wrong of them to presume that Job's suffering was the result of sin. Sadly, this is something that many believers do today: when they see a Christian suffering or going through hardship, many assume that the person is being disciplined by God for some type of disobedience. They forget that obedience does not always bring immediate blessings but often brings pain and difficulty (a classic example from Scripture is the story of Joseph; another example is when Pharaoh doubled the work load of the Hebrews immediately after Moses obeyed God in bringing His word to Pharaoh).

In answer to question 1, I believe that God declared Job a righteous man because Job had not sinned; however, I don't believe that seeking to defend oneself is the best way to react to such circumstances. Thankfully, as believers in Christ, we have the privilege of looking to Jesus as our Advocate; He is our defense against all of Satan's accusations. But Job did not have this understanding; during his lifetime, Jesus had not been revealed yet, so Job did not understand that he didn't need to defend himself.

#3 Joel Stoddert

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 04:39 PM

I have found myself immersed in the book of Job....again. I really do enjoy reading Job, and delving into all that is there. However, I have come up with some questions, and thought I'd ask them here. I so much appreciate the input that all of you are willing to share.

1. In the beginning of the book, God declares that Job is a righteous man, and does so again at the end of the book. So, does that mean that all we read of Job's words, and his questioning of God and defending himself is a proper attitude and way to react to circumstances?

2. At the end of the book, God comes down hard on Job's friends. Does that mean that we have to dismiss all of their inputs as they had this long conversation with Job?

3. Or is this more like real life after all, and what we are reading is an exchange of thoughts and ideas that any of us could come up with during such an event in our life, or a friends life, and that in fact, what is really being judged by God at the end of the book are the attitudes of the participant's hearts instead of their intellect and words. In other words, both Job and his friends each made statements of truth and statements that could be argued as false, or at least not highly recommended. But it was the dedication of Job to God (that he would not curse Him, nor refuse to believe that He knew best)that saw him through and allowed God to commend him at the end. And it was the judemental attitude of his friends that brought God's words against them.

I find the whole exchange fascinating, and each time I read through it, I see more and more in it. So how do you study Job, and what lessons do you glean from it?



Good post, Travis! I enjoy studying Job too, and have for many years. It's a fascinating story. Yes, I believe Job sinned in at least some of his statements, but that doesn't preclude God declaring him righteous at both the beginning and the end of the book. At first, Job responded, although he must have been in shock over all that had happened, in faith and trust, saying things like "Even though He slay me, I will trust him." Job was under the mistaken impression that God was punishing him for something (not knowing, of course, about the conversation between God & Satan in ch. 1). He didn't know why, but still trusted Him. After his misfortunes had time, along with his friends' unwise words, to wear him down, Job's trust faltered & he began accusing God, in essence, of mistreating him. That's when God spoke up and asked Job "Where were you when I created..?" and reveals himself as the all-knowing Creator of everything--including Job! The Lord basically says, "Who do you think you are, Job? Do you mean you know how to be Me better than I do?" Job responds in repentance after this rebuke,& the Lord forgives him. Did Job sin for a time during the story? Yes. Did he do anything you and I haven't done? No. Yet we are considered righteous in Christ although we sometimes sin and need God's forgiveness. Like Abraham, whose faith "was reckoned to him as righteousness", Job, an Old Testament saint of God, was a righteous man although not a perfect one. He had a heart for God, but, like all of us who do, got discouraged, and certainly had much the get discouraged about! He had lost everything, & had no idea why.

Job's friends are also very human, so we can't be too quick to judge them either: It's all too tempting to say something, anything, when dealing with a loved one's grief, easy to spout cliches rather than think about what you're saying (Ever said "I know exactly how you feel?" when you're not the one grieving?). These men had been taught that suffering is always a punishment for sin--which Job reveals also he believes. The problem is he can't think of anything he's done to merit such a judgement: Job's friends keep insisting he needs to think harder or must be in denial & already knows what he's done--not a helpful response, but one which is understandable if you think suffering is always a punishment. Job's friends committed the sin of pride (in failing to consider that maybe they didn't understand what was going on), and they were guilty of insensitivity: You don't confront major issues when someone's reeling from a crisis! It's just not the time for such discussions. Also, in judging Job's friends, consider how they began their time with him: For an entire week, these men sat silently with Job in case he needed something, just to be there for him. That's love. These weren't nosy neighbors who stopped by to spout some cliches to a guy they didn't know very well & move on. These men took more than a week off from their lives to be with a brother in trouble, &, like Job, after seven days of supportive silence, sinned for a time. You know how we guys like to fix things. I'm sure they did too. They sinned,& got rebuked for it, but I believe they thought they were applying tough love to Job. But to go back to the friends' initial reaction to Job's tragedy, consider this: I heard once at a men's conference that, in their polling, 85% of the guys they talked to didn't have even one best friend, the kind of brother you could call with a personal problem at 2AM & he won't be annoyed you woke him, the kind of many you can say anything to, & he to you. Eighty-five percent! And of the 15% blessed with a best friend, most had only one, not even a group of guys like that. Job had three guys who were like brothers, men willing to drop everything for several days to help their friend out. I believe that's why Job was so annoyed with their response once they did start talking: These guys were his best friends. They loved him. He knew this--yet here they were lecturing him with cliches about suffering. I imagine he expected better of guys who cared for him that much.

#4 Joel Stoddert

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 04:49 PM

And to think I intended to post a quick response! :rolleyes:

#5 Jay Turner

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 03:47 AM

I believe that as God reveals himself to a person, He will only judge them in accordance with the extent by which He has revealed himself. Job was a God-fearing man. He honored and glorified God to the best of his understanding and abilities. When we look at life as a process of learning and growing, we see how Job didn't always see things from God's perspective, but he continued to believe and seek God in the midst of his uncertainties and pain. It was through the uncertainties and pain that Job was able to ask the questions that needed to be asked so he could grow as God had intended when He allowed the pain and suffering to come into Job's life in the first place. It is natural and human to ask questions in times of uncertainty, but it is the mark of a Godly and righteous man to seek God in the midst of hardships.

God's grace is sufficient to cover us in the midst of the hardships. We may fall. We may have periods where we may curse God, but as long we don't give up, God will see us through the times of testing and trial, and through the process purify our lives. Our righteousness isn't so much found in our individual choices. Our choices more reflect the transformation that God has done in our lives. Our righteousness is more found in our commitment to Christ and what He has done for us, not what we have done for Him.

#6 Julie Daube

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 07:38 AM

Our righteousness is more found in our commitment to Christ and what He has done for us, not what we have done for Him.

Well said, Jay!

And Joel, I liked what you said about guys wanting to "fix" things. I don't think only guys have that problem, though; I think a lot of Christians do. When we see a brother or sister suffering, often we are so eager to fix the situation that we rush right in to lecture the person about what they might have done wrong and how they can make things right, instead of simply being there for the believer and trying to offer comfort or encouragement.

#7 GERALD

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 12:05 PM

I liked all the replies. Job's trust in God was the key to God answering. As with Abraham, he believed God and was counted to him as righteousness. I love what Job said "Even if He say me, I will trust Him". Job was a humble man. A person full of pride will get no answer from the Lord. I would imagine that if all that happened to Job happened to us, we would question God also. What an example Job is to all generations of believers. Let us be humble as Job and continue to hear from the Father.

Can anyone tell me how to go on writing after I come to the end of this block. I am new to the website.

#8 Joel Stoddert

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 02:50 PM

Well said, Jay!

And Joel, I liked what you said about guys wanting to "fix" things. I don't think only guys have that problem, though; I think a lot of Christians do. When we see a brother or sister suffering, often we are so eager to fix the situation that we rush right in to lecture the person about what they might have done wrong and how they can make things right, instead of simply being there for the believer and trying to offer comfort or encouragement.


I definitely agree with you, Julie. But I also think men are more comfortable being doers in crisis situations. We hate being in a stressful situation where there seems to be no tangible, hands-on way we can help.

#9 Ronald Goetz

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 03:15 PM

The first thing I would note is that Job's companions really were his friends. They sat in total silence for an entire week, to keep him company in his mourning. They really did mourn for him and with him. There was nothing fake about their concern and compassion for their friend Job.

The second thing to notice about Job's friends is that they truly believed the Bible. Everything they believed was based on scripture. In the Bible, God promised only blessings for the upright, and curses and calamities only for the wicked.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. (Deut 7:9-10)

Deuteronomy 28 is divided unevenly in half. The first 14 verses are filled with promises: "If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth." But the last 53 verses is a long list of the curses and terrors that God will bring on the disobedient. In that chapter there are nearly 4x as many verses describing the calamity of the wicked.

The book of Proverbs echoes what is found in Deuteronomy.

Trouble pursues the sinner,
but the righteous are rewarded with good things. (Prov 13:21)

Whoever leads the upright along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance. (Prov 28:10)

Eliphaz even refers back to the "good things" promised to the faithful:

Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,
so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked. (Job 22:18)

So you see, Job's friends were intelligent Bible-believers. They took the scripture seriously.

When experience (Job's disasters) conflicted with what the Bible taught, they sided with the Bible. Job had to be wrong.

According to the Bible, God only brought the kinds of disastrous calamities that befell Job on people who were disobedient, hated God, were wicked sinners, and set evil plans for their neighbors. Job's friends had two choices: believe Job, or believe the scripture.

So, his friends really were friends, it's just that what was happening to Job contradicted their theology, it contradicted what the Bible taught them, and their theology was more important than the truth of what they could see with their eyes was happening to their friend.
Ron Goetz
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