“The Book of Job is perhaps the greatest masterpiece of the human mind” Victor Hugo
The Book of Job is part of the inspired Word of God. It recounts true events as seen from both God’s perspective and a human’s perspective.
People have tried to form doctrines from the speeches of Job’s “friends,” but that’s a mistake. Their blustery accusations weren’t spoken from righteous hearts. While their words are recounted in scripture, their views aren’t scriptural.
What these four men do provide for us is a clear picture of the flaws of religion. Yes, even Christianity fails to measure up to the perfection of God.
Job is covered in boils and ash when his friends arrive. They sit in the ashes with him for seven days. Believe me, silence was bliss.
As soon as Eliphaz opened his mouth, condemnation poured out. It was the same with Bildad and Zophar.
How many times do you hear one Christian say to another, “You’re suffering because of your sin (Job 4:7,8) and you need to repent and turn back to God (Job 8:5,6).”
We might couch it in gentler terms, but it’s really the same thing. “If you were really right with God, this wouldn’t be happening to you.”
If we want to talk that way, we should definitely stop using the name of Christ.
Why do I say this?
Jesus said, “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world…he that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3:17, 18).
Jesus Christ is not about condemnation. The world is already condemned, and the Holy Spirit will reveal that to a seeking heart.
This attitude of condemnation runs directly into the second charge against Job’s friends. They were playing God. Or at least trying to.
Did they know what sins Job committed?
Eliphaz accused him of mistreating the poor, widows and orphans (Job 22:6,7), but there is no proof of this accusation. In fact, God’s claim that Job was upright and hated evil (Job 1:8) seems to refute these claims.
Often, we do the same thing. We try to cast blame on people so they’ll feel guilty and repent.
This isn’t our right. In fact, we shouldn’t be pointing fingers at other people. Jesus told the religious people of his time who wanted to stone the adulteress woman, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7).
Only God has the knowledge and holiness to judge sin and sinful people. When we try to convince people of their sinfulness, we’re on shaky ground, taking over a job Jesus clearly claimed belonged to the Holy Spirit.
Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu were godly and righteous men. Or so they claimed with their accusations against Job.
Doesn’t this remind you of the Pharisees in the New Testament?
Unfortunately, our churches today can be rife with the same sort of hypocrisy. When people fall into sin, we puff out our chests and act shocked and disdainful.
As if we’ve never committed a sin.
“For all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and “there is none righteous” (Romans 3:10). These verses are all-inclusive. Put on your cloak of self-righteousness if you want. It doesn’t change the fact that all of man’s righteousness is a filthy rag in God’s eyes.
When we read the entire story of Job, it’s clear that only Job was right with God. In the end, God told these men to take their sin offerings to Job, and when Job prayed for them, God would forgive their sin.
Job’s Perfect Portrait
Job’s grief hasn’t been assuaged. His comforters become condemners. Even his wife thought he would be better off dead.
Have you been there? Felt a hollowness inside that is never filled no matter how much you pray?
Still, Job listened when God finally did speak to him. Not because God explained his trials or answered the accusations made by Job’s friends. Job listened because his heart, shattered as it was, remained tuned into his Lord and Savior.
“I abhor myself,” Job admits after God speaks, “and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).
Job began the story without spouting foolishness or railing against God (Job 2:10).
When his friends couldn’t offer him the emotional support he needed, however, his lips got carried away. Some of the things he said sounded like self-justification. In fact, his friends gave up trying to make him see reason because “he was righteous in his own eyes” (Job 32:1).
None of that mattered to God. In the end, God required repentance from Job’s friends. He didn’t have to command Job to humble himself because when the Lord spoke, Job immediately knew his own humanity condemned him.
“My servant Job shall pray for you: for him I will accept” Job 42:8
God’s rebuke to Job’s friends shows us what the proper response of Christians should be when we see other believer’s suffering. Pray for them.
Don’t judge or condemn or pretend you’re above the sin you think you see. Pray for your fellow believer.
God praised Job at the beginning of this story. God blessed Job at the end of this story. We can learn much about being worthy to be called “Christian” from Job.