I have read many things written on the book of Job that have taken many differing points of view, I don’t subscribe to any of them completely. (I actually finished it so I am slightly ahead of schedule. Heather and I were reading together and got a great synergy going)
The first chapters of Job and the last are the most interesting as far as I am concerned. Listening to the debate that takes place between job and his friends is a little irritating at times and for the most part I would like to smack his friends. I appreciate the fact that they simply sat with him for seven days in silence. This was the tradition of the culture, Job was to be the first to speak. There are so many clichés that one can use at those tough points in life, but silent friend ships, I believe, speaks louder than them all.
You can’t really take any doctrine or teaching from the dialogues of the book because although the words are inspired of the Holy Spirit to be written correctly, doesn’t mean that Job or his friends were speaking God’s word. In fact God rebukes them later so we can assume that some of what they said was, indeed, wrong. This is another reason I find this book tiring, although picturing it as a play makes it more interesting.
I did find a new character reading through this time thanks to the notes in my bible and the fact that I was paying closer attention. Elihu who appears in chapter 32 is not one of the original three friends introduced in chapter:
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.
Elihu says he has remained silent through the initial conversation out of respect to his elders. (Job 32:6) His critique of Job centers on the words used in the book and not on blaming Job’s positon on an ungodly life. He is, interestingly, not included in God’s rebuke of the Job’s other three friends.
Elihu stresses an issue almost completely neglected by the three friends: the disciplinary and redemptive role of suffering. This is a topic not to be taken lightly but also not, as is more common, to be ignored. If the book of Job is to teach us any thing I believe it is a lesson in God’s sovereignty. God allowed and directed Satan in the book of Job, he limited his attacks and some would say called Job out to suffer because Job was a faithful man.
Tragedy strikes the life of every believer and the question soon becomes what we are to do when it comes. You can like Job’s wife suggests, “Curse God and die,” but to whom will you turn? God is the only God. In our world of “Your best life” and keys to blessing we forget that suffering can also be a part of God’s plan.
If we only seek God in the good times, when trouble comes we may find ourselves reacting like one of his friends, blaming ourselves. While we can bring trouble upon ourselves that may not be the case every time, and unfortunately this is all to often the initial reaction of Christians. “He must have sinned” God himself calls Job “Blameless and upright.”
I like to say “I didn’t ask Jesus into my heart, I gave him my life and it is his to do with as pleases him.” Who am I to question the all mighty? I will pray as I am commanded, seek his face at all times and life my life to please him. If trouble comes I look for God in the fire, like those Israelites that refused to bow down to the idol. I trust him to not give me more than I can bear but like my high school coach he will show me that I am capable of handling more than I thought.