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.
2 responses to “Through The Bible: Job”
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Unlike you I have not read ahead, although I must admit I did often search ahead at the “topic Headings” in my bible wondering, “When in the heck is God going to respond!”
Like you I was also wondering why I had never been impressed by the fact that Elihu is a “fourth” friend. Perhaps, because I have not ever really “studied” the book before and/or whenever preaching/teaching is done out of the book the three friends have always only been the ones spoken about.
So, when Elihu is introduced and it is said that he had been listening, my ears perked-up. Firstly, I was impressed that there was a young person who was willing to listen to his elders. LOL. Secondly, whenever I realize in a situation that someone has been listening before responding I myself have found it of value to begin listening instead of blabbering on about myself and what I think.
One of the benefits, IMHO, about reading through the Bible is that before I get my “head” involved- my spirit often picks up on things. Now, I am not going to go back and study this at this time, but will file it away for the future. Something about Elihu’s words caused me to begin to respond in praise and worship. Something like yes, yes, and amen! Something about when he began to describe God- the lightening in the clouds, etc. As I finished the reading and glanced at the next day, I realized that we were finally going to hear from God. So, the question that I will persue another time is- was there something about Elihu’s response that had some kind of effect that “brought about” God’s response? Something different than what was going on before? Or maybe not. Maybe God had all he could stands and could stands no more.
Interesting that you had also mentioned the folks in the Book of Daniel and the fire. I am “studying” this book. One of the first trials they face is not the fire however. It is a threat on every “wise” man in the land because no one could interpret the king’s dream. What does this have to do w/the bood of Job. I am so glad that you asked. See- both groups of people “had a program”. They both have come to a time in their life where “things”, sufferings, um, threats to well-being have gotten really “personal”. — Enter God stage right.
This has impacted me in my daily encounters w/others. I want to listen, than utilize “my Program” to get personal w/people and more and more hone the skill to allow God to –Enter stage right. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaang. It is a good day today!!!!!!