How should we respond to hardships? How should we counsel friends? What is God’s reaction to our demands? All this an more from the Book of Job.
Lessons from Job
The Divine Counsel – Job 1:6-12
What is going on up in the heavenlies here? God is holding a council of angels? Who is this Satan?
At first Job handles his suffering with great poise and he refuses to sin against God (Job 1:13-22, Job 2:9-10). As time moves on and in the midst of being accused and antagonized, Job however begins to struggle with the question of “why?”. In fact, Job starts to become quite arrogant and demanding because of this.
Job is visited by his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who were actually pretty good at “sitting shiva” with Job. The best thing we can do for friends who are suffering is to simply be there for them… without words of counsel or assurance. But their silence doesn’t last.
First Eliphaz speaks to reminds Job that all innocent people prosper (Job 4:7-9). This of course implies that Job must not be innocent, but suffering God’s retribution for sin. Job responds with an insistence of his innocence and expresses his longing to die. He also expresses his lack of hope for resolution.
Next, Bildad speaks suggesting that Job needs to repent in order to be restored (Job 8:4-6). Job then declares how he’s a righteous person and that his predicament can only be explained by God. This is where Job’s patience toward his friends, the situation, and God begins to thin (Job 9:14-18; Job 9:32-35; Job 10:1-7).
The conversation becomes more incensed when Zophar speaks up explaining that Job actually deserves worse. Job responds again as he did before (Job 13:18-22) and calls them miserable comforters (Job 13:18-22). This conversation continues in this same vein until the servant Elihu speaks up.
The Wisdom of the Young
Elihu rebukes Job’s friends (Job 32:1-12) as well as Job himself (Job 33:9-14). Sometimes the best council can come from the most unlikely source. And Elihu continues his rebukes until finally God shows up in the form of a whirlwind to straighten the whole thing out.
God’s Response to Job’s Demand for Answers
For the next four chapters God puts Job in his place by describing His own place as God. His point was to show Job his own limited view and to bring him to repentance (Job 38:1-7, Job 40:1-8). He does this by giving us all the best science lessons in the Bible as he discusses the natural world and all of creation.
Humbling Yourself and Submission To God
Finally Job is humbled and admits he had no right to bring God’s character into judgment or to demand anything of the creator.
Then Job answered the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things
and that no plan of yours can be ruined.
You asked, ‘Who is this that made my purpose unclear by saying things that are not true?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand;
I talked of things too wonderful for me to know.
You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak.
I will ask you questions,
and you must answer me.’
My ears had heard of you before,
but now my eyes have seen you.
So now I hate myself;
I will change my heart and life.
I will sit in the dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:1-6 NCV)