In this 3rd part of the series on why the righteous suffer we’re going to look at the first round of interactions between Job and his friends. Check the downloads page to get a copy of the overview chart of the book of Job to see where we are in the book.
In chapters 4-14 we are seated front-row as the audience who watches and listens to Job and his friends attempt to explain from the human perspective why Job is suffering.
Eliphaz is first up. He speaks (chapters 4-5) theoretic truth that people suffer b/c they are sinful, but theory must be applied to real cases. In this case Eliphaz is wrong. Job is suffering for the exact opposite reason…he is righteous. God picked Job to go through this b/c of his righteousness not his sin. Job responds (chapters 6-7) to Eliphaz. He continues his downward spiral by charging God with intending to bring harm to him (6:4, 7:20).
Next up is Bildad (chapter 8). He has the same theme as Eliphaz…Job is suffering for his sin (8:3-6, 8:20). In Job’s response (chapters 9-10) we him despairing in God’s sovereignty b/c he thinks God is doing wrong to him. Your view of God will either cause you to despair or hope in his sovereignty. Do you think he is against you??? You will despair in him. Do you think he is for you??? You will hope in him.
In chapter 10 Job begins walking thru a door that no human should walk through…that he is righteous and God is unjust. Look at Job’s words in 10:2-3
2 I will say to God, Do not condemn me;
let me know why you contend against me.
3 Does it seem good to you to oppress,
to despise the work of your hands
and favor the designs of the wicked?
In verse 2 he says, “let me know why”. In other words, what have I done? In verse 3 he charges God with oppression of the righteous (Job himself) and with favoring the with wicked person. Job’s charges is the God is unjust, all the while Job views himself as righteous. The irony is that Job was righteous until he started regarding his own righteousness. That should speak volumes into our own lives about how we view ourselves.
Zophar is third in line (chapter 11). He repeats the same theme as Eliphaz and Bildad. Job responds (chapters 12-14) with a brief word of sarcasm (12:2) and then argues his case against his friends and against God. His basic desire is for death.
Summarizing chapters 1-14
- Job’s friends say…God is just, Job is guilty of sin, thus Job is suffering
- Job says…I am innocent, God is unjust for doing this to me
- Both are wrong according to the prologue (chapters 1-2). Job is righteous, God is just and sovereign in allowing Job to suffer and choosing him for it. This is a perplexing position that is difficult for us to understand.
Next post in this series will be applications from chapters 1-14 that we can use in our lives.