IN THE MIDST OF TRIALS
Job and Joseph
From Part 2c we found that in all his excruciating trials Job did not sin in what he said. Proverbs 15:1 says:
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Of all the things Job could have said, even lashing out at his wife, he wisely choose gentle words to his wife while still not cursing God.
Next Satan uses three arrogant friends to come along side him and oppress him. At first they wisely sit in silence by Job’s side for seven days and nights grieving with Job. This is an ancient Jewish tradition to not speak to those mourning until the mourner speaks.
However, this is also long enough to observe this friend of theirs, who is unrecognizable and suffering greatly, and to come up with false assumptions of their own as to why Job is suffering. Also it allows Satan time to assault Job’s mind in order to shake his confidence in God while he sat in silence.
Finally Job breaks the silence. While he does not curse God himself, he does begin to curse the day he was born, thus cursing God’s ordained will—His providential will. In fact, throughout the whole book of Job, he never curses God as he is accused by Satan that he would do. But he does lack understanding of God’s sovereignty and providence.
The Book of Job records Job’s break in his silence:
“After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: ‘May the day of my birth perish…’” (Job 3:1-3a)
After cursing the day of his birth, he then denounces the hedge of protection God had put around him and begins to protest in a series of whys. Why had God’s good providence put this hedge around him at birth only to take it away now without notice or reason and let him suffer pain and loss?
He questions why God did not let him die at childbirth, in the womb, or even in his mother’s loving arms. He insisted that the death of a child offered more hope then the life he was now living because he at least then could he rest in peace with kings and counselors of the earth. (Job 3:11-15)
This begins a series of discussions from his heartless and arrogant friends as they each explain their own view as to why Job was suffering. Eliphaz claims that Job is suffering because he has sinned. He claims that he must go to God and present his case to him. (Job 5:8)
As Job claims his innocence, Bildad claims that because Job refuses to admit his sin, he is suffering. He says in Job 8:2: “How long will you say such things?…” He even goes on to harshly claim that God gave Job’s own children over to the penalty of their sins when they sinned against him. (v. 4) and then states:
“But if you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place” because… (20) “Surely God does not reject the blameless man…” (Job 8:5-6,20)
As Job again claims his innocence, Zophar lashes out at Job in an incredibly insensitive way, claiming that he deserves even more suffering and punishment then he is experiencing for his sins. He claims that Job is a “deceitful” man who is trying to hide secret faults and sins from God. (Job 11:11) He advises Job to get rid of his sins by saying:
“Devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him. Put away your sin that is in your hand, and allow no evil to dwell in your tent.” (Job 11:13-14)
Once again Job maintains his innocence. Each of Job’s friends, however, agree that his suffering was because of his own sin and that he was making things worse by not going to God in repentance. And the harder they try to explain Job’s suffering, the less they help. Their consolation turns into condemnation as Job rejects their reasoning and demands a hearing with God. I know there are many who have sat before elders receiving their share of condemning consultation. The pain that follows is discouraging and depressing, similar to what Job received.
Next week, in Part 2e, after three rounds of discussion, Jobs friends finally fall silent. This now gives Elihu, younger and more wise and gentle in his counsel, an opportunity to speak. Elihu introduces a new viewpoint to Job’s suffering…