When reading the book of Job, it is important to remember that we as the reader have a third person, bird’s eye view of the situation. We know have far more understanding of the context of the situation than Job and his friends. I say this because Job, his wife, and his friends can often all get a bad rap if we examine their words through the lens with which we see this story. That is not too say that they are perfect, just that they are human, and I personally believe, well intentioned.
Though however well-intentioned they may have been, their words betray their ignorance to the overall character of God, and that of Job as well. Eliphaz speaks first, and with his words he condemns Job indicating that Job must be being punished for a sin. Why else would he be suffering like he was? It only made sense to Eliphaz that if God is righteous, he would uphold and lift up the righteous, and strike down the sinner. This wouldn’t have been an uncommon assumption then, it wasn’t out of place during the time of Jesus, and it hasn’t worked its way out of modern worldly theology either. Fortunately for us though Jesus directly addressed this line of thinking when his disciples fell into the same trap.
As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? ” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him.
We see here that so often, trials and suffering pave the way for God to reveal himself and bring him glory. When Job responds to Eliphaz he is openly lamenting the fact that he was ever born, he begs for God to kill him. He does not know what he has done, and is hurt by the fact that his friend, and would be comforters instead are rebuking him, and placing the blame for his loss on him. But Bildad, the second of Job’s friends to speak doubles down on Eliphaz’s thought process, and even more directly calls for Job to repent and admit to his sin, telling him that if he is upright and earnestly seeks God for mercy that he will restore him. And then Job responds with a question that gets straight to issue at hand.
Yes, I know what you’ve said is true, but how can a person be justified before God?
Job was seeking clarity, he knew that he was not perfect in comparison to God. He felt that he had not earned the punishment that he had received, but at the same time knew that he could not stand rightly before God. Let us thank God that we do in fact know how we can be justified before God. We are not ignorant to the truths of the Gospel, God has revealed to us plainly through scripture that it is through life, death, and resurrection of Christ alone that we can be made righteous. And if God were to take us to court as Job ponders, we would have Christ by our side, having washed us of our sin completely, presenting us as blameless before perfect God.