Forgive me if at this point in the week it begins to feel repetitive, And don’t be surprised if you find yourselves going back and rereading lines and verses to make sure that you haven’t lost your place in the reading. These six chapters, the second set of speeches by Job’s friends, and his response to each, largely mirror the previous set of speeches. Eliphaz still believes that the idea that all of our suffering is caused by our own sin, which is largely true, and was the belief that had been passed down for generations. Bildad still believed that the wicked were punished by God and would lose their inheritance on Earth. Once again, mostly true with the exception that God has not promised us Justice in this life. If fact, we live in a fallen world and we know that we who follow Christ will suffer trials for our faith. Zophar still believes that the joy and prosperity of wicked men will be short-lived, because God will take it away. With the implication being that Job is wicked. And Job is still confused and saddened by his friends’ accusations.
The fault that all three of these men fall into is applying worldly logic and philosophy to God’s sovereign and unknowable plan. The logic displayed by these three “friends” is akin to that of the Pharisee’s during the ministry of Jesus, and it is a reminder to us today to not put words in God’s mouth. Their rebuke of Job is clearly painful for him, he laments the fact that they are even there at all. And they don’t address the question that the book has been leading up to, and that Job has been dancing around up until this point. The question that now plagues him as his friends offer no comfort, the question with a hard answer that many still struggle with today.
Why do bad things happen to good people, while the wicked prosper?
I say a question with a hard answer not because the answer itself is hard to find, but because while the answer is accessible, it is not acceptable to many. Job is not dumb, and neither are most people who've asked this question, it isn’t difficult to look around and see corruption invading every facet of business and government in America, and rarely do we see anything that would amount to justice in those situations. And in the same vein, how often do we hear of a tragic tale on the news of an innocent person? You don’t have to look hard to see the folly in the logic of Job's friends.
The book of Job, through God Himself will answer this question much better as we read further along, but as we continue through this middle section of Job, consider how it is that we are correcting and consoling our friends and family, believers or not. Godly wisdom is not immediately apparent to those in the world (or even believers at times.) But worldly wisdom rarely, if ever, brings about a lasting comfort. Job longed for his friends to come alongside him and be an advocate for him in his time of immense grief and suffering. It is imperative that we as believers use the wisdom that God has granted us through the scriptures and Holy Spirit to build others up, and extend grace in the same way that God has extended grace to us. I love how Job consistently points to the need for Christ.
My friends scoff at me as I weep before God. I wish that someone might argue for a man with God just as anyone would for a friend.
Job saw the need for an advocate between God and man. In the same breath he questions whether God is truly on his side, while also pleading for someone, anyone to fill the role that Christ would fill for us. Let us once again thank Christ this morning that when we consider our hearts before God that we have the advocate that Job longed for.