Job, His Idiot Friends and Jesus

I just finished reading the book of Job.  I have read Job’s story before and Job 42:5 has been one of my favorite verses for a long time, but this reading swept me away.  I felt heartache over Job’s suffering and questioning.  I wanted to hug him and tell him the “secret” that God was trusting him with the challenges he was going through and that God Himself called him “blameless and upright” when he brought him to Satan’s attention (Job 1:8).  I found myself wanting to, quite frankly, punch Job’s friends and tell them to just hush up and go back to sitting with him!  Incidentally, isn’t it just like us human beings to get it right for seven days (Job 2:13) and then totally blow it when we open our mouths?  And, most surprisingly maybe, since He isn’t even mentioned in the book, I found myself thanking Jesus for coming to rescue me.

So, with the disclaimer that I am certainly no Bible scholar, here are a few of my observations from my most recent read through Job.  If you avoid his story (as I sometimes have) or haven’t read it in a while, maybe this will peak your curiosity and get you flipping back to the Old Testament.

God trusted Job to remain steadfast in the midst of trials

Sometimes, depending on how we perceive our circumstances, we don’t want to think about the fact that everything in this life goes through God’s hands and we certainly don’t want to think that God would point us out to Satan, but that’s exactly what happened to Job.  It is oddly encouraging to me that God saw Job living his life in a way that was pleasing to Him and said, “There’s my servant.  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  I don’t want to go through a fraction of what Job went through, but WHEN suffering comes, it is good to know that God is still in control and that maybe, He is simply trusting me to remain faithful to Him in the midst of the trial. 

Job’s Friends: A Study in What NOT to Do

Job’s buddies say a lot things that resonate with me as a believer in Christ.  They make factual statements about God’s character and the benefits of holy living and repentance.  They make pretty good arguments that any attorney or philosopher would be proud of.  They give reasons for why they say what they say and their culture would have affirmed an awful lot of it.  They even remind me of New Testament writers sometimes.  (Compare Eliphaz’s comment in Job 15:35 to James 1:13-15 and see if you agree.)  But they never seem to draw the right conclusion because they DIDN’T KNOW WHAT GOD WAS DOING. 

Over and over again as I read, I was reminded that as good as our intentions may be, as much as our culture may affirm us, as well versed as we may be in the practices of the church and even in the Word itself, WE DO NOT KNOW THE MIND OF GOD.  We would do well to remember that and hush up sometimes.  Sometimes, being right and even knowing God’s character and what He has revealed to us in His word is not what’s needed.  Sometimes, what’s needed is just a loving friend that will shut her mouth and sit with us in our misery.

And one more lesson from Job’s friends: sometimes what we “observe” and what we feel are A) not right and B) not good enough reasons to speak.  (See Job 4:8 and 20:2-3)

Seeing Jesus in Job

After spending a solid month in the Old Testament, it was refreshing and surprising to be reminded of Jesus.  In chapter 9, verse 33, Job says, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us.”  And I replied in my margin: “There is an arbitrator in Jesus!” 

Job 14:15-17 says “You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made.  Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin.  My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover my sin.”  And my mind went to Jesus: weeping over Jerusalem, giving up heaven’s throne to live on this earth, dying for my sins, knocking on the door of my heart and rescuing me from worry, uncertainty, dissatisfaction and death.  My prayer scribbled in the margin of His word: “Thank you, Jesus, for accomplishing this very thing.” 

He longed for me.  So, he came and got me.  My sins were many, so He sealed them up and tossed them away.  I don’t understand all of His ways, but I surely do love Him.  And I hope one day He will say of me: There’s my girl.  There’s no one earth like her; she is blameless and upright, a woman who fears God and shuns evil.

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