Bags of Bran


Job’s Friends
March 15, 2016, 10:23 am
Filed under: Bible, Biography

I’ve been preaching through the book of Job for the last however long it has been, and I just this past Lord’s Day finished chapter 22. By this point, we are well into the third cycle of speeches, and by this point most readers, commentators, preachers, and congregations have long since lost interest. I can understand this. The developments are fairly subtle at this point in the book, not evident on casual reading, and certainly not likely to make their way into high-level or single-sermon overviews of the book.

It is true that Job’s friends have not budged in their first assertions. You will often hear how obstinate and dense they are; what rubes, jerks, comic-book-villains; how they are exactly like so-and-so’s critics. But, convenient as these caricatures are when trying to portray oneself as a righteous sufferer, they are grossly misleading.

If Job’s friends were all callous, critical rubes, I find it interesting that Eliphaz’s last words in the book should sound like this:

“Yield now and be at peace with Him; Thereby good will come to you. “Please receive instruction from His mouth And establish His words in your heart. “If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored; If you remove unrighteousness far from your tent, And place your gold in the dust, And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks, Then the Almighty will be your gold And choice silver to you. “For then you will delight in the Almighty And lift up your face to God. “You will pray to Him, and He will hear you; And you will pay your vows. “You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you; And light will shine on your ways. “When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence, And the humble person He will save. “He will deliver one who is not innocent, And he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

What is Eliphaz doing here? He saw his friend Job, from his perspective, evidently ensnared in the consequences of some unknown sin. He wanted to do the same thing that Paul was doing in 2 Corinthians 5:20. He wanted to help Job, to talk him off the ledge, as it were. When we remember that Job and his friends were dealing with something entirely unprecedented in Job’s situation; that they didn’t have Bibles; that they weren’t around to hear YHWH and the Accuser of the Brethren haggling over Job’s fate; we might better appreciate the true marks of godly friendship that adorn their speeches.

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