After the tragedies happened (this post will not discuss what preceded them), three so-called friends visited him to offer advice. But although their words sounded good, they sent the already desperate man deeper into an abyss of sorrow. Job was their target. They insisted he suffered because he was hiding sin; he knew he had been walking with God.
A fourth friend whose name was Elihu entered the discussion after the others ran out of steam, but he had a different message. Rather than focusing on the tragedies, he extoled God. Although he identified where Job had misunderstood God, he said, “I desire to justify you.” (Job 33:32 ESV)
This is all very vivid, because I read the book this week. And I’d like to highlight a few things I noticed during the reading.
Job talked about life after death, but the three friends did not.
In addition to defending himself from accusations, Job asked the ultimate question: “If a man dies, shall he live again?” ( 12:14)
And he boldly proclaimed, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” (19:25)
This type of confession was missing from the trio who came to advise him. Their viewpoint was limited to life on earth; their concept of God’s blessings was limited to earthly blessings.
Although Job knew God, his friends knew about God.
The friends never mentioned their interaction with God.
Eliphas asked, “Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right, or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?” (22:3)
Bildad added, “How then can man be in the right before God?” (25:4)
Zophar never gets beyond judgment. At one point he declared, “God will send his burning anger….” (10:23)
These men’s words did not come out of personal unity with the living God. It would seem they walked apart from or separated from Him.
And they were offended by Job’s statements that referred to his relationship with God. Such as, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.” (23:3,4)
Job spoke boldly to God because they had visited before. They were friends. Based on their relationship, Job knew he was righteous—not because of his own merit but because he walked in God’s grace. And before the book comes to a close, we learn that Job truly was a man approved by God.
When oppressed by difficult events, focus on God’s character rather than on earthly sorrow.
We easily identify Job’s pain. But after God reveals the nature of His character Job said, “I have uttered what I did not understand…I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:3,5)
So although we understand Job’s response to his circumstances, we must also understand that the man could never do or say anything that would remove his sorrow. Only God could bring healing to Job. And we, like Job, must look to Him as well.
In the end, God honored His servant Job.
God told the three friends to prepare a sacrifice—and then He would receive Job’s prayer for them. Isn’t that interesting?
And then we read the final report: Job received twice as much of everything he had lost—except for his children. There God gave him the exact number he had before because Job knew they would live after death—and in heaven the children who died during the tragedies would be added to the children born after his restoration—so the total number would be twice as many as he had lost.
Meanwhile, Job lived a long life—140 altogether. Years filled with opportunities to bless people who would benefit from his kindness.