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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, January 07, 2008

Gleanings from Job #5

continuing in my devotional series on Job...

Job Answers Eliphaz (Job 6-7)

We have been considering the life of the man Job. Under divine direction he experiences some disastrous trials. His home is lost, business is destroyed, and his health ruined.

After this crushing loss, three of Job's friends arrive to provide him comfort. All of them, however, will promote a view of retribution theology - the idea that any suffering is judgment for personal sin.

Eliphaz is the first friend to "comfort" Job and his "speech" is filled with the concept of retribution. The reason Job is suffering, argues Eliphaz, is because he has sinned.

Eliphaz implied that some of Job's sinfulness may had been his mistreatment of others in an unjust manner. Job was like a lion who hunts down innocent prey and as a result is also shot down. (Job 4:10, 11). BUT, we know Eliphaz is coming at Job from a wrong perspective. We have a divine revelation he is not privy to in the background to the story of Job.

Chapters 6 and 7 are Job's response to Eliphaz's opening comments against him. In his response he first replies to Eliphaz and then to God. It is here we see that Job is beginning to despair as he embraces the idea of God's judgment upon him. Here we should learn from him that,

THIS IS EXACTLY WHERE THE DEVIL WANTS JOB (AND US) TO START HEADING - "WRONG THINKING ABOUT GOD AND HIS DEALINGS WITH MEN"

I). Responding to Eliphaz:

1). Defends his suffering - In responding to Eliphaz Job says that his suffering is right because his trial is heavy. In other words, he is hurting. How else would Eliphaz expect him to respond? This is the reason his words were so severe when he spoke in chapter 3 (6:3). Donkeys and oxen don't cry when they are fed (6:5), so in like manner, Job wouldn't be bemoaning his circumstances if he knew the purpose of God's hand in his travail.

That in turn leads him to making some despairing remarks about God's dealings with him. He basically wants God to crush him so as to release him from his suffering (6:9). In that way, at least he can find comfort in his physical death which will put him out of his misery.

But in spite of his despair, Job confirms he has kept God's Word when he says, for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One (6:10). In other words, he hadn't hidden God's commands from his life. He was, as we noted from the first chapter, a man who did "fear God" and "shunned evil" (1:1).

2) Rebukes Eliphaz - In his rebuke, Job tells Eliphaz:

a) He has not been kind with his counsel (6:14, 15)

b) His counsel was like a dry brook that otherwise promised cool, refreshing water to a traveling caravan, but there is none available to the thirsty travelers (6:15-18). What should have been refreshing words in Job's moment of trial were only cruelly deceitful.

c) The help offered to Job from his friends wasn't helpful, at least with Eliphaz's first remarks (6:20).

d) Then, if Job asks that if he has sinned by taking advantage of Eliphaz's friendship, then he should bring forth the proof (6:21-24).

II). Responds to God

Beginning in chapter 7, Job turns his attention directly toward God. He speaks to two things on his heart,

1) He wishes to know from God when his suffering will end. Like an over worked servant longing for rest or a hired man eagerly awaiting his wages, so Job is longing for his own physical rest from his suffering. Only God can grant that. (7:1, 2).

His suffering, it is assumed by Job's words (7:3-5), has taken place over a number of months. His trial wasn't a short event playing out under a couple of weeks. His trials of horrific health, plus the emotional turmoil of loosing his children and livelihood, could have been up to a year and if that is the case one can understand how Job has become despairing with his words.

2) Laments his shortness of life. From 7:6 to 21 Job expresses how he believes his time is short; so short, he may never see the end to his trial and will die in his wretched condition.

Job, as a result, he speaks his mind to God raising his complaint to Him. From Job's perspective, He sees God as "troubling" him.

- Keeping guard over him like a sea serpent or some other dangerous creature (7:12).

- Not allowing him to sleep by giving him nightmares and other terrifying, nighttime visions (7:13, 14).

- Will not tell Job if he had really sinned (7:20, 21).

In circumstances like Job, it is easy to quickly become jaded and take our eye off what we know to be true of God. In some cases, after much suffering and no hope of relief, a person under severe pain either emotional, and/or physical, may take fool hearted action to alleviate the suffering. Sometimes those actions may be to seek out a "magic" healing from a non-traditional source like a faith healer or even other non-Christian, religious avenues. Usually, however, the response is one of developing wrong ideas about God.

How then do we hedge against developing these erroneous ideas? Three thoughts:

- God is good in all things. All of scripture affirms the goodness of God which means He will not give to his people trials in which they cannot bear them. Additionally, he will not forsake us in our trials. Even though it seems as though He is no where to be found, He is there.

- He cares about our situation. Remember, God was the one who drew the devil's attention to Job. By inviting the devil's attention to Job, God had ordained the circumstances to take place with His servant. Certainly God knew about and cared for Job.

- Keep an eternal perspective. Any suffering, even for a significant part of one's life time, is brief in comparison to the glories of eternity.

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