Job – A Man Searching for Answers
His life started as ignoble as most other men. So nondescript that no mention has been made of his beginnings nor was any mention of the many years that followed until that meeting between God and Satan in heaven. As far as the story goes, Job seems to have always been a man of faith, a righteous man, as God stated. However, we know that no man was born righteous except for that notable exception, Jesus the Messiah.
Seeing how this is likely the case, then at some unknown point in this man’s life, he turned away from his life of rebellion and believed God and this, like Abraham, was counted to him as righteousness. To understand this remarkable journey of that man commonly known today as Patient Job, it is important that some of the apparent “gaps” be filled in. For this story picks up AFTER Job had been walking in faith with God for an unspecified amount of time. Apparently, this walk of righteousness was sufficiently long enough to have acquired a sizable family, appreciably large financial holdings in currency of the day as in land and animals. We must remember, however, throughout this narrative, that Job was not born righteous but his righteousness, came through faith in God. This will aid us tremendously in our understanding of this mystery of a man called Job and the purpose of his sufferings.
We are shown a key element in what was later to be found to explain the purpose of God in the sufferings of Job. This key element is when Job made daily sacrifices for FEAR that one of his sons MAY curse God and in this way, bring down God’s wrath upon them all. That is correct, you read correctly. Job’s daily sacrifice to God was not born out of FAITH but it was born of FEAR. The dreadful anticipation of what MAY happen is typical of most of us today. Jesus taught us that we are not to fear tomorrow because what we have today is sufficient for that day. He calls for us to put our trust in Him each day. Since the mercies of God are new EVERY morning, then this FEAR of Job and his attempts to “cover” his bases can rightly be considered an act of fear and not one of faith. A true act of faith is give offerings of thanksgiving to the One who is called FAITHFUL and TRUE. What Job did NOT do is place his children into the strong, loving and faithful hands of the Father and not live in this, which became to him, a captivating fear.
God, in His love for us and HIs promise to us in that His plans are for our good and not for evil, so that we can have an expected end and not one full of terror and unhappy surprises, had a plan that we are privileged to be shown at the beginning of this book of Job. We are not given the secrets of this plan but rather we are allowed to see the unfolding of His plan. Satan comes as was usual and God sought to take singular advantage of the pride and nature of this foe. God enticed Satan by dangling in front of Him one of God’s most prized and valued possessions, His righteous servant, Job. Satan, unable to resist, bit this enticement and in this way, the game begins. Satan is allowed access, previously denied him because of that hedge of protection that is given to all who trust in the Lord and walk according to His ways, and is now removed. He is allowed nearly full access to the man’s possessions including his livelihood as well as his progeny and then his health.
Heretofore, the actual reasons for God allowing this to happen to Job seemed to be mysterious unless this story is viewed from that back story I presented earlier. Job was not always a righteous man, God actually had a “hidden” plan which we are given only that view of that plan beginning to unfold, as well as, a bit of understanding of the nature of Job’s sacrifices brought through fear and not through faith. Through all that Job suffered, the loss of all his possessions and his children, and his health…Job did not sin with his lips. Even when his own wife suggested a quick end to his sufferings by cursing God, Job retained his integrity.
However, a remarkable thing happened that did not seem to be a part of God’s or satan’s overall plan. Three “friends” showed up. In those last 3 verses of chapter 2, Job had already rejected his wife’s suggestion and remained faithful but 3 verses later, after these friends arrived, that next verse, chapter 3 verse 1, Job opened his mouth and sinned with his lips by cursing the day of his birth. He resented that God allowed him to be born at all, even in spite of all the blessings he had received through faith in Him. Those last 3 verses of chapter 2 had to be something very remarkable to have PUSHED this man of God over the edge and caused him to finally sin with his lips when all other sufferings and losses could not do it.
So what was IN these remarkable 3 verses that caused Job’s downfall? No words were spoken for the entire week these “friends” were there. All they did was mourn with one who morned. We are all familiar with those verses that say we are to rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn, etc. That is all these 3 men did! So how did this have such an impact of Job. For most, this is the primary question. Many who teach on this book typically don’t even touch this question and most reference the arrival of Job’s “friends” as a good thing but fail to notice how their arrival caused a dramatic, yet mystifying change to occur in Job.
Let’s look a little more as to who these men are and where each came from. When they first began to arrive, the record shows they each came from their own place. The implication is to say that these did not come from nearby as when they were still a great way away, they did not recognize Job. So each came from a great distance away. Were they coming to lend support for a suffering friend or was there another reason these men left the comforts of their own homes and traveled such a great distance to visit this their “friend” Job? Generally, the popular belief and teaching has been to use these friends as good examples of what being a friend is all about and on the surface, this seems the most plausible of reasons for their arrival. However, how then can the arrival of 3 “friends”, bent on good intentions and support, push Job over the edge to doing something that he had steadfastly resisted?
There has got to be more to this story than what can be seen on the surface. So, how about we take a peak UNDER the surface and see for ourselves what is really going on that is not so readily seen by the casual reader. Any modern day student of the Bible will usually have with them various commentaries, dictionaries, studies, and a wide assortment of other helps to the bible. Most of these can now be found on the internet which, for those than cannot afford such a library, may use freely those made available to all through these generous sources. There are numerous methodologies used by bible scholars to uncover the hidden meanings of scripture including the laws for first mention, historical research and analogies, types and shadows, morphological comparisons, etc. None of these methods, however, can produce or explain this mystery of how the arrival of these men had such an impact over Job as to adequately explain his actions. The answer to this is another method often overlooked by many today, that is, the meaning of the names of these men and where they came from. The Hebrews often gave names based upon what that person(s) means to them. There is much significance to names and if you have access to an accurate proper name dictionary or have rabbinical friends
who are fluent in the original tongues, especially of Hebrew, then your studies can be greatly enhanced, especially as our God given Teacher, the Holy Spirit, guides us into these truths.
Let’s then take a peak under the hood of these men and find out a bit more of them. We will start in the order as their names and places of origin appear.
Job 2:11-13 (NKJV)
Job’s Three Friends
11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
Eliphaz =”my God is (fine) gold”
God of Gold, Riches
Temanite: inhabitant of the south; earthly wisdom; religious legalism
Bildad the Shuhite
Bildad: son of contention; contender
Zophar the Naamathite
Zophar: chatterer; agreeable, agreeableness
Naamathite: Foolish; wisdom of Fools
WOW! This puts a whole new light on these “friends” of Job! Job, a man that God called a Righteous Man, would not have friends that represented all those things that a good and righteous man would have, would he? What man of righteousness would be friends with the “God of gold which comes from earthly wisdom or religious legalism”? Would a righteous man also be “friends” with someone who represents the “son of contention which comes from the accuser”? How about being “friends” with a man who is a “chatterer who comes from the foolish or wisdom of fools”? None of these appear to be the kind of FRIEND that Job would currently have, HOWEVER, these DO appear to be the kind of friends Job would have had BEFORE he became a follower of God and accepted His law! This is why it was important to realize at the beginning of this narrative of Job that this man Job, was not always a righteous man but had acquired his righteous through faith in God.
Let us put this scenario into a bit of a different perspective now. We were all once children of the devil as the bible teaches. We were children of darkness and were once friends with the world. Once we’ve accepted the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on that cross and through faith in Him, we have cast off forever all associations with the world and the worldly system, then, when a trial begins in our lives which may cause us to suffer the loss of everything we had GAINED through our faithful walking with the Lord, suddenly, those who were no longer our friends, appear out of nowhere. Job was brought to the very limits of his endurance when he suffered the loss of all his possessions and what was worse, his progeny. Then, on top of this, his health came under attack and nothing he did could relieve anything that he suffered. He had already learned that those actions of his, earlier in his sacrifices seemed to have effected nothing in the way of staving off these tragedies. This man was at a complete loss as to the why of these things and even when he turns to heaven, there remained no answer. Then, these men showed up, each from his own place and without a word spoken by any of them, just by their very presence, Job gave up.
The reason Job gave up? Simpler than anyone had ever discovered. Job lost everything and when this “old” friends came back, this alone signaled to Job that he was finally back at “square one”. All he had attained, all the favor of God he had enjoyed, all had been lost and he was willing to endure it but when those so called “friends” came back, Job realized he had finally hit the very bottom of this pit he found himself in. It was as if he never moved. This can drive virtually anyone to that point where they are ready to give up. On top of all this, after Job obviously lost faith and gave up, these “friends”, slowly but most surely, began their assault on Job, first in his reasonings and then on his choices. They were unrelenting and the motives of their attacks became more and more apparent as each one took turns in finding fault with Job. Did any of these really help this man? I am certain that today, when we too have reached the end of ourselves and are down for the count, doesn’t our “friends” come to “comfort” us by telling us where we fell and that all we have to do is either repent or shake it off? Not much comfort in that, was it? Only if you have BEEN there will you understand what I am talking about. We quickly find out that there are friends and their are FRIENDS. There really IS a difference.
These “friends” of Job relentlessly queried and then accused Job until a remarkable thing stopped them. It wasn’t an intervention. He didn’t politely ask them to stop. He didn’t command them to stop. God didn’t step in and stop them either. You can find this remarkable reason in the very last sentence at the end of chapter 31. That sentence simply states, “The words of Job are ended.” Remarkable! The very next verse, chapter 32:1 says, “Then these 3 ceased answering Job for he was right in his own eyes…” Do you realize the truth that is revealed here? It seems so apparent, yet often times, seeing we do not see and hearing we do not hear. Yet not until Job quit DEFENDING himself did those men finally stop peppering him with this seeming unstoppable onslaught of that flood of verbiage. The secret to stopping more attacks of the enemy is not to fight them, but to do that which the New Testament verse suggests, “SUBMIT UNTO GOD, RESIST THE DEVIL AND HE SHALL FLEE!” This is one of the most liberating truths in God’s word and we can see it in action right here in the Old Testament. As long as WE are fighting, defending, justifying, etc., this onslaught of the enemy never ceases. Once we stop defending ourselves, stop fighting back, stop justifying ourselves, just like putting a stopper in the lavatory, we can stop this steady leak.
There was another, even more remarkable thing that happened when Job stopped speaking and those 3 men followed suit. A 4th man was there all the time but was not known to BE there until now. This man’s name was ELIHU. To find out who this man is, we look to the meaning of his name too. ELIHU means GOD HIMSELF! When we read the words of Elihu, anyone familiar with the voice of the Holy Spirit will soon recognize a similarity. This was that 3rd Person of the Godhead we call Holy Spirit. Did you know, that as long as we choose to fight our own battles, Holy Spirit will quietly stand aside and not intervene? He will not even speak until we are ready to listen and as long as Job was giving ear to these “friends” and their accusations, Holy Spirit would remain a gentleman and NOT interrupt that which WE place our trust in. Yes, you read correctly. We, all too often, place more trust in our own ability to fight, argue, defend our position(s) and never turn to the Holy Spirit for His advise and direction until AFTER we have exhausted all our other resources! After Elihu finishes His discourse with Job, guess who steps into this conversation? Yes, the Father Himself! This occurs in chapter 38. By the time the Father is finished, Job no longer is justifying himself but repents.
First Job begins to realize the truth…
Job 40:3-5 (NKJV)
3 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
4 “Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer;
Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”
And then Job repents…
Job 42:1-6 (NKJV)
1 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge? ’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me. ’
5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
6 Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.”
AFTER Job repents and God’s justice and holy requirements are satisfied, Job is then ordered to PRAY for those “friends”. Because Job repented and obeyed God’s direction, Job was restored in children and twice the possessions he had before, so that the later end of Job was greater than the beginning.
Brethren, God’s purpose from the beginning was to deal with that fear which was found in Job that caused Job to trust more in his own righteousness than the righteousness of God. This is called SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. ONLY God knew what was necessary to eradicate this evil from the heart of His servant and set in motion all those things necessary to accomplish His purpose and we can all see that God did indeed triumph in Job’s life. Through this narrative, we can see to what extent God is willing to go in order to correct the wrongs in our own lives. His love is not limited and He is able to enlist even the very devil himself, in order to accomplish His goals in our lives. Yes, suffering may be part of this strategy as well as the loss of those things which are only temporal. This plan also included the loss of Job’s loved ones. Yes, even tragedy in our own lives, can have meaning and purpose when we understand the plight of Job’s own search for answers.
We were promised that “He who started a good work in us, will complete it.” When we go through the various trials of life, we oftentimes forget that God is still in control and that these things that occur in our lives is actually orchestrated to bring about in our lives the best possible outcome, even when we are unable to see it during those trials and storms. I pray that the insights revealed in this study will aid you now and in your future or even perhaps, clear up that still cloudy past. God has never lost control and the sooner we stop trying to fight the battles ourselves, the sooner that the Holy Spirit and the Father can get back to work in our lives to accomplish His intended outcome….our good so that we may have a hope and a future in and through Him!