September 19, 1993
I try to faithfully "just read" at least 3 chapters of Scripture a day. I have mentioned this before, but I find this
extremely difficult to do. As I read, I continually come across passages that demand that I write something
down concerning them. Worse yet, they at times demand that I teach or preach them.
The passage that demanded my attention is found in the Book of Job. Although I greatly enjoy reading and studying Job, every time I do, it seems as though things in general become more difficult.
Job gives us probably the best insight into the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged. Job gives us an in-depth view of the supposed warfare between God and Satan. But Job tells us that there is not really a warfare between God and Satan in the spiritual realm because Satan is no more than a servant of God carrying out the will and purpose of the Lord God Almighty.
But, as Satan carries out his Master's will, there is a warfare on this earth. The warfare is the world, flesh and devil, working against the spirit of man to persuade man to disobey the command-word of God. This warfare is quite evident in the book of Job.
The basic war against Job, as a faithful believer, was to get him to turn from his faith and confidence in the goodness of God. Satan, moved by God to do so, used everything possible in the physical realm to cause Job to depart from his confident obedience to the Lord.
Job is a perfect illustration of a couple NT passages:
Eph 6:10-18 1 Tim 1:18, 19
As we read Job, we see that he had both faith and a clear conscience. Job's faith in his redeemer and his clear conscience permitted him to firmly answer his wife and to answer his friends' charges against him.
Job's time in history was probably during the time of Abraham; thus, many hundreds of years before the giving of the law. This makes Job an exceptional man because his faith was not based in the written word of God as is our's.
The Lord used Satan to try Job's faith to the very maximum. As we know, God gave Satan power over everything Job had up to the very point of his life. Satan could not touch his life.
Satan took everything Job possessed. Satan took his wealth and his family. Satan then took his health and his wife (2:9, 10). Then, as a final straw, Satan took his friends.
The three friends were not just passing acquaintances. These three men were true friends who lived some distance from Job. They made an appointment to meet together and came as a group to see their friend, Job.
When they got within sight and saw the distress of their friend, they wept, rent their mantles and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.
Then they sat down with him for seven days and nights, and because of Job's evident grief, they sat without saying a word.
Ch 3, after seven days, Job spoke and cursed the day he was born. Notice that Job did not curse the Lord as his wife had urged him to do.
Job concludes his first dialogue by saying that he was not as secure in life as he had thought, v. 26.
Job's frieds had sat for seven days and nights sharing Job's grief, then the first friend speaks in answer to Job's statement. Job's friend says the Job lost his wealth, his children and his health because of God's judgment of some unconfessed evil on Job's part, Chapters 4 & 5.
It is evident that Eliphaz did not judge righteous judgment; rather, he judged his friend by appearance. He judged Job according to his own experiences and dreams, 4:8, 12.
Chapters 6 & 7, Job gives his first response to the charges made by his friends. There is a statement hidden here in Job's first response that caught my attention and demanded that I develop a message around it.
First, we see that Job's grief was beyond description; his words are swallowed up, v. 3.
Second, notice what Job longed for, vv. 8-10.
Two important points:
1. Job does not long that God would change his circumstances or remove the very bad situation.
2. Job longed that the Lord, in His mercy, would take his life. But it is important to see that Job says, Even that it would please God to destroy me. In even his desire for death, he remembers that it is only at the pleasure of God.
Job has no thought of suicide. His confidence that the Lord does all things well is never shaken. He knows that the Lord is working his plan; therefore, Job is willing to endure anything. His only request is that his early death would fit within the Lord's plan.
Third, look at what Job desires, vv. 11-12. Job longs for strength and encouragement to see him through his circumstances of tremendous grief if the Lord does not see fit to slay him.
6:13 (12:2, 3), Job points out that though he is in very difficult circumstances, he has not lost his mind. He still has wisdom and understanding and his friends should treat him with respect.
Fourth, look at from where Job would like to receive his encouragement to continue on in spite of his grief, vv. 14-30. This is the point that caught my attention, Job longed for encouragement in his grief from his friends.
The rest of Job's first speech answers the false charges of his friend.
Notice what Job says concerning his friends.
1) vv. 12, 13, Job longs for strength and encouragement from outside of himself. He says that he is not made of stones and brass. HE NEEDS FRIENDS
2) v. 14, Job says that friends will show pity when their friend is afflicted. Furthermore, he says that a friend that does not show pity does not fear the Lord.
3) v. 28, a friend should take for granted that their afflicted friend has done nothing to bring on his affliction unless something is clearly otherwise. If anyone should give someone the benefit of the doubt, a friend should give that benef it to his friend.
4) vv. 15ff, now Job describes his friend who judged appearances instead of righteous judgment.
A) v. 14, he forsook the fear of the Lord: he refused to show mercy and pity to a friend in distress.
B) v. 15, he dealt deceitfully: he claimed to be friends but he did not act like a friend. He jumped to the conclusion that Job brought his affliction upon himself by his own terrible sin.
C) vv. 15-18, he is like the ice on a book: the weather gets warm and he is gone. We would call he a "Fair weather friend." When the going gets difficult, he vanish as does the ice in hot weather.
5) vv. 19-21, Job points out that others are watching to see if those who professed to be friends would truly be friends. Job says that those watching had hoped that the three friends would be friends and lift Job up. Their expetations were disipointed.
6) vv. 22, 23, Job asks, Did I ask you to come? Did I ask you to bring something to me? Did I ask you to deliver me from my enemy? All I need at this time, says Job, is a good friend.
7) v. 24, Job is not lifted up in pride here; rather, he tells them to instruct him according to the truth and he will listen and learn. 7:20, 21, Job reminds the Lord that he, Job, has tried to keep his sins confessed. If there is sin in his life, Job asks the Lord to show him.
8) 6:25, right words according to the truth are forceful and convincing, but arguments are not.
9) v. 26, Job realizes that the friend who just spoke was trying to reprove Job when he had no facts upon which to base that reproof. The friend, then, was grasping at straws in his desperate attempt to justify his reproof of Job. Job says that his friend's desperate attempt to prove him a sinner was no more than hot air.
10) v. 27. (6:4), the Lord placed His arrows in Job; the Lord brought much sorrow and affliction upon him, and instead of his friend showing pity and strengthening him, he only made matters worse. Job says that instead of lifting him up with words, this friend dug a pit and made matters worse.
11) vv. 28-30, Job holds up his life before these friends for their examination.
As we read the rest of the book, we see that his friends totally ignore Job's righteous life. Instead, they look upon Job's present circumstances of affliction and rail upon him as a wicked sinner. They hold on to their contention that Job brought the affliction upon himself until the Lord Himself intervenes, Chapter 38.
Let me point out some simple observations from Job's response here:
1. afflictions in one's life do not necessarily mean that they have sin to confess.
2. friends that are friends will stand by their friends who are in pits of affliction and despair.
3. when one does not stand with his fried in encouragement, that failed friend has also forsaken the fear of the Almighty.
Job calls them "fair-weather" friends. And he tells them that he really does not need friends who will not encourage him in his difficulty.
Who needs friends who are not an encouragement in affliction?
Friends are for times of afflictions. Even an enemy will be a friend when things are going good.
Pr 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
4. but Job does not place himself above reproof from his friends. All he asks them to do is to honestly look at his life, compare his life to the Truth and point out where his life deviates from the truth. He pleads with them to point out Scripturally where he has erred and he will change that area.
But his "fair-weather" friends cannot see past Job's appearance. The rest of the book to ch 38 presents his friend's unjust judgment against Job.
What a sad commentary on friends. They swear undying and everlasting allegiance, but they are quick to jump to unrighteous conclusions when afflictions come.
5. I am afraid that we fit the description of Job's friends far more than not.
Job 16:2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters [are] ye all.
Job 16:5 [But] I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage [your grief]. (V. 10.)
Job 19:21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
6. of course, the true friend is Christ:
John 15:13, 14, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Christ laid down His life for His friends. Has His death been applied to your account by faith?
7. We need friends. We need to be a friend to others. And we can be a friend by standing with them and strengthening them in their afflictions. A friend shows pity and compassion toward one in affliction. A friend does not condemn according to appearances. But a friend will also reprove according to righteous judgment.
Are we a friend to the afflicted? OR
Have we forsaken the Almighty?
Have we dug the pit deeper for the one we profess to love?
Have we become their enemy in failing to have compassion upon them in their distress?
That friend in distress and afflictions doesn't need money, substance, criticism, condemnation or even deliverance from their afflictions. What that friend needs is: encouragement someone to lift them up with words someone to stand with them.
Let us work at being a genuine friend to those whom we profess to love.