In the first chapter of this book, we were introduced to Job, a man who God considered blameless in his actions. But that didn't stop the devil from accusing him. In fact, satan said that Job's good behavior was only because he wanted all of the blessing and rewards he received from God. "Let me take those things away," the devil said, "and he'll curse You."
God granted the devil permission, and in back-to-back messages, Job found out that he'd lost all of his oxen, donkeys, and camels, most of his servants, and all of his ten children. Although he was terribly grieved, He worshiped, saying...
Job 1:21-22 "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
Once again, we are given a glimpse into heaven, when the angels present themselves before the Lord, and satan comes too. God takes the opportunity to point out that in spite of the fact that he's lost everything, Job is still...
Job 2:3 ...a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity...
A lot of people have a problem with what God says here, saying that satan "incited" God against Job. That sounds like satan made God do something against His will. It's aggravated even more in the King James, which says,
Job 2:3 ...although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
But the word "incited" here is "sooth" in Hebrew. It means not only "to incite, or entice," but also, "to urge or mislead." And it is an inciting, an urging, that does not have to be victorious. For example, in Deuteronomy 13, the Lord said,
Deut. 13:6-8 "If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, ENTICE you secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him.
Clearly, this word is shown to be used in situations where the "entice-ee" does not give in to the "entice-or."
We know that God is never tempted by evil (Jam. 1:13), nor is He mislead. That means satan was merely urging Him to destroy Job. Ultimately it was the devil himself who attacked Job, not the Lord. Literally, what God is saying here is, "You urged me to swallow him up without cause."
And it is worth pointing out in our study yet again that this was without cause. Job was not deserving punishment for sin, or being chastised for bad behavior. There was nothing in his actions or words that warranted discipline or penalty.
Many people have been confused by satan's expression, "skin for skin." In reality, he explains it in the next sentence: "A man will give anything to save his own life." In other words, the devil is accusing Job again, saying that this man was willing to see his own children and servants die, just so long as it wasn't him. He is claiming that Job was willing to see the destruction of his own children's skin, just to save his own, and if Job's own skin is afflicted, he will turn away from the Lord.
Once again (1:12), the Lord allowed satan to exercise his power over Job, but with limitations. Whereas before, satan was not allowed to touch Job himself, this time around, he is allowed to do anything but kill him.
The devil immediately left and smote Job will a head-to-toe disease. Anyone who knows the excruciating pain of a boil can still only imagine in what kind of horrible pain Job must have been.
But this was not his only affliction. As we read through the book, we learn of other symptoms this disease carried.
In addition to his continual pain (6:10), his appearance changed so radically, that people didn't recognize him (2:12). His skin hardened (7:5) and turned black (30:30). He had open, ulcerous sores that attracted worms (7:5).
As his skin turned black, even his eyelids turned dark (16:16), and he suffered diminished eyesight (17:7).
He had no appetite (3:24), and experienced dangerous weight loss (19:20) and severe halitosis (19:17).
He had difficulty breathing (9:18), fever (30:30), and arthritis (30:17).
Plus, he suffered nightmares (7:14), and this whole ordeal lasted for months (7:3)!
In the midst of Job's loss and pain, his wife wasn't the most supportive person. But before you completely trash her for her words, it is necessary for us to be reminded that she'd just suffered not only the loss of all of her family's wealth, but her ten children had recently been killed in a freak tornado. My guess is that she wasn't this brutal all the time.
It is interesting to me that although satan struck down his children, he allowed Job's wife to live. I believe that Job's pain was further intensified by having to shoulder his wife's grief and her response, than had she perished with the children.
Also, by allowing her to live, her faith was to be tested. She unfortunately did not do well. In fact, she told her husband to do what satan was hoping he would do (1:11; 2:5), which is to curse God because of his loss and suffering.
We talked last week about how satan can and will use people - not just your enemies like the Chaldeans and the Sabeans, but also good friends, like Simon Peter, or even your spouse, like Job's wife. I believe that is a big part of what it means to "be taken advantage of" by the devil (2Cor. 2:11).
You probably know how difficult it is to be patient in the midst of physical pain. Yet, in spite of Job's affliction, his response is actually very diplomatic. He didn't say, "You're a foolish woman!" Instead, he said, "You're talking like one of the foolish women." And he asked her the question that nobody wants to consider:
Job 2:9-10 ..."Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"...
Too many people are only in relationships for what they can get out of them. Fair-weather friends. Spouses who only listened to the "richer" in "for richer or poorer," the "health" in "sickness and in health,"and the "better" in "for better or worse."
Are we to be this way with God? "I'll stick around as long as I'm being blessed, but as soon as things get difficult, I'm outta here." Saints, this should not be.
You might think that with the financial loss, the family tragedy, the physical affliction, and the total lack of spousal support, Job had it as bad as it could possibly be. Not true, for something is going to make things even worse.
When three of Job's friends got wind of what had happened, they met with the purpose of bringing sympathy and comfort.
The word "sympathize" here (nood) means "to shake, to show grief, have compassion on, shake the head, to show sympathy."
"Comfort" (naw-KHAM) is "to be sorry, have pity, show compassion, offer comfort, to ease someone's suffering."
Since they came with that intention, it's really too bad they didn't stick to the plan.
After the guys had been sitting in silence for a week, Job started to talk. He was in so much torment, he regretted that he had ever been born.
Job then wished he'd died at birth. Then, he reasoned, he would have been at rest instead of suffering.
Job's turmoil was so great that even pleasing things like light, food, ease, and life were bitter to him.
What would you say to someone in so much pain that they are wishing they could die? In ministry, those conversations do happen. Would you remind them that God is in control? That the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be revealed? That God is working all things out for good for them? Maybe even saying that God has a plan which we're not aware of? Unfortunately, Job's friends didn't give him any of those ideas...
El-ee-FAZ the TAY-mawn-ite jumped right in with both feet. He showed a total lack of compassion, saying, "Job, you've always ministered to people in distress, but now that you're in a trial, you're not following your own advice."
El-ee-FAZ points out that "you reap what you sow" in this life. "Certainly," he asserts, "good people don't suffer. It is iniquity that brings trouble."
Now he asserts that this is divine wisdom, a prophecy, a vision. Better pay attention to this, because it's spiritual! How many people there are who assert that their words are wise because they claim, "I had a vision! I had a dream!"
Luke 7:35 "...wisdom is vindicated by all her children."
In other words, the proof is in the pudding. I don't care how someone says they got the words - I just want to know that they're true, godly, and wise.
El-ee-FAZ claims that the voice of the vision asserted that no one can be pure before God. Like so many things which will be spoken by Job's friends, it sounds so right, but is either partial truth, or misapplied principle. Regarding sin, no one is righteous. But regarding blameless purity of behavior, we've read three times now that Job was the man.
El-ee-FAZ asks Job who will listen to his problem? After all, he insists, trouble and affliction are what sinful people should expect. The difficulties of the angry, the jealous, and the foolish aren't coming from nowhere - they are from God, he says.
El-ee-FAZ says, "If it were me, I would seek God. If you're innocent, you'll be delivered. If you're guilty, you won't be."
Job's friend actually has the nerve to tell him he should be happy about all this! Clearly, he insists, God is using this pain as discipline - to purge out Job's evil!
I want you to notice some things about El-ee-FAZ's "wisdom."
Job 4:8 "According to what I have seen..."
Everything he is saying is based on experience, not on what God has said. Then he tries to back it up by insisting that it's a spiritual revelation:
Job 4:12 "Now a word was brought to me stealthily..."
"God told ME this for YOU."
He also claims personal righteousness:
Job 5:3 "I have seen the foolish taking root, and I cursed his abode immediately."
"Trust me," he says, "I can recognize unrighteousness in people. Now, if I happened to be the one caught in the sinful act like you, Job..."
Job 5:8 "But as for me, I would seek God, and I would place my cause before God;
"If it were ME, I would do the righteous thing."
And finally, he puts another stamp of, "you can't deny the truth of what I'm saying" on his words by claiming,
Job 5:27 "Behold this; we have investigated it, and so it is..."
"Trust me, my experience is what you need in this situation."
You have heard of "How To" books. Job's friends have begun to dictate to us the perfect "How NOT To" book!
May we instead find wisdom from the real "How To" book:
2Cor. 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;