In our study of Job, we have seen a man who was righteous and blameless in his actions brought to a horrible point in his life through personal loss and physical suffering. His three friends came to comfort and sympathize with him. After a week's silence, Job spoke out in his pain saying that it would have been better if he were never born, or had died at birth.
The first to respond to this was Eliphaz. Last week, we heard this man claim to have found - through a spiritual vision - the reason for Job's suffering: sin, plain and simple. Not only was he completely wrong, but he spoke to Job in a most decidedly unsympathetic way. He told Job that if he would only repent of his sin, he would be restored.
Job 5:27 "Behold this; we have investigated it, and so it is. Hear it, and know for yourself."
Job tells Eliphaz, "You have no idea how much suffering and grief I'm in. Because of this, I admit, my words have been rash. Certainly, when any animal has its food, it's not complaining. But I can't even eat!"
"Eliphaz, you were threatening me with a God who can kill me. But don't you understand, that this is exactly what I want?"
"In spite of everything, I haven't denied the Lord, and I still choose to rejoice in Him, even though this pain is unbearable and unceasing."
"Eliphaz, you're telling me to wait it out, to hold on and 'wait for the healing.' I've got nothing left. My muscles aren't stones, and my skin isn't bronze. Do you actually think my body is going to recover from such a horrible affliction?"
"Instead, you should have shown me kindness. Don't you understand that when you launch accusations at me, it makes me bitter, and causes me to sin with my mouth? You came here to sympathize with me, but when I need it, it's gone. Just like a river in the winter that flows when we don't need water, and then dries up in the summer when we need it the most!"
"Have I ever done anything sinful in front of you? Have I ever even asked a favor from you? If I've done something wrong, I'm willing to listen. If you have an honest accusation to launch at me, I'll receive it. But what you're saying is nebulous nonsense!"
"The only sin you can accuse me of are my rash words. But you can't use reflexive logic here. It was the affliction that brought me to despair, which led to my words. But you're saying the sin of my words brought me this affliction!"
"In life, people work hard, and they look forward to the end of the day, when they can lay down and sleep in rest. I don't have that. I'm in so much affliction that I can't sleep."
Now, he refers back to his earlier point (6:11-13), that he's not going to recover, he's going to die from this.
Now, I'm not sure what the translators of the NAS were thinking when they began to capitalize the pronouns here, indicating that Job is praying to the Lord. If you read it in context, it is clear that he is still talking to Eliphaz.
He says, "Since I'm dying from this, then no, I'm not going to stop talking in my distress. Here I am, trying to make myself as comfortable as possible in this situation, and here you come, frightening me, saying, 'I had a vision that said you were a sinner!' This is not the encouragement and sympathy that I need!
"Why don't you just leave me alone? Every morning, you're staring at me, examining me, looking for a way to accuse me. Why do you feel the need to accuse me of sin instead of pardoning it? Don't you realize I'm dying?"
This would have been a good time for Eliphaz to repent. "You're right, Job. I came here to comfort you and sympathize with you, but in looking to make some kind of sense of all this, all I could do was blame you, and I'm sorry. The fact is that good people do suffer, and I falsely accused you of sin based on my assumption, not because of anything I've ever seen you do. Please forgive me."
But instead, another of the three friends jumps in...
Bildad accuses Job of being a windbag!
This is one of the most devastating things anyone could ever say. "Your kids died because of the judgment of God. They got what they deserved." I imagine that if I were Job, that would be the point where I punched Bildad in the nose.
"Look Job," Bildad says, "If you're so innocent, God will intervene at this very moment and restore you. But you're not. You want to know what your sin is? I'll tell you: You've trusted in your riches and forgotten God. You need to repent, start living a blameless life of integrity. That way, nothing like this will ever happen to you again."
Like so many self-righteous people, Bildad judged the rich simply for being rich. After all, they tend to say, "Money is the root of all evil." But in reality, the Bible says...
1Tim. 6:10 ...the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Being rich isn't a sin, and Job proved that you can be very wealthy and still be devoted to the Lord.
Although Bildad made some truthful statements about those who forsake the Lord, they were mixed in with horrible lies and accusations against Job.
Job's response is, "Even with the truth in your statement, you've forgotten one thing: no one can be truly righteous before God. As blameless as you life may be, you're not going to measure up to His purity and perfection. You can't match wits with Him, you can't overpower Him. Bildad, you can't even question Him!"
"If I had my day in court, I might think I could be found innocent. But not before God. The only way I could survive that trial would be to plead with the Judge for mercy."
Job had a better handle on the sovereignty of God than anyone I've ever met. He knew that, righteous or wicked, everyone dies. He knew that you cannot look at the events on the earth and say, "This was God's doing, while this other thing was the devil's doing." God is sovereign, and allows events to happen, to accomplish His plan.
People take issue with Job saying that God "mocks the despair of the innocent." But in reality, he is simply saying that God's perspective is an eternal one.
The fact is that even life-ending devastations really amount to nothing when you view them from the perspective of eternity with the Lord. Paul was saying the same thing to the Romans.
Rom. 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
If people accuse God of being heartless and mean for this, realize that it is man's failure to look at things from God's perspective that cause him to come to this conclusion. Jesus didn't have a problem with it when He commented on the life of Lazarus.
Lazarus was a poor man who used to lay outside of a rich man's gate.
Luke 16:20-21 "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
What a terrible thing! And yet, Jesus does not tear up and begin to say how horrible this was. No, instead He gave the disciples an eternal perspective.
Luke 16:22 "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom...
He quoted Abraham saying, "In his life, Lazarus received many bad things. But now he is being comforted."
Saints, this world is not our home, it is a stopping point, a train station, on the way home. How comfortable do you expect to get in a train station, an airport, or a bus terminal? Do you lament, saying, "Oh, how terrible it is that they don't provide a bed for me to lie down on, a refrigerator full of food, and a TV with remote control?" No, because it is a temporary lay-over, you don't expect much comfort at all. You know you'll be comfortable at home. God' perspective is the same way.
Job continues, "Guys, my days are rushing past. Even if I slapped a smile on my face in the midst of my pain, you would all still condemn me right to hell."
"I can't go to court with God - there is no mediator, no arbitrator, no umpire between us." This is similar to what Eli said in 1Samuel 2.
1Sam. 2:25 "If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?"...
Man needs an intercessor, a mediator. Job didn't have one, and neither did Eli. Fortunately, there is one now.
1Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
Jesus is the go-between, the umpire, that Job wished he had.