Earlier this year, I began a journey through the bible chronologically, not just to read it, but to study it, learn the history behind the stories, and deepen my relationship with God. Today we’re going to cover Job 4-7, which kicks off the first set of speeches.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE TIME FRAME OF JOB
At the time these things were happening to Job, people didn’t know of Satan’s existence. Throughout the book of Job, there is no mention of Satan, which also helps date the authorship of this book as before the Books of Moses, or Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The book was written between 2100-1900 BC, roughly.
Because it’s been a while since we covered the first three chapters of Job, let’s do a quick recap of where we are so far:
SATAN TESTS JOB’S FAITH
Job is a righteous man held in high regard by both the people who knew him and by God Himself. Job was a wealthy man, having seven sons, three daughters, and many heads of cattle, as well as servants to tend to them.
During a meeting with the angels, in which Satan invited himself, Satan suggests that Job is only so faithful and righteous because of his many blessings and vast wealth, saying God is protecting him. God allows Satan to test Job’s faithfulness by giving Satan authority of Job, with one exception – Job himself cannot be harmed. So Satan does his best:
- Job’s oxen and donkeys, and the servants tending to them, were killed by Sabeans, nomads from norther Arabia.
- Job’s sheep and the servants with them were struck and killed by lightning.
- Job’s camels and all the servants with them were killed by Chaldeans who raided the field and used their swords.
- Job’s children were killed when a powerful wind collapsed the oldest brother’s house where they were celebrating together.
When all of this happened and Job did not deny God, but praised Him, Satan asked for a little more authority. God agrees, with one exception – Job cannot be killed.
So Satan strikes Job with a terrible affliction, covering his entire body with painful, oozing boils. Job, having lost everything he owns, all of his children, and now his health, sits in the ashes in a trash pile, broken and despondent.
This is where we find him when his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar arrive to offer counsel. They wept for their friend, then sat in silence for seven days out of respect, allowing Job to be the first to speak.
When Job does finally speak, he questions why he was even born, but never once does he curse God. He also referenced the hedge of protection from vs. 1:10 is now what holds in his suffering.
QUICK TAKEAWAYS SO FAR FROM JOB 1-3
- God gave Satan some authority but still placed limits on his power over Job.
- Satan used wicked people and forces of nature to kill Job’s cattle and his children, things that could be explained away, or even be attributed to God Himself.
- Boils were used as a curse from God in Deuteronomy 28:27, so in addition to the first four tragedies, Satan used something that could be attributed to God to strike Job.
- Job tore his clothes after the first four tragedies, and his friends tore their robes when they saw Job. This was a symbolic act of grief.
Ok, now that we’re caught up, let’s move on. Chapters 4-14 are the first of three sets of speeches between Job and the three men who came to comfort him, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They each take turns speaking to Job, and Job replies to them individually.
Something to note: Job’s friends have the best of intentions initially, trying to offer comfort and encouragement through the Biblical teachings they think they know. However, the vast majority of what they say is false teaching, and will be condemned by God as false wisdom in chapter 42.
After Job breaks the seven-day silence, his friends take turns speaking to him. First, Eliphaz the Temanite speaks to Job in chapters 4 and 5.
Practice What You Preach
Your words have steadied the one who was stumbling
and braced the knees that were buckling.
But now that this has happened to you,
you have become exhausted.
It strikes you, and you are dismayed.
Eliphaz speaks to Job’s history of teaching God’s word and offering encouragement to others, and reminds him to call on his own teaching for strength.
Only the Wicked Suffer
Consider: who has perished when he was innocent?
Where have the honest been destroyed?
In my experience, those who plow injustice
and those who sow trouble reap the same.
They perish at a single blast from God
and come to an end by the breath of His nostrils.
Eliphaz asks a rhetorical question that is not biblically correct. “Where have the honest been destroyed?” He is insinuating that only the wicked suffer. We only have to look back to Genesis 4 to remember that Cain killed his innocent brother Abel out of jealousy.
Eliphaz Has A Vision
Eliphaz uses words like “in secret”, “unsettling thoughts”, and says in verse 14, “fear and trembling came over me and made all my bones shake.” He is definitely trying to scare Job into believing what he is saying.
While it was common in Job’s time for God to speak to man through dreams and visions, it was also common of false prophets to speak in such a way.
This is the substance of Eliphaz’ contention. In essence what Elihpaz is saying to Job is this. “Job, you’re a sinner and there’s nothing you can do about that, so you can’t object to this punishment because you deserve it anyway.”
Eliphaz uses his “vision” to try to make a point that, if God doesn’t even trust His own angels, we can’t expect Him to trust a man. However, it is the simple man that God trusts repeatedly throughout the Bible.
Moses was a simple man who God trusted to free the Israelites from Egypt. Joseph was a simple man who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, but God equipped him to be the second most powerful leader in Egypt under Pharaoh. Paul was a tax collector, Peter was a fisherman, and David was a shepherd who defeated Goliath! All of these men were just men, but God equipped them for their calling and trusted them with very significant callings.
Affliction Caused By Sin
In Chapter 5, Eliphaz continues encouraging Job to appeal to God, present his case to Hom, and God will relieve him from his suffering. He continues to press, telling Job that his sin is the reason for his affliction, that God is disciplining him because of his sin.
It was common in Job’s time to believe that any affliction, from migraines to body-covering boils like Job, were caused by personal sin or the sin of the previous generation. However, we know this not to be true.
As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? ”
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him.
JOB RESPONDS TO ELIPHAZ
Chapters 6 and 7 are Job’s response to his friend Eliphaz. He begins by trying to describe the depth of his grief (remember he has lost everything he owned, all of his children were just killed, and now he’s covered head-to-toe in painful, oozing boils and sitting in a trash heap).
Job Wants to Die
If only my request would be granted
and God would provide what I hope for:
that He would decide to crush me,
to unleash His power and cut me off!
He has no strength left with which to place any hope, and sees death as his only reprieve from the pain and suffering he is experiencing.
JOB’S FRIENDS OFFER NO COMFORT
A despairing man should receive loyalty from his friends,
even if he abandons the fear of the Almighty.
My brothers are as treacherous as a wadi,
as seasonal streams that overflow
and become darkened because of ice,
and the snow melts into them.
– Job 6:14-16
Job compares his friends to a desolate stream that has evaporated and disappeared. He looked forward to their company and encouragement, just as caravans look forward to water. When none is found, there is frustration and shame.
Job has never asked anything of his friends, but now asks for their help in understanding what he has done wrong. He compares them to creditors who would sell a friend into slavery for a debt.
JOB NEVER CURSES GOD
Not once throughout this dialogue does Job curse God for his affliction, but does feel that God is attacking him (see Job 6:4). He simply wants God to reveal to him what he has done wrong, and wishes to dies.
If I have sinned, what have I done to You,
Watcher of mankind?
Why have You made me Your target,
so that I have become a burden to You?
Why not forgive my sin
and pardon my transgression?
For soon I will lie down in the grave.
You will eagerly seek me, but I will be gone.
– Job 7:20-21
At this point, Job’s boils had burst open and had begun attracting maggots, he can’t sleep, his days drag on endlessly, and he has no hope. He says he will continue to talk of his pain and suffering until God takes it away from him by allowing him to die in peace.