Some people don’t like Job. Yes, its true. I have heard them say it. So this blog will hopefully clear up something about the complexity of the book.
Overwhelmed by suffering, Job was not comforted, but condemned by his friends. Each of their views represents a well-known way to understand suffering. God proves that each explanation given by Job’s friends has less than the whole answer.
First, let me say that reading through the Bible Chronologically is going to be very cool. Already, after jumping from Genesis 11 to Job 1 there was a mercurial excitement, not the predictable sameness we are so used to when beginning the Pentateuch.
Men with profound erudition have been able to boil down the seemingly endless prolix narrative of Job. It all just gets jumbled and pointless after awhile, so let me share a little something I came across:
The only way any of Job’s friends help is by silencing their diatribes for seven days. Allowing Job to have plenty of time to think through his mourning and crank up the pity-party.
Eliphaz explains Job’s pain by intimating that his suffering is because he sinned. His advice to Job is to go to God and lay his cause before God (5:8). Job retorts with demands that Eliphaz take back his accusations (6:29). In the end, God rebukes Eliphaz (42:7).
Bildad thinks that Job is hiding his sin and won’t admit it, so Job must suffer. He encourages Job to give up and confess (8:2). Bildad wants Job to confront God and ask what charges God has against Job (10:2). Like Eliphaz, God rebukes Bildad (42:7).
Zophar is the more Pharisaical, religious one, he thinks Job deserves even more suffering than he has already experienced. He advices Job to get rid of his sins (11:13, 14). Job stands firm and doesn’t fall into Zophar’s super-pious hubris, and knows that he will be justified (13:18). He too is lumped with Job’s other friends who have no valuable advise (42:7).
The youngster, Elihu, is the only one who gets close to getting it right, albeit wrong. He thinks God is using the suffering to mold and train Job. He is just a bit off, yet instructs Job to be silent and he will be taught wisdom (33:33). Because God doesn’t deal directly with Elihu, we are left to wonder if his analysis is correct.
In the end, we hear from God himself. Job is confronted by God and is told to be content without knowing why he is suffering. There is no reason given for the suffering and asks Job how long he wants to argue with the Almighty (40:2). Job realizes he was talking about things he did not understand (42:3-5).