Sermon Quotes: "The Friends of Job"

“We might think the testing of Job is over. But alas, there is one final test, perhaps the toughest. Satan slithers away, while Job’s closet companions cozy up.” Douglas O’ Connell

“These friends came unto him under pretense of consolation, and yet they tormented him more than did all his sufferings.” 1560 Geneva Bible

“The theology that underlies all three friends is very simple and clear:

  1. God is absolutely in control. (We have seen that this indeed is one of the foundational markers laid down by our narrator in Job 1, 2).
  2. God is absolutely just and fair.
  3. Therefore he always punishes wickedness and blesses righteousness-always (and soon and certainly in this life). If he were ever to do otherwise, he would necessarily be unjust, which is inconceivable.
  4. Therefore, if I suffer I must have sinned and am being punished justly for my sin. (And presumably, if I am blessed I must have been good).” Christopher Ash

“The friends must infer from Job’s suffering that he has sinned; Job must infer from his innocence that God is unjust.” Francis Anderson

“The basic error of Job’s friends is that they overestimate their grasp of truth, misapply the truth they know, and close their minds to any facts that contradict what they assume. That being so, if the book is attacking anything its target is not the familiar doctrines…such as God’s justice and benevolence, his care for the righteous and punishment of the wicked, or the general law that what one sows one reaps. Rather, it attacks the arrogance of pontificating about the application of these truths, and of thereby misrepresenting God and misjudging one’s fellow men. To put it more positively, the book shows (by its context, the opening scene in heaven) how small a part of any situation is the fragment that we see; how much of what we do see we ignore or distort through preconceptions; and how unwise it is to extrapolate from our elementary grasp of truth.” Derek Kidner

“So the comforters make a big mistake. Job does not need to repent for any sin that has led to his suffering. He is not being punished for sin. To say that he is adds a cruel burden to his grief. Yet the comforters say exactly that for nine chapters.” Christopher Ash

“Men seek an explanation of suffering in cause and effect. They look backwards for a connection between prior sin and present suffering. The Bible looks forward in hope and seeks explanations, not so much in origins as in goals. The purpose of suffering is seen, not in its cause but in its result.” Francis Anderson

“We cannot deduce the spiritual state of a man or a woman from their current happiness or prosperity or their present sufferings. The fact of this ignorance needs to be burned into our consciousness, lest we slip into the errors of Job’s comforters.” Tim Keller

“It’s not suffering that destroys a person but suffering without a purpose.” Christopher Ash

“The reason causes are not the ultimate explanation for things is that God is not ultimately a responder but ultimately a planner. In other words, when God ordains that something happen, God is not, at the bottom, responding to human causes. He is, at bottom planning a purpose. The implication of this for your life is profound. No matter what mess you’re in or what pain you’re in, the causes of that mess and that pain are not decisive in explaining it. What is decisive in explaining it is God’s purpose. Yes, there are causes. Some of them your fault, perhaps, and some of them not. But those causes are not decisive in determining the meaning of your mess or your pain. What is absolutely decisive is God’s purpose.” John Piper

“Turn away from your fixation on causality as the decisive explanation of suffering. And turn to the purposes and plans of God. There is no suffering outside God’s purposes. The truth is that suffering can only have ultimate meaning in relation to God. This means that for our suffering to have ultimate meaning, God must be supremely valuable to us.” John Piper