Sermon Summary and Discussion Questions | "The Friends of Job"
CJ began by recapping Job 1-3. He highlighted Job’s vividly described agony and explained how Job should humble us when we find ourselves complaining. Job’s lament captures his fear that the worst has come to fruition…God has abandoned him. But despite all of Job’s suffering to this point, the worst may be yet to come. Satan slithers away and Job’s closest companions become miserable comforters (Job 16:2).
Chapter 4 initiates the onslaught of accusations by Job’s friends after his lament. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar view his suffering from a rigid orthodox position, concluding that Job’s suffering is a result of his sin. This cause and effect presumption is based on the following truths:
- God is in absolute control
- God is just and fair
- God blesses righteousness and punishes wickedness
The error here lies in a lack of understanding that Job was blameless and suffered despite his innocence. Job’s friends were not wrong in their conviction that God condemns the wicked, but misapplied their doctrine to Job, and therefore misrepresented God. Even Job believed in their theology. However, he didn’t believe it applied to his circumstances.
Eliphaz opens the dialogue with Job in a more gentle fashion than his other friends (Job 4:1-4). This is short lived before the perpetual cycle begins in which his friends accuse Job of sinning while he declares his innocence, inferring God is unjust. CJ highlights the passages that best display the rigid orthodoxy by Job’s friends and Job’s response:
- Job 8:2 – Bildad mocks Job’s lament
- Job 8:4 – Bildad justifies the death of Job’s children
- Job 22:5 – Eliphaz mocks Job’s declaration of innocence
- Job 16:2 – Job calls his friends miserable comforters
- Job 19:2 – Job begs his friends to cease their torment
Job teaches us that the purpose of suffering is not seen in its cause, but instead towards a result (paraphrased from Francis Anderson). In addition to God being glorified, Job grew in the knowledge of God through his suffering. We also must understand that we cannot deduce a spiritual state based on one’s prospering or suffering (paraphrased from Tim Keller). Finally, Job’s suffering foreshadows the One who immeasurably suffered while being truly innocent (Eliphaz didn’t see that coming! – Job 4:7).
- CJ explains that Job’s friends are meant to instruct us on what not to say to a suffering Christian. Is there anyone in your community group or in the church that comforted/counseled you well in the midst of suffering? Would you be willing to share what he or she did/said to make you grateful they were not like Job’s friends?
- In the midst of suffering, the “why?” question is bound to surface. CJ explains that a Christian must be ok with mystery. How does the book of Job now prepare you better for future suffering?
[by Tristan Murray]