This Sunday's message: The Song of Zechariah

February 26

Today's Reading: Job2:11-7:21

This week is going to be a bit of a challenge, but I am confident that you're up to it! We're going to be reading several - OK - maybe more than several - chapters each day so that we can cover the entire middle section of the book.

In this section Job is carrying on a conversation with his three so called "friends". We're going to see that those friends often are quite mistaken about the nature of God and the reasons for Job's suffering. So we need to make sure that we read this section with that in mind and don't try to develop doctrine based on what either Job or his friends say here.

Job's friends actually start out pretty good. They just sit with Job for seven days without saying a word. But then they open their mouths and reveal their ignorance of the nature of God and the reason for Job's suffering.

Here's a broad overview of Job's friends that will hopefully help you as you read this section:

  • Eliphaz the Temanite – the gentle mystic. He claims to speak absolute truth and is a proponent of the traditional theory of retribution - God punishes the sinner and rewards the righteous. Although he lacks in compassion, he at least accepts Job as a pious man gone astray. His basic message to Job is this: Job, if you repent, then this illness will go away and God’s blessing will return.
  • Bildad – the firm traditionalist. Like Eliphaz, Bildad has an unbending allegiance to the traditional idea that all suffering is a result of sin. But because he is also observant of Job’s situation, he takes things even further. He adds to Job’s suffering by proclaiming that Job’s children died because they, too, were guilty of sin and warns Job that unless he repents, he will suffer the same fate. For Bildad, even the fact that Job questions God’s actions is evidence of his wickedness.
  • Zophar – the rash dogmatist. He was a straight talker who believed in speaking the truth, but he certainly didn’t do that in love. He presumes to speak for God. For Zophar, there is no ambiguity or mystery in the nature of God. All things are black and white and he is about to tell Job how things really are, even to take him into the “secrets of wisdom”.

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