Job – The Final Round

We’re finally to the final round of arguments – aren’t you glad? I know I am…part of the reason I find it hard to stay connected when reading Job is because of all the back and forth. I’ve never liked arguing, being in arguments or hearing arguments – just ask my children!

Elipaz takes his turn again, and for the sake of his friend begs, “Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.” He tries to reason with Job to just have the suffering over. But Job cannot compromise his integrity to confess sin he’s not aware of.

Job comes by back with an emotional appeal still claiming innocence, “what he desires, he does.” We don’t understand why God desires or allows suffering in our lives, but he does. 

Bildad takes his turn to make a short speech, as if he’s out of words, reminding Job, “how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!” I don’t think the name-calling helped the conversation…

Which is reflected in Job’s response beginning with several exclamations of how unhelpful his friends are! He continues to defend his integrity saying, “till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.”

Job continues to look for wisdom and understanding. In his final appeal in chapter 31, he goes into a series (16) of “if” statements, affirming that he knows there is cause and effect of which he is not aware. If he knew what he had done wrong, he is more than willing to confess.

Then, “the words of Job are ended.”

All the fight is gone; all the words said; Job has nothing left. It’s as if he is willing to go to the grave not knowing.

Know the feeling? At times, I have given up knowing why only to figure it out later. And there are some things I’m sure I will only understand on the other side. There is time to give up, to give in to God and be at peace that he is God. All his character is true, the power, the mercy, the love, etc. but at this point in time, he is not answering for a reason only known to him.

It’s hard to not understand why. Just like Adam and Eve, we want to be like God, to have him share his wisdom with us. But there is a point where he leaves us just trusting in him without understanding…

It’s called, “faith.”

Job – Guns Blazing


In case you are just now following our study, we’re in Job 11. Job’s a hard book to embrace, and I have no corner on wisdom. I’m just walking through it, sharing what I’m seeing and feeling.

Job was a “blameless and upright” man in God’s eyes. As a result of a conversation with Satan, God allowed Job to endure horrendous suffering. In the midst of it, three friends sat with him patiently, silently, for a week before entering into conversation about the cause of his suffering.

Zophar is the third friend, who must have been frustrated by the pressing but gentle tactics of his comrades, or maybe it was just his nature to be more direct.

Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and a man full of talk be judged right?
Should your babble silence men, and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes.’
But oh, that God would speak and open his lips to you
And that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!

Can you hear the sarcasm in Zophar’s voice? It’s as if he is saying, “A lot of words don’t make you right, Job…they’re babble and mocking. Isn’t anyone going shame you for what you are saying? Well, let me do it! You’re saying things that obviously are not true, that you are ‘clean’ in God’s eyes. Just wait, He’ll tell you the truth about your sin!”

Have you ever done something similar? I know I have been so sure about what was right or true, that I blasted someone only to figure out later that I was in the wrong.

How does Job respond? He’s defensive, sarcastic and fights back for what he knows is true:

No doubt you are the people and wisdom will die with you,
But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you…

In fact, he repeats it again in Chapter 13 and adds an all important “but:”

I am not inferior to you.
But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God.

Our friends may never understand us. But even if they don’t, what is important is our relationship with God. They don’t need to “get it” or even agree with us. There is only one person who is important in this conversation. 

Job goes meets fire with fire – calling his friends “worthless physicians” and other choice words. He reminds them that death comes to all mankind, including them.

Oh, we can be so wrong sometimes when we are trying to do right! I think Zophar was proud he was a “truth bearer,” unintimidated by Job, but he was insensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, our “comforter.” It’s a check in my spirit to not play Holy Spirit in the lives of others… 

Leaving it between them and God.

Job – The Tag Team Begins

As Job argues back, it’s almost as if he hasn’t heard a word Elipaz said.  He is so filled with his own pain; he says that same things over and over, shooting questions like a machine gun. 

Which, by the way, is not an unusual response when dealing with pain. If you are a friend trying to comfort someone, don’t be surprised if your good intentions are rebuffed. It’s as if the pain is so loud, it’s hard to hear.

Job goes back to his old arguments – that he has been blameless and yet God is not blessing. He can’t understand it. As he sums it up, 

Is there any injustice on my tongue?
Cannot my palate discern the cause of calamity?

In suffering, there are more questions than answers. It’s beyond us to understand the “why?” which leaves us physically and mentally exhausted, which leaves us open to despair, even pushing away those who love us, and the God who loves us.

I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are a breath..

So Bildad picks up where his friend Elipaz was rebuffed, taking a slightly less humble approach:

How long will you say these things, 
and the words of your mouth be a great wind?

And Bildad starts with the “ifs” of life:

If your children…If you will seek…If you are pure and upright…

Job replies, as if he hears better now the truth that is in the midst of the questions. 

Truly I know that it is so…I must appeal for mercy…
He is not a man, as I am…
You have granted me life and steadfast love, 
And your care has preserved my spirit. 

So, in light of a softening of Job’s heart, Zophar joins in the conversation – and the tag team has officially begun!

Job – Elipaz Speaks

If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
Yet who can keep from speaking?

I can relate to Elipaz’s opening statement, responding to his friend’s rant of questions, distraught as they are. I have never sat with a friend who was suffering for seven days in silence, and then receiving the burst of pain’s expression. I think I would be a little timid myself – how would I would be received?

And yet, I would be filled with my own thoughts, just as Elipaz was as he sat the seven days,  trying to make sense of Job’s suffering. Now that the door is open to conversation, and it would be hard to be quiet.

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope? 

Elipaz had listened to Job’s life throughout the years and knew 2 things: Job had confidence in his relationship with God and Job had lived a good life.

In Elipaz’s simple way of reasoning, one of those two things must be off. Either Job’s relationship with God was not what he thought it was, or his blameless life held blame. 

So he held out to Job a lifeline:

Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty,
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.

He reminds Job who God is, the one who loves us enough to discipline us, and the one who loves us enough to heal.

I haven’t lived a “blameless and upright” life. Somehow, this verse is a comfort to me. In the midst of feeling God’s discipline or the natural results of sin, I need the picture of him binding my wounds, his hand healing my life shattered in pain.

Elipaz painted the picture for Job, hoping he would admit his wrongs and turn to the God who loves him, just as we try to paint that picture to prodigal sons and daughters or those who wander. God receives no joy in discipline, just as we receive no joy in disciplining our children or seeing them disciplined with the pain of life. We want to woo them back into the healing power of God.

But the healing depends on the response…

Job – Job Speaks

Job’s friends take a lot of flack from critics, but I want to give credit where credit is due. They did sit in silence with him for 7 days. And even then, they didn’t jump the gun in conversation but waited until Job wanted to talk. What restraint!

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.

Remember before this time, Job had developed a lifestyle of being “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” He also, “did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

But what he did do was regret he had ever been born, to experience such suffering. He wondered about the purpose of his life, so that he could find purpose in the suffering.

Poor Job, he didn’t have the full picture. He’s living in the here and now, just as we are. There is purpose in suffering, even if we cannot see it. There is something going on in the background we are totally unaware of. It could be that others are watching, learning what “blameless and upright” looks like. It could be our time has not come, not for us or others, and we linger, using the strength we do have to allow ourselves to be used as a “living sacrifice.” It could be there is drama in heaven between Satan and God of which we are unaware. 

But we can assume we do not have the full picture.

The fact was, as much as Job regretted it, he was born. He was blessed. Those blessings were taken away. God had something in mind Job could not comprehend.

I think of so many I know who are in a season of suffering. There are so many questions, and even the desire to have life completed through death. We want to understand what is un-understandable. But at some point, it will be fully known. 

One truth we can hold on to is that God gave us life, he will determine death, and it is our choice to give him everything between the two.

But let me just add…it’s still hard!