Saturday, January 12, 2013

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

I have resumed my college courses at Newberry College for the spring semester, and one of the classes that I am required to take is World Literature.  Thank the Lord that one of the required readings was selections from the Book of Job, as a study of Hebrew Literature. 

My assignment was to select a question from the list given and write a one-page reader's response.  I really tried to keep it at one page, honestly, but I COULDN'T HELP MYSELF!!!  :) 

Here is the question:

Why is evil allowed to prey on Job?  What message is conveyed by allowing evil things to happen to Job?  How is Job's reaction to each terrible event an important aspect of the purpose of this selection?

Here is my answer: (I hope this is a help to you-it was to me!)

In the opening selection “Job’s Trials” comprised of the first three chapter of the Book of Job from the Authorized King James Version, we find a man that has had a rather bad day.  In the course of one day, Job lost his herds, his servants, his livelihood, and his children.  He did not respond foolishly, he proceeded in the traditional rites of grieving.  Job rent his clothes, shaved his head, but then he fell on the ground and worshipped God.  All this happened as a result of Satan attempting to assert himself over the Lord God Jehovah by tempting Job who was a servant of God, “…perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1) 

When Satan saw that he had lost round one, Satan asks God for another go at Job.  It is notable to also point out that Satan must ask permission to perform these acts against Job.  God had a shield of protection surrounding Job and his family, which was only removed at God’s discretion.  During this round of affliction, Satan caused Job to be covered in boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. 

At this point, Job’s wife also comes to him advising him to “curse God and die” in a feeble effort to retain his “integrity.”  What she didn’t understand was that she and Job had two very different definitions of “integrity.”  Her definition of the term was “pride.”  She wanted Job to curse God to save face, because people were already talking about them and it was making her look bad; but Job had true integrity which is honor and the fear of the Lord. 

This presents the answer to the question of why God allowed these evil dealings to fall upon Job.  The answer is simple—to bring glory and honor to God Himself, and to create a closer relationship between Himself and Job.  God knew that Job would not curse Him.  God is omniscient.  He knows and perceives all.  Satan is a defeated foe that continues to plague the children of God to fall away and join his band of demonic followers who will find their eternity being spent in a lake of fire.  Since he knows that he cannot escape the wrath and punishment of God, he will try to increase the number of souls that will rebel against God, simply for spite.

The message conveyed by allowed evil things to happen to Job is that through this trial, Job actually grew closer to God.  Job had some “friends” that came to “comfort him!” With friends like these, who needs enemies?  These so-called “friends” proposed that Job had sinned, that he was a hypocrite, and a liar.  They offered him tradition and oriental proverbs.  Job points out in chapter twenty-one, evil people do prosper, so the supposition that he is being punished for some sin is unfounded, but his “friends” continue to offer their “assistance!” 

The only progress that is made comes from “Elihu” the final friend of the account of Job.  Elihu points out that the only thing that Job has done wrong in this situation, is that he has proclaimed his own righteous, and not that of God.  After Elihu’s speech, God speaks to Job from the whirlwind, confirming Elihu’s guidance.  In fact, in verses seven through nine of chapter forty-two, God commands the “three friends” Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, to repent of their wickedness, which they did as seen in verse nine.  It is very interesting to observe here that there is no further mention of Elihu.  We don’t read what happened to him.  The name Elihu actually means “God is he.”  There are some that believe that Elihu was actually a Christophany, a bodily appearance of Jesus Christ, there to defend Job against his “friends” and at the same time chastise Job as a Father chastises His child to teach them and bring them closer to Him.

Job’s reaction to each of these terrible events teaches us that we should not be so wrapped up in ourselves.  We should keep our eyes on Christ in His sovereignty, majesty and divine decision.  He knows the beginning from the end because He’s already been there.  He is the true friend, one that “…sticketh closer than a brother.” (Hebrews 13:5)
and in the words of Job...

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