The book of Job portrays that Satan has supernatural powers to make people suffer. Satan wanted to attack Job in order to tempt his faith so he asked for permission from God who restrained his powers as shown in chapter one. Job was considered God’s servant because he was blameless, upright and never did evil in the sight of the Lord. His three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zaphor could not understand why worst calamities befell the best man on earth. They were so cruel to him and condemned him. They argued that God was punishing Job and that he deserved all that happened to him. He even became a subject of mockery to his wife who asked him to denounce his faith in God. The events in this book are similar to a courtroom drama with long speeches between Job and his friends. In most chapters Job listened to his friends’ arguments regarding punishment and suffering but deep in his soul he knew they were wrong.
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The argument originated from the belief held by Job’s three friends that God is always fair and loves his people, and that suffering is meant for bad people while prosperity is for the righteous. They believed that a just God would protect his servant from suffering so they were convinced that Job must have sinned against God and was being punished for it. Further series of speeches created emotional intensity. In chapters 4-14 his friends had hopes of winning him to their argument. In chapters 15-21, their speeches grew stronger and more threatening in the second cycle. Towards the end, from chapter 22, they concluded by accusing him which made him feel worse. As a result of their condemnation and arguments, God dismissed them all.
Job was on trial and God himself allowed the devil to do so because he was so sure Job truly believed in him. As opposed to what Satan thought, Job was a true Servant, therefore, the argument that he never deserved what happened to him is true. Others may even call it ultimate suffering of an innocent man. At some point in his life, he asked himself question like “What did I do to deserve this suffering.” He also had some debate within himself where part of him wanted to give up while the other part encouraged him to hold on. The readers may know that Job truly deserved a better life because chapter one answered the main question asked by Job.
However his friends were not aware that he had done nothing to deserve such extreme suffering. Though he believed God would finally show up and help him, he agreed with his friends’ argument and shifted positions therefore contradicting his faith. It is hard to believe in the unseen and so Job could easily agree to his friends’ argument because his God was nowhere to save him. However, even through all the trials and temptations, Job encouraged himself in the Lord.
His friends did not believe that anybody can fall and rise again from the ashes to make a new beginning. In verse eight of chapter four, Eliphaz states that job sowed wickedness and iniquity therefore he was reaping what he sowed. In chapter five, he appealed to Job to seek divine intervention and run to God for help. In his own argument he believed that God was correcting Job and that the only way Job would get out of his situation was to return back to God. Job constantly refused to curse his God, he instead asked for a quick death in his speech because he felt like there was no more strength to hold on. His argument was that it was better to die earlier than to suffer for a long time; after all he would die still believing. His speech shows expression of suffering and emptiness.
Bildad appealed to a common truth about God that He does not reject a blameless man. Although God also helped Job fight the forces of his friend’s arguments, some of the statements made by Job’s friend were true. They asked him to repent his sins to God so that he can be restored. Job believed in a Loving God but knew he was right and blameless. Falsely cheerful advice doesn’t help a suffering person; this was Job’s reply to Bildad. He knew he was innocent before God hence he never hid his despair and anguish. He even swore his innocence in chapter 31 in response to Bildad’s accusations.
Unlike other friends, Zophar made direct accusations against his friend Job who agreed with him in chapter 12 that God punishes sins and rewards the righteous. In most of his speeches, job was in agreement with the general belief that evil people are entitled to suffering here on earth. He however argued that it doesn’t happen in all circumstances. He cited names of individuals who lived a prosperous life despite their wicked behaviors. In verse 34 of chapter 21, he was well persuaded by these facts until he concluded that his friends were speaking “nonsense”. He maintained his stand and protested against such arguments however convincing they were. He only wanted to listen from God, the reason why he asked for “a day in court,” a chance to face God individually and get the right explanation to what was happening to him.
God was not totally silent as believed by Job’s friends. In chapter 33 Elihu constantly reminded Job of the Good work God did to him in the past. God also had a position in this argument which is why at the beginning of this book his conversation with Satan is provided. He believed that Job would never deny him and that he was pure and blameless before him. Satan strongly disagreed hence God allowed him to tempt Job. He finally made his appearance and spoke with anger to Eliphaz about his wrath against Job’s three friends. The significance of this to Christians today is that we should learn from job’s story. It is not our duty to try and find out reasons why people suffer but we should leave it to God.
In his speech, God did not condemn Job’s unbalanced moods. He instead condemned his friends for their pious words against his servant Job. Job felt the same way we feel whenever we undergo tribulations. We always feel that we are the object of God’s anger. In his case, job was held up before Satan by God as a blameless man.
As for the position taken by God in the argument with Satan, it showed that he is a true God who knows us. This was not just about job’s suffering but God’s challenge against Satan. He knows the heart of every man which is why we should never be afraid of temptations. He can never take us through something we cannot handle. He has all the powers over Satan but still allowed him to impose suffering to his servant whom he praised so much because he wanted to be glorified in the end. Job’s three friends did not understand this fact.
When God restored all that Job had lost, he worshiped the Lord without even mentioning his wealth to God. According to him, God was the centre of everything. He was happy that God finally answered him and for the first time in verse 6 of chapter 42, he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes showing that he was broken before God and humbled himself despite all that he went through.
At times we find ourselves in a situation such as Job’s. We may be in a situation where healing doesn’t come, life falls apart and dreams are undone. Just as it was with Job, nothing makes sense in such moments and God seems silent and distant. During such times of great crisis we are always on trial. We should always know that God allows Satan to tempt us so that we can come out victorious. Therefore we should never ask why bad things happen to good people. The debate may be between ourselves or the people around us but once we know the one we believe in and we are persuaded, nothing should separate us from the love of God.
Holy Bible: The New King James Version. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1982. Internet resource.