A few weeks ago I had three friends meet at my house. We were to color treat hair. Before everyone arrived, I covered parts of the floor of the kitchen and placed placemats on the counter so that nothing would get stained.
As the first friend’s hair was being done, some of the color dripped. I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the stain out. After her hair was done, I noticed that hair coloring had dripped onto my counter, cupboards and floor. It freaked me out!
I frantically started to clean it up. My hair stylist friend wanted to do my hair right away, but I refused. I explained that I needed to clean the counter.
I expressed how I value keeping my counter and cupboards clean.
My bosom friend said, “Well you’ve had this spot for weeks and have never cleaned it.”
I explained the difference between stains and spots and got completely side tracked. I went on way too much.
My hair stylist friend said, “Be quiet!”
And my conciliatory friend said, “Don’t answer. Just think about what God is teaching you through all of this.”
I could have screamed! I didn’t say another word. So in my silence, my friends left.
As I sat alone, I thought how I might have acted differently had my friends acknowledged my distress. And I recalled the book of Job; Job’s troubles and the counsel of his three friends.
The book of Job begins by focusing on a place called Uz; this is the place where Job lives. Job is described as being blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. We are told that Job has ten children and is very wealthy. Job is described as being concerned about his sons cursing God in their hearts when they celebrate their birthdays; Job makes provision for their purification after each party by providing a blood sacrifice for them.
Then the writer describes the place where God lives. In Heaven we see how the angels come to present themselves to the Lord. And Satan comes too. Wow! What an amazing revelation.
God draws Satan’s attention to His wonderful servant Job. Satan accuses Job of being God-fearing in order to reap God’s bountiful benefits. Satan challenges God to remove His protection of Job in order to reveal Job’s true loyalty. And God accepts Satan’s challenge.
Satan leaves God’s presence, but does not immediately attack Job. Satan schemes; he waits until the birthday of Job’s eldest son. On this happy occasion, Satan wipes out all of Job’s wealth and kills all of Job’s children. And in all of this, Job continues to praise the Lord.
Satan goes back to Heaven to present himself to God. And the Lord asks Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan replies, “From roaming the earth, going back and forth on it.”
And again, God draws Satan’s attention to his wonderful servant Job. Satan accuses Job of cursing God if his body were to be attacked and wracked in pain. And God accepts Satan’s challenge.
Satan leaves God’s presence and wastes no time in attacking Job. Job is in agony. His wife urges him to curse God and die, but he refuses.
Then Job’s three friends arrive. They sit in silence with him for seven days. Then they speak and their conversations are recorded. As I read their conversations I was reminded of what Jesus says, “But I tell you that men will give an account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”
Ouch! To Job’s three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar) and me, ouch!
Their conversations are hard to read. A lot of it sounds good, they quote Scripture and it sounds wise; but in light of what has happened in Heaven and knowing God’s view of Job, much of what they say is untrue.
The first friend to speak is Eliphaz. He starts off by recalling Job’s righteous actions. But then he declares, “As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.”
Eliphaz’s declaration at first glance sounded good to me, but then I remembered what God had said about Job. And Eliphaz’s declaration is false; Job did not plow evil yet he reaped trouble.
Eliphaz goes on to say, “If God places no trust in his servants (angels), how much more those who live in houses of clay (man).”
But we know, based on Satan’s challenge that God trusts Job. And we know based on Job 6:9 & 10, Job would rather die than deny the words of the Holy One. So Eliphaz’s statement is false.
After everyone had spoken, God speaks.
The Lord tells Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.”
Job’s friends put Job down. In their foolish conclusions of God’s dealings with him, they speak untruths about God. But in the end Job is vindicated. Catastrophe can only be averted after Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar offer a blood offering of bulls and rams, and after Job prays for them.
God the Father has offered up a much better sacrifice for His children than Job; He offered up His Son. And Jesus intercedes for us.
In reading Job, I realize that I do not act as righteously as Job does. I do not have the faith that Job has; my faith is as small as a mustard seed and mostly smaller. But as Edward Mote wrote, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness; On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”
And when I am on sinking sand, and when my friends are on sinking sand, I am reminded that we who believe in Jesus the Messiah are given God’s righteousness. The Lord declares us righteous, and no accusation can change that. And if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Hallelujah! What a Savior!