Suffering Job’s Unrighteousness

Poor Job.

I mean the book, not the person. Of course Job the man had a horrendous time of suffering that I cannot even begin to understand. But I’m talking about how the book of Job has been misunderstood by so many in the church. Basically because his words and his friends’ words are taken out of context.

In the very beginning of the book, Job 1:22 the Scripture declares, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” In 2:10 it states, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

Christians tend to take the 2 commendations about Job in the beginning and apply that to everything Job says throughout the entire book. 

Then they take the the rebuke God gave to the three friends in the last chapter and apply that to everything they said throughout the book. Job 42:7 “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.”

The truth is that Job was righteous and blameless in the beginning, but his complaining and anger against God was unrighteous. 

Job’s Righteousness

When it says, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” what does the “all this” refer to? The commendation comes right after Job is told he has lost his animals, his servants, and even all of his children. What was Job’s response?

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job had an incredibly righteous response that flowed from his faith in God.

Again in the second chapter when it states, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” what does the “all this” refer to? Satan had just smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Even his wife said, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”

But Job said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

In the beginning, Job had incredibly righteous responses that flowed from his faith in God.

Job’s Unrighteousness

But starting in chapter three, Job goes on and says some right things and some wrong things. When he tries to reprove God or justify himself, that’s just unrighteous.

Look at God’s conversation with Job in chapter 40. We can see that God doesn’t take kindly to being reproved by mere man. God certainly doesn’t appreciate when Job condemns God in order to justify himself.

Then the Lord said to Job,
“Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
Let him who reproves God answer it.”
Then Job answered the Lord and said,
“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;
Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”

Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said,
“Now gird up your loins like a man;
I will ask you, and you instruct Me.
Will you really annul My judgment?
Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?
Or do you have an arm like God,
And can you thunder with a voice like His?

Did Job’s Friends Have It All Wrong?

The truth is that his three friends said some things that were unrighteous and yet said some things that were righteous. We need the rest of Scripture and the Holy Spirit to give us discernment. 

Certainly their assertion that a man’s suffering comes only from his personal sins is wrong. And that seems to be the bulk of their argument. But at times, they do make proper, accurate and righteous statements. In chapter 11 Zophar says,

“Can you discover the depths of God?
Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?
They are high as the heavens, what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol, what can you know?”

There’s nothing wrong with these words. Job’s friends didn’t have it all wrong.

Lessons from Job

Job suffered horribly and I do not blame him, humanly speaking, for being bitter or angry at God. But those are not righteous responses to God’s providence. We never have a right to be angry at our good, holy, righteous God.

So the next time you read Job, make sure you read it according to context. Great misunderstanding comes from neglecting context and simply assuming everything Job said was righteous and everything his friends said was unrighteous.

It’s similar to another wildly misinterpreted book, Ecclesiastes. But that’s for another time.

Finally, I love the God-centered perspective the New Testament gives of Job’s journey in James 5:11, “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”

The Lord is altogether worthy of our worship. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?

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