Carefully Evaluate Explanations
Explore the Bible Series
June 11, 2006
Background Passage: Job 3:1-14:22
Lesson Passage: Job 4:6-7; 6:2-3,24; 8:4-8; 11;6b, 13-15; 13:4, 15, 18, 23-24
Introduction: Job’s three friends gave good counsel to the wrong man, at the wrong time. John Calvin observed that these men argued well a poor case. Job, on the other hand, argued a good case ineffectively. It seems obvious that the friends really cared about their unfortunately, suffering companion. Furthermore, these men possessed some impressive understanding of the principles of godliness; however, their made grave errors in applying these truths to Job’s life. It is not enough to have an impressive mastery of theology; believers need to learn how to wisely use their understanding. These men did much damage by applying truth in an unwise manner.
Find yourself in the Book of Job! This man suffered from severe depression brought on by a series of overwhelming calamities. He evidenced classic signals of a depressed state:
His depression, of course, was episodic; that is, terrible events triggered this depressive period. Sometimes, God’s people suffer from a type of depression that has no immediate, evident cause. The text does not indicate that Job struggled with this second form of depression, but the principles taught in Job’s life apply to the full spectrum of despair that God’s people may experience. Friends may not understand your suffering, and in the midst of your grief, may say and do terrible things. Family may abandon you, and calamity may follow upon calamity; nevertheless, God sustains and, in his time and way, will bring you great help, comfort, and victory. Find your supply in the Lord of Heaven and Earth. He may seem silent in the face of your suffering, but he will soon replace his silence with sweet words of help and consolation. Sometimes you must close your ears to the misuse of God’s word (that may come from unsympathetic and unwise Christians), and wait on the Lord to speak and vindicate you. His word and presence, in time, will come to you with great certainty and grace.
The Background Passage covers so much material that this lesson outline will only provide a general summery of the first cycle of major discourses.
Background Passage Outline:
I. Job’s First Discourse (3:1-26): Job finally, after seven days, broke the silence of suffering. This first discourse gave vent to the horrible grief of this dear man. The lament poured out of him like a torrent, and he wished his mother had never given birth to him. Note that Job never expressed an impulse toward suicide, but, like Jeremiah (See Jeremiah 20:14-15), he wished he had never been born. Job concluded his remarks with a heartrending account of his anguish (See vv. 25-26). He had experienced the very things he feared most in life, and great dread shrouded his thoughts. He writhed in agony, and he could find no relief for his sorrow.
II. The First Discourse of Eliphaz (4:1-5:27): Eliphaz showed some compassion to Job, but his discourse quickly took a sharp, painful turn. He began his comments with an affirmation of Job’s ministry to other suffering people. Perhaps Job had helped Eliphaz at some point, but, at least this friend knew of Job’s reputation as a comforting and able counselor. Sadly, Job’s acquaintances did not treat him in the same manner this man of God had treated other suffers. Eliphaz entertained a simplistic, “cause and effect” view of God’s dealings with his creatures. In his mind, God rewarded the righteous and punished sinners. God had “punished” Job; therefore, Job must have grievously sinned against the Lord (See 4:7-8). He saw Job’s trouble as the reproof of the Lord and encouraged Job to seek relief from the Lord’s discipline (See 5:17-18).
Job’s First Response to Eliphaz (6:1-7:21): Job, of course, took exception to his
friend’s dismal assessment of his character.
The suffering saint acknowledged his weakness (See 6: 11-13), and he
expressed amazement at the cruelty of his friend (6:14-18). He
expected kindness from his friends, but they were like waterless wadis. The ancient
IV. The First Discourse of Bildad (8:1-22): Bildad assailed Job more harshly than Eliphaz. This cruel man charged that Job’s children had died justly, and Job had simply reaped the bitter harvest of a sinful life. He called Job “godless” and accused the poor man of lying about his innocence before God. Finally, he implied that Job hated God (See v. 22).
V. Job’s First Response to Bildad (9:1-10:22): Job realized that he was a sinner, and he knew he could offer no valid defense before the Lord. The Lord’s knowledge and power overwhelmed Job. Furthermore, God, unlike man, is invisible, and Job could not determine the Lord’s ways with him (See 9:11-12). These sufferings, Job reasoned, came from God’s hand, and the relentless troubles would not allow Job to catch his breath (See v. 18). He longed for a mediator who would represent him in the court of heaven (See vv. 32-35). Thankfully, God has provided just such a mediator in the person of Christ. In Chapter Ten, Job offers a kind of prayer. He addressed the entire chapter to God. Above all, Job wanted to understand why God had brought these calamities upon him.
VI. The First Discourse of Zophar (11:1-20): The three discourses escalate the attacks these friends aimed at Job. Clearly, Zophar believed Job had sinned and brought this suffering upon himself. He boldly called upon God to bring an indictment on poor Job (See 5-6). Furthermore, he asserted that if Job would acknowledge his sin, God would quickly forgive and restore him.
VII. Job’s First Response to Zophar (12:1-14:22): This section concludes the first cycle of discourses in the Book of Job. These chapters address the cruel accusations of Zophar, but the arguments have a broader application. Job summarized his frustration with the false accusations of all three of his friends. They had lied about Job, and he told them that they were worthless physicians (See 13:4). Beginning in 13:20, Job addressed God. He pleaded with the Lord to remove the hand of affliction and reveal his sins so he can repent. Like a leaf driven by the wind, Job acknowledged his helplessness and weakness (See 13:25). God has, according to Job, overpowered him, and he cannot resist the Lord. The first cycle of discourses ends with the same despair with which it began.
Discussion Questions for the Lesson Passage: