God reiterates again in 42:8 that the three friends had not spoken of God what is right, as Job has. In 42:9 it is indicated again that what Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shulhite and Zophar the Naamathite all said was incorrect.While DagoodS' understanding of the book of Job is--I believe--simplistic, it is not altogether uncommon. Even many believers are confused about what was so wrong with what the "three friends" said. This is often because they have failed to recognize the overarching theme of this book. The problem is that many haven't read the book of Job "with the mindset that what Job was saying was right, and what the three friends said was wrong."
Clear enough. What Job said about God was correct. What the three friends said was incorrect. But have you ever read the book of Job with the mindset that what Job was saying was right, and what the three friends said was wrong?
The three friends attempt to convince Job that his suffering is a result of some sin he has committed. This is because they have bought into the thesis that all suffering is a direct result of sin (in the sense that each instance of suffering corresponds to an instance of sin). But Job is convinced that he has committed no such sin that would lead to this experience. The friends, however, continue to argue on the basis of their theology of suffering.
Eliphaz, after commending Job for how he has "instructed many" (Job 4:3), effectively reverses this comment by then supposing to know Job's motives in what he does. To Eliphaz, Job's suffering is evidence of the fact that Job has lived a life of hidden sin:
"But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope? Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it" (Job 4:5-8).
According to Eliphaz, the good that Job had done was insincere and contained evil motives. Since, he argues, it is impossible for suffering to happen to those who haven't done wrong, Job's suffering must be the reaping of some evil he has sown. Job, according to Eliphaz, must be a hypocrite. Notice that this is the very thing which Satan sought to prove, but failed at. Now Satan is attempting to make Job himself think that he is a hypocrite, and he does this through Job's friends.
Eliphaz's false theology causes him to make terribly presumptuous and arrogant statements about the heart of Job. And Bildad buys into the same false thesis: "Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin" (Job 8:2-5). To Bildad, it would be perverting justice for God to afflict the innocent. Therefore, Job must not be innocent. Notice that this is not only a false conclusion about Job, but a false premise about God. The statement itself is true: God doesn't pervert justice. But the premise and conclusion of Bildad's argument are incorrect.
Bildad convinces Job of his premises, but Job rejects his conclusion: "I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me" (Job 10:2). Job buys into the thought that his suffering indicates that God is judging him, but he declares his innocence.
Zophar also adopts the same thesis: "You say to God, 'My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.' Oh how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you" (11:4). Zophar really asks for it when he pleads for God to speak to up!
DagoodS rightly recognizes the theological accuracy of much of what the "three friends" have to say. But there is an irony of being theologically accurate while being theologically misinformed. The right statements with the wrong premises lead to the wrong conclusions.
Thus, Job declares, "Miserable comforters are you all!" (16:2). His friends have filled up their time with him with "long speeches" in which they try to convince Job that they know his heart better than he does!
Job, however, remains devoted to God and places his hope in him alone: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. Yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" (19:25-27).
In misunderstanding the present situation, the three friends misunderstand God, and, essentially, did not speak "what was right" (42:7) about God and Job. They had a false theology. This is the same false theology that caused the disciples to ask Jesus concerning a blind man, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2). Jesus answers, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him" (v. 3). This is the answer that God implies in his rhetorical questions to Job. God gives no specific answer for why Job in particular must suffer. He only rebukes the attitude that would cause anyone to question or speculate why God does what he does, and he refutes the notion that all suffering is always indicative of a sin pattern in a person's life.
Continuing with DagoodS:
How about a game of “Believer or Infidel” where we guess whether the statement about God was correctly made by a believer, or incorrectly made by an Infidel?As we play this "game", let's not forget that the problem with the "three freinds" wasn't that every word which came out of their mouths was false. The problem was with what they were attempting to prove.
The rhetorical question: “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?”Where does God, specifically, state that this exact phrase is wrong? Again, the problem here isn't with the statement itself but with the premises and the conclusions. To Eliphaz, for Job to claim his innocence is to claim that he is more righteous than God because, to him, the only reason why God would afflict Job would be if he is punishing him.
Made by an infidel. Job. 4:17. If God says this is wrong, is it true that humans CAN be more pure than God?
Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.It's a true statement with a false application. Was God correcting or disciplining Job? Is that the only reason why God ever allows suffering?
Infidel. Job. 5:17
Why do you not forgive my sins?
Believer. Job 7:21. Interesting how many times we have discussed here the problem of God only forgiving some sins, or how atonement could be so incomplete. We are often told “Who are you to ask God, ‘Why?’” Yet that is exactly what Job did, and God found that acceptable!
Did God find everything that Job said acceptable? Obviously not, for God rebukes Job for questioning him.
In any case, Job makes this statement as a result of his friends' arguing with him. Since his friends have convinced him that only willful sinners suffer, Job asks, "If I have sinned, what have I done to you? ...Why do you not pardon my offenses?" (7:20, 21). Notice that Job doesn't admit that he has sinned, and therefore doesn't really believe that God's forgiveness is "incomplete." He only accepts, for the sake of argument, that he has sinned, and then points out that if he had sinned, the Lord would have pardoned him. Thus his agenda here is to refute what has been postulated to him.
If you will look to God and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your rightful place.Once again, DagoodS needs a little help. The problem isn't the statement but what it's attempting to prove. Bildad is trying to get Job to admit that he has done wrong.
Infidel. Job. 8:5-6 Again, we have been informed by Christians that we can still turn to God. That we can still beg forgiveness for our inability to believe. Apparently according to God, all those believers are quite incorrect and should beg for forgiveness for saying such inaccurate statements about him. ‘Cause when Bildad the Shuhite said the same thing, God said it was wrong.
The problem is, if Job has done wrong, then both Job and God himself (1:8) are liars. So Bildad is consequently slandering both Job and God.
I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?Above, I've already dealt with this exact passage. Job isn't questioning God's right to condemn. Rather, he's questioning his friends' contention that his suffering is a result of his sin. If God is punishing him for his sin, he'd like to know what sin that is.
Believer. Job. 10:2-3. (I’ll bet you are getting the hang of this Game!) Let’s see if I have this right—What Job says is correct. Job has the audacity to question why God condemns him. Therefore, it seems quite appropriate that we, too, even as infidels would be correct to ask God why he condemns us. Especially given the vast amounts of information that point to his non-existence.
God would seem to give the stamp of approval to us questioning his ways—including his methods of judgment! Remember THAT, next time we are told, “God does not have to answer to you.” According to Job, we are at least allowed to ask the question and it is appropriate.
If DagoodS is wondering why God condemns him, I'd point out that God has already answered that question (John 3:18).
Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know?(I'll bet you're getting the hang of DagoodS' confusion!) :-)
Infidel. Job 11:7-8. This has always intrigued me. Remember—God says that this statement about him is incorrect! Very, very often, when discussing God we are informed by Christians that some question, some problem is unknown—because we cannot know the ways of God.
Yeah, this is exactly what Zophar the Naamathite said, “God is too mysterious for you.” And God says that is wrong! So, if God says Zophar is wrong for saying it, are you? Dare a Christian ever revert to the “God is mysterious” defense, in light of Job 11:7-8?
Zophar's point is that "Surely [God] recognizes deceitful men" (11:11). This is true, but Zophar is arrogantly assuming that Job is one of them.
DagoodS gives a few more examples, but all of them commit the same error.
....We could go on for the next few chapters, but hopefully the point has been made. I strongly encourage you to read the book, noting who is speaking, and whether what they are saying is “correct” or not.I'd encourage DagoodS to do the same.
...What, exactly, did the three friends say which was incorrect about God? What was so wrong that God demanded a sacrifice for these horrible statements? I would suspect that any pastor could preach about God working from any of these chapters and not a single person would stand up and say, “Hey. Wait a Minute. What you are saying about God is wrong.”Their entire theology of suffering was based upon a false thesis. The problem with their statements about God was that they assumed an untrue understanding of how God works. They arrogantly assumed that they had God all figured out, and they presumptuously claimed to know Job's motives.
What did the three friends say that was incorrect?
But, no biggie, really.