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What was the folly of Job’s friends?

Hello M,

Thank you for contacting BibleAsk.

The story of Job is amazing. It explains the question, “Why does God allow suffering?” However, it contains a lot of poetry and expressions that are not native to the English language and can therefore be difficult to understand at times. So, it needs careful study.
Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, give long speeches throughout the book (Job 4-25) telling Job that bad things happen to bad people and that he’d better repent of whatever wrong he did so that God would hold him in favor again. The folly of their counsel which God spoke against is that they assumed God allowed bad things to happen to Job because he did something wrong. This theology is erroneous. Bad things don’t just happen to sinful people, they happen to good people, too. Just like good things happen to good and bad people. The Lord sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
Jesus corrected this faulty theology when He was here on earth. We see this in John 9:1-3: “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the  works of God should be revealed in him.” Christ’s own disciples thought that bad things, such as physical maladies, were brought upon by the sin of the individual or their parents. The fact of the matter is that bad things can happen to anyone and Jesus pointed it out by saying that the man’s blindness was not a result of his sin or the sins of his parents. 
 
The book of Job explains the essence of why suffering happens: it is a result of sin and Satan uses suffering to discourage us and lead us away from God. Job’s steadfast trust in the Lord vindicated God of Satan’s accusations. Job’s three friends were foolish to promote the idea that bad things happen as a result of bad actions. Now many times negative results do occur from unwise decisions, such as smoking and lung cancer. But not all lung cancer is a result from smoking, the like manner not all unfortunate events are a result from poor decisions and Job’s story is the prime example of this. The Lord then directed Job’s friends to make atonement for their foolishness in portraying the Lord’s character the way they did.
In His service,
BibleAsk Team
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