What was the folly of Job’s friends?

Author: BibleAsk Team


The Story of Job

The story of Job is amazing and is found in the book that bears his name. It explains the question, “Why does God allow suffering?” The Bible tells us that Job was a “blameless and upright” man that lived in the land of Uz (ch. 1:1). He had seven sons and three daughters and was “the greatest of all the people of the East” in riches and wealth (ch. 1:2).

But Satan “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10) said to God in a heavenly meeting that this faithful man worshiped the Lord only to receive His blessing. So, God permitted Satan to test this man by taking away His blessings in order to reveal the man’s pure motives (ch. 1:12). Without hesitation, Satan destroyed this man’s children and possessions (ch. 1:13-20). Yet, he didn’t lose his faith in God and declared, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (ch. 1:21)

Feeling defeated, Satan said to the Lord, “touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (ch. 2: 5). So, the Lord gave Satan the permission to test the man again. And, the evil one struck the man with painful boils (verse 7). So, he mourned for his suffering was great. At this point, even his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he rebuked her, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (ch. 2:10). In all this, the God’s servant did not sin.

Job’s Friends

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to visit Job to comfort him. They gave long speeches throughout the book (ch. 4-25) telling him 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 Job’s friends’ which God spoke against is that they assumed that the Lord 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).

The Lord Corrects the Theology of Job’s Friends

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 his parents. The fact of the matter is that bad things can happen to anyone. But Jesus pointed out that the man’s blindness was not a result of his sin or the sins of his parents. Suffering is a result of sin and Satan uses it to discourage us and lead us away from God.

God’s faithful servant’s steadfast trust in the Lord vindicated God of Satan’s accusations. His 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, in like manner not all unfortunate events are a result from poor decisions and Job’s story is the prime example of this.

Job in Comparison to His Friends

God’s servant stumbled because of suffering. He was the object of a sad situation that he could not understand. However, he kept his trust in God. His friends were not suffering as he was. Their incorrect words were the expression of a wrong philosophy. They allowed tradition to surpass pity. They felt that they were right in being stern because their idea of God demanded such an attitude. God’s servant made mistakes, but, compared with his friends, he spoke “the thing that is right.” His contemptible words of hopelessness were more acceptable to God than the harsh logic of his friends.

At the end, the Lord said to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has” (ch. 42:7). And He directed His faithful servant to offer sacrifices on their behalf and pray for them that the Lord may forgive them and not reward them according to their sin.

And God blessed His servant’s faithfulness and He restored his losses when he prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave him twice as much as he had before and blessed his latter days more than his beginning. After this the faithful servant lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations (ch. 42:10-17).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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