Job's friends were more effective at wearing down Job's faith than Satan

There are 3 sources of temptation in our lives. (1) the enemy (Satan), (2) the flesh (our selfish motivations) and (3) the world (the institutions apart from the enemy and the flesh that attempt to claim so much of ourselves).

To be sure, the enemy (I do not like using any of his names or titles) will use either or both of the others but as a source of temptation, he is separate, and will ultimately demand that anyone drawn away from God by one or both of the other two to reject them as well.

This has been in the back of my mind recently as I have been studying the book of Job, particularly how Job’s “friends”, quite apart from Satan’s striking at Job’s wealth, progeny, and health tempted Job to question the justice of God.

Before his friends talked to him, Job was miserable, questioning the value of his own life, regretting the day he was born, but not God. Even his wife told him to curse God and die (Job 2-9). In her defense, Job’s wife was probably stricken with grief since Jobs dead children were hers, also.

Then after sitting with Job for seven days and nights, his friends started to speak. They asserted that the innocent do not suffer, and that God is just, implying that Job’s afflictions indicate that he was a sinful man.

The more Job asserts his innocence, the more forceful his so-called friends become in demanding that he confess to being a grievous sinner. In their zeal to make Job admit to acting evilly, they make increasingly vile accusations, even when they contradict what they previously said. Much of their speech is sadly familiar. I have heard several preachers saying that the misfortunes of those of whom they disapprove as the clear judgment of God. As Jobs comforters get more accusatory, Job gets more defensive, and starts questioning the justice of God.

Read Job 4:3-4 where Eliphaz acknowledges the fact that Job gave good counsel, strengthened the weak, upheld those that stumbled or were weak. Compare that with Job 22:5-9 where Job is accused by the same person as a great oppressor of those around him stealing collateral, taking their, withheld water from the thirsty and food from the hungry, and sent widows and orphans away without addressing their needs (as mosaic law required).

It is through the fallacious reasoning of Job’s friends, namely that God does not oppress the innocent therefore anyone who has Job’s misfortunes must be receiving the judgment of God. Much of the speeches of Job’s friends sound spiritual, but in reality they are engaged in unwarranted speculation and using Job’s afflictions as proof. According to them, if Job was innocent then that would mean that God was unjust.

None of this reasoning was the enemy’s, although he would surely push them along those lines.

There is a fourth comforter, Elihu. Elihu appears to be a young man and may have kept quiet out of respect, but finally speaks. He rebukes the other three saying in Job 32:11,12 that no-one has succeeded in answering Job. He also rebuked Job, not for being wicked man as proved by his problems, but in being too hasty in complaining of God’s treatment of Job. He asserts that life’s trials benefit the man.

When God speaks to Job, He never tries to justify Himself. His justice is not in question. God only asserts His omnipotence and omniscience and makes it clear to Job that His sovereignty is not to be questioned.

Job confesses his inability to know the larger purposes in creation and repents his questioning of God.

I think it is very significant that God states his displeasure with the three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, requiring them to bring offerings to Job for sacrifice, but He does not rebuke young Elihu.

From our standpoint, we know of the demonstration to the enemy that gave rise to these events. Job never knows of this, and even Elihu do not suspect the enemy accusing Job before God, nor God allowing the enemy to strike at Jobs steadfastness.

In terms of my original thesis that the world is a source of temptation quite apart from the enemy, I would point out that the three friends prodded Job into questioning God, but the enemy is not recorded as being part of that. Job was being tempted to judge God by his society. Jobs friends came closer to gaining the goals of the enemy than the enemy himself!!!

The purpose of all creation is to bring Glory to God by sharing in His Love. I believe great glory is brought to God by both this demonstration to the enemy and the angels, and by the understandings of His sovereignty over all within His creation the Book of Job brings to His people.