What about Job?
THE PROBLEM WITH THE BOOK OF JOB: BEWARE THE “JOB-EFFECT”
The STROBE-EFFECT describes the disorienting effect from “snapshot” vision through the use of flickering lights or vibrating shutters. We have all experienced the choppy and confusing effects of moving through strobe-lighted areas, whether it be at a fair, dance, party, concert or class demonstration. Basically, we stop seeing reality in a smooth and continuous flow. Instead, we see reality solely in snapshots through alternating flashes of light and dark. We see briefly, then are blinded briefly —- light, dark, light, dark, light, dark. We are left unbalanced, unsure and confused. We see some things briefly, but we lose the visual feelings of momentum, flow and movement. These isolated “snippets of seeing” leave us with sensations of disconnectedness. Isolation breeds isolation. Isolated perception results in isolated thinking, isolated feelings and isolated being.
In the Spirit realm, there is a similar dynamic that confuses believers into low levels of faith, hope and confidence toward God. They become tentative in their spiritual walk because for every INSIGHT OF LIGHT they receive toward God, it is quickly blotted over by an INSIGHT OF DARKNESS. They are left isolated and shrugging their shoulders about God’s nature because they simply don’t see God in a continuous stream of light and love. Their image of God changes every other thought. God brings good, God brings evil. God heals me, God afflicts me. God is love, God is wrath. God protects me, God attacks me. The end result is a double-minded man who, as James 1:8 says, can receive nothing from God. This poor man becomes a spiritual petal-plucker who wastes his time alternatively lamenting and wondering about God, “He loves me, He loves me not.” This can be easily seen in the Psalms, where the frustrated David says in one verse that God has abandoned him, but then in the next verse that God’s love is steadfast and never-ending. Many of the Psalms read this way, not to mention many other Old Testament passages which quickly alternate God’s infinite love with God’s infinite wrath.
But instead of calling the spiritual version of this dynamic the STROBE-EFFECT, I want to call it the JOB-EFFECT. This is because this way of double-minded thinking derives largely from the Book of Job WHENEVER it is read without Holy Ghost illumination. Job is a wonderful book when it is read in a wonderful way. But when read with natural thinking, wrathful intent and little faith, the book of Job MUTATES into a monstrous book which greatly deforms the image of God. I want to share some interpretive keys to Job which will remove all “strobing” from our understanding of God’s goodness.
KEY NUMBER ONE: JOB WAS CLUELESS ABOUT GOD’S TRUE NATURE
The Book of Job at its root is not about what we know about God’s nature. Rather, it exposes what we DON’T know about God. Job is often cited as a righteous man whose conduct and attitude toward God we are to imitate. Many say, “Look how noble Job bears up under the hard hand of God.” Others say, “Job loved God so much, even though God slew his sons, robbed his riches, afflicted his health and crushed his happiness. If only we could approach suffering the way Job did then we would be righteous too.”
WRONG!!! If I presented you a 42 chapter book explaining my life, and filled with my thoughts and opinions of God, and THEN in the last chapter admitted that in the previous 41 chapters I really knew nothing about God and was almost entirely mistaken, you would be furious with me. You sure wouldn’t take anything I said in those first 41 chapters seriously.
Well, this is EXACTLY what Job did. In the first 40 chapters, Job and his friends made some 74 false accusations about the nature of God which ALL essentially blamed God as the wrathful source of all of Job’s afflictions. But, Job himself admitted at the very end of the Book that for the previous FORTY CHAPTERS, he essentially knew NOTHING about God’s nature. “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once I have spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further…. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered THAT I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” Job 40:3-5; 42:3.
Job THOUGHT he knew God well DURING all the dialogues through the first forty chapters. But at the end of the matter, he repented for what he and his friends had previously thought and said about God in chapters 1-40. First, he admitted his own previous opinions about God were wrong, as quoted above. He recognized that God was “too wonderful” for his previous theology to rightly understand. Then, he summarized his sin as follows: “I have heard of You by the HEARING of the ear, but NOW my eyes SEE you. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6. He THEN prayed for his three friends who did not speak of the Lord that “what is right” during the previous 40 chapters. Job 42:7-10. “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job….”
Beloved, do you see? To take the first 40 chapters of Job as reliable theology on the nature of God and the problem of evil on any level is absurd. The point of Job is that men in their natural thinking have NO IDEA of the dynamics of God, Satan, good and evil. The message of Job is NOT to follow in Job’s footsteps, at least until chapter 40. Job did have a righteous appreciation and reverence of God throughout the whole book (Job 1:1, 8, 22; 2:3). BUT he was woefully ignorant of the Lord’s flawless character AND Satan’s role as the destroyer. He had righteously believed God based on what he had heard, or been taught in other words, BUT only at the end of the Book did he actually see, perceive and EXPERIENCE the true essence of the Lord.
What was the newfound essence of God revealed at the end of Job? What is it that Job perceived which drove him to repent over his previously poor theology about the nature of God and the problem of evil? What drove him to his repentant knees? Simple. He EXPERIENCED the presence of God, perhaps for the first time in his life. He had heard “about” God from others, had righteously “believed” what he heard, and had even dutifully sacrificed “toward” and prayed “to” God. But Job had never been “WITH” God in His immediate and intimate presence.
Through the final scene of the Book, Job richly EXPERIENCED the presence and love of God as a hero, his hero who did not bring Job his captivity, but instead turned Job’s captivity into blessing. Job saw God as the lover and deliverer of his soul. James 5:11 instructs us to focus on Job’s end, not his beginning. Job’s end saw him repentant and richly restored twofold in all he had previously lost. If we focus on Job’s beginning, which describes his suffering and his “noble statements” of “bearing up” under God’s “firm hand,” we will make the mother of all mistakes. We will glorify men and not God. God never gets the glory for sending disasters, death and destructions upon men as the beginning of Job describes. Men, not God, are the only ones glorified when such statements are made as Job makes in the following passages:
“And Job said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21.
“What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil.” Job 2:10.
“Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet Thou dost destroy me.” Job 10:8.
“For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again Thou sheweth Thyself marvelous upon me.” Job 10:16.
“Are not my days few? Cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little.” Job 10:20.
“Thou art become cruel to me: with Thy strong hand thou opposest Thyself against me” Job 31:21.
“For destruction from God is a terror to me” Job 31:23.
“But now He hath made me weary: Thou hast made desolate all my company. And Thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face. He teareth me in His wrath, who hateth me: He gnasheth upon me with His teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth His eyes upon me.” Job 16:7-9.
“He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes.” Job 30:19.
I could go on and on with Job’s wrong statements about God, not to mention those also made by his misguided friends, but I think the above quotes offer a good sampling. The error is the same —- God is the bringer of affliction, the bringer of evil, the bringer of disasters. This is totally contradicted by New Testament theology, specifically James 1:13-18, which says God doesn’t use “evil” to “tempt” men and to “let no man say” He does. The Greek word in this passage for “tempt” is “periazo” and means “to test, entice, discipline, prove, tempt or try.”(Strong’s #3985).
Thus, God doesn’t test man with evil, entice man with evil, discipline man with evil, prove man with evil, tempt man with evil, or try man with evil. And let no man say God DOES do these things, not EVEN Job or the author of the Book named after him. This James passage renders Job’s “literal” reading IMPOSSIBLE to the extent that it “appears” to claim God DOES use EVIL by “testing” and “trying” Job’s faith in some sort of arbitrary and perverted cosmic bet made with Satan in which God supposedly admits to Satan, “thou MOVED me against him (Job), to destroy him WITHOUT CAUSE.” Job 2:3. Satan MOVES God to destroy men WITHOUT CAUSE? No way! Never! That is blasphemous. Whatever Job means, it can’t mean that. Job can’t violate the James 1:13-18 passage. It can’t violate Jesus. Jesus always trumps Job. New Covenant inspiration COMPELS us to reread Job and renovate its primitive and literal meaning WHENEVER it fails to conform to the nature and character of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
I even grant you that these Job passages quoted above were heartfelt sentiments that both Job and his friends were sincerely feeling, BUT they were sincerely wrong. Let me give a modern day parallel. There is a well known Christian author who was paralyzed in a diving accident as a teenager. She never tires of attributing the accident as coming from the hand of God in order to keep her from leading a sexually promiscuous lifestyle.
WHAT? God crippled her as a teen in order to keep her from sinning sexually? That is outrageous! Did Jesus ever bless or protect anybody by first crippling them or afflicting them with leprosy? NO! Aren’t there some other ways God works chastity other than breaking teenage spines? How does this paint the goodness of God? She looks like a victim saint, while God looks like an unknowable monster. She even asks people not to pray for her healing, but instead to pray that she know God better. Sounds noble, and I am sure she is heartfelt in her beliefs, just as Job was, BUT again, who gets the glory here?
I hear so many Calvinists paint this woman as a modern-day Job who is a champion of faith and theology. God is left holding the bag of cruelty and evil. This is why atheism flourishes. Who can love a crippler of children? My heart aches for her and for those who follow her. As well-intentioned as they may all be, they are the blind leading the blind into a faithless ditch. Time and time again this misguided woman preaches from the Book of Job, over and over and over. Audiences weep and weep and weep. And faith is weakened and weakened and weakened.
Trace the pastors and teachers who glorify this woman’s theology and you will know who to avoid if you are seeking the “captivity-turning” power of God. Bless them, but reject their teachings. They need to have an EXPERIENCE of God’s presence, power and goodness, just like Job, which will lead them to repent. Then they need to put their hands over their mouth and stop talking nonsense. Then, God will turn THEIR captivity and all will be well.
KEY NUMBER TWO: JOB WAS CLUELESS ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF SATAN
Job the man never mentioned Satan. He was completely unaware of Satan’s role in the murder of his children, the murder of his servants, the killing of his flocks, the destruction of his wealth, and the affliction of his health. Job directly attributed all these acts of violence and oppression solely to the hand of the Lord. Job NEVER uttered the word Satan or Devil in the entire Book of Job.
We now know the reason. Old Testament saints had a dim and distorted view of Satan. This is discussed at length in the chapter entitled THE FORGOTTEN KEY TO THE OLD TESTAMENT, which includes numerous reference citations. The Old Testament saints, that is the ones who even knew Satan existed, believed that the Devil was a servant angel of God performing an unpleasant but necessary job for the Lord. This job was essentially to test, tempt, judge, punish and eventually kill all men.
Satan was NOT seen by Old Testament believers as an ENEMY of God, or a REBEL leader OPPOSED to the Kingdom of Heaven on EVERY level. Rather, he was perceived as an enforcing angel fulfilling his role in the Lord’s courts. He was known by the Jews in various Old Testament passages as the Death Angel, the Destroyer, the Tempter and even on occasion the Angel of the Lord, BUT he was always acting at the express command of God.
In short, Old Testament theology did not see Satan as EVIL. Jesus’ response to this notion? NO! WRONG! UNTRUE! MISGUIDED! SATAN IS PURE EVIL —- THE FATHER OF LIES, A MURDERER FROM THE BEGINNING, THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN, THE GREAT DRAGON, THE SERPENT, THE GOD OF THIS WORLD, YOUR ADVERSARY, A ROARING LION SEEKING TO DEVOUR YOU, THE EVIL ONE, THE THIEF, THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR. Jesus came to reveal both His Father’s Kingdom of Light AND Satan’s Kingdom of Darkness. In fact, Jesus came to DESTROY the works of the devil, NOT to approve them. 1 John 3:8. Jesus and the New Testament reveal that there is a cosmic rebellion and that the earth is a battlefield in which we are soldiers in constant need of spiritual armor and weapons of righteousness in our right hand and in our left.
So, where did this leave Job? Well, it left him clueless that the enemy of his soul was Satan. It left him uninformed, unprepared and unarmed. Job never once resisted Satan, never once rebuked Satan and never once put on “the full armor of God” THAT he would be “able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13. Job was completely clueless as to the need for spiritual warfare. He didn’t even know he had an enemy. He thought it all came directly from God, BOTH good and evil. In this ignorance, Job was even unaware that God had surrounded him with a protective “hedge” that Satan could not penetrate. Job 1:10. Once that hedge was lowered, Job was truly helpless and hopeless because his hidden enemy was assailing him from every angle, an enemy of which he was ENTIRELY ignorant.
I am sure we would all agree that the New Testament WAY is NOT to sit passively by while obvious Satanic attacks are destroying our children, friends, finances and health. The New Testament way is to STAND and CONTEND against Satan, whom we are commanded to “resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). BUT, how could Job “resist” and “rebuke” Satan, as Jesus did in Matthew 17:18, if he wasn’t even aware that he existed as an enemy of God? And more importantly, why oh why would we ever paint Job as a Scriptural model to follow when it comes to rightly responding to personal disasters? Jesus is our model for combat, not Job. Jesus IS the “whole armor of God” —- living armor always ready to “quench ALL the fiery darts of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16.
So, what does the Book of Job ACCURATELY tell us about the nature of Satan? First, it confirms Satan’s sphere of influence is HERE as he travels “to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Job 1:7; 2:2. The New Testament confirms this when it calls Satan “the God of this world…. and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19 (NASB).
Second, the Book of Job confirms that Satan operates destructions in the earth by using three deadly weapons —- MEN (1:13-15, 17), NATURE (1:16, 18-19), and SICKNESS (2:7). Satan first inspired violent men, the Sabeans, and Chaldeans, to murder Job’s servants and flocks by the sword. Satan then manipulated nature, “great wind” and “fire from heaven” (lightning), to kill Job’s children as well as the remaining servants and sheep. Satan then finally infected Job with “boils” from head to toe. The New Testament confirms that Satan is able as “the Prince of the power of the air” to influence nature to try to kill (Ephesians 2:2; Matthew 8:26). Satan also entered into Judas, Pharisees and mobs of stoners seeking to provoke them to kill Jesus at various times. Finally, Jesus cast out thousands of demonic spirits of infirmity during His earthly ministry.
Third, the Book of Job rightly describes that Satan operates all his DESTRUCTIONS only “OUTSIDE” of the PRESENCE OF GOD. Job 1:12; 2:6-7. Please review the chapter entitled TRACING THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD for a more in-depth discussion of this dynamic. Where the Lord is MANIFESTLY present, Satan cannot destroy or even penetrate the “hedge” of Holy Ghost protection surrounding the righteous. Obviously, the Lord is OMNIPRESENT, which means He is invisibly present everywhere at the same time. But, God is ONLY MANIFESTLY PRESENT where faith is operating to convert and catalyze God’s available omnipresence UNTO OPEN MANIFESTATION.
In Mark 6, Jesus went back to Nazareth ready to do all the mighty works of God. BUT their unbelief “quenched” Jesus’ power to OPENLY APPEAR and MANIFEST, “And He could there do no mighty works.” God was fully present there in the person of Jesus, but that presence was not openly manifesting the power of God for all to see and encounter. And Jesus “marveled at their unbelief.” The point here is that Satan only steals, kills or destroys where Jesus’ MANIFEST PRESENCE has been rejected, neglected, or unselected. “Quenched away,” in other words. Here, the Lord’s remaining OMNIPRESENCE will marvel, just as Jesus did, at the unbelief which keeps the Kingdom of Heaven from fully manifesting NOW into the current situation for all to see. All across the world right now, the Holy Spirit is marveling at the collective unbelief which hinders Him from fully demonstrating His loving power and presence to mankind. When Peter says we can “hasten the day of the Lord,” he is acknowledging that our faith can enable the will of God to manifest more quickly upon the earth as it is already manifest in Heaven.
Fourth, the Book of Job is correct in that Satan does accuse us in the Heavenly courts. Job 1:10-11; 2:4-5. The New Testament confirms this in Revelation 12:10, where Satan is described as the “accuser of our brethren,” who is to be “cast DOWN, which accused them before our God day and night.” There is some sort of courtroom imagery going on here, but Job omits one very important participant —- Jesus. “And if any man sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,”(1 John 2:1) which is to say we all have a DEFENDER, a champion, a hero who offers us protection in the Heavenly courts. Jesus demonstrated this to Peter when He told Him, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not…” (Luke 22:31-32). Do you see? Jesus “lives to intercede” and protect us, that our faith will fail not. If we pay diligent heed to our “so great a salvation,” we will receive the divine strengthening of Jesus. But, “if we neglect our so great a salvation, how shall we escape” the attacks of Satan. Hebrews 2:3. Pretty clear isn’t it?
So what was the Book of Job missing in its description of the Heavenly courtroom scenes in the first two chapters? Most importantly, it was missing the protective presence of Jesus which has always been at the right hand of the Father, always seeking to “hedge” us with His divine presence. Job had the “hedge” but did not recognize that it was the “living hedge” of Jesus seeking to protect and surround him with divine favor. Satan our accuser versus Jesus our advocate. The Book of Job does not properly convey this dynamic.
Moreover, the Book of Job when “literally” read has the wrong tone of the interactions between God and Satan. This is because ALL Old Testament authors, including the Book of Job’s, did not see Satan as an enemy devil but rather as a servant angel. Does anybody really believe that God arbitrarily chose to lower Job’s hedge so that He could win some friendly wager with Satan?
Does anybody really believe that the dead “letter” of Job 2:3 is accurate when it says that Satan “moved God” against Job, “to destroy him WITHOUT cause…”? Likewise, is it conceivable that God would ever say to Satan, “All that Job hath is in thy power,” as stated in Job 1:12 or that, “Behold, Job is in thy hand,” as stated in Job 2:6? Certainly not. The first two chapters of Job give the appearance of WAY too much accommodation and cooperation between God and Satan. The New Testament does not give Satan the place or power to EVER “move” God to “destroy” men’s lives “without cause.” Jesus knows better than that and so do we.
Deep breath. Honestly, can your heart imagine such arbitrary abandonment on the part of Jesus? Jesus would never turn us over to Satan to win some kind of perverted cosmic bet. NEVER! Is that New Testament love as described in 1 Corinthians 13? We certainly might turn OURSELVES over to Satan’s power through our neglect or disbelief, which would then partially “quench away” Jesus’ protective hedge. Then Satan would attempt to fill the vacuum with his destructions. But the moment we start repenting and believing again, the hedge returns to repair, renew, and restore.
And what are the benefits of that hedge? Let’s hear what Satan says to God about the “hedge,” because this may be the only absolutely true thing Satan ever said in the Scriptures: “Hast Thou not made a hedge around him, and around his house, and around all that he has on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” Job 1:10. Again, that hedge is Jesus. So the question is this —- what action on the part of Job caused Satan to be able to penetrate that hedge? That is our next key.
KEY NUMBER THREE: JOB WAS CLUELESS ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF HIS OWN FEAR
The author of Job did not have a New Testament understanding to perceive the real reason Job’s protective “hedge” came down. So, instead, he just attributed it to the mysterious will of God as it was “moved” by Satan to “destroy” Job “without cause.” There was a cause which gave Satan access, but it wasn’t God. It was the same cause that has always empowered Satan to wreak his destructions in this fallen world. That cause is the mother of all Satanic power. What is it? FEAR!
There is a reason Jesus said “fear not, only believe” to Jairus in Luke 8:50. Fear gives Satan access to steal, kill and destroy. Hebrews 2:14-15 suggests that Satan keeps mankind “all their lifetimes subject to bondage” through “FEAR of death.” William James famously said, “Fear of death is the worm at the center of the core of every fear.” “God has not given us the spirit of FEAR; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. Isaiah tells us “thou shall be FAR from oppression; for thou shalt NOT fear” (54:14). Paul tells us we have “received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father,” and thereby have “NOT received the spirit of bondage AGAIN to FEAR.” Romans 8:14-15. Jesus came to deliver us FROM fear TO faith.
The presence of “fear” in the human heart invites and incubates Satanic attacks. The New Testament is clear that WE are the ones who give access to Satan. Ephesians 4:27; John 14:30; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Ephesians 6:16. FEAR is the primary access. This works both on individual and corporate levels. Sometimes our fear gives Satan access to afflict us individually. Other times our fear gives Satan access to afflict others nearby. Just like firsthand smoke can kill the one smoking, secondhand smoke can kill those nearby who inadvertently inhale. So too with fear. It not only corrupts us, but those around us.
So, how do we know Job had deep fear issues? Two major reasons. First, he admitted he did. “For what I fear has come upon me. And what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.” Job 3:25-26(NASB). This is perhaps the most accurate description of general anxiety ever given. No rest. No safety. Pure turmoil. Obsessive worrying. Voicing fears of worse case scenarios. And what happened? WHAT he feared came upon him in full force.
The second evidence that Job had major fear issues concerned his anxiety over his children. Job 1:4-5 paints a disturbing picture. Job was so insecure regarding his children’s relationship with God that he actually FEARED the following: “It MAY be that my sons have sinned, and CURSED God in their hearts. Thus Job did CONTINUALLY.” What a horrible thought to CONTINUALLY struggle with. Job was obsessed with the fear that his children were secretly cursing God. No wonder Job had no rest, no inner peace, no security. Job offered continual daily sacrifices for his adult children because of his fear, NOT because of his faith toward God. And what happened? What Job most feared eventually came upon him —- his children were killed, as well as his servants and flocks. His finances were plundered and his health broken. Fear draws oppression like honey draws flies.
The above passages show that Job’s fear opened the door for all the Satanic attacks. Fear diminished the “Jesus Hedge.” Satan attacked. Satan destroyed. Job initially got bad counsel. Job later got good counsel from Elihu. Job then experienced the presence of God. Job quickly repented, prayed for his errant friends, after which he was fully restored. Doubly restored in fact.
At the beginning of the Book, Job had no clue that Satan was an enemy of God OR that Satan feeds on the fear of men OR that he himself had profound “fear strongholds” which empowered Satan. No wonder Job was essentially helpless and hopeless during the first 40 chapters of the Book. The New Testament gives much instruction on fear, faith, and resisting evil by rebuking Satan. Sadly, Job knew none of this New Covenant wisdom. And it cost him, but praise God, only for a season. The Book of Job explains why we needed Jesus to show us a better way of overcoming evil powers. “There is no fear in love; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18. Jesus was made perfect in love because he had no fear. In contrast, Job was in torment, especially concerning his children, because he had not allowed perfect love to cast out HIS fear. Jesus trumps Job.
KEY NUMBER FOUR: JOB’S FRIENDS’ OPINIONS WERE ALL CLUELESS EXCEPT ELIHU
Amazingly, only ONE person in the whole Book of Job came away unscathed as a true prophet of God’s nature. It’s not Job, who wrongly said “Behold, GOD will slay me; I have no hope: Nevertheless I will maintain my ways before Him.” Job 13:15(ASV). It’s not Job’s wife, who cruelly said to her husband, “Curse God and die.” Job 2:9. It’s not Job’s three friends, who “did NOT speak the thing that is right” about the Lord. Job 42:7-9.
No, the only person who actually spoke righteously in the first 40 chapters was Elihu. He was the youngest of all who spoke. He was the last to speak. He was the only speaker God never rebuked as wrong. In fact, his great speech in Chapters 32-37 prophetically ushered in the presence of the Lord in Chapter 38. This is what a prophetic utterance should do —- connect the audience with the manifest presence of God.
Before we look at the heart of what Elihu said, let’s quickly summarize the erroneous “bottom lines” of both Job and his three friends —- Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. It’s very simple really. Job’s three friends all believed Job DESERVED the afflictions God sent BECAUSE of various theological reasons. God, so they said, was right to oppress Job, either because of Job’s open or hidden sins. God, they believed, would not have sent wrath unless it was deserved on some level. The fact that God sent it meant that Job deserved it, regardless of how righteous Job’s life appeared to be on the surface.
In contrast, Job’s main argument was that he didn’t deserve the destructions that came. He believed himself to be righteous and undeserving of the afflictions he suffered during this period. Most scholars believe that the whole book of Job took place over a nine month period of time.
So, the bottom line of Job’s three friends was that Job deserved his suffering. The bottom line of Job was that he didn’t deserve his sufferings. But, the bottom line of Elihu was this —- “Touching the Almighty… He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: HE DOES NOT AFFLICT.” Job 37:23. Do you see? Job and his three friends focused on whether or not man deserved the suffering that comes in life. Elihu, however, focused solely on the GOODNESS of God. Not every thing Elihu said is perfect New Testament theology, but he largely focused on the key point —- God is good, God is powerful, God is merciful and God is fair. Elihu tenderly noted, “But none sayeth, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?” His point was that everybody was so busy either complaining or explaining Job’s life away, that nobody was actually seeking the Lord’s good presence to set all things right. His theology was simply that GOD DOES NOT AFFLICT!
This same dynamic occurred in John chapter 9 concerning the man born blind. The crowd was all about assigning blame for the poor man’s suffering. They wanted Jesus to enter their discussion by getting Him to assign blame for the man’s blindness to EITHER the man’s own sin or that of his parents. Jesus refused. Instead, He deflected the issue to God. His response was basically, “Neither is responsible for this, nonetheless let the glory of God be revealed!” Elihu did the exact same thing. How different our lives would be if we did the same thing.
When we start ascribing strength to God, He appears and delivers us from all evil. But, when we ascribe strength to evil sufferings, or to the afflictions of the world, or to what we do or don’t deserve, we become Job-like instead of Jesus-like. Don’t get me wrong, Job was righteous, far more at the end of the Book than the beginning, but even at the start he had some admirable qualities. Job was a righteous man who was sincere in his beliefs, but sincerely wrong. Nonetheless, James 5:11 does commend Job’s “endurance,” so that begs the question, in light of Job’s 40 chapters of “bad theology,” what did Job “do right” for those 40 chapters to earn a commendation for his “endurance?”
To his great credit, Job did not “sin with his lips,” or “attribute folly to God” by cursing God as evil, even though his wife wanted him to do just that. Job 1:22; 2:9-10. Had Job said “God is evil” or “I curse God for His foolishness” or “God is a fool,” then Job would have sinned with his lips. Job remained faithful to this concept: God knows best. Job did “endure” great sufferings without caving in to cursing God. This at least allowed him to remain open to repentance and restoration when it presented itself. Had he cursed or rejected God, then Satan might have been able to totally destroy his life and faith. Job did hang in there until God could rescue and bless him.
However, Job lacked knowledge about Satan and the problem of evil. This gave him a huge blind spot which Satan exploited. And exploited. And exploited. Job had no answers for his pain, other than that God sent it. This caused Job to then self-justify rather than God-magnify. Job 32:1-3; 40:1-2, 6-8. It sent him deeper and deeper into his great sadness. But, when Elihu suggested that GOD DOES NOT AFFLICT, the dawn of a new spiritual day came to Job’s heart. In came the presence of a good God, and out went the destructions of an evil angel.
One last point here. Many believe Job was “perfect and upright” because God appears to say so in Job 1:8 and 2:3. Yet, the Bible says that all have sinned and fallen far short of “perfection” and that none are “upright” in their own righteousness—none, that is, except Jesus. For Job, as with all who are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s dear son, the Father sees us as “perfect and upright” because He sees the end from the beginning. The Lamb slain since before the foundation of the world covers all past and future saints with the blood of His grace. The Father sees all who are called and chosen, be they Old or New Testament saints, only and always through the righteousness of His son Jesus. NONE are “perfect and upright” except those who are covered by His righteousness. Only Jesus has ever been “perfect and upright”. The Father sees all saints through HIS PERFECTION AND UPRIGHTNESS. These passages merely show that God the Father prophetically sees all saints as “perfect and upright” because the elect are all already seated with Christ in Heavenly places. Ephesians 2:6.
CONCLUSION: GOD DOES NOT AFFLICT
The JOB-EFFECT is over. Our eyes have now been opened to the always abiding light, movement and momentum of God’s goodness. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17. No more shuddering or flickering understanding of His goodness. No more shoulder shrugging. No more fear. No more helplessness. No more BLAMING God for evil, suffering or disasters.
Satan is ALWAYS the killer and accuser, not Jesus. We can trust Jesus —- never to harm us, always to arm us —- with weapons of righteousness in our left hand and in our right. 2 Corinthians 6:7. Be of good cheer! Jesus has OVERCOME the world, not Job! OUR faith in THAT fact is what allows US to overcome our world. Jesus trumps Job! Job is not the last word on the problem of suffering. Jesus is! The last word and the first, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end! He is our HERO. Take heart! Just like He did for Peter, though Satan desires to sift us, Jesus has prayed for us that our faith won’t fail. And it won’t!