26

Friendly Fire

Job 11:1-6

February 28, 2019

The Bible teaches that God’s people are to refrain from judging. This means that God’s people are to refrain from doing God’s job as Judge. This requires us to abstain from trying to figure out the motives of people. We are not to try and look into the intents of the heart. We are not to become examiners of other people’s relationship of the Lord and the quality of it, so as to determine within ourselves whether they are approved of God or not. We are not to be hypercritical of people’s actions and speech, comparing them to motives as if we know what people are all about. The truth of the matter is, all people, Christians included, are sinners by nature and suffer from the same issues. The faults that we might examine in others, we can be sure are issues for us as well. Every person that has favor in the eyes of God only has favor on account of grace.
 
Therefore, God calls His people to express mercy to one another. We are not to harp on each other’s shortcomings and faults as if we are supremely better. We are called to recognize that we too have our issues, and when we see others struggling, are not to condemn and beat down, but instead, gently reach out to build up in the manner that God has with us. God has equipped us with His Spirit to ensure we are able to reach out with the temperament of His own compassion and grace so that the we can serve the spiritual needs of others, helping one another through our struggles. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Sadly, Christians are often the chief accusers of the brethren, fulfilling the role of Satan rather than our Savior. It is too easy to see the weaknesses of others and exploit them, charging others for their failures and weaknesses; and often times when we take this approach towards others, expose the darkness of our own hearts.
 
The testimony of Job 11:1-6 shows that this was true of Zophar. After Job expressed his pain and grief to his three friends, Zophar took it upon himself to answer Job in a way that he thought was fit. First, it is important to remember that Job’s points were valid. The things that Job said were reflections of his exceptional suffering. Though his statements were passionate, they were candid. Job spoke honestly about his pain and was open regarding his thinking of how God might be dealing with him. Job’s speech reflected ignorance and confusion, not blasphemy and accusation. Job came close to misspeaking against God, but overall, his doctrinal belief’s about God were correct. Job was open to express the extent of pain he felt, the confusion he had concerning God’s purposes, and even his own faults while defending himself against the hypocrisy he was accused of. In other words, Job hadn’t done anything wrong in his speech while expressing the intensity of his pain and misery.
 
Zophar didn’t agree with any of Job’s words. The testimony of Job 11:1-6 shows that Zophar took no consideration for Job’s pain and suffering. Zophar made no attempt to consider Job’s anguish and showed no mercy towards Job concerning the intensity of Job’s words. Zophar first criticized Job for the amount of talking that he was doing. He attacked Job with the question, “Does continuous talking excuse a person’s guilt?” Zophar’s words were accusations. He assumed that Job was guilty of the hypocrisy that Eliphaz and Bildad mentioned. He was confident that Job was just trying to talk his way out of guilt. In Zophar’s mind, he was convinced that Job was deserving of the pain that God permitted, and Job’s speech was just vain excuses.
 
Not only was Zophar wrong in his assumption, but he was merciless in his approach. Even if Job was guilty of hypocrisy, Zophar’s tone makes no attempt to nurture Job into repentance. When Eliphaz spoke, he spoke gently, having good intentions. When Bildad spoke, he spoke a little more harshly, but his speech concluded with his hope that Job would be restored. Zophar on the other hand, leaped with an attack, seeking to chop Job down. This is hardly representative of someone who seeks to spiritually restore a brother back to the Lord. How can a brother repent if the words of another continue to bury the brother in condemnation, making hope seem so far off? Even if Job was guilty of hypocrisy as accused, Zophar would not have been helpful to the cause. Though he might have had integrity and faith as a believer like Job, he was a more effective tool of the devil at this moment, stripping Job of any hope or encouragement about God’s promises to those He considers upright and blameless.
 
Zophar expressed that he felt he was justified in his tone. He felt that Job’s speech warranted a harsh response. Zophar felt like he was doing the people a just deed by responding against Job in such a manner as if Job were speaking the nastiest blasphemies against God. He accused Job of mocking, either God or their friends. This was not true. He put words into Job’s mouth. Zophar accused Job of saying, “My doctrine is pure.” Job never said such a thing. Zophar accused Job of saying, “I am clean in your eyes.” Again, Job never said such a thing. In fact, Job said quite the contrary. Job explained his confusion about his suffering, admitting that he was a sinner, but stating that he wasn’t a hypocrite. Job never said that his words and wisdom concerning God were perfect, pure, and complete. Most of Job’s distress was on account of his lacking of knowledge about God’s purposes, which Job clearly stated. Job admitted that he had faults. He simply defended himself against the accusations of his friends. Job only confessed that he was innocent as a hypocrite as he was accused, nothing more. Yet, Zophar’s words continued to be accusatory as he claimed that Job painted himself to be a perfect man, undeserving of punishment and pain. This is not true.
 
As Zophar spoke, he expressed such confidence that he hoped that God would speak out, being sure that God would side with his perspective. Zophar felt so strongly that he was right about Job that he urged God to speak up, feeling that God would repeat the very words that Zophar spoke. In reality, Zophar and God were on opposite sides of the spectrum. Zophar was foolish and had no understanding of the true meaning of God’s work. He figured Job to be an enemy of God and a fool for being unwilling to admit it. Zophar felt Job’s pain was deserved and that Job was lucky God didn’t levy more pain on account of his blasphemous words. In reality, God saw Job as a blameless and upright man. God saw Job as an instrument of His righteousness, currently being used to spite the devil and prove him wrong in order to exalt His own righteousness and glory. When God finally does speak, He actually speaks against Job’s friends, not in favor of them as Zophar was so confident He would.
 
The first part of Zophar’s response against Job shows that it is best to keep our mouths shut. Notice that when Job’s three friends first arrived, they were of better service to him being silent with him. When each started speaking their opinions based on limited understanding and self-righteous perspectives, contention stirred up and Job’s suffering intensified. This is why the scriptures command us to refrain from jumping to conclusions about people. We are not called to dissect the reasons for God’s work. We are called to humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. If we approach the Lord with this humility, we should approach one another with the same humility, handling one another with the understanding that ALL of us fall short of the glory of God. Thus, if we desire to help one another, our aim to be to match the temperament of Jesus, who was gentle, meek, mild, and compassionate with those who sought Him. Though Jesus knew the hearts of everyone, He was not the accuser. He has reserved judgment for Himself for a later time. Until then, we would be wise to keep quiet about what we don’t know, and speak words that the Bible tells us are sufficient to build up and restore the soul according to the hope of the Gospel. 

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