Introduction: Job’s friends came to visit him and they were shocked
at how bad he looked ( Job 2:12). Have you had the same experience
when you visited a sick friend? It is hard to know what to say.
Certainly, “You look terrible” would not be a good idea. Job’s
friends, as we have discussed before, initially said nothing (Job
2:13). But, they could not stand that for very long and they started
to try to explain Job’s sufferings. That is when trouble began. Let’s
plunge into our study of Job and learn more!
- You Must Be Guilty of Something
- Read Job 4:1-2. Is Eliphaz determined to speak? (Yes! “Who
can keep from speaking?” This guy cannot sit there
- Read Job 4:3-4. When you criticize people, do you start
out by saying good things about them to “soften the blow?”
- Is Eliphaz starting out with compliments? (Yes. He
says that Job has given good advice many times when
he was on the other side of suffering.)
- Read Job 4:5. Because Job is an experienced counselor,
should he handle suffering better?
- Can you think of a reason that might not be true? (It
is one thing to discuss the suffering of someone
else, and quite another thing to go through it
- Read Job 4:6. Is this helpful or unhelpful advice?
(Eliphaz and Job have the some view of suffering – bad
people suffer and good people do not.)
- How is this advice helpful? (Job’s problems should go
away because Job is a good man.)
- How is this advice unhelpful? (If Job continues to
suffer, it is because he deserves it.)
- Read Psalms 119:65-67. Does the Psalmist also have the
same view of suffering as Job and Eliphaz? (Yes. If you
think that suffering helps improve your behavior, then you
agree that suffering comes because of bad behavior.)
- Read Job 4:7-8. If you were Job, what would you be
thinking at this point? (Eliphaz is not saying that
because I’m a good guy the suffering will end soon.
Instead, he is suggesting that my bad behavior causes my
- Let’s contemplate this a minute. Are the Psalmist, Job,
and Eliphaz wrong on this point? Have they gotten things
completely confused? (No. They understand what is obvious
to all serious students of the Bible. God’s universe is
controlled by rules. There are physical rules (like
gravity) and there are rules of conduct (like the rule
against adultery). If you want to smash your head, either
jump off a building or commit adultery. Following the
rules makes our lives better.)
- Eliphaz Speaking for Satan
- Read Job 4:12-14. What time of day is it? Where is
Eliphaz? (It is night and Eliphaz is in bed.)
- Do you find the night to be more scary than the day?
- Read Job 4:15-17. Consider the way this “spirit” comes,
Eliphaz’s reaction, and the spirit’s questions. Is this a
good or bad spirit?
- How would you answer the question, “Can a human be
more pure or righteous than God?” (Of course a human
cannot be more righteous than God. This question
leads to a correct answer. Thus, this could be a good
- Read Job 4:18-19. Now what is your view of this “spirit?”
(This is Satan or one of his fallen angels because this
statement is false. God did trust Job. The implication of
this statement is that God does not trust Job and
therefore Job should not trust God. That gets to the very
heart of the issue – will Job trust God?)
- Why would Satan talk about God charging angels with
error? (Satan is still angry about being tossed out
of heaven ( Revelation 12:7-9). Satan thinks that
because he sinned Job will fail God.)
- Does it make sense to you that Satan would keep
actively working to make Job curse God?
- What does that teach you about suffering in
- Read Job 4:20-21. What does Satan suggest is Job’s future?
(He will die without wisdom, meaning he will die without
understanding why God crushed him.)
- How much of our advice to the suffering reflects the
arguments of Satan?
- Let’s discuss this idea a bit more. Some of what
Eliphaz said is exactly right. How can theologically
correct statements ever reflect the arguments of
Satan? (When they do not apply to the facts of the
case. The general rule, which is theologically sound,
is that bad things result from bad behavior. We know,
however, that Job was not engaged in bad behavior.
Thus, this correct statement was only aiding Satan’s
effort to get Job to reject God.)
- The Discipline Theory
- Read Hebrews 12:10-11. What does this teach about the
problems that arise in our life? (They may be God’s
discipline to make us more righteous.)
- Read Job 5:17-18 and Job 5:27. This is a continuation of
Eliphaz’s counsel to Job. How would you react to this if
you were Job? (This is a continuation of the argument that
Job has done something wrong and he is being disciplined.
Thus, if I were Job, it would make me angry.)
- Should Job consider whether he has done something
that might result in discipline? (Yes, of course.)
- Read Isaiah 64:6. If Isaiah is correct that everyone is
sinful, then should Job have taken the discipline theory
- If you are a parent, did you try to make sure that
when you disciplined your children they understood
- If your answer is “yes,” would you expect the
same from God?
- If your answer again is “yes,” what does that
teach us about suffering and discipline? (There
will be a direct connection. You will not have
to wonder about the reason for the suffering.
The reason will be obvious if you open your
eyes. Job had no such connection.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 4:4-5. How should Eliphaz have applied
this in counseling Job? (Eliphaz knew of nothing that Job
had done wrong. He should not have “judged” Job based only
on his theory of discipline.)
- Moral v. Practical Rules
- Let’s say a person is overweight, does little exercise,
becomes diabetic, makes little attempt to control diet,
and as a result develops nerve, heart or eyesight
problems. Is this a judgment from God?
- Read Matthew 15:16-18 and 1 Corinthians 6:12-13. Is
overeating and not exercising a sin? (I don’t think
so. Eating too much is just dumb, and it is governed
by the laws of the universe. It is like failing to
wear your seat belt. If you get into an accident, and
you are not wearing your seat belt, God’s laws of
physics will not be kind to you.)
- Are there two kinds of discipline? The “automatic” kind
that results from our violation of the physical or moral
rules of the universe, and the “God directed” kind found
in Hebrews 12:10? (I’m not sure how far God goes with
“automatic” discipline. Some “automatic” discipline
corrects moral failures and other automatic discipline
corrects sloppy thinking or carelessness. Both are only an
application of the rules of the universe. However, just
because God has a rule (like gravity) does not mean that
it is a moral rule.)
- Friend, I hope that you have concluded that suffering can
arise for several different reasons. When you consider
your own suffering, or that of others, will you pray that
God will help you to understand the true reasons or give
you the power to just trust Him? Will you take seriously
the potential problem of passing Satanic messages along to
those who are suffering?
- Next week: Retributive Punishment.