Introduction: We know the arguments, right? Job’s friends argue the
normal rule: that disobedience brings problems and obedience brings
blessings. Job must have disobeyed because he has lots of problems.
Job counters with his claim to be righteous and undeserving of what
he is suffering. An injustice has been done to him and he wants God
to give him a hearing so that he can address the charges against him.
As an audience to the true facts, we can say that both sides have
truth on their side. The friends are right about the normal rules,
and Job is right about his righteousness. This week, God enters the
picture. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and listen to what
God has to say!

  1. God’s Charges

    1. Read Job 38:1-3. What is the good news in this message
      from God? (It sounds like Job is going to get the hearing
      that he has been demanding.)

      1. God says that Job “darkens” the counsel God receives
        with “words without knowledge.” I thought we decided
        that Job was right about being a righteous man. Since
        God has to be right, what is God talking about? (Job
        does not know the full story.)

      2. How does Job “darken” the conversation? (Light
        exposes, darkness covers. Job brings misunderstanding
        to the table, thus his views confuse (darken) the

      3. God answers “out of the storm.” Describe how you
        think the situation felt to Job? (Recall that a wind
        killed Job’s children. Job 1:18-19.)

    2. Read Job 38:4-7 and Job 39:19-20. What is the answer to
      God’s questions? (No. Job did not create the earth or any
      of the animals.)

      1. I’ve just pulled some sample questions from chapters
        38 and 39. The rest of God’s questions are along the
        same lines. If you were Job’s lawyer, and this was a
        real hearing, what would you say? (I would object on
        the basis of relevancy. The hearing Job requested was
        to have the charges against him announced so that he
        could answer. These questions deal with Job’s
        competency in life.)

    3. Read Job 40:1-2. If you were God’s lawyer, how would you
      respond to the relevancy objection? What does this
      question suggest about God’s response? (Job’s demand for a
      hearing has a false assumption. That assumption is that
      God has a legal obligation to answer to Job. God’s
      questions challenge this assumption. Who is Job to
      question God? How is a human competent to challenge the
      Almighty? “Will the one who contends with the Almighty
      correct Him?”)

  2. Job’s Answer to God’s Cross-Examination

    1. Read Job 40:3-5. What do you think about Job’s answer? He
      has been demanding that the charges against him be stated.
      How does this fit Job’s prior position? (Job has withdrawn
      his demand for a hearing. He realizes that he is unworthy
      to demand an accounting from God.)

      1. Is this a lesson for us today? When we are tempted to
        say that God is unfair or unjust, should we just put
        our hands over our mouth and be quiet?

        1. The Genesis account of the Creation and the
          Fall show that God gave humans free choice. We
          can reject God. Is our God-given free choice
          consistent with the idea that when God seems to
          be letting us down, we should just cover our
          mouth and be quiet?

    2. Read Job 40:8. Have you heard this before? (Read Job 8:1-3, Job 34:5 and Job 34:12. If the friends are listening to
      God’s cross-examination, they are probably yelling, “Go
      God! This is precisely what we have been saying to Job.”)

    3. Read Job 40:11-14. I want to focus on verse 14. When we
      sin, who are we offending? (In Psalms 51:3-4 David says
      “Against You, You only, have I sinned.” We may injure
      others with our sins, but sin is against God alone.)

      1. When God says in Job 40:11-14 that He can crush the
        wicked and the proud man, it makes sense that He
        would do this because of our sin against Him. What is
        the lesson of Job 40:14? (Righteousness by faith.
        Like Job, we cannot face God. Our “right hand” can
        never save us. Our only hope is in what Jesus has
        done for us.)

    4. Read Job 41:11. What does God say to the view that God has
      an obligation of some sort to humans?

      1. God’s argument so far has been about power and
        authority. Clearly, God has it. Should power have to
        answer for injustice? Job’s claim is that he is
        suffering injustice.

  3. Job’s Conclusion

    1. Read Job 42:1-3. My guess is that almost everyone answered
      the prior question with “Yes, power should answer for
      injustice.” What answer would Job give now? (Just like it
      is generally true that right works bring blessings and bad
      works bring trouble, so it is generally true that power
      and authority should be just. However, in this specific
      situation, Job says “I did not understand.” How can we
      call God to account when we do not know all of the facts?)

    2. Read Job 42:4-6. What causes Job to say, “I despise myself
      and repent in dust and ashes?” (Job encounters the God of
      the Universe.)

      1. Does God have to answer to our standards? (No. God
        says that He created everything. He is not like some
        powerful human authority. He literally created and
        owns everything. He has no liability to humans. He
        does not need to explain Himself.)

      2. If you agree that God does not need to explain
        Himself to us, how do you account for Job 1 & 2? Why
        does God reveal to us the entire story? (Because God
        loves us. Since He loves us, He wants us to be
        satisfied with His decisions. He has no obligation to
        us, but out of love He gives us an explanation.)

  4. The Friends

    1. Re-read Job 42:6. What do you think Job’s friends are
      thinking at this point? (They are no doubt feeling pretty
      vindicated by what God has said. Turns out they were
      right, and Job has now repented.)

    2. Read Job 42:7-8. What a turn around! Now, who is right?
      (God says the friends “have not spoken of Me what is
      right, as my servant Job has.” Thus, Job is closer to the
      truth then the friends.)

      1. How can this be true since Job repented ( Job 42:6)?
        Worse, God started out in our study saying that Job
        was “darkening” God’s counsel “with words without
        knowledge” ( Job 38:2). How do you explain this? (Two
        things. First, Job is under duress and this causes
        people to say things they might not otherwise say.
        The friends are under no duress and they are not
        being very charitable. Second, Job is right that he
        is a righteous man who does not deserve what happened
        to him. While the friends are speaking general truth,
        the general rule does not always apply. They
        misrepresent God when they assume that difficulties
        in life will invariable reflect disobedience to God.)

    3. Read Hebrews 11:35-38. If you read the context of these
      verses, you will see that some heroes of faith suffered
      horrible things. In what way are they like Job? How should
      this affect our view of the general rule?

    4. Re-read Job 42:7. How many friends does God address?
      (Eliphaz and his two friends, Bildad and Zophar.)

      1. How many friends were arguing with Job? (Read Job
        2:11 and Job 32:1-4. In addition to the original
        three, we spent an entire lesson on Elihu’s angry
        argument against Job.)

    5. Why does God not condemn Elihu or require him to ask Job
      to pray for him? (When we studied Elihu’s statements last
      week, we saw that some of them were the same as made by
      the three older friends. But, some were not. For example,
      in Job 32:8-9 and Job 32:18-19 Elihu claims that the Holy
      Spirit is speaking through him. We did not previously read
      all of Elihu’s argument, but in Job 36:22-23 Elihu argues
      that humans are in no position to charge God with
      wrongdoing. If you skim over Job 36:26-37:24, you will see
      that Elihu makes the same “God is God and you are not”
      argument that God makes in the next chapter. On important
      points Elihu anticipates what God will say, and I think
      that is why he is not condemned.)

    6. Friend, I think the lesson for us is that we need to be
      slow to condemn others when we use logical deduction,
      rather than observation of actual sin. Elihu teaches us
      that an excellent way to vindicate God’s character is to
      focus on His glory, rather than focus on the sinfulness of
      humans. Will you reconsider how you deal with apparent sin
      in the lives of others?

  5. Next week: Job’s Redeemer.