Saturday, April 02, 2005

Job's friends repent: Job 42:7-9

"It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.' " (Job 42:7-8)
God rebukes Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad because they had "not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has."
This scripture has always amazed me. After all, Job was the one who had condemned God saying, "God has wronged me!" The truth is that much of what Job said came out of his own hurt and distress, and, while God called him to account because them, Job was quick to repent and God was quick to forgive him. But Job's friend's words came out of their own impatience and contempt for Job and his situation. They couldn't understand why Job couldn't just repent and go on. And they were indignant when Job did not stand up and applaud their great wisdom and counsel. They did not speak what was "right" about God. In the Hebrew, "right" means that which is up right, or erect. They were not standing upright for the truth of God and were, instead, just sharing their own observations and opinions. This reminds me of when Paul rebuked Peter when he withdrew from the Gentiles because of the men who had come from James. "But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, 'If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?' " (Galatians 2:14) Paul said that Peter and the others were not being "straightforward" about the truth. They were not walking and acting in a manner that was upright and erect in regards to the truth. Their lives, instead of giving testimony to the truth, were obscuring the truth of the Gospel. God was wanting to express Himself through their lives to others, but they were clouding the view of God by their behavior and attitudes.

Our good intentions are not enough. It is not enough to want to help others, but we must also be able to present Jesus to them. People do not need us, they need Jesus. They need the deposit of God that has been entrusted to us and that is expressed through our lives. We must walk circumspectly and uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, so that others may clearly see the love and kindness of God, both in and through us.

Job's friends went and repented to Job. Not only did they repent before God, but they also went and repented before Job. And it says that, "and the LORD accepted Job." (Job 42:9) The word "accepted" literally means to "lift up". Job was already loved and accepted by God, but with his friends, there had been a breach in their relationship. Job's distress and driven a wedge between Job and his friends. After Job's friends repented, God "lifted up" Job. I think what is being implied here is that, it was in the eyes of his friends that he was lifted up. After repenting, Job's friends began to see him in a new light. He was no longer the one condemned by God, but he was the one loved and esteemed by God. In that moment, God healed their friendship and restored the relationship between Job and his friends. Sin divides relationship, and that beach is one that time will not always heal. If we want to see our relationships fully restored, we must be willing to repent of our own sins and the hurts we have caused in the relationship. The pathway to restoration always passes through the doorway of repentance.

David Robison

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