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Walk This Way

Walk This Way – How to speak of God (Job 42:7-8)

Today’s Reading: Job 41-42

Today’s Reflection: Job 42:7-8

7) After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8) Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”

One of the great contrasts drawn throughout the book of Job is between his statements and the statements made by his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  Job requests (and at times demands) justice and an answer for why his life has become so troubled without cause.  Job’s friends on the other hand accuse him of attempting to justify himself at God’s expense.  They insist the calamity Job has suffered must be the result of some hidden, un-confessed sin on his part.

Then God speaks.

When God finally has his say He also contrasts between Job’s statements and those of his three friends, judging that Job’s friends need to repent and that Job has spoken the truth about Him.

This is an interesting pronouncement for a number of reasons, most notably that right before this, in Job 42:1-6, Job himself says he needs to repent for uttering what he did not understand.  Furthermore, as one examines the arguments of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, there is much in their statements that is theologically accurate.  So why then does God judge Job as just in his speaking, and Job’s friends as in need of repenting?  Could God’s judgment have less to do with the words themselves and more to do with the heart with which those words were spoken?

The essential characteristic of Job, the characteristic God points out to Satan back in Job chapter 1, is that Job is a man who sought after God and His righteousness and turned away from evil regardless of his personal circumstances.  And we see this from Job.  When he loses his possessions and his beloved children, he mourns bitterly but continues to trust in God.  Even as Job questioned God’s silence, he continued to believe God was just and would vindicate him in the end.  On the other hand Job’s friends concluded that God was a god who rewarded the just and punished the guilty (and that Job’s state made clear which group he was in).  In the view of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, God needed to be appeased; in Job’s view God could be personally known, trusted and loved.  They may have known the same theology but had very different understandings of who God was and was not.

To speak what is right about God, like Job did, requires a heart that desires to know Him and His righteousness, rather than trying to merely appear righteous or obeying out of fear of punishment.  It is the heart that God will ultimately judge.

Genesis 6:5 – The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

2 Corinthians 5:12 – We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart.

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