Some Kind of Friends I Have

Job 16

Few years ago “a Duke University researcher concluded that 25 percent of Americans have no one with whom they can have a meaningful conversation. And 50 percent of folks have two or less people of that sort in their lives.” Yet 50% of Facebook users have 100+ names in friend list. So, what’s going on? Have we re-defined what it means to be a friend?

Bible makes some statements about friends:

Ex. 33:11 the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.

Deut. 13:6 …your friend who is as your own soul… (as if one soul dwelt in two bodies, Gill)

Ps. 41:9 …my own friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread…

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Bible description / definition of friend is good one, definition Job had followed and continued in. As Job’s torment lingers, engages less with his friends, persists in seeking satisfaction from God. Don’t totally abandon friends – Christian friends may be God’s “hands and fingers taking hold of you” to support you. But don’t rely on them apart from God.

A. miserable comforters v.1-5

Job bearing substantial cross – how would he handle it?

weight of grief – funerals for ten children; weight of uncertainty – financial ruin; rejection and abandonment by his wife; spiritual doubt – silence, and worse from God

now his friends – called them “worthless physicians” (Job 13:4), like attempts to fix PT windshield: promises but no good results, no worse but no better either

it’s gotten worse – are “miserable comforters”; bring misery, add to distress instead of relieving it

temptation often is: give dose of their own medicine, then they’ll know what it feels like; problem is, dose you give back usually much larger and nastier tasting than one you received

Job’s response fits Prov. 26:4-5: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

Job did respond, but not in kind; even for lack of help and true sympathy, didn’t tell them to get lost

put his friend on notice – here’s how you’ve failed as a friend (3)

provided instruction to help Eliphaz, if he’s teachable; answered him to show his folly – someone tries to comfort you when you’re suffering, blow it like Eliphaz, let them know…the right way; help them learn how to be better comforter, save brother or sister from enduring what you had to

all Eliphaz did was repeat his lines over in different ways; hadn’t listened to Job or other friends, hadn’t grown in ability to offer comfort

Eliphaz not speaking from experience – wasn’t saying “this is how God helped me”; personal experience not essential but…

2 Cor. 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Eliphaz also not willing to stand beside Job and advocate for him – God, what are you doing? Job’s a good man, how come you’re treating him this way? Speak to us, help us understand?

quickly turned the conversation – didn’t persist in beating up his friend even though perhaps justified (4)

important – Job did complain about treatment by friends…to his friends; didn’t complain about them to others, not even to God – Job’s issue with God was God’s treatment of him, not his friends

if situation were changed, Eliphaz in Job’s spot, Job could easily be critical and condemning

take sheet of paper, two columns, think of person (spouse, child, neighbor), fill one side with what they do wrong, other with what you appreciate about them; which side fills first?

Job not pounding on his friends wasn’t from lack of ability or opportunity – declares his ability to be negative toward them, they certainly gave him plenty of chance to do it

not hard to read strong temptation into Job’s response: I could do this, pause, but I won’t – is especially difficult not to retailiate when hurt and hurting

Job understood friendship – Prov. 17:17 “friend loves at all times”, even when mistreated (5)

you’ve beaten me up, I would build you up – strengthen you by what I say

identifies two important things to aim for when comforting those in trouble

=> 1. to give strength and hope to; cheer

=> 2. to ease the grief or trouble of; console

when (not if) our task is to comfort the suffering, should relieve suffering, not add to it

B. miserable conditions v.6-17

“how do you feel about that?” far more common question than “what do you think about that?”

“Our senses are not good judges.” Caryl; senses can be easily misled – optical illusions, funny mirrors, 3-D movies; feelings are deceptive and deceitful, “if it feels good, do it” – Satan counts on that

battle raging between Job’s feelings and his thoughts; if wrong one prevailed in the battle, Satan would win

Job stuck whether speaks or is silent

speaks, words used against him; Eliphaz particularly had done that – taking part of what Job said, then finding fault

silent, must be guilty; expected that one who is innocent will have something for a defense, silence is admission of guilt

friends had already reached verdict, guilty; simply looking for evidence that could be used to support verdict; just like Jesus, centuries later, before Caiaphas

Job’s feelings:

consuming, pervasive pain – debilitating kind of pain that ruins quality of life, prevents normal functioning; use all resources just to deal with the pain (6, 15)

exhausted, out of resources – no personal reserves, resources to endure suffering without going mad; no support network to provide assistance (7-8)

humiliated – those who had once respected, should have supported, now taking advantage of his condition (10)

vulnerable and abandoned – no longer protected by God but left wide open for enemies to torment (11)

God is the enemy – set up for God to take out his anger (9), God’s chew toy (12), object for God’s target practice (12-13), a foil for his sword-play (14)

absolutely friendless – family is dead, wife has disappeared, former friends have abandoned or turned against him, even God acting as his enemy

Job’s thoughts:

God is at the root of all his troubles

no doubt in Job’s mind at all that God governs all his creation all the time regardless of how it looks

God is acting directly or through agents

God turned him over to his enemies who mistreated him; at same time, was God himself who shattered. shook, and broke him in pieces

Job has demonstrated proper attitude (15-16)

showed true spirit of repentance even though does not believe he has sinned to deserve such treatment

was truly sorrowful because didn’t seem to have God’s approval, didn’t know how to regain it

faced approaching death with a clear conscience – so much as depended on Job, was right before God

Job’s sin is not the problem; his suffering a result of God’s sovereign choice (17)

did not deny he was a sinner; maintained his confidence that his suffering not retribution for grievous sin

Job also did not deny God’s right to do as he pleased, including bring this kind of affliction on him

which controlled and why is it important

had Job given in to his emotions, would have descended into greater and greater hopelessness

was what he knew to be true in spite of how it felt that kept him confident of help from God

C. much-needed friend v.18-22

need someone to take my side, plead my case

wants innocent verdict more than reason for his treatment, to be vindicated before his friends

need someone who will act as true friend

once more comes around to theme of a friend who will stand up for him – the ideal mediator who will plead his case with God

one better than a neighbor, more helpful than simple friend, more than Job asked for: see Zech 3:1-5

in case of Joshua, God again sets fixed boundaries limiting Satan’s activities; bounds established at God’s discretion but always present around his people

advocate not only pleads for sinner, declares him innocent before God, gives change of clothes – Jesus doesn’t save us and leave us in our sin, our dirty clothes; Jesus saves us from our sins

what Job saw in shadow we can see clearly – we have perfect mediator, advocate, the God-Man, who does what no one else can: takes away our sin and credits us with his righteousness

So how do you bear the cross of suffering? physical infirmity? rejection? abuse? hardship? Don’t try to bear it alone, in your own strength. Just like Job, you’ll eventually run out of resources. Besides, Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. …For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

Where do you go for affirmation? support? comfort? Christian brothers and sisters? They are essential part of support network Lord of the church has given to his people. But what about when they don’t get it right? When they can’t provide comfort or help? How about that friend who sticks closer than a brother, the one who has experienced all we have and more yet without sin. The Lord Jesus can “sympathize with our weaknesses”, will provide everything we need when we come to him.

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