ATOPICAL PAPER ON JOB: BETRAYAL OF TRUST
Thispaper involves an analysis of the Biblical book of Job.it involvestwo parts which discuss aspects of Successful counseling given theroles of Elihu and the Lord in Job 32-41, and a diagnosis of thereasons behind unsuccessful counseling of Job by his three friends inJob 3-31.
PartA: Successful counseling
Asindicated, this section discusses the roles played by Elihu and theLord in saving Job in the book of Job 32-41, and the application ofthe understanding gained in a challenging situation an individualmight face in life. The paper establishes a plan for a personexperiencing a painful situation, who should embrace the scenario asone that involves an outgrowth of God’s wisdom. In particular, thesituation discussed is one of a young, twenty-three-year-old woman,who was sexually abused by her father while she was between the ages12 to 18 years old. It is important to note that the emphasis of thepaper revolves around aspects of revelation in addition to faith inGod.
Godis not the Cause of the Problem
Theplan for helping the young woman would involve constant interactionsand discussions with her, aside from engaging in prayer for her. Thewoman should be made to understand that through the course of life,people get to experience challenges of frustration, depression andshattered dreams and hopes of living happy and or better lives. Suchexperiences beget even staunch Christians or church dignitaries inmodern days. What is interesting to note is that during such moments,the affected people might find themselves blaming God. As one mightthink, God’s action of allowing Job to face immense loss, grief andmisfortune seem nothing short of injustice. The situation wherein afather sexually abuses his daughter is likely to make an observerbear the same thoughts or feelings. It is well understood that thewoman is under immense emotional pain, she feels let down by theperson who was supposed to protect her As a result, it is notunusual for her spirit to have worn down over time.
Teamworkand helping others
AsChristians, people are expected to help others bear the pain ofchallenges and adversities in life. Owing to this ideology and tobegin with, a first step in helping the woman would be to engage inprayers for her she should be placed on a prayer list. Intercessoryprayers should be engaged wherein God is asked to give her strengthto carry on, to forgive her father and to move on with her life.Indeed, based on the situation of Job and the case discussed herein,one might be implored to think why an all-powerful God lets goodpeople suffer from bad things here on earth. In the case of the youngwoman, she was subject to cruelty and spitefulness as a teenager fromher own father even though she was innocent. As a woman, it might bevery hard for her to achieve happiness, peace and even righteousnessowing to a belief in God. She might as well be living a life of lowself-esteem in addition to her heartache she might even think thatGod is neither good nor powerful as claimed by Christian doctrines.1
Itis important to note that Job faced a lot of misfortunes in his life,to the extent that his wife would counsel him to curse God and die.Despite having lived a righteous life, he lost his family (his wifeand children), all his possessions, his health, and even hisservants. From a comprehension of this experience of a righteousman, the plan to help the young woman in the case discussed hereinwould better involve arrangements of interventions. She should beinvited to group meetings among church members wherein people get todiscuss and share their experiences of challenging situations inlife. Even so, it is safe to say that this approach is not one to beinitiated so directly or immediately. To begin with, other Christianswho know her on a personal level should approach her to introduce theidea on a face-to-face basis.
Trustand faith in God
Fromthe Bible, one can observe that Job maintained trust in the Lord,despite the magnitude of his challenges and or experiences. From thisperspective, it is important for the young woman to be encouraged todo the same. Notwithstanding the wrongdoings of sexual abuse that herfather had done to her, she should be encouraged not to lose a senseof compassion about the gift of life. She should be made tounderstand that the wrongdoings of her father, which definitely causefor her to experience grief, should not make her lose respect forGod. The girl should also understand that other people might do solittle to help with her situation. In the case of Job, for instance,his friends bore the opinion that “Contrary to appearances, Job isbeing punished for some sin,” even as “Job, on the other hand,proclaims his innocence.”2From this viewpoint, it is crucial for the young woman to understandthat not everyone would comprehend the true nature of her sufferingand pain.
Apoint to note is that Job’s situation began to change when hestopped blaming God for his misfortunes he opted to stop justifyinghimself.3Apparently Job realized a sense of revelation as stated, “Who ishe that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I utteredthat I understood not things too wonderful for me, which I knew not”(Job 42:3). A renowned scholar of theology Matthew Henry states, “Thewords of Job justifying himself were ended.”4Owing to the grave nature of some temptations or challenges, somepeople might have, the opinion that God remains a very just spiritualbeing and that he only brings the wrath of suffering and pain only topeople that deserve that. According to Johnson (2005, 393), “Theonly logical explanation was that Job must not have been as righteousas he claimed”. Chapters 38 and 39 of the book of Job respond tothe inquiry of whether Job was made to suffer in an unjust manner.The text is elaborated using forms of questions that aim to portray agenuine power of God as the master of all creation and life on earth.From this perspective, initiatives to help the young woman should aimat exhibiting the devil as the main protagonist in her case ofsuffering and emotional pain. She was a victim of forces that operatein the corporeal realm. It must be remembered that corporealmetaphors remain important factors that exist in the theologicalbeliefs put forward in the book of Job.5Also, if the woman observes the devil as the protagonist in her case,the will of God will supersede that of the devil. Accordingly, thewoman should be encouraged not to aim at changing the damage causedto her by the devil but to submit to the power and the will of God onher life moving forward. Put another way, grumbling and complainingabout experience would only be working against the will of God in herlife. She must understand that it is upon her, of course with thehelp of the church, to restrain from opposing the will of the devilby use of her own power and ideologies.
Theplan to help the young woman should also focus on the seriouscontributions made by Elihu, a Buzite and son of Barachel, in thebook of Job. The gentleman was young, compared to the other friendsof Job who had counseled him before. In his speech or counsel to Job,he is noticeably angry that Job had lost his faith in God he hadlost sight of his fairness and goodness- a reason he had remained inconstant suffering and pain.6Elihuwas adamant that Job was wrong to justify himself as a righteous man,that he had not committed any sins he was also mad at the otherfriends of Job, who were older than him since they were unable tooffer Job with an appropriate answer to his problem. He correctedthem by saying, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspirationof the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not alwayswise: neither do the aged understand judgment” (Job 32:8). Thisoccurrence shows that other Christians can mislead the young womanwhose case is discussed herein.
Elihuis confident that God remains a just God and that Job lost sight ofthis truth what is more is that he (Job) was adding to his sins bysaying more words that were against the will of God (Job 34:1). Fromthis perspective, it is clear that there is a great need forrepentance among people that have blamed and or accused God for theirmisfortunes, suffering and pain.7Heeven goes to the extent of speaking on behalf of God, ascribing Hismajesty and justice to humanity imploring Job to envision thewondrous works of God. In one way or another, the role of Elihu seemsto be a form of preparation for Job’s encounter with the LordHimself. This also shows that Christians have a crucial role inleading the lost back to God, of course through guidance anddirection. For this reason, this paper establishes that the plan tohelp the young woman should focus on making her be an activeparticipant in the church, to read and follow directives of the Wordof God.
Thenagain it is important for the young woman to note that the importanceof forgiveness (by free will) remains a matter of much relevance. Theother helping Christians should strive to ensure the young womanunderstands that God gave people free will. Just as his father hadthe free will of deciding whether to abuse her, she too has the freewill of deciding whether to forgive him. Also, all people on earthare subject to undergo tests in life to determine their self-worth toGod. Without a doubt, God is not interested in being an undisputedautocratic leader, hence the existence of free will. Indeed, thepositive exercise of free will enables people to develop and growboth in spiritual spheres and intellectually. For this reason, theyoung woman should be made to understand that it was not her faultthat her father abused her. Instead, the experience of life is justfull of tests and trials how we respond to them is what matters inthe sense of determining our values and self-worth. Nevertheless,without the existence of free will, no person would be able to commitevil, and no one would be judged in the end. The main point, however,is that all have to be tested, as the father Abraham and other men ofGod were tested.
Testsand Trials do occur in the lives of men of God
Onecannot decline to note that the most prominent men of God in biblicalhistory, despite the celestial glory that they associate with, haveundergone the uttermost tests and trials through the course of theirlives. Clearly, people have to prove their worth to God and shame forthe devil by overcoming such tests, some of which are grave and touchthe core of humanity, like the case of the young woman hereindiscussed. It is a matter of common knowledge that the Bible speaksof gold being tried by burning it in a furnace for up to seven times.
Insummary, however, it is important for Christians to understand thatthe ways of God are far past our understanding since we can onlyidentify with mere earthly perspectives. The almighty’s perspectiveis from above and exists in eternity. To form a solid Christianfoundation for the young woman, a plan to help her should facilitateher trust in God. Despite the fact that she may not understand whythe Lord allowed for her to be afflicted by her father, she shouldknow that He has a good plan for her life, and so she should submitto the will and directives of the Lord over her life. Just as Elihuputs it God employs the use of various means or mechanisms to saveman from thepit.
PartB: Diagnosis of the reasons behind unsuccessful counseling
Thissection discusses a series of questions or characteristics ratherthat indicate that the counsel of the friends of Job is failing (inchapters 3 to 31 of the book of Job) since his friends (thecounselors) had started to offer inappropriate advice to Job, thecounselee. Indeed, an analysis of the dialogue that occurs betweenJob and his friends reveals that there exists a good number ofquestions from a universal theological and perspective one cannotdecline to note that the book of Job is hence classified as a book ofwisdom, same as Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and the Songs of Solomon.
Whydo righteous people suffer?
Apossible response to the question why righteous people suffer wouldbe that God allows for all men to be tested, to determine their faithin him. As indicated elsewhere in this paper, an excellent example oftesting is found in the concept of placing gold in fire. Apparentlythe friends of Job believed that God is a just God and He would notallow for any righteous man to suffer in life. The only reason thatJob would be experiencing the suffering, according to his friends,was that he had sinned against God in the first place. As indicatedby Morriston, “They (Job’s friends) believe that contrary toappearances, Job is being punished for some sin. Job, on the otherhand, proclaims his innocence.”8Apparently, the circumstances that Job faces make the book tocontradict seemingly with theological wisdom that describes thenature of God as witnessed in other biblical books like Psalms forexample. The book of Psalms, for instance, shows that righteouspeople are always compensated with blessings by the Lord and thatonly unrighteousness or imprudence is punished by pain, suffering anddeath. As Johnson puts it, “The only logical explanation was thatJob must not have been as righteous as he claimed.”9Nevertheless, one cannot decline to note that the Lord did not allowJob to be challenged by death, albeit he probably did not know thatsince it was established in a dialogue between the Lord and thedevil. For seven days and seven nights, there was a great silence asthere was no dialogue between Job and his friends as they justgrieved in silence. It was not until Job stated that “Let the dayperish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, thereis a man child conceived” (Job 3:3), ending the period ofintrospection and commencing the dialogue with his friends.
Werethe Friends of a Job truly compassionate in their counsel to him?
Thedialogue between Job and each of his three friends also raises thequestion as to whether the friends were truly compassionate in theircounsel to Job. Even so, the communications soon change into talksthat signify forms of failed counsel, characterized by callousideologies about the situation of Job. Ultimately, the viewpointsexpressed in the dialogues are apparently rebuked by Elihu and GodHimself. The friends of Job make him focus on God as the cause of hisproblems. The resultant effect is that Job keeps on questioning Godabout the reasons for his suffering and pain, and why he would notdeliver him as he expected- because he was a righteous man. Hedemonstrates a sense of weariness in his life as “a land ofdarkness, as darkness itself and of the shadow of death, without anyorder, and where the light is as darkness.” (Job 10:22). A reviewof the characteristics and nature of the friends of Job on anindividual basis at the onset is as follows Eliphaz seems to be avery compassionate man, Bildad appears to be a traditionalist andZophar is a dogmatist.10Still, all of them give the impression of people that are soconcerned about the welfare of their friend. Still, it is safe to saythat at the beginning of the dialogue, the friends demonstrated asense of true compassion towards Job. They too expressed a sense ofgrief, crying and morning together with Job for seven days andnights. One cannot decline to note that they had high appreciationfor their friend. Despite the fact that they engage in dialogue aboutthe cause of Job’s suffering, they had come to keep him companythrough the terrifying moments in the first place. This analysis alsonotes that each friend spoke less than the one that spoke before him,showing self-control and allowing the Job to express his feelings andthought since he talked for longer periods. In the end, they played asignificant role of enabling Job to achieve revelation, to submit toGod and acknowledge that He was the overall power over all creation.
Didthe friends of Job see him as being guilty of sin, hence deservingpunishment from God?
Thereis a sensitive characteristic from the readings of the book of Jobrelating to why those that are unrighteous might seem to prosper inlife, even as the righteous face moments of pain and suffering. Forinstance, the wife of Job comes out to display some very unrighteouscharacteristics as she asks him to curse the Lord and die to end hissuffering (Job 2:9). His friend Bildad also advises Job to choose toperish and forget God (Job 8:11-22). The above question closelyrelates to another characteristic of concern as witnessed in thedialogue. This is whether the friends of Job saw him as beingarrogant and undeserving of the punishment from God since there wasthought that he must have committed sin (Job 4:8-10). Indeed, theymust have seen the behavior of Job as being audacious since he wasconstantly questioning divine power and the will of God. Later on inthe book, a keen observer notes that such action by Job- questioningGod instead of rebuking the devil is what made him suffer and endurepain for an elongated period. Job proclaims that “For the arrows ofthe Almighty are within me, the poison of which drinketh up my spiritthe terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.” (Job6:4). It is evident for one to note that the thoughts and feelings ofJob are based on the abovementioned.
DidGod require Job to avoid questioning His will?
Onecannot decline to note from the dialogue, the question of whether Jobought to submit to the unalterable operations of the divine orcelestial realm, which seem to be of a dictatorial or autocrat locusclassicus that describes the nature of God. In actuality, the friendsof Job bear the opinion that if he is indeed innocent of committingsin, then he deserves to be liberated by the Lord.11From this viewpoint, and to elaborate more on the subject matter, thefriends of Job, his counselors, were giving inappropriate advice tohim, the counselee. It was unwarranted for them to observe that heought to take control of his own life, challenging the will of God.In one way or another, the counsel of Job’s friends was drawing himtowards thoughts of the spirit of individualism, wherein “Individualsshould determine for themselves what it means to lead a good andvirtuous life.”12Undeniably, this is sinful to the Christian God as it promotes asense of humanism over and above submission to His will.
DidGod expect Job to keep his faith in Him despite his troubles?
Theabove information further implores one to wonder how and if Godexpected Job to keep faith and or belief in Him. The Lord himselfallowed the devil, a master of deceit and an unfathomable being tothe knowledge of man, to test and torture Job, an ordinary man. Thisviewpoint could as well be depicted in the question of whether theLord expected Job to continue to worship and adore himenthusiastically, despite the destruction and devastation in hislife. Additionally, an analysis of the dialogue between Job and hisfriends leaves one to wonder how the justice, fairness and goodnessof God should be preserved, acknowledged and appreciated during timeswhen evil thrives in the life of a man during moments of immensehuman suffering. From the dialogue, it is apparent that the advice ofthe counselors that God poses as being unfair. Zophar is adamantthat he would like to hear from God the reason Job was subject tosuch massive sufferings (Job 11:5), of course, believing that Job hadsinned and that he should repent. In one way or another, and basingon the counsel of the friends of Job, one might argue that everyoneis not just or innocent in the eyes of God. It is clear that the rootof evil against God is the free will given to man. Still, it must beremembered that God is nothing short of benevolent by allowing a manto possess free will. Nonetheless, one might wonder why God wouldallow for man to have free will when He knows that he stands tomisuse it, even at his own expense. As hinted before, it was thechoice of Job to blame and question God and His will for him optingto rebuke the devil was also a matter of choice for the righteousman. It is important to note that the devil had the opinion that Jobwould curse the Lord because of his suffering.
Foranyone who might want to determine whether the actions of God, ofallowing Job to suffer, were just, he or she needs first tounderstand the reasons behind the action of God. Clearly, and owingto doctrines of the religion, this is an insurmountable task. Assuch, this paper noted that there is the aspect of questioning thevery innocence that Job claims to possess. Again, and as mentionedbefore, this was the point of reasoning for the friends of Job, theywondered what the motives of God might be if their friend wasinnocent of any wrongdoing. It is interesting to note that Jobthought that his three friends were indeed wise. He states, “Ye arethe people, and wisdom shall die with you. But I have anunderstanding as well as you I am not inferior to you, who knowethnot such things as these?” (Job 12:3). Even so, he does not cursethe Lord, in fact, he maintains that God is supreme, that He is theone with superior wisdom. This he does before agreeing with theviewpoints of his friends by asking God to make known his mistake,his “transgression and sin” (Job 13:23). Job seems to approvethat man is ultimately subject to struggles in life. He states, “Manthat is born of a woman is a few days full of trouble.” (Job 14:1).Eliphaz goes on to offer inappropriate counsel to Job he states, “Heshall not depart out of darkness the flame shall dry up hisbranches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.” (Job15:30). At this point, it is apparent that there is no more displayof compassion by Eliphaz, in actuality, his counsel now makes Job tobe even more frustrated by his troubles. Job now observes his friendsas being against him, despite the magnitude of the challenges hefaces in life. He is filled with anguish and goes ahead to say, Arethere not mockers with me? And doth, not mine eye continue in theirprovocation?” (Job 17:2). Despite his efforts of claiming to beinnocent, his friends opt to attack him directly basing on theideology that he had sinned, and that was reluctant to acknowledge.Bildad is notably unenthusiastic about Job’s relentlessness anddefensive speech he says to him, “How long will it be ere ye makean end of words?” (Job 18:2). He (Bildad) is interested ininsisting that Job had committed sin and was facing the judgment ofGod. Eliphaz also accuses Job saying, “Is not thy wickedness great?And thine iniquities infinite?” (Job 22:5). On the other hand, Jobalso seems to be tired with the insistence of his friends as hestates, “How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces withwords?” (Job 19:2).
Insome ways, Job gets to a point of feeling discouraged by the counselof his friends the good thing is that he did not lose belief orfaith in God. He achieves revelation in the sense that there was anapparent contrast between the ideologies of the coldness of hisfriends and the God he knew13.Despite the grave nature of his problems, Job maintains that “Iknow that my redeemer lives and that he shall stand at the latter’day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body,yet my flesh shall be I see God” (Job 19:25-26). After this,Eliphaz demonstrates a sense of compassion again he offers Job withan appropriate counsel by stating that the Lord “shall deliver theisland of the innocent…” (Job 22:30). By this utterance, Eliphazboosts the spirit of Job as he requests God to hear him and save him(Job 23:3-5). Job continues to praise God he tells his friends thatthe Lord is so great to the extent that they were incapable ofunderstanding Him (Job 28:14).
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Ransom,E. A. (2014). Digesting Job in Paradise Lost. Studiesin Philology,111(1),110-131.
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1 Bridges, J. (2014). Trusting God: Even when life hurts. Tyndale House. 23
2 Morriston, W. (2011). God`s answer to Job. Religious studies, 32(03), 342
3 Ransom, E. A. (2014). Digesting Job in Paradise Lost. Studies in Philology, 111(1), 115
4 McCracken III, Thomas W. "JOB’S FRIENDS AND THEIR CONTRBUTION TO THE MESSAGE OF JOB." (2011), 13
5 Jones, S. C. (2013). Corporeal Discourse in the Book of Job. Journal of Biblical Literature, 132(4), 845
6 Copeland, M. (2009). The Book of Job: Young Elihu Speaks (32-37)
7 Ham, T. C. (2013). The Gentle Voice of God in Job 38. Journal of Biblical Literature, 132(3), 530
8 Morriston, W. “God`s answer to Job”. Religious studies, (2011). 32(03), 341
9 Johnson, Fred. "A Phonological existential analysis to the Book of Job." Journal of Religion and Health 44, no. 4 (2005)
10 McCracken III, Thomas W. "JOB’S FRIENDS AND THEIR CONTRBUTION TO THE MESSAGE OF JOB." (2011). 5
11 Ibid., 6
12 Wolfe, Alan. "Moral freedom: The impossible idea that defines the way we live now." (2001), 159
13 Wisner, J. K. (2015). Have You An Arm Like God?: A Thematic Study on the Character of the Saving greatness of God in the Book of Job. WestBow Press. 13