Today: [Job Seventeen] Did God Provoke Job’s Critics? In this chapter Job accuses God Himself of deluding Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Does God ever provoke people to criticize and attack us? Surely when an offended believer rails against you they will claim they are inspired and even directed by God to do so. Is this true? Does God ever incite contention, criticism or strife?
[Job 17:1-16 KJV] 1 My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves [are ready] for me. 2 [Are there] not mockers with me? and doth not mine eye continue in their provocation? 3 Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who [is] he [that] will strike hands with me? 4 For thou hast hid their heart from understanding: therefore shalt thou not exalt [them]. 5 He that speaketh flattery to [his] friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.
In Job’s continuing reply to Eliphaz he now turns his lament to God Himself. Again he is preoccupied and obsessed with the idea of his death. In Job’s view death is the only relief that awaits him. He acknowledges that his friends are not true comforters but mockers only. He cries out now for the third time for a mediator between himself and God. He knows that there is something missing that from our perspective is Jesus Himself. Job lives under an Old Testament dispensation and is only afforded the blood of bulls and goats to defer judgment but not expiate it. The blood of bulls and goats looked forward to the sacrifice of the cross. Job realizes and feels keenly the limitations of his approach to God and cries out for more.
In his anguish Job deeply misunderstands God’s heart toward Him. He indicts God for “hiding understanding” from Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. He is holding God responsible for their mockery. He is claiming that the spirit of abuse and accusation coming from his friends originates in God. Is this true? Did God provoke these men to excoriate and humiliate Job in his suffering? Is there something that Job could do differently? It is very difficult to change, to repent in the midst of suffering. When we suffer and are under great pressure we tend to defer any reform of our character in spite of the self examination that attends most seasons of trial in our lives. In reality repentance – true repentance is seldom the outworking of trials and difficulties of life.
It is very interesting that the first verse in the bible (Psalm 1:1) that proceeds the last verse of Job is a warning about keeping ungodly company:
[Psa 1:1 KJV] 1 Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar are deeply scornful of Job yet Job does not break off commiseration with them. Instead he delves deeply into reciprocal animosity not only to his so-called friends but to God Himself. The scripture tells us that Satan is the accuser and the book of Job is chapter after chapter of these men accusing Job, accusing one another and Job himself accusing God. Better for Job and better for us to break off these communications when they occur lest we become a part of our own problem rather than part of the solution.
6 He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret. 7 Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members [are] as a shadow. 8 Upright [men] shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite. 9 The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger. 10 But as for you all, do ye return, and come now: for I cannot find [one] wise [man] among you. 11 My days are past, my purposes are broken off, [even] the thoughts of my heart.
Job accuses God of making him nothing more than a cautionary tale of injustices and sorrow. In verse 5 he curses the children of a flatterer with blindness and then in verse 7 he claims he is losing his eyesight and going blind himself. He claims that in time to come upright men will be shocked that God has treated Job so contrary to His promises. Job shakes his head at his friends and declares that there is no wisdom among them. Did it take him all this time to find this out? If there is no wisdom in his friends for their accusations against Job there is certainly no wisdom in Job for his accusations against God! In all of this we only hear God being references in these sorrows and not one time does Job or his comforters mention Satan – who was the instigator and author of all that is taking place.
12 They change the night into day: the light [is] short because of darkness. 13 If I wait, the grave [is] mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness. 14 I have said to corruption, Thou [art] my father: to the worm, [Thou art] my mother, and my sister. 15 And where [is] now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it? 16 They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when [our] rest together [is] in the dust.
Job is exhausted not only by the rigors of his suffering but by his non-stop and futile debate with his friends. In entertaining their accusations he has allowed himself to be provoked to accuse God Himself. Now he declares that “corruption” is his father. What is Job saying? He is pressing as strongly as he dares to accuse God of being corrupt. Again he repeatedly longs for death as he sees this as his only hope for relief.
Have you ever wanted to die? When you were under this kind of stress were you in a position to be corrected? Were your friends and loved ones less than helpful? Did they make accusations or offer vain platitudes? In all the books of the bible the book of Job is one of the most helpful because it provokes us to process the idea of suffering OUTSIDE OF THE EXPERIENCE so when or if we go through such difficult times we should remember Job and not repeat his errors.
1. Death is not the answer. To long for death is to make a covenant with death. Isa. 28:15 says our covenant with death will be disannulled. Death is not a solution. Death is not your friend neither is death God’s tool he uses to work His will in our lives.
2. We must reject mockery and scorn. Even from our dearest friends we must withdraw ourselves if they move is a spirit of mockery and accusation. For them they will see this as arrogance on your part but you cannot allow yourself to be surrounded by critical people. Critical people in your life will turn you critical against God Himself particularly when you are suffering.
3. God did not inspire or originate the assaults of Job’s friends. God was not responsible for their ignorance or their spirit of hatred toward Job. God cannot originate what is not in Him. Death is not in God. Criticism is not in God. Hatred and accusation is not in God. Job is deeply deceived in thinking otherwise.
God is not corrupt. God is not unjust. God is not responsible for the ills of this world or for our personal suffering. Our trial does not originate in God but in Satan Himself because we live in a fallen world and are many times vulnerable to attack for many reasons none of which include God’s supposed intent to teach us, love us, punish us or give us a message through suffering.
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