(October 13, 2014)
When I read Job, I am always struggling to understand what exactly is so wrong with the friends that causes the Lord to criticize them in the end. Yes, their ‘punishment’ is a sacrifice to draw them closer to the Lord, but it is also clear that their arguments are inappropriate.
For a long time, I think my thoughts were that what they were doing was wrong because they were relying on an intellectual approach to the Gospel (not called the Gospel at the time of Job, of course). They were arguing as sophists, such that even though their arguments were mostly correct, they had been reached the wrong way and thus were in error in minor (but significant) ways.
But this time, I am thinking that there is something altogether different which is the cause of their error. These men – men clearly well-versed in the Lord’s Law – sought to bring Job into compliance with what they thought was correct through confrontation rather than persuasion. They told Job he was incorrect, and fought against him through their words.
Knowing what we know about contention, even if we are right if we pursue that ‘rightness’ through contention the Spirit will leave us and we will be lost. This is such a hard lesson to internalize, but I think this is the primary fault of the three friends who advise Job. If they sat to teach (or even just to comfort), rather than sat to win, they would be in a much better place.