Job’s Three Friends

The image of Job’s three friends have not been a positive one, neutral is possibly as good as it gets because they did not speak of God rightly.

It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. (Job 42:7 NASB)

One thing stands out to me like a breathe of fresh air was Job 2:11-13.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. (Job 2:11-13 NASB)

I want to highlight the fact that all three of them sat with Job in silence for SEVEN DAYS! This means that no one gave their five cents worth to Job about his situation for a whole week. I ask myself if I will do the same for my friends. Ashamedly, my answer is highly unlikely. I am one who does not speak a lot and I can go by a day without uttering a word if I am in my own personal space without another person. Verbal fast is not as difficult as a food fast for me! Yet, in such a situation as Job, I do not think I am able to remain silent for seven days. For seven hours, it might be possible to shut my mouth and be there. Seven days is far out though. I can hardly imagine anyone in an urban city can do as a Job’s friends. The temptation for most of us is to give possible solutions to the situation once we sit down.

The silence was broken by Job and not his friends. It was after Job spoke that the friends spoke. These friends stood by Job even though he lost everything and they were definitely not fair-weathered friends. They are not perfect as none of us are. True enough their perception of God in Job’s situation was not helpful. Yet it is good to bear in mind that the situation of Job is beyond what most people can comprehend based on common view of God and life.

One thing I know, I would certainly appreciate having such friends in my life who are willing to go through thick and thin even though they cannot understand 😄… Moreover, their hearts are tender towards God that they are willing to humble themselves to ask for prayer from Job at the end of it…

Hand Over to Satan to Save His Spirit?!

desert sunsdt

I am in the midst of writing a book on 1 & 2 Corinthians which serves as a study book for a Diploma Biblical Studies program. As I am writing, thought I will share a little about Apostle Paul’s almost incredulous instruction of discipline to “hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5) for a man who is in an incest relationship with his stepmother.

Apostle Paul’s instruction of handing over this man to Satan is a very specific and strong instruction. If he only intends to excommunicate him so that the church is kept holy, there is no need to mention Satan. Moreover, it seems contradictory that handing someone over to Satan can eventually save his spirit. Paul mentions a similar disciplinary action in 1 Timothy 1:20 where he delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan for discipline. It should be noted that this act of handing a person over to Satan for discipline is more than just a physical excommunication where Paul specifically prays for the power of our Lord Jesus to be present. Another passage written by Paul in 2 Cor 12 where he refers to the thorn in his flesh as a messenger of Satan that is present in his body to keep him humble and also for the glory of Christ. In these instances, Satan becomes God’s rod of discipline. The person is handed over to Satan “with the power of the Lord Jesus” signifies that God is still in full control of the situation with the end purpose to save the person’s spirit. God is sovereign over the life of the person handed over to Satan as Satan has to submit to God even in his rebellion.

Another record of a man being handed over to Satan in the Old Testament is Job (Job 2:6). Although Job is a blameless man and the reason for him being in the hand of Satan is the wager between God and Satan, the catastrophes meted out to Job drives him to declare “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6). There is a process of maturity and growth in God that brings Job to such repentance. In examination of Job’s story, the delivery of a man to Satan is a pathway of discipline for maturity and growth and not for destruction. Another Biblical story that bears such similarity will be that of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) where the father has no choice but to allow his son to go into the world, which can parallel to that of handing him over to Satan as he is the prince of the world. It is when the prodigal son experiences the harshness and bitterness of the world that he will turn and appreciate the goodness of the father. This turning back is salvation for the spirit even though the physical, emotional and mental are battered by the battles in the world.

This is probably best typified by what we call tough love now. The wilderness of willful sin can either kill a person or drive him back to repentance.