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Lesson 6: The Curse Causeless? *

Introduction: Job's friends came to visit him and they were shocked at how bad he looked ( Job 2:12). Have you had the same experience when you visited a sick friend? It is hard to know what to say. Certainly, "You look terrible" would not be a good idea. Job's friends, as we have discussed before, initially said nothing (Job 2:13). But, they could not stand that for very long and they started to try to explain Job's sufferings. That is when trouble began. Let's plunge into our study of Job and learn more!

  1. You Must Be Guilty of Something

    1. Read Job 4:1-2. Is Eliphaz determined to speak? (Yes! "Who can keep from speaking?" This guy cannot sit there quietly.)

    2. Read Job 4:3-4. When you criticize people, do you start out by saying good things about them to "soften the blow?"

      1. Is Eliphaz starting out with compliments? (Yes. He says that Job has given good advice many times when he was on the other side of suffering.)

    3. Read Job 4:5. Because Job is an experienced counselor, should he handle suffering better?

      1. Can you think of a reason that might not be true? (It is one thing to discuss the suffering of someone else, and quite another thing to go through it yourself.)

    4. Read Job 4:6. Is this helpful or unhelpful advice? (Eliphaz and Job have the some view of suffering - bad people suffer and good people do not.)

      1. How is this advice helpful? (Job's problems should go away because Job is a good man.)

      2. How is this advice unhelpful? (If Job continues to suffer, it is because he deserves it.)

    5. Read Psalms 119:65-67. Does the Psalmist also have the same view of suffering as Job and Eliphaz? (Yes. If you think that suffering helps improve your behavior, then you agree that suffering comes because of bad behavior.)

    6. Read Job 4:7-8. If you were Job, what would you be thinking at this point? (Eliphaz is not saying that because I'm a good guy the suffering will end soon. Instead, he is suggesting that my bad behavior causes my suffering.)

    7. Let's contemplate this a minute. Are the Psalmist, Job, and Eliphaz wrong on this point? Have they gotten things completely confused? (No. They understand what is obvious to all serious students of the Bible. God's universe is controlled by rules. There are physical rules (like gravity) and there are rules of conduct (like the rule against adultery). If you want to smash your head, either jump off a building or commit adultery. Following the rules makes our lives better.)

  2. Eliphaz Speaking for Satan

    1. Read Job 4:12-14. What time of day is it? Where is Eliphaz? (It is night and Eliphaz is in bed.)

      1. Do you find the night to be more scary than the day? Why?

    2. Read Job 4:15-17. Consider the way this "spirit" comes, Eliphaz's reaction, and the spirit's questions. Is this a good or bad spirit?

      1. How would you answer the question, "Can a human be more pure or righteous than God?" (Of course a human cannot be more righteous than God. This question leads to a correct answer. Thus, this could be a good spirit.)

    3. Read Job 4:18-19. Now what is your view of this "spirit?" (This is Satan or one of his fallen angels because this statement is false. God did trust Job. The implication of this statement is that God does not trust Job and therefore Job should not trust God. That gets to the very heart of the issue - will Job trust God?)

      1. Why would Satan talk about God charging angels with error? (Satan is still angry about being tossed out of heaven ( Revelation 12:7-9). Satan thinks that because he sinned Job will fail God.)

      2. Does it make sense to you that Satan would keep actively working to make Job curse God?

        1. What does that teach you about suffering in your life?

    4. Read Job 4:20-21. What does Satan suggest is Job's future? (He will die without wisdom, meaning he will die without understanding why God crushed him.)

      1. How much of our advice to the suffering reflects the arguments of Satan?

      2. Let's discuss this idea a bit more. Some of what Eliphaz said is exactly right. How can theologically correct statements ever reflect the arguments of Satan? (When they do not apply to the facts of the case. The general rule, which is theologically sound, is that bad things result from bad behavior. We know, however, that Job was not engaged in bad behavior. Thus, this correct statement was only aiding Satan's effort to get Job to reject God.)

  3. The Discipline Theory

    1. Read Hebrews 12:10-11. What does this teach about the problems that arise in our life? (They may be God's discipline to make us more righteous.)

    2. Read Job 5:17-18 and Job 5:27. This is a continuation of Eliphaz's counsel to Job. How would you react to this if you were Job? (This is a continuation of the argument that Job has done something wrong and he is being disciplined. Thus, if I were Job, it would make me angry.)

      1. Should Job consider whether he has done something that might result in discipline? (Yes, of course.)

    3. Read Isaiah 64:6. If Isaiah is correct that everyone is sinful, then should Job have taken the discipline theory more seriously?

      1. If you are a parent, did you try to make sure that when you disciplined your children they understood why?

        1. If your answer is "yes," would you expect the same from God?

        2. If your answer again is "yes," what does that teach us about suffering and discipline? (There will be a direct connection. You will not have to wonder about the reason for the suffering. The reason will be obvious if you open your eyes. Job had no such connection.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 4:4-5. How should Eliphaz have applied this in counseling Job? (Eliphaz knew of nothing that Job had done wrong. He should not have "judged" Job based only on his theory of discipline.)

  4. Moral v. Practical Rules

    1. Let's say a person is overweight, does little exercise, becomes diabetic, makes little attempt to control diet, and as a result develops nerve, heart or eyesight problems. Is this a judgment from God?

      1. Read Matthew 15:16-18 and 1 Corinthians 6:12-13. Is overeating and not exercising a sin? (I don't think so. Eating too much is just dumb, and it is governed by the laws of the universe. It is like failing to wear your seat belt. If you get into an accident, and you are not wearing your seat belt, God's laws of physics will not be kind to you.)

    2. Are there two kinds of discipline? The "automatic" kind that results from our violation of the physical or moral rules of the universe, and the "God directed" kind found in Hebrews 12:10? (I'm not sure how far God goes with "automatic" discipline. Some "automatic" discipline corrects moral failures and other automatic discipline corrects sloppy thinking or carelessness. Both are only an application of the rules of the universe. However, just because God has a rule (like gravity) does not mean that it is a moral rule.)

    3. Friend, I hope that you have concluded that suffering can arise for several different reasons. When you consider your own suffering, or that of others, will you pray that God will help you to understand the true reasons or give you the power to just trust Him? Will you take seriously the potential problem of passing Satanic messages along to those who are suffering?

  5. Next week: Retributive Punishment.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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