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Lesson 8: Innocent Blood *

Introduction: We see a pattern in the accusations of Job's friends and Job's response to them. The friends say that Job is suffering because of his sins. Job denies that he is guilty, and he challenges God to justify what is happening to him. This makes Job's friends angry, because they see this as an attack on God. Is this an attack on God? Is the human response to suffering misguided because it expects God to justify suffering? Is the human response to suffering too focused on us, rather than on God? Let's dig into our study of Job and see what we can learn!

  1. Job's Complaint

    1. Read Job 10:1. Job says that he hates his life. Why would that attitude release him to complain about God? (Job thinks, "What is the worst thing that God can do to me, kill me?" Since Job would like to be dead, he feels no restraint in complaining about God.)

      1. Is Job being reasonable? Do you agree with his logic? (If the world revolved around Job, then this would make sense. But, if the world revolves around God, then doing harm to the reputation of God makes no sense.)

    2. Read Job 10:2-3. Job is saying one thing in verse two, and another in verse three. How would you put these two things Job is saying in your own words? (Job first says that he wants to know the charges against him so that he can defend himself. But, in verse three, Job says something much different. He is not expecting justice from God because God seeks to harm him while at the same time blessing those who do evil.)

      1. Do you think that Job really believes that God wants to harm him and at the same time reward evil people? (I find this hard to believe. I think that Job says outrageous things like this to try to goad God into responding to him.)

      2. What error can you find in Job's thinking? (Job assumes this is about him. That is what makes this unfair. Job is good, evil people are bad, and therefore God has failed to be just. We know, however, that Job's situation has nothing to do with justice for Job. Instead, it has everything to do with the grand conflict between good and evil.)

      3. Would God justify what is happening to Job? (Read Job 2:3. God agrees that what has happened to Job is unfair to Job.)

      4. Consider this for a moment. When we see unfair things happen in the world, God may very well agree that it is unfair! Is it then appropriate to blame God for that injustice?

    3. Read Job 10:4-7. What do you think is the answer to Job's questions? (The answer is "no." God is not like a human, and God is not tracking down every sin of Job in order to punish him.)

      1. What is wrong with this picture of God? (Last week we studied about Korah and his fellow rebels (Numbers 16). Clearly, God can (and has)directed punishment for sin. But, I think God gives us the law to protect us from sin. God does not want us to suffer, so he lays out His law so that we can avoid suffering. This is a much different picture than that suggested by Job.)

    4. Read Job 10:12-14. Is Job misrepresenting the character of God? (Yes! We know the facts are nothing like Job suggests here.)

      1. Are you sometimes guilty of thinking like Job? That is, do you believe that God is a loving God, but lurking in His character is a desire to harm you if you disobey Him?

    5. Read Job 10:15. Is Job "innocent?" (Job is not free from sin, but we know that he is not being punished for being sinful. Far from it! He is suffering because he is so good ( Job 1:8-12). Once again, Job is off track because he thinks the world revolves around him. He does not consider that his suffering has something to do with the glory of God.)

  2. Eliphaz's Response

    1. Read Job 15:4. Job's friend, Eliphaz, has a new charge to bring against Job. He says that Job undermines piety and hinders devotion to God. What do you think about the truth of this charge? (I think Eliphaz is right from a human point of view. When Job charges that God is unjust, that undermines confidence in God. In the heavenly picture, just the opposite is true.)

    2. Read Job 15:7-9. Eliphaz charges Job with failing to understand the ways of God. Who does Eliphaz think understands God? (Eliphaz thinks he does.)

      1. Is Eliphaz right that Job misunderstands God? (Yes. Job does not understand what God is doing. If Job could have been a part of the council in which Satan challenged God, Job would understand what is going on.)

      2. Does Eliphaz understand God? (No. This is the great irony here. Eliphaz is right that Job does not understand what God is doing with him. But, neither does Eliphaz. They are both ignorant of what is actually going on in God's mind.)

      3. What is at the bottom of the mutual mistake that Job and Eliphaz make? (They both think this is "about Job." Eliphaz thinks Job is suffering because Job sinned. Job charges God with injustice because he knows he does not deserve this. Both wrongly think the point of comparison is Job.)

      4. Assume you had terrible things happen to you, just as Job did. What would you say if I told you (as I have been suggesting here) that your suffering is not about you? (I suspect you would be just like Job. Of course your suffering is about you, it is personal!)

  3. The Challenge of Faith

    1. Read Proverbs 3:5-6. How would you rate Job and his friends in light of this instruction? (They were all terrible regarding the "lean not on your own understanding!" They either said things that were theologically true, logically true, or true according to their experience and understanding of the world. They all agreed that those who obeyed God prospered and those that disobeyed God suffered. Job, believing (correctly) that he did not deserve this, charged God with injustice. This all made perfect sense.)

      1. Except for one thing. What does this text say that we should do with our (correct) understanding of how the world works? (We should elevate trust in God above even a correct understanding of theology, logic and experience.)

      2. Right now in this world there are some things that greatly encourage me, and a lot of things that make me very unhappy. Biblically illiterate people, people who are either intentionally foolish or were born that way, are shaping my world. What should my reaction be to that? (First, to trust God even when the world does not make any sense. Second, when we do not know what to do, we should first "acknowledge" God, and He will direct us.)

        1. How do you think asking God to direct us works as a practical matter? (This is where the direction of the Holy Spirit is so important. We need to ask for the Joel 2:28-29 experience, where the power of God speaks through all of us - regardless of wealth, gender, age or experience.)

    2. Read Proverbs 3:7-8. If we fear God and shun evil, will everything work out right for us? (This puts us right back into Job's situation. Read Job 1:8. This is precisely the way God describes Job! We can trust the Bible, but when nothing makes sense to us as humans, then we just have to trust God.)

    3. Read Matthew 27:45-46. Has Jesus experienced this - that things no longer made sense to Him? (That seems to be precisely what Jesus is thinking.)

    4. Friend, will you commit today to trusting God, even when your mind tells you that everything has gone wrong? Even when you think that God has forsaken you?

  4. Next week: Intimations of Hope.
* 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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