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Lesson 9: Intimations of Hope *

Introduction: A theme we keep seeing in these lessons is that we must trust God no matter what happens. The question is, "Trust God to do what?" Our assumption is that we trust God and He will make things better. If we are suffering, we would hardly want to trust God that things would remain the same or get worse, right? One reason we trust God is because the issues are not about us, they are about the larger conflict between good and evil. But, even though we might intellectually agree that "it is not about us," our trust is that God wins that larger conflict so that at some point in the future our suffering turns to joy. We call that "hope." Let's plunge into our study and learn more about our hope!

  1. Job's View of His Friends


    1. Read Job 13:1-2. What does Job think about the attitudes of his three friends? (They think they are smarter or know more than Job.)


      1. What does Job think about their relative intelligence? (That they are all smart, including Job.)


      2. Read Job 12:3. In both chapters 12 and 13 Job makes the same statement that he is as smart as his friends. What does this tell you about Job's attitude? (He thinks that he is really under attack on this point. How do you like it when someone says in a dispute, "I win because I'm smarter than you are?")


      3. No doubt this is a universal debate about government. Those who think government should be small, want to be left alone to make their own decisions. Those who think government should be large, think that they can help the government make better decisions for other people. Does anyone think that other people make the best decisions for them? (I'm doubtful that anyone thinks they should turn their decision-making over to someone else. Job says "I'm smart enough to make my own decisions.")


    2. Read Job 13:3-4. This is an old theme. Job believes he has been treated unjustly, and he wants to be able to argue his case before God. Job's friends think that Job is obviously sinful, and that is why he is suffering. They think that Job's refusal to admit his guilt, and his insistence that God is treating him unfairly, shows a lack of respect for God. Job calls the views of his three friends "lies." Do you think Job's friends are lying? (To the extent that they say that Job deserves to suffer, they are speaking things that are not true. However, I believe the friends think that what they are saying is not only true, it is important to say.)


      1. What do Job's friends think about his honesty? (They think Job is lying about his guilt.)


      2. Is there any hope for resolving this debate when both sides think the other is lying?


        1. Are they, as Job says, "worthless physicians?" (If the goal is to heal the situation, then they are worthless for that task.)


    3. Read Job 13:5. Is this true? (Yes. Keep this in mind when you are trying to comfort someone.)


  2. Job's Argument


    1. Read Job 13:6-9. Job has just said that his friends are not any smarter. In what other area are his friends no better than Job? (In Job 13:9 Job says that their behavior is no better than his. He does not think they could survive a close look by God. He thinks that they put on a better show of obedience to the public then they do in private.)


      1. Is this true of everyone?


      2. Do you think this helps Job's argument about not deserving his situation? (This seems to be an admission that Job is not as good as he seems to be.)


      3. Notice that in Job 13:7 Job says that his friends argue "wickedly" and "deceitfully" on behalf of God. How is that true? (If the friends do, indeed, have secret sins and they are doing well, this shows that they do not truly believe that God punishes the sinful.)


    2. Re-read Job 13:8. What does it mean that Job's friends are "partial" towards God? Do they favor God over Job?


      1. Consider that charge. Are Job and God opponents? Is that the correct mind set for Job to have?


      2. Are you partial towards God? (Many are rebels against God.)


      3. Is Job's claim of partiality towards God a valid charge?


      4. Should we consider whether we are showing enough love to others, or are "partial" towards God? (God loves us. Being "partial" towards God means that we should also be loving towards those around us. Job creates a false dichotomy in claiming that being biased in favor of God shows hostility toward him.)


    3. Let's jump down a few verses and read Job 13:13-15. Why would God slay Job? (Job believes that he is opposing God by demanding that God explain the justice of what is happening to Job. Job also believes that God is the power of the universe. It is normally dangerous to challenge the king. Thus, Job believes that he could be in peril.)


      1. What does Job mean when he says that he would "hope" in God even if God killed him?


        1. How is this "hope" related to Job saying that he will defend his ways "to [God's] face?" (Job is not backing down on his claim that he does not deserve to suffer. He thinks that he is right, and God is wrong, in letting him suffer. Nevertheless, Job's hope in the justice of God remains even if God kills him for being impertinent.)


    4. Read Job 13:16. Why does Job think that God will not kill him for being impertinent? (The fact that Job appeals to God for justice shows that he is loyal to God.)


      1. Do you agree with Job's view? (Yes, it is not disloyal to view God as the solution to a problem that you want to bring before God.)


    5. Read Job 13:17-19. Wait a minute! Job speaks of his death in another context. Job is not talking about God killing him for being impertinent. What would cause Job's death here? (Job fears that his current illness will end in death. In fact, he hopes death will come soon if he is not vindicated. Since Job's friends argue that he is suffering because of some secret sin, Job's death would result from that and not impertinence to God.)


      1. Is Job showing hope here? (Yes. He says, "I know I will be vindicated.")


    6. Read Job 13:20-22. Job asks God for two things. What are they? (He asks that God will put a stop to his suffering and then grant him the hearing he requests.)


      1. Are Job's two requests fair? (If you agree that a person is innocent until proven guilty, then Job should not be suffering for his sin until after losing his hearing before God.)


        1. What is wrong with our conclusion? (It assumes that Job is suffering for his sin - which we know is not the case.)


    7. Read Job 13:23-25. What is the lesson can we learn in Job's continual mistaken belief that he is suffering for his sins? (That we do not know enough to argue our case before God. We do not understand the big picture. Job does not understand that he is suffering because he is a righteous man, not because he is an unrighteous man.)


    8. Read John 16:33. Jesus has just told His disciples that He is leaving and that other people will want to kill them. Wow! That is a big load of bad news. How can Jesus say "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace?" Knowing that terrible things are coming is not normally the road to peace of mind! (Jesus continues, "But take heart! I have overcome the world." This is where Job failed. Job thinks that he needs to convince God that he does not deserve to suffer. He does not know that God agrees, God does not want Job to suffer. If Job just trusts God, He will make things right.)


    9. Friend, I ask you again, will you agree to just trust God? Trusting God will give you hope!


  3. Next week: The Wrath of Elihu.
* 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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