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Lesson 11: Out of the Whirlwind *

Introduction: We know the arguments, right? Job's friends argue the normal rule: that disobedience brings problems and obedience brings blessings. Job must have disobeyed because he has lots of problems. Job counters with his claim to be righteous and undeserving of what he is suffering. An injustice has been done to him and he wants God to give him a hearing so that he can address the charges against him. As an audience to the true facts, we can say that both sides have truth on their side. The friends are right about the normal rules, and Job is right about his righteousness. This week, God enters the picture. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and listen to what God has to say!

  1. God's Charges

    1. Read Job 38:1-3. What is the good news in this message from God? (It sounds like Job is going to get the hearing that he has been demanding.)

      1. God says that Job "darkens" the counsel God receives with "words without knowledge." I thought we decided that Job was right about being a righteous man. Since God has to be right, what is God talking about? (Job does not know the full story.)

      2. How does Job "darken" the conversation? (Light exposes, darkness covers. Job brings misunderstanding to the table, thus his views confuse (darken) the facts.)

      3. God answers "out of the storm." Describe how you think the situation felt to Job? (Recall that a wind killed Job's children. Job 1:18-19.)

    2. Read Job 38:4-7 and Job 39:19-20. What is the answer to God's questions? (No. Job did not create the earth or any of the animals.)

      1. I've just pulled some sample questions from chapters 38 and 39. The rest of God's questions are along the same lines. If you were Job's lawyer, and this was a real hearing, what would you say? (I would object on the basis of relevancy. The hearing Job requested was to have the charges against him announced so that he could answer. These questions deal with Job's competency in life.)

    3. Read Job 40:1-2. If you were God's lawyer, how would you respond to the relevancy objection? What does this question suggest about God's response? (Job's demand for a hearing has a false assumption. That assumption is that God has a legal obligation to answer to Job. God's questions challenge this assumption. Who is Job to question God? How is a human competent to challenge the Almighty? "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?")

  2. Job's Answer to God's Cross-Examination

    1. Read Job 40:3-5. What do you think about Job's answer? He has been demanding that the charges against him be stated. How does this fit Job's prior position? (Job has withdrawn his demand for a hearing. He realizes that he is unworthy to demand an accounting from God.)

      1. Is this a lesson for us today? When we are tempted to say that God is unfair or unjust, should we just put our hands over our mouth and be quiet?

        1. The Genesis account of the Creation and the Fall show that God gave humans free choice. We can reject God. Is our God-given free choice consistent with the idea that when God seems to be letting us down, we should just cover our mouth and be quiet?

    2. Read Job 40:8. Have you heard this before? (Read Job 8:1-3, Job 34:5 and Job 34:12. If the friends are listening to God's cross-examination, they are probably yelling, "Go God! This is precisely what we have been saying to Job.")

    3. Read Job 40:11-14. I want to focus on verse 14. When we sin, who are we offending? (In Psalms 51:3-4 David says "Against You, You only, have I sinned." We may injure others with our sins, but sin is against God alone.)

      1. When God says in Job 40:11-14 that He can crush the wicked and the proud man, it makes sense that He would do this because of our sin against Him. What is the lesson of Job 40:14? (Righteousness by faith. Like Job, we cannot face God. Our "right hand" can never save us. Our only hope is in what Jesus has done for us.)

    4. Read Job 41:11. What does God say to the view that God has an obligation of some sort to humans?

      1. God's argument so far has been about power and authority. Clearly, God has it. Should power have to answer for injustice? Job's claim is that he is suffering injustice.

  3. Job's Conclusion

    1. Read Job 42:1-3. My guess is that almost everyone answered the prior question with "Yes, power should answer for injustice." What answer would Job give now? (Just like it is generally true that right works bring blessings and bad works bring trouble, so it is generally true that power and authority should be just. However, in this specific situation, Job says "I did not understand." How can we call God to account when we do not know all of the facts?)

    2. Read Job 42:4-6. What causes Job to say, "I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes?" (Job encounters the God of the Universe.)

      1. Does God have to answer to our standards? (No. God says that He created everything. He is not like some powerful human authority. He literally created and owns everything. He has no liability to humans. He does not need to explain Himself.)

      2. If you agree that God does not need to explain Himself to us, how do you account for Job 1 & 2? Why does God reveal to us the entire story? (Because God loves us. Since He loves us, He wants us to be satisfied with His decisions. He has no obligation to us, but out of love He gives us an explanation.)

  4. The Friends

    1. Re-read Job 42:6. What do you think Job's friends are thinking at this point? (They are no doubt feeling pretty vindicated by what God has said. Turns out they were right, and Job has now repented.)

    2. Read Job 42:7-8. What a turn around! Now, who is right? (God says the friends "have not spoken of Me what is right, as my servant Job has." Thus, Job is closer to the truth then the friends.)

      1. How can this be true since Job repented ( Job 42:6)? Worse, God started out in our study saying that Job was "darkening" God's counsel "with words without knowledge" ( Job 38:2). How do you explain this? (Two things. First, Job is under duress and this causes people to say things they might not otherwise say. The friends are under no duress and they are not being very charitable. Second, Job is right that he is a righteous man who does not deserve what happened to him. While the friends are speaking general truth, the general rule does not always apply. They misrepresent God when they assume that difficulties in life will invariable reflect disobedience to God.)

    3. Read Hebrews 11:35-38. If you read the context of these verses, you will see that some heroes of faith suffered horrible things. In what way are they like Job? How should this affect our view of the general rule?

    4. Re-read Job 42:7. How many friends does God address? (Eliphaz and his two friends, Bildad and Zophar.)

      1. How many friends were arguing with Job? (Read Job 2:11 and Job 32:1-4. In addition to the original three, we spent an entire lesson on Elihu's angry argument against Job.)

    5. Why does God not condemn Elihu or require him to ask Job to pray for him? (When we studied Elihu's statements last week, we saw that some of them were the same as made by the three older friends. But, some were not. For example, in Job 32:8-9 and Job 32:18-19 Elihu claims that the Holy Spirit is speaking through him. We did not previously read all of Elihu's argument, but in Job 36:22-23 Elihu argues that humans are in no position to charge God with wrongdoing. If you skim over Job 36:26-37:24, you will see that Elihu makes the same "God is God and you are not" argument that God makes in the next chapter. On important points Elihu anticipates what God will say, and I think that is why he is not condemned.)

    6. Friend, I think the lesson for us is that we need to be slow to condemn others when we use logical deduction, rather than observation of actual sin. Elihu teaches us that an excellent way to vindicate God's character is to focus on His glory, rather than focus on the sinfulness of humans. Will you reconsider how you deal with apparent sin in the lives of others?

  5. Next week: Job's Redeemer.
* 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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