Bible Study Notes (11-23-08)

by

FrieNdShip

 

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24

JOB AND PALS

Now I’d like to address something if you have ever had a friend you know well about and that’s being a true friend to someone in times of trial. When sickness, death,  and loss come into the picture, how do we handle it rightly? Here we find one of the most infamous friendships. That between Job and his, ahem, “friends.” We all know this story, I should hope: Satan comes before God. God mentions His upright servant Job. Satan laughs and suggests that the only reason Job loved God was his wealth. God says, “Fine! Take away his money, but don’t touch his person. See what happens.” Bam! Cattle, gone. Sheep, gone. Camels, gone. Servants, gone. Sons and daughters, gone. Job, being the man of faith he was says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Then, same thing happens again! Satan comes, God mentions, Satan challenges that, “Yeah, but he still has his health!” God accepts the challenge and says, “Fine. But you must spare his life.” So… Satan give Job open, oozing, painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Job’s wife… astounded at the fact that Job is putting up with this from his God commands him to “Curse God and die!” The text makes no mention of her leaving but I have this visual of her saying that with an overnight bag in hand muttering, “I’m staying with mother!” Job, replies to his wife, aghast, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” She storms out of the place (in my twisted little mind at least) and in come Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They show up and see Job so disfigured by the sores and so out of sorts by what’s gone on that they hardly recognize its him. Then, they sit with him, in dust and ashes for seven days, saying nothing. At last, Job opens his mouth and pours forth some of the most Emo stuff you’d ever hope to hear. Then his friends take turns responding about how, “Well… Job… come on man! You must have sinned!” Job was steadfast in his uprightness. A good case can be made that Job was in fact saved. Job says in 16:19-21, “Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor.” There’s more, read the book and you will see it LITTERED with Christ. But I digress. So the three take turns bashing Job and Job responds back. At last, from out of the shadows comes this young buck Elihu who I’m not sure where he fits because he bashes Job for not glorifying God and bashes the other three friends for not refuting Job. At last, God speaks. He gives neither Job nor his friends any reason but expounds in beautiful language, though rebuking, to Job on His own glory. Then tells Eliphaz who is kind of the head of the three friends, “You messed up big time! Job, he was talking right about me, you guys… LEFT FIELD! … Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.” They do… Job does. You see, Job’s pals were never smarter and more comforting to him (not to mention their standing with the Lord!) than when they sat there… in silence… letting their physical presence speak the volumes of love and care and friendship that no words could ever, ever convey. I know in my own life I struggle with that. I want to have a good snappy, pithy, response that is 100% biblical and makes it all better. No. I need to sit there in silence, and if my friend is suffering, my silent prayers to God for HIS comfort are sufficient. Further, we see from Job his deep love for his friends, even after they wallop him! He could have looked at God and said, “I will not sacrifice for them. After they said what they said to me, said about you… It is only just for you to let your wrath flow!” No. He makes the sacrifice to God, on their behalf, out of his love for God (primarily) and his friends. There are more than enough wrongs I have done against my friends. There are a few they have done against me. Yet, I hope, they love me. I, truly, love them. It is because of that love, our binding together with Christ, that I can say with all my heart to those closest to me who have sinfully hurt me, “I forgive you.”

LESSON: Sometimes the smartest and best thing you can say to a hurting friend is nothing at all. Your presence is enough.

LESSON: A true friend loves deeply and such “love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

 

Before we go on, I’d like for us to be on the same page as to why we suffer.  Suffering: Why?

 

+ Reminds us we are in a Gen 3 world. (Gen 3:16-19)

Cancer, Diabetes, loose joints, deafness, none of it is “good” in and of itself. At no point in seven days did the Lord say, “Let there be learning disabilities!” These things are there so that we may say, “Lord, the world you created was good. The sin that invaded is bad. Let me flee from the sinfulness of sin. For if one sin caused the world to be thrown into chaos then my multitude have more than earned your wrath. As the writer said, ‘Destroy, O God, the dark guest within whose hidden presence makes my life a hell’.”

 

+ To draw our attention to God. (Lk 13:1-5)

So often the first question that people ask in a natural disaster is “WHERE WAS GOD?” The door flies wide open for the Christian to provide Good News, when all one has is taken. What hope is there? Car, gone. House, gone. Pets, gone. FAMILY, gone. Where then does hope lie? We have the answer. (Xref 1 Peter 3:15)

 

+ To punish (1 Cor 11:27-32)

To the unbeliever, God can use suffering as a punishment. We see this all over the Old Testament. The 10 Plagues of Egypt are a perfect example.

 

+ To discipline (Heb 12:5-11)

A Christian is never to face punishment, as the punishment we deserve was meted out upon Christ. Yet, God will not allow us to live lives that do not honor him. Sometimes we don’t know what we are doing is wrong and God will grant conviction. That’s a suffering! God disciplined David in 2 Sam 12:13-15. Harsh, but merciful considering what David had done.

 

+ To refine (1 Peter 1:6-7)

The best aspect of suffering is this. God is making us better. Suffering helps us trust more in HIS strength and less in ours. (2 Cor 12:6-10).

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

·         When you are suffering, physically or spiritually, what brings you the most comfort? Why?

 

·         Have you ever found yourself where words of comfort only annoy or make it worse?

 

·         How do you provide comfort? Is it the Biblical way? How do the different reasons behind suffering direct the way in which you provide comfort.

 

·          Explain how sound theology can be a comfort.

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