Could we use parts of Job in preaching & teaching?

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cupotea

Puritan Board Junior
Recently we had a lively discussion on Job.

Based on 42:7

And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

Some people think we shouldn't preach positively from words spoken by Job's friends whatsoever, since they "have not spoken of the LORD the thing that is right, as His servant Job hath." But some people say Job's friends spoke some words full of wisdom,especially the words concering God's attributes and workings, could these words be treated as God's words?

Could some one points to some resouces on this issue for me? Thanks.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I have often thought about this question. It seems to me that Job's friends are right in the sense of correctly expounding Deuteronomic theology, but are wrong in how they are applying that theology to Job's situation. The logic of Job's friends goes like this: sin results in suffering. Job is suffering. Therefore the suffering must be the direct result of some great sin(s). The problem with this reasoning of course, is that it is backwards. There might be another reason for Job's suffering, as indeed there is (since we know the prologue). I do not believe that the book of Job is in any way intended to make the friends of Job look stupid, or even that they are heretics. Yes, I know that Job has to intercede for them in the end, but that is because Job's friends sinned in their theology's application. So, absolutely, preach as positive theology the arguments of Job's friends. Just don't make the same kinds of application as they do!
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I remember hearing my pastor speak of it as "True, but wrong".
However, some of their statements are obviously false: for instance, the accusations of misconduct they make against Job.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I have often thought about this question. It seems to me that Job's friends are right in the sense of correctly expounding Deuteronomic theology, but are wrong in how they are applying that theology to Job's situation. The logic of Job's friends goes like this: sin results in suffering. Job is suffering. Therefore the suffering must be the direct result of some great sin(s). The problem with this reasoning of course, is that it is backwards. There might be another reason for Job's suffering, as indeed there is (since we know the prologue). I do not believe that the book of Job is in any way intended to make the friends of Job look stupid, or even that they are heretics. Yes, I know that Job has to intercede for them in the end, but that is because Job's friends sinned in their theology's application. So, absolutely, preach as positive theology the arguments of Job's friends. Just don't make the same kinds of application as they do!
:up:

They're utterly convinced that blessing and suffering are on some sort of sliding scale. The better you are, the more you're blessed. The worse you are, the more you're cursed. Their theology cannot reckon that God sometimes blesses the wicked and that glory can arise out of suffering.

His friends are insensitive to Job's suffering constantly telling him that he needs to repent of the great sin they're certain he has committed and God will bless him. Their theology is shallow and presumptuous. Their "wisdom" consists of dead aphorisms that contain some truth but very little wisdom because they presume to speak where God has not.

I note the following about Job's friends:

1. They are very much like Word of Faith or other Pentecostal sects that view all cursings and blessings like some predictable scheme. Put in your obedience or the correct amount of prayer and you'll get out blessing. If bad things are happening to you then God is not in them. The Cross cannot fit into their theological schema.

2. If you want to teach from their wisdom then it's like other aphorisms. You cannot press a "saying" as you would a didactic principle. What Job's friends do with Proverbs is much like what other immature Christians do: they try to press them into predictable formulas. Wisdom is not achieved so cheaply as if we've achieved the condition so the result follows automatically.

3. A person who would prooftext Job's friends to develop a theological point would express the same kind of folly and immaturity that I've just described in points 1 and 2. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and it puts you in trajectory to where the entire wisdom of Job and the Proverbs starts to come into greater focus. Job's friends are not intended to be read in snippets as a devotional or a single verse to "take with me". They're not intended to be broken down into 12 easy steps or 40 days of purpose. The man who is truly pursuing wisdom is letting the Word teach Him in total from the clearer portions and is a diligent student of the Word under the mentorship of one wiser. When He understands the character of God then the Book of Job comes into sharper focus as a whole and he need no longer look at snippets of Job's friends to discover Truth.

4. I will commend Job's friends for one thing. They wait a whole week before they say a single word to him. Prior to that they just sit and grieve with him. Most of us open our mouths right away and say foolish things like telling a person not to grieve.
 

jolivetti

Puritan Board Freshman
I spoke with a good friend last week who is finishing up an expository sermon series through the book of Job (the whole book)...he commented that it was probably his favorite series so far. One reason was for the depth of insight the book of Job gives to the sufferings of Christ on the cross.

I would think interpreting and preaching the words of Job's friends would require wisdom and a solid Biblical theology. My friend (Pastor Hanson of Grace RPC in State College, PA) preached from larger portions, as well, to show the interaction between Job and his friends. Those interactions are pure gold for sermons!
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I spoke with a good friend last week who is finishing up an expository sermon series through the book of Job (the whole book)...he commented that it was probably his favorite series so far. One reason was for the depth of insight the book of Job gives to the sufferings of Christ on the cross.

I would think interpreting and preaching the words of Job's friends would require wisdom and a solid Biblical theology. My friend (Pastor Hanson of Grace RPC in State College, PA) preached from larger portions, as well, to show the interaction between Job and his friends. Those interactions are pure gold for sermons!

Now there's a sermon series I would love to have heard! Preaching through the Book of Job! That would be most edifying to me and glorifying to God, I believe.

By the way, the ESV's introduction to Job has changed. The original, in the Classic Reference Edition (from 2001) starts this way: Considered both a theological and a literary masterpiece, the book of Job is an honest discussion of why God allows good people to suffer. I've disagreed with the last part of that sentence, since the Bible is plain that there are no good people, qua people.

Now, in the Single-Column Reference Edition (2007), the last part of that sentence now reads: "...of why God allows a good man to suffer."

That's better, since the "good man" obviously refers to Job. Personally, I think that last part of the sentence should read: "...of why God allows His elect to suffer." It's more precise, and it covers not only Job but all the elect, since all of us will experience suffering at one time or another.
 
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