These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.
Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 2 ~ Jan. 5-11
When Bad Things Happen to Blameless People
One of Job’s main stances in this section is that he is “blameless” in God’s eyes. What does it mean to be blameless? (Job 6:24, Psalm 15:2, 18:23, 19:13) It carries the connotation that no one can accuse this person before the Lord of current, willful, unrepentant sin. A blameless person is one who loves the Lord, desires to please Him, and has a track record of good fruit- he avoids sin, repents of sin and asks forgiveness from those he has wronged, and does good works.
What does “blameless” NOT mean? (Romans 3:10, 23, Psalm 51:5) Blameless doesn’t mean perfect or without sin. We are all sinners from conception.
Why Job is suffering? (1:8, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10) We know that it’s BECAUSE Job is blameless that he’s suffering (1:8- Compare to Paul in 2 Cor.), but Job and his friends don’t know this. Job doesn’t understand why he’s suffering, but his friends think they do.
Why do Job’s friends think he is suffering? Job’s friends start from the false assumption/conventional wisdom that suffering is always a direct result and punishment of sin, and that blessings are always a direct result of good/godly behavior. Notice, they all come from the same line of thinking, but bring up slightly different points to Job.
Bildad (8:5-6, 18:5, John 16:33, Matthew 6:9-13): “You just need to ‘get right with God’.” Bildad says Job needs to repent of his sin. If Job would just “get right with God” everything would be fine. Jesus says to his disciples: In this world you WILL have tribulation.
Bildad is partially right. We can suffer for sins we’ve committed. If you have an affair, you will probably suffer the loss of your marriage. If you don’t, you won’t. If we are walking in constant repentance (as in the example of the Lord’s Prayer) and communion with the Lord, our consciences are sensitive to sin, we’re more alert to temptation, strengthened to avoid it, and more likely to be, as Job was, blameless.
Job responds (9:2-3, 14-15; 12:9): “Nobody is sinless, but I am walking blamelessly.” Nobody can stand sinless before God. Job is as right as he knows how to be. He can’t think of any sin in his life he hasn’t repented for, and he has a track record of walking with the Lord. God knows all of that , and still, He is the one who is allowing all this calamity, so what Bildad is saying can’t be true.
Zophar (11:4-6; 20:29): “These calamities are proof that there is sin in your life.” Zophar takes the attitude that the calamities themselves are proof that Job not only has sin in his life, he is lying to cover up that sin by saying he’s blameless. Therefore, Job deserves even worse than what he’s getting.
Job responds (13:15; 27:1ff, John 6:66-69): “I don’t know why God is doing this, but I’m not going to give up hope in Him.” Job will not abandon his hope in the Lord. Even though he doesn’t understand God’s ways right now, he knows he’s right with the Lord. Besides, there’s no hope in anything else. Compare to Peter’s confession of Christ.
Eliphaz (15:20, 2 Timothy 3:12, John 15:18, Jeremiah 12:1): “Only evildoers suffer. Godly people prosper.” What does Jesus say about that? “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?”
Job responds (21:7,16; 2 Corinthians 11:24-28): “Our own daily experience tells us that’s not true.” We all know, or know of, people who live very godly lives, yet suffer with illness, deaths of loved ones, financial ruin, family problems, and evil people who have everything they could dream of. Compare to Paul.
If this were true, what would motivate people to come to Christ? (1:9-11) Greed. Selfishness. A “What can I get from God?” mentality. This is exactly what many popular “Christians” teach today. Come to Jesus for healing. Come to Jesus for wealth. Come to Jesus for success. Never, “Come to Jesus for His tender mercy and the forgiveness of your sin.” Come to Jesus for stuff. That’s what they teach, and that’s what Satan assumed Job was serving God for (1:9-11). God showed through Job that that’s not why His true children serve Him.
Jesus (Matthew 5:45, Job 29-31, Romans 8:28): “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” This is exactly what Job is saying in chapters 29-31. He has walked blamelessly all these years and had good circumstances. Now, he’s still walking blamelessly and he has bad circumstances. He hasn’t changed. His goodness didn’t earn God’s blessings as payment, and his badness (remember, he wasn’t perfect and still sinned during the “good years”) didn’t disqualify him from them. Only his circumstances have changed.
All things, bad or good, come through God’s hands, and they come because He loves us. Romans 8:28 says “for those who love God all things work together for good.” All things- the good and the bad. The good things may be for comfort, joy, provision, testing our faithfulness or obedience, to allow us to help others, etc. The bad things may be for some Heavenly reason (as with Job) that we know nothing about, to draw us away from the things of the world, to teach us obedience or dependence on Christ, to allow us to know Him as Provider, Healer, Comforter, Peace. We can’t know Him experientially in those ways if we never walk through times when we need provision, healing, comfort, peace, etc.
As parents, sometimes we give our child ice cream to eat and sometimes we give him Brussels sprouts. Do we give ice cream because we love him and Brussels sprouts because we hate him? No. Both are done out of love, the ice cream because it brings him joy, and the Brussels sprouts because it has the nutrients he needs to be strong and healthy. It would not be loving for a parent to give only ice cream OR only Brussels sprouts. In the same way, it would not be loving for God to give us only blessings or only difficult times.
Let’s ask God to help us walk with Him blamelessly so we can say, as Job did (23:10-12):
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
My foot has held fast to his steps;
I have kept his way and have not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.