Yesterday evening Leonora and I attended the weekly meeting of the Life group hosted by Roland and Sherry Loder. Two attended besides the four of us, and we worked through the following discussion sheet on Job 2:11-37:24. The discussion was followed by singing.
Life Group — Job’s Friends (Job 2:11-37:24) — October 24, 2013
The book of Job tells the story of how a “blameless and upright man [who] feared God and turned away from evil” was afflicted by Satan (chapters 1-2), of how he and his friends reacted to his afflictions (chapters 3-37), and how God responded to their reactions to his afflictions and restored him (chapters 38-42). We studied chapters 1-2 (omitting 2:11-13) last week, are going to study parts of 2:11-37:24 this week, and will study chapters 38-42 next week, considering in particular what they suggest about the problem of evil.
We’ll divide this evening’s study into four sections: Job’s Friends (2:11-13); Job’s Initial Lament (3:1-26); The Friends’ Solution for Job’s Situation (4:1-5:27); and Job’s Response to His Friends and Appeal to God (13:4-27). I’ll guide the study by asking the questions given below.
Job’s Friends (2:11-13)
1. Why do Job’s friends visit him?
2. How do they react to his condition?
Job’s Initial Lament (3:1-26)
3. Job’s wife had told him, “Curse God and die” (2:8). What does he curse in 3:1-10 instead? Why do you think that he curses it instead of God?
4. What does Job do in 3:11-26 instead of cursing? What would he prefer over his present situation?
The Friends’ Solution for Job’s Situation (4:1-5:27)
5. What does Eliphaz claim is the reason for Job’s trouble (4:7-11)?
6. What advice does Eliphaz give Job (5:8-16)?
Job’s Response to His Friends and Appeal to God (13:4-27)
7. What criticism does Job make of his friends (13:4-12)?
8. What two things does Job want from God (13:20-27)?
9. Can “correct” theology (all the right words) ever be “bad” theology in practice? When? What correctives come in mind for doing “good” theology with people in need? (on 4:1-5:27)
10. In what ways does Job lay himself wide open for yet more “bitter things” [13:26] from God? With what mistaken notion about sins and suffering is Job still burdened? (on 13:6-28)
[The Reflection Questions are from The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups, 1988, and are used by permission of Serendipity House, Littleton, Colorado 80160.]
Some of the things which we said in our discussion of the questions were:
1. Job’s friends visited him because they had heard of what had happened to him and came to show him sympathy and comfort him.
2. Job’s friends wept, tore their robes, and sprinkled dust on their heads on seeing him, and they sat on the ground with him without saying anything to him for seven days and nights.
3. Job cursed the day that he was born and the night that he was conceived. He cursed them because of the misery that he was in, and he cursed them instead of God because of the respect that he had for God.
4. Job asked questions instead of cursing. The questions showed that he would prefer to have died at birth or to die at the time he was speaking over his present situation.
5. Eliphaz claimed that the reason for Job’s trouble was that he had sinned, his making the claim because he attributed all evil that happens to people to their being punished by God for sinning.
6. Eliphaz advised Job to seek God and commit his case to Him and he implied that Job should confess his sin(s) to God and ask for His forgiveness.
7. Job accused his friends of lying on behalf of God for what He has unjustly done to Job.
8. Job asked God to remove the misery that He has imposed on Job and to make Himself available for Job to present his case to.
9. Yes “good” theology, such as God disciplines His children, can be “bad” theology in practice when it doesn’t apply to the person or when it won’t help the person. We should give the person the benefit of a doubt and treat him or her as we’d want to be treated.
10. Job’s laying his case before God could result in his being further “disciplined.” Job seems to be burdened with the same notion as his friends were, that all suffering by a person occurs because of his or her having sinned.