Sometimes I wonder if the book of Job is not so much about the man after whom the book is named, as it is about his friends. Or about his discussions with his friends as he maintains his integrity and defends a proper vision of God, although he himself is in the midst of intense struggle and suffering.
Yes, you’ll probably accuse me of making even the book of Job into a book about evangelism. And you will not be far from making a just accusation.
The lessons of the book are many for those who seek to influence others for Christ:
- Job refuses to give in to pressure from his wife or from his friends to change his “message.” He digs in and holds to the truth he knows.
- Job doesn’t suffer in silence — he is insistent about God. He doesn’t let his problems keep him from engaging his friends. He doesn’t tell them to let him first sort it all out in his head and get himself back on his feet before holding a theological conference about God and suffering.
- Job challenges the predominant view of God in that age, that suffering is a direct and immediate result of God’s punishment for one’s sin. He knows that his knowledge and experience don’t jibe with the prevailing religious views.
- Job was responsible for his friends’ salvation. God sent his friends to Job to offer sacrifices and for the patriarch’s intercession. He did not punish them, or deal with them according to their folly, because Job prayed for them, Job 42.7-9. God forgave them when they obeyed, because they “did just as the Lord had told them” Job 42.9.
- The book affirms that “the Lord restored what Job had lost after he prayed for his friends” Job 42.10a. That order seems to be important. Maybe we should be looking out for our friends’ situation before God before we tend to our own.
- The end is better than the beginning or the middle. “The Lord doubled all that had belonged to Job … So the Lord blessed the second part of Job’s life more than the first” Job 42.10b, 12. Even better, forgiveness occurs of people who held wrong views and because of those views mistreated God’s chosen ones.
- In the end, God is shown to be sovereign and good and right. All along, Job knows he is the “Almighty” Job 24.1. It doesn’t seem to be submission Job has problems with, it is knowledge. In his suffering he stated from the beginning, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed!” Job 1.21.
If these are not evangelistic points, correct me.