Presumptions About God’s Motives.
Unless it has to do explicitly with Israel’s unfaithfulness, it is not often that we hear God complain about human presumptions on His motives; although we do it all the time. But this was exactly His reaction to the speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar in the Book of Job: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has” (Job 42:7-9). Strange indeed! I would have thought that Job ought to be the one singled out for misconceptions about God’s purpose in his suffering, where his particularly caustic bluntness and plain rudeness were evident as he disparages his Creator; viz., accusing God of assault and battery, delivering him to torturers, and harming him without cause (Job 9:17-18; Job 16:6-14). He ridiculed Him for being unjust too (Job 9:20-24), and numerous times throughout the narrative, his conversational tone was punitive and insolent: telling God to withdraw and leave him alone, blaming Him for His cruelty and tyranny, and blatantly ignoring his cries for help (Job 7:16-19; Job 10:20; Job 30:19-23). On the other hand, Job’s three friends appeared to be sacrosanct in their declarations on Yahweh, and being Scripturally appropriate too: viz., advising Job to acquiesce and accept the Lord’s discipline, that God is always just, given His omniscience and preeminence, and that the wicked will surely be judged (Job 5:17, c.f., Ps 94:12; Job 8:3; Job 11:7-10, c.f., Ps 145:3; Job 18:5-21, c.f., Prov 13:9). In which sense were their pronouncements faulty, weighed against Job’s incendiary assertions?
The basis for Job’s trials surfaced in Yahweh’s conversation with Satan, and it immediately underscored the gross ineptitude of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar’s perception of Job’s state (Job 1:8-12): “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Job’s catastrophic predicament was never to do with his transgressions, nor were his sufferings a consequence of God’s discipline. Hence, Eliphaz’s conclusions on Job’s miseries were invalid, including his brazen advice. Bildad’s audacity in suggesting that the sins of Job’s children justifiably brought on themselves God’s judgment (Job 8:3-6) was totally tactless and a groundless observation that completely ignored Job’s profound grief and bewilderment at his losses. More salt was added, when Eliphaz accused Job of explicit sins against the Almighty, for which he was now being judged (Job 22:4-11). The three were presumptuous in their assumptions that God’s judgment followed certain events, and attempted to correspond Job’s situation by endorsing God’s ostensible judicial decisions. This arrogant human practice is not uncommon, and it invariably implies a self-righteousness that infuriated God. Were they somehow privy to God’s motives and practices? (c.f., Rom 11:33-34). They had completely misunderstood their friend’s circumstances, and instead of empathising with him and comforting him, they judged him whom God had commended for being ‘blameless and upright.’ In doing so, they attributed falsehood to God’s motives. Although Job was too confused initially to grasp the object for his trials, Yahweh was deeply offended by his friends’ constricted worldview!
What would you have done in Job’s shoes, faced with a similar predicament in God’s double-blind test? Or if you were one of Job’s friends, how would you react? Incidentally, all trials from God are double-blind! It does not take much to conclude from Job’s confused ranting with God that he agonised, cognitively and affectively, over his protracted ordeals. He was stretched beyond his limits in endeavouring to fathom its logic, knowing well that he did not deserve his afflictions. Unlike his three friends, he was wise to eventually conclude that he could not disparage God’s intent, since He had chosen to be silent about it. Job, in the midst of his weariness and pain, began to appreciate the absolute sovereignty of Yahweh in His creation, that included him, with no further speculations or questions needed! (Job 40:3-5; Job 42:1-6).