The “Other” Lesson of Job, and Contemporary Christian Authors
This primary lesson of Job is well known to most of us: We are shown that people enduring difficulty or hardship should not automatically be thought of as being justly punished for some wrongdoing. God allowed Satan to attack Job for His own good reasons, but we know that Job is not being punished by God, because God declares him blameless. It is also a reminder that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and that He often implements His will in perfect – but mysterious – ways that elude our understanding.
But there is one aspect of the book of Job that always baffled me. Have you ever wondered why the book of Job is so lengthy? Doesn’t it seem odd that the conversations between Job and his friends are so detailed, expanding into 34 chapters? Why are we provided with 34 chapters of ramblings that are later declared inaccurate, and therefore unreliable? Wouldn’t just one chapter, summarizing the contents of those chapters, be more than enough?
From Chapter 3 to Chapter 37, Job and his friends expound and debate their ideas about God. While we can certainly feel for Job’s predicament, we cannot allow our sympathy for him in this situation to blind us to the truth: he had it wrong; in fact, they all had it all wrong. So why would God allow 34 chapters of inaccurate information to remain in the Bible? Why allow so much space in scripture for information that God Himself finally labels as “inaccurate?”
There must be a very, very good reason. And I think I know what it is: God wanted us to see that people will say and write things about Him and His nature that sound right, sound pretty, sound righteous, but are not correct. Remember that towards the very end of the book of Job (Job 42:8), in a single sentence, God labels the long, rambling musings of Job’s friends over the last 34 chapters as inaccurate. He does not say “some of the things you have said were inaccurate…;” He says “you have not spoken accurately about me…,” designating the entire series of discussions as unreliable.
I don’t think God meant that every single word they spoke was a complete lie. But I do think that He is trying to warn us when we see the mixing of hard truth with pretty lies. It sounds good, it sounds accurate, but it is not. It is a warning to us that there are those who can fill time or pages with pretty words, beautiful interpretations, articulate lessons, all of which are ultimately inaccurate and misleading concerning God and His nature.
How can this lesson in Job help us today? Let’s examine the same subject as it pertains to current day…
There are many Christian authors who have attracted large crowds and sold many books, based on the same kind of talk that got Job’s friends into trouble. They speak or write pretty words that sound like what God wants us to hear, but those words are simply inaccurate…tainted with falsity…and therefore misleading and dangerous. You can say that they mean well, but God did not give Job’s friends the same kind of pass. He said they were not accurate, and that means their words and ideas are not valid.
Often these words, whether spoken or written, launch from a legitimate point very close to scripture, which catches your attention. But then – through convoluted or lengthy wording – they subtly drift from the truth. With the most absolute and charming confidence, with a gleaming and toothy smile, they divert you off the scriptural path, and preach an errant message.
When we are young, we are taught that “everyone has a right to be heard.” When we are children, and learning the rules of conversation, this direction serves us well. But as you get older, you need to realize that there are people you should not listen to – not give them an audience. Do not even permit them time to “explain” to you what they think you do not understand.
There is a song titled “Who to Listen To” (Amy Grant, Unguarded, 1993), where we are admonished that the ungodly will seek to get your attention, and the best thing you can do is to decide – ahead of time – who you will NOT listen to, who you must ignore.
Thankfully, those of us who are saved have a secret weapon: the Holy Spirit within us will warn us when these faulty sermons are aimed in our direction. We may not know exactly why, but we’ll feel His tap on our shoulder, that little warning. Listen to that warning. Do not ignore it; do not dismiss it. Once you detect this warning, cut them off. Stop listening. Politely – but firmly –dismiss yourself, and leave the area.
I believe the readers of RR are well aware of this danger, but I have found corroboration in the book of Job, and I wanted to share this with all of you to read and consider. As the days are filled with increasing deception, we all need to be extra careful who we listen to, and be sure to check everything we are exposed to against scripture.
The days are short, and we cannot afford to be distracted or diverted by non-scriptural information or interpretation.