Job 4:1-6

Sermon preached on November 22, 2015 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

I once saw a cartoon that pictured a pastor lying in a hospital bed with one of his elders sitting beside the bed, visiting him. The elder was telling the pastor that the session had passed a motion to pray for his recovery. He said,

"The vote was 6 to 5."

I love that cartoon. One of the points that it's illustrating is how insensitive people can be. It's actually hard to believe how incredibly insensitive we can be. We often say the stupidest things.

I heard another story about a woman whose husband was dying of cancer. In the middle of it one of her friends was distraught because she was going through a divorce. This friend lost all perspective. She compared their losses. She thought that her loss, going through a divorce, was worse than the loss of her friend whose husband was dying. She referred to her friend's upcoming loss of her husband through death as,

'beautiful and romantic.'

Who would say that? It's unbelievable. But that's what we are like sometimes. We say insensitive things that hurt people. Instead of helping others we hurt them.

Job's three friends are a great lesson in this—what not to do when someone is suffering.

Christopher Ash writes,

"The privilege of speaking with sufferers is one that is easily abused."

Job's friends certainly abused it. One of the main lessons we should take away from our text is that

God wants you to be a real comfort those who are suffering.

Are you a comfort, a blessing to those that are suffering? Do you enter into their sorrow and console them? We're supposed to do that. In Romans 12:15 the apostle Paul told us to,

"mourn with those who mourn."

And in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 Paul indicated why we have received comfort. He wrote,

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort
those in any trouble with the comfort
we ourselves have received from God."

Comforting others is one of the most important duties that we called to perform.

But Job's three friends got it all wrong. Consider Eliphaz here. He accuses Job of being a hypocrite. He said that Job had been able to give good advice to those who were suffering, but when suffering came to him he faltered. John Calvin summarizes Eliphaz's position. (Sermon on Job 4:1-6)

"He tells him, in short, that he understands his fear of God was only appearance and his purity was only hypocrisy because he is overwrought and cannot accept patiently the correction God is sending him. He goes even further and says that Job has to be a reprobate because God is dealing so harshly with him. Why? Because the good are never that completely afflicted."

In his eyes this proved that Job had no real righteousness. Francis I. Andersen comments on verse 5, (Job)

"there is the insinuation that Job is unable to apply to himself what he preached to others."

Eliphaz lived before the time of David, so Psalm 15 wasn't known to Eliphaz or Job. But it's like Eliphaz is using Psalm 15:2–5 against Job to prove he's not righteous. The psalm begins by asking,

"LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?"

The answer is given,

"He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken."

But Job is shaken—so Eliphaz concludes that Job is not righteous. That's what Eliphaz says in verse 6.

"Should not your piety be your confidence
and your blameless ways your hope?"

But the Bible doesn't teach that the righteous won't have great setbacks. Calvin writes,

"It is said that not only will the just man be beaten down but that he will also fall seven times a day (Prov. 24:16). Consequently, we will fall many times, but God's hand will be ready to sustain us so that our falling will not crush us, and he will deliver us."

What is Eliphaz doing wrong here?

First of all,

he's judging Job when that's wasn't his place.

Eliphaz does what Jesus said not to do. In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus said,

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged,
and with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you."

In speaking of the weak and strong in Romans 14, Paul criticizes those who were judging the weak and looking down on them. He wrote, (Romans 14:4)

"Who are you to judge someone else's servant?
To his own master he stands or falls.
And he will stand, for the Lord
is able to make him stand."

As individuals we have no right to set ourselves up as judges over other people regarding the providences that God sends upon them.

But that's what Job's three friends did. Jesus warned us against this in Luke 13:1–5. We read,

"Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus
about the Galileans whose blood
Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
Jesus answered, 'Do you think that these Galileans
were worse sinners than all the other Galileans
because they suffered this way?
I tell you, no! But unless you repent,
you too will all perish.
Or those eighteen who died
when the tower in Siloam fell on them—
do you think they were more guilty
than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no!'"

Now don't misunderstand me.

Sometimes we are to make judgments.

God tells us to do that. For example, in 2 John 1:7, 10 the apostle John wrote,

"Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ
as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.
Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist…
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching,
do not take him into your house or welcome him."

In cases like that God commands you to make the correct judgment. If you help someone like that in their false work, you sin.

The Bible also tells you what sin is and tells you to make judgments regarding people and their sin. Even as individuals you are to make such judgments. For example, in 1 Corinthians 5:9–11 we read,

"I have written you in my letter not to associate with
sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people
of this world who are immoral,
or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.
In that case you would have to leave this world.
But now I am writing you that you must not associate
with anyone who calls himself a brother
but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer,
a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat."

God tells you that if someone is pretending to be a Christian while indulging in great sin—you are to separate yourself from him. The reason has to do with the church's witness. The church is supposed to be holy. Although none of us are perfect—we are to try, as much as possible, to present the church to the world as a holy church. Jesus has come not only to save us from the consequences of sin, but from the power and dominion of sin. So if someone who is openly profligate wants to pretend he is a brother, we must not let him. We must separate from him.

So these two examples show us that in many situations, as individuals, God tells us to make judgments.

Also, the church is to make judgments about sin. In 1 Corinthians 5:1f, Paul wrote,

"It is actually reported that
there is sexual immorality among you,
and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans:
A man has his father's wife. And you are proud!
Shouldn't you rather have been
filled with grief and have put out
of your fellowship the man who did this?
Even though I am not physically present,
I am with you in spirit.
And I have already passed judgment
on the one who did this, just as if I were present.
When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus
and I am with you in spirit, and the
power of our Lord Jesus is present,
hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature
may be destroyed and his spirit
saved on the day of the Lord."

In Revelation 2:20 Jesus rebuke the church at Thyatira because they failed to exercise discipline on a woman there. He said,

"Nevertheless, I have this against you:
You tolerate that woman Jezebel,
who calls herself a prophetess.
By her teaching she misleads
my servants into sexual immorality
and the eating of food sacrificed to idols."

So we as individuals and as a church are to make certain judgments. But many times we are not to make them. It's not our place. Job's three friends made judgments about Job and they should not have.

The second thing we see here is that Eliphaz

didn't have the facts to draw the conclusions he did.

No one testified that Job was sinful. Eliphaz and his friends merely looked at what had happened to Job and passed sentence on him. They considered God's providences regarding Job and concluded that he was a great sinner and that he needed to repent of certain hidden sins.

They didn't have enough facts. They didn't know that Job was the most righteous man on the face of the earth.

Part of the problem with Job's three friends is that part of their theology was wrong. Although much of what they say is true, it's truth mixed with falsehood. Many of their basic assumptions are untrue. Christopher Ash describes the theology of Job's friends under 4 points. They are, (Job, p.

1. "God is absolutely in control. 2. God is absolutely just and fair.3. Therefore he always punishes wickedness and blesses righteousness—always (and soon and certainly in this life). If he were ever to do otherwise, he would necessarily be unjust, which is inconceivable.4. Therefore, if I suffer I must have sinned and am being punished justly for my sin."

Both 3 and 4 are wrong. God does not always punish sinner soon. Sometimes the wicked prosper. Sometimes the innocent suffer. That was what was happening with Job but his friends didn't believe that. They were sure they were right and that Job was a great sinner. They were completely wrong. Job suffering and he was not being punished for any specific sin. Although he was a sinner like everyone else, he was the most righteous man on the face of the earth. Near the end of the book, (Job 42:7–9) we read,

"After the Lord had said these things to Job,
he said to Eliphaz the Temanite,
'I am angry with you and your two friends,
because you have not spoken of me what is right,
as my servant Job has.
So now take seven bulls
and seven rams and go to my servant Job
and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves.
My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer
and not deal with you according to your folly.
You have not spoken of me what is right,
as my servant Job has.' "

The biggest defect of their theology is described by Christopher Ash this way, in a section entitled, "No Cross". (Job, p. 96-97)

"In the context of the whole Bible, perhaps the deepest error and omission of the friends is this: they have no place for innocent suffering. They think that if the righteous were ever to suffer or perish, it would be a blot on the moral landscape. As Eliphaz asks, 'Who that was innocent ever perished?' (4:7)The Bible places against that question a large eternal cross.On the cross the innocent one perished in the place of the guilty, that we might not finally perish. In a profound sense the sufferings of Job are the cost of grace. Or to be more accurate, the sufferings that Job foreshadows will be the cost of grace. With their tidy impersonal theological code, the comforters miss the heart of the universe."

The only way for us to be saved was for the most innocent human being who ever lived, the One without any sin—to take our sin and suffer for it. There is often a reason for the innocent to suffer. Paul and Silas were cast in prison in Philippi for doing something good. They suffered, in part, so that the Philippian jailer and his family would be saved. Trust God in your suffering. There is a good reason for it.

As far as the sufferings of others go—I ask you—are you a blessing to them? Or do you judge others when it's not your place, when you don't have enough information? Do you just think evil about them because there might be one or two things that perhaps suggest that someone has done wrong? You don't have enough facts but you believe that they've sinned and you think,

"Sin is so common these days that he has to be doing it too. It's unreasonable to think that he has not sinned."

So many Christians today are just like Job's three friends. Are you one of them?

So what does this mean for us.


Christians, when you see suffering, show compassion.

Love compassion, love showing compassion. How presumptuous of us to think that we have God's mysterious providences all figured out. Sometimes the righteous suffer. Don't assume that you are more righteous than the one who suffers. Don't assume that they deserve to suffer and you don't. One of the things about love is that it is kind. It thinks no evil. Let your heart go out to those who suffer. Mourn with those who mourn.


when you see someone suffering—hate sin.

All suffering comes because of sin, the sin that Adam brought upon us, the sins that we have committed. When you see the effects of sin, suffering—hate sin. But most of all, hate your sin. Don't judge other people. The one you can judge with great accuracy, if you overcome your blindness—is yourself.

But hate sin in general as well. And realize that what the world today is pushing—sin without any consequences—is a lie that must be resisted. They are telling people that they can do whatever they want, as long as it doesn't hurt others. How wrong they are. Realize that if you are going to be a blessing to them, you need to tell them that they need to repent and turn to Jesus.

Christians, when you see someone suffering,

love Jesus.

Consider what He did for you, what He did for sinners. Be amazed that He, the author of Life, suffering and died for you. Love Him, the sinless one, who came deliver you from suffering and give you eternal life.

For those of you who are not Christians,

in suffering, see Jesus and consider Him—your only hope of deliverance.

Eliphaz tells Job to trust his piety. He says, (Job 4:6)

"Should not your piety be your confidence
and your blameless ways your hope?"

But he's totally wrong. Our good works should not be our confidence. In Philippians 3 Paul referred to his personal righteousness as 'dung'. The Bible teaches that we cannot gain heaven by our good works. In Galatians 2:16 Paul wrote that we,

"know that a man is not justified by observing the law,
but by faith in Jesus Christ.
So we, too, have put our faith
in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and
not by observing the law,
because by observing the law no one will be justified."

Why did Jesus suffer and die? Why did the innocent One allow Himself to be crucified? It was because if human beings were going to be saved—the penalty of our sin, death, had to be paid. Don't die. Go to Jesus. Only He can save you.