© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 24 February 2019
3B(JOB)24. Acute heart-testing situations for Job and others:
(a) God gave the Satan permission (with restrictions) to severely challenge Job’s commitment to God, by bringing calamities upon him. The Satan also used these dire circumstances to challenge others’ commitment to God.
(b) By God’s grace these were extreme opportunities He was giving Job and others to carry out His Covenantal commission
3B(JOB)24(title) Acute heart-testing situations for Job and others
As for others previously, Job’s commitment to God was challenged through acute heart-testing situations. His wife, three friends and Elihu were also challenged. The true motivations of each of their hearts were shown by their reactions and responses to these situations.
3B(JOB)24(a) God gave the Satan permission (with restrictions) to severely challenge Job’s commitment to God, by bringing calamities upon him. The Satan also used these dire circumstances to challenge others’ commitment to God.
In Era 3 God’s first Covenantal requirement for all people was “to master sin and do what is right” [3A10(a)] and He added only two specific prohibitions [3A10(b, c)]. To keep His first requirement depended almost entirely upon each person’s conscience. They had to use their ethical awareness to discern good and evil. Then they were to live with moral integrity by doing only what they believed was right and good [2A10(c)].
Like all people after the FALL, Job had knowledge of good and evil. He must also have had some awareness of the sinful history of his ancestors since the FALL and the FLOOD. Yet he had chosen to live with moral integrity Job 1:1. Because of his wholehearted commitment to God he kept God’s Covenantal requirements Job 1:4,5 and God had greatly favored him Job 1:3.
In two “angelic audiences” God told the Satan that Job was a man of unique moral integrity Job 1:6,8, 2:1,3a. But the Satan responded by making accusations against Job’s motives for obeying God Job 1:9-10, 2:4. He brazenly incited God to severely test Job’s commitment to Him Job 1:11a, 2:5a to expose this alleged moral weakness Job 1:11b, 2:5b.
God gave the Satan permission to afflict Job cruelly, but with restrictions Job 1:12a, 2:6. So Job would be hit with terrible calamities deliberately caused by the Satan Job 2:7a. This would put acute pressures upon Job’s earnest heartfelt intention to go on living according to conscience and maintaining his moral integrity.
Job’s disasters would also cause acute heart-testing situations for others, challenging them to respond by keeping God’s Covenantal requirements too. But Job’s wife, his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, and a fourth man Elihu instead brought accusations, condemnations and other oppressive influences upon Job! Such responses bore the marks of also having been provoked by the Satan. These put further pressures upon Job to sin in his desires, thoughts, words and actions.
3B(JOB)24(b) By God’s grace these were extreme opportunities He was giving Job and others to carry out His Covenantal commission
This proposed demonstration of God’s nature THROUGH Job, although in response to the Satan’s taunts, was authorised by God! But it seems contrary to God’s nature that He would give permission for the Satan to attack Job in all these ruthless ways. Why did God do this?
God apparently regarded Job as the only person fit to face such an onslaught Job 1:8b, 2:3b, also Job 1:1b. He saw that Job had the potential to express God’s own nature even under such terrible provocations. So both Job and his severe degree of testing were probably unique.
Job’s acute heart-testing situations were extreme opportunities given by God to further make Himself known THROUGH Job, even TO the Satan and Job’s critics! By continuing to maintain his integrity, Job would be keeping God’s Covenantal requirements and carrying out God’s Covenantal commission. Job would be demonstrating the very nature of God!
This was why God permitted the whole saga to happen. He was giving extreme opportunities to Job and others to share with Him in accomplishing His primary purpose [3A11].
Arrow 3B(JOB)21 -> 3B(JOB)24
This arrow implies that God’s instructions to Noah had been passed down to Job and his generation. These instructions would have been crucial inputs in Job’s and others’ struggles to maintain their moral integrity during each of their acute heart-testing situations.
Arrow 3B(JOB)23 -> 3B(JOB)24
This arrow shows that the evil nature and intentions of the Satan led him to ruthlessly provoke Job and others to disobey God’s Covenantal requirements. Being opportunistic, he attacked especially when their severe circumstances were potentially favorable to his aims.
The Satan was also crafty and subtle. He made assaults on Job’s integrity through Job’s critics. In this way he shrewdly kept his identity and activities hidden. He was even able to make his torments appear to Job as coming from God! Job 6:4, 7:12-14,20, 9:22-24, 10:2-3,16-17,20, 13:20-21,24-27, 16:7-14, 17:6, 19:6-13,21-22, 23:1-3,14-16, 27:1-2, 30:11,18-23.
FIFTEEN CYCLES OF ACUTE HEART-TESTING SITUATIONS AND RESPONSES
Fifteen cycles of acute heart-testing situations and responses have been identified and selected. As before, for ease of reading, the detailed explanations follow the sequence of the biblical text rather than the numbering of the Chart boxes.
The first two cycles were after the Satan was permitted by God to test Job with dire calamities (JOB 1:13 – 2:10). The next nine were cycles of contentious speeches between Job and his three critics (JOB 2:11 – 32:1). When these ended Job 32:1 they were followed by three long speeches by a fourth critic Elihu (JOB 32:2 – 37:24). But this was not really a “cycle” as there were no responses to Elihu by Job or the other three critics or by God. The final three cycles were when God responded to Job and his first three critics (JOB 38:1 – 42:17).
3B(JOB)24(a)(i) The Satan severely challenged Job’s commitment to God by bringing dire calamities upon him
3B(JOB)24(a)(i.i) Disasters that destroyed Job’s children and possessions
In response to the Satan’s first accusations against Job Job 1:9-10,11 God had permitted him to have power over all of Job’s possessions and children Job 1:12a. But this was with the restriction that the Satan could not harm Job himself Job 1:12b.
So the Satan ruthlessly attacked Job. He caused four calamities which took away all of Job’s wealth and killed all his children!
Two of these were sudden violent raids by nomadic tribesmen Job 1:13-15,17 and the other two were natural disasters Job 1:16,18-19. All of these unexpected catastrophies were basically beyond Job’s control. Their impacts upon him were even greater because he received the reports of all of them at the one time! Job 1:13a,14a,16a,17a,18a.
Obviously the Satan intended this enormous crisis to provoke Job to sin by disobeying God and even by cursing Him! Job 1:11b. In view of his blameless and upright life, Job faced awful questions as to why God had let these terrible calamities happen. Consequently Job was severely challenged to blame God and/or abandon his commitment to obeying Him by not maintaining his moral integrity.
3B(JOB)24(a)(i.ii) Job was afflicted with painful sores over his whole body
The Satan ruthlessly pursued his second accusation against Job Job 2:4-5. With God’s permission and a further restriction Job 2:6 he afflicted Job with painful sores over his whole body Job 2:7. Consequently Job was again severely challenged to blame and/or curse God and cease being committed to Him, by giving up his moral integrity. Job’s predicament also challenged his wife and three friends in their commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(ii) The cycles of debate-speeches between Job and his four critics
3B(JOB)24(a)(ii.i) The criticisms, accusations and condemnations of Job by his critics, and by Job of them in his responses
Job’s three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar heard about Job’s troubles. So they visited and comforted him for seven days! Job 2:11-13.
Job then began to speak out to his three friends about his torment Job 3:1-26. But they misunderstood him. They reacted and then responded by hurtfully criticising, accusing and condemning him. This resulted in contentious debates between them and Job, expressed in 22 speeches in poetic form. These speeches were by Eliphaz (3), Bildad (3) and Zophar (2), as well as by Job (11) in his responses to them (JOB 3:1 – 31:40). Later Elihu (3 speeches) criticised them all (JOB 32:1 – 37:24) but neither they nor God responded to him.
These poetic speeches had a somewhat formal or even theatrical style rather than being impromptu dialogues. Yet they strongly conveyed each person’s deeply differing motives, opinions and intensity of feeling. Job’s friends’ criticisms created further acute heart-testing situations for him. He in turn reacted and then responded, and his speeches created acute heart-testing situations for each of them!
Given the nature of the criticisms, accusations and condemnations of Job by all his critics, it can be assumed that it was really the Satan who was severely challenging Job’s commitment to God through them [3B(JOB)23].
3B(JOB)24(a)(ii.ii) God’s responses after the debates ended
After all of them had finished their speeches, God responded. Initially He interrogated Job very extensively (JOB 38:1 – 40:2, 40:6 – 41:34). Then He rebuked Job’s first three critics Job 42:7b but twice endorsed all that Job had said Job 42:7c,8e. God finally vindicated Job by answering his prayer for his three friends Job 42:9b and restoring and blessing him abundantly Job 42:10-17.
3B(JOB)24(a)(ii.iii) Are fully detailed explanations necessary?
The above outline gives a brief summary of the speeches and their final outcome. So it is not absolutely essential to go into all the detailed antagonistic interactions between Job and his four critics.
But these speeches give much insight into God’s ways of pursuing His primary purpose. He was making Himself known TO all the people involved THROUGH Job’s calamities, his reactions and responses.
Blameless Job’s predicament posed deep theological dilemmas for them all. So their debates with each other were a quest for true “wisdom” as they stated their differing understandings of God, what He required of people and how He responded to them. But also they were each revealing their heart motivations by their negative reactions and responses to Job.
3B(JOB)24(a)(ii.iv) The cycles of debate-speeches were a different type of “cycle”
Unlike previous cycles, these speeches are an apparently continuous series of interactions between Job and others. Each speech is not only an initial reaction and then response by the speaker to the previous speech, but also creates acute heart-testing situations for the hearers and next speaker.
Each “cycle” has been arranged in pairs of speeches. Job’s are always placed as the second speech, being his response to the prior speaker and setting the challenges for the next speaker.
3B(JOB)24(a)(ii.v) Appropriately categorising all of the responses contained in the various speeches
All of the speeches by Job and his three critics (as well as those by Job’s wife and Elihu) gave indications of their degree of heart-commitment to God. This has been assessed in each case in order to decide under which category to place them.
God ultimately confirmed that Job had said what was “right” Job 42:7c,8e. This seems surprising in view of some of his apparent criticisms and even accusations against God! But rather than just being Job’s spoken words, it was a matter of his assumptions about God and the motivations behind his words. In the detailed explanations it will be shown that he had maintained his wholehearted commitment to God and moral integrity throughout all of his sufferings and speeches. On this basis the explanations of all Job’s responses have been categorised and placed under 3B(JOB)26.
However, God stated that Job’s initial three critics had not “spoken what is right” about God Job 42:7b,8d although they often claimed they had. This means their commitment to God must have been less than wholehearted, as will be shown. So all of the explanations of their responses have been placed under either 3B(JOB)28 or 3B(JOB)30, except the first [3B(JOB)26(b)(iii, iv)] and last [3B(JOB)26(r)(i)].
In almost all of the speeches there were three basic heart motivations of the speakers that can be discerned. They all wanted to:-
# Express their own version of “wisdom” concerning God and His ways of dealing with people
# Vigorously uphold their own reputation by justifying and defending this “wisdom”
# Adamantly apply their own “wisdom” to each other, in view of Job’s calamities and sufferings
All of these motivations are examined for each speaker in order to assess their degree of heart-commitment to God.
Job 2:11 – 3:26 (Cycle 3)
3B(JOB)24(a)(iii) The impacts of Job’s ongoing sufferings upon others and himself
The Satan’s attacks had deprived Job of all his possessions and children Job 1:13-19 then afflicted him with severe physical suffering Job 2:7-8. This left Job in such ongoing grief and sickness Job 2:13c that he was barely recognisable Job 2:12a.
Such a distressing situation deeply affected not only Job and his wife but three of his friends. It created acute heart-testing situations for all of them and challenged their commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(iv) Eliphaz’ first speech created another acute heart-testing situation for Job
Eliphaz initially reacted and then responded to Job’s speech with condemnations (JOB 4:1 – 5:27). This put more pressure on Job to abandon his commitment to God and moral integrity.
3B(JOB)24(a)(v) Bildad’s first speech created a further acute heart-testing situation for Job
Bildad initially reacted and then responded to Job’s reply to Eliphaz (JOB 8:1-22). He too criticised Job, accusing, condemning and advising him. This of course again put pressure on Job to waver from his wholehearted commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(vi) Zophar’s first speech created yet another acute heart-testing situation for Job
As Zophar initially reacted and then responded to Job’s reply to Bildad, he too made accusations against Job (JOB 11:1-20). He criticized, condemned and exhorted Job, pressuring him to waver from his wholehearted commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(vii) Eliphaz’ second speech created a further acute heart-testing situation for Job
As Eliphaz initially reacted and then responded to Job’s reply to Zophar, he too made accusations against Job, criticizing and condemning him (JOB 15:1-35). This of course again put pressure on Job to waver from his wholehearted commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(viii) Bildad’s second speech created a further acute heart-testing situation for Job
As Bildad initially reacted and then responded to Job’s reply to Eliphaz, he totally condemned Job (JOB 18:1-21) pressuring him to waver from his wholehearted commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(ix) Zophar’s second speech created a further acute heart-testing situation for Job
As Zophar initially reacted by being offended and then responded to Job’s reply to Bildad, he simply condemned Job as wicked (JOB 20:1-29). This again put pressure on Job to waver from his wholehearted commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(x) Eliphaz’ third speech created a further acute heart-testing situation for Job
Eliphaz initially reacted by aggressively discrediting Job and then responded to Job’s reply to Zophar with further presumptions of Job’s blatant guilt (JOB 22:1-30). This again put pressure on Job to waver from his wholehearted commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(xi) Bildad’s’ third speech created a further acute heart-testing situation for Job
Bildad responded feebly to Job’s reply to Eliphaz but still implied Job’s guilt (JOB 25:1-6). This again put pressure on Job to waver from his wholehearted commitment to God.
3B(JOB)24(a)(xii) Elihu’s three speeches, but with no responses by Job or his other three critics or by God
3B(JOB)24(a)(xii) Elihu’s speeches
This ended the cyclic pattern of Job’s three critics each attacking him and Job initially reacting and then responding to them Job 32:1.
In three long speeches Elihu attacked both Job and his three critics. Although they all obviously would have found these speeches contentious, there is no record of them or God making any responses to him.
3B(JOB)24(a)(xiii) God finally responded to Job and his first three critics
3B(JOB)24(a)(xiii) God confronted Job
Job had been determined to maintain his moral integrity. He was also trying to understand the meaning of his calamities. He wanted to “present his case” to God in order to get some explanations and vindication. But Job felt he could not find God and communicate with Him as he had in the past. God had continually remained silent.
Finally God did respond, but by confronting and interrogating Job! Job 38:1-3. This created another acute heart-testing situation for him!
3B(JOB)24(a)(xiv) Although Job had humbled himself, God again confronted him
Job had already admitted his unworthiness and inability to answer God Job 40:4a,5a. But he was about to face a further acute heart-testing situation as God began to interrogate him out of a storm for a second time! Job 40:6-7.
3B(JOB)24(a)(xv) Job was heartened but still in an uncertain situation
Job was heartened that God had at last broken His long silence and even appeared to him Job 42:4-5. Yet he had been totally silenced and humbled by God in two long interrogations. So this must have still been an acute heart-testing situation for him as he wondered what else might yet be coming upon him!
Arrow 3B(JOB)27 -> 3B(JOB)24
Arrow 3B(JOB)29 -> 3B(JOB)24
God had initially acknowledged that Job had maintained his integrity despite his severe losses and sufferings. But God did not respond any further until after the many situations-and-responses cycles between Job and others had ended [3B(JOB)27(b)].
Yet these arrows indicate that, in grace, God’s desire always was for better things for all people. This was regardless of their degree of heart-commitment to Him in responding to various acute heart-testing situations. He was giving Job and others further opportunities to carry out His Covenantal commission [3B(JOB)24(b) and 3B(JOB)29] and thus to share with Him in accomplishing His primary purpose [3A11].