© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 25 February 2019
3B(JOB)25. Initial reactions of Job and his critics:
These exposed some of their heart-motivations
3B(JOB)25(a) Job initially suffered in silence
Job initially reacted by just sitting silently among ashes and scraping his sores Job 2:8.
3B(JOB)25(b) Eliphaz initially reacted by criticising Job for failing under pressure
Although initially courteous and cautious, Eliphaz felt compelled to respond to Job’s outburst Job 4:1-2. He reminded Job of the godly counsel he had given to many others in distress Job 4:3-4. But he then criticized Job for not being able to comfort himself. Shouldn’t he now be “walking his own talk”? Job 4:5-6. Eliphaz was basically accusing Job of caving in under pressure.
3B(JOB)25(c) Job initially reacted to Eliphaz’ accusations
Job tried to excuse or justify his outbursts as impetuous, due to his extreme suffering Job 6:1-3.
3B(JOB)25(d) Bildad initially reacted with indignation at Job’s response to Eliphaz
Bildad initially reacted to Job’s speech in a dismissive and condemning spirit Job 8:1-2.
3B(JOB)25(e) Job initially reacted to Bildad’s condemnations and exhortations
3B(JOB)25(f) Zophar initially reacted with indignant outrage at Job’s response to Bildad
Zophar reacted with four outraged and demeaning questions to Job Job 11:1-3. Then he called for God to reveal true wisdom to Job and rebuke him Job 11:5-6 for his alleged claims of flawless beliefs and personal purity! Job 11:4.
Such tit-for-tat reactions between Job and his critics were becoming a pattern. Believing they were men who understood God and His wisdom, their own reputations and prestige were at stake! They were virtually competing with each other to explain the causes of Job’s predicament and God’s role in it. So they were easily offended by any mutual criticism in those matters.
3B(JOB)25(g) Job initially reacted to Zophar’s insults
Job reacted to Zophar by scorning all his critics and their wisdom! Job 12:1-2. He again asserted competitively that his own mind was capable of wisdom not inferior to theirs Job 12:3a. What they had said about God was merely common knowledge! Job 12:3b.
3B(JOB)25(h) Eliphaz initially reacted to Job’s wisdom with insults
Initially Eliphaz angrily poured out a stream of ten questions that were personally demeaning to Job Job 15:1-3,7-9,11-13. These alleged that Job’s wisdom was worthless. But ironically Eliphaz was eager to claim that the three critics’ wisdom was equal to Job’s! Job 15:9. This revealed again their self-promoting, competitive attitudes about who had the most wisdom about God Job 15:8b,10.
Eliphaz referred again to Job not being able to find God’s consolation in his troubles Job 15:11, 4:5-6. He then accused Job of being driven by sinful motives and becoming a hindrance to pious devotion Job 15:4-5. So he flatly condemned Job for angrily raging against God Job 15:6,12-13.
3B(JOB)25(j) Job initially reacted dismissively to the responses of Eliphaz and his other two critics
Job called his three critics “miserable comforters” Job 16:1-2 and scorned their responses with two dismissive questions Job 16:3. He said that if they were in his position he too could easily criticise and condemn Job 16:4. But instead he would relieve them with comfort and encouragement Job 16:5.
3B(JOB)25(k) Bildad initially reacted with utter disgust at Job’s outcry and assertions of his integrity
As in his first reaction Job 8:1-2 Bildad dismissed Job’s speeches and urged him to cease them! Job 18:1-2. He mockingly asked if they were earth-shattering Job 18:4. He also reacted indignantly to Job’s disdain of all his “stupid” critics Job 18:3. So again their competitiveness over the issue of superior wisdom was prominent.
3B(JOB)25(m) Job initially reacted to Bildad’s condemnations
Job asked how long his critics would keep on tormenting him Job 19:1-3. He said that even if he had gone astray, that was his business not theirs! Job 19:4. Again he responded to the “contest” about whose wisdom was superior by saying bluntly that they should realise it was God who was against him! Job 19:5-6.
3B(JOB)25(n) Zophar initially reacted by being offended at Job
3B(JOB)25(p) Job initially reacted to Zophar’s total condemnation of him
Job asked Zophar to just keep quiet and listen, then continue to mock if he must! Job 21:1-3,5. He told Zophar that if he was astonished at Job’s impatience, he should realise that Job’s argument was not with men but with God Job 21:4.
3B(JOB)25(q) Eliphaz initially reacted by directly attacking Job’s concern to maintain his moral integrity
Eliphaz reacted by aggressively interrogating Job. His first two questions asked whether God would gain anything if a man was wise Job 22:1-2. Then his sneering next three questions implied that Job did not meet such a standard of piety anyway Job 22:3-4. Instead his last two questions blatantly accused Job of being utterly sinful Job 22:5.
This all bore the marks of a new attack provoked by the Satan, directly targeting Job’s core commitment to God and the “case” as he had presented it to God to protest his integrity.
3B(JOB)25(r) Job initially reacted to Bildad’s vague and veiled discrediting of him
Job’s further two questions just mocked and devalued all that Bildad had said Job 26:4. But they raised the issue of who was helping and speaking through Bildad. So again Job was getting close to what was really going on “behind the scenes” in these debates! [see 3B(JOB)26(e)(ii)].
Apparently this silenced Bildad permanently.
3B(JOB)25(s) Elihu initially reacted angrily to the speeches of Job and his three critics
Elihu had been a listener to all of the previous speeches and was angered by them Job 32:2-3,5b. But being younger he had deferred to the older men by remaining silent until they had finished speaking Job 32:4-5a,6-7. He then laid out his criticisms of them all in three long speeches.
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Arrow 3B(JOB)24 -> 3B(JOB)25
This arrow indicates that when the various people faced acute heart-testing situations, they often reacted initially before making their considered responses. These reactions usually exposed their heart motivations. They were committed either wholeheartedly to God, or partly or fully to their self-serving desires and knowledge of evil.