We’re hanging out with Job, and we mentioned last post,
“Job actually was right. And they are wrong.”
I want to delve into that a little more deeply…
Job’s friends were not just wrong – they were really, really wrong!! The Lord called their perceptions of Job and his relationship with the Lord ‘folly’ and expressed that he was ‘angry’ with them. So he asks them to make a sacrifice,
“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.” ~ Job 42:8
There are two things that I just love about how God commands this restoration. The first is about the dynamics of the offering…
God asks the friends to sacrifice a burnt offering:
“A burnt offering was the complete destruction of the animal (except for the hide) in an effort to renew the relationship between the Holy God and sinful man.”
Note it is *the friends* who need to renew their relationship with the Lord. They thought Job was in the wrong for dozens of chapters… but really, it was their perception of Job and the Lord that was wrong. So much so that they need to offer a sacrifice and renew their relationship with God.
“[A burnt offering] was a sacrifice of general atonement—an acknowledgement of the sin nature and a request for renewed relationship with God.”
It is interesting that a burnt offering is described in Leviticus 1 as a single animal — ‘a’ male or ‘the’ bull. At the important celebration of Passover, the burnt offering is two bulls, one ram, and seven lambs (Numbers 28:19). Now we can’t pretend to know God’s thinking behind the number of animals, but I do find it intriguing that Job’s friends were told to sacrifice more than that. Not just ‘a’ burnt offering. And more than what is sacrificed at Passover. They were told to sacrifice 14 animals in total!
I also find it interesting that they were told to go ‘to my servant Job’ to sacrifice the animals. The Lord doesn’t say just to sacrifice them. He doesn’t offer another person to serve as the priest. Instead, he tells them to go to Job to sacrifice the animals! After Job’s repentance, it seems that the Lord may be either affirming Job as a high priest-type role (cf Job 1:5), or He is emphasizing the importance of the friends’ repentance both to Job and to the Lord, or both. The Lord affirms Job and seeks to restore all the relationships – between friends and with their God.
So that’s the first thing I love: the picture of the friends’ sacrifice to the Lord being offered to Job. It seems to offer such a beautiful illustration of forgiving the friends just as God forgives them! It conveys such a tight depiction of the relational dynamics: restoring the Job-friends relationship just as God will restore the God-friends relationship.
Here’s the second thing I love…
Job also has an important role in all of this:
“My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.” ~ Job 42:8
Humility of all humility, God chooses not to treat the friends ‘according to their folly’ because Job will pray for them. The one they’ve been critiquing, the one to whom they’ve been saying false things about him and his perception of God – he will intervene for them – he will be obedient to the Lord – so that the Lord will not deal with his false accusers according to their folly.
This is likely valuable for Job as well. I love that the Lord seems to account for what He instructs millennia later:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ~ Ephesians 4:31-32
I just love this! Job has a role in the friends’ repentance: praying for them. If it were me, this role would help me be sure to rid of any bitterness that is there, may be unbeknownst there, or that may creep in. It would help me act with compassion towards my friends and be sure I have forgiven them.
I just love the restoration dynamics that the Lord puts together. What a beautiful illustration of forgiving friends just as God forgives them!
If you’re in a similar Job-friends struggle in your life, may I encourage you that you are not alone. In fact, you are in company throughout the ages. Job was a contemporary of Abraham - the book of Job takes place chronologically in Genesis! We’ve got the creation of the world, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Tower of Babel, then Abraham and Job. So early human history is filled with chapters of friends falsely characterizing a godly person and his motives. This is not new territory.
So maybe it should be all the more poignant for us. We see from early in history what Satan does and the destruction he causes. We see from early on whose team we can choose to help as a person’s friends. That choice is an age-old question. As is its answer!
A special thanks to lightharmony.com for today’s fantastic picture!