Last year I began reading through the Bible chronologically. I am currently in the book of Job. God gives permission for Job to be afflicted then three friends come to comfort him. I use the words "friends" and "comfort" loosely because generally speaking, they are full of criticism, twist scripture to suit their arguments all in an effort to call Job to repentance. None of which is friendly or comforting.
In one One argument Job's companion, Bildad states, "how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot— a human being, who is only a worm!” (Job 25:6 NIV) However, Psalm 8 says man is something quite different:
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Job's peers are armed with conventional wisdom that says we get what we deserve, and later they go so far as to make a list of horrible things Job might have done.
"Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you? Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your relatives for no reason; you stripped people of their clothing, leaving them naked. You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry..." Job 22:4-7 NIV
As I read through these chapters in Job, my heart breaks that during this very difficult time in his life, the people who come to his side do not speak God's truth to him, nor do they pray over him, or act in ways to bring him relief. This leads me to consider how we might act when hardships befall someone in our community, those going through a divorce, financial difficulty, death or illness. Do we always respond with mercy, empathy and compassion, choosing to walk alongside them, willing to help carry their burden as if were our own, or do we cast blame and accusations? Are we good friends or do we resemble the friends of Job?
The second point to ponder from these chapters in Job is how often our sovereign Creator is misrepresented through our actions or words? Job's three peers, quote scripture to make their chosen points: “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it." (Job 4:7-8 NIV) The source of their argument comes from Proverbs 10, but Job counters that often the blameless are ridiculed while those who do evil appear to prosper (Job 12:4-6). Job is confident of his innocence and does not accept the repeated calls to repent while adamantly refuting the statements made by his friends. A man not so sure of his walk may have been swayed toward unnecessary guilt from similar attacks.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 2 Peter 2:1-2 NKJV
We each must be careful to seek a sincere relationship with the Almighty so we know what is required of us. There are many false teachers who have large numbers of followers, published best sellers, and popular speaking engagements, but whose message is not Biblically accurate. Be careful that any lesson or word presented as fact can be aligned with Scripture. We must be able to determine for ourselves when false teachings are presented.
Christ warned, "False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it." (Matthew 24:24-26 NKJV) We must know the truth of what Christ said and not give in to what others say He said. We must be able to critically think for ourselves, hiding His Word in our hearts as protection.
One of my favorite baseball quotes says, "you don't know if you are in left field, unless you know where home plate is." All teachings, comments and opinions must be placed in light of God's Word for accuracy before applying it as Truth in our lives or poured into the lives of others.
Holy One, Mighty Ruler, King of the Universe, Redeemer and Savior, we seek You and Your Truth. Your precious Son, Jesus Christ, called us to obey Your commands as a demonstration of our love for Him, promising that "he who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:21 NKJV) Abba, please draw us to You with a sincere hunger for Your holy Scriptures, so we might know the truth and not be deceived by the world which can lead to heartache and destruction. Equip us to stand strong against false teachers, exposing them with the light of Truth. Help us to be good friends who encourage those around us in their suffering, struggles and discipleship. May You receive all the glory and honor from our words and actions. We ask all this in the power of the Trinity: He who saves, Yeshuah haMashiach, the Spirit who guides, Rauchah Kodesh and Elohenu, our holy Creator God, three in One. Amen.