In all he poured out on his victim, Satan could not get Job out of fellowship with God. He could not budge this man—not through loss of wealth or family or health. But the enemy always has an ace up his sleeve. As is so often the case, the enemy's aces here were believers.
Satan sent three believers to comfort Job. They came armed with truth; they knew their doctrine. But the father of lies did not have to be afraid of the truth this time because he knew these men would not wrap it in grace.
Satan hates grace. He has reason to. Truth is the absolute standard of God's righteousness. No man could ever attain that standard if it were not for grace. Grace is all that God can do for man because of the work of Christ on the cross. Only through grace can man have any relationship with God. What is worse, from Satan's point of view, is that grace gives all the glory to God because grace can only be received—never earned or deserved.
Jesus Christ displayed the glory of God through the fulness of grace and truth in perfect balance in His life (JOH 1:14). When grace, which comes from the filling of the Holy Spirit, and truth, which comes from the study of the Word, are in balance in our lives, we are empowered for service; we are effective ambassadors for Christ. When they are out of balance, we are serving someone other than Christ.
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.
And when they lifted up their eyes at a distance, and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe, and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky.
Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. (JOB 2:31-13)
These three men were princes in their own right; they were very influential men. They apparently felt some sympathy and compassion for Job, and they made an appointment together to come and comfort him. They had good motives.
It would have been customary for these men to sit and be silent until their host spoke. Job does not utter a word for seven days. The pain, the agony, the suffering, and the anxiety in him are so intense that he is afraid to open his mouth.
It is a good thing for us to learn to clamp our jaws, to seal our lips, because once something is said it can never be taken back. Job is having such a phenomenal battle in his soul that he is raging inside, and he is sealing his mouth lest he open it and the flood pour out. There is a lot of anger and bitterness boiling in Job, and it will eventually come out. But at this point he keeps silent.
At the end of seven days, Job does speak. Then his friends break their silence as well, and it becomes clear that these men who have come to encourage Job have no encouragement to give.
From this point forward, three of Job' s friends start bombarding him with what they know and why they think this is happening to him. They cannot even agree among themselves, except in one thing—that they are right and Job is wrong. From Job 3 until Job 32, these men judge, accuse, and debate with Job. In all that time, they utter not a word of comfort, support, encouragement, sympathy, or compassion.
Misguided believers can do more damage with their truth than Satan ever does with his lies. It is very easy for good motives to be distorted into evil actions. These three friends of Job's are believers; they are brilliant men who have a deep understanding of doctrine. But they are serving the purposes of Satan. Attacking Job under the logic that if he is suffering it is because he has sinned, they accomplish what all the other tragedies could not accomplish. They manage to get Job out of fellowship and out of line with the plan of God.
There is a principle to be learned here: Do not assume that just because someone is suffering, he has done something wrong. That is infantile thinking. There are more reasons for suffering given in the Bible that have nothing to do with sin than there are reasons for suffering as a result of sin.
The disciples found this out in John 9. They were walking one day with the Lord when they looked down and saw a man who had been born blind. Immediately a theological question occurred to them, so they asked Jesus whose sin it was that caused this blindness—was it the sin of the man or of his parents. To their minds, either the parents sinned—which caused their child to be born blind—or God knew that some day this man would commit some particularly terrible sin, so he was born blind as a kind of retroactive judgment.
There are people who love to pPreoccupy theological questions but have absolutely no concern for people. Job's friends got preoccupied with theological dispute, but they did not care much about Job. The disciples were concerned about the implications of this man's situation, but they did not care about him as a person. To them, the man was a detail; but the theological question, holding the right doctrine, was what mattered.
Of course to Jesus Christ, the man was all important. He was what Jesus came to die on the cross for. So at their question, the Lord turned around and told them that neither the man nor his parents had sinned to bring this on. He told them that this man's blindness had nothing whatever to do with sin; it had everything to do with the fact that this man was ordained, chosen by God in eternity past, to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ on this day through his blindness.
Imagine being in this man's place, having been blind all your life, having prayed just to be normal, having surely asked over and over again, "Why me?" Then one day you hear the sound of footsteps coming toward you, and someone whispers in your ear, "The Son of David is coming!" First you hear the arrogant question of the disciples, and you know everyone is looking at you, wondering what terrible things you must have done to be so afflicted. And then you hear His voice and the most glorious words you have ever heard: "This man was born blind to bring glory to Me. He has endured 40 years of blindness so that I could be honored." Would not those words make every pain and every indignity you ever suffered seem to be nothing at all? That is the way it was for Job.
"And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God." (JOB 19:25-26)
Between Job 3, where Job breaks his silence by cursing the day he was born, and Jpb 38, where the Lord answers Job out of the whirlwind, this man of God has his ups and downs. The proverbial "patience of Job" has been greatly exaggerated. He does get his eyes off of the Lord, and he does lose his perspective.
But through everything, Job holds to his conviction that his Redeemer lives. He knows that someone must mediate between the holy God and unholy man, and he knows that whoever this is must be equal to both God and man (JOB 9:32-33). He is confident that God will provide. In the meantime, he expresses his willingness to serve God no matter what. "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him" (JOB 13:15).
When God finally breaks His silence (Job 38-41), He does not say, "Now, Job, please let Me explain why these things happened the way they did." No. God says something like this: "Job, can you understand how the morning comes? Can you call forth the dawn? Can you separate the light and the darkness? Can you understand how the eagle flies? Can you explain the flight of a hawk? If you can, if you understand all these things, then you can take My place. Or are you just going to attack Me so you can justify yourself? I have My reasons for what I do, and I do not have to tell you what they are. So why don't you stand up like a man and accept what I allow."
And so Job stands up and dusts himself off and admits that he does not know everything (JOB 42:1-6). He decides to let God be God. Not until long after Job died did the extent of his historical impact on the world begin to be seen. God had His reasons for allowing Job's suffering.
The Lord God Almighty, surveying all the members of the human race ... said, "Job will be the next battlefield in the invisible war. All of the forces of the enemy will be permitted to hurl themselves against this man. I will provide him with strength and sustain him in sorrow and disaster. It will be seen by men and angels and demons that spiritual life from the throne of heaven is sufficient to attract the soul. In a world where prosperity and luxury are the aims of utmost effort, where personal health and happiness is the object of most prayers, where the companionship of loved ones is the highest fellowship, I will permit the enemy to take away the flocks and the herds. I will allow his sons and daughters to die. I will suffer his body to be smitten by plague and racked with pain. I will let his wife turn from him and take the side of the enemy. I will send his friends to give him the counsel of despair. He will be brought to the nater of human desolation and yet he will sit in transigent, uncompromising, unhesitating with his eyes filled and fixed on eternal things and his mind aware of realities beyond the scope of human vision. He will understand that there is no will that can compete with the will of God. And as a result of this battle not only will he be vindicated in his steadfast resolution but also there will be comfort for thousands and thousands of souls throughout the coming centuries and Satan will be given a mouthful of dust." (Barnhouse, The Invisible War, p. 141.)