Tuesday, March 12, 2024

 No 46 Caution

This is Post No 46. In this post I want to re-visit some of the content made in Post No 34.

My Personal Testimony
Before I had ever read the Book of Job close enough to know what was going on, I liked Job’s three friends OK. I credited them for caring enough for their friend Job
            1) to come
            2) to mourn
            3) to comfort.
It was with considerable effort (and expense, I’m sure) that they made the venture to visit him. I liked those qualities. Friends. Good friends. Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him (Job 2:11).
My reading at this point was superficial, and my interpretations were naïve. And they didn’t last long. When I had read enough in the Book of Job to know what was going onI didn’t like Job’s three friends at all.
            1) I wanted to rip out their words from the Bible in total disregard.
            2) I wanted to darken those words with a marker.
            3) I wanted to use as much “White-out” as needed to eliminate their words.
            4) I wanted to paste scrap paper over their words.
            5) I wanted to glue the pages with their words shut.
When I would come across a reference to a verse in the Book of Job, I would first verify who had spoken the words. If the words were spoken by either of those three, I would skip over whatever they had to say and move on to Job's next speech
My understanding now has grown a bit. I don’t feel that way today. However, I still read their words cautiously. But I do not have the outright and immediate rejection of their words as I once did. What influences changed my thinking? After giving it some thought, I can identify three influences.
Influence #1God 
If God felt the same way about their words (as I once felt), He would not have allowed their words to be included in Scripture. But He did allow them. They are there. This in itself had great bearing on my thinking.   
Influence #2Some Unknown Author Somewhere 
Because I have poorly documented my notes through the years, I have lost the author who jolted my thinking with the essence of this thought (I do not remember the actual words): If I am so quick to disregard Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, I am doing no better (or differently) than what they did to Job. They wanted to tear out Job’s words from the record. They wanted to glue shut the pages of his testimony. (They would have liked to glue shut his lips if that had been possible). Thank you, some unknown author somewhere.   
Influence #3Ellen G. White
Ellen White was able to draw spiritual lessons from their words. She most frequently made reference to Eliphaz. This is not because Eliphaz made the more notable comments, but that the comments made by Bildad and Zophar often reiterated those made by Eliphazthe first one of them to speak in each of the three cycles of speeches. 
Eliphaz made some very deep and spiritual commentsone of them is Job 22:21: Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. This verse has often been the Memory Verse in Bible Studies on the subject of God and our salvation. Certainly, this is a good verse to commit to memory. [This may well be the reason why God included the words in the Scriptures. And, my-oh-my, could God have even inspired Eliphaz to speak the words?] 
This verse may help to clarify issues. It is not so much what Eliphaz (or the other two) were sayingas why they were saying it. They were putting “a spin” on their words which meant something different in Job’s ears than in our ears. Acquaint now thyself with him, said Eliphaz, as he pleaded with Job to come back to God. What was the spin? It’s this: it is likely Job was more acquainted with God than even Eliphaz was himself. Job was closer to God than Eliphaz may ever have been himself. Eliphaz was hammering down on Job charging him with not being at peace, because he (Job) didn’t know God. Until this evil fell upon Job in two fell swoops, Job was the epitome of being at peace with God. Job could have given Eliphaz lessons in faith and trust. In this case, Eliphaz was bending the words for the sake of his argument.
It was how he applied the words, and maybe not the words themselves. Ellen White had great skill in separating truth from error. The words were not the error.   
How Often Did Ellen White Draw from the Words of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar?
Here is a quick count as tallied from the Scriptural Index in the Ellen G. White Writings Comprehensive Research Edition InfoBase (available through the Ellen G. White Estate). The tally indicates she made 19 references to verses spoken by Eliphaz, 3 to Bildad and 7 to Zophar.
Chapter         Speaker        Number
Job 4,5           Eliphaz          12
Job 15            Eliphaz            2
Job 22            Eliphaz            5
Job 8              Bildad             0
Job 18            Bildad             1
Job 25            Bildad             2
Job 11            Zophar            7
Job 20            Zophar            0
Allowing that some of these are duplicates, it still can be seen that she made ready reference to their words.   
An Example
(From Prophets and Kings, page 163): The faithful Job, in the day of his affliction and darkness, declared: Let the day perish wherein I was born (Job 3:3). Ellen White then adds Job’s own words from Chapter 6:2, 8-10 and 7:11, 15-16). Then she says, But though weary of life, Job was not allowed to die. To him were pointed out the possibilities of the future, and there was given him the message of hope: Thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear: Because thou shalt forget thy misery, And remember it as waters that pass away: And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; Thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning. And thou shalt be secure, Because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. Thou shalt lie down, And none shall make thee afraid; Yea, many shall make suit unto thee. But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, And they shall not escape, And their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost (Job 11:15-20).  From whom did these words of hope come? Zophar.
Yet Another Example
(From Reflecting Christ, page 105): In this communion is found the highest education. It is God’s own method of development. Acquaint now thyself with him is His message to mankind. The method outlined in these words was the method followed in the education of the father of our race. From whom were these words spoken? Eliphaz. These words were spoken by Eliphaz, yet Ellen White says they were from God. She uses Eliphaz’s statement in a positive manner.  
Still Another Example
(From This Day with God, page 18): Men of intellectual powers need a clear, scriptural presentation of the plan of salvation. Let the truth in its simplicity and power be presented to them. If this does not hold the attention and arouse the interest, they never can be interested in heavenly and divine things. In every congregation there are souls who are unsatisfied. Every Sabbath they want to hear something definite explaining how they can be saved, how they are to become Christians. The important thing for them to know is, How can a sinner be justified before God? From whom were these taken? Bildad.
I have chosen one each from Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar to illustrate that there was truth in their words. Yet their own use of those words was error unto them. What was their error? To use truth to turn a falsehood. Not only were their words intentionally mean and cruel―not only were their words not in agreement with their mission―(to mourn and comfort), they were, in fact, intended to hurt. Job was having it bad enough without their scathing rebukes being heaped upon his head. Truth should never be used as a hammer to destroy the hopes of struggling souls. The primary characteristic related to truth in the last days is that people will bend the truth to uphold a falsehood.  
Learning to Be Non-Judgmental
Reading the Book of Job is a lesson in learning to be non-judgmental. We read that Eliphaz failed to learn the lesson. Bildad failed to learn the lesson. So did Zophar. Job’s three friends were so quick to judge that which they did not know―acting as if they knew all. Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (Matt 7:1,2).
Surely, we would not be acting in such a manner today. Would we? Surely, our lives exemplify loving the sinner but hating the sin. Surely, they do, right?
Please send questions or comments to Will Hardin at P O Box 24 Owenton KY 40359 or use the comments via Google section below. (You must be signed in to Google to do so).  

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