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by | Oct 4, 2014 | Discernment, Studies From the Book of Job (A Mini-Series), Studies From the Book of Job, #2: Lessons on Discernment From Job (A Mini-Series), Truth

The book of Job has many valuable lessons to teach us. Over the course of the next year, several min-series will be published in the Nugget, focussing on each of these lessons. Please click here for Study #1 — Managing Troubles. The next 3 devotionals from Job will focus on the lessons that Job has to teach us about discernment …

One of the vitally important lessons that the book of Job has to teach us is one of discernment: How to discern the difference between Truth and falsehood.

The setting for this lesson takes us to Job 4. We learn in the first three chapters of the book that Job has lost everything — his wealth, his children, even his health — to the point that his own wife tells us, “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9 NKJV).

The Bible then tells us that Job has three friends who come to “console” him: “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place — Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.” (Job 2:11 NKJV)

Seven days of silence ensure, for it was apparently considered impolite in those days for anyone to speak without being spoken to, and since Job didn’t have anything to say for seven days, the friends had no choice but to hold their tongues as well.  And when Job finally does speak, he speaks for an entire chapter (see Job 3), and his message is clear: Poor me! “May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, “A male child is conceived …'” (Job 3:3-4 NKJV)

Can you blame Job? After all, he’s just lost everything, and he’s suffering terribly!

Only then does the first of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, begin to speak: “Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said: ‘If one attempts a word with you, will you become weary? But who can withhold himself from speaking?'” (Job 4:1-2 NKJV)

Now Eliphaz is from Tenam (“Eliphaz the Temanite…” Job 2:11), a region well known in ancient literature for its wisdom. Thus, Eliphaz is the word of wisdom among the three friends.

We will note that Eliphaz starts out his discourse very politely, and his initial words are, indeed, given with plenty of tact. He goes on to express his words of wisdom, and they portray the understanding of the time: The good are blessed by God, the bad are cursed: “Who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?” (Job 4:7).

But Eliphaz does not stop here. He doesn’t leave his argument hanging just on traditional wisdom teachings! He goes on to show that his words have been verified in a dream: “Now a word was secretly brought to me, And my ear received a whisper of it. In disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, When deep sleep falls on men …” (Job 4:12-13 NKJV), one that comes from a spirit: “Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up. It stood still, But I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; There was silence…” (Job 4:15-16 NKJV)

Sounds pretty official, doesn’t it? If a spiritual being presents a message to you in a dream, shouldn’t you pay attention?

And the words of this spirit seem pretty wise: “Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can a man be more pure than his Maker?”
(Job 4:17 NKJV)

Eliphaz then goes on to relate the words of the spirit, which in essence point out that God is sovereign (“Then I heard a voice saying: ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?'” Job 4:16-17 NKJV); the foolish are cursed (“I have seen the foolish taking root, But suddenly I cursed his dwelling place. His sons are far from safety, They are crushed in the gate, And there is no deliverer.” Job 5:3-4 NKJV); and trouble is used as a “correction” (“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty … In famine He shall redeem you from death, And in war from the power of the sword.” Job 5:17-20 NKJV)

The implication here? Job is being “corrected”. He must have sinned, or this wouldn’t have happened to him! It is the wisdom of the day, and it is verified by this spirit that Eliphaz has seen in the night, therefore, it must be doubly Truth!

There is only one problem: We know from scripture that God doesn’t just allow His blessings to flow on the good, and not on the bad! Consider Jesus’ words: “…for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt 5:45)

And herein lies our first lesson in discernment: It doesn’t matter how heartfelt someone’s advice is, how “supernatural” the source of the message, how in tune with the teachings of the day: If it isn’t 100% in line with God’s word, it isn’t Truth!

Many write in asking about the teachings of various other religions. Interestingly, many of these have roots in teachings that were given supernaturally. Just like Eliphaz’ message to Job! But just because the message is from a supernatural source doesn’t mean it is Truth. Let’s remember that though the supernatural is God’s realm, it is also inhabited by the archenemy and the angels who fell with him. And this camp of supernatural beings wants nothing more than to confuse you, to lead you away from Truth!

Is it for naught that God’s Word advises us to test the spirits? “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 NKJV)

Join us next week for Lessons on Discernment From the Book of Job, Part 2: But Most of it is True!

In His love,


Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.

(To access the rest of “Lessons on Discernment From Job”, please click here.)


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