Zophar said: "How I wish God would tell you the truth about your situation, Job! He knows deceitful and evil men when He sees them. If you repent and put away your sin, then God will remove your shame" (adapted from Job 11:4-6,11,13-15).
With friends like these, who needs enemies? Apparently there was no one to plead the case for Job. His wife and friends all testified against him in court!
Let's not allow ourselves to become "Job's friends." When our friends are going through trials, let's not be a religious Eliphaz, an idealistic Bildad or a legalistic, know-it-all Zophar who is out of touch with his own pain. Let's agree to be spiritual defense attorneys, those who come alongside to bring carefully prayed-over and gently presented godly counsel, loving support and encouragement.
Defendant Becomes Defender
When God finished the work He was doing in Job, He promoted him from the role of suffering defendant to that of defense attorney once again. "After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as my servant Job has'" (Job 42:7). What a turnaround!
Job's friends had failed to defend him in his trial. They had criticized, mocked and accused him. His friends had not understood the process of trial. Under Satan's cross-examination in court they inadvertently served as witnesses for the prosecution. In so doing, they had even falsely accused God. Now the Court's judgment weighed heavily upon them. Judge Jehovah was about to pass sentence on them.
Then our merciful Judge gave Job's friends these surprising instructions: "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. You have not spoken of Me what is right, as my servant Job has" (v. 8).
What was the result? "So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job's prayer" (v. 9).
Wow! The Judge gave Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar a court-appointed attorney--Job! As their attorney, Job was to plead their cases in prayer. And Job was no novice! Having defended his children and stood trial himself, Job the intercessor would not be praying detached, unfeeling, lifeless, ineffective prayers.
**He understood the pain and agony someone experiences when standing trial.
**He knew the fear, loneliness and severity of facing trial without a godly support team.
**He would represent his friends well before the Judge of heaven.
Friend, the trials you have suffered, when understood in the context of God's overall purposes and properly applied, can be used to a kingdom advantage as you intercede for others who are standing trial today. For Job's friends, the best part was that their victory was guaranteed before their case even came to trial!
That's right...guaranteed! Judge Jehovah said to Job's wayward friends, "I will accept his [Job's] prayer and not deal with you according to your folly."
Job Passes the Test
As long as Job remained the self-absorbed defendant, primarily concerned with his own need, he was a victim. It was only when he became a God-conscious, God-ordained, anointed defender of others that he experienced his own victory! "And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends" (Job 42:10, KJV).
Yes, Job's captivity was turned when he prayed for his friends. When Job focused on God and others, his own captivity was turned! This is what Jesus taught us to do when He gave us the two greatest commandments: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength...Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Mark 12:30-31).
Are you currently enrolled in "the school of suffering?" Perhaps you have been experiencing some Job-like trials of your own. When will they end?
That's really the wrong question. The question we should ask is, "What will they produce?" And that, friend, is largely up to you. If you are facing trial today, look for another person who needs a good defense attorney and become that person's advocate before the throne of God in prayer.
It could be that your captivity, like Job's, will be turned as you pray for your friends! Immerse yourself in their victory, and you will likely discover your own! "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12). May this also be said of you!
Eddie Smith is the founder and president of the U.S. Prayer Center, and his wife, Alice, is executive director. Eddie also coordinates Pray USA!, an annual fasting and prayer initiative that mobilizes millions of Christians to fast and pray. Alice is an intercessor and internationally known conference speaker and author.
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