Summary: Job's three friends spoke to him throughout the book of Job. Much of what they said was wrong and hurtful. However, their initial reaction was one that we all should pay attention to.
The story of Job is one that has been talked about through the ages. This one man, lost so much, in such a short period of time, and still found a way to move on with his life. But, he didn’t do it alone. When we talk about the book of Job, we normally talk about his sufferings, and focus on the interaction between God and Satan.
What we don’t often talk about, is the friends that Job had around him. After Job lost all of his livestock and wealth, his servants and occupation, his children and health, three men were there to support him.
Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar were there for him. Just as many of our own friends, they didn’t get everything right. But what they got right, they got right in a big way.
Take a look at what they did in Job 2:11-13:
11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. (Job 2:11-13, ESV)
Time: Sacrificing our schedule
These three men made it their mission to come from far and take care of a friend in need. It was their main concern as they dropped whatever they were doing to focus on Job’s needs. They showed where their heart was by the actions they took.
And these actions showed us exactly where their priorities were. Just like them, the priorities in our life become apparent when we look at how we spend our time. Where our calendar reflects an action, that shows what we feel is important. What’s not listed in the appointment book is just as telling. What we don’t set time aside for, must not be part of our top ten list of things to do.
Although Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar didn’t have Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar to track their activities, these friends reflected the importance of the moment in their actions. They spent their energy and schedule grieving with Job’s loss on many levels:
• the father of ten dead children,
• the loss of a rich empire crumbled into bankruptcy,
• servants killed serving their master
• and a body that refused to heal.
No better time was there to have friends around him. It’s doubtful that any man has had a greater need.
Job sorely needed the support. He needed someone to comfort him, even for just a little while, and these three men were there for just that reason.
And it says that they traveled from some distance. Think of the numbers of animals that Job possessed:
• 7,000 sheep,
• 3,000 camels,
• 500 oxen
• and 500 female donkeys.
Such large flocks must have taken up a lot of room. How many acres of land were required to take care of his livestock? How much room did they require to eat, breed, roam and play. The extent of Job’s property must have been immense. There’s no doubt that Job lived in a very rural setting far away from any of his friends.
Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar probably dedicated several days just to travel and see Job, let alone the seven days and night mentioned in chapter 2. Travel during this point in history was much different than it is today. They didn’t just jump on their favorite camel and ride across town to see a friend. Instead, they had to plan for the journey, and travel hours or even days, to see Job in his grief and suffering. They brought a caravan to provide for their own security, food and shelter to help them on the journey, all far from their own homes to where Job lived.
So much to do to see a friend. They chose to sacrifice their own schedule, put their lives on hold, and seek out someone who needed their time. They chose to put Job before themselves. They chose sacrifice over convenience.
Perhaps we could learn a lot from these men as they put others before self. They set aside their business, hobbies, and families to find a way to help a friend. In today’s terms, they stepped away from work and time at the beach, put away their BlackBerries, laptops and television and took a moment to care for a friend. Just being there was half the support Job longed for. Looking into their faces, he knew that someone cared.