The book of Job addresses the deep philosophical question of the human suffering and presents different perspectives on the issue of the permission of evil and vindication of God’s justice.
A series of tragedies befall Job, and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar come to comfort him. Although they show compassion for Job’s pain and remain silent for 7 days, they later give a series of speeches and accuse Job of having brought all these catastrophes on himself by his unrighteous behavior and urge him to repent.
Eliphaz shows a little more tact and sensitivity at first and then intensifies his tone in his second discourse, Bildad tends to use logic in his arguments and Zophar has a more straightforward style, but their underlying message is similar and God clearly condemned their advice: “My wrath is kindled against you (Eliphaz), and against your two friends: for you have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job has. Therefore take to you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job." Job 42:7-10
So it may ask, where did they go wrong? After all, they tried to defend God’ righteousness and advised repentance. The three friends showed a narrow view of God, where the amount of trouble in one’s life demonstrated one’s righteousness or unrighteousness. They viewed God as mighty but so incomprehensible that we can’t access Him or reason on his plans and purposes and emphasized His vengeance and desire to instill fear and terror in his creatures.
We can find the same message being preached in our times well. The prosperity gospel creates the false expectation that material blessings are an indication of God’s approval of one’s righteousness and makes one disheartened when trouble comes.
We also find some Christians preaching a God of terror to instill repentance, but the Scriptures do not authorize and teach this. God’s justice works along his love, wisdom and power to design a plan of salvation that extends to all the human beings that have ever lived and will be willing to accept his arrangements in the “day of their visitation”.
In Luke 13:4-5, Jesus comments on the tower of Siloam incident: “Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:4–5). Special protection is afforded to those that have become children of God, but even these are not spared from all trouble but assured that all things work together for their good, even persecution and trials.
In conclusion, God wants us to reason with him and search his plans and purposes because He is a God of love that has permitted evil in the world for a limited time as an eternal lesson for his creatures and He plans to restore mankind to perfection and life through Jesus.