Job 26:1 – 27:23

Key Verse(s):

Job 26:14 (CSB)

14These are but the fringes of his ways; how faint is the word we hear of him! Who can understand his mighty thunder?

 

Reflection/Application:

Job 26:2-4

Job begins his final reply to his friends, this time specifically to Bildad, with a flurry of insults. The sarcasm here seems to be out of step with the relatively neutral and sound speech from Bildad. We could speculate a defense for Job, but it would simply be speculation, and it’s probably best to simply note his sarcastic start.

Job 26:5-14

These 9 verses contain wisdom on the part of Job, displayed through his understanding of the might and sovereignty of God. Here he explores these attributes of God through the creative order.

First Job starts not with the heavenly, but with the dead, noting that not just the things above are God’s handiwork, but even the things below are exposed and subject to God’s omnipotence and omniscience.

Then in vv7-11 Job shifts to those things above. He alludes to God’s creation of the skies, the design of weather properties and the cycling of water into clouds, which remain above between man and God’s proverbial “heavenly” throne. The picture of the horizon as something God has “laid out” is an interesting picture, continuing to describe the creative power and order God demonstrated in separating the earth and water from the sky. And although some might point to v11 as an example of the Bible failing in its accuracy, as if this is a literal claim that there are physical pillars holding up the sky, the obvious poetic description of Job serves to further reinforce the picture of a mighty God who has exerted his sovereignty and power over the created order doing the miraculous with his creation.

In Job 26:12-13 we read mention of Rahab, most likely a mythological sea monster. Again, rather than viewing this as a failure of scripture due to a reference to a possible mythological creature, we read the passage as it is intended: as a poetic expression of the might and power of God. The message here is not to make claims of monsters, or any other type of “real” creature that one may try to “defend” the passage with, but it is to express, in a way that would have been clear at the time, God’s glorious attributes.

Job finishes this section with an amazing insight, and theological clarity. What he has described is just the “fringe” of who God is, and it is a “faint word” of who God is, and this is what we see and hear. Truly, who of us mere humans “can understand his mighty thunder?”

Job 27:2-6

Job 27 begins with Job returning to his profession of innocence. While he continues to affirm God as the one who sustains him, while at the same time maintaining his righteousness and the fact that his grievous suffering is not a result of some judgment as his friends have repeatedly asserted.

Job 27:7-10

In vv7-10 we see a slightly different take from Job, as he describes bad happening to the wicked, rather than what he has previously generally railed against, namely the wicked not receiving justice. Whether Job is speaking about his friends or the wicked who have opposed him in general, it is unclear, and really does not make much difference to the meaning: he who is cut off from God will have no recourse or hope.

Job 27:11-23

The final extended passage of Job 27 provides a number of pictures of what the wicked will face. But before job dives into these example pictures of judgment, he provides some insight into what he is really intending in the rest of the speech. In v11 Job suggests he is going to “teach” his friends about the power of God, and in v12 he refers to their “empty talk.” When we notice these things, and the fact that what follows reads much like what Job’s friends have said to, and about, Job, and descriptions of his state that he has provided himself, we see the remainder of the chapter as Job mocking his friends and their “empty talk.”

And, just as there were nuggets of insight in what Job’s friends had said, there are truths within Job’s speech here: the impermanence of wealth, the terror that the wicked man will experience apart from God, the general tortuous state of being against God. But the point is, as Job prefaced this passage, that Job is not separated from God, and the judgments of his friend are in fact wrong.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for being a holy and righteous God that we can depend on and trust despite what circumstances we may be in. I pray that you would help us to remain faithful and obedient in both times of blessing and those of trials. Strengthen us with your power as we are tested, and refine us to have faith that is not dependent on our haves and have-nots. Amen.

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Job 25:1-6

Key Verse(s):

Job 25:2 (CSB)

2Dominion and dread belong to him, the one who establishes harmony in his heights.

Reflection/Application:

Job 25:2

As Job’s friends have done throughout, Bildad includes truth in his final reply to Job. This is a clear confirmation of God’s sovereignty. It differs slightly, I think, from Job’s previous monologue in that Bildad intimates that God is active in ordering things, which contrasts with Job’s suggestion that God is unawares or aloof.

Job 25:3

Here Bildad refers to God’s omnipotence with the picture of an innumerable army. Perhaps it is a reference to God’s legions of angels. But either way it seems to be obvious it is a picture of God’s might.

Secondly, it sounds like God’s “light shining on everyone” would be a picture of God’s gracious general revelation to the entire world. It brings to mind Paul’s assertion that creation itself speaks to God’s existence, therefore nobody has an excuse for unbelief.

But it could also be that Bildad is here referring to God’s universal grace to his creatures, despite their unceasing rebellion. Every breath Job was taking was a gift of God, nothing deserved or earned, a purely gracious gift from a patient and long-suffering God.

Job 25:4-6

Bildad continues on with two more rhetorical questions, this time exposing the sin condition of man, highlighting the hopelessness of our condition. He then completes his reply by emphasizing the righteousness of God, and assessing the answer to his rhetorical questions: man is a maggot or a worm before God!

There is truth in what Bildad says: man is, in his sinful self apart from God, hopeless in rebellion to the Creator. Perhaps the picture of man being a maggot or worm is an extreme picture. I can see the interpretation being that Bildad has gone too far and discounted the intrinsic worth of being a human created in the image of God. I can also see, and tend to think, the interpretation of Bildad’s description being to exaggerate the state of fallen man.

In the end though, despite there not necessarily being anything that Job might argue theologically in Bildad’s short reply, there still seems to be the lack of compassion for their friend. It seems that the belief is that Job has brought upon himself the great calamities he has had to endure, which seems somewhat curious considering Bildad’s clear understanding of God’s sovereignty.

Prayer:

Lord, I praise you for being a gracious God! How true it is that you are sovereign, that you are all-powerful, and all-knowing. How true it is that I deserve nothing but your wrath for my sin. Yet you condescended to take my punishment, and give me life. I thank you and praise you! Amen!

Job 23:1-24:25

Key Verse(s):

Job 23:10 (CSB)

10Yet he knows the way I have taken; when he has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.

Reflection/Application:

Job begins his lengthy reply to Eliphaz by conveying his wish that he could have an audience before God to plead his case, his innocence. On one hand, this sentiment is understandable, we all, to some extent, desire to defend ourselves when we believe we are enduring unfair treatment. Yet it is impossible to escape the feeling that Job is missing the big picture of God here, he seems to speak as though God is apathetic or aloof concerning the affairs of his creatures, as if he needs Job’s trials brought to his attention because he is unaware of them, or at least their lack of “fairness”.

Sandwiched between Job’s lament that God is hidden and unreachable, and his proclaimed righteousness in following all that God has commanded, is a possible nugget of understanding on Jobs part in Job 23:10.

In verse 10 he shows that he understands God’s omnipotence, knowing that God is aware of everything that Job has done. Job also seems to understand that he is enduring a test, and seems to convey a confidence that he will endure and emerge it as a better man. We might think that this is just bravado, similar to how we might proclaim our surety that we will overcome some obstacle, like an illness or difficult task. But, when we see how Job then continues with his favorable assessment of God’s commands and “way”, and his own commitment to following them, it seems unlikely that Job was not simply speaking in self-assuring bravado.

The next 5 verses are interesting. On one hand, it seems Job is simply conveying his fear of God, surely due to what he has endured and the hopeless situation he seems to be in. But on the other there is some clear theological understanding packed in here it would seem. Some of the truths are as follows:

  • God is unchanging.
  • God is all-powerful, or omnipotent.
  • God is sovereign. What he has ordained will come to pass.
  • God sustains. Despite Job’s fear of God’s terrible things he has decreed, he realizes that he has not been destroyed by the dark, and seemingly this is not due to his own strength.

So despite the fear of God that Job confesses, and this does not appear to be the healthy sort of fear that we would normally speak of when we use the phrase, “Fear God,” it would appear that Job at least recognizes some of the glorious attributes of God.

Job now begins to provide a list of descriptions of just how terrible it is for those who are victims of the wicked. The whole passage has the underlying theme that these are situations that God has decided not to act in, as Job says in Job 24:1-2, and confirms in Job 24:12.

There is a shift here from the preceding couple of sections. Now the tone feels a bit more accusatory, and certainly less confident in God and his compassion and willingness to judge the wicked and assist those in need.

Job now turns his focus to the wicked, and things shift to describe how they spread their terror and depravity unchecked by God. Job describes their twisting of things, light is dark, and vice versa. In Job 24:17, things are summarized by his description of the wicked being “familiar”, or “friendly”, with the “terrors of darkness.” It seems clear the stark contrast that these evil people are the opposite of the nature of God: dark vs light. And it is equally clear, through Job’s descriptions, that he feels God been inactive in checking and addressing their wicked behavior.

As we begin to read Job 24:18-24, it seems that the content is, at least initially, out of line with Job’s response so far. Apparently this results in some people believing this portion of text is misplaced, but we will accept it as being exactly where it should be, and from the author it is attributed to.

In fact, if we read the text with a faithful attitude, we do not have much issue with understanding this as Job’s speech.

Job is certainly aware of God’s judgment of the wicked, and it would seem he is simply conveying that understanding, lest his friends think he is unaware of God’s righteousness and justice. It seems clear that Job, in this passage, is describing a future judgment of the wicked, which is in line with his previous lament of the wicked seemingly going unchecked. He even suggests it is all part of God’s plan in a sense, allowing the wicked to further condemn themselves (Job 24:23). In the end, Job is clear that he understands that the rebellious sinner enjoy a false, and brief, exaltation, and will “wither like heads of grain.”

Finally, in Job 24:25, Job wraps up his reply. I am not sure if Job is referring to this last section when he makes his challenge to prove him wrong, or if he is referring to his entire speech. I am also not sure it matters. What is clear though, is that Job continues to maintain his righteousness, and the tension between he and his friends has not subsided at all.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for being a perfect and righteous God. We do not have to fear that you are unaware of anything that is happening, you are not only aware, you have ordained it! Neither do I have to be concerned with those that do wrong receiving justice, just as they do not have to be concerned with my justice for my sin, because you are a righteous and holy God that will handle judgment through your agents in this life, and through the blood of Christ for those whom you have saved. Thank you and amen!

 

Job 22:1-30

Key Verse(s):

Job 22:21 (CSB)
21 Come to terms with God and be at peace; in this way good will come to you.

Reflection/Application:

Eliphaz begins the next speech with a twist. Rather than immediately rebuke Job, he entertains the notion that Job has been telling the truth and, in fact, is righteous. But, Eliphaz’s conclusion is that it makes no difference because God is distant and detached from his creation, and the actions of man are meaningless to him, whether evil or righteous. Although there is a nugget of truth, the fact that the actions of man do not alter the will and sovereignty of God (nothing has power over God, nor is he changing), it is patently false that God is not intimately involved in his creation.

Lest we think Eliphaz was going to take a different tack, he immediately returns to the familiar rebuking of Job, claiming that his situation is the result of some sin that he is guilty of. He first asks sarcastically whether God would hold Job accountable for being righteous, which, ironically perhaps, is exactly why Job is in the situation he is! Then Eliphaz returns to the familiar mode of judging the symptom by the illness: Job has endured severe trials, therefore he must have been judged by God for unrepentant sin.

In Job 22:6-9, Eliphaz actually makes direct accusation of sins that Job is guilty of. It does not seem that there is any reason to think that Eliphaz actually has knowledge of Job committing the sins he accuses him of. In fact, we should recall that Job was chosen specifically for his righteousness, so this list seems highly suspect! It seems more likely a case of following the same reasoning the friends have used with Job’s trials: since Job was a wealthy man, he must have been greedy and miserly. The thinking is faulty concerning the trials, and there is no reason to think otherwise here.

Eliphaz doubles down on his false accusations. He even accuses Job of saying something he has not. Job has not claimed that God does not see his wicked deeds, he has refuted that he has even committed wicked deeds! So we see the continuation of the notion that the appearance of punishment must mean there is guilt upon Job. The notion of the evil-doer, God-rejecter, reaping judgment from God is not necessarily wrong, but it has simply been misapplied here.

Eliphaz completes this speech with what is a wonderful evangelistic passage. The encouragement to turn from one’s sinful ways, to God, and reap the blessings of doing so, is moving. And were Job in the position of a sinner, needing to repent and be reconciled to God, this may have had some impact. It is, I believe, the first truly compassionate and restorative passage from one of the friends. Yet, it remains misapplied, it does not speak to Job’s situation. And for all the good qualities of this particular passage, it only highlights that Eliphaz still has not accepted Job’s statement of his innocence.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for being a personal God, a God that is not distant and detached, but a God that has entered his creation, and saved his people. I pray that those who are far from you would turn and repent, and come into your family through faith in Christ. And I pray those that are already your children would spread your saving message to the world. Amen!

Job 21:1-34

Key Verse(s):

Job 21:22 (CSB)
22 Can anyone teach God knowledge, since he judges the exalted ones?

Reflection/Application:

Job’s response begins with sarcasm, surely due to his frustration with his friends continued insistence that he was guilty of some grievous sin that has brought about this punishment from God. Despite Job 21:2 suggesting he earnestly desires their attention and thoughtful consideration, v3 makes it clear he has no hope of it.

Job reminds the friends that he has no complaint against other men, it is against God. And, because of this, because God is holy, righteous, and just, it would seem that Job does in fact have a right to be “impatient”. Impatient both with God, for this seemingly unjust treatment, and also with his friends who have abandoned him by rebuking and attacking his character.

He then asks his friends to take stock of his situation, to recall the upstanding, respectable man he was, and consider his current position. It would not be much to picture themselves similarly. In doing so, he requests their respect as he proceeds.

In the passage of Job 21:6-16, Job counters the notion the friends have been presenting that God punishes all that sin against him. He begins be warning them that what he is about to describe is troubling, then dives in.

This is nothing unfamiliar to the believer in any age, even today: the unrepentant sinner quite often appears not to suffer at all for his disobedience and rejection of God. Not only that, he quite often appears to prosper! It is no coincidence that job describes the sinners livestock and kids, two of the things he had lost. The sinner dies in peace, yet Job endures misery.

Job finishes this portion by distancing himself from the sinner, their “counsel” is “far from [Job]”. And he also recognizes, rightly, that even in the midst of their disobedience, their prosperity is not of their “own doing”, but is from God.

Next, Job laments the lack of immediate punishment of the disobedient sinner. The fact that job has already attributed the so frequent prosperity of the sinner only exacerbates the issue, as now we understand God’s punishment to be withheld for the sinner’s children. Job expresses disagreement with this, and laments against it. Overall it is interesting as this mindset, of immediate retribution, falls exactly in line with what the friends are claiming as the situation concerning Job!

In Job 21:22-26, Job essentially reminds us of God’s sovereignty, although in a somewhat negative way. He contrasts the differing states of people in life, yet they end up in the same state: “they both lie in the dust, and worms cover them.” There is an apparent arbitrary decision by God, since there is no merit-based behavior mentioned, on whom he will bless with “excellent health” versus the one who “never tasted prosperity”. But ultimately they both end in death, with no difference between them, and it is unclear how God intervenes at all then.

Job then preempts his friends by anticipating their replies, and countering with solid reasoning. He challenges them to face the fact that it is common knowledge that those who do evil live prosperous lives. They are not challenged in this life, and even find death “sweet”! Just as it is true today that there are countless people who live long, “full”, lives in disobedience to God, the friends of Job would have surely been aware of similar people during their lives.

Job completes his reply by concluding that his friends have been providing unsound and unreasonable guidance. The premise that Job is under judgement falls flat under the weight of Job’s claim that the evil of the world do not, in fact, suffer immediate retribution from God, and often never face it in their lifetime.

Job’s last sentence is a straightforward attack on the friends, essentially calling them liars.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for your sovereignty! Although it may not seem like it sometimes, especially in our small, corrupt minds, you are in control. Despite evil running rampant, and those who disobey and despise you, it seems you are silent. Yet we can trust you, because we know you are in control. I pray for the peace of trusting you, the remission of the thirst for vengeance, and the assurance that you are judge. Amen.

Job 20:1-29

Key Verse(s):

Job 20:29 (CSB)
29 This is the wicked person’s lot from God, the inheritance God ordained for him.

Reflection/Application:

Zophar announces he must reply to what Job has said, as he feels he has been insulted. He suggests that it is his wisdom on the topic at hand that compels him to rejoin the back and forth between Job and the friends.

Zophar begins by emphasizing the temporary nature of the sinner and his pleasures. This is another example of one of the friends conveying a general truth, but missing the application of it. Instead of understanding the true circumstances of Job’s plight, Zophar has already decided that Job must fit the mold of the traditional sinner under the judgement of God. It is also interesting that he begins with this stalk of the fleeting nature of the sinner, as Job had spoken of desiring to have his testimony recorded so that he could be vindicated in the future.

Zophar continues on to outline how the sinner does not take joy in reaping the good things he cherishes, or even the fruit of his own labor. There is a mixture of both deceptive ways of acquiring things, as well as upright methods, described here by Zophar. It is not clear if he is speaking in an accusatory way, suggesting Job participated in some of these practices, or in generalities. Either way, it seems clear he intends to suggest Job suffers from the same effects of missing out on what he had, due to God’s work in denying him those fruits.

Zophar concludes by describing the lot of the sinner: total loss and suffering brought about by God. Although the sinner rises, gains, and profits, it is right at his peak that God takes it all away. It seems unlikely that Zophar was not directing this passage at Job and his condition. It seems hard to believe this was not at least a thinly veiled suggestion that Job is that sinner, who had amassed impressive wealth, a large family, and was at his “peak”, and then God took it all away.

Zophar completes his thought here with another truth, specifically God’s sovereignty, despite his misplaced application. Further, rather than this truth being a source of compassion and a desire to restore Job, it seems to be, for the friends, a license to attack Job and disparage him.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for being the great, fully sovereign, God! The fate of the sinner is death, yet you’ve provided hope through faith in Christ to this you have redeemed, for your holy and perfect purposes. I pray that we would see the circumstances of those under your wrath as twofold: your righteous judgement, and as an opportunity to speak healing and restoration, so that you may be glorified. Amen.

 

Job 19:1-29

Key Verse(s):

Job 19:25 (CSB)
25 But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust.

Reflection/Application:

Job begins his reply to Bildad by asking why it is that his friends “torment” him. They have, clearly, humiliated him, and Job seems justified in this charge against his so-called friends.

Job here concedes that he may in fact be guilty of some sin. In the context of the text so far though, it is unlikely that Job would be referring to some sort of “major”, or ongoing, unrepentant, sin here. Instead, it is likely an allusion to a sin he was unaware of, or of a more minor nature. Further, he suggests that even if he had committed such sin, it would not be the role of his friends to discover it, and condemn him of it.

Job goes on to accuse his friends of disgracing him to better themselves, showing themselves superior to him. Although there has been much truth in what the friends have said, although much of it not applicable to Job, it does seem as though they have done a fine job of taking shots at Job and coming across as holier-than-thou.

But Job corrects their false, and sinful, attitude, and reminds them that they are inconsequential, and have done nothing to tarnish Job’s reputation. Instead, as he has charged before, it has been God’s unjust treatment of Job that has brought about his current state.

Job then begins a litany of laments concerning God’s attitude towards him. His descriptions paint a picture of a man abandoned and ignored by God. Not only that, but he is the victim of God’s wrath and anger. A truly despairing situation.

In Job 19:13-20, Job continues lamenting his situation, but the descriptions here, with the exception of verse 20, are personal, all relations to other people. Quite notable are the multiple laments of his loss of friends: “my acquaintances have abandoned me”, “my close friends have forgotten me”, and “my best friends despise me”. This seems to be a bit different than the normal antagonistic retort, and seems more seeking.

Job then comes right out with a plea to his friends to have mercy on him. It is troubling to see the treatment he has received from his friends so far, in his great time of suffering, and the lack of compassion and redemption. Job even equates their persecution with what God has brought upon him! A great testimony to the power of a friendship, both for good and bad.

This section contains what might be the most famous words of Job: “My Redeemer lives.” But there is more to the context, not that necessarily changes the understanding of those famous, and inspiring, words, but add to it.

Job begins by wishing his story were recorded (little did he know that his story was inspired by God!), likely to stand as a testimony to his suffering and sometime in the future be justified as an innocent victim. Following this he utters those famous words, which, although they could be understood to mean a human redeemer, in the sense of someone coming to stand on his behalf, it seems sensible to at least understand it as a dual-meaning, if not solely referring to Jesus. Ultimately, Job displays an amazing faith, which should be inspirational to all, especially those suffering under the weight of seemingly unjust trials.

The remaining verses in the section, 26-27, seem to confirm the focus upon Jesus as the “Redeemer”, as Job relays his firm belief that he will see God. and it is worth noting that he states he will be in his “flesh”, and his “eyes will look at him”… a confirmation of the unique Christian/Jewish belief of a bodily, physical, resurrection.

The final two verses of the chapter, and of Job’s reply to Bildad, take a radical shift from the preceding section where Job was envisioning his seeing God. He now returns to his consistent form of lashing back at his friends. What we read is job warning his friends that they should be careful lest they suffer the wrath they accuse him of bringing upon himself, for just that reason: bringing it upon themselves through the false charges of sin, unrepentant sin, on the part of Job.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for both your justice and grace! Just as Job warns his friends, we also deserve your wrath for our sin. Yet, as Job has confidence in the assurance of standing before you, as a friend, you have given that to us as well, secured by your Son on the cross. I pray that we would seek to be aligned with you, and hold on to the promise of Christ. Amen.