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!

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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.

 

 

Job 18:1-21

Key Verse(s):

Job 18:21 (CSB)
21 Indeed, such is the dwelling of the unjust man, and this is the place of the one who does not know God.

Reflection/Application:

Bildad begins his second speech by chiding Job, asking him to end his defense, his speaking. apparently Bildad does not regard Job’s speech up to now as sensible, and does not see the dialogue as Job and the friends “talking”.

Bildad then points out what he sees as an irony, and, I imagine, does so as one who has been offended. He finds it odd that Job, who certainly seems antagonistic and angry, without improvement in his disposition through his speeches, considers his friends, whom Bildad is one of, dumb, stupid as cattle, yet expects everything to be centered around his reasoning. In other words: how is it that the friends are dumb, when Job thinks that punishment does not follow sin, and somehow everyone else is wrong who does accept this conclusion?

Bildad goes on to list a number of metaphors describing the sinful man. They all describe the decline into darkness, or the harassment of evil. It is worth noting some of the examples, such as being “driven from light to darkness,” and his “light [being] extinguished.” It would seem obvious that Bildad sees Job on this trajectory of moving away from God, or the light, and towards the darkness, or sin, and it manifests in the punishments that Job has endured.

It seems unlikely that some of Bildad’s examples are pointed directly at Job’s situation as well: “nothing he owned remains in his tent,” “he has no name anywhere” (no children), and “he has no children or descendants.” I’m not convinced that these are mean-spirited digs at Job as much as Bildad, as do the other friends, see that Job’s situation is just understood only to be the result of sin punished by God, and he is trying to convey this “truth” to Job.

Bildad concludes his reply with a severe statement which is obviously meant to describe Job. And although there is some aspect of truth in what Bildad describes, just as there is in much of what the friends say to Job, such as the unrepentant sinner not “knowing” God, the statement seems cold and harsh. Despite Job’s repeated pleas of not just innocence, but of righteousness, which would only be understood as knowing God, at least to some extent, Bildad describes Job as the exact opposite.

What is just as puzzling, is that Bildad concludes his speech here with nothing that brings any sort of comfort or empathy, yet he is a friend of Job. And to think that he is a “friend” of such an “unjust man”!

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for grace and mercy! The speech of Bildad has a cold feeling, even when it is settled on truths. And even though we deserve none of your mercy, we deserve the truth of judgement for our sin, you showed mercy. I pray that I will do the same to those around me, not in a way that validates sin, but in a way that glorifies your truth, grace, and mercy. Amen.

Job 16:1-17:16

Key Verse(s):

Job 16:19 (CSB)
19 Even now my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is in the heights!

Reflection/Application:

Job begins his reply to Eliphaz by addressing all of his friends, and noting that there has been nothing they have said, including Eliphaz’s last speech, that contains anything new, anything that is not already common knowledge. He also notes just how unsympathetic they are, providing no comfort for Job, their friend, which Job claims he would do were the circumstances switched.

Job returns to the theme of his position as an enemy of God, which comes across as more of a victim of God’s wrath. It is another passage of lamentation by Job. Packed in the middle of the section i an interesting mention of “they” in Job 16:10, who are the “unjust” and “wicked” in Job 16:11. It is not explicitly mentioned who Job is speaking of here, but I interpret it as a reference to the friends who have come against Job, rather than comforting him, and seem to increase his misery.

Job switches gears here a bit, and expresses his state of grief and sorrow. He mentions wearing sackcloth, a sign of grief, and also speaks of his weeping. He couples these acts of sorrow with another defense of his innocence, stating again that he is not deserving of the judgement he has suffered.

Job then pleas for an advocate, as he sees his death approaching. The picture is actually quite amazing from the modern perspective. Despite Job attributing his current, pitiful, condition to God, he recognizes his “witness in heaven” and his “advocate in the heights”. Who could this be but God? From our modern perspective, we easily identify Jesus as this person, but Job, it would seem, would not have had this clear identification of the person of Jesus. So instead, it would seem, Job simply recognizes that God is in fact, despite being responsible for his circumstances, Job’s advocate and witness on his behalf!

Further building on the idea of God as his advocate, Job then directly asks for God’s help, to support him. he goes on to express how it is solely God that is capable of representing him before his friends, as God is the one who has blinded them to Job’s plight, therefore God is the only one able to make them see.

Job then brings things back around to address his friends who have been a curse rather than a blessing to him. He summarizes his state, as a result of God’s work, before people, and how he has been considered cursed and not deserving of compassion, the object of despising. And again, as part of his summary, he maintains his position that he is not the wretched sinner that the punishment he has endured deserves, and that his friends lack the wisdom, and are unable to see his innocence.

Job finishes his reply with a similar, depressed and death focused, ending. Despite the glimmers of hope that occurred in this speech (Job 16:19), he concludes by his awaiting death, devoid of hope.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for Jesus, our witness, our advocate, our perfect intercessor. Even Job recognized that you are the only one who can testify before yourself on our behalf! I pray that I would humble myself, not rely on my own tainted works, and surrender to you, and be represented by Christ before you. Amen.

Job 15:1-35

Key Verse(s):

Job 15:14 (CSB)
14 What is a mere human, that he should be pure, or one born of a woman, that he should be righteous?

Reflection/Application:

Eliphaz has listened to Job reply to himself and the other friends, and now begins his second monologue, a reply to Job. He immediately attacks Job, accusing him of being unwise, and condemning himself with his words. It is clear that Eliphaz, just as the other friends, have presupposed Job’s guilt, and therefore assume anything Job says only continues to pile upon his guilt before God.

Eliphaz then charges Job with arrogance. Through a series of rhetorical questions he implies that Job has taken a vain position of greater intellect and knowledge not only of his friends, but of the elders. He even charges that Job holds himself in such high esteem that Job finds himself above God, as evidenced by Job’s words against God.

Eliphaz now broadens his speech to address the human condition of falling short of God’s purity and righteousness. In Job 15:14 is a fantastic example of the sinfulness of man, in the form of a rhetorical question. He then follows it up with another rhetorical question that supports the charge that if not even the angels are seen as pure by God, how much more corrupt is man, who “drinks injustice like water”! Although the charge is against all men, obviously the intent is to contrast Job’s speech with the quite accurate depiction of man’s status before God.

Eliphaz then begins his provision of advice and guidance for Job. He obviously values the wisdom of elders, and cites it as the his source. Even if we grant that Eliphaz is genuinely trying to help Job by providing what he feels is reliable guidance, we see that he continues based upon an incorrect presupposition of Job’s guilt, and therefore his remedy, however theologically sound, is off target.

Eliphaz again equates Job with a wicked, unrepentant sinner in the closing portion of his speech. He essentially reminds job of the principle of reaping what is sown. In other words, the man who stands opposed to God, reaps the terror, dread, darkness, poverty, and trouble that comes from such a stance. There seems to be at least a hint of Eliphaz correlating much of the trouble of the wicked to what Job has experienced. It would seem hard to mistake Job 15:29 and Job 15:34 as paralleling Job’s loss of wealth and his children. Although Eliphaz prefaces all this as applying to the generic “wicked man”, it seems clear he is directing it towards Job, and the accusations seem hard to miss in context.

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the wisdom that you often pass along even in the words of one who is missing the mark! You have used the words of Eliphaz to Job to remind us of our place before you, of our depravity and sin, and our need for your mercy and love. We praise you for Jesus, and your gift of grace through faith! I pray that we would be convicted of your truth, and not unjustly condemn our brothers and sisters, but certainly speak your truth in love. Amen.