The Debate Continues Between Job & His Friends

Job’s Answer to Zophar: Chapter 21

Obviously, Job’s “friends” were not listening to him. And if they were, they weren’t paying attention to what he was actually saying. He was obviously listening to them, however, since he alluded to their words on more than one occasion.

He responds, in part, with a remark nearly as sarcastic as the ones they had thrown his way.

Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.

Job 21:3

The Real Conflict & Complaint

Job was trying to make his companions understand that his conflict was a spiritual one. No man was to blame for the crisis he was in, and he wondered why God seemed to forsake him suddenly.

When his friends should have been looking at the situation with as much astonishment as he himself felt, instead they mocked him! So he went further in his speech, here, to speak to the fact that the moral order of the day was not as they had portrayed it.

The wicked seemed to flourish. They appeared to experience blessing, while righteous men like Job experienced great loss. When, in chapter 20, Zophar had alluded to the fact that the wicked die young, Job contended, here, that they lived longer!

Just think of the wicked King Manasseh, who lived longer than any other king of Judah. Just as the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust (Matthew 5:45), so some wicked people live as long or longer than the just.

In chapter 18, Bildad said that wicked people have no children that will remember them. But here, Job says their children are not only there, but they are established.

The injustice of what was happening in Job’s life was, understandably, disturbing. The revelation of the reality of the matter is yet to come, but the punishment seemed to be immediate, and for no reason.

God’s Wisdom Is Supreme

It’s obvious that Job believes the lamp of the wicked is not often enough put out. It certainly wouldn’t make him feel any better, even if they were. Besides, it seems like most of the wicked are only judged in the end. Job was suffering in his own “here and now”.

Still, Job acknowledges that God is completely wise and does not need to be taught any man. While he questioned the fact that the wicked were not punished as quickly as he thought they should be, he knew that this was the wrong way to think.

He goes on to say that while one man dies in his strength, another dies with a bitter soul. And they both wind up in dust. In death, he reasons, all worldly problems cease. To look at two deceased persons, you can’t tell which was good and which was bad.

Job Challenges His Friends

Job could tell his friends were pretty much appalled at how he dared to question God and His authority. But there was a big difference between them. They seemed confident in their understanding of God. Job admitted that he was confounded, to say the least.

There was also the fact that, to Job’s friends, these were theological questions. For him, they were a matter of life or death. At least in his own mind.

Again, Job wished that the unrighteous people would receive a swift judgment. However, he made it plain that even those who traveled on the road – mere nomads – would understand that it didn’t happen that way.

The final judgment of those wicked people is awful. But Job asks, who is willing to confront them right now, to their face? He knew that even their funerals would be exquisite, with mourners weeping their loss. And not a bit of it seemed fair!

One Last Word from Eliphaz: Chapter 22

Over the course of this book, we see a certain cycle taking place between Job and his friends. At first, they are content to speak generally. They don’t particularly point fingers at Job. The second go-round is a little different though, as Job’s ideas don’t seem to match up with what his friends think.

This time, Eliphaz has no problem attacking Job outright!

Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?

Job 22:2-3

It’s obvious that Eliphaz had taken Job’s words to mean that he thought he should have meant more to God. That God owed him something. But does God need anything or anyone? He didn’t create man out of some need, therefore man can provide nothing to the already perfect God.

Eliphaz Thinks Job Arrogant

Eliphaz thinks that Job just might think a little too much of himself. As Job continues to tout his own righteousness, Eliphaz asks if the Almighty actually takes any pleasure in that. He wanted Job to know that God didn’t need him, and he certainly didn’t have anything exceptional to offer God.

It’s true, God needed nothing. That much was correct. However, once again, his application of the truth left much to desire. You see, Eliphaz was ignorant of the goings-on between God and satan in chapters 1 and 2. God did take pleasure in Job’s righteousness. God did notice that Job was blameless. And it was all unbeknownst to anyone else in the story.

As if to add insult to injury, Eliphaz took it upon himself to call Job out for his wickedness, which he said “was great”, and his iniquity, which he said was “without end”.

In fact, to Eliphaz, the things that happened to Job couldn’t possibly be anything less than God’s judgment or correction. And he told him so, in no uncertain terms. He accused Job of every horrible sin that could possibly have brought on the kind of “correction” that Job was currently undergoing.

Remember The Flood

Heading back to the basics of religious theology, Eliphaz reminds Job of God’s majesty and power. He warns him to refrain from the kind of hard-heartedness that left only eight souls alive after the flood.

Eliphaz went further to speak of how righteous men are happy to see God’s judgment poured out on the wicked. If Job were, truly, righteous, Eliphaz argues, then he would also rejoice. Since he doesn’t, this could only mean that he is not righteous.

“Get Right With God!”

Returning to God is sound advice. But Job wasn’t in a situation where confession or repentance could benefit him. He knew that he’d done nothing wrong. How could he repent if he was already blameless? He knew the truth, but his friends thought he simply wanted to keep his sins hidden.

The answer seemed simple enough. All Job had to do was finally confess all the deep, dark sins that were at fault for these horrible atrocities, and God would restore him. In reality, if Eliphaz had considered his own relationship with God, he would have seen how imperfect it was. He couldn’t comfort his friend like that.

How redundant he was. To start with accusations and then move on to words that were so cruel in nature. Then finalizing his plea for Job’s repentance so that he could experience worldly pleasures as a result. One has to wonder why he couldn’t see his own hypocrisy.

In Closing

It’s like Job was talking to a wall, wasn’t it? No matter what he said, his friends still insinuated that all of this catastrophe was HIS fault! I think sometimes it’s like that for us, when we think we’re giving sound advice to friends. We see what appears to be common knowledge, but in reality, we simply don’t know what’s going on behind the spiritual veil.

In what ways could we be better confidants to our friends in their time of need? What do we expect from others when we don’t feel so great? Perhaps Job’s perspective can give us a clearer path forward?

Father, there’s so much we simply don’t see when it comes to things of a spiritual nature. Our flesh, the desires of the flesh, and all that daily life throws at us sometimes press us down farther than we feel like we can go. Open our eyes with a new vision, Your vision, and grant us grace and mercy for all that we must go through. We ask it in Jesus mighty Name, Amen.

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