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The Job debate; Zophar (again) and Job

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posted on Nov, 10 2017 @ 05:03 PM
On the face of it, the book of Job is about the troubles of one man.
Of course we understand him as a representative. We regard the story as a debate about the origins of human troubles.
Strictly speaking, why bad things happen to good people instead of being limited to bad people.

The troubles of Job were described in the first two chapters.
Job feels a sense of grievance, arising out of them, which develops into what amounts to a lawsuit against God.
Like any other lawsuit, this case begins with a plaintiff’s complaint (ch3).
Since God is not offering an immediate response, the “comforters” who are sitting with Job begin putting forward their own counter-arguments
All three of them have spoken once, and now it is Zophar’s turn (last again) to make a second contribution.

Zophar, second speech

Zophar is getting annoyed (“my haste within me”) because he is hearing from Job what amounts to a censure of his companions, including Zophar himself (ch20 vv1-3).

His response is to present his own version of the “downfall of the wicked” theme, still on the basis of knowledge which has come down from “of old”.
The apparent triumph of the wicked is only temporary, “the exulting of the wicked is short, the joy of the godless but for a moment” (vv4-5).
He may reach up to the clouds of heaven, like Babel, but he will crumble away like his own dung.
He will vanish like a dream.
He and his children will lose their wealth.
His wickedness will seem sweet to him, but the taste will turn poisonous.

The reason is that the wicked man “has crushed and abandoned the poor, has seized a house which he did not build” (v19).
His greed knew no rest, there was nothing left after he had eaten.
Therefore God will remove his prosperity and fill him with misery.
“He will flee from an iron weapon” (described in gruesome detail).
Utter darkness is laid up for his treasure.
The whole heavens and earth will expose his iniquity and come down upon it in judgement, in the day of wrath.
“This is the wicked man’s portion from God” (vv20-29).

Job’s response

Job says that his friends don’t grasp what he’s driving at, and they would be appalled “and lay their hands upon their mouths” if they understood the true boldness of his case.
He’s appalled himself, “shuddering seizes my flesh”.
Because he’s not complaining about the wickedness of men, as they think.
He’s complaining that God allows the wickedness of men (ch21 vv1-6).

Why does God permit the wicked to prosper?
For surely this is what happens, if we pay attention to observation rather than theory.
They reach old age and grow mighty in power.
“Their children are established in their presence”.
Their herds also flourish, and their houses are safe from fear.
“They spend their days in prosperity, and in peace they go down to Sheol” (vv7-13).
This is the case even though they reject God.
They say to him “Depart from us!
We do not desire the knowledge of thy ways.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?” (vv14-16)

He asks the blunt question of his friends;
How often does it really happen that “the lamp of the wicked is put out… That God distributes pains in his wrath” (v 17).
He anticipates the answer that the punishment is postponed and received by the children of the wicked, but he finds that unsatisfactory;
“Let him recompense it to themselves, that they might know it” (v19).
Frankly, he does not think they will worry about what happens to their children once they are dead;
“What do they care for their houses after them, when the number of their months is cut off?” (v21).

He can predict the conventional platitudes which his friends are going to offer;
“Where is the house of the prince? Where is the tent in which the wicked dwelt?” (vv27-28).
But the honest answer is that the tent of the wicked is probably standing firm and untroubled.
Just ask the people who use their eyes and look around them;
“Have you not asked those who travel the roads, and do you not accept their testimony?” (v29)
The truth is that the wicked man is spared in the day of calamity. Nobody challenges him about his injustice, or tries to punish him.
He lives and dies prosperous and happy (vv30-33).

Therefore all their arguments based on the contrary assumption are “empty nothings.
There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood” (v34)

edit on 10-11-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 10 2017 @ 05:03 PM
Which side of the debate appears to be making the best case?


Job’s complaint

Ch3) I curse the day I was born.
Because it did not cut my life short and so protect me from the troubles of life.
Why did I not die at birth? (vv10-11)
Why is life given (or why does life continue to be given) to the man in misery who longs for death? (vv20-21)

Eliphaz (1)

Ch4) His understanding of Job’s complaint;
While Job was able to encourage others when they were in trouble, he fails to apply his own advice when the troubles fall upon himself. He has become impatient.
Job believes that his fear of God and his integrity should be enough to protect him from trouble. (vv5-6)

Based on observation;
Those who work with iniquity and cause trouble perish at the hands of God.
Those who are innocent and upright are safe. (vv7-8)
Based on direct vision from God;
NO man can be righteous before God, who finds nothing free from fault. (v17)

Ch5) Observation confirms this.
We see that people reject God and therefore suffer. (v3)
So trouble is natural to our lives (vv6-7).
The answer is to trust in God entirely (v8).
The result of this trust will be protection and security (v26).


Ch6) Restates the heaviness of his vexations.
The terrors of God are arrayed against him (vv1-4).
Restates that in the circumstances he would prefer death (vv8-10).

Eliphaz and the others have been unsympathetic.
He challenges them to specify what was wrong with his remarks.
He will tell them the truth, because his vindication is at stake (v29).
Ch7) His case is the case of men in general (v1).

The reason why he has no fear about addressing God directly;
His life is short, and once he reaches Sheol he will never return (vv7-10).
Therefore he has nothing to lose from speaking his mind.

The root of the problem is that God is paying him too much attention.
As a result, his transgressions are always being noticed, and consequently getting punished (v17).
Why should God not break this chain simply by pardoning his transgressions? (vv20-21)

Bildad (1)

Ch8) God does not pervert justice.
So Job’s children must have been penalised for their own sin (v4)
Job himself should make supplication to God.
If he is pure and upright, God will rouse himself to take action on Job’s behalf (vv5-7)

For this is the wisdom which has been handed down from bygone ages;
On the one hand, the hope of the godless shall perish (v13).
On the other hand, God will not reject a blameless man (v20).


Ch9) He knows that “it is so” (v1);
(That is, God will not, in principle, reject a blameless man.
So if a blameless man like Job finds himself rejected anyway, that needs to be put right.)

But how can a man establish himself as just before God?
The problem is that the overwhelming power of God sets him beyond contradiction (vv2-3).
How can Job, as an innocent man, plead his cause under those conditions? (vv15-17)
What power can compel God to give an account of what he does? (v19)

Even though Job is blameless, he would be forced to condemn himself out of his own mouth (v20).
But he loathes his life, so he is not afraid to say;
1. He himself is blameless
2. God destroys both the blameless and the wicked
However, these issues cannot be discussed fairly, because God will not meet him on equal terms, laying aside his dread power (vv32-35).

Ch10) Again he asks, why should God pursue his transgressions quite so diligently? (v17)
Again he asks; why was he allowed to enter the world, to experience these troubles? (v18)
But if he must live, why cannot be allowed to live his short life in peace?

Zophar (1)

Ch11) Job says that he is blameless.
But God’s wisdom is higher than ours, so his judgement of righteousness and unrighteousness must be better than ours.
In fact in Job’s case he must be exacting less of a penalty than his guilt requires (vv5-6).
So Job should repent and seek God, after which his life will be restored (vv13-15).


Ch12) Restates his basic case;
On the one hand, he himself, a just and blameless man, has now been made a laughing-stock because of his misfortunes.
On the other hand, robbers and idolaters are left free to live in peace and security (vv4-6).
He is not ignorant of the great wisdom of God as ruler of the world.
Indeed his point is that God does everything, and so must be responsible for everything (vv13-14).

Ch13) He intends to argue his case with God directly (v3).
He challenges God to meet him in debate, asking only;
That God should allow him to speak, holding back his own power.
And that God should promise to reply (vv19-22).
He demands a full account of the iniquities for which he is being punished (v23).
Ch14) Since man have been given such a short life, why punish his iniquities anyway? (vv1-3)
Why not just look away from them? (v6)
He wishes he could be allowed to hide in Sheol during the time of judgement, coming out again once it was over, and starting a fresh life free from the scrutiny of his transgressions (vv13-17)

Eliphaz (2)

Ch15) On the authority of wisdom handed down from ancient times;
Repeats, it is not possible for men to be wholly righteous (vv15-16).
Repeats, God brings destruction on the wicked (vv23-25).


Ch16) They do not know his experiences.
He has been “under attack” from God, though he has not earned it by attacking others (vv12-13).
So he wants to make a legal appeal as a victim of “Violence”, naming God himself as the defendant (v18), also citing God as his own chief witness (v19), and calling upon God to be an impartial judge in the case (vv20-21).

Ch17) Returns to the theme of his despair.
Asks whether his hope will go down with him to Sheol and keep him company there (vv13-16).

Bildad (2)

Ch18) The destruction of the wicked.


Ch19) The friends are treating Job’s troubles as proof of his iniquities.
But in fact he is “in the wrong” only because God has put him there (vv5-6).
God has made no response to his appeal for justice (v7), and has left him isolated even from his friends and family.
Job wants a permanent record of his case for the sake of a future appeal (v23).
For he knows there is a “Kinsman” somewhere, who will “redeem” him from his troubles (v25).
Even if he has to wait until he has already reached Sheol (vv26-7).

edit on 10-11-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 12 2017 @ 02:04 PM
Previous threads in the series;

The troubles of Job
Job's complaint
Eliphaz and Job
Bildad and Job
Zophar and Job
Eliphaz (again) and Job
Bildad (again) and Job

edit on 12-11-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)


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