Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gleanings from Job #7

...continuing in my devotional series on Job

Zophar's Speech and Job's Response (11-14)

We have been considering the record of Job and how God brought about a series of trials upon Job by the hand of the devil.

After Job suffered greatly from massive calamity that took from him his livelihood and children, three of his friends came to offer their comfort. Instead of comforting him, however, their dialogs with him were contentious and accusatory. They basically accused Job of being a great sinner and called him to repent and confess his sin before God so he can have his suffering ended.

Their accusations were developed out of a mindset of retribution. That is, any suffering a person experienced is caused by personal sin that remains unconfessed.

With this post, we come to the speech of a third friend by the name of Zophar. He speaks last because he may be younger than the other two. Zophar answers Job by self-righteously defending God's honor. In Zophar's mind, Job was not innocent and his insistence that he was innocent was in fact accusing God of malpractice in His universe.

I. Zophar's mocking

Zophar opens with sarcasm, suggesting Job was mocking God and needs to be rebuked (11:2,3), and though Job thinks he speaks about God's wisdom and swears to his innocence, he wishes God would really show Job what true wisdom is (11: 4,5). Later in 11:12, Zophar rudely calls Job an idiot.

II. Zophar's theology lesson

After he opens with his cutting words against Job's argumentation, Zophar attempts to give him a theology lesson as to who God really is.

1) God is inexhaustible in His nature (11:7, 9)

2) God is limitless in His power and sovereignty (11:10) - No one can hinder his judgments or stop Him from exercising His power.

3) God is omniscient with all His knowledge (11:11) - He knows the deceitful men, those who seek to hide their wickedness.

III) Zophar's conclusion

Just like his previous companions, Zophar calls Job to repent, then prepare his heart, and then stretch out his hands to the Lord. Once he did this, God would surely deliver him from his misery.

The problem with his comments:

- It is merely a call to achieve God's favor.

- Zophar abuses theological truth. I think this is a most important point to consider, because through out these discourses, Job's friends abuse theological truth when counseling Job. In other words, even though they are correct with their understanding of who God is, they misuse their teaching about God that only offers hoplessness to Job. When we counsel others, we must be theologically correct in our understanding of God, but we must use our understanding of God to encourage, not discourage. Implementing proper doctrine when counseling must be saturated with mercy.

- He fails to recognize God may have purposes for suffering other than punishing for sin.

Job then responds to Zophar with a lengthy, three chapter speech.

I) Job's Anger

Job responds to Zophar's accusations with bit of an angry tone. In a way, he is directing his comments not to Zophar only, but all three of his friends.

First, Job says he is not inferior to them, and just like all men, their wisdom will die with them (12:2, 3). In fact, argues Job, the things Zophar mentioned about God is common knowledge. He wasn't telling Job anything new (12:3). Anyone can go to any number of witnesses in nature to know these things Zophar mentions are true, the beasts, birds, the fish in the sea, and even men themselves, all testify to God's wisdom and power (12:7-12). However, none of these realities explains God's actions against Job. How do those things suggest Job was not innocent of sin and God was punishing him?

II) Job's Illustrations

In order to illustrate that all Zophar said about God is common knowledge and in a sense, irrelevant to Job's situation. That being, Job is not being judged for sin. He expands upon Zophar's words and provides a series of illustrations that show how God's sovereign power can be the great reverser of fortunes regardless of a man's sinfulness (12:13-25).

- If He breaks down a city, it can't be rebuilt.
- If He imprisons a man, there can be no release.
- He controls the flood waters.
- Those who seek to deceive are deceived by Him.
- He raises up and takes down kings and princes.
- Secrets that are thought to be hidden He will reveal.
- He raises up nations and brings them down.

III) Job's Rebuke

Beginning in chapter 13, Job says he seeks to reason with God about his situation. His "friends" on the other hand are "forgers of lies;" Their counsel is worthless. That is for at least three reasons:

- They were presuming to speak for God when in fact they really have no knowledge of why God was doing what He was doing.

- Their attempt to defend God by accusing Job of sin makes them to speak wickedly for Him (13:7) and in truth is showing partiality (vs. 8).

- They are placing themselves in danger of being judged by Him because of their presumptuous dialogs against Job (13:11, 12).

However, in spite of being falsely accused, Job continues to declare his innocence before God and he is confident God will vindicate him for doing anything sinful in his life. Job believes this so much so that he states he will trust God even if He slays him (13:15).

The remainder of Job's words from 13:16 - 14:22, is a challenge to his three friends to make his sins known to him (13:23). Additionally, Job affirms the total inability of man to rescue himself from sin in chapter 14, particularly verse 4. Moreover, because of man's lack of ability to do anything pleasing to gain God's favor, Job has no one else capable of delivering him from his circumstances. God's person, His power and holiness, drive men to their graves, and just as water destroys mountains, so too does man disintegrate before the LORD.



Blogger Kim said...

Fred, thanks for these gleanings. I am reading Job in my bible reading. I really enjoyed today's installment.


3:54 AM, February 19, 2008  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I am glad you are at least being blessed to some extent. I thought that was one of the more difficult speeches of the book, so I was struggling to explain what I thought the text was saying. I have a warmed heart knowing someone was encouraged.


5:37 AM, February 19, 2008  
Blogger Kim said...

Well, this is the third time in the last year I have tried to read Job. I find it very hard. Any extra input is good. These guys were soooo long winded.

I'm on chapter 19 now.

12:48 PM, February 19, 2008  
Blogger Ebeth said...

Would it be possible to get a CD with all of your lessons from JOB? I have someone in mind who I think would profit from them, and am not sure of their access to the internet. Thanks.

4:51 PM, February 24, 2008  

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