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

Friday, March 28, 2008

Gleanings from Job #10

Continuing in my devotional series on Job...

The Apparent Blessing of the Wicked (20-21)

The book of Job can be difficult to understand, yet within the discourses between Job and his friends, the book becomes a divine revelation addressing specific issues that trouble mankind.

Particularly, why do the innocent suffer?

Even though we know the central character in his narrative is Job, in reality it is God, who has placed Himself on trial to determine if whether or not saving faith is real and if it can persevere.

We have been considering the second round of dialogs of Job's so-called friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, and this time we come to Zophar's second speech to Job. All of the three friends are accusing Job of being a secret sinner; that the reason why he has endured the loss of his livelihood, family, and his health, is that God is punishing him for his sins.

Beginning in chapter 20, we have recorded for us a discussion about the apparent blessing of the wicked. The reality being that in our world, real sinners - really corrupt individuals who live lives without submission to the Lord - are living lives of prosperity, health, and wealth.

The righteous will often fret about this reality, because there is something just so tremendously odious about a God mocker seemingly able to get away with his sin, living a cushy existence as it were, utterly unpunished, while the righteous, the truly good person, struggles and suffers in this life.

Rock stars in our day and age have the ability to capture this lifestyle in song. Consider ex-Eagle, Joe Walsh, and his song "Life's Been Good:"

My Maserati does 185/ I lost my license, now I don't drive.
I ride in limos and sit in the back/ I lock the doors in case I'm attacked.

I have a mansion, forget the price/ I've never been there they tell me it's nice.
I live in hotels, tear out the walls/ I have accountants pay for it all.

I go to parties sometimes until four/ It's hard to leave when you can't find the door.
I've got an office with gold records on the wall/ please leave a message maybe I'll call.

It's hard to take this fortune and fame/ all my friends change, but I'm still the same.
People say I'm crazy, but I have a good time/ life's been good to me so far.

Behavior which should have been punished for being irresponsible and criminal only brings joy to the person.

A more recent song by rock group Nickel Back sings of similar wealth and merriment as they describe a life of a rock star that includes staying out all night, getting free drugs, hanging out with Playboy models, and driving fast cars.

Both songs describe a lifestyle of opulent, emperor decadence all without walking with God.

In the following exchange between Zophar and Job, the two men address this subject.

Zophar's Speech (20)

Zophar begins his opening dialog with Job by harshly responding to his closing words in his last speech as record in chapter 19:28, 29. Job warned that his friends are in danger of incurring God's judgment for their false accusations against his integrity. Zophar says his comments only offend him as reproaches, rather than rebukes (20:3).

However, he moves into laying out his argument against Job. His primary thesis: The wicked will be swiftly and harshly dealt with by God in judgment.

- The wicked are cut off (20:5-9) What appears to be the triumphing of the wicked will quickly be cut short. Hypocrisy is only for a moment, and even though his pride and haughtiness reaches into the clouds of heaven, he will perish forever in his own refuse.

- His riches will make him ill (20:10-21) Zophar describes the the life of the wicked and how he is rich, but his riches and sumptuous living will only make him sick. It could be that all the wealth he has accumulated was gotten by deceit so his conscience is guilty, or those from whom he stole will come back to enact revenge. Or it could be as simple as God moving in his heart to make him hate his wealth, or causing him to go unexpectedly bankrupt.

- His self-sufficiency fails him (20:22-28) Because the wicked refuses to submit to God and His laws, he is a person who revels in his self-sufficiency. He doesn't need anyone but himself. Thus, when the wicked person attempts to take care of himself apart from God, that is when God moves in an undeniable, divine way to humiliate him. If he flees from someone wielding an iron weapon, he basically runs into someone who will smite him with a bronze weapon. Even the creation is brought against him to reveal how his self-sufficient attitude is foolish (27).

Zophar then concludes his speech by saying these illustrations demonstrate how God appoints the wicked to swift destruction. His implication is that Job is suffering the same destiny of the wicked. His severe trials are proof of this.

Job's Response (21)

Job responds by pointing out reality. Though God does at times move quickly against some unrighteous people who behave wickedly, this is not the norm. Contrary to Zophar's descriptions, the wicked are not swiftly cut-off.

If it is true the wicked are swiftly cut-off, then how does Zophar explain the following:

- The wicked live long lives (21:7). Many of them die after many years.

- The wicked even become mighty in power (21:7, 8). Not only do wicked God mockers live long lives, but they also have positions of power and authority. Many of the major kings and world rulers listed in scripture were men who lived wicked lives and grew stronger every year as they exercised tyrannical authority over their subjects. They even see their children raised up to replace them on the throne.

- The wealth of the wicked never ceases (21:9, 10). Their houses, or what would be their livelihood, are safe from the fear of God's judgment. They seem to be blessed as their livestock and cattle breed without any problems.

- The wicked live their lives in merriment (21:11-13). They are always celebrating, dancing, partying with abandon.

- Death comes easy for the wicked (21:13). Whereas normal people may languish on the death bed suffering from crippling ailments or some loathsome disease, death for the wicked is in a moment, something painless and even welcomed.

- The wicked live without God (21:14, 15). They argue against God and any involvement He may have in their lives by saying "who is the Almighty that we would serve Him?" The point is simple: I am making it well on my own, why do I need God? They basically live lives as fist shaking atheists against the Lord. And though it is true their prosperity is really not of their own doing, but the Lord's mercy, still nothing happens to them.

The truth of the matter is plain: The lamp of the wicked isn't always put out like we would like it to be. They don't experience the destruction they deserve.


Though the rich man dies in comfort and ease (20:23), while a poor man dies never experiencing good food or enjoying comfort (20:25), both men will lie down in death's grave (20:26).

Job concludes by pointing out Zophar's true intentions with his words. He is basically equating Job's suffering with the suffering of the wicked 20:27, 28). But Job's hope of vindication is in the hand of the Lord, because all men, regardless of how they lived on earth, including the wicked man living a life of comfort, are reserved for the day of doom (20:30).

This also should be our comfort. Rather than fretting over unrighteous, mean-spirited, individuals who live in big homes, have the best of everything the world offers, and engage in carnal pleasures with impunity, the truth of the matter is:


They should be pitied, for even though their days on earth were full of what they perceived as unmeasurable blessing from a human perspective, it was really the Lord allowing them to accumulate a long list of sin for which they will be held fully accountable.



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