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

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gleanings from Job #11

Continuing in my devotional series on Job...

High Crimes and Misdemeanors (22-24)

After Job's terrible trial directed by the providence of God and played out by the hand of the devil, Job had to endure a severe berating from his friends. They accused him of wickedness. If he weren't wicked in a variety of areas in his life, well then nothing would have happened to him. The reason he suffers: He is being punished for unconfessed sin. This we know is not true, and his friends were falsely accusing him.

So far Job has had to endure two sets of three speeches from his friends. Chapter 22 begins the third and final set. With this last set, only Eliphaz and Bildad speak; Zophar no longer participates. Once these next two speeches conclude, a fourth, currently unnamed friend, Elihu, offers his rebukes toward Job, and then finally we hear from God Himself as he breaks His silence.

Before Eliphaz ends his dialogs, he charges Job with more acts of wickedness. Perhaps in his mind he is thinking a third time will beat it out of him.

I. Eliphaz's Accusation (22:2-4)

Eliphaz opens his final words to Job by reminding him that God doesn't punish "innocent" people. His words are in a sense sarcastic:

"Does the Almighty take pleasure in your righteousness? Is that why He is punishing you? What about the fear you have for God, Job? I am guessing he is entering into judgment with you because you really fear the Lord? Right, Job?"

Instead, Eliphaz argues, "You are being troubled for your sin."

II. Eliphaz's List (22:6-20)

Eliphaz accuses Job of at least three major sins: Oppression, injustice, and outright atheism.

There are significant reasons why Job is surrounded with snares and fear troubles him (10, 11):

- Cruel to the poor (6). He has "taken pledges" or interest or down-payment he did not have to take from individuals who could not pay it. Such an action reveals that Job wants to enrich himself off the poor.

- Uncharitable to the weary traveler (7). Job lived in a land that could be arid and hostile at times and travelers depended upon the hospitality of others. Job apparently turned needy travelers away.

- Taken advantage of land owners (8). Some how, Job had worked deals that robbed landowners of their land. In a sense, Eliphaz was saying that one of the reasons Job is wealthy was because he arranged bargains to his advantage.

- Oppressed widows and orphans (9). Individuals who were the most helpless, unable to care for themselves, Job had used and abused for his own purposes.

- He is a scornful atheist (12-15). Even more shameful than these previous sins, Eliphaz says Job engages in them because he doesn't believe God cares. In other words, Job, rather than being a man who truly fears God (1:1), lived his life as if God never noticed his wickedness. God is too far up in the heavens - too transcendent - that the clouds covers Him.

Elpihaz reminds Job that this was the way the inhabitants of the pre-flood world lived. It was this sort of wickedness that brought God's judgment upon them. Because of such sinfulness, they were cut down before their time with the flood (16). Rather than gaining sympathy from righteous people, they laugh at such calamity when it is brought justly by the Lord against the cruel scorners like Job.

III.Eliphaz's Call (22:21-30)

The remainder of the chapter has Eliphaz calling Job to repentance. He tells Job to make peace with God by confessing his sin, to turn from his ill gotten gain of gold and silver, and he will be delivered from his pit of despair.

IV. Job Declares His Innocence (23-24)

Chapters 23 and 24 repeat a lot of the arguments Job has been making with his friends. His ultimate appeal is to God. It is the Lord who is the only one who can vindicate him. Though it is true he has appeared to have abandoned him (23:3), Job still holds his complaint for Him alone. He doesn't care to justify himself in front of his friends; they are unable to truly rescue him from his demise. Instead, Job knows it is God who can really test him in order to determine if he is telling the truth (23:10), and it is his confidence that when God does, he will be shown to be genuine gold.

Job concludes his response to Eliphaz in chapter 24 by reminding him of truths he had just told Zophar (22): God does not always judge the wicked in this life.

In fact, wicked people often get away with their wickedness and the just and innocent suffer for it. Sinners will steal, take advantage of people, oppress the helpless, even to the point of killing, and live their lives out as if God doesn't exist. Pretty much all of the things Eliphaz accuses Job of doing he sees happening often and none of those people are troubled by the trials that Job is suffering. This retribution theology advocated by Job's friends is not a law, because it doesn't happen all the time to everyone in the same way.

What Job does rest his confidence in, however, is God's vindication of him in eternity. Even though the wicked my get away with their sin here in this world, they will be held accountable for it in the next (22-25). Every man, regardless of his station in life, will die and once he does, there is judgment. That is where the wicked are really dealt with.



Blogger Dave Van said...

Fred: I’m enjoying your teaching on the book of Job..often times assumed to be a Theodicy but, I believe, is not since in the end God doesn’t, nor should He be required to, explain Himself. Without intending to be a “spoiler” as on the IMDB, Job in the final analysis can only reply, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. 13:15” My daughter, after a blog entry entitled “Not your Typical Morning Conversation” received a comment by a fan asking the very same questions, “Where is God?” (in suffering) My daughter’s bottom line to this inquiry was...who has suffered more than God’s only Son..for the ultimate purpose of redemption? God never explained Himself to Job. Would that all could exclaim with Job..” I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Job 42:5
Thanks for your insights into this book!

7:25 AM, April 14, 2008  

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