Tag Archives: Job

The ending of the book of Job is in the Bible for a reason

And the rest of the Bible is also there for a reason.

People often have legitimate questions about suffering or all sorts of big picture questions about God, such as why He did or didn’t do this or that.  Sometimes the questions are natural and from reasonable motives, but they are often smokescreens.  Never forget Romans 1.  People know there is a God but they suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  I know, I used to be one of them!

Romans 1:18–21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

In talking to a few skeptical Kairos prison ministry participants once they had lots of questions like that.  They were looking for reasons not to believe.  My strategy in situations like that is to give a quick answer then point to greater truths.

Example: One asked, “What if Adam hadn’t sinned?”  I could tell from the conversation to that point that it wasn’t coming from faith or genuine concern, but from skepticism. You could waste a lot of time on that sort of hypothetical, so I just smiled and said, “If Adam hadn’t sinned and ruined everything, then I would have.”  They got the joke and it gave me a chance to segue to the gospel.

Back to Job: As you probably know, Job had lots of things he wanted to know from God, but when God showed up and asked questions then Job got quiet very quickly.  He didn’t get the answers he wanted, just like we often don’t get answers we want.  It is important to acknowledge that to people without apology.

Job 38:1–7 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

And it goes on from there.

But as I like to say, the end of the book of Job is in the Bible for a reason: We don’t get to know everything.  Job was more devout than any of us but he didn’t get answers (at least at that time).

But the rest of the Bible is there for a reason as well: God reveals countless profound things about himself to us that we do need to know, including his remarkably gracious terms for saving our wretched souls.  Of course we can’t know everything about God, but we can know a lot.  So point people to what we do know and don’t get caught up in what we may never know (at least not in this life).

I also like this passage.  It reminds me that when there are things I don’t or can’t know I should just follow Jesus:

John 21:22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

And this is a classic.  People forget that our default destination is Hell.   They think the default is Heaven and that you only go to Hell if you are “really” bad.

Romans 9:18–20 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

We just can’t fully comprehend his greatness!

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Instead of apologizing for God when bad things happen, as some “Christian” Leftists do when pretending that God isn’t completely sovereign, we should switch the narrative.  When people ask where is God, include something like this: “God is where He has always been: Ready and willing to forgive repentant sinners.  He is also still withholding his wrath from those who completely deserve it right now: People who have killed their own children, who have sex out of wedlock with impunity, who mock his created order with every sort of perversion – including pretending they are a different gender, who are greedy, who are unkind, who are liars, and on and on.  Namely, everyone, including me!  So repent now and accept his gracious forgiveness.”

God is not soft on evil.  The cross was simultaneously the great act of evil ever (fallen man killing God in the flesh) and the greatest act of good (saving those who couldn’t save themselves).

More about knowing God:

1 Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

Isaiah 55:8–11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

P.S. I liked this comment from the Bible Knowledge Commentary:

Like a deaf critic of Bach or a blind critic of Raphael is the unregenerate critic of God’s Word.

A great overview of the Book of Job

The Book of Job can be challenging to read, but it contains many timeless truths.  Having God come on the scene and turning the questioning on Job is worth reading the whole book.

This article at Pyromaniacs: The Patience of Job was the best overview I’ve ever read on Job.

Human emotions don’t help us make sense of these things. If you want to sort through the problem of evil, you have to think sensibly, and theologically, and biblically, and not let your emotions rule your mind.

Job was a wise enough man than to know better than to respond by reflex on the basis of his feelings. If he had responded according to what he felt like, he might have cursed God. If he had just given vent to his feelings, he could easily been consumed with bitterness, self-pity, anger, and frustration—and he might have been tempted to take his wife’s advice: “Curse God and die!”

But Job’s very first response was the response of someone who knows something about God: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Job had filtered his feelings through his theology. It still did not make sense to him why he had to suffer like this (and that is why Job is 42 chapters long; because it records the dialogue Job had with his friends as he tried to sort this out). But even though it made no sense to him, even though he was overwhelmed with painful feelings, his immediate response made no mention of those feelings.

. . .

This cannot be stressed too much: It was sound theology, not his feelings, that enabled Job to weather the immediate shock of the news that his children and everything he owned were gone forever. This is why sound theology is so important—and so intensely practical.

Notice what truths Job clung to. These were the things Job knew for sure about God. These were the truths that became his anchor. And throughout the book of Job, amid all his complaints and pleading, he never once let go of these principles. Here are three truths Job clung to in order to see him through his grief:

I encourage you to read it all.  I agree that Job was a staunch Calvinist and it made a big difference to him.

Why you can’t trust PolitiFact

Via “What liberal media?” (Texas edition) — The math was clear: Texas could rightly make this claim:

“In the last five years, we’ve created more jobs than all other states combined.”

It was based on the right data: Net jobs added.  But instead of acknowledging what an amazing accomplishment it was, PolitiFact tried to spin it as some sort of half-truth.  Shouldn’t the energy be put into assessing what Texas has done right rather than making a lame attempt to discredit its accomplishments?  It isn’t like there aren’t tens of millions of people on food stamps and/or unemployed.

This is, in fact, objectively true, and you may verify it yourself at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data page. (We posted the graph and numbers here.) Suffice it to say that when the commercial was filmed, the latest confirmed BLS employment data was January 2011’s. Going back five years through January 2006 revealed that only ten states saw a net increase in jobs in that period — Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Montana. Texas’s total was 545,900 new jobs. The other nine states combined came to 183,700 new jobs. Call this what you will — we call it a resounding vindication of the Texas model of low taxes and small government — but don’t call it inaccurate.

Let’s review something for a moment. To use “created more jobs,” or any of its variants — “job creation,” “created jobs,” et al. — to signify a net increase in jobs is a de facto universal rhetorical standard. It’s so common as to be assumed, and no reasonable person reads or hears otherwise. To pick just a few examples: Here’s President Barack Obama doing it. Here’s Gallup doing it. Here’s Michael Powell of the New York Times doing it. Here’s Dennis Cauchon of USA Today doing it. Here’s Pietro Garibaldi and Paolo Mauro of the International Monetary Fund doing it. Here’s Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doing it. Here’s Peter Cohan of Forbes doing it. Here’s Reuters and CNBC doing it. Here’s Peter Boyer of Newsweek doing it.

The idea that Brooke Rollins would mean anything but net jobs created in her quote defies credulity. News-savvy readers may recall the White House’s own rhetorical dodge on this count from late 2009, when the chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors invoked the phrase “jobs saved or created” to concoct a net-positive figure on employment resulting from the federal stimulus. The widely derided lexical formulation was swiftly discarded, and with good reason: touting job creation in the absence of net job creation is rightly regarded as insulting or deceptive.

If you trust the liberal media you aren’t using good critical thinking skills.

Important job hunting tips

Some excellent job-hunting tips from The Ladder.  No, I’m not looking.  I’m quite happy where I am, but I like to keep up on the market and thought that others might benefit from these.

 1. Computers can’t read – here’s how to make your resume computer–friendly.
2. Age discrimination – it exists. Now what are we going to do about it?
3. The taxman cometh, your job goeth. How to make the job hunt tax-efficient.
4. Dude, lose the sweatpants while you’re unemployed, OK?
5. What you absolutely must know about headhunters.
6. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” – how to stop job–loss anger from stopping you.
7. What naughty things are your future employers reading about you right now?
8. Yes, tie clips are out of style – try not to look like you’re past the expiration date, OK?
9. Job Hunt 101 – you think you know this stuff. You don’t. Please read.
10. Who moved my industry? What do you do when your industry evaporates?

Job 40-42

job40.jpgGreetings!  This brings us to the end of Job, where God is speaking and Job responds.

40     The Lord said to Job:

2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?

Let him who accuses God answer him!”

So many of us are quick to judge God using our man-made reasoning. 

3 Then Job answered the Lord:

4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?

I put my hand over my mouth.

5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—

twice, but I will say no more.”

6 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:

7 “Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me.

8 “Would you discredit my justice?

Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

9 Do you have an arm like God’s,

and can your voice thunder like his?

10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,

and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.

11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,

look at every proud man and bring him low,

12 look at every proud man and humble him,

crush the wicked where they stand.

13 Bury them all in the dust together;

shroud their faces in the grave.

14 Then I myself will admit to you

that your own right hand can save you.

Only God can save us.  We can’t save ourselves, and we can’t forgive ourselves for our sins against God.

15 “Look at the behemoth,

which I made along with you

and which feeds on grass like an ox.

My study Bible software said that this is probably a hippopotamus.  They look friendly, but are incredibly fierce.  They can even take on crocodiles!  I’ve seen them up close and personal on mission trips to Kenya.  They are fast and they are strong, inside the water and outside.  They kill more humans than any other animal.

16 What strength he has in his loins,

what power in the muscles of his belly!

17 His tail sways like a cedar;

the sinews of his thighs are close-knit.

18 His bones are tubes of bronze,

his limbs like rods of iron.

19 He ranks first among the works of God,

yet his Maker can approach him with his sword.

20 The hills bring him their produce,

and all the wild animals play nearby.

21 Under the lotus plants he lies,

hidden among the reeds in the marsh.

22 The lotuses conceal him in their shadow;

the poplars by the stream surround him.

23 When the river rages, he is not alarmed;

he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth.

24 Can anyone capture him by the eyes,

or trap him and pierce his nose?

41     “Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook

or tie down his tongue with a rope?

The Leviathan is probably a giant crocodile.

2 Can you put a cord through his nose

or pierce his jaw with a hook?

3 Will he keep begging you for mercy?

Will he speak to you with gentle words?

4 Will he make an agreement with you

for you to take him as your slave for life?

5 Can you make a pet of him like a bird

or put him on a leash for your girls?

6 Will traders barter for him?

Will they divide him up among the merchants?

7 Can you fill his hide with harpoons

or his head with fishing spears?

8 If you lay a hand on him,

you will remember the struggle and never do it again!

9 Any hope of subduing him is false;

the mere sight of him is overpowering.

10 No one is fierce enough to rouse him.

Who then is able to stand against me?

11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?

Everything under heaven belongs to me.

God owes us nothing.  We owe everything to him.

12 “I will not fail to speak of his limbs,

his strength and his graceful form.

13 Who can strip off his outer coat?

Who would approach him with a bridle?

14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth,

ringed about with his fearsome teeth?

15 His back has rows of shields

tightly sealed together;

16 each is so close to the next

that no air can pass between.

17 They are joined fast to one another;

they cling together and cannot be parted.

18 His snorting throws out flashes of light;

his eyes are like the rays of dawn.

19 Firebrands stream from his mouth;

sparks of fire shoot out.

20 Smoke pours from his nostrils

as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.

21 His breath sets coals ablaze,

and flames dart from his mouth.

22 Strength resides in his neck;

dismay goes before him.

23 The folds of his flesh are tightly joined;

they are firm and immovable.

24 His chest is hard as rock,

hard as a lower millstone.

25 When he rises up, the mighty are terrified;

they retreat before his thrashing.

26 The sword that reaches him has no effect,

nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.

27 Iron he treats like straw

and bronze like rotten wood.

28 Arrows do not make him flee;

slingstones are like chaff to him.

29 A club seems to him but a piece of straw;

he laughs at the rattling of the lance.

30 His undersides are jagged potsherds,

leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.

31 He makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron

and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.

32 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake;

one would think the deep had white hair.

33 Nothing on earth is his equal—

a creature without fear.

34 He looks down on all that are haughty;

he is king over all that are proud.”

Job

42     Then Job replied to the Lord:

2 “I know that you can do all things;

no plan of yours can be thwarted.

3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,

things too wonderful for me to know.

4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me.’

5 My ears had heard of you

but now my eyes have seen you.

6 Therefore I despise myself

and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job has regained a right understanding of God and his relation to God.  I pray that we all do the same! 

Epilogue

7 After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so he died, old and full of years.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

What an amazing man!  Christians will meet him some day in Heaven.

Job 37-39

job37.jpgGreetings!  Elihu wraps up his speech, then God speaks!

37     “At this my heart pounds

and leaps from its place.

2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,

to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.

3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven

and sends it to the ends of the earth.

4 After that comes the sound of his roar;

he thunders with his majestic voice.

When his voice resounds,

he holds nothing back.

5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;

he does great things beyond our understanding.

6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’

and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’

7 So that all men he has made may know his work,

he stops every man from his labor.

8 The animals take cover;

they remain in their dens.

9 The tempest comes out from its chamber,

the cold from the driving winds.

10 The breath of God produces ice,

and the broad waters become frozen.

11 He loads the clouds with moisture;

he scatters his lightning through them.

12 At his direction they swirl around

over the face of the whole earth

to do whatever he commands them.

13 He brings the clouds to punish men,

or to water his earth and show his love.

14 “Listen to this, Job;

stop and consider God’s wonders.

15 Do you know how God controls the clouds

and makes his lightning flash?

16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,

those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?

17 You who swelter in your clothes

when the land lies hushed under the south wind,

18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,

hard as a mirror of cast bronze?

19 “Tell us what we should say to him;

we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.

20 Should he be told that I want to speak?

Would any man ask to be swallowed up?

21 Now no one can look at the sun,

bright as it is in the skies

after the wind has swept them clean.

22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;

God comes in awesome majesty.

23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;

in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.

24 Therefore, men revere him,

for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?”

The Lord Speaks

38     Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said:

2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel

with words without knowledge?

3 Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me.

4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.

Instead of answering Job’s questions, God asks questions that put Job – and us! – in our places.  He has revealed so many things to us that we can know, but some things are beyond our comprehension or our need to know.  We should learn more of God through the Bible, and we can learn about how He put the universe together by proper scientific study. 

5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?

6 On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone—

7 while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors

when it burst forth from the womb,

9 when I made the clouds its garment

and wrapped it in thick darkness,

10 when I fixed limits for it

and set its doors and bars in place,

11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;

here is where your proud waves halt’?

12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,

or shown the dawn its place,

13 that it might take the earth by the edges

and shake the wicked out of it?

14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;

its features stand out like those of a garment.

15 The wicked are denied their light,

and their upraised arm is broken.

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea

or walked in the recesses of the deep?

17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?

Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?

18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?

Tell me, if you know all this.

19 “What is the way to the abode of light?

And where does darkness reside?

20 Can you take them to their places?

Do you know the paths to their dwellings?

21 Surely you know, for you were already born!

You have lived so many years!

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow

or seen the storehouses of the hail,

23 which I reserve for times of trouble,

for days of war and battle?

24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,

or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?

25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,

and a path for the thunderstorm,

26 to water a land where no man lives,

a desert with no one in it,

27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland

and make it sprout with grass?

28 Does the rain have a father?

Who fathers the drops of dew?

29 From whose womb comes the ice?

Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens

30 when the waters become hard as stone,

when the surface of the deep is frozen?

31 “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?

Can you loose the cords of Orion?

32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons

or lead out the Bear with its cubs?

33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?

Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds

and cover yourself with a flood of water?

35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?

Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?

36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom

or gave understanding to the mind?

37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?

Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens

38 when the dust becomes hard

and the clods of earth stick together?

39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness

and satisfy the hunger of the lions

40 when they crouch in their dens

or lie in wait in a thicket?

41 Who provides food for the raven

when its young cry out to God

and wander about for lack of food?

39     “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?

Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?

2 Do you count the months till they bear?

Do you know the time they give birth?

3 They crouch down and bring forth their young;

their labor pains are ended.

4 Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;

they leave and do not return.

5 “Who let the wild donkey go free?

Who untied his ropes?

6 I gave him the wasteland as his home,

the salt flats as his habitat.

7 He laughs at the commotion in the town;

he does not hear a driver’s shout.

8 He ranges the hills for his pasture

and searches for any green thing.

9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you?

Will he stay by your manger at night?

10 Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness?

Will he till the valleys behind you?

11 Will you rely on him for his great strength?

Will you leave your heavy work to him?

12 Can you trust him to bring in your grain

and gather it to your threshing floor?

13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,

but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork.

14 She lays her eggs on the ground

and lets them warm in the sand,

15 unmindful that a foot may crush them,

that some wild animal may trample them.

16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;

she cares not that her labor was in vain,

17 for God did not endow her with wisdom

or give her a share of good sense.

18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,

she laughs at horse and rider.

19 “Do you give the horse his strength

or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?

20 Do you make him leap like a locust,

striking terror with his proud snorting?

21 He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength,

and charges into the fray.

22 He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;

he does not shy away from the sword.

23 The quiver rattles against his side,

along with the flashing spear and lance.

24 In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground;

he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.

25 At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’

He catches the scent of battle from afar,

the shout of commanders and the battle cry.

26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom

and spread his wings toward the south?

27 Does the eagle soar at your command

and build his nest on high?

28 He dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;

a rocky crag is his stronghold.

29 From there he seeks out his food;

his eyes detect it from afar.

30 His young ones feast on blood,

and where the slain are, there is he.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

God created the universe and all of life with such amazing precision.  There are over one hundred things such as gravity that are so spectaculary fine-tuned that if they were the tiniest bit different then life could not exist in the universe.  God created all of this from nothing.  Who are we to put the creator on trial?

Job 34-36

job2.jpgGreetings!  The young man, Elihu, continues to speak. 

34     Then Elihu said:

2 “Hear my words, you wise men;

listen to me, you men of learning.

3 For the ear tests words

as the tongue tastes food.

4 Let us discern for ourselves what is right;

let us learn together what is good.

5 “Job says, ‘I am innocent,

but God denies me justice.

6 Although I am right, I am considered a liar;

although I am guiltless, his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.’

7 What man is like Job,

who drinks scorn like water?

8 He keeps company with evildoers;

he associates with wicked men.

9 For he says, ‘It profits a man nothing

when he tries to please God.’

10 “So listen to me, you men of understanding.

Far be it from God to do evil,

from the Almighty to do wrong.

11 He repays a man for what he has done;

he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.

12 It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,

that the Almighty would pervert justice.

13 Who appointed him over the earth?

Who put him in charge of the whole world?

14 If it were his intention

and he withdrew his spirit and breath,

15 all mankind would perish together

and man would return to the dust.

16 “If you have understanding, hear this;

listen to what I say.

17 Can he who hates justice govern?

Will you condemn the just and mighty One?

18 Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’

and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’

19 who shows no partiality to princes

and does not favor the rich over the poor,

for they are all the work of his hands?

20 They die in an instant, in the middle of the night;

the people are shaken and they pass away;

the mighty are removed without human hand.

21 “His eyes are on the ways of men;

he sees their every step.

22 There is no dark place, no deep shadow,

where evildoers can hide.

23 God has no need to examine men further,

that they should come before him for judgment.

24 Without inquiry he shatters the mighty

and sets up others in their place.

25 Because he takes note of their deeds,

he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed.

26 He punishes them for their wickedness

where everyone can see them,

27 because they turned from following him

and had no regard for any of his ways.

28 They caused the cry of the poor to come before him,

so that he heard the cry of the needy.

29 But if he remains silent, who can condemn him?

If he hides his face, who can see him?

Yet he is over man and nation alike,

30 to keep a godless man from ruling,

from laying snares for the people.

31 “Suppose a man says to God,

‘I am guilty but will offend no more.

32 Teach me what I cannot see;

if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.’

That is a good way to look at repentence, which technically means to change one’s mind.  We turn away from our thinking and see things – namely our sins – from God’s point of view.

33 Should God then reward you on your terms,

when you refuse to repent?

You must decide, not I;

so tell me what you know.

34 “Men of understanding declare,

wise men who hear me say to me,

35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge;

his words lack insight.’

36 Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost

for answering like a wicked man!

37 To his sin he adds rebellion;

scornfully he claps his hands among us

and multiplies his words against God.”

35     Then Elihu said:

2 “Do you think this is just?

You say, ‘I will be cleared by God.’

3 Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me,

and what do I gain by not sinning?’

4 “I would like to reply to you

and to your friends with you.

5 Look up at the heavens and see;

gaze at the clouds so high above you.

6 If you sin, how does that affect him?

If your sins are many, what does that do to him?

7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,

or what does he receive from your hand?

8 Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself,

and your righteousness only the sons of men.

9 “Men cry out under a load of oppression;

they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.

10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,

who gives songs in the night,

11 who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth

and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?’

12 He does not answer when men cry out

because of the arrogance of the wicked.

13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea;

the Almighty pays no attention to it.

14 How much less, then, will he listen

when you say that you do not see him,

that your case is before him

and you must wait for him,

15 and further, that his anger never punishes

and he does not take the least notice of wickedness.

16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk;

without knowledge he multiplies words.”

 Elihu gets somes things right and some things wrong, just as the rest have done.  He does counter the man-centered worldview of pagan and apostate Christians. 

36     Elihu continued:

2 “Bear with me a little longer and I will show you

that there is more to be said in God’s behalf.

3 I get my knowledge from afar;

I will ascribe justice to my Maker.

4 Be assured that my words are not false;

one perfect in knowledge is with you.

That is a rather bold claim.

5 “God is mighty, but does not despise men;

he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.

6 He does not keep the wicked alive

but gives the afflicted their rights.

7 He does not take his eyes off the righteous;

he enthrones them with kings

and exalts them forever.

8 But if men are bound in chains,

held fast by cords of affliction,

9 he tells them what they have done—

that they have sinned arrogantly.

10 He makes them listen to correction

and commands them to repent of their evil.

11 If they obey and serve him,

they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity

and their years in contentment.

12 But if they do not listen,

they will perish by the sword

and die without knowledge.

Elihu over-generalizes as the rest have done.  The wicked will ultimately be punished, but not necessarily immediately, and the righteous may not have immediate rewards.

13 “The godless in heart harbor resentment;

even when he fetters them, they do not cry for help.

14 They die in their youth,

among male prostitutes of the shrines.

15 But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;

he speaks to them in their affliction.

16 “He is wooing you from the jaws of distress

to a spacious place free from restriction,

to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.

17 But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked;

judgment and justice have taken hold of you.

18 Be careful that no one entices you by riches;

do not let a large bribe turn you aside.

19 Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts

sustain you so you would not be in distress?

20 Do not long for the night,

to drag people away from their homes.

21 Beware of turning to evil,

which you seem to prefer to affliction.

22 “God is exalted in his power.

Who is a teacher like him?

23 Who has prescribed his ways for him,

or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?

Actually, many liberal theologians ascribe wrongdoing to God, claiming that the Bible describes him as doing evil and that He should prevent suffering.

24 Remember to extol his work,

which men have praised in song.

25 All mankind has seen it;

men gaze on it from afar.

26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!

The number of his years is past finding out.

27 “He draws up the drops of water,

which distill as rain to the streams;

28 the clouds pour down their moisture

and abundant showers fall on mankind.

29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,

how he thunders from his pavilion?

30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,

bathing the depths of the sea.

31 This is the way he governs the nations

and provides food in abundance.

32 He fills his hands with lightning

and commands it to strike its mark.

33 His thunder announces the coming storm;

even the cattle make known its approach.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job 31-33

job31.jpgGreetings!

31     “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.

There’s a wealth of wisdom and practicality in verse 1 alone.  Job made a conscious effort not to sin.  We often get into habits and think we can’t control ourselves.  But we get to choose what we think about.  When temptations come with our eyes or anything else, we can stop right then and choose to think about something else.  In the book Every Man’s Battlethe authors have some good exercises about “bouncing” your eyes when you see something you shouldn’t dwell on and “corralling your mind” when you are tempted to let your thoughts wander.

Do I succeed at that all the time?  No, but it is still highly effective. 

What do you need to make a covenant with yourself about?

2 For what is man’s lot from God above,

his heritage from the Almighty on high?

3 Is it not ruin for the wicked,

disaster for those who do wrong?

4 Does he not see my ways

and count my every step?

5 “If I have walked in falsehood

or my foot has hurried after deceit—

6 let God weigh me in honest scales

and he will know that I am blameless—

7 if my steps have turned from the path,

if my heart has been led by my eyes,

or if my hands have been defiled,

8 then may others eat what I have sown,

and may my crops be uprooted.

9 “If my heart has been enticed by a woman,

or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door,

10 then may my wife grind another man’s grain,

and may other men sleep with her.

11 For that would have been shameful,

a sin to be judged.

12 It is a fire that burns to Destruction;

it would have uprooted my harvest.

13 “If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants

when they had a grievance against me,

14 what will I do when God confronts me?

What will I answer when called to account?

15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them?

Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

Those are strong words about the value of all people.  We owe justice to all people, rich and poor, because they have value and are made in God’s image.

16 “If I have denied the desires of the poor

or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,

17 if I have kept my bread to myself,

not sharing it with the fatherless—

18 but from my youth I reared him as would a father,

and from my birth I guided the widow—

19 if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing,

or a needy man without a garment,

20 and his heart did not bless me

for warming him with the fleece from my sheep,

21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,

knowing that I had influence in court,

22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder,

let it be broken off at the joint.

23 For I dreaded destruction from God,

and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.

24 “If I have put my trust in gold

or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’

25 if I have rejoiced over my great wealth,

the fortune my hands had gained,

26 if I have regarded the sun in its radiance

or the moon moving in splendor,

27 so that my heart was secretly enticed

and my hand offered them a kiss of homage,

28 then these also would be sins to be judged,

for I would have been unfaithful to God on high.

29 “If I have rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune

or gloated over the trouble that came to him—

30 I have not allowed my mouth to sin

by invoking a curse against his life—

31 if the men of my household have never said,

‘Who has not had his fill of Job’s meat?’—

32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street,

for my door was always open to the traveler—

33 if I have concealed my sin as men do,

by hiding my guilt in my heart

34 because I so feared the crowd

and so dreaded the contempt of the clans

that I kept silent and would not go outside

35 (“Oh, that I had someone to hear me!

I sign now my defense—let the Almighty answer me;

let my accuser put his indictment in writing.

36 Surely I would wear it on my shoulder,

I would put it on like a crown.

37 I would give him an account of my every step;

like a prince I would approach him.)—

38 “if my land cries out against me

and all its furrows are wet with tears,

39 if I have devoured its yield without payment

or broken the spirit of its tenants,

40 then let briers come up instead of wheat

and weeds instead of barley.”

The words of Job are ended.

Elihu

32     So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him. 4 Now Elihu had waited before speaking to Job because they were older than he. 5 But when he saw that the three men had nothing more to say, his anger was aroused.

6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:

“I am young in years,

and you are old;

that is why I was fearful,

not daring to tell you what I know.

7 I thought, ‘Age should speak;

advanced years should teach wisdom.’

8 But it is the spirit in a man,

the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.

9 It is not only the old who are

wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.

10 “Therefore I say: Listen to me;

I too will tell you what I know.

11 I waited while you spoke,

I listened to your reasoning;

while you were searching for words,

12 I gave you my full attention.

But not one of you has proved Job wrong;

none of you has answered his arguments.

13 Do not say, ‘We have found wisdom;

let God refute him, not man.’

14 But Job has not marshaled his words against me,

and I will not answer him with your arguments.

15 “They are dismayed and have no more to say;

words have failed them.

16 Must I wait, now that they are silent,

now that they stand there with no reply?

17 I too will have my say;

I too will tell what I know.

18 For I am full of words,

and the spirit within me compels me;

19 inside I am like bottled-up wine,

like new wineskins ready to burst.

20 I must speak and find relief;

I must open my lips and reply.

21 I will show partiality to no one,

nor will I flatter any man;

22 for if I were skilled in flattery,

my Maker would soon take me away.

33     “But now, Job, listen to my words;

pay attention to everything I say.

2 I am about to open my mouth;

my words are on the tip of my tongue.

3 My words come from an upright heart;

my lips sincerely speak what I know.

4 The Spirit of God has made me;

the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

5 Answer me then, if you can;

prepare yourself and confront me.

6 I am just like you before God;

I too have been taken from clay.

7 No fear of me should alarm you,

nor should my hand be heavy upon you.

8 “But you have said in my hearing—

I heard the very words—

9 ‘I am pure and without sin;

I am clean and free from guilt.

10 Yet God has found fault with me;

he considers me his enemy.

11 He fastens my feet in shackles;

he keeps close watch on all my paths.’

12 “But I tell you, in this you are not right,

for God is greater than man.

13 Why do you complain to him

that he answers none of man’s words?

14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—

though man may not perceive it.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,

when deep sleep falls on men

as they slumber in their beds,

16 he may speak in their ears

and terrify them with warnings,

17 to turn man from wrongdoing

and keep him from pride,

18 to preserve his soul from the pit,

his life from perishing by the sword.

19 Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain

with constant distress in his bones,

20 so that his very being finds food repulsive

and his soul loathes the choicest meal.

21 His flesh wastes away to nothing,

and his bones, once hidden, now stick out.

22 His soul draws near to the pit,

and his life to the messengers of death.

23 “Yet if there is an angel on his side

as a mediator, one out of a thousand,

to tell a man what is right for him,

24 to be gracious to him and say,

‘Spare him from going down to the pit;

I have found a ransom for him’—

25 then his flesh is renewed like a child’s;

it is restored as in the days of his youth.

26 He prays to God and finds favor with him,

he sees God’s face and shouts for joy;

he is restored by God to his righteous state.

27 Then he comes to men and says,

‘I sinned, and perverted what was right,

but I did not get what I deserved.

28 He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit,

and I will live to enjoy the light.’

29 “God does all these things to a man—

twice, even three times—

30 to turn back his soul from the pit,

that the light of life may shine on him.

31 “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me;

be silent, and I will speak.

32 If you have anything to say, answer me;

speak up, for I want you to be cleared.

33 But if not, then listen to me;

be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job 28-30

job28.jpgGreetings!  Job is continuing his long speech.

28     “There is a mine for silver

and a place where gold is refined.

2 Iron is taken from the earth,

and copper is smelted from ore.

3 Man puts an end to the darkness;

he searches the farthest recesses

for ore in the blackest darkness.

4 Far from where people dwell he cuts a shaft,

in places forgotten by the foot of man;

far from men he dangles and sways.

5 The earth, from which food comes,

is transformed below as by fire;

6 sapphires come from its rocks,

and its dust contains nuggets of gold.

7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,

no falcon’s eye has seen it.

8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,

and no lion prowls there.

9 Man’s hand assaults the flinty rock

and lays bare the roots of the mountains.

10 He tunnels through the rock;

his eyes see all its treasures.

11 He searches the sources of the rivers

and brings hidden things to light.

12 “But where can wisdom be found?

Where does understanding dwell?

13 Man does not comprehend its worth;

it cannot be found in the land of the living.

14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me’;

the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’

15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,

nor can its price be weighed in silver.

16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,

with precious onyx or sapphires.

17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,

nor can it be had for jewels of gold.

18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;

the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.

19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;

it cannot be bought with pure gold.

20 “Where then does wisdom come from?

Where does understanding dwell?

21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,

concealed even from the birds of the air.

22 Destruction and Death say,

‘Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’

23 God understands the way to it

and he alone knows where it dwells,

24 for he views the ends of the earth

and sees everything under the heavens.

25 When he established the force of the wind

and measured out the waters,

26 when he made a decree for the rain

and a path for the thunderstorm,

27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;

he confirmed it and tested it.

28 And he said to man,

‘The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,

and to shun evil is understanding.’”

That sounds so much like Proverbs, especially Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

People chase after all sorts of things they think are valuable, when they can have all the wisdom they like for free.  They just need to humble themselves and ask God.

29     Job continued his discourse:

2 “How I long for the months gone by,

for the days when God watched over me,

3 when his lamp shone upon my head

and by his light I walked through darkness!

4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime,

when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house,

5 when the Almighty was still with me

and my children were around me,

6 when my path was drenched with cream

and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.

7 “When I went to the gate of the city

and took my seat in the public square,

8 the young men saw me and stepped aside

and the old men rose to their feet;

9 the chief men refrained from speaking

and covered their mouths with their hands;

10 the voices of the nobles were hushed,

and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.

11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me,

and those who saw me commended me,

12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help,

and the fatherless who had none to assist him.

13 The man who was dying blessed me;

I made the widow’s heart sing.

14 I put on righteousness as my clothing;

justice was my robe and my turban.

15 I was eyes to the blind

and feet to the lame.

16 I was a father to the needy;

I took up the case of the stranger.

17 I broke the fangs of the wicked

and snatched the victims from their teeth.

18 “I thought, ‘I will die in my own house,

my days as numerous as the grains of sand.

19 My roots will reach to the water,

and the dew will lie all night on my branches.

20 My glory will remain fresh in me,

the bow ever new in my hand.’

21 “Men listened to me expectantly,

waiting in silence for my counsel.

22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;

my words fell gently on their ears.

23 They waited for me as for showers

and drank in my words as the spring rain.

24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;

the light of my face was precious to them.

25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;

I dwelt as a king among his troops;

I was like one who comforts mourners.

We tend to fixate on Job’s suffering and patience, but consider all the great things he did: Caring for widows, orphans, the poor and pressing for justice.  We should be challenged by his example and pray that others would see us the same way.  Not out of pride, but out of setting a Christ-like example.

30     “But now they mock me,

men younger than I,

whose fathers I would have disdained

to put with my sheep dogs.

2 Of what use was the strength of their hands to me,

since their vigor had gone from them?

3 Haggard from want and hunger,

they roamed the parched land

in desolate wastelands at night.

4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs,

and their food was the root of the broom tree.

5 They were banished from their fellow men,

shouted at as if they were thieves.

6 They were forced to live in the dry stream beds,

among the rocks and in holes in the ground.

7 They brayed among the bushes

and huddled in the undergrowth.

8 A base and nameless brood,

they were driven out of the land.

9 “And now their sons mock me in song;

I have become a byword among them.

10 They detest me and keep their distance;

they do not hesitate to spit in my face.

11 Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me,

they throw off restraint in my presence.

12 On my right the tribe attacks;

they lay snares for my feet,

they build their siege ramps against me.

13 They break up my road;

they succeed in destroying me—

without anyone’s helping them.

14 They advance as through a gaping breach;

amid the ruins they come rolling in.

15 Terrors overwhelm me;

my dignity is driven away as by the wind,

my safety vanishes like a cloud.

16 “And now my life ebbs away;

days of suffering grip me.

17 Night pierces my bones;

my gnawing pains never rest.

18 In his great power God becomes like clothing to me;

he binds me like the neck of my garment.

19 He throws me into the mud,

and I am reduced to dust and ashes.

20 “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer;

I stand up, but you merely look at me.

21 You turn on me ruthlessly;

with the might of your hand you attack me.

22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind;

you toss me about in the storm.

Job misunderstood the situation and blamed God unjustly. 

23 I know you will bring me down to death,

to the place appointed for all the living.

24 “Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man

when he cries for help in his distress.

25 Have I not wept for those in trouble?

Has not my soul grieved for the poor?

26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;

when I looked for light, then came darkness.

27 The churning inside me never stops;

days of suffering confront me.

28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun;

I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.

29 I have become a brother of jackals,

a companion of owls.

30 My skin grows black and peels;

my body burns with fever.

31 My harp is tuned to mourning,

and my flute to the sound of wailing.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

I think we may avoid Job at times because he may remind us that our wealth and comfort here is fleeting.  The rest of the world probably relates to him much more, since they experience similar struggles daily.

Job 25-27

job25.jpgGreetings!  Bildad replies, then Job has a six chapter response to them all. 

Bildad

25     Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

2 “Dominion and awe belong to God;

he establishes order in the heights of heaven.

3 Can his forces be numbered?

Upon whom does his light not rise?

4 How then can a man be righteous before God?

How can one born of woman be pure?

5 If even the moon is not bright

and the stars are not pure in his eyes,

6 how much less man, who is but a maggot—

a son of man, who is only a worm!”

Bildad rightly notes that we can’t be righteous before God on our own.

Job

26     Then Job replied:

2 “How you have helped the powerless!

How you have saved the arm that is feeble!

3 What advice you have offered to one without wisdom!

And what great insight you have displayed!

4 Who has helped you utter these words?

And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?

5 “The dead are in deep anguish,

those beneath the waters and all that live in them.

6 Death is naked before God;

Destruction lies uncovered.

7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;

he suspends the earth over nothing.

That is an interesting scientific point.  The Bible is not a science book, but it is accurate in all that it claims.

8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds,

yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.

9 He covers the face of the full moon,

spreading his clouds over it.

10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters

for a boundary between light and darkness.

11 The pillars of the heavens quake,

aghast at his rebuke.

12 By his power he churned up the sea;

by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.

13 By his breath the skies became fair;

his hand pierced the gliding serpent.

14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works;

how faint the whisper we hear of him!

Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

27     And Job continued his discourse:

2 “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice,

the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul,

3 as long as I have life within me,

the breath of God in my nostrils,

4 my lips will not speak wickedness,

and my tongue will utter no deceit.

5 I will never admit you are in the right;

till I die, I will not deny my integrity.

6 I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it;

my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.

7 “May my enemies be like the wicked,

my adversaries like the unjust!

8 For what hope has the godless when he is cut off,

when God takes away his life?

As noted previously, the unrighteous may prosper for a time, but in light of eternity they will not.

9 Does God listen to his cry

when distress comes upon him?

10 Will he find delight in the Almighty?

Will he call upon God at all times?

11 “I will teach you about the power of God;

the ways of the Almighty I will not conceal.

12 You have all seen this yourselves.

Why then this meaningless talk?

13 “Here is the fate God allots to the wicked,

the heritage a ruthless man receives from the Almighty:

14 However many his children, their fate is the sword;

his offspring will never have enough to eat.

15 The plague will bury those who survive him,

and their widows will not weep for them.

16 Though he heaps up silver like dust

and clothes like piles of clay,

17 what he lays up the righteous will wear,

and the innocent will divide his silver.

18 The house he builds is like a moth’s cocoon,

like a hut made by a watchman.

19 He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more;

when he opens his eyes, all is gone.

20 Terrors overtake him like a flood;

a tempest snatches him away in the night.

21 The east wind carries him off, and he is gone;

it sweeps him out of his place.

22 It hurls itself against him without mercy

as he flees headlong from its power.

23 It claps its hands in derision

and hisses him out of his place.

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job 22-24

job22.jpgGreetings!  I have to admit that at this stage of Job I struggle with the repetition.  Even study Bibles offer very few comments.  At the same time I trust that every verse is important and belongs here.  So why is that?  Is the repetition to drive the point home?  Perhaps I’m just not reading closely enough.

Eliphaz

22     Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

2 “Can a man be of benefit to God?

Can even a wise man benefit him?

3 What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?

What would he gain if your ways were blameless?

4 “Is it for your piety that he rebukes you

and brings charges against you?

5 Is not your wickedness great?

Are not your sins endless?

6 You demanded security from your brothers for no reason;

you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked.

7 You gave no water to the weary

and you withheld food from the hungry,

8 though you were a powerful man, owning land—

an honored man, living on it.

9 And you sent widows away empty-handed

and broke the strength of the fatherless.

10 That is why snares are all around you,

why sudden peril terrifies you,

11 why it is so dark you cannot see,

and why a flood of water covers you.

12 “Is not God in the heights of heaven?

And see how lofty are the highest stars!

13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know?

Does he judge through such darkness?

14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us

as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’

15 Will you keep to the old path

that evil men have trod?

16 They were carried off before their time,

their foundations washed away by a flood.

17 They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!

What can the Almighty do to us?’

18 Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,

so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

19 “The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;

the innocent mock them, saying,

20 ‘Surely our foes are destroyed,

and fire devours their wealth.’

21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him;

in this way prosperity will come to you.

22 Accept instruction from his mouth

and lay up his words in your heart.

23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:

If you remove wickedness far from your tent

24 and assign your nuggets to the dust,

your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,

25 then the Almighty will be your gold,

the choicest silver for you.

26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty

and will lift up your face to God.

27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,

and you will fulfill your vows.

28 What you decide on will be done,

and light will shine on your ways.

29 When men are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’

then he will save the downcast.

30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent,

who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

Those were some very strong claims against Job.  They appear to be speculation and not fact-based, though.

 

Job

23     Then Job replied:

2 “Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.

3 If only I knew where to find him;

if only I could go to his dwelling!

4 I would state my case before him

and fill my mouth with arguments.

5 I would find out what he would answer me,

and consider what he would say.

6 Would he oppose me with great power?

No, he would not press charges against me.

7 There an upright man could present his case before him,

and I would be delivered forever from my judge.

8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;

if I go to the west, I do not find him.

9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;

when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

10 But he knows the way that I take;

when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

11 My feet have closely followed his steps;

I have kept to his way without turning aside.

12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;

I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?

He does whatever he pleases.

14 He carries out his decree against me,

and many such plans he still has in store.

15 That is why I am terrified before him;

when I think of all this, I fear him.

16 God has made my heart faint;

the Almighty has terrified me.

17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness,

by the thick darkness that covers my face.

24     “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?

Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?

2 Men move boundary stones;

they pasture flocks they have stolen.

3 They drive away the orphan’s donkey

and take the widow’s ox in pledge.

4 They thrust the needy from the path

and force all the poor of the land into hiding.

5 Like wild donkeys in the desert,

the poor go about their labor of foraging food;

the wasteland provides food for their children.

6 They gather fodder in the fields

and glean in the vineyards of the wicked.

7 Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked;

they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold.

8 They are drenched by mountain rains

and hug the rocks for lack of shelter.

9 The fatherless child is snatched from the breast;

the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.

10 Lacking clothes, they go about naked;

they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry.

11 They crush olives among the terraces;

they tread the winepresses, yet suffer thirst.

12 The groans of the dying rise from the city,

and the souls of the wounded cry out for help.

But God charges no one with wrongdoing.

13 “There are those who rebel against the light,

who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.

14 When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up

and kills the poor and needy;

in the night he steals forth like a thief.

15 The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;

he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’

and he keeps his face concealed.

16 In the dark, men break into houses,

but by day they shut themselves in;

they want nothing to do with the light.

17 For all of them, deep darkness is their morning;

they make friends with the terrors of darkness.

18 “Yet they are foam on the surface of the water;

their portion of the land is cursed,

so that no one goes to the vineyards.

19 As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow,

so the grave snatches away those who have sinned.

20 The womb forgets them, the worm feasts on them;

evil men are no longer remembered but are broken like a tree.

21 They prey on the barren and childless woman,

and to the widow show no kindness.

22 But God drags away the mighty by his power;

though they become established, they have no assurance of life.

23 He may let them rest in a feeling of security,

but his eyes are on their ways.

24 For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;

they are brought low and gathered up like all others;

they are cut off like heads of grain.

25 “If this is not so, who can prove me false

and reduce my words to nothing?”

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job rightly points out that sometimes the wicked prosper.  We often want justice now for evildoers, but we want grace now and forever for ourselves.  Yes, God lets some evil go unpunished for a time.  But as the saying goes, if He eliminated every element of evil from the planet at noon today, where would you be at 12:01?

Job 19-21

job19.jpgGreetings!  The back-and-forth with Job and his not-so-supportive friends continues. 

Job

19     Then Job replied:

2 “How long will you torment me

and crush me with words?

3 Ten times now you have reproached me;

shamelessly you attack me.

4 If it is true that I have gone astray,

my error remains my concern alone.

5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me

and use my humiliation against me,

6 then know that God has wronged me

and drawn his net around me.

Job seems to drift off course here.  His is correct in rebuking his friends, but not in saying that God has wronged him. 

May we all be quick to credit God for all good things and the countless blessings we have and to remember that for those who love him He will take the bad things in life and use them for good (Romans 8:28).

7 “Though I cry, ‘I’ve been wronged!’ I get no response;

though I call for help, there is no justice.

8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;

he has shrouded my paths in darkness.

9 He has stripped me of my honor

and removed the crown from my head.

10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone;

he uproots my hope like a tree.

11 His anger burns against me;

he counts me among his enemies.

12 His troops advance in force;

they build a siege ramp against me

and encamp around my tent.

13 “He has alienated my brothers from me;

my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.

14 My kinsmen have gone away;

my friends have forgotten me.

15 My guests and my maidservants count me a stranger;

they look upon me as an alien.

16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer,

though I beg him with my own mouth.

17 My breath is offensive to my wife;

I am loathsome to my own brothers.

18 Even the little boys scorn me;

when I appear, they ridicule me.

19 All my intimate friends detest me;

those I love have turned against me.

20 I am nothing but skin and bones;

I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.

21 “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity,

for the hand of God has struck me.

22 Why do you pursue me as God does?

Will you never get enough of my flesh?

23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,

that they were written on a scroll,

24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,

or engraved in rock forever!

That is ironic, considering that we are still discussing his words thousands of years later!

25 I know that my Redeemer lives,

and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

What a great verse in the midst of his lament!  Yes, Jesus lives and He stood on the earth and will stand on it again.  That is such an interesting thing for Job to say, especially considering that this may be the oldest book in the Bible.

May all Christians remind ourselves that our redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,

yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him

with my own eyes—I, and not another.

How my heart yearns within me!

28 “If you say, ‘How we will hound him,

since the root of the trouble lies in him,’

29 you should fear the sword yourselves;

for wrath will bring punishment by the sword,

and then you will know that there is judgment.”

Job seems to know that there is more than just this earthly life.  We are eternal beings.

Zophar

20     Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

2 “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer

because I am greatly disturbed.

3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,

and my understanding inspires me to reply.

4 “Surely you know how it has been from of old,

ever since man was placed on the earth,

5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief,

the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.

Again, Job’s friends speak some truths and some overly broad generalizations.  Yes, true and lasting joy will only be yours if you are tied in to the author of all joy.

6 Though his pride reaches to the heavens

and his head touches the clouds,

7 he will perish forever, like his own dung;

those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’

8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,

banished like a vision of the night.

9 The eye that saw him will not see him again;

his place will look on him no more.

10 His children must make amends to the poor;

his own hands must give back his wealth.

11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones

will lie with him in the dust.

12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth

and he hides it under his tongue,

13 though he cannot bear to let it go

and keeps it in his mouth,

14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;

it will become the venom of serpents within him.

15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed;

God will make his stomach vomit them up.

16 He will suck the poison of serpents;

the fangs of an adder will kill him.

17 He will not enjoy the streams,

the rivers flowing with honey and cream.

18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;

he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.

19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;

he has seized houses he did not build.

20 “Surely he will have no respite from his craving;

he cannot save himself by his treasure.

21 Nothing is left for him to devour;

his prosperity will not endure.

22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;

the full force of misery will come upon him.

23 When he has filled his belly,

God will vent his burning anger against him

and rain down his blows upon him.

24 Though he flees from an iron weapon,

a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.

25 He pulls it out of his back,

the gleaming point out of his liver.

Terrors will come over him;

26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures.

A fire unfanned will consume him

and devour what is left in his tent.

27 The heavens will expose his guilt;

the earth will rise up against him.

28 A flood will carry off his house,

rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath.

29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked,

the heritage appointed for them by God.”

Job

21     Then Job replied:

2 “Listen carefully to my words;

let this be the consolation you give me.

3 Bear with me while I speak,

and after I have spoken, mock on.

4 “Is my complaint directed to man?

Why should I not be impatient?

5 Look at me and be astonished;

clap your hand over your mouth.

6 When I think about this, I am terrified;

trembling seizes my body.

7 Why do the wicked live on,

growing old and increasing in power?

8 They see their children established around them,

their offspring before their eyes.

9 Their homes are safe and free from fear;

the rod of God is not upon them.

10 Their bulls never fail to breed;

their cows calve and do not miscarry.

11 They send forth their children as a flock;

their little ones dance about.

12 They sing to the music of tambourine and harp;

they make merry to the sound of the flute.

13 They spend their years in prosperity

and go down to the grave in peace.

14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone!

We have no desire to know your ways.

15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?

What would we gain by praying to him?’

Job correctly notes that sometimes the wicked prosper in this life.  They have been mocking God and his existence for thousands of years.

16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands,

so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

17 “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out?

How often does calamity come upon them,

the fate God allots in his anger?

18 How often are they like straw before the wind,

like chaff swept away by a gale?

19 It is said, ‘God stores up a man’s punishment for his

sons.’

Let him repay the man himself, so that he will know it!

20 Let his own eyes see his destruction;

let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

21 For what does he care about the family he leaves behind

when his allotted months come to an end?

22 “Can anyone teach knowledge to God,

since he judges even the highest?

23 One man dies in full vigor,

completely secure and at ease,

24 his body well nourished,

his bones rich with marrow.

25 Another man dies in bitterness of soul,

never having enjoyed anything good.

26 Side by side they lie in the dust,

and worms cover them both.

27 “I know full well what you are thinking,

the schemes by which you would wrong me.

28 You say, ‘Where now is the great man’s house,

the tents where wicked men lived?’

29 Have you never questioned those who travel?

Have you paid no regard to their accounts—

30 that the evil man is spared from the day of calamity,

that he is delivered from the day of wrath?

31 Who denounces his conduct to his face?

Who repays him for what he has done?

32 He is carried to the grave,

and watch is kept over his tomb.

33 The soil in the valley is sweet to him;

all men follow after him,

and a countless throng goes before him.

34 “So how can you console me with your nonsense?

Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job 16-18

job16.jpgGreetings! 

Job

16     Then Job replied:

2 “I have heard many things like these;

miserable comforters are you all!

3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?

What ails you that you keep on arguing?

Job is angry at his friends for jumping to conclusions that his sin caused his misery.  Sometimes being silent with someone who is suffering is the best thing. 

4 I also could speak like you,

if you were in my place;

I could make fine speeches against you

and shake my head at you.

5 But my mouth would encourage you;

comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

6 “Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved;

and if I refrain, it does not go away.

7 Surely, O God, you have worn me out;

you have devastated my entire household.

8 You have bound me—and it has become a witness;

my gauntness rises up and testifies against me.

9 God assails me and tears me in his anger

and gnashes his teeth at me;

my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.

10 Men open their mouths to jeer at me;

they strike my cheek in scorn

and unite together against me.

11 God has turned me over to evil men

and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked.

12 All was well with me, but he shattered me;

he seized me by the neck and crushed me.

He has made me his target;

13 his archers surround me.

Without pity, he pierces my kidneys

and spills my gall on the ground.

14 Again and again he bursts upon me;

he rushes at me like a warrior.

15 “I have sewed sackcloth over my skin

and buried my brow in the dust.

16 My face is red with weeping,

deep shadows ring my eyes;

17 yet my hands have been free of violence

and my prayer is pure.

18 “O earth, do not cover my blood;

may my cry never be laid to rest!

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;

my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend

as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God

as a man pleads for his friend.

22 “Only a few years will pass

before I go on the journey of no return.

17     My spirit is broken,

my days are cut short,

the grave awaits me.

2 Surely mockers surround me;

my eyes must dwell on their hostility.

3 “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand.

Who else will put up security for me?

4 You have closed their minds to understanding;

therefore you will not let them triumph.

5 If a man denounces his friends for reward,

the eyes of his children will fail.

6 “God has made me a byword to everyone,

a man in whose face people spit.

7 My eyes have grown dim with grief;

my whole frame is but a shadow.

8 Upright men are appalled at this;

the innocent are aroused against the ungodly.

9 Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways,

and those with clean hands will grow stronger.

10 “But come on, all of you, try again!

I will not find a wise man among you.

11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered,

and so are the desires of my heart.

12 These men turn night into day;

in the face of darkness they say, ‘Light is near.’

13 If the only home I hope for is the grave,

if I spread out my bed in darkness,

14 if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’

and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’

15 where then is my hope?

Who can see any hope for me?

16 Will it go down to the gates of death?

Will we descend together into the dust?”

Bildad

18     Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

2 “When will you end these speeches?

Be sensible, and then we can talk.

3 Why are we regarded as cattle

and considered stupid in your sight?

4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger,

is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?

Or must the rocks be moved from their place?

5 “The lamp of the wicked is snuffed out;

the flame of his fire stops burning.

6 The light in his tent becomes dark;

the lamp beside him goes out.

7 The vigor of his step is weakened;

his own schemes throw him down.

8 His feet thrust him into a net

and he wanders into its mesh.

9 A trap seizes him by the heel;

a snare holds him fast.

10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground;

a trap lies in his path.

11 Terrors startle him on every side

and dog his every step.

12 Calamity is hungry for him;

disaster is ready for him when he falls.

13 It eats away parts of his skin;

death’s firstborn devours his limbs.

14 He is torn from the security of his tent

and marched off to the king of terrors.

15 Fire resides in his tent;

burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling.

16 His roots dry up below

and his branches wither above.

17 The memory of him perishes from the earth;

he has no name in the land.

18 He is driven from light into darkness

and is banished from the world.

19 He has no offspring or descendants among his people,

no survivor where once he lived.

20 Men of the west are appalled at his fate;

men of the east are seized with horror.

21 Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;

such is the place of one who knows not God.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Bildad is drawing a false conclusion about evil men.  Yes, God will punish them eventually for all their sins.  Some may have more consequences in this life than others.  But it isn’t an immediate correction.  Bildad and Job’s other friends kept assuming that Job’s sin was the root cause of his torment. 

Job didn’t quite understand the cause, so he questioned God.  Sometimes we get answers in this life and sometimes we don’t.

Job 13-15

job13.jpgGreetings!  Job is in the middle of his response to his friend Zophar.  He strongly defends himself and accuses his friends of false accusations. 

13     “My eyes have seen all this,

my ears have heard and understood it.

2 What you know, I also know;

I am not inferior to you.

3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty

and to argue my case with God.

4 You, however, smear me with lies;

you are worthless physicians, all of you!

5 If only you would be altogether silent!

For you, that would be wisdom.

6 Hear now my argument;

listen to the plea of my lips.

7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?

Will you speak deceitfully for him?

8 Will you show him partiality?

Will you argue the case for God?

9 Would it turn out well if he examined you?

Could you deceive him as you might deceive men?

10 He would surely rebuke you

if you secretly showed partiality.

11 Would not his splendor terrify you?

Would not the dread of him fall on you?

12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;

your defenses are defenses of clay.

13 “Keep silent and let me speak;

then let come to me what may.

14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy

and take my life in my hands?

15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;

I will surely defend my ways to his face.

Verse 15 is powerful: Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.  Now that’s faith.  May we all have the faith that says that whatever God directs or lets happen that we’ll trust in him for the end result. 

16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,

for no godless man would dare come before him!

17 Listen carefully to my words;

let your ears take in what I say.

18 Now that I have prepared my case,

I know I will be vindicated.

19 Can anyone bring charges against me?

If so, I will be silent and die.

20 “Only grant me these two things, O God,

and then I will not hide from you:

21 Withdraw your hand far from me,

and stop frightening me with your terrors.

22 Then summon me and I will answer,

or let me speak, and you reply.

23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed?

Show me my offense and my sin.

24 Why do you hide your face

and consider me your enemy?

25 Will you torment a windblown leaf?

Will you chase after dry chaff?

26 For you write down bitter things against me

and make me inherit the sins of my youth.

Job does not claim to have lived a sinless life.

27 You fasten my feet in shackles;

you keep close watch on all my paths

by putting marks on the soles of my feet.

28 “So man wastes away like something rotten,

like a garment eaten by moths.

14     “Man born of woman

is of few days and full of trouble.

2 He springs up like a flower and withers away;

like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.

3 Do you fix your eye on such a one?

Will you bring him before you for judgment?

4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure?

No one!

5 Man’s days are determined;

you have decreed the number of his months

and have set limits he cannot exceed.

6 So look away from him and let him alone,

till he has put in his time like a hired man.

7 “At least there is hope for a tree:

If it is cut down, it will sprout again,

and its new shoots will not fail.

8 Its roots may grow old in the ground

and its stump die in the soil,

9 yet at the scent of water it will bud

and put forth shoots like a plant.

10 But man dies and is laid low;

he breathes his last and is no more.

11 As water disappears from the sea

or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,

12 so man lies down and does not rise;

till the heavens are no more, men will not awake

or be roused from their sleep.

13 “If only you would hide me in the grave

and conceal me till your anger has passed!

If only you would set me a time

and then remember me!

14 If a man dies, will he live again?

All the days of my hard service

I will wait for my renewal to come.

15 You will call and I will answer you;

you will long for the creature your hands have made.

16 Surely then you will count my steps

but not keep track of my sin.

17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;

you will cover over my sin.

18 “But as a mountain erodes and crumbles

and as a rock is moved from its place,

19 as water wears away stones

and torrents wash away the soil,

so you destroy man’s hope.

20 You overpower him once for all, and he is gone;

you change his countenance and send him away.

21 If his sons are honored, he does not know it;

if they are brought low, he does not see it.

22 He feels but the pain of his own body

and mourns only for himself.”

Eliphaz

15     Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

2 “Would a wise man answer with empty notions

or fill his belly with the hot east wind?

3 Would he argue with useless words,

with speeches that have no value?

4 But you even undermine piety

and hinder devotion to God.

5 Your sin prompts your mouth;

you adopt the tongue of the crafty.

6 Your own mouth condemns you, not mine;

your own lips testify against you.

7 “Are you the first man ever born?

Were you brought forth before the hills?

8 Do you listen in on God’s council?

Do you limit wisdom to yourself?

9 What do you know that we do not know?

What insights do you have that we do not have?

10 The gray-haired and the aged are on our side,

men even older than your father.

11 Are God’s consolations not enough for you,

words spoken gently to you?

12 Why has your heart carried you away,

and why do your eyes flash,

13 so that you vent your rage against God

and pour out such words from your mouth?

14 “What is man, that he could be pure,

or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?

15 If God places no trust in his holy ones,

if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes,

16 how much less man, who is vile and corrupt,

who drinks up evil like water!

17 “Listen to me and I will explain to you;

let me tell you what I have seen,

18 what wise men have declared,

hiding nothing received from their fathers

19 (to whom alone the land was given

when no alien passed among them):

20 All his days the wicked man suffers torment,

the ruthless through all the years stored up for him.

21 Terrifying sounds fill his ears;

when all seems well, marauders attack him.

22 He despairs of escaping the darkness;

he is marked for the sword.

23 He wanders about—food for vultures;

he knows the day of darkness is at hand.

24 Distress and anguish fill him with terror;

they overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack,

25 because he shakes his fist at God

and vaunts himself against the Almighty,

26 defiantly charging against him

with a thick, strong shield.

I didn’t realize that the phrase “shakes his fist at God” was in the Bible.  I’ve used that metaphor to describe many of the atheist and apostate Christian groups.

27 “Though his face is covered with fat

and his waist bulges with flesh,

28 he will inhabit ruined towns

and houses where no one lives,

houses crumbling to rubble.

29 He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure,

nor will his possessions spread over the land.

30 He will not escape the darkness;

a flame will wither his shoots,

and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away.

31 Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless,

for he will get nothing in return.

32 Before his time he will be paid in full,

and his branches will not flourish.

33 He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes,

like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.

34 For the company of the godless will be barren,

and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.

35 They conceive trouble and give birth to evil;

their womb fashions deceit.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job 10-12

job10.jpgGreetings!  Job is speaking again and responding to his friends.  He is deeply depressed and accusing God of toying with him for no reason.  He concedes that he has sins and faults and is properly mortified by them, but he doesn’t see where he has sinned in this case.

10     “I loathe my very life;

therefore I will give free rein to my complaint

and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.

2 I will say to God: Do not condemn me,

but tell me what charges you have against me.

3 Does it please you to oppress me,

to spurn the work of your hands,

while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?

4 Do you have eyes of flesh?

Do you see as a mortal sees?

5 Are your days like those of a mortal

or your years like those of a man,

6 that you must search out my faults

and probe after my sin—

7 though you know that I am not guilty

and that no one can rescue me from your hand?

8 “Your hands shaped me and made me.

Will you now turn and destroy me?

9 Remember that you molded me like clay.

Will you now turn me to dust again?

10 Did you not pour me out like milk

and curdle me like cheese,

11 clothe me with skin and flesh

and knit me together with bones and sinews?

12 You gave me life and showed me kindness,

and in your providence watched over my spirit.

13 “But this is what you concealed in your heart,

and I know that this was in your mind:

14 If I sinned, you would be watching me

and would not let my offense go unpunished.

15 If I am guilty—woe to me!

Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head,

for I am full of shame

and drowned in my affliction.

16 If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion

and again display your awesome power against me.

17 You bring new witnesses against me

and increase your anger toward me;

your forces come against me wave upon wave.

18 “Why then did you bring me out of the womb?

I wish I had died before any eye saw me.

19 If only I had never come into being,

or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!

20 Are not my few days almost over?

Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy

21 before I go to the place of no return,

to the land of gloom and deep shadow,

22 to the land of deepest night,

of deep shadow and disorder,

where even the light is like darkness.”

Zophar

11     Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

2 “Are all these words to go unanswered?

Is this talker to be vindicated?

3 Will your idle talk reduce men to silence?

Will no one rebuke you when you mock?

4 You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless

and I am pure in your sight.’

5 Oh, how I wish that God would speak,

that he would open his lips against you

6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,

for true wisdom has two sides.

Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.

7 “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?

Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?

8 They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?

They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know?

9 Their measure is longer than the earth

and wider than the sea.

10 “If he comes along and confines you in prison

and convenes a court, who can oppose him?

11 Surely he recognizes deceitful men;

and when he sees evil, does he not take note?

12 But a witless man can no more become wise

than a wild donkey’s colt can be born a man.

13 “Yet if you devote your heart to him

and stretch out your hands to him,

14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand

and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,

15 then you will lift up your face without shame;

you will stand firm and without fear.

16 You will surely forget your trouble,

recalling it only as waters gone by.

17 Life will be brighter than noonday,

and darkness will become like morning.

18 You will be secure, because there is hope;

you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,

and many will court your favor.

20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail,

and escape will elude them;

their hope will become a dying gasp.” 

 Once again Job’s friends make some true claims about God but misapply them to Job’s situation.

Job

12     Then Job replied:

2 “Doubtless you are the people,

and wisdom will die with you!

I love sarcasm in the Bible.

3 But I have a mind as well as you;

I am not inferior to you.

Who does not know all these things?

4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends,

though I called upon God and he answered—

a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!

5 Men at ease have contempt for misfortune

as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.

6 The tents of marauders are undisturbed,

and those who provoke God are secure—

those who carry their god in their hands.

7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,

or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,

or let the fish of the sea inform you.

9 Which of all these does not know

that the hand of the Lord has done this?

That is a stinging rebuke to the atheists who insist that they just can’t see any evidence for God.

10 In his hand is the life of every creature

and the breath of all mankind.

11 Does not the ear test words

as the tongue tastes food?

12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?

Does not long life bring understanding?

13 “To God belong wisdom and power;

counsel and understanding are his.

14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt;

the man he imprisons cannot be released.

15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought;

if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.

16 To him belong strength and victory;

both deceived and deceiver are his.

17 He leads counselors away stripped

and makes fools of judges.

18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings

and ties a loincloth around their waist.

19 He leads priests away stripped

and overthrows men long established.

20 He silences the lips of trusted advisers

and takes away the discernment of elders.

21 He pours contempt on nobles

and disarms the mighty.

22 He reveals the deep things of darkness

and brings deep shadows into the light.

23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;

he enlarges nations, and disperses them.

24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason;

he sends them wandering through a trackless waste.

25 They grope in darkness with no light;

he makes them stagger like drunkards.

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job notes how God is sovereign over all things.  This foreshadows a lot of what God does with the Israelites and their enemies.