Job 20-21: Theory versus reality.

March 12, 2015.

Daily Reading: Job 20-21.

Background: Job 18-19.

Concepts and Connections

Chapter 20

The days of the wicked perish: Zophar once again speaks up in opposition to Job to continue to drive home the point that all three of Job’s friends have been making, that of the alleged fact that all the wicked perish, for they are in opposition to God. Zophar comes at his argument with a slightly different angle in this chapter, taking the stance: though the wicked may prosper from time to time, their prosperity is always short-lived. They will soon fall into disparity due to their wicked deeds and there will no longer be rejoicing. In this argument, Zophar might even be indicating that this is what he believes has happened to Job, having lived the life of luxury for sometime just to have it all taken away from him due to his sin, though it is hard to tell if this was indeed his indication. Regardless, it is clear to Zophar that this is the way that it has always been since man has been on the earth. Zophar talks about the wicked as having no contentment, with their cravings and past ways of satisfaction only lead to wanting more and more. This principle of the insatiable appetite of those with great means is seen throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, specifically in chapter 2 and 5:10-12. Though this principle is true, it is far from the situation that Job was in. Job did have great means, but Job was a righteous man, not a man who only desired more and more material blessings. Further, Job was now in a situation not where he just wanted things he didn’t need, but was in bitter torment and agony due to the trials of Satan. Job’s friends were on the outside looking in, and they could not seem to fully grasp the situation. They were trying to interpret what was going on by their own personal bias and understandings. This interpretation constantly lead to accusation rather than comfort, which is what Job actually needed.

Chapter 21

1. Exasperation: Job has reached the point of exasperation (understandably so) with his friend’s words and refusal to listen. He asks for a time to speak, though he knows that they will only mock him after he does. There seems to be no hope getting through to them because their minds are already made up. It doesn’t seem like there is anything that Job can say or demonstrate that would change their perspective, because in their minds they were right and Job was wrong. At the end of this chapter, Job says that his friends have comforted him with “empty nothings,” and that their answers to his situation are nothing but falsehood. To Job, there is no clear answer, because he doesn’t really understand what is going on. What he does know, however, is that he has not acted wickedly as his friends have asserted. Thus, it seems that Job thinks that the hand of the Lord must be against him simply because that is the will of God, or that God has forgotten him. But he knows that there are some wicked that indeed prosper, and that is what he will point out to his friends in this speech.

2. Theory vs. reality: The majority of this chapter is made up of Job’s direct rebuttal to Zophar’s insistence that the days of the wicked always perish. Job disagrees with this sentiment whole-heartedly (probably amplified by the situation he is in) and points out that there are those who live wickedly that indeed live long, prosperous lives. They have many children and their house is well established. Though they boldly say to God, “Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?” they live in prosperity and the rod of God is not upon them. Admittedly, Job does not understand why this is so, but he does know that he has not lived like them nor taken counsel from them. However, when Job has pointed this out to his friends, they have only looked to justify their position, suggesting that perhaps God has stored up the wrath for their children. But Job doesn’t buy that, as it would not logically make sense. The wicked man would not care that his children are punished after he is gone. Further, his friends ask him to produce some evidence that the wicked prosper, for in their mind Job cannot back up what he is saying. But Job turns to testimony and tells them to simply go ask anyone who has traveled and seen a larger section of the world than they have. Job is convinced that they will then learn a different answer than what they think. Job’s friends seem to be stuck in a theoretical idea that God only blesses the righteous and only punishes the wicked. But the reality of the matter was that this is not true in the least. Job wants them to open their eyes and see reality rather than their theoretical ideas. The reality was, sometimes a wicked man lives a long life, where as the life of a righteous man may be cut short. There is an element of time and chance that Job brings out, but in the end both men die the same. Both of these principles are echoed in Ecclesiastes, specifically 9:1-6. Job knew that his friends were missing what was right in front of them, and he was exasperated because they refused to see it.

Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 51-55.

The Lord help you in your time of need.


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