Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bible In a Year - Job 20 to 23 (#9)


*Based on ESV.com's Chronological Bible In a Year schedule. If anyone would like to join in, this blog's comments sections would be a good forum in which to share insights from the text.

Righteous: An Epic Match Between Contenders for the Faith
[Job 20/21.] In the left corner, Zophar re-enters the conversation weighing in at a trim 29 verses. In the right, Job hails from chapter twenty-one at a slightly larger 34. Zophar starts off with a jab, pointing out that the godless eventually get their due: "The joy of the godless is momentary... though his loftiness reaches the heavens... he perishes forever like his refuse." But Job does a bob and a weave, connecting with a straight-forward denial: "The wicked... is carried to the grave... who will repay him for what he has done?... all men will follow after him, while countless ones go before him... your answers remain full of falsehood." The irony is that both Job and Zophar are in the right here. The wicked eventually get their due (in hell) and they often go unpunished (on earth). See what kind of existential angst comes out of not knowing about life after death? Both Job and Zophar are servants of God, but their lack of knowledge about rewards/punishment after death puts them on opposite sides of a very ugly fight.

Mud Slinging: Insults Worthy of Political Ads
[Job 22.] Zophar tags in Eliphaz, who brings in the heaviest accusations since Bildad slandered Job's dead children in chapter 8. Eliphaz has been the major total depravity guy in his last two showings (check back here and here), saying that all men are guilty before God - a sort of gentle way of saying "so if you don't think you're that guilty, well, everyone has some sin... repent of whatever that is for you." Now Eliphaz just starts naming all of the horrible things Job must have done to deserve his fate: "Are not your iniquities without end? You have taken pledges of your brothers without cause... stripped men naked... withheld water from the thirsty... withheld bread from the hungry... have sent widows away empty... have crushed the strength of orphans... therefore snares surround you, and sudden dread terrifies you." I've been meaning to point out that Eliphaz (though completely mistaken about Job) is right about the fact that man is given to sin, and that everyone needs to repent before God. So in general Eliphaz is right. Specifically, about Job's situation, he is dead wrong. We need to repent of our depravity. But to say those things about Job, Eliphaz must be a complete... not-nice person.

Humble Confidence: 'I Am Innocent, and I Desire to Meet God'
[Job 23 + 24.] After getting pummeled by Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for over 20 chapters, Job (who is at this point seriously misunderstood) says that he would love to just come before God and ask some questions. He stills believes that God is good, even if He does seem to allow evil: "I would... perceive what He would say to me... would He contend with me by the greatness of His power? No, surely He would pay attention to me... there the upright would reason with Him and I would be forever acquitted by my Judge" (Job 23.5-7). So this is Job's dilemma the entire time: Job knows that God is good (Job 23.5-7), but sees that He does not punish the wicked (Job 24). He still maintains his innocence though. "I have not departed from the command of his lips: I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food" (Job 23.12).

*By the way, I completely switched back from the NASB to the ESV in the middle of that last paragraph. I can't believe how badly the NASB butchered Job 24.22. Not only did the NASB switch from a more-literal rendering (ASV) to a less-literal one, but they made the verse harder to understand, changed its meaning, and confused the whole chapter there at the same time. I wouldn't recommend reading Job in the NASB.

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