Monday, January 17, 2011

The End of Suffering - Job 25 to 42 (#10)

Zero to Sixty In Four Paragraphs
Blogging through Job feels a lot like finding something new to say about regular porridge. You might love it, but there's only so much to share before you've run out of things to talk about. There is a lot of repetition in the book, and since there's no inspired narrator speaking (except in the first and last bits) there's not much to grab onto and analyze after a while. For that reason, I decided to take a break -slow down to zero and take care of some other things in the meantime- and then come back for this seventeen chapter marathon sprint through the last chapters of the book. Keeps things interesting.

Job Gets His Close-Up Shot 
[Job 25-31.] Bildad the Shuhite tries to answer Job. Job defends his honor for six full chapters. You know what, it's nice to see Job get a chance to really defend himself. Obviously he has the utmost respect for God (Job 26.5-14); he also knows that he's innocent (Job 27.1-6) and that he is suffering without cause (Job 30.25-26). His closing bit in Job 31 is rousing stuff: he lists off sins that people accuse him of and asks God to rain elaborate curses on him if they are true. Here are a list of the things that he mentions:
1. Deceit. "If I have walked with falsehood... then let me sow, and another eat, and let what grows for me be rooted out."

2. Adultery. "If my heart has been enticed toward a woman and I have lain in wait at my neighbor's door... let my wife grind for another, and let others bow down on her."

3. Slave Abuse. "If I have rejected the cause of my servant... that fire consumes as far as Abaddon, and it would burn to the root all my crop."

4. Withholding Goods From the Poor. "If I have withheld anything that the poor desired... let my shoulder blade fall from its shoulder and my arm be broken from its socket."

and the list goes on...
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Elihu
[Job 32-37.] Job and his friends must have been talking for a long time by now, because the youth are starting to show up to watch them argue. This must have been what people did before television. Filled up with the Spirit of God -or possibly sugar snacks- Elihu shows up out of absolutely nowhere and takes it to Job for a long while. Elihu lets us know that advanced age doesn't necessarily equal wisdom: "I am young in years and you are aged... but it is the Spirit in man that makes him understand. It is not the old who are wise, or the aged who understand what is right." After telling Job to repent a few times and leveling some accusations against him (we never find out whether or not these charges are accurate), all the while talking about how God does not pervert justice, Elihu takes some inspiration from the whirlwind that starts to show up in Job 36.27-37.24 and gives some hymn-worthy lines about the majesty and fear of Yahweh ("At this also my heart trembles and leaps out of its place"). At the end of the book, Elihu is never made to repent by God.

*Elihu describes the wicked, at the end of their lives, as washed up celebrities and corporate executives: "They die in youth, and their life ends among the cult prostitutes."

A Little Chat With the Old, Old, Old Man
[Job 38-42.] Have you ever seen your father really angry? Now you've seen God that way with one of His children - Job. What you'll notice is that the relationship is back to normal right away. To disprove any ideas about Job being right throughout the book, God says "who is this that darkens counsel without knowledge?" To disprove the idea that we can unload on God and He won't care, the Lord calls Job a "faultfinder" in Job 40.2 and takes a strip out of Job's back by saying "Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?" (Job 40.7-8). The interesting part is that Job's friends were partly right all along; Job repents in chapter 42 and God restores him. And God is just as upset at Job's words as Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu were.

*Eliphaz and his buddies don't get off the hook though. God says that Job got Him right. This is just after God said that Job got Him wrong. If you have any solutions, let me know.

*Based on'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.


  1. As I was reading along with this, I noticed something that my mind kept coming back to, more towards the end of Job, but in essence when God is ripping in to Job, how easy would it have been for God to annihilate Job and his three counselors? I think we would all agree that life is frail at best, and Job's account reminds me that although God allowed the Adversary to mess with Job, He alone is the Sovereign of all life. He takes what He wants and does what He wants regardless of our opinion. I pray I would have Job's endurance and perseverance, but more importantly I hope I have better friends than he did.

  2. "Blogging through Job feels a lot like finding something new to say about regular porridge"
    "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Elihu"

    Haha why are you so funny? Okay, I promise I don't just read your blog for the cool pictures and funny clever comments. Really good insights in here, and I think Ryan brings up a good point about God's sovereignty. "He takes what He wants and does what He wants regardless of our opinion" - perhaps God is demonstrating that even though Job is wrong about some things he says, he is still vindicated because God chooses to vindicate Him. And even if his friends were right about some things they said, they were more wrong than Job because they were tearing him down which is NOT pleasing to God.

    Also, I finally got to the page I was looking for. Here's what John Wesley says: "This is not to be understood absolutely, but comparatively. Job was not so much to be blamed as they, because his opinion concerning the methods of God's providence, and the indifferency of its dispensations towards good and bad men was truer than theirs, which was, that God did always reward good men and punish sinners in this life."

    Hope this helps.

  3. Good point. We stand before God, completely powerless before the all-powerful Creator of the universe, and in our awe all we can do is trust in His mercy not to vanquish us. "[Job] is still vindicated because God chooses to vindicate him."

    By the way, good insight from John Wesley, I think he got that one right. Here's what Matthew Henry says (it's a little long, like most things Henry writes, but it deserves to be read):

    "(1.) God tells them plainly that they had not spoken of him the thing that was right, like Job, that is, they had censured and condemned Job upon a false hypothesis, had represented God fighting against Job as an enemy when really he was only trying him as a friend, and this was not right. Those do not say well of God who represent his fatherly chastisements of his own children as judicial punishments and who cut them off from his favour upon the account of them. Note, It is a dangerous thing to judge uncharitably of the spiritual and eternal state of others, for in so doing we may perhaps condemn those whom God has accepted, which is a great provocation to him; it is offending his little ones, and he takes himself to be wronged in all the wrongs that are done to them. (2.) He assures them he was angry with them: My wrath is kindled against thee and thy two friends. God is very angry with those who despise and reproach their brethren, who triumph over them, and judge hardly of them, either for their calamities or for their infirmities."


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