JOB AND ZOPHAR’S SECOND DEBATE

(e).  Zophar’s Second Speech           <20:1-29>

Zophar is very angry at Job for his comments, especially Job’s closing comment <19:28-29>, so he proceeds to remind Job of the ancient truth; “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since man was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.” <20:4-5 (NIV); cf Psa.73:18-20>. He continues by commenting on the prosperity of the sinner <20:5-11>; pride causes an individual to be filled with arrogance and self-acclamation that reaches to the heavens, but results in death <20:6-7; cf Gen.11:4; 2 Sam.18:18>. He speaks to the punishment that sin brings to the individual <20:12-22>; although evil and ungodliness may be enjoyable it will eventually become repulsive, like food that is tasty and causes heart-burn; all the riches that have been accumulated will eventually make life miserable and there will be no reprieve from obsession, for in the end there will be nothing left to consume; “In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him; the full force of misery will come upon him.” <20:22 (NIV)>. He then outlines God’s final judgments <20:23-29>; when all sinful and ungodly obsessions have been fully experienced “God will vent his burning anger against him and rain down his blows upon him.” <20:23 (NIV); cf Psa.11:6>, and any attempt to escape will only result in continued punishment; terror will be overcoming, consuming fire will be experienced; “on the day of God’s wrath. Such is the fate God allots the wicked, the heritage appointed for them by God.” <20:28-29 (NIV); cf 18:21; Jer.13:25; Rev.21:8>.

(f).  Job’s Response                           <21:1-34>

As Job continues to defend his integrity he addresses the accusations of his friends in regards to the results of evil. First he states that his complaint is not directed to them or any other individual; “Is my complaint directed to man? Why should I not be impatient?” <21:1 (NIV)>, since he perceives that God is responsible for his demise. He then turns his defense to what his friends have said as they have gone into detail on the fate of the wicked. Bildad has said that the life of the wicked is like the papyrus, that withers faster than the grass, and “Such is the destiny of all who forget God” <8:11-19>. Eliphaz stated that, “All his days the wicked man suffers torment” <15:20-35>, continuing to describe the torment that comes upon those that shake their fist in defiance at God. What Bildad describes of the wicked; “The lamp of the wicked is snuffed out”; “Fire resides in his tent” <18:5-21>. And Zophar’s remarks; “He will not enjoy the streams, the rivers flowing with honey”; “God will vent his burning anger against him” <20:1-29>.

Job then expresses his understanding of those that exhibit their wickedness; “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” <21:7 (NIV)>, they grow old and increase in power, they see their children established, they are safe and free from fear. Their animals flourish, they see their offspring enjoying life and they go to their grave in peace. “Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?'” <21:14-15 (NIV); cf Isa.30:10-11; Deut.32:15; Psa.139:20; Jer.9:6; 44:17>. He questions how often is the “lamp of the wicked snuffed out” <21:17>; he comments on the statement that God stores up the punishment of the wicked for his children, suggesting that the wicked person should see his own destruction <21:18-21>. His summary is that the wicked do not have a long and painful illness before death. How does God work in all of this Job asks; “Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest? One man dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease…..Another man dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both.” <21:22-26 (NIV); cf Isa.40:13-14>; stating that he knows and understands their accusations as they question where are all his possessions <21:27-28>; in comparison to the wicked person who is spared calamity and is finally buried with great celebration <21:29-33>.

So Job ends his reply as he begun: “Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on…..So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!” <21:2-3, 34 (NIV)>; concluding that their accusations do not make sense.

 

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