Job 15:5–20; 16:19–21; 19:5–27; 21:7–9comment (0)
June 13, 2013
By Douglas K. Wilson Jr.
Related Scripture: Job 15:5–20; 16:19–21; 19:5–27; 21:7–9
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Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Who Said Life Would Be Fair?
Job 15:5–20; 16:19–21; 19:5–27; 21:7–9
The text of Job records monologues expressing theological musings from Job’s friends. Last week, we read how Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar explained Job’s sufferings. Each man called for his friend Job to repent. After all, they posited, this is a cause-and-effect world. Suffering was the consequence of Job’s transgressions.
In our high-tech age of blogs, tweets and instant-access videos, voices cry out with opinions about everything. Worldviews of all sorts are communicated, as well as a variety of non-Christian, post-Christian and what’s-a-Christian perspectives. Tolerance is the modern mantra, arguing that fairness requires all views to be considered equally valid. Whether from a biblical character or a modern-day blogger, not all opinions about God are accurate.
Job explains to his companions that they are wrong in assuming that God’s justice is always served within one’s lifetime. God never declared that life is fair. In fact, if we were to hold God to fairness, then there would be no room for grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness or unconditional love. Job confronts the worldview of his companions, though they do not receive his words well.
You Might Be Misunderstood (15:5–20)
Eliphaz misunderstands Job. He suggests that Job speaks arrogantly, as though he knows the wisdom of God, or worse, that the man of Uz is judging God. Like the soliloquies in the earlier chapters, Eliphaz chooses to find fault with Job, accusing his friend of claiming more knowledge than the village elders who are older than his father. In this monologue, he concludes by offering his own theological wisdom, reinforcing the cause-and-effect arguments of last week’s outline.
When we speak truth and share Scripture, people are offended. When we witness the glorious gospel of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, people are offended. As we look at this passage, we may be offended. Eliphaz speaks with a measure of truth, and Job becomes offended. The problem here is that he presumes to speak for God against Job.
You Might Be Ignored (16:19–21; 19:5–27)
This first passage in this section is Job’s answer to Eliphaz. Reading chapter 16, one can see that Job is wearied by the continual blathering of his companions. He calls them “miserable comforters” (16:2), telling them he would offer them comfort and encouragement if they were in his position (16:5). In verses 19–21, Job speaks as a man who understands the intermediary role of Christ: “my advocate is in the heights.” These words foreshadow the words of John (1 John 2:1).
Bildad later speaks, and Job responds to him in chapter 19. Even if his accusers are right regarding Job suffering under God’s judgment, they have no right to consider themselves better than he is. Job uses the verbs “torment” and “crush” (19:2), “humiliate” and “mistreat” (19:3) to characterize their words. He continues by describing his physical condition, then concludes the response with another expression of faith.
Job, the patriarch of Uz, expresses belief in the concepts of life after death (13:15), supernatural mediation (16:19–21) and resurrection (19:25–27). He confesses hope in his Redeemer (go’el), the same term used for the one who takes on the debt of a widow in order to provide for her (Ruth 2–4). Though the book contains no references to Israel or the Law of Moses, Job indicates an understanding of salvation by faith. His faith is ignored by his companions.
You Might See Others Go Unpunished (21:7–9)
Job observes that God’s judgment is not always immediate. Often, the wicked prosper and the unjust thrive in their sins. Justice cannot be defined by our terms in our timetable. If solely looking at life from a human perspective, one might conclude that life is unfair, that crime does pay and that the wicked do go unpunished. But God is just.