With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√VI. The Zingers of Zophar: Round One (Chapter 11)
Job has now endured the “counsel” of two of his closest friends, Eliphaz and Bildad. Eliphaz asked the question, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?” He couldn’t mean that godly people never die. He is obviously saying that Job is wicked and that those who sow evil in this life, in Eliphaz’s opinion, reap judgment in this life. He’s even had a vision from God to challenge Job’s claim of innocence.
Bildad is angry because he sees Job charging God with perverting justice. It is obvious to Bildad that God brought judgment on Job’s children. And he challenges Job to repent and be restored before the Lord.
Job responds to both friends, but there is a third with his lecture ready to give.
VI. The Zingers of Zophar: Round One (Chapter 11)
Zophar takes off the gloves of nicety and directly challenges Job as merely a “talker” whose mockery needs to be rebuked! (vv. 2-3).
Zophar wishes for God to speak and to tell Job the truth — that He (God) “has even forgotten some of your sin” (v. 6). To Job’s claim of innocence Zophar essentially says, “You’re not getting half of what you deserve!” He then resorts to what theologians call the ineffability of God. Ineffable means “incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible.” God’s mysteries are beyond finding out, and Job should simply bow before the Lord. In Zophar’s words, “If God comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him?” (v. 10).
Zophar then promises Job that if devoted his heart to the Lord, and “put away the sin that is in your hand,” you will be “free of fault” and “life will be brighter than noonday” (vv. 13-17). Zophar says, you will be secure, take your rest in safety, and many will court your favor (vv. 18-19). But, Zophar warns, escape will elude the wicked and “their hope will become a dying gasp” (v. 20). Don’t be like the wicked, Zophar is advising.
How Job responds to such advice will be the subject of our next post.
Tags: God's justice, ineffability, repentance, tragedy