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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√XVII. Job’s Response to Bildad – Chs. 26-27)

Bildad’s third round asked the question, “Can a mortal be righteous before God?” (25:4). He not only extols the greatness of God, but he then demeans the human person as a maggot, a worm (25:6).

XVII. Job’s Response to Bildad – Ch. 26)
Job’s sarcastic response mocks the three friends’ unhelpfulness. Their advice has been void of wisdom. It has been so poor, in Job’s estimation, that they must have had some kind of spirit assist them in their counsel! (vv. 1-4).

Job then refers to the dead being “in deep anguish” (v. 5). What does he mean by his statement that “the realm of the dead is naked before God” (v. 6)? Perhaps Job’s point is that his friends have referred quite a bit to the death of the wicked, and Job knows that he does not deserve their fate.

He then speaks about “the outer fringe of [God’s] works” in which he mentions God’s power over the realm of the dead (v. 6), over the northern skies and the very suspension of the earth (v. 7), and over the clouds and the horizon (vv. 8-10). He speaks of God’s  power over the sea (v. 12) and His judgment on Rahab (!) (v. 12). Then Job says, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works” (v. 14).

But, in light of God’s magnificent works in His world, Job laments, “how faint the whisper we hear of him!” (v. 14). In contrast to such acts of God’s power, Job is grieved at His silence. And he certainly isn’t buying the premise that God is speaking to him through his “friends”!

XVII. Job’s Response to Bildad – Ch. 27)

In his second chapter of responding to Bildad’s round three, we notice that the NIV translation has the inscription “Job’s Final Word to His Friends.” Whether this chapter is a specific response to Bildad or a general address to the three friends, we don’t know. Here’s what we do know:

We know of Job’s conviction that God has denied him justice and has made his life bitter (v. 2). We know that Job is determined to say nothing wicked as long as the breath of God is in his nostrils (v. 4). And we know that he is resolute in maintaining his innocence and will never admit that his friends are right (vv. 5-6). His conscience simply won’t allow it (v. 6).

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√XVI. The Badgering of Bildad Round Three – Ch. 25)

What has Bildad said to Job in his first two rounds? He claimed to know why Job’s children were crushed to death (they had sinned). He challenges Job to seek God and repent and promises that restoration will then come to Job. Arguing from the aged, Bildad says that former generations would agree with him that Job might well perish with the godless. God, of course, does not reject the blameless.

In his second round, Bildad goes to great length to describe the fate of the wicked man. He concludes by saying, “Surely such is the dwelling of the one who does not know God.” In effect, he is challenging Job’s relationship with God.

 XVI. The Badgering of Bildad Round Three – (Ch. 25)

Bildad jumps in with his third round of rebuking Job. He begins with his doctrine of God (that dominion and awe belong to God and that His forces cannot be numbered) (vv. 2-3). This brings Bildad to the point which is obvious to him: “How then can a mortal be righteous before God?” (v. 4). This is almost exactly the same message that Eliphaz says he got from a vision in the night (“Can a mortal be more righteous than God?”, 4:17).

In a unique application of the greater to the lesser argument, Bildad says that only God is pure. Man is but a maggot! This “worm theology,” which was popular during the Reformation among some of its leaders, especially Luther, argues for the greatness of God and the puniness of man.

One contemporary writer says, “Many people have suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of what is sometimes called ‘worm theology.’ In this theology, God’s holiness is set against our sinfulness to such a degree that the only appropriate response seems to be self-loathing. The name may come from a line in the Issac Watts hymn ‘Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed,’ which says ‘Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?’ The idea seems to be that only by abasing ourselves are we able to grasp and receive God’s mercy. Churches taken with this view think it their job to induce guilt and shame, working people up into a state of such remorse and self-revulsion that they are compelled to repent and seek God’s mercy.” https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/aprilweb-only/23-51.0.html

How will Job respond to Bildad’s worm theology?

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√XV. Job’s Response to Eliphaz Round Three – Chs. 23-24)

Job has endured two rounds of lectures from Eliphaz. He now responds to the final third round in chapters 23-24. Eliphaz has become quite specific in detailing Job’s social sins (sending widows away empty-handed, stripping people of their clothing, etc.). There is no evidence whatsoever in the book of Job’s committing such egregious acts!

Eliphaz challenged Job to no longer tread the old path of the wicked, but to submit to the Lord and prosperity will be restored to him. Job needs to make the Lord his choicest gold and silver!

XV. Job’s Response to Eliphaz Round Three – (Ch. 23)

Job’s response to Eliphaz’s round three is to reiterate his plea to appear before the Lord. He wants to “state his case” before the Lord, confident that the Lord “would not press charges against me” (vv. 4-6).

Job’s complaint, however, is that He can’t find the Lord, whether he looks north, south, east, or west (vv. 8-9).

In light of all his pain Job could declare, “when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (v. 10). He declares that he has kept God’s way without turning aside, that he has not departed from the commands of his lips, and that he “treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (vv. 11-12).

However, God does what He pleases and this terrifies Job (vv. 13-15). But such fear does not silence Job in his protest (v. 17).

XII. Job’s Response to Eliphaz Round Three – (Ch. 24)

Job then launches into a diatribe against the unfairness of life. The offenses range from moving boundary stones, to pasturing stolen fields, to pushing the needy off the path, to forcing the poor into hiding (vv. 2-4). These are the evil acts of wicked men who are not judged by God in this life.

Then there are the cruelties of God’s creation: the wasteland failing to provide food for the poor (v. 5), the poor lacking clothes and having to spend the night naked (v. 7), the fatherless child is snatched from the breast (v. 9), the groans of the dying rise from the city, and the souls of the wounded cry out for help (v. 12). And Job’s conclusion? “But God charges no one with wrongdoing.” (v. 12).

Specific criminals are singled out by Job: the murderer who kills the poor and needy, (v. 14), the adulterer who thinks no one sees his sin (v. 15), thieves who break into houses (v. 16). All of these rebel against the light and “make friends with the terrors of darkness” (v. 17).

But there will be judgment for the wicked. “The womb forgets them, the worm feasts on them” (v. 20). God will drag away the mighty by His power; “his eyes are on their ways” (v. 23). And who, Job asks, can prove me wrong?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√XIV. The Exhortations of Eliphaz Round Three – Ch. 22)

Eliphaz has had two rounds with Job. In round one he argued for divine earthly retribution because, in his mind, the innocent simply don’t perish. He appeals to a vision he had that asked, “Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” (4:17).

In round two Eliphaz calls Job’s responses “empty notions” and “useless words.” He described in great detail the fate of the wicked, essentially asking Job if he doesn’t see himself in this picture.

Eliphaz now embarks on a third lecture. Here in Job 22 he begins by arguing that man is of no real benefit to God, that it doesn’t really matter to the Almighty if Job is righteous or not (v. 3).

Eliphaz then boldly states that Job’s wickedness must be great. God simply does not bring charges against the godly.

Eliphaz then lists some of Job’s social sins. He has demanded security from his own relatives, stripped people of their clothing, gave no water to the weary, withheld food from the hungry, sent widows away empty-handed, and broke the strength of the fatherless (vv. 6-9). “This is why,” Eliphaz says, “it is so dark that you cannot see.” (v. 11).

Eliphaz directly asks Job, “Will you keep to the old path that the wicked have trod?” (v. 15). The wicked say to the Lord, “Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do to us?” (v. 17). In a great statement about the providential care of God, Eliphaz says, “Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things” (v. 18).

Eliphaz appeals to Job to submit to God and prosperity will come to him (v. 21). Return to the Almighty, he says.

Eliphaz says, let the Almighty be your gold and your choicest silver.

Not only will you be restored, Job, but you will intercede for others and God will deliver them through you. In fact, Eliphaz says, God will even deliver one who is not innocent through the cleanness of your hands! (v. 30). But Eliphaz is convinced that Job’s hands aren’t clean and he needs to repent before the Lord!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√XIII. Job Responds to Zophar Round Two – Ch. 21)

The friends have spoken in detail of the judgment of the wicked. They imply that the wicked will suffer judgment in this life! Zophar specifically has declared that the mirth of the wicked is brief and they will perish like their own excrement. His social sins against the poor will have to be remedied by his children. The wicked man awaits the day of God’s wrath.

Why have they spent so many words describing in detail the judgment of the wicked? Because Job’s life looks exactly like the judgment of God! However, their equation doesn’t fit the facts. Wicked people live prosperously and godly people suffer terribly! There is no quid pro quo in this life! Their math simply does not add up. EVIL PERSON + GOD’S JUDGMENT = TERRIBLE SUFFERING IN THIS LIFE! Their theological formula cannot be proven.

XIII. Job’s Response to Zophar Round Two – (Ch. 21)

Job asks Zophar to listen carefully to Job’s words — and then he can “mock on” (v. 3).  He asks a simple question, “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” (v. 7) Their prosperity is evident. “They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace” (v. 13). Job asks, “How often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out?” (v. 17).

And they also mock God by saying to Him, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?” (vv. 14-15).

The truth is, Job says, that both the wicked and the godly often die the same.

One person dies in full vigor,
    completely secure and at ease,
24 well nourished in body,
    bones rich with marrow.
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul,
    never having enjoyed anything good.
26 Side by side they lie in the dust,
    and worms cover them both.” (vv. 23-26).

The problem you friends have, Job says, is that you need to get out more! If you did, you would see that “the wicked are spared from the day of calamity . . .. they are delivered from the day of wrath” (v. 30). So, Job says, your nonsense doesn’t console me. “Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!” (v. 34).

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√XII. The Zingers of Zophar Round Two – Ch. 20)

In the wings waits Zophar, the one who in round one (11:2) said that Job’s mockery needs to be rebuked and that, in reality, God has even forgotten some of Job’s sin! Because God’s mysteries are beyond finding out, Job should simply bow before the Lord. Zophar promises Job that if he devotes his heart to the Lord and puts away the sin that is in his heart, his life will be brighter than the noonday. But don’t be like the wicked, Zophar says, for their hope will be a dying gasp. What will Zophar add to his first lecture?

XII. The Zingers of Zophar Round Two – (Ch. 20)

Zophar declares that the mirth of the wicked is brief (v. 5). But he will perish forever, “like his own dung” (v. 7). He will die and be forgotten. His children will have to make amends to the poor (v. 10). The evil that he has hidden will become soured food in his stomach, “a venom of serpents” (v. 14). God will make him vomit up the riches he swallowed (v. 15).

Because the wicked person has oppressed the poor, this man cannot save himself by his treasure (vv. 19-20). God will vent his anger against this man, piercing him with a bronze-tipped arrow into his liver. [Sounds like some of Job’s previously given description of the Lord as an archer whose arrows pierce Job’s kidneys and spill his gall on the ground (16:13)]. The heavens will reveal his guilt; a flood will carry off his house. The day of God’s wrath will come upon him. “Such is the fate God allots the wicked, the heritage appointed for them by God.” (v. 29).

It is obvious that Zophar is treating Job as one who is wicked, whose sins against the poor provided him his wealth, who is soon to experience the wrath of God. The issue of Job’s guilt or innocence is not a matter of debate. It is a settled conclusion in Zophar’s mind. Unlike Eliphaz and Bildad, Zophar does not step into the ring for a third round with Job. These are the last words Zophar speaks to his friend.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√XI. Job’s Response to Bildad – Round Two -Ch. 19)

Bildad believes that Job is perverting justice. He says Job’s children sinned against God and were judged for doing so. Can there be a greater criticism than one’s salvation being questioned? And both Eliphaz and Bildad have used a great many words to describe the judgment of God against the wicked. In this most recent attack, Bildad leaves no doubt that Job should question whether he really knows the Lord.

XI. Job’s Response to Bildad Round Two- (Ch. 19)

Job confronts Bildad and his friends by asking “how long will you torment me and crush me with words?” (v. 2) He counts that they have reproached him ten times and that God “has wronged me and drawn his net around me” (v. 6).

He has received no response from the Lord, no help, no justice (v. 7). Job has been stripped of his honor and his hope has been uprooted like a tree (vv. 9-10). It is obvious to Job that God’s anger burns against him and that He “counts me among his enemies” (v. 11).

How has Job suffered? His own family (what is left of it) has been alienated from him, his closest friends have forgotten him, and even his female servants look on him as a stranger (vv. 13-15). His servants no longer obey him and even his breath is offensive to his wife! (v. 17).  He is the ridicule of little boys. “Those I love have turned against me” (v. 19). Physically he describes himself as “nothing but skin and bones”, having escaped only “by the skin of my teeth” (v. 20).

He then pleads with his friends to have pity on him, “for the hand of God has struck me” (vv. 21-22). Job wants his words engraved in rock forever (v. 24).

We then get another marvelous passage in the midst of Job’s laments. He says, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (vv. 25-27). Is Job prophesying about the Lord Jesus?

At the very least, he is saying that he will exist past physical death and will see God. Perhaps here we have a hint of a physical resurrection and even resurrection bodies.

In characterizing the unhelpful counsel of his friends, Job suggests that they are looking for new ways to “hound” him (v. 28). For they believe, Job says, that “the root of the trouble lies in him.” (v. 28). But this is not the case, based on how the book affirms the godliness of Job’s life in chapter one and the story behind Job’s trials in chapters one and two. Job is not above warning his counselors of the coming judgment (v. 29).

We next examine Round Two from Zophar.

 

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√X. The Badgering of Bildad Round Two – Ch. 18)

We do not know the circumstances of these discussions. We don’t know if they all occur on the ash-heap or if Job is back in his home entertaining these three friends. But we may be confident that God the Holy Spirit has preserved these lengthy debates accurately for our good.

X. The Badgering of Bildad – Round Two (Ch. 18)

In round one Bildad described Job’s defense of himself as “a blustering wind” (8:2). He is angry that Job is accusing God of perverting justice and declares that Job’s children had sinned against the Lord. That’s why they died. Bildad challenged Job to repent and expect his prosperity to be restored. He uses a number of analogies from nature that illustrate the fate of the wicked. And he insists that God doesn’t reject those who are blameless.

In this second round Bildad attacks Job’s self-importance and asks, “Is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?” (v. 4).

He then describes the fate of “a wicked man.” His lamp is snuffed out, the vigor of his step is weakened, a snare holds him fast, a trap lies in his path (vv. 5-10). He is being startled by terrors; disaster awaits him, even eating away parts of his skin. We read that the wicked person is “torn from the security of his tent and marched off to the king of terrors” (v. 14). His memory perishes from the earth and he has no name in the land (v. 17). His fate is banishment from the world with no surviving descendants (vv. 18-19). People in both the west and the east are appalled at his fate and are “seized with horror” (v. 20).

Bildad concludes his detailed and dire description of the fate of the wicked person by saying, “Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; such is the place of one who does not know God” (v. 21). Wow! In no uncertain terms Bildad is challenging Job’s relationship with God! How will Job respond to such a declaration?

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√IX. Job’s Response to Eliphaz’s Round Two – Chs. 16-17)

In round one Eliphaz, as the first friend to speak, asked the critical question, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?” (4:7). He — and the other friends and (as we will see) Job himself — hold to the principle of divine earthly retribution. Those who sow evil in this life will experience judgment in this life. Eliphaz underscores his advice by relating a vision he had from God which asked, “Can a mortal be more righteous than God?” (4:17). In chapter 5 Eliphaz pleads with Job to lay out his defense before God and to recognize that he is under the discipline of the Almighty (5:17).

In round two Eliphaz characterizes Job’s responses as “empty notions” and “useless words.” He accuses Job of forgetting both who God is and how evil man is (15:14-16). Eliphaz uses colorful language to describe the wicked man and seems to be saying, “Job, do you not see yourself in this sad picture?” We now get Job’s response to this second round from Eliphaz.

IV. Job’s Response to Eliphaz’s Round Two (Ch. 16)

Again Job confronts his friends and uses what is now a classic description: “you are miserable comforters, all of you!” (v. 2). He pleads with them to stop their long-winded speeches which are lacking comfort and relief.

Job describes how God has “worn [him] out”, how He has “devastated my entire household” (v. 7). His life has been shriveled up. God assails me, he says, tears me in his anger, and gnashes his teeth at me (v. 9). I believe he is referring to the Lord when he says, “my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes” (v. 9).

Some people have actually struck him on the cheek in outrage because of his supposed sins (v. 10). Job’s condition is that “God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked” (v. 11). Job reminisces about his life before his trials: “All was well with me” (v. 12) But then, he says, God “shattered me,” “seized me by the neck and crushed me.” Job declares again, “He has made me his target” (v. 12).

He uses military imagery to describes God’s actions in his life. He is like an archer whose arrows pierce his kidneys and which spill his gall on the ground (v. 13). He bursts upon me, Job says, and rushes me like a warrior.

Job professes that he had covered himself with sackcloth and made his face red with weeping (signs of penance, vv. 15-16). Yet, he says, I have been free of violence and my prayer is pure (v. 17). Job doesn’t want the earth to cover up his blood; he wants his cry to never be laid to rest (v. 18).

We then have a very unusual statement by Job. He says his witness is in heaven, an advocate on high, an intercessor who is his friend. And this intercessor pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. (vv. 19-21). This is a difficult section to understand. Is it Messianic? A prophecy about the Lord Jesus as our Intercessor?

At any rate, Job predicts that he has only a few more years to live and then he will “take the path of no return” (v. 22).

IV. Job’s Response to Eliphaz’s Round Two (Ch. 17)

Job continues his lament in chapter 17. He is a byword to everyone. In fact, people spit in his face (v. 6). He testifies that his whole frame is but a shadow.

He challenges his friends to come and “try again”! (v. 10). He says sarcastically that his only hope is the grave and that hope will accompany him down to the gates of death (v. 16).

And so Job finishes his response to this second round of criticism from his friend Eliphaz. I wonder if Bildad is listening in, waiting his turn to begin his next lecture to Job.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (√VIII. The Exhortations of Eliphaz Round Two – Ch. 15)

Much has already been said between Job and his three friends. We do not know the time table of these theological discussions, but it seems that neither party is ready to give an inch. The friends are agreed that sin is the cause of Job’s troubles. Job insists that he is innocent and that he has been made God’s target. He is not impressed with Eliphaz’s claim of a vision from God meant to silence Job’s complaints.

Let’s see what new ideas are brought up by Eliphaz as he steps into the ring for Round Two. Eliphaz minces no words in condemning Job’s responses. Job’s answers are “empty notions” and “useless words” and the effect of his defense is to “undermine piety and hinder devotion to God” (vv. 1-4).

Employing a series of questions (“Do you listen in on God’s council?”, “Do you have a monopoly on wisdom?”), Eliphaz gets personal and says that men older than Job’s father agree with them (v. 10). You are venting your rage against God, he says. And you are forgetting both who God is and how evil man is (vv. 14-16).

Eliphaz then declares that the wicked man suffers torment “all his days” (v. 20), “is marked for the sword”, and “wanders about for food like a vulture” (v. 23). Why? “because he shakes his fist at God.” (v. 25).

Though he is fat, his wealth will not endure. He will not escape the darkness; “the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away” (v. 30). He is deceiving himself by trusting what is worthless and “before his time he will wither” (v. 32). Like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes, the company of the godless will be barren. The wicked “conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit.” (v. 35). It is as if Eliphaz is saying, “Job, do you not see yourself in this sad picture?”

We will next examine Job’s response to Eliphaz’s Round Two (Chs. 16-17) in our next post.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2023 in the book of Job

 

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