Job 15-21 part 5
The first cycles of speeches have ended, but now the second cycle of speeches begin. This time their hostility will increase and the sparks will fly. Job’s friends are not being helpful at all.
Eliphaz begins his tongue lasing in:
Job 15:2 "Should a wise man answer with empty knowledge, And fill himself with the east wind? 3 Should he reason with unprofitable talk, Or by speeches with which he can do no good? 4 Yes, you cast off fear, And restrain prayer before God. 5 For your iniquity teaches your mouth, And you choose the tongue of the crafty. 6 Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; Yes, your own lips testify against you.
Eliphaz is saying that Job is full of hot air and saying whatever comes to his mind. He accuses him of not praying to God, and he believes that his sin whatever it is has caused him to be crafty with his words, but his own words have condemned him, and they testify against him.
In verse 7 – 16, Eliphaz accuses Job of making himself wiser than aged and wiser than all who were before him. He wants Job to understand that his friends are just as wise as he is and he wishes Job would listen to their wisdom. He accuses Job of turning his spirit against God in all the rash words he has been saying. He tells Job that he cannot be as righteous as he thinks he is and he says that men like Job drink iniquity like water. That insult had to sting when Job heard it.
In verse 17 – 26, Eliphaz says based on his personal observations from the past and the traditions of the fathers, he comes to the same conclusion, only the sinful suffer. He illustrates this by describing a man who is defiant to God who will run stubbornly against him with a strong shield, but a man that does this will have all kinds of pains that he cannot explain, and his life will be full of turmoil and fear. He goes on to say in:
Job 15:27 "Though he has covered his face with his fatness, And made his waist heavy with fat, 28 He dwells in desolate cities, In houses which no one inhabits, Which are destined to become ruins. 29 He will not be rich, Nor will his wealth continue, Nor will his possessions overspread the earth.
It easy to see that Eliphaz is describing Job and he accusing him getting fat and wallowing in his possession because he believes Job has put his trust and faith in his wealth, which is why he suffering now. Of course we know that is not the case. Then Eliphaz continues on through the end of the chapter talking about how those who trust in futile things deceive themselves, and they will not be able to escape the darkness. He gives several illustration from agriculture that show what will happen if Job keeps on denying his sin. Eliphaz ends his speech with these words:
Job 15:34 For the company of hypocrites will be barren, And fire will consume the tents of bribery. 35 They conceive trouble and bring forth futility; Their womb prepares deceit."
Even though Eliphaz has it all wrong when it comes to Job, one thing that is true about his statements is that we must not put our trust in futile things because they can deceive us and cause us to live a life a sin, and if we don’t put trust in God and follow Him, then we will never escape the darkness of sin either.
Next, Job replies back in chapters 16 and 17.
Job 16:2 "I have heard many such things; Miserable comforters are you all! 3 Shall words of wind have an end? Or what provokes you that you answer? 4 I also could speak as you do, If your soul were in my soul's place. I could heap up words against you, And shake my head at you; 5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, And the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.
Job is not happy with his friends at all because they are miserable comforters. They continue to hurl accusations against him that are not true. He tells them that if they were in his position he could easily say the same things they were and act just like them, but he says he wouldn’t be like. No, he would be a true friend and encouraging them and brings them words of comfort to relive their grief because that is friend should do.
In verses 6-10, Job doesn’t know whether to be silent or to speak because he doesn’t find comfort in either one. He accuses God of wearing him our and shriveling him up and his suffering body testifies against him. He says,
Job 16:9 He tears me in His wrath, and hates me; He gnashes at me with His teeth; My adversary sharpens His gaze on me.
He thinks God hates him and since he is weak, his enemy is ready to attack him and take him over and beat him on his cheek.
In verses 11-14, he accuses God of giving him to the ungodly and turning him over to the wicked. He was happy before all this started, but now he says God has shattered him and taken him by the neck and shook him until he was scattered into small pieces. When I think about that imagery it reminds of how do will take a object in his mouth and shake to death. He accuses God of putting a target on him and surrounding him with His archers.
He believes that God has not pity for him even though God has pierced his heart and causes him to break out with wounds on top of wounds.
In verses 15-19, He talks about how he has sackcloth on his skin and head is in the dirt and he is weeping so much that is face is flush. He continues to defend his innocence saying he is not violent and his prayers are pure and he is sure that there is a witness in heaven that can attest to his righteousness. Job finishes this chapter saying:
Job 16:20 My friends scorn me; My eyes pour out tears to God. 21 Oh, that one might plead for a man with God, As a man pleads for his neighbor! 22 For when a few years are finished, I shall go the way of no return.
Job wishes he had someone that would go before God and plead his case for him. Again, this is something we are fortunate to have through Jesus as:
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
Jesus is our advocate (1 Jn. 2:1) and He will be there for us to help us plead our case, something Job longed for. So, we should be very thankful with what we have been given through Jesus.
Job continues his speech in chapter 17.
Job 17:1 "My spirit is broken, My days are extinguished, The grave is ready for me. 2 Are not mockers with me? And does not my eye dwell on their provocation? 3 "Now put down a pledge for me with Yourself. Who is he who will shake hands with me? 4 For You have hidden their heart from understanding; Therefore You will not exalt them. 5 He who speaks flattery to his friends, Even the eyes of his children will fail.
Job’s suffering and the loss of his family has broken his spirit and on top of that his friends are mocking him and provoking him with their words. He wants God to be his vindicator because he believes his friends cannot understand his innocence because God has blinded them from the truth. He doesn’t believe that God will exalt them, but bring misfortune on them and their children.
In verse 6-9 Job complains that God has made him a byword that is man of ridicule who people would spit in his face. Even though Job’s eyes have grown dim from sorrow and the upright would be appalled by him being made to suffer when he has done no wrong. He is not going to allow his suffering to keep him from following the righteous path.
Job finishes his speech talking about his death.
Job 17:11 My days are past, My purposes are broken off, Even the thoughts of my heart. 12 They change the night into day; 'The light is near,' they say, in the face of darkness. 13 If I wait for the grave as my house, If I make my bed in the darkness, 14 If I say to corruption, 'You are my father,' And to the worm, 'You are my mother and my sister,' 15 Where then is my hope? As for my hope, who can see it? 16 Will they go down to the gates of Sheol? Shall we have rest together in the dust?"
Next Bildad speaks and he furious about Job’s response and like Eliphaz he will continue to attack Job with his words.
Job 18:2 "How long till you put an end to words? Gain understanding, and afterward we will speak. 3 Why are we counted as beasts, And regarded as stupid in your sight? 4 You who tear yourself in anger, Shall the earth be forsaken for you? Or shall the rock be removed from its place?
As this discussion goes on we can see that Job wants his friends to be quiet, but his friends refuse to be silent because they are confident that they are right about Job and they want him to repent, which is why Bildad wants to know how long Job is going to stop trying to justify himself with empty words.
He demands to know why Job considers them as being stupid like animal, and he tells Job that he has torn himself that is brought his own suffering on him because he refuses to acknowledge his sin.
Through the end of the chapter Bildad tells Job the inevitable consequences of the wicked, which is all pointed at Job. He says the light of the wicked will be extinguished and he will live in darkness. His prosperity will end, the steps of his strength will be shortened and his evil council he has given to others will come back to devour him.
By his wicked ways a man will get caught in his own net and he will be punished by a snare or a noose. No matter where he goes, there will be trap for him. His whole existence will be full of terror.
Job 18:12 His strength is starved, And destruction is ready at his side. 13 It devours patches of his skin; The firstborn of death devours his limbs.
In other words, Job’s suffering, due to his iniquity, is going to devour him. He goes on to say how the wicked will be uprooted from his tent and paraded before the king of terrors. His possessions will belong to those who are not his own kin, and brimstone will be scattered on his dwelling place.
Job 18:16 His roots are dried out below, And his branch withers above. 17 The memory of him perishes from the earth, And he has no name among the renowned. 18 He is driven from light into darkness, And chased out of the world. 19 He has neither son nor posterity among his people, Nor any remaining in his dwellings. 20 Those in the west are astonished at his day, As those in the east are frightened. 21 Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, And this is the place of him who does not know God."
Bildad gives a depressing picture of what will happen to the wicked and how they will be treated and remembered, and remember all of this is directed at Job, and he accuses Job indirectly of not knowing God.
Job 19:1 Then Job answered and said: 2 "How long will you torment my soul, And break me in pieces with words? 3 These ten times you have reproached me; You are not ashamed that you have wronged me. 4 And if indeed I have erred, My error remains with me.
Job is getting sick and tired of his friends spewing out their accusations because they breaking him into pieces. When Job says, “ten times you have reproached me” it does not mean literally 10 times because this was an expression, which meant frequently. His friends were not ashamed of how they had wronged him and even if Job sinned his sin did not have anything to do with them, so they should not be so hard on him. Of course Job believes that the only reason he is suffering is because God has done him wrong.
Starting in verse 7 Job directs his statements at God. He feels he has been wronged by God, but God will not hear his plea of innocence. He accuses him of fencing him in and setting darkness before his path. He believes that God wants to destroy him from ever side.
He accuses God of taking his crown from his head and stripping him of his glory. He thinks God counts him as an enemy, which has made his hope like an uprooted tree. He accuses God of surrounding him with troops, and caused all his family, friends and even his servants to abandon and ignore him. We also learn that Job had brothers.
Job 19:17 My breath is offensive to my wife, And I am repulsive to the children of my own body. 18 Even young children despise me; I arise, and they speak against me. 19 All my close friends abhor me, And those whom I love have turned against me. 20 My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, And I have escaped by the skin of my teeth. 21 " Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, For the hand of God has struck me! 22 Why do you persecute me as God does, And are not satisfied with my flesh?
Job’s breath was bad because of his disease, and it his appearance caused him to be repulsive even to children. He has become so skinny that his skin is clinging to his bones and he is only hanging on to life by the skin of his teeth. He begs his friends to have pity on him and to stop persecuting him like God has done. This is a depressing time for Job because he has no one to comfort him, not even his own wife.
Job and his friends agree that he is being persecuted by God, but his friends thinks its because of sin in his life and Job thinks its because of God’s injustice.
Job 19:23 " Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! 24 That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever! 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
Job goes to say that he wished that he words written down, so they would last forever. Then he says with confidence I know that my Redeemer lives, which is one of our songs in our song book. Now a Redeemer could be your one of you kinfolk, but all of Job’s kinfolks had abandoned him, so Job is talking about God here. He envisions God standing on the earth and whether or not Job dies, he believes he will be vindicated in the end.
While Job had no idea of what would happen in the future, Jesus would end up becoming our kinsmen in the flesh and He is our Redeemer (Lk. 1:68; Eph. 1:7).
Job 19:26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Although Job’s knowledge of the afterlife was limited, he believes that at some point after he dies that he will see God and he yearns and desires to be able to see Him. His statement here may mean that he had some understanding about the general resurrection that will happen on the final judgment day. In the final two verses, Job warns his friends:
Job 19:28 If you should say, 'How shall we persecute him?' -- Since the root of the matter is found in me, 29 Be afraid of the sword for yourselves; For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, That you may know there is a judgment."
Next, Zophar speaks out:
Job 20:2 "Therefore my anxious thoughts make me answer, Because of the turmoil within me. 3 I have heard the rebuke that reproaches me, And the spirit of my understanding causes me to answer.
Zophar claims he has listened well and considered the matter, and now that he understands things better he is going give his answer. The entirety if Zophar speech revolves around what he says next:
Job 20:4 "Do you not know this of old, Since man was placed on earth, 5 That the triumphing of the wicked is short, And the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?
He tells Job the wicked will perish like his own refuse, and he will disappear and not be found bu anyone. His children will have to find favor with the poor because no one else will help them. Even if the wicked man has lots of vigor in his bones he will be brought low. If he keeps evil in his mouth the food he eats will be like the poison of a cobra and turn his stomach.
If he swallows his riches, God will make him vomit them up. He will suck the poison of cobras and be destroyed by them. Everything he works for will be restored to someone else, and he will find no pleasure in his business deals because he has violently taken things from the poor. He will have nothing left to eat.
Then Zophar finishes his speech saying:
Job 20:22 In his self-sufficiency he will be in distress; Every hand of misery will come against him. 23 When he is about to fill his stomach, God will cast on him the fury of His wrath, And will rain it on him while he is eating. 24 He will flee from the iron weapon; A bronze bow will pierce him through. 25 It is drawn, and comes out of the body; Yes, the glittering point comes out of his gall. Terrors come upon him; 26 Total darkness is reserved for his treasures. An unfanned fire will consume him; It shall go ill with him who is left in his tent. 27 The heavens will reveal his iniquity, And the earth will rise up against him. 28 The increase of his house will depart, And his goods will flow away in the day of His wrath. 29 This is the portion from God for a wicked man, The heritage appointed to him by God."
As the other friends did, Zophar has painted an ugly picture about what happens to a wicked man, and while there are some truths to what he said, none of his statements apply to Job.
Finally, Job gives his final rebuttal in chapter 21 to the second cycle of speeches. In this speech, Job will talk about what happens to the wicked with more wisdom than his friends.
Job 21:2 "Listen carefully to my speech, And let this be your consolation. 3 Bear with me that I may speak, And after I have spoken, keep mocking. 4 "As for me, is my complaint against man? And if it were, why should I not be impatient? 5 Look at me and be astonished; Put your hand over your mouth. 6 Even when I remember I am terrified, And trembling takes hold of my flesh. 7 Why do the wicked live and become old, Yes, become mighty in power?
Job wants them to listen carefully, and if they don’t agree with his assessment, then they can keep on mocking him. He admits that he has been impatient with them, but he asks them a great question. Why do the wicked live and become old, Yes, become mighty in power? If the wicked are doomed to a hard and short life, then why are there wicked men who have become old and powerful.
He goes on to say how sometimes the wicked prosper, have plenty of children and they have no problems with their animals reproducing. Their children are happy and they dance with music.
Job 21:14 Yet they say to God, 'Depart from us, For we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways.
Job makes a strong argument against his friends’ view of the wicked.
Job 21:15-Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?' 16 Indeed their prosperity is not in their hand; The counsel of the wicked is far from me.
Again, Job goes back to the thought of not being able to see the benefit of being good over being bad because God has made the wicked people prosper. He goes on to ask how often does the wicked suffer at the hand of God?
Job 21:22" Can anyone teach God knowledge, Since He judges those on high?
I believe Job is directing this thought to his friends because they keep trying to speak for God even though they are speaking for themselves. They cannot teach God anything no matter how right they think they are.
Job 21:23 One dies in his full strength, Being wholly at ease and secure; 24 His pails are full of milk, And the marrow of his bones is moist. 25 Another man dies in the bitterness of his soul, Never having eaten with pleasure. 26 They lie down alike in the dust, And worms cover them.
Job rightly says that sometimes the wicked might die being healthy and wealthy, but they may also die under miserable conditions, but in the end death will get them all as it eventually gets everyone. Job’s argument is that you cannot judge someone spiritual based on what is happening to them as they live on the earth. We certainly need to understand this today, because good things happened to good and bad people and bad things happen to good and bad people.
Finally Job says:
Job 21:27 "Look, I know your thoughts, And the schemes with which you would wrong me. 28 For you say, 'Where is the house of the prince? And where is the tent, The dwelling place of the wicked?' 29 Have you not asked those who travel the road? And do you not know their signs? 30 For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom; They shall be brought out on the day of wrath. 31 Who condemns his way to his face? And who repays him for what he has done? 32 Yet he shall be brought to the grave, And a vigil kept over the tomb. 33 The clods of the valley shall be sweet to him; Everyone shall follow him, As countless have gone before him. 34 How then can you comfort me with empty words, Since falsehood remains in your answers?"
Job understands where they are coming from, but they are wrong about their assessment about the wicked because they do prosper and even when they go to the grave people remember them and others follow their same path. Since this is true, how do they expect Job to be comforted by the empty false words?
Job statement in verse 30 again shows that Job knew something about the final judgment day as he said, “For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom; They shall be brought out on the day of wrath”.
That ends the 2nd round of speeches. We have seen that Job’s friends have done their best to get Job to see that God does punish the wicked and that he must be wicked, but Job made it clear that they are as wrong as they can be.
Of course one important lesson we have learnd from these speeches is that you cannot judge someone spiritually based on what happens to them as they live their lives out on this earth. A person could be poor and their health could be bad and everything might seem to go wrong for them, yet they could still be spiritual strong, while someone that has everything going for them could be spiritual bankrupt.