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Which one is right? – Job 15-21

In a recent report, several scientists proposed that the data proved that climate change is happening and that the temperature is rising rapidly. After looking at a chart of the data, their conclusion seemed to be correct. However, when other scientists asked to see the raw data, they were not permitted to see it. As it turns out, they had skewed the data to reflect their own views. The temperature had actually gone done recently.

As we have been reading through the Book of Job, it has been apparent that Job’s friends knew God. They were fluent in many biblical principles. In fact, we might like to have some of them teach us about the Lord. But after hearing Job’s response to their statements, it is equally clear that he also knew the Lord and knew biblical principles. This leaves us with a question: Which one was right? As we look at the second set of debates, look for what is right or wrong about each person’s statements.

  1. The first debate: Eliphaz vs. Job (Job 15-17)

    Eliphaz – You are suffering because of your rebellion against God.

    “In his first speech Eliphaz approached Job with a degree of decorum and courtesy, but not so this time. Now he lambasted the bereaved, dejected sufferer with the notion that he was a hardened sinner, disrespectful of his elders and defiant toward God.”1 He believed that wicked people always suffer because of their rebellion against God. They might be fat but they will never be rich (Job 15:20-26). Eliphaz seemed to think that all wicked people are constantly under God’s judgment and will never be successful. He somehow overlooked Job’s earlier successes and attributed his present condition to rebellion against God.

    Where was Eliphaz right? He was right that rebellion against God will eventually lead to God’s judgment.

    Where was Eliphaz wrong? He was wrong because (1) God doesn’t always judge the wicked immediately, and (2) Job was not rebelling against God.

    Job – You are wrong because I have kept myself pure.

    Job was not comforted by Eliphaz’s words. He thought that God had delivered him over to the wicked (Job 16:11) despite him being pure (Job 16:17). ” Why should he be in such torment when he was not a terrible person?”1 Job wished he had a mediator between him and God. This reminds me of what we have in Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5-6).

    Where was Job wrong? He was wrong in attributing Satan’s actions to the Lord.

    Where was Job right? He was right in wanting a way to talk to God about his situation.

    When we are suffering, we need to be careful to think beyond the pain. It could be that Satan is seeking our harm. Or it could be that God is using the situation to conform us more to the image of Christ. In either case, we need to take advantage of our relationship with God through Christ. Talk to God and allow Him to comfort you.

  2. The second debate: Bildad vs. Job (Job 18-19)

    Bildad – You are suffering due to your own choices.

    “Indignant at Job’s insolent words, Bildad berated him.”1 He believed that wicked people are troubled by their own choices (Job 18:7-8) and from not knowing God (Job 18:21). He “insinuated that Job did not even know God. Since Job refused to repent, how could he possibly be righteous?”1

    Where was Bildad right? Bad choices to have bad results.

    Where was Bildad wrong? He was wrong in assuming that Job was suffering due to bad choices and that Job did not know God.

    Job – You are wrong and everyone is against me.

    Job felt wronged by Bildad (Job 19:3) and by God (Job 19:6-7). Bildad was now harassing Job with accusations. This wasn’t helpful. But was God treating Job wrongfully? “Certainly Job was wrong here for Satan, God’s chief enemy, was also Job’s enemy.”1 Job felt like everyone had turned against him (Job 19:19). But he still somehow believed that he would see God after death (Job 19:26).

    Where was Job wrong? He was wrong to think that God had forsaken him (Heb. 13:5).

    Where was Job right? He was right to remember that he would one day be with God (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

  3. The third debate: Zophar vs. Job (Job 20-21)

    Zophar – You are a hypocrite.

    “This sixth speech by Job’s companions is the most stinging of all the diatribes. Infuriated and insulted, Zophar blasted Job, seeking to convince him that his wealth had vanished because that is what happens to those who deprive the poor.”1 He still believed that Job was a hypocrite (Job 20:4-5) who oppressed the poor (Job 20:19), and that God had removed his riches (Job 20:15).

    Where was Zophar right? God doesn’t care for hypocrites and those who abuse the poor.

    Where was Zophar wrong? He was wrong in assuming these things about Job.

    Job – You are wrong about the present condition of the wicked.

Job argued that Zophar’s argument was not right because wicked people live and grow old and powerful (Job 21:7). They enjoy life despite their rebellion against God (Job 21:14-15). If God’s judgment came so quickly on the wicked, why were so many of them doing so well? However, he did concede that they would eventually face God’s judgment (Job 21:30).

Where was Job wrong? He was wrong in assuming that God’s judgment is not currently affecting the wicked (Job 21:9).

Where was Job right? He was right that God will eventually judge the wicked.

Conclusion

If I was in a hospital room and three of you came and argued with me about why I was sick, I would probably ask the nurse to send you away and then close the door. But in Job’s time, this was not the custom. “The custom in the East is to allow a man to utter all that he has to say without interruption.”2 So they were used to these back-and-forth philosophical dialogues which could last for hours, if not days.

As we saw in this study, there were good points made by each person. None of them was completely wrong and none was completely right. This ought to teach us to be careful what we say and how often we speak. We don’t know as much as we think we do. We may know what the Bible teaches, but we don’t know what God is doing behind the scenes or the condition of any person’s heart. We must remember this and be very careful before judging another person’s motives or circumstances.

Footnotes

1 Zuck
2 Barnes

Bibliography

Barnes, Albert, Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible, as viewed in PocketBible for Android.

Zuck, Roy B., “Job” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publication, 1989, as viewed in PocketBible for Android.