13th December 2017

Job: Week 9 (Wednesday, December 13 2017)

 

Chapters 20 and 21

 

Chapter 20

Zophar’s last speech

An ancient principle

v1 Zophar, who belonged to the people called Naamathites, answered. He said:

v2 Job, your words upset me. So, I need to reply now. v3 Your reply does not respect me. But I will answer you wisely.

v4 There is an ancient principle, which you must know. This principle has been true since the first people lived:

·  v5 A wicked man is only happy for a short time. An evil man is only happy for a moment.

v6 That man might be very proud. He might suppose that he is like God. v7 But that evil man will disappear like his own dirt. He will die. And nobody will see him again. v8 He is like a dream. When the morning comes, the dream vanishes. So nobody will remember that evil man. v9 The people who used to see him will not see him again. He will not enter the place where he used to live. v10 His children must return his money to poor people. They must give back his money. v11 His body was young and strong. But his children must lay it in his grave.

Chapter 20

Verses 1-3

The three friends were sure that Job was guilty. They did not think that God would punish an innocent man. And even Job wrongly agreed that God caused Job’s troubles. But Job insisted that he was innocent.

So Zophar brought a new subject into the argument. Job seemed to think that evil people had successful lives. Zophar wanted to prove that this idea was wrong.

Verse 4

When Job lived, people respected older people and their ideas (Job 32:6-9). So the people believed that ancient wisdom was very important (Job 8:8-9).

Verse 5

Zophar did not argue that wicked people are never happy. Everybody can see that wicked people often enjoy their evil deeds. But Zophar said that his happiness could not last.

He was partly correct. An evil life does not really satisfy anyone (Luke 15:13-17). Only the things that God gives can really satisfy us (John 4:13-14). So we need to believe Jesus (John 7:27-28). Moreover, in the end, God will be the judge of everyone. God will punish evil people who have not confessed their evil deeds to him (Revelation 20:12-15).

But Zophar argued his ideas for a particular reason. Zophar wanted to prove that Job was not innocent. So Zophar imagined the things that might happen to a wicked man. Zophar wanted Job to realise that similar things had happened to Job.

Verse 6

God opposes proud people – Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; Luke 1:51. This proud attitude is very evil. This man does not respect God.

Verses 7-9

This wicked man may be powerful while he is alive. But when he dies, nobody will even remember this man.

Verses 10-11

Perhaps the wicked man was proud because of his wealth. But he cannot keep his wealth after he dies (Luke 16:19-24). When the man dies, other people will take his money (Proverbs 13:22).

A wicked man will suffer because of his evil deeds

v12 The wicked man’s evil deeds are like fine food. That food tastes so good. It is so sweet in his mouth. v13 He does not even want to swallow. v14 But in his stomach, the food becomes sour. The food becomes like a snake’s poison. v15 So the man is sick. And God will take that man’s wealth away from him. v16 That food was really a snake’s poison. And that poison will kill the man.

v17 So an evil man will not enjoy the good things that God gives to his people. God gives milk and honey that are as plentiful as the rivers. v18-19 But that man suffers because he caused poor people to suffer. That man stole houses that did not belong to him. That man must give back his wealth. He cannot enjoy his wealth. And he must not enjoy his profits.

Verses 12-16

The man’s evil deeds are like poison. Poisonous food may taste very good. And the man’s evil deeds seem to bring pleasure. But poisonous food makes a man ill. And evil deeds spoil a man’s life. In the end, the poison may kill a man. And a man whose life is evil may die because of his behaviour.

Verses 17-19

This man lived in luxury. He stole his wealth. But he will not continue to enjoy his wealth. God gives good gifts to his people. But this man will not receive these gifts. Instead he will die. And Zophar believed that death is a fair punishment for such a man.

God punishes evil people

v20 An evil man will always desire the wrong things. He cannot use his money to save himself from his punishment. v21 He took everything. But his wealth will not last. v22 When he is successful, he will have great troubles. Then, he will be sad.

v23 When that man becomes rich, God will be angry with him. And God will cause that man to suffer. v24 If that man avoids a sword, then an arrow will hit him. v25 If that man pulls the arrow from his back, he will suffer terror. v26 So, that man must die. Fire will burn his body. Fire will burn his home.

v27 In heaven, everyone will know that man’s evil deeds. On earth, everyone will oppose that evil man. v28 God, when he is angry, will send the floods. The water will destroy that evil man’s house.

v29 Wicked people deserve such terrible punishments. And God has decided that this is their fate.

Verses 20-22

Money cannot save anyone from death. We all shall die. And the wicked man’s money cannot save him from God’s punishment.

Verses 23-26

God is a fair judge. He will punish a wicked man. A man might be able to escape from his enemies. But nobody can escape from God.

Verses 27-29

Zophar thought that everybody would agree with him. But, as Job would explain in chapter 21, Zophar had forgotten one important point. Many wicked people are very successful during their lives on earth. They do not die when they are young. It is true that God will punish them in the end.

Zophar was wrong to suggest that Job was a wicked man. Job had a terrible life, but he was still a good man. And a wicked man may have a successful life. But that man is still evil.

 

 

Chapter 21

Job replies to Zophar’s last speech

v1 Job replied. He said:

v2 If you listen carefully to my words, then you will comfort me. v3 Listen carefully while I speak! Do not insult me before I have finished my speech!

v4 I am not complaining to any man. (I am complaining to God.) So, I am right to be unhappy. v5 My situation will astonish you. When you have heard my speech, you will not want to say anything.

v6 Whenever I think about these things, I am afraid. I tremble because of my fear.

Chapter 21

Verses 1-3

In chapter 20, Zophar insisted that the happiness of wicked people could not last. He thought that everybody would agree with him. But Job could not agree.

Job knew that many wicked people are successful. Moreover, they seem to be successful for their whole lives. Such people may have loving families. Even when wicked people die, their graves may be beautiful.

Of course, the Bible teaches that God will punish evil people (Jude 13). Sometimes he punishes them during their lives on earth (Deuteronomy 28:15-19). God does this because he is kind. He is warning such people about their evil deeds (1 Peter 3:9). He wants everyone to confess their evil deeds to him. But if they do not confess their evil deeds now, God will not forgive them. And their punishment will be terrible after they die.

Verses 4-5

Job was unhappy when he thought about the success of wicked people. He could not explain why he was suffering. And he could not explain why wicked people may be successful.

Verse 6

This idea made Job afraid. Job did not suppose that it is better to be evil than to be good (verse 16). Job was a holy man. He always tried to do the right things. He wanted to please God.

But Job had to explain this idea in order to answer Zophar.

Wicked people succeed

v7 Wicked people live successful lives. They grow old. They become powerful. v8 They see that their children are successful. v9 The houses of wicked people are safe. They are not afraid. God does not punish them. v10 Their animals mate. Their cows give birth without problems.

v11 And wicked people have many children. The little children dance. v12 And the children enjoy music. The children enjoy musical instruments, like the harp, tambourine and flute.

v13 So, wicked people have good lives. And, wicked people die without pain. v14 They say to God, ‘Go away! We do not want to obey your laws. v15 We do not care about God. We do not want to serve him. If we pray, we gain nothing.’

v16 But they did not deserve to be successful. This is why I refuse to obey a wicked man’s advice.

Verses 7-12

Job described the good lives of some evil people.

Previously, Job had lived a good life like this. He had many animals. And he had many children. And Job’s own children enjoyed their parties. Job was a good man. But thieves had taken his animals. And his children were dead.

Job knew that many evil people still enjoyed such good lives.

Verses 13-15

Evil people do not want to serve anyone. Especially, they do not want to serve God. They only care about their own pleasure. They do not pray because they say, ‘We will not benefit if we pray. Prayer is a waste of time.’

Job did not behave like them. He was glad to serve God (Job 1:5; Job 2:3). He would pray even if he received no benefit from his holy life. And he did not care if evil people lived better lives than him. He would not obey wicked people’s advice (Job 2:10; Psalm 1:1). Job respected God. And Job loved God. God mattered more to Job than Job’s wealth. In fact, God mattered more to Job than anything else.

Wicked people do not often suffer

v17 But wicked people do not often suffer for their evil deeds. God does not often punish them. v18 God does not often scatter them, like dust in a storm.

v19 Perhaps God will punish a wicked man’s children. But God should punish the wicked man himself, so that the man learns to behave better. v20 Then, the wicked man will suffer his own punishment. And the wicked man will know that God is angry with him. v21 When the wicked man is dead, he does not care about his family.

v22 But I cannot teach God. God is the judge of even the most important people. v23 One man died when he was strong, safe and happy. v24 Even his dead body seemed as if it was healthy. v25 Another man had a bitter life. He never enjoyed anything good. v26 But the two bodies lie together in the grave. And the tiny animals in the soil destroy both bodies.

Verses 17-21

God mattered more to Job than anything else. But Job would still complain about his situation. He agreed that God should punish evil people. But Job did not realise when God will punish them. Job already knew that good people would live again, after the death of their bodies (Job 19:25-27). But he did not yet know what would happen to evil people after death (Revelation 20:13-15).

Verses 22-26

This is like Job’s earlier words in Job 3:13-19. Job described well the death of the body. But he did not describe what happened to the men’s spirits. See Luke 16:19-26.

The reports of travellers

v27 I already know your reply. I know the ideas that you plot against me. v28 You will say, ‘There are no successful men who are evil. You cannot find such a man.’

v29 But I have spoken to the travellers. I have heard their reports. v30 They say that evil men do not suffer troubles. When God is angry, the evil man is safe. v31 Nobody accuses an evil man. Nobody makes an evil man suffer for his evil deeds. v32 Even when he dies, men guard his grave. v33 There is a great procession at his funeral. And even his grave seems a pleasant place.

v34 So, your nonsense cannot comfort me. And your answers are wrong.

Verses 27-31

Perhaps Job’s friends did not know any evil people who were successful. Today we often read about such people in the newspapers. Then, people would hear the news from travellers.

Verses 32-33

In verse 26, Job thought that an evil man’s death was very much like the death of a good man. The bodies of both men would lie next to each other in the grave. But as Job thought more, he was not sure about this. Even the death of an evil man seemed better. He would have good funeral, and many people would be there. Perhaps even his grave would be better. Men might guard it, so that his body was not alone. Even the soil in the grave might seem pleasant to his dead body.

Verse 34

Zophar supposed that a wicked person would soon suffer terrible troubles. But Job proved that many wicked people have successful lives. Neither Job nor Zophar thought about such people’s spirits, which continue to live after death. Both men said many true things. But neither could explain the whole truth.

When Eliphaz heard this discussion, he wanted to reply to Job. Eliphaz thought that he could now explain Job’s problems. Job did not say that anyone should ever be evil. But he did say that wicked people have successful lives. So Eliphaz thought that Job approved of an evil life. And Eliphaz decided that Job must really be evil. The three friends had already suggested this. But they were too polite to accuse Job clearly. And they had no evidence.

Now, however, Eliphaz would blame Job for all the troubles that Job suffered. Eliphaz would accuse Job clearly.


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