The Debates of Job, Pt. 2

The way I am going to structure the posts in this series is by focusing each one on one round in the debates. I will look at each speech, giving first the summary, and then quoting a few verses from that exemplify the main thrust of each speech. So for this first look I’m going to be looking at chapters 3 through 11.

Chapter 3 – Job

The main body of the book of Job opens with Job delivering a lament over his pitiable condition. In one of the most heart wrenching and lowest chapters in the Bible, Job wishes that he had never been born.

“Let the day perish on which I was born.” (3)

“Why did I not die at birth?” (11)

“Why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?” (16)

Chapters 4 + 5 – Eliphaz

With the first statement delivered by one of Job’s friends, we begin to see the type of theological framework that the three friends live their lives by. Their framework is a rigid set of rules about how the universe operates. That those who are righteous will receive blessing in this life, and that those who are wicked are punished. As a consequence of this belief, Job’s friends assume that the only possible explanation of Job’s suffering is that he sinned in some manner. Their wooden theology has no room for suffering to come upon someone righteous (which we know is the case with Job thanks to chapters 1 and 2).  Eliphaz argues that no one can be truly innocent before God (4.7), and encourages Job to submit to God’s discipline because the Lord’s discipline is actually a blessing in disguise, since it leads to the strengthening and purifying of the believer.

“Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?” (4.7)

“As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (4.8)

“Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his maker?”(4.17)

“And His angels He [God] charges with error.” (4.18)

“For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” (5.6,7)

“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore, despise not the discipline of the Almighty.” (5.17)

Chapters 6 + 7 – Job

Job now begins to challenge Eliphaz’s claim that suffering requires sin to have been committed.  He vocalizes his belief that he is innocent of any wrong doing, and that the circumstances he is currently going through are undeserved. Job challenges his friends to offer up any proof of wrong doing (6.24). We also see that Job has sunk into a depression and has lost hope (7.7) and believes God is being unfair towards him.

“Have I said, ‘Make me a gift’? Or, ‘From your wealth offer a bribe for me’?” (6.22)

“Teach me and I will be silent; Make me understand how I have gone astray.” (6.24)

“Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good.” (7.7)

“If I sin, what do I do to you, watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you?” (7.20)

Chapter 8 – Bildad

Bildad lives under the philosophy that right living leads to blessing in this life. The thrust of his argument is that if Job would just repent and live rightly (8.5,6) then Job’s troubles would go away and he would be restored to his former prosperity. Bildad also argues that since God is just (8.3), every one who sins receives their just punishment. In a moment of spectacular tactlessness, he uses the deaths of Job’s children as evidence for this (8.4).

“Does God pervert Justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right?” (8.3)

“If your children have sinned against Him, He has delivered them into the hand of their transgression.” (8.4)

“If you will seek God and plead with the almighty for mercy,  if you are pure and upright, surely then He will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation.” (8.5,6)

“Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the Godless shall perish.” (8.13)

Chapters 9 + 10 – Job

In his frustration Job begins to characterize God as being aloof. Job’s main point in this speech is that even if he could have an audience with God it would be futile (9.3,32,33). He then becomes more bold and states that he will openly deliver his complaint against God (10.1,2).

“But how can a man be in the right before God?” (9.2)

“If one wished to contend with Him, one could not answer Him once in a thousand times.” (9.3)

“Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal to mercy before my accuser. If I summoned Him and He answered me, I would not believe that He was listening to my voice.” (9.15,16)

“Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, He would prove me perverse.” (9.20)

“I am blameless; I regard not myself; I loathe my life.” (9.21)

“He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.” (9.22)

“If it is not He, then who is it?” (9.24)

“For He is not a man, as I am, that I might answer Him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us.” (9.32,33)

“I will give free utterance to my complaint. I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me.” (10.1,2)

“You [God] know that I am not guilty.” (10.7)

Chapter 11 – Zophar

Zophar’s basic message here is that it is impossible for Job to understand the ways of God (11.5-7). Therefore he should repent of any sin in his life (11.14) because that will lead to Job’s troubles being corrected (11.15).

“But oh, that God would speak and open His lips to you, and that He would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For He is manifold in understanding. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.” (11.5,6)

“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?” (11.7)

“If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents.” (11.14)

“Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear.” (11.15)

Chapters 12-14 – Job

Job begins the last speech of this round of debate by explaining to his friends that they don’t posses any knowledge he doesn’t. He is just as smart and wise as them (12.3;13.2) (12.2 is sarcasm). We saw from the three friends that their understanding of the world is that the righteous prosper and the wicked are punished justly. Job now gives a scathing defeater to their argument. He direct’s his friends to look out beyond their normal realms of comfort and see the world for what it really is. Robbers lie secure in their dwellings, and the enemies of God are prosperous (12.6). Job also appeals to the power and omnipotence of God in that He maintains control over everything that happens. From this it follows that God is responsible for allowing this calamity to fall on Job (12.9,10). After this Job becomes much more forceful in his words against his friends, calling them “worthless physicians” and charging them with speaking falsely on behalf of God (13.4,7). Important to note however, is that Job still maintains some slight glimmer of hope, in that the righteousness he believes he still possesses will allow him to plead his case to God (13.16). Starting with 13.20 and lasting til the end of Job’s speech, Job begins to direct his speech directly to God.

“But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you.” (12.3)

“I am a laughing stock to my friends; I , who called to God and He answered me, a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.” (12.4)

“The tents of robbers are at piece, and those who provoke God are secure.” (12.6)

“Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”(12.9,10)

“What you know i also know; I am not inferior to you.” (13.2)

“You whitewash with lies, worthless physicians are you all.” (13.4)

“Will you speak falsely for God and speak deceitfully for Him?” (13.7)

“He will surely rebuke you if in secret you show partiality.”  (13.10)

“Though He slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to His face.” (13.15)

“This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before Him.” (13.16)


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