Seekers Sunday Schoool
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The Prologue: The Testing Of Job
The First Round Of Speeches
The Second Round Of Speeches
Eliphaz's Second Speech
Job's Response
Bildad's Second Speech
Job's Response
Zophar's Second Speech
Job's Response
The Third Round Of Speeches
The Intervention Of Elihu
The Revelation Of The Lord

The Second Round Of Speeches
Job 15-21

Eliphaz's Second Speech

Job 15

  • Eliphaz makes his second speech to Job.
  • We continue to see that even though Satan has taken Job of his wealth and his healt, Satan's biggest attack comes in the form of the poor advice that Job's friends - his "comforters" - give him.
  • The arguments of Job's friends continue to be eloquently expressed, yet they lack originionalty. Mostly, they are rehashing the arguments that they had previously made.
  • Eliphaz defends himself against Job's charges that he is giving foolish advice. (Job 15:2-3)
  • It sounds to me that Eliphaz is saying to Job "We're not full of hot air like you sa we are!"
  • Where before Eliphaz had been the most sympathetic of Job's cronies, he is now begining to lose his sympathetic qualities. His attack on Job is direct, harsh, and undeserved.
  • Eliphaz accuses Job of pretentiousness and adopting a "holier-than-thou" attitude. (Job 15:4-6)
  • Eliphaz asks Job if Job thinks that he has a special relationship with God that gives him the ability to know more than others. Essentially, Eliphaz is reiterating the point that Job recently made - everyone involved in this discussion has access to the same knowledge. By implication, he is accusing Job of thinking that he is better than his friends. (Job 15:7-10)
  • In Job 15:10, Eliphaz makes the allusion that age (with its tested experience) is equilivant to wisdom. This was a belief in ancient times and, while often true, is not always true. This truism is later denied by Elihu in Job 32:6-9.
  • Eliphaz accuses Job of speaking ill towards God. (Job 15:11-13)
  • In Job 15:11, Eliphaz is clearly stating his belief that his words are those of God's - i.e., that Eliphaz and Job's other friends are accurately relaying God's will to Job. So, by reacting to those words in rage, the implication is that Job was reacting to God's directions in rage. The words of Eliphaz and Job's other friends are far from gentle, as Eliphaz indicates they are. We also know that they do not accurately reflect God's will for Job.
  • Eliphaz says that man, by his fallen nature, is rotten to the core. This is a true theological statement, in general, but Eliphaz is misapplying it by implying that it only applies to Job. The theology is narrow and worn-out. (Job 15:14-16)
  • Eliphaz's argument in Job 15:14-16 is the same thing that he said in Job 4:17-19. It is also going to be repeated by Bildad in Job 25:4-6. Why do Job's friends hammer this point to Job repeatedly? Perhaps they think that it is a point that was given to them via divine inspiration. Perhaps they think it sounds especially profound and simply enjoy hearing themselves talk.
  • As we watch Job's friends make their accusations against Job, we see that they do not change their opinion. As we watch Job, however, we see that Job grows. He slowly gains more insight as his saga progresses.
  • Eliphaz rehashes (at length) the earlier argument, based on his experience, that those who sin suffer and that those who suffer are obviously doing so because of sin. (Job 15:17-35)
  • There is a logical fallacy in Eliphaz's argument - the argument is not bidirectional. Yes, the wicked suffer. No, not all suffering is because you are wicked.
  • In Eliphaz's lengthy discourse on the fate of the wicked (Job 15:20-35, esp.) solidifies Eliphaz's rejection of Job's observation that, sometimes, the wicked go unpunished. As long as Eliphaz rejects Job's insistence that the wicked go on prospering, he does not have to wrestle with the disturbing corollary: the mystery of why the innocent sometimes suffer.

Job's Response

Job 16-17

  • Job doesn't know how to respond. In chapters 16 and 17, he responds as best as he is able, and does so with honesty.
  • Job's biggest question remains: "Why?" Why is Job suffering so much pain?
  • Job compalins that his friends are of no help whatsoever. (16:2 ff.)
  • We must remember that we also find ourselves acting the part of Job's friends - offering empty advice, misapplying theology narrowly, etc.
  • Job makes the point that helpful advice is generally brief and encouraging, not lengthy and judgmental. (16:2-5)
  • Job's friends are unknowingly being used as insturments of Satan. We must guard ourselves to make sure that we are not also used by Satan.
  • Job concludes that he is being attacked by God. He believes that God hates him. (16:5 ff.)
  • We know, of course, that God does not hate Job. We know that God is not attacking Job. However, in order to better understand Job, we must keep in mind the state of mind that Job is in. Watch Job and he complains about his sutuation. Even though he believes that it's God's fault, Job never gives up his faith in God.
  • Even though Job heaps all of his troubles on God, God remains wonderfully patient with Job. Part of the reason Job is suffereing is because God sometimes has to translate theology into painful exerience before we really begin to grasp what He is trying to say to us. (Missler)
  • Job summarizes his misery: though innocent, he continues to suffer. (Job 16:15-17)
  • Job thinks that he won't live long eneough to be vindicated before his peers. His only hope is that he has a friend in heaven who will plead with God on his behalf. (Does this sound like a hope for Christ?) (Job 16:18-21)
  • Textural note: In Job 16:18, the word for "intercessor" is translated "mediator" in 33:23 and "spokesman" in Isaiah 43:27.
  • In Chapter 17, Job turns to God. Even though Job is frustrated with God and has been making charges againt God, Job realizes that the answers that he is seeking must come from God.
  • "God often sends trial to wean us from dependence on people and to find our resource in God Himself." (Missler)
  • Job prays that God will set him free. Mostly, Job prays that God will set him free from his friends! (Job 17)
  • Note the direct complaint Job launches aginst his friends: "I will not find a wise man among you." (Job 17:10)
  • Earlier (Job 11:17), Zophar had promised Job that his repentance would turn his darkness into light. Job now makes a parody of such advice. (Job 17:12-16)

Bildad's Second Speech

Job 18

  • Bildad responds to Job by saying that he's tired listening to Job's meaningless, self-serving speeches. Bildad wishes Job would "be sensible" so that they could talk. The irony, of course, is that Job is the most sensible of the people talking at this point. It his Job's friends who are talking to hear themselves talk and not making much sense. (Job 18:1-2)
  • Bildad accuses Job of mistreating his friends. (Job 18:3)
  • Bildad goes on to describe the troubles of a wicket man, implying that Job is suffering because he is wicked. (Job 18:4-21)
  • The argument that Bildad raises is more and more tense. Bildad really is brutal here. Previously, Bildad's arguments with Job at least provided some advice and encouragement. In chapter 18, we have nothing but condemnation.
  • In addition to being more and more tense, the arguments are becoming less and less rational.
  • One of my comentaries pointed out that there is one good thing that can be said about Bildad: "he is briefer in his reproaches than his two fellow-comforters." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Job's Response

Job 19

  • Job is getting really tired of dealing with his friends. In Chapter 19, he pleads that his suffering be ended.
  • Job complains that his friends vex him. (Job 19:1-5)
  • Although he doesn't understand what's happening, Job recognizes that God is a part of this. (Job 19:6)
  • Job thinks that God is causing his troubles. (Job 19:7-12)
  • Job vividly describs his isolation. (Job 19:13-19)
  • Note the familiar phrase "with the skin of my teeth," meaning "just barely." (Job 19:20)
  • Job's pleadings in verses 23 and 24 are the cry of a tortured man. (Job 19:23-24)
  • Job wishes that his sufferengs would be written down and recorded for all to see. Little did he know that his wish would be literally fulfilled. (Job 19:24)
  • Three of the most famous Old Testament verses are found in Job. (Job 19:25-27)
  • Job's exclaimations sound a lot like Paul in the New Testament, don't they?
  • Once again, it's important to point out that even in his despair and frustration, Job never fails to see the majesty and power of God.
  • Job recognizes that life is a mystery. Think of a fly walking on a canvas -- it can't see the whole, big picture.

Zophar's Second Speech

Job 20

  • Zophar replies to Job's rebuttal. (Job 20:1)
  • "As we read the discourses of Job's comforters, we may recognize many of our own attitudes: Pharisaism is orthodoxy without godliness; outward rightness with inward wrongness." (Missler)www
  • Zophar claims to be defending his honor because he believes that Job has spoken ill against him. (Job 20:2-3)
  • "Zophar has taken Job's words, especially his closing words in 19:28-29, as a personal affrong. Job has dared to assert that on Zophar's theory of retribution Zophar himself is due for punishment." (NIV note)
  • Zophar appeals to Job's knowledge of "how the world works" - i.e., that the evil are punished. (Job 20:4 ff.)
  • Zophar's response is, in general, a rehash of the arguments that his friends have already made to Job. It expounds on the fate of the wicked as held by the theology of Job's friends. This theology may have been a common understanding of how the world worked. As we continue our study in Job, we see that the theology is flawed by being incomplete.
  • Zophar claims that the "joy of the godless lasts but a moment" - is this true? (Job 20:5)
  • Zophar claims that the evil, the godless, will "perish forever" and will not be remembered. He claims that this is despite the fact that while these people are full of pride and well-known for a brief period. (Job 20:6-9)
  • Zophar claims that the children of the evil must pay for the sins of their parents - that they must "make ammends." How do we see this today? (Job 20:10)
  • "Oppression of the poor is the mark of the truly wicked (see, e.g., Am 2:6-8, 8:4-8). On this subject, Job has no quarrell with Ziphar (see [Job] 31:16-23)." (NIV note) (Job 20:10, 19)
  • Zophar says that an "evil man's wicked deeds are like tasty food that pleases his palate but turns sour in his stomach." (NIV note) (Job 20:12-15)
  • Eventually, the wicked deeds that a man does will catch up to him and he will pay for the evil that he's done. (Job 20:16-19)
  • A common theme in wisdom literature is expressed in Zophar's claim that What "he toiled for...he will not enjoy." (Job 20:18)
  • Evil men will have a short time to induldge in their evil ways, but God will eventually punish them severely. (Job 20:20-29)
  • "Like Bildad in [Job] 18:21, Zophar concludes his speech with a summary statement in which he claimsthat all he has said is in accord with God's plans for judging sinners. Such is the fate God allots the wicked. Repeated almost verbatim by Job in [Job] 27:13." (NIV Note) (Job 20:29)

Job's Response

Job 21

  • Job's response seems calm and dispassionalte. He begins with an appeal for a hearing. (Job 21:1-6) (Missler)
  • Job points out that his complaint is not primarily against man, but against God and the "rules" of how life works.
  • Job reasons that the facts contradict what his friends say. He points out that sometimes the wicked live an entire life without troubles. (Job 21:7-13)
  • Sometimes, the wicked even defy God to His face, yet continue to prosper. (Job 21:14-18)
  • Sometimes, God's judgement is infrequent. Life is unfair. (Job 21:19-26)
  • Even when life is unfair, in death, all are alike.
  • After making an appeal to logic, Job turns on his friends and addresses them directly. (Job 21:27-34)
  • The final verse is particularly cutting - "And you! You try to comfort me with nonsense. Every answer you give is a lie!" (Job 21:34, TEV)
  • "The problem of teh book of Job is still unsolved. Why do the righteous suffer? Job, however, has made some progress and little glimmers of light have begun to shine through the dark enigma of his suffering." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Last update: July 6, 2003

© 2003 Greg Cohoon

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