Job’s third friends joins the fray by rebuking Job for his vain words, and telling him that his sin is so great that he is actually getting off easy with what he is enduring. In 11:7-10, Zophar tells Job how little he understands God – indeed, no man can understand His ways and His sovereign purpose. Then in verse 11 Zophar believes he understands.
And how often we do the same thing! How often we warn against searching out the hidden things of God, but then believe we can understand His purposes in what happens here on earth. How readily we accept that His purposes can’t be known when things are “good” for us. How we try to encourage others in their suffering with the same. Then how readily we demand answers from God in other circumstances.
And like his fellows, Zophar shows that he is not entirely ignorant of the truth. In verses 13-20, he encourages Job to repent of his sins, which he says God will honor. And like his fellows, Zophar shows that he is ignorant of certain truths, as he ensures Job earthly good for his turning to God. That same mistake looms in the heart of these three men that we saw in Satan: equating earthly good with God’s favor, and earthly calamity with His displeasure.
In chapter 12, Job responds with a sarcastic praising of his friends: they are wiser than everyone else! But then Job in verse 2 turns to rebuking them, and endeavors to teach them some truth. Notice in verse 4 that Job says he called on God, and God answered him – and Job knows that is what makes him just and blameless. Not his works, but the saving faith God gave to him. And Job tells his friends that it is evident that good/evil in this world is not related to God’s favor/disfavor (vv. 5-6).
And then, like Jesus, Job tells his friends that his trust is in God because He preserves and provides for the lesser creatures of the earth – how much more a man whose faith is in God (Matt 6:25-34)? Then, in verses 13-25, Job again expounds God’s sovereignty in how the children of men fare in this world.
In chapter 13, Job calls out his friends for their feigned righteousness – will it be well with them when God searches their hearts (v. 9)? And then he corrects their faulty thinking (v. 12). But then we see what is common to all men (don’t judge old Job!): Job vacillates between Godly wisdom and earthly wisdom. Verse 15 is better translated “Behold, He kills me, I have no hope, yet I will argue my ways to His face.” Job is simultaneously accepting of God’s sovereignty and looking for an explanation from God! In verse 17, Job again shifts his argument directly to God (in v. 16 God is “Him”, and v. 17 God is “You”). And Job challenges God: explain Yourself, or leave me alone (vv.20-28).
In chapter 14, Job concludes his reply to Zophar, and again gets theological. The life of man is for a moment (Ps 144:4, but 2 Cor 4:17). Who we are dictates what we do (Ps 51:5, but John 3:6. See also Matt 7:17-18). God is sovereign, even over the days of our lives.
And then in verses 7-17, Job expresses his hope in the resurrection. Even if he dies, he has hope that he will live again! And in verses 13-17, Job is speaking of the first resurrection – of the raising up to new life of those saved by grace! It is the work of Gods hands (v. 15), it hides Job’s sin (v. 16), and his iniquity is forever forgotten by God (v.17). Then Job vacillates again from hope to hopelessness (vv. 18-22). Job has allowed the sufferings of this present time (and the company he keeps!), once again, make him forget the glory yet to be revealed.
And we see as the story progresses the inner turmoil Job is in. He hopes in God, then he doesn’t. Then he does. Then he doesn’t. The circumstances he finds himself in cause him to start to buy the lies that his friends are selling – like we sometimes do. He goes from trusting God to demanding answers – like we sometimes do. He goes from hoping in the world to come, to lamenting his situation in this world – like we sometimes do.
Yet, his faith remains. Sometimes it’s strong. Sometimes, not so much. But the truth he keeps coming back to is that God is his Savior simply because God chose to be (Eph 2:8-9). Amen to that!
And just like that, we are a third of the way through the book of Job. Not nearly as intimidating as it first seemed, is it?