Job 15-21: Second Responses

Job 15-21 contains the second cycle of dialogue between Job and his friends. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar take turns speaking, and Job response to each friend's accusation. Remember, their theology is rooted in the belief that evil only befalls on those who have rebelled against God.

Introduction

Photocredit: Unsplash.com/Matheus Ferrero
Chapters 15-21 continue the conversation between Job and his friends. After stating their opinions and hearing Job respond, Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad, were ready to speak once again.
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Eliphaz

Eliphaz begins by questioning Job, insinuating that what Job has said was "vain knowledge." This kind of reminds me of a something the preacher at my church used to say all the time: "education without God is nothing." Although the preacher in question often used this phrase to discount education and antagonize those who went to college, the phrase itself is true.

Knowledge holds a funny place in the world, and this evidenced in the Bible. The forbidden fruit was on the Tree of Knowledge, which is where many get the idea that knowledge is bad. However, God also tells us that we should have knowledge (e.g., Hosea 4:6 and Proverbs 2:6). I think the real issue is that without God's help, we can't make sense of the knowledge we are given. This is why Eliphaz calls Job's knowledge vain. Of course from the point of view of an external party, everyone in the conversation have vain knowledge; none of them actually understood what was happening.

Eliphaz tells Job that the wicked don't prosper; they don't get riches or blessings because they are in opposition to God. As he discusses the wicked, Eliphaz mentions "bucklers" in Job 15:26. I'm going to make the assumption that, like me, many people reading this passage won't know what a buckler is. Buckler is a word of French origin that means small shield.[1] I'm not quite sure if the passage is saying the wicked person holds up a buckler to shield himself from God, or if the passage is saying the wicked person attacks God's shield when rebelling. Either way, the shield is metaphorical and meant to represent the conflict between the wicked and the Lord.

Eliphaz isn't just giving us a sermon on God's punishment of the wicked, he's telling Job that clearly since the curses of the wicked apply to him, he must be part of that group. Eliphaz is continuing the line of thought that Job has a secret transgression in his heart that needs confessing.

Job's Response

Job's friends are saying the opposite of what he knows, so it only frustrates him. Job knows he hasn't sinned, so the instance that he has tells him his friends are off the mark. We are often agitated when people tell us something we don't want to hear, but this isn't a case of Job rejecting the truth because he doesn't want to deal with it. This is a case of man creating their own truth to suit their beliefs—this is a common practice amongst us. We often settle on beliefs that may or may not be true. We then decipher the world to fit those beliefs regardless of what people around us are saying. This is why it is important to involve the Holy Spirit in our thought process. He will straighten out our understanding, helping us to change or stay steadfast according to the truth of the situation.

Neither Job nor his friends consult God about their thoughts. Instead, they sit in the ashes squabbling over who is right. This should be a highly relatable situation to us. We often lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6) instead of consult God, and that usually puts us in a stalemate.

Job tells Eliphaz that despite talking to them, he doesn't feel any better. Weariness is taking over Job as he mourns. Despair often makes us weary; the less hope we have, the harder it is to move forward. Job no longer had hope; he was ready for the end to come because he didn't think life would get any better.

Bildad

Bildad begins speaking in Job 18. In Bildad's point of view, Job has lowered his friends to the status of animals. He goes on to reiterate Eliphaz's point that destruction with come to those who turn away from God. Bildad is telling Job these facts because he is saying bad only happens to those who deserve it, thus Job must deserve God's ire.

Job's Response

Job accuses his friends of not knowing him at all. Imagine, they were continually accusing him of sin despite having known him for so long. If you were put on trial, you would expect your friends to take your word that you had not committed the crime, but Job's friends were calling him a liar and suggesting he brought the punishment on himself. Everyone had turned against him and Job is lamenting this betrayal.

Job 19 contains some interesting quotes from job. First, Job wishes that his words could be written in a book (Job 19:23). I point this out because God clearly granted this request. Another important quote is found in Job 19:25.
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:Job 19:25
From a New Testament perspective, Job basically said he knew Jesus lived and that Jesus would stand up for him on judgment day. The Old and New Testaments have an interesting relationship that makes it so difficult to decide which should be read first. Without understanding the New Testament, the Old Testament can seem harsh and bleak. However, without understanding the Old Testament, the New Testament makes no sense. This is why it is important to read the Bible multiple times to make connections between the two testaments.

Many people will tell you that Job is a type of Christ. He was innocent, suffered immense pain, asked for forgiveness for his friends, and in the end, was greatly blessed. Job's reference to a redeemer seems to solidify this connection. Remember, just as Job's friends turned on him, the Jews turned on Jesus. Both continue in faith, and in the end God settles the matter by righting the wrongs.

Zophar

Zophar also begins by reminding Job that the wicked can only prosper for a short while. Zophar takes the stance that everything bad that can happen will happen to those who abandon God. These words are obviously meant to remind Job that if he is suffering it is because he has wronged God. Like Eliphaz and Bildad, Zophar believes that if Job will simply confess and repent, he will be ok.

Job's Response

Job basically puts a nail on the coffin concerning prosperity preaching. Job 21 lists several instances where the wicked receive ample blessings while the righteous suffer. Job is merely proving to his friends that their logic is flawed. Blessed does not necessarily mean good and cursed doesn't necessarily mean wicked. Job had likely picked up on the fact that his friends all saying essentially the same thing, but none indicated that they believed Job. It's no wonder he calls their words vain.

References

  1. Buckler. Merriam-Webster; visited May 2017

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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