Job 22-27: Third Responses

During the third cycle of responses, only Eliphaz and Bildad speak. Once again Job responds to their criticism and we see that they do not have an answer for him. One thing that stands out is the discussion on helping the poor. The accusation that Job has not aided the less fortunate, while false, is a reminder than many of laws given in Exodus and Leviticus were in effect well before the Exodus.

Introduction

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Chapters 22 through 27 cover the third set of responses amongst the friends. For some reason, Zophar chooses not to speak. Eliphaz and Bildad do not change their stances, and Job is still not comforted. One thing that stands out is the discussion on helping the poor. The accusation that Job has not aided the less fortunate, while false, is a reminder than many of laws given in Exodus and Leviticus were in effect well before the Exodus.
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Eliphaz

We always hear the saying "what profitest a man if he gain the world but lose his soul?", this time, Eliphaz is asking what God gets from us being righteous or evil. Eliphaz is actually very close to the issue when he poses this question. God doesn't need us; He isn't less good because we screw up, nor is He more perfect when we get it right. So what's the point? During Job's tragedies, his reaction gave God satisfaction in defeating the adversary (aka the devil).

As usual, however, Eliphaz goes on and we see that his logic is flawed. Eliphaz says that Job is guilty of great wickedness. He accuses Job of neglecting and taking advantage of the poor. God left several provisions in the law that specify how we are to treat the poor; it's important to note that despite Job living well before the law was penned, Eliphaz is accusing Job of sin from not following these laws. Eliphaz says that Job has to receive the law from God, repent, and return to God for his pain to be lifted.

Job's Response

Job eventually denies Eliphaz's accusation, but not immediately. In Job 23, Job's response is quite brief and doesn't address the accusation. Instead, Job speaks about having an audience with God. Job admits that merely being in the presence of the Lord would give him strength. Only after this does Job address Eliphaz's stance.

Job talks about the evil doers, such as those who cheat the poor, adulterers, and murderers. He contends that eventually they are brought low, but they still enjoy success for a while. I believe Job was making the point that Eliphaz's overall premise was faulty. Good could indeed happen to the wicked, just as evil could indeed happen to the righteous.

Bildad

Bildad reminds us that God has dominion over everything. We are born in sin and cannot be esteemed because we are imperfect. Bildad says even the stars are not pure in God's eyesight.

Job's Response

Job's response to Bildad is to point out the awe of God's creation. Job is acknowledging that we only see bits and pieces of God's power and are not worthy of understanding. We see and feel the effects of God giving and taking, but we don't comprehend the whys of these actions. Job understands this and that is why he won't speak ill of God. Job fully understood his friends' position on what would happen to the wicked, but he would not stoop to their level of misunderstanding and confess to something he didn't do. Job understood that this would have been a selfish act, rooted in self interest over truth. Further, he could not honestly repent when he felt he had done nothing wrong. It does us no good to apologize if we don't mean it; going through the motions doesn't cut it with God.

Suspension of the Earth

He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.Job 26:7 KJV
Does Job 26:7 describe the suspension of the earth and is that remarkable? I've found that people are determined to believe or not believe; which means people will generally find whatever evidence they can to support their belief and toss out everything else. It's practically impossible to hold an unbiased view. As a believer, my opinion is clearly swayed toward God, but I will say that I don't think there's anything in the Bible that concretely proves it's divine authorship. If we could point to a verse and claim proof, there would be no need for faith and no one would be fooled by the antichrist.

The verse in question clearly states that the earth isn't hanging from anything. The first thing that pops into my head is that of a mobile, where the planets dangle from strings. Unlike God, we can't easily make a replica of our solar system without hanging our planets upon something. Given enough money one might be able to create an environment of with manipulated gravity to accomplish a solar system effect. Of course, I'm sure it would take several people to pull this off.

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Job is correct we aren't hanging like a Christmas tree ornament. Nonetheless, one non-believer points out that simple observation of the sky makes it obvious that the Earth isn't hanging upon anything.[1] If we were on Saturn, we would be able to see the rings, so if there was cosmic rope connected to the Earth, surely we would see the rope, right? Yes...and no. There's this phenomenon called the aurora borealis, where the magnetic field strips radiation to provide a beautiful show of color in the sky. I've heard it's quite beautiful to look at, but I've never seen it. Why haven't I seen it? Because it's only visible at the poles and the farthest north I've ever been is Boston. I've also never seen gravity or a magnetic field, because they are forces—ok, I admit, I've seen a magnetic field illustrated with iron fillings but you get my point.

Of course, there's a 50/50 chance when it comes to Jobs particular statement.[1] We either are or are not hanging from something. Skeptics often point to other verses in the Bible (even one in Job, Job 9:6) which discuss the pillars of the Earth to suggest the Bible is trying to have its cake and eat it too. The problem with their logic is that it isn't a contradiction. If you go to an amusement park and ride a rollercoaster, is the coaster hanging by anything? No, but it is supported by "pillars" beneath it. Whether the pillars mentioned in the Bible are metaphorical or references to gravity or something entirely different is another topic.

Honestly, I don't think Job was using that moment to try to teach us anything scientific. In fact, I think he was going for the opposite. The whole of Job 26 is meant to express awe at God handiwork. As I mentioned earlier, even with all of our science and technological advancement, we can achieve the level of creation God has. There are many things we can explain, but can't reproduce and even more things we can't even explain. It was true in Job's day, and it's still true in ours.

References

  1. "Did God reveal to Job that the Earth hangs on nothing (Job 26:7)?". 500 Questions. May 2011

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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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