Job 20.1-29 tells us that Zophar answers Job and says Job’s words “disquieted” him and he is inwardly agitated (v 2). This has caused Zophar to speak up because he felt like Job reproached him, so his rational mind (“spirit of my understanding”) has prompted him to answer (v 3).
He again claims some sort of authority by saying in v 4, “Do you not know” meaning “everybody knows this” so what he is going to say proves his claim that Job was a hypocrite. Any good a wicked person (like Job) has experienced will quickly pass (v 5-11). He goes on to describe the life of a wicked person in v 12-19. Job may have enjoyed some good things in life, but God will be against him eventually and then everything goes bad. Zophar is implying that Job is this wicked person.
In Job 20.20-29 he says that Job has no satisfaction within him because he is wicked, and there is no escape. God is angry with him and nobody can put out the “unfanned fire” against him because it was started by God. The arrows of God, even if he escapes the iron weapon, will find him. In other words, if he escapes one judgment, another will find him. What has happened so far is Job’s friends came to him and they didn’t seem to regard him as wicked (Job 2.11-13). However, when they tried to make Job understand he was a sinner, Job didn’t agree with them. So they began to think he was being stubborn. Once they reasoned that he was a wicked man, they became convinced he was being a hypocrite and anything he says is just a cover and lies.
Zophar is convinced that Job deserves what is happening to him. The mistake they are making is they are focusing on his material losses, and not seeing the spiritual aspects to all this. Zophar’s conclusion (he speaks no more in this book) is that the wrath of God is upon Job and his “heritage” now. Now, Zophar is not totally wrong in this chapter. There is judgment on the wicked by God and some of the things that are happening to Job is done to them (the wicked). But in Job’s case, he is not a wicked person and these calamities do not come from God, but Satan. He is trying to get Job to curse God (Job 2.1-6).
In Job 21.1-34 Job answers and says that he is not going to listen to man’s wisdom, just like they are not listening to him. But he says, “Listen” and after you can mock him (v 1-3). He asks them why they are so upset with him. He isn’t against them. He also says that his complaint is with Yehovah, and why shouldn’t he be impatient, he is getting no answer. He tells them to “put your hand over your mouth” and be silent. When he thinks of the providences of God, he is disturbed. He see’s the different treatment of the good and bad.
According to the wisdom of his friends, since Job is suffering all these things, he must be wicked, but that is how man thinks. Job says, “I hate to tell you this but the wicked prosper and have long lives (v 7).” Their descendants carry on after them. Their houses are safe from fear and God’s chastisement (rod) is not on them. Their livestock prospers, they sing and rejoice and live in prosperity and with ease go down to Sheol (abode of the dead). In life they say to God, “Depart from us! We don not even desire the knowledge of thy ways. Who is the Almighty that we should serve him (like Pharaoh said) and what would we gain if we entreat him (v 14-15)?” Obviously they have no concept of the rewards to be given in the Olam Haba. Their prosperity will not stay with them to keep and Job shunned their impious thoughts, words and deeds (v 4-16).
In Job 21.17-26 Job asks how often “is the lamp (life) of the wicked put out” or does “their calamity fall on them?” Job implies not very often. Job says when they live in their wickedness they are not killed, and blessed in what they do. Job is saying that they are presenting a case to him that is just as reverse as what they are saying to him. Are their bodies like stubble in the wind, carried off by a storm (v 18)? The answer is “No.”
Job tells them, “Are you saying that the sins of the father will be taken out on the children if punishment is delayed (v 19)? God is not going to do that. Each person will answer for his own sin. If the children continue their sinful ways of the fathers, then that child will be punished for what he has done, not for his father.
God is wise, but the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous suffer. Job is questioning God’s ways. But he knows he was wrong so he says, “Can anyone teach God knowledge?” The answer is “No!” God does things that seem to contradict in man’s eyes, but we don’t know the whole story. Job thinks that it is somewhat unfair that the righteous and the wicked lie in the grave and nobody can tell who is who.
In Job 21.27-34 Job says he knows what his friends are thinking after all this. They were shocked that he questioned God. He knew they were thinking he was a hypocrite and he thinks different than they do. He is telling them that we can’t develop a law of retribution based on what we observe in this life. But who ever confronts an evil person and tells him to his face that he is in danger and reserved for the day of calamity and the day of fury (Day of the Lord-v 30)? Who will confront him with his actions? The answer is “nobody.” The wicked will die and have great funerals and pompous ceremonies.
Then he asks his friends, “How then will you vainly comfort me?” He says he has shown them that good men suffer and the wicked prosper, so their “comfort” in telling him that he suffers because he is wicked is not correct. Telling him to repent is no comfort at all. Job has won a victory over their false doctrines. He knows that just because he is afflicted does not mean he is wicked. God’s plan plays a role but Job cannot see what it is a this point.
In Job 22.1-30 Eliphaz is going to get angry with Job and this is his last reply. He asks Job if he thinks he can change God by what he is saying? He tells Job that his point is, God does not send prosperity to some and calamities to others. It is because of what they do, so Job’s problems prove he is guilty. He then begins to list some of Job’s alleged crimes. He doesn’t believe Job was a man who feared God and that God was dealing with him. He accuses Job falsely of stealing from the poor, neglecting the starving and of oppression. That is how Job got rich according to Eliphaz (v 6-11). Now Job has been ensnared by dread and fear and calamity (darkness) has come to Job so he can’t understand (“so that you cannot see”). The “abundant waters” that cover him is affliction (Psa 69, Psa 88).
In Job 22.12-16 Eliphaz will attack Job’s theology and concept of God, and he makes a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. He thinks Job has not admitted his wrong doing because Job doesn’t understand God. He warns Job about following the ancient path of those who were “snatched away before their time” and washed away by a flood. This will be an allusion to the state of the people before the flood of Noah.
In Job 22.17-21 it says they rejected God and said, “Depart from us” and “What can the Almighty do to them?” But he filled their houses with good things like Job, and they were ungrateful. But the righteous are glad that God is vindicated by his judgments. They are happy that their adversaries are no more and their possessions are consumed by fire.
In Job 22.22-26 Eliphaz tells Job he needs to get right with the Lord and be at peace. He wants Job to receive instruction and treasure his words in his heart. This is good counsel if Job was the problem, but he isn’t the root of what is going on (Job 1.6-22, 2.1-6). Job was agonizing because he did not take “delight” in the Lord.
In Job 22.27-30 he tells Job that he needs to “decree (lift up your voice in prayer and repentance) a thing and it will be established for you (by faith, and God will answer.” When Job is cast down he shall still prosper, and God will save the humble (Eliphaz is suggesting that Job is not). He says even the wicked will be delivered because of Job’s prayers, and ironically, that is exactly what Job will do for his friends in Job 42.7-8. All Job needs to do is get right with God and listen to what Eliphaz is telling him.
Job 23.1-17 tells us that Job has not been helped by the speech of Eliphaz, and he still feels desperate and he still can’t hear from God for himself. He would “present” his case as in court before Yehovah, especially after hearing the false accusations of his friends. Job knows he has a clear conscience and would find favor with God, and that God was not against him like his friends say (v 1-7).
Job has looked everywhere for Yehovah but cannot perceive him. He has gone forward, backward, to the left and to the right but can’t see him (v 8-9). But the Lord knows where he is and Job shows his great faith here when he says that even though he cannot connect with the Lord, he has confidence (emunah/faith) that God will bring him through this life like gold (v 10). In Job 22.11-12 it says he has walked in God’s ways and he has “treasured the words of his mouth.” But how did God speak?God spoke to Job through what Jacob and the family taught (remember he is Jacob’s grandson) through the oral commands that were passed down before there was the Torah or written word. For an example of this concept, Moses taught the people “the statutes of God and the laws (Torah)” before the written law was given on Mount Sinai (Exo 18.13-16).
But it says in Job 22.13-17 that Job cannot make God do anything even though he trusted him. God was going to do with Job “what is appointed for me” and many such “decrees are with him (v 14).” This makes Job “dismayed” at the presence of the Lord (his hand of affliction) and when he thinks about all this, he is terrified. But he has not been silenced (by death) by these afflictions just yet (v 15-17).
We will pick up in Job 24.1-25 in Part 7.