John T. Willis

Thursday, October 01, 2009

If Mortals Die, Will They Live Again?--Never--Job's First Response to Zophar--Job 12-14

As we continue our journey through the Book of Job, we now come to Job's response to Zophar, recorded in Job 12-14. This speech is rather long. This also brings us to the end of the FIRST SERIES of the debate in the Book of Job, namely, Job 4-14.

Job 12-14 falls into two parts. In Job 12:1-13:19, Job addresses his three friends. Then in Job 13:20-14:22, Job turns away from his friends and addresses God directly.
In this blog, we will deal with the first part of this speech, in which Job addresses his three friends.

*My friends, I want to meet God in a fair court trial. Job 12:1-13:19. This section falls into three paragraphs.
I. God is arbitrary. Job 12:1-6. [Note: Job has already made this argument, as for example, in Job 9:13-24, especially verse 22].
a. Here Job begins with sarcasm. This tone is very clear: "No doubt you [plural--not merely Zophar, but all three friends] are the people, and wisdom will die with you [plural]." Then Job turns, and affirms: "I am not inferior to you [plural]." Job is just as intelligent as his three opposing friends. In fact, everyone knows the same thing Job's three friends are affirming. Verses 1-3.
b. Job is convinced that he is "just and blameless"--just as Job affirmed in Job 9:15, 20, 21--, and yet God has made Job suffer greatly and hence appears to be a great sinner. So, before Job's friends, Job is a "laughingstock." Hence, God is arbitrary. Verse 4.
c. God, who created all human beings, is arbitrary. Robbers, opponents of God, and idolaters are living happy lives without distress or suffering. This is unjust. Hence, God is arbitrary. Verses 5-6.

II. God is all wise and God is all powerful, but God misuses his wisdom and his power. Job 12:7-13:2.
a. Job openly declares that God has created every person and every creature in the universe: animals, birds, plants, fish, every living thing, every human being. A person does not have to be old to understand this. Human beings by nature are discriminating. 12:7-12.
b. Job openly declares that God is all wise and all powerful. God overpowers human beings of all types, great and small: the deceived and the deceiver, counselors, judges, kings, priests, elders, princes, the nations. Hence, "I am not inferior to you [plural]." 12:13-13:2. This is not the issue: YES, God is all wise and all powerful. BUT HOW does God use his wisdom and power? This troubles Job.

III. I want to meet God in a fair court trial. Job 13:3-19.
a. Job now lashes out against his friends. The word "BUT" at the beginning of verse 3 indicates a sharp change in Job's thinking and argumentation. "I desire to ARGUE MY CASE WITH GOD." You [plural--Job's friends] are "worthless physicians." You came to me proclaiming that you would comfort and console me, but every since you have been talking, you are opposing me and irritating me and attacking me. I am sick, and you claim you are "physicians," but you have proved that you are "worthless." You are like painters, who claim you are going to paint a dull house, but you simply daub "whitewash" on the house, "lies" declared to me. So, I beseech your to BE SILENT, and listen to my reasoning. Verses 3-6.
b. You [plural--Job's friends] CLAIM that you are proclaming God's words, that you are presenting God's case to me [Job]. This is ridiculous. You speak FOR God falsely, deceitfully. You are so false that in time, God will turn on you and terrify you and bring God's dread upon you. Your arguments are worthless. Here Job uses two figures to convey this idea:
"Your maxims are proverbs of ASHES,
your defenses are defenses of CLAY."
Ashes and clay have no sustenance. They will pass away quickly and completely. Verses 7-12.
c. In desperation, Job cries out that God will give Job a fair chance to defend Job's position. Job proclaims:
"I have indeed prepared my CASE,
I KNOW that I shall be VINDICATED."
Job has already written out his court case. If SOMEONE would just step forward, I am ready to declare my case. Job DARES God to meet God in court:
"Who is there that will contend with me?"
This question assumes that NO ONE, including God, could thwart of overthrow Job's position.
Then Job declares that IF he just had a fair chance to defend himself in court, then he would be silent and die. Verses 13-19.

Now, what would YOU do if you were in Job's present situation? I am not championing Job's position. As a matter of fact, in my opinion, Job is wrong here. But, right now, I am striving to follow Job's feelings, thoughts, ideas, arguments.

What are YOUR thoughts about Job 12:1-13:19? Share your ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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