John T. Willis

Saturday, October 03, 2009

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

IN the first section of Job's response to Zophar, recorded in Job 12-14, Job addresses his three friends. We discussed this in the previous blog--Job
12:1-13:19. Now, we continue this speech of Job, in which Job turns away from his friends and addresses God directly. This is found in Job 13:20-14:22. This section falls into two parts.

I. Job challenges God to meet Job in a fair court trial. Job 13:20-14:6.
a. Job is now in great dread and terror from God, because God is making Job suffer so much. So, to make this dispute FAIR, Job requests that God "withdraw" God's hand, and let Job have a fair chance to think and speak freely, so he can think and speak clearly and well. 13:20-21.
b. Then, Job gives God two choices: God--you go first and I will respond; OR; I will go first and you will respond. Either way, I know that I will win the debate. 13:22.
c. Job DARES God to give Job a LIST of Job's iniquities, sins, transgressions. The implication of the questions in verse 23 is that Job has NO SERIOUS iniquities or sins or transgressions--certainly, not a serious as warranting Job's great losses and suffering. 13:23.
d. Job accuses God of "hiding his face" from Job, counting Job as God's "enemy," frighten Job like a "windblown leaf" or "dry chaff," "write bitter things against" Job, dredging up iniquities of Job's "youth," putting Job's feet in the "stock," "watching" and "setting bounds" on Job's opportunities, causing Job to wasten away like "a rotten thing" or a "garment that is moth-eaten." 13:24-28. God is mistreating Job unfairly.
e. Job agrees with his friends (see 4:17) that all human beings are "unclean" before God. But Job's losses and suffering are far too severe than Job's sins. Life is too short for Job to have to suffer like this. The brevity of life is like "a flower that withers" or a "fleeing shadow." So, if God is going to continue to make Job suffer like this, Job reverts to his plea in Job 3: Let me die now. 14:1-6.

II. Job proposes a second possibility [the first possibility is in Job 9:30-33, when Job fantacizes that an "umpire" might come to the court and intervene between Job and God and sort out their differences]--God, let me die now, then raise me from the dead in the far distant future, and let me meet you in a fair court trial, and I will prove that I am right, and you are treating me unjustly. Job 14:7-22.
a. Job observes that a TREE has HOPE. A lumberjack cuts down a tree. BUT, in time, little "shoots" sprout out from the stump, and the tree is still alive. Verses 7-9.
b. BUT, Job affirms, God is not like a tree. When a human being dies, a little "manlet" does not sprout out from the dead human being. "Mortals lie down and DO NOT RISE AGAIN"--that is, ON THIS EARTH. The context makes this VERY CLEAR. Here, Job has no concern about living elsewhere, like heaven. God has mistreated Job here on earth--and here on earth is the right place to confront God. Verses 10-12.
c. NOW, Job YEARNS: (1) That God let Job "hide in Sheol" [the grave]--Job wants to die right now; (2) That God would "get over God's tantrum"; (3) that God would set a time ANY TIME in the future--and the two would meet in a fair court trial, so that Job can PROVE that Job is right and God is make Job suffer without just cause. Verse 13.
d. Then, Job STOPS--back to reality, he knows that a human being cannot rise again on earth. "If mortals die, will they live again?--NEVER!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!--Job already said this in his positive sentence in verse 10a. But IF this COULD happen, I would wait forever to have this opportunity. Then, God would speak, and Job would answer, and God would admit that God has treated Job unjustly. Verses
e. The reality is--God keeps on dominating all life on earth. God crushes mountains, wears away stones, and DESTROY THE HOPE OF MORTALS--especially Job. People die, and their children forget them, and thus receive and experience only pain. Verses 18-22.

Again, let me make two points--which I have tried to emphasize previously:
1. At this point, Job has "lost his wisdom," his "fear of the Lord." Oh yes, Job still "believes" that God exists, but Job is AFRAID of God, and is convinced that God is making Job suffer without just cause.
2. Here, I am striving to represent Job's views in Job's spiritual journey. So, I do NOT necessarily agree with Job here. As a matter of fact, I think Job is wrong. I think Job needs to repent--wait as we work through the book of Job.

*Now, we are ready for the second series of the debate--Job 15-21. Be patient.

How are YOU doing in your study of the Book of Job? Share your thoughts. I need all the insights I can get. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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