John T. Willis

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Job's Third Court Trial Plan--Job 16-17

We continue our journey through the Book of Job. Now we come to Job's second response to Eliphaz's speech [which we just discussed in Job 15], which is recorded in Job 16-17. Like Job's three friends, more and more Job repeats his own views, but in some instances, Job pressed beyond his prior views.

The key new passage here is Job 16:18-22. As a background, we need to set forth earlier texts dealing with Job's insistence on meeting God in a fair court trial. You might want to go back and look at these earlier texts. Here, we need to sketch these propositions briefly.
1. Job's First Court Trial Plan is in Job 9:30-33. Job says: I wish that an "umpire" would appear in court, and argue God's views and argue Job's views; then it would be clear that Job is right and God is making Job suffer without just cause. BUT, no sooner does Job make this suggestion than Job says: "There is no umpire between us," and hence, Job removes this first plan or option.
2. Job's Second Court Trial Plan is in Job 14:7-19. Job says: A tree that is chopped down still has hope; but when a human being dies, he cannot live again here on earth. BUT IF God would allow a person [here Job] to (1) Let Job die; (2) Give time for God to get over his WRATH TANTRUM; and (3) give Job a time any time in the future so that Job would have a fair chance to defend himself and prove that God is making his suffer without just cause. HOWEVER, Job says this is impossible, BECAUSE God will not allow a person to die and then rise again and live on earth.

Now, in Job 16:18-22, Job proposes a third court trial plan. Job 16-17 falls into three parts. Each is fairly simple and forthright. We will discuss each section in this blog.

I. God is making me suffer without just cause. Job 16:1-17.
a. Job first proclaims that Job is just as capable as defending his position as his friends claim they do. Job says that his friends are "miserable comforters." [Personally, I would have to agree on this thought]. Job claims that his friends have "windy words" and they "keep on talking" without saying anything pertinent or helpful. Job says: If I were in your place, I could condemn you just as you are condemning me, or I could encourage you. Verses 1-5. Actually, all of this is irrelevant to the discussion, but Job is trying to defend himself to his friends.
b. Job declares that God has picked Job out for the specific purpose of making Job suffer. God has "worn me out," "shriveled me up," "torn me in his wrath," "hated me," "gnashed his teeth at me," "sharpens his eyes against me," "casts me into the hands of the wicked." Verses 6-11.
c. Job uses three figures to describe the terrible way God is mistreating Job:
1. God encounters me [Job] in a gigantic wrestling match. God is like a giant, a Goliath, and I am like a little two year old boy. God grabs me by the neck and dashes me to pieces. Verse 12a-b. Job has not chance to fight with God. God is much too powerful for any human being to defend himself against God.
2. God encounters me [Job] in an archery range. Job is the target. God is the archer. God's arrows are God's pains inflicted on Job. God, the archer, never misses. Every pain penetrates the heart of Job. God slashes Job's kidneys and pours out Job's gall. There is no way that Job can possibly defend himself. The contest is incomparable. Verses 12c-13.
3. God encounters me [Job] in the siege of a city. Job is the city. God is the violent warrior who bursts upon the city, tears it down, and destroys this. This is the way God treats Job. Hence, Job is in great pain, and has been in pain for a long time. Verses 14-17.
d. God has done all of these terrible things against Job:
"though there is no violence in my [Job's] hands,
and my prayer is pure."
Job declares: I am a blameless and righteous person; therefore, I certain do not deserve all of this unjust suffering and misery.

II. Job proposes a third fair court trial: long after my death, "My witness in heaven" will prove that God is making me suffer without just cause. Job 16:18-22.
a. Job portray God as God's murder of Job. The picture here is almost identical to the story of Cain murdering Abel. Read Genesis 4:8-11. God murders Job; now Job prays: Expose God's wrongdoing: "Do not cover my blood." Verse 18. Wrongdoing demands justice and vindication. Job calls for this.
b. Job now assumes that Job has a "witness in heaven" who will "vouch for Job" that Job is right and God is making him suffer without just cause. Verse 19.
c. Job says: My friends "scorn" me. BUT:
"my eyes pour out tears to GOD,
that he would main the right of a mortal with GOD,"
as one does for a neighbor. Verses 20-22. This sound contradictory. But this text SAYS that Job is proposing that Job's "witness"=GOD is going to maintain Job's position against GOD's injustice. Logically, Job seems to refer to TWO GODS. I think this is not the case. RATHER, Job is struggling between THE GOD WHOM JOB HAS FEARED AND TRIED TO SERVE JOB ALL OF JOB'S LIFE and THE GOD WHO IS NOW MAKING JOB SUFFERING MERCILESSLY. Job is convinced that the God whom Job has always served will appear and prove that the God who is making him suffer right now is wrong.

III. In spite of the way that God is treating me unjustly, some righteous people will be righteous in spite of God's injustice. Job 17.
a. Job describes his terrible suffering. Job's spirit is broken. Job is ready to die. Mockers scorn Job. No one defends or protects me. God has made me a "byword." I am in deep grief, and I am physically fragile. Verses 1-7.
b. The righteous are appalled at the terrible way God is mistreating Job. But the righteous will still be faithful to God in spite of God's unrighteouness. Verses 8-9.
c. Job says: I cannot find a single "sensible person" among his friends [and evidently his larger audience--"you" is plural here]. My life is finished. If I desire death=Sheol=the Pit, I have no hope. Verses 10-17. Thus, Job ends here with a a very dismal feeling.

Remember, I am merely attempting to report Job's views at this point in his journey. I do not necessarily agree with Job's view.

What are your insights? What are your thoughts? Help me. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


  • In theory, the all-powerful, all-wise, all-good God could be three separate deities: one powerful, one wise, and one good. There's no NECESSARY reason for wisdom, power, and virtue to coincide. Job seems to be suggesting that what later generations called the "Logos" will one day call "God" to account.

    One of the most amazing points of the New Testament is that God's wisdom, power, and love converge in a single Being. Christians don't believe that Jesus came to set aside the "harsh" laws of "the Hebrew God." Rather, mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Ps. 85:10)

    By Blogger A Future Metaphysician, at 5:21 AM  

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