Job’s confidence in God
1: Then Job answered and said, 2: How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? 3: These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me. 4: And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself. 5: If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach: 6: Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net. 7: Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment. 8: He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths. 9: He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head. 10: He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree. 11: He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he counteth me unto him as one of his enemies. 12: His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle. 13: He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. 14: My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. 15: They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight. 16: I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I intreated him with my mouth. 17: My breath is strange to my wife, though I intreated for the children's sake of mine own body. 18: Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me. 19: All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. 20: My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. 21: Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me. 22: Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh? 23: Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! 24: That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 25: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. 28: But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me? 29: Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.
1: Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, 2: Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I make haste. 3: I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer. 4: Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, 5: That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? 6: Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; 7: Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? 8: He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night. 9: The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him. 10: His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods. 11: His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust. 12: Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; 13: Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth: 14: Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him. 15: He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly. 16: He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper's tongue shall slay him. 17: He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter. 18: That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down: according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein. 19: Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not; 20: Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which he desired. 21: There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods. 22: In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him. 23: When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating. 24: He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. 25: It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him. 26: All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle. 27: The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him. 28: The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath. 29: This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.
Job describes the wicked
1: But Job answered and said, 2: Hear diligently my speech, and let this be your consolations. 3: Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on. 4: As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled? 5: Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth. 6: Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh. 7: Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? 8: Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. 9: Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. 10: Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf. 11: They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. 12: They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ. 13: They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. 14: Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 15: What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him? 16: Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me. 17: How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft cometh their destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows in his anger. 18: They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away. 19: God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him, and he shall know it. 20: His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty. 21: For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst? 22: Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high. 23: One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. 24: His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow. 25: And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure. 26: They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them. 27: Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me. 28: For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? and where are the dwelling places of the wicked? 29: Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens, 30: That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath. 31: Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done? 32: Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb. 33: The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him. 34: How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?
In today’s Bible reading we have the ongoing discussions between Job and hid ‘friends’. It begins with a short section where Job describes his confidence in God. Then Zophar speaks to Job and Job replies describing the wicked. Job says how long will you continue to grieve my soul? And how long will you try to break me down with your words? Ten times you have reproached me. Are you not ashamed that you alienate me with your speeches? Even if l have erred in my path that is a matter for me. It is the Lord that has overthrown me and surrounded me with his net. Look at me, l cry out but none hears me. God has shut me in and in the darkness l cannot see the way ahead. The Lord has stripped me of my glory and taken the crown from my head. He has destroyed me on every side. He has felled me down like a tree. He has been angry with me and reckoned me as one of his enemies. His army has encamped around me. He has cut off my brothers from helping me. My family cannot help me and my friends have forgotten all about me. The people who live in my house are strangers to me. I called for my servant but he did not answer. My voice is like a stranger to me wife. Even the little children look down on me and are cross with me. All my friends have become my enemies and those that l love, have turned against me. My bone sticks to my skin and flesh and l have escaped by the skin of my teeth. Have pity on me O my friends because the hand of God in judgment has touched me. Why do you persecute me? Are you not satisfied to see my flesh? Job says Oh that my words were written down and printed in a book. Perhaps he never knew that we would be reading his thoughts today. That they would write them with a strong pen and with lead they would be engraved on rock for ever. Then Job comes up with his most famous declaration – I know that my redeemer liveth (That is that he is the ever living God) and that HE WILL STAND at the latter day on the earth. This is a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah – the Redeemer of men who will stand in the day of the lord on the earth. Then Job declares a much more starling prophecy – He says, though worms eat my skin (In the grave) YET IN MY FLESH I SHALL SEE GOD. (Handel in ‘the Messiah’ gives a whole chorus to this theme.) I will see HIM for myself. My eyes will see HIM. Even if my brain is destroyed yet l will see him in resurrection. Job speaks to his ‘comforters’ you should be saying among yourselves why are we persecuting him? Because we are sinners too! Be afraid say Job of the sword for the wrath of God comes to men through the use of the sword. Then Zophar answer’s Job. It has always been known from the beginning that the triumph of the wicked is short and that the joy of the hypocrite last for a moment. He thinks he is wonderful and he is a big head yet he will perish forever like his own dung. Those that have known him will say where is he now? He will disappear like a dream. He will not be found. The eyes that saw him will see him no more. Zophar continues to describe the fleeting life of the wicked. He says he has swallowed his own riches and vomited them up again. He will not see beautiful things anymore. Because of his lack of care for the poor he will perish. Surrounded in wealth he will be in bankruptcy. Just when he is eating God will kill him and he will be attacked by mighty armies. Heaven will reveal his sins and the earth will rise up against him. All his profits will be lost. This is what happens to the wicked man. And this by implication is what has happened to Job therefore he must be a wicked man. But that’s not true. Job responds by describing the wicked. He says let me speak and then when l have finished you can carry on mocking me. Job says l am not complaining to man. He says the wicked increase in goods and become strong. Their children become established. They live in safety and the Lord does not discipline them. Their stock, give birth and increase. They sing and dance and jig to the music of the organ. They like in wealth and in a moment - die and go to the grace. They say to the Lord we do not want to know about you. Who is the Lord that we should worship him? And whets the point of praying to him? How often does the Lord put out the lights of the wicked? And how often does destruction come on them? They are like stubble before the wind and chaff carried away by a storm. God punishes the children of the wicked. Can anyone teach the Lord how to judge men? His judgments are far above us. One man dies fat and full of food and wealth another dies thin and starving and poor. But in death they both are the same. I know the thoughts you throw at me and the tricks you set up to catch me with. You say where is the house of the Prince? and where is the house of the wicked? You know that the wicked will be raised to judgment. Who will hold the evil man accountable and who will avenge the wickedness he has done? He will be comforted in death yet he will be raised for judgment. So why do you try to teach me because in your answers there is the seed of error?