Job 20

Job 20 has Zophar answering Job this time.  Zophar makes it clear that Job’s defensiveness has made him anxious and upset.  Job’s speech has upset him.  But Zophar prepares an answer.  He says Job, we all know this – that whatever good or triumph the wicked seem to enjoy (“the joy of the godless but for a moment”), it is all quickly passing. It is only for a moment, and the wicked man “will perish forever like his own dung”.  The message is the same as it has been all along.  Job is really a wicked man trying to appear anything but.

Zophar goes on to describe the life of a wicked man.  He argues that a wicked man might enjoy things for a while, but it will be short lived.  God will bring judgment and settle the score.  In fact, “God casts them out of his belly”.  God will get rid of the bad stuff.  In the last destruction of Jerusalem some of the Jews had swallowed their gold, that the Roman soldiers might not have it; this was found out, and thereupon thousands of them were killed and ripped up for the gold that might be found in their stomachs and bowels.

Zophar ends by giving his picture of what the wicked man will experience.  There is no hiding.  The truth will come out.  “The heavens will reveal his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him”.  You can’t escape.  Zophar seems to describe Job’s losses, and he therefore made the clear connection that Job was the stubborn, wicked man who deserved this judgment from God.  Zophar highlights the material losses that Job has experienced as proof that his situation is based on his wickedness.

So Zophar’s conclusion is firm – there is a connection between the wrath of God on wickedness and Job’s condition.  It is ultimately wrong – but Zophar is convinced of it.  Zophar was somewhat correct. It is true that there is a moral order to the universe and that wickedness in inherently unprofitable, and it is cursed and judged by God.  “This is the wicked man’s portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God”.  The issue was that it wasn’t Job’s portion from God – not as a result of wickedness – but because of God’s plan.

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