Job 11-14

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

May 7, 2003

Introduction

God had been bragging about Job, how Job was a mature man who always followed God.  When Satan challenged God and suggested that Job only followed God because God was so good to him, God allowed Satan to touch Job.  And so Job lost just about everything.  He lost all of his wealth.  He lost all of his children.  And now he’s even lost his health.

His friends showed up and for seven days they sat in silence with Job.  When Job finally spoke up, he began by wishing he had never been born.  He poured out his complaint, that he didn’t know why he was having such troubles.  And this seems to have bothered Job’s friends because they had apparently already figured out why Job was having trouble.

Job has heard from his first two friends, now we will hear from the third.

Job 11 – Zophar speaks

:1-6 You’re bad, Job

:1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,

ZopharTsowphar – “sparrow”. He’s the third “friend” of Job’s to speak zo-phar (“so far”) J

NaamathiteNa‘amathiy – “pleasantness”

He’ll be the toughest of the three friends. He’s also probably the youngest. It’s not uncommon for people to see things as “black and white” when they’re younger. Most people mellow with age.

:6 Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.

Lesson

Getting less than you deserve

God is giving you less than you deserve.
This is true!

(Psa 103:8-14 KJV) The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. {9} He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. {10} He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. {11} For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. {12} As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. {13} Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. {14} For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

What Zophar forgets is that although God is just, God is also merciful and gracious.

Yes, God has not given Job what he deserves, but that’s God’s grace. And God continues to do that in all our lives. We ought to be grateful.

:7-12 God is awesome

:7 Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?

These are rhetorical questions, the answer is assumed to be “no”. We cannot understand God. This is true.

:8-9 The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

Zophar is talking about the immensity of God.

Lesson

Keep the big dimensions straight

Zophar is correct in thinking about how awesome and vast God is, but I think his focus is on the wrong things.
Paul said,
(Eph 3:14-19 KJV) For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, {15} Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, {16} That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; {17} That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, {18} May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; {19} And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

I think when we talk about the awesomeness of God, we best be remembering that His love is awesome.

God wants us focused on His mercy.
(Mat 9:10-13 KJV) And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. {11} And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? {12} But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. {13} But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Yes, God is concerned that sinners repent. But He’s concerned that we do it all in the context of mercy.

:12 For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.

(Job 11:12 NLT) An empty-headed person won't become wise any more than a wild donkey can bear human offspring!

Zophar is calling Job a foolish person.

These are some great lines if you’re looking to insult someone.

:13-20 Repent, Job

:20 But the eyes of the wicked shall fail …

Lesson

Sometimes we don’t understand

Zophar is convinced that Job simply needs to repent and then his life will be turned around.
But he’s completely wrong.
Can you think of situations you or others around you are facing where you’ve decided exactly what the solution is?
What if you’re wrong? What if you don’t see everything that has gone on?

Job 12

:1-5 Job replies: You guys aren’t that smart

:2 No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

Dripping with sarcasm.

Some people think that they’re they know everything and the rest of us are in trouble …

Illustration

It was the final examination for an introductory English course at the University. Like many such freshman courses, it was designed to weed out new students, having over 800 students in the class! The examination was two-hours long, and standard blue exam booklets were provided. The professor was very strict and told the class that any exam that was not on his desk in exactly two hours would not be accepted and the student would fail. Half hour into the exam, a student came rushing in and asked the professor for an exam booklet. “You’re not going to have time to finish this,” the professor said, as he handed the student a booklet. “Yes I will,” replied the student. He then took a seat and began writing. After two hours, the professor called for the exams, and the students filed up and handed them in. All except for the late student, who continued writing. Half an hour later, the last student came up to the front of the lecture hall where the professor was sitting behind the desk, casually reading a book with his feet up on a stool. He attempted to put his exam on the stack of exam booklets already there. “No you don’t, I’m not going to accept that. It’s late,” the professor said, turning the page in his book. The student looked incredulous and angry. “Do you know who I am?” “Nooooo, as a matter of fact I don’t,” replied the professor with an air of sarcasm in his voice. “Do you KNOW who I AM?” the student asked again, poking his own chest with his finger as he leaned intimidatingly over the table. “No, and I don’t care.” replied the professor with an air of superiority. The student quickly lifted the stack of completed exams and stuffed his in the middle. “Good!” he said, and walked out of the room.

I guess sometimes it’s good not to be so well known!

:5 He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease.

This is apparently a difficult verse to translate.

lamp despised – perhaps like an annoying light that shines in your eyes.

(Job 12:5 NIV) Men at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.

(Job 12:5 NASB) "He who is at ease holds calamity in contempt, As prepared for those whose feet slip.

(Job 12:5 NLT) People who are at ease mock those in trouble. They give a push to people who are stumbling.

:6-11 Much is unfair in life

:6 The tabernacles of robbers prosper

Job points out that there is much in life that is unfair.  Those that commit robbery can be living quite well.

The Psalmist saw this as well:

(Psa 73:1-5 KJV)  A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. {2} But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. {3} For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. {4} For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. {5} They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.

This is one of life’s tough issues.  We like to think that nice guys always finish first, but it isn’t always so.

(Psa 73:16-18 KJV)  When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; {17} Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. {18} Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.

It’s when the Psalmist came into God’s presence that he realized that the wicked were in a slippery place.  In the final analysis, when we all stand before God, God will straighten things out.
But for now, life can be quite unfair.

:7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:

Zophar has made a rude comment about a man being born from a donkey (11:12).

Job responds that even the animals are smart enough to know that bad things happen to good people.

:12-25 God is awesome and can do anything

:12 With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.

The newer translations read like this:

(Job 12:12 NIV) Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

the ancient – But perhaps Job is talking of the “Ancient of Days”. It would make more sense as he goes on to talk about things that seem to belong to God.

:14 Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again

Job is going to talk about how God is able to do anything He wants to.

:17 He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools.

(Job 12:17 NLT)  He leads counselors away stripped of good judgment; he drives judges to madness.

It could be that Job is taking a jab back at his “friends”.

:22 He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.

(NLT) He floods the darkness with light; he brings light to the deepest gloom.

God sees everything.  Nothing is hidden from Him.

(Deu 29:29 KJV) The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

(1 Cor 4:5 KJV) Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

:23 he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.

enlargethshatach – to spread, spread abroad, stretch out

straitenethnachah – to lead, guide

:25 They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.

God can make a leader go crazy and do silly things.

Job 13

:1-12 Don’t defend God

:2 What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.

I know as much as you do.

:3 Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.

Job wishes he could address God directly.

:4 But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.

forgerstaphal – (Qal) to smear, plaster over, stick, glue; to whitewash (Wiersbe).

As physicians, their diagnosis was wrong, so their remedy was useless.

Lesson

Do you really understand?

I wonder how many things we form opinions about when we don’t really know what has gone on or what the truth is.
There is a place for judgment and making decisions, but I wonder sometimes if we don’t pay enough attention to what people are really saying.
They’re not communicating very well.
A Chinese proverb says, “Though conversing face to face, their hearts have a thousand miles between them.”

:5 O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom.

I wish you would shut up! That would be the smartest thing you could do!

:8 Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?

accept his person – this is a phrase that carries the idea of showing “partiality” towards someone, showing favoritism toward someone because you “like his face” (the Hebrew word for “person” is literally “face”)

(Job 13:8 NLT) You should be impartial witnesses, but will you slant your testimony in his favor? Will you argue God's case for him?

(Job 13:8 NIV) Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God?

Lesson

Be careful about defending God

It is appropriate that we learn to have a reason for the hope that lies within us.
(1 Pet 3:15 KJV)  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
But there is a sense in which God doesn’t “need” us to defend Him. He’s God.
When Jesus was being arrested, Peter felt he needed to defend Jesus, so he took his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave.  The last miracle Jesus performed before the cross was correcting something Peter had done incorrectly.  Be careful that you use the “sword” (God’s Word) in a way that brings healing, not just chopping people up.

:11 Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?

Job is saying that if Zophar is trying to make Job fear God, then Zophar also ought to be a little afraid.

:13-22 Unconditional Trust

:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:

Some of the commentaries and translations have a slightly different bent on this:

(Job 13:15 NLT) God might kill me, but I cannot wait. I am going to argue my case with him.

But I like the King James best here.  Many of the other translations agree:

(Job 13:15 NASB) "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.

Lesson

True faith

Sometimes we hear folks tell us that we need to be challenged to have enough faith to be healed.
Perhaps a tougher question is:  “Do you have enough faith NOT to be healed?”
I think Job’s is the stronger faith.
Even if God slays Job, Job won’t stop trusting in the Lord.

:15 but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

Job moves from a place of faith to a place of questioning, all in the same breath.  He still wants to question God about what he thinks is unfair.

:16 He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Job feels that God will surely show everyone that Job is an innocent man.

:20-22 Job’s prayer begins

:20 Only do not two things unto me: then will I not hide myself from thee.

Job’s discourse now moves into a prayer. These are things Job is asking of God.

What two things?

Take away the difficulty (vs. 21), Talk to me (vs. 22)

Lesson

Pray in the trial

I’ve mentioned this before and I have this idea I’ll mention it again – pray during your trial!
One of the differences between Job and his friends is that Job’s friends talk a lot about God, but Job talks to God.

:22 …answer thou me.

Lesson

Answered prayer

God will answer these two requests of Job.
God will take away Job’s difficulty and God will also talk to Job.
I wonder how often we pray things like this and then don’t pay attention when God actually answers them.
Expect God to answer your prayer.  Look for His answer.

:23-28 What have I done?

:23 How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.

Job wants to know why these difficulties have happened.

We could look at this as if Job has swallowed the same idea that his friends have – that his condition must be some sort of punishment for his sins.

But I don’t think this is a bad question to be asking God.

Lesson

Open to God’s rebuke

If we have sins, we certainly want to turn from them.
David wrote,
(Psa 139:23-24 KJV)  Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: {24} And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

:26 For thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.

(Job 13:26 NLT) "You write bitter accusations against me and bring up all the sins of my youth.

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t do this?

Lesson

Driven by guilt

We too often get ourselves caught in this trap, thinking that something from our past has come back to haunt us.
God desires that we move beyond those days where we were driven by guilt and move into His forgiveness and grace.

Job 14

:1-6 Man is fragile

:5 thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

 (Job 14:5 NLT) You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.

:7-15 Death and resurrection

:12 So man lieth down, and riseth not

Job seems unsure about whether man has the same kind of hope that a tree might have of living again.

:13 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!

grave[email protected]’owl – sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit

If there is a resurrection, Job hopes that God will allow him to stay dead until the tough times are finished.

There is a prophetic truth in what Job is saying.

God would keep those before Christ in “Sheol” until Jesus paid for our sins, atoning for the wrath of God.

:14 If a man die, shall he live again?

Job asks a question, but he doesn’t get an answer.

Yet we know that man will live again.

Just as Job was thinking about lessons from nature of life coming from the dead, man will live again.

:15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

(Job 14:15 NIV)  You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made.

Job is expressing hope.  Even in the grave, he expects God to call him.

:16-22 Death

:16 For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?

Job goes back to his struggle.

:17 My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.

God actually is collecting our sins, but only to cast them into the depths of the sea, not to hold them against us.

(Micah 7:19 KJV) He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

:22 But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.

With these lovely thoughts, we end the first round of debates between Job and his friends. There are TWO more rounds.

It seems to go on and on and on, just like the trial.

Job continues to move in and out of hope and despair.

Lesson

Endurance comes from looking toward heaven

Job has brief moments of hope and faith when he focuses on eternity and talks about living again.
Jesus wants us to focus on heaven. If heaven is real, then that’s all that matters.
Jesus said to His disciples,

(John 14:1-3 KJV) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. {2} In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. {3} And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Paul said that the hope of the resurrection was what kept him going through his hardships:

(1 Cor 15:32 KJV) If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

(Rom 15:13 KJV)  Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.