©  Jeff Stacey   |   Last updated:   24 February 2019

3B(JOB)26.  Job and sometimes his three critics responded with wholehearted commitment to God:

They were carrying out God’s Covenantal commission

Cycle 1

3B(JOB)26(a)  Job continued to honor God and did not even complain

Job had lost all of his possessions and children.  Yet he simply humbled himself, fell to the ground and worshipped God!  Job 1:20.  He then went on to acknowledge that all of his family and possessions had been God’s gifts.  God could take them away at any time if He so chose Job 1:21.

Job had responded to these severe testing circumstances with wholehearted commitment to God.  He did maintain his moral integrity and was continuing to carry out God’s Covenantal commission.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(a) 

Cycle 2

3B(JOB)26(b) Responses of Job and his three friends

3B(JOB)26(b)(i)  Job rebuked his wife for abandoning her commitment to God

Job rebuked his wife for giving up her heart-commitment to God in their calamities Job 2:10a.  He then was probably trying to restore and strengthen her commitment, in view of their prior terrible losses of children and possessions, by asking her “shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:10b.  Yet this very question was later going to torment him as he searched to answer it himself!

3B(JOB)26(b)(ii)  Assessment of Job’s heart attitude

Job had obviously continued to maintain his moral integrity Job 2:10c due to his wholehearted commitment to God.

3B(JOB)26(b)(iii)  Job’s three friends showed great compassion for him

When Job’s three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar heard about his crisis they travelled to visit him and sat with him for a week in compassionate silence Job 2:11,12,13.

3B(JOB)26(b)(iv)  Assessment of the heart attitudes of Job’s three friends

Job’s three friends’ first responses were a sustained demonstration to him of empathy Job 2:12b,13.  They were acting without any self-serving motives so were obviously doing what was right, showing their wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(a)(iii)

Cycle 3

3B(JOB)26(c)  Job’s first responses to his calamities

3B(JOB)26(c)(i)  Job wished he had never been born

Due to the sympathy of his three friends Job might easily have succumbed to self-pity and softened his resolve to maintain his moral integrity.

Job started to express emotionally his terrible feelings and confusion.  First he invoked curses upon the night and day when he was born Job 3:1-10.   But he did not directly curse God.

3B(JOB)26(c)(ii)  Job’s questioning of God

Job then began asking his “why?” questions  [3B(JOB)(intro)6].  Why had he not been stillborn?! Job 3:11-19.  Or why did life continue to be given (by God) to those like himself who longed to die because of their bitter suffering? Job 3:20-22.  Indeed why should life be given to a man at all if it is just a mystery to him? Job 3:23.

Job’s questions were not addressed to his three friends.  They raised matters that only God could answer!  So Job’s implied respondent to these questions was God Himself.

3B(JOB)26(c)(iii)  Job’s total distress

Job was in complete physical, emotional, mental and spiritual turmoil because all he feared and dreaded had come upon him Job 3:24-26.

3B(JOB)26(c)(iv)  Assessment of Job’s heart attitudes in his first response to his calamities

Job’s forlorn questioning suggested that his initial total acceptance of God’s ways Job 1:212:10b was becoming unsettled.  He now seemed to be indirectly “charging God with wrongdoing” Job 1:22b (see also Job 40:8) and giving way to a divided heart-commitment to God.

But Job’s outbursts must be seen in the context of the severity of his calamities and his moral integrity.  He was verbalising his intense pain and traumatic reactions to this situation.

Job’s sufferings made no theological sense to him.  He was desperately trying to explain them by thrashing about with questions and speculative ideas about God.  Some of his questions even implied criticism of God’s ways of dealing with him and others who suffered misery and bitterness.  Yet it was actually Job’s steadfast confidence in God’s just dealings that was the cause of this excruciating dilemma for him!  So Job was maintaining his wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b) 

Cycle 4

3B(JOB)26(d)  Job’s responses to Eliphaz’ first speech

3B(JOB)26(d)(i)  Job saw his troubles as being from God

Job continued to refer to his desperate situation as the reason for his unpalatable outbursts Job 6:5-7.  He cried that God had come against him Job 6:4 and yearned that God would kill him! Job 6:8-9.  Then at least he could be consoled by knowing that he had kept his moral integrity Job 6:10.   But instead he just felt exhausted, helpless and hopeless, a failure Job 6:11-13.

3B(JOB)26(d)(ii)  Job’s response to Eliphaz and his other two friends

Job began by saying that his friends should have been supportive, just to fulfil their duty before God Job 6:14.  Then he bluntly condemned their unhelpfulness in his time of need Job 6:15-17,21.  He declared his willingness to learn from them Job 6:24-25a but rejected Eliphaz’ arguments as worthless and uncaring Job 6:25b-27.   He appealed to them to at least recognize that he had kept his integrity and valued maintaining it Job 6:28-30.

3B(JOB)26(d)(iii)  Job’s pessimistic thoughts on his sufferings

Job saw the drudgery of all people’s lives Job 7:1-2 and his lot as typical  –  months of futile days, sleepless nights and ugly illnesses Job 7:3-5 –  a fleeting and hopeless existence! Job 7:6.

This turbulent questioning and pessimistic gloom of Job’s thoughts indicated his ongoing struggle with confusion and despair.

3B(JOB)26(d)(iv)  Job appealed directly to God

Job reminded God of the brevity of his life Job 7:7 and the finality of his death Job 7:8-10.  So he was going to speak boldly and complain bitterly to God about his sufferings while he was still alive! Job 7:11.  He then directly raised with God several agonising issues and questions:

#  Why did God put him under guard like a dangerous monster? Job 7:12

#   God would not let him sleep but tormented him with nightmares Job 7:13-14 until he was despairing and suicidal! Job 7:15-16

#  Why did God pay so much attention to men, to test them constantly and himself so relentlessly? Job 7:17-19

#  Was God burdened by Job’s sin and so made him His target? Job 7:20.  Why did God not just forgive him since he would soon die and be gone? Job 7:21

3B(JOB)26(d)(v)  Assessment of Job’s response

3B(JOB)26(d)(v)(i)  The significance of Job directly appealing to God

After several previous statements about God, this was Job’s first direct address to God.  None of his critics ever did this, so it was highly significant.  It indicated that Job had been accustomed to approach God in this way.  As he later sadly recalled, this had previously been his joy as he “walked with God” in  their ongoing relationship Job 29:2-3,4-5a.

But now Job’s calamities forced him to struggle with the basis of this relationship.  Did it involve more than just keeping God’s Covenantal requirements?  Were the demands of moral integrity even greater than this?

3B(JOB)26(d)(v)(ii)  Job’s primary concern was to maintain his moral integrity

Job believed he was not guilty of abandoning his moral integrity.  Even in his depressed state he told Eliphaz that he was still desperately concerned not to fail in his commitment to God before he died Job 6:10,29.  He correctly discerned that God was testing him Job 7:17-18.  He asked his friends to be sympathetic and was even willing to listen to any worthwhile advice from them Job 6:24-25a,28a.

This all highlighted his ongoing struggle to retain his integrity despite his despair, bitter questioning of God and Eliphaz’ hurtful criticisms.  He was determined to maintain his wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(ii) 

Cycle 5

3B(JOB)26(e) Job’s response to Bildad’s first speech

3B(JOB)26(e)(i)  Job realized that he could not argue with God

Job began a great questioning about how any man could be righteous before God or debate with Him Job 9:2b-3.  All His visible works and miracles in the universe Job 9:5-9 showed His profound wisdom and vast power Job 9:4a,10.

Although God is invisible, His power over man and beast cannot be resisted Job 9:11-13.  So Job considered that any attempt to “present his case” to God would be futile Job 9:14,16.  Job knew that even if he was innocent and blameless, his own words to God would condemn him and he could only plead for mercy Job 9:15,20.  God’s profound wisdom, power and justice meant that any attempt by Job to justify himself to God would only result in further acts of His judgment Job 9:4b,17-19.

3B(JOB)26(e)(ii)  Job questioned God’s justice

Still confident of his integrity but in careless despair Job 9:21 Job dared to question the fairness of God’s actions.  He complained that in epidemics God treated both the blameless and wicked alike Job 9:22-23.  He also alleged that God let injustice go unpunished in the courts Job 9:24a.

Job then indignantly asked a penetrating question Job 9:24b.  He was wondering if in fact there was some source of his troubles other than God.  At least he knew that they were coming from some source more powerful than he could resist.  Here Job got closest to the truth, probably without realising it.  He was right!  It was in fact the Satan who was behind the contradictions raised by Job’s catastrophic experiences.  But Job did not know this and continued to think that God was unjustly tormenting him.

3B(JOB)26(e)(iii)  Job acknowledged his helplessness before God

Job saw his life slipping away Job 9:25-26 and that there was no escape from his misery Job 9:27-28a.  Yet in the midst of this lament Job again briefly spoke directly to God Job 9:28b acknowledging that he could not escape his own guilt Job 9:28c,31a.

Job knew he could not “present his case” to God Job 9:32,35b.  But he longed for some mediator who could get God to restrain His terrifying power Job 9:33-34.  Job would then be able to contend boldly with God Job 9:35a.

3B(JOB)26(e)(iv)  Job laid out his “case” to God

In bitterness and despair Job decided to contend with God anyway Job 10:1.  Again addressing God directly, Job asked what He had against him Job 10:2b and added seven other specific questions Job 10:3,4,5-7,8,9,10-11.

All of these questions basically asked why God had given Job life only to oppress him relentlessly, find out his faults and judge him Job 10:6,13-14,15a,16-17.  So he returned to wishing that he had never been born Job 10:18-19.  Finally he asked God to at least allow him some joy before his dreaded death Job 10:20-22.

3B(JOB)26(e)(v)  Assessment of Job’s response

Despite his bitter questioning and despair, Job readily acknowledged his own sinfulness Job 10:6,15b.  This humble attitude must have been why he still felt free to address God directly.  Yet he still believed he was not guilty of abandoning his integrity and that God knew this! Job 10:7a.

Job was struggling to balance these conflicting concerns about God’s purposes and justice relative to his own guilt and innocence.  This again showed his determination to maintain his wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(iii) 

Cycle 6

3B(JOB)26(f) Job’s response to Zophar’s first speech

3B(JOB)26(f)(i)  Job rebuked his critics for their disrespect towards him and ignorance of God

In exasperation Job complained that despite his commitment to God as demonstrated by past answers to his prayers, his friends now treated him with scorn Job 12:4.  Job then derided people like Zophar who in their ease were shallow critics of those who suffered troubles Job 12:5.  He condemned them for their false “security”, for not recognising that God had authority over them Job 12:6.

Job rejected their shallow counsel by saying that even the Earth and its creatures knew that all living things were under God’s authority Job 12:7-9,10.  Old people just accumulate such wisdom! Job 12:11-12.

3B(JOB)26(f)(ii)  Job applied God’s sovereignty to his situation

Job declared that all wisdom and power belong to God Job 12:13,16,22.  So He could sovereignly bring reversals upon great nations or people, no matter how wise or powerful they were Job 12:14-15,17-19,20-21,23-25.  Job was saying that his own calamities could only be understood by recognising God’s role in them Job 12:9b-10, specifically his own vast humiliation and loss Job 12:21.  

3B(JOB)26(f)(iii)  Job told his worthless critics to listen to his “case” to God

Job said he was not inferior to his critics in knowledge of God’s ways Job 13:1-2.  But their slanderous counsel was worthless Job 13:4,12.  Their only true wisdom would be to say nothing! Job 13:5.  He asked them four times if they would dare to speak deceitfully on God’s behalf Job 13:7-8.  If they did, God would expose and rebuke them Job 13:9-10 causing them terror and dread! Job 13:11.

Job then asked his critics to listen carefully as he boldly prepared to present his case to God Job 13:3,6,13,17.   He was still confident of his own moral integrity and of God’s just response and vindication Job 13:14-16,18-19.

3B(JOB)26(f)(iv)  Job then presented his “case” directly to God

Job again addressed God directly Job 13:20.  He simply asked God to relent Job 13:21 and allow him to present his case and receive God’s reply Job 13:22.  Job then asked God four basic questions Job 13:23-25 about why He closely watched Job, recorded his sins and punished him Job 13:26-27.

Job acknowledged that all people had troubled, fleeting lives Job 13:28 – 14:2.  So why did God examine and judge them so thoroughly, as they were all impure anyway? Job 14:3-4.   Since their lifespans were determined by God, He could at least allow them some relief before they die Job 14:5-6.  Unlike a tree regrowing Job 14:7-9 death ended all people’s prospects forever Job 14:10-12,14a.

Yet briefly Job optimistically expressed hopes that despite his own sinfulness, God would set a time when He would grant him forgiveness and renewal Job 14:13,14b-16,17.  But then he pessimistically lapsed again into complaining that God would instead destroy such hope by never relenting! Job 14:18-19,20.  So he would not even know anything about his descendants, but only be totally preoccupied with his own sufferings Job 14:21-22.

3B(JOB)26(f)(v)  Assessment of Job’s response

Job had continued to question God and ended this with a complaint.  Yet he confidently asserted that unlike his friends and others he could come boldly before God with his “case”.  This indicated that he regarded his own commitment to God as intact.  Indeed it was on this basis that he felt justified in directly questioning God’s harsh ways with him.

It is apparent that even in his anguished confusion Job was continuing his struggle to maintain his wholehearted commitment to God in what he was asking and saying.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(iv) 

Cycle 7

3B(JOB)26(g) Job’s response to Eliphaz’ second speech

3B(JOB)26(g)(i)  Job lamented his sufferings as being God’s assaults, but still affirmed his integrity

Not surprisingly, Job’s endurance seemed to come to an end.  Whether verbalizing about it or not, he could find no relief from his pain Job 16:6.  Again talking to God, he bluntly blurted out that He had worn him out and brought his whole household to ruin Job 16:7.  Job saw his own emaciated body as evidence of God’s opposition against him Job 16:8.

Then lapsing into talking about God, Job again said his ongoing disaster was due to God continually attacking him Job 16:9,12-13,14 and turning him over to evil men who mocked him Job 16:10-11.

Yet Job also continued to assert that despite his humiliation and suffering Job 16:15-16 he had maintained his integrity Job 16:17.  Pitifully he asked for his shed blood and his cries not to be overlooked Job 16:18

Job even claimed that he had an “advocate” in Heaven pleading for him before God! Job 16:19-21.  It is not clear who or what Job was referring to here.  It may be that he thought his own integrity was representing him adequately before the Heavenly Judge.  Or he may have had some God-inspired insight that he had an actual heavenly being as his advocate there (see Job 19:25a).

But Job’s words then returned to his miserable prospects.  His death was likely to come sooner than expected Job 16:22,  17:1b.  Gripped by grief, his spirit broken and his body gaunt Job 17:1a,7 he was surrounded, mocked and despised by all Job 17:2,6.

Yet Job appealed again to God Job 17:3 and still believed that He would not let his critics triumph Job 17:4-5.  Again he defiantly dismissed their lack of wisdom in response to his calamity Job 17:10.  He believed he would be strengthened through maintaining his integrity Job 17:9.  So he still had hope Job 17:11-12 although he would lose it before he died if he embraced corruption Job 17:13-14,15-16.

3B(JOB)26(g)(ii)  Assessment of Job’s response

It would be easy to join with Job’s critics in finding fault with some of what he said here.  But given the extremity of his bodily condition and his circumstances, together with the sustained condemnations of his critics, his outcries are understandable.  He also knew that his calamities had resulted from “circumstances beyond his control”.  Hence he was justified in seeing them as coming from God, since he did not know about the Satan’s involvement or of any other unseen opponent (see Job 9:24b16:9b).

Yet even in the midst of his deep lament, Job again cried out directly to God, expressing his dependence on Him alone for deliverance.  He told God that he believed it was Him who was causing his friends to lack understanding and would not let his critics prevail Job 17:4.  Job again declared his confidence that he was maintaining his integrity.

So although Job was continuing to struggle in what he was thinking and saying, he still held to his wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(v) 

Cycle 8

3B(JOB)26(h)  Job’s response to Bildad’s second speech

3B(JOB)26(h)(i)  Job launched into direct accusations against God for His ways of dealing with him

Having accused God of wronging him Job 19:6 Job then complained that God did not respond to his cries for justice Job 19:7.  Job bluntly expanded on this theme.  He depicted God as darkly blocking his way Job 19:8 stripping him of his honour Job 19:9 demoralising him Job 19:10 and angrily besieging him like an enemy Job 19:11-12.

Job also lamented that God had estranged him from his kinsmen, friends and acquaintances Job 19:13b-14,19 and made him offensive to his wife and family Job 19:13a,17.  He was even being disrespected by his servants Job 19:15-16 and little boys Job 19:18.  All he had left was his emaciated body! Job 19:20.  He then forlornly appealed to his critics to have pity on him and not ruthlessly pursue him as God was doing Job 19:21-22.

3B(JOB)26(h)(ii)  Yet Job also expressed confidence in God

Job desired that his words of accusation against God could be permanently recorded Job 19:23-24.  Presumably this was so that he could at some future time “present his case” to God.

Yet Job still expressed his confidence in God with a mystical prophetic outburst Job 19:25.  When he died he expected to see God, for which he deeply yearned! Job 19:26-27.

Job then warned his critics about persisting to falsely accuse him.  They should beware lest they suffer the kind of judgment and dire outcomes they had been pronouncing upon him! Job 19:28-29.

3B(JOB)26(h)(iii)  Assessment of Job’s response

Clearly this was a mixture of accusations against God and confidence in Him, spoken in the agony of physical sufferings and constant condemnations.  Job was greatly distressed by God’s apparent opposition and lack of response to his appeals.  Yet Job’s complaints about God’s actions continued to be based on belief in his own integrity and appeals to God’s justice.  So Job was still motivated by his wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(vi) 

Cycle 9

3B(JOB)26(j) Job’s response to Zophar’s second speech

3B(JOB)26(j)(i)   Job daringly questioned God’s justice

Based on his observations of wicked people’s lives, Job disagreed with Zophar’s verdict that they always suffer God’s judgment.  So trembling with terror Job 21:6 Job asked three incisive rhetorical questions directed primarily at God’s justice:

#  Why do the wicked (unlike himself!) have long and influential lives Job 21:7 in prosperity and happiness Job 21:10,12-13 with many children Job 21:8,11 and no God-brought disasters? Job 21:9.  Yet they scorn and reject God! Job 21:14-15.  But Job answered and dismissed this question because he knew the wicked do not control their own destiny Job 21:16.

#   How often do the wicked pay for their sins during their lifetime? Job 21:17-18.  Instead God lets them die and then punishes their sons! Job 21:19a. This time Job “answered” his question by saying that God ought to punish the wicked while they are still alive Job 21:19b-20 as they will be unaffected by what happens after they die Job 21:21.

#   How can anyone question God about His seeming to deal inconsistently with people? Job 21:22.  Job again laid out his dilemma about the inequality of people’s life experiences.  Some have happy and healthy lives while others experience only misery Job 21:23-25.  Then alike, both die and are buried Job 21:26.

Then anticipating his critics’ thoughts Job 21:27 Job asked them three questions that contradicted their views about the inevitable judgment of the wicked Job 21:28,31.  He referred them to what travellers had observed elsewhere about the favorable lives and honoured tombs of wicked men Job 21:29-30,32-33.

Job posed one final question to his critics and dismissed their wrong advice as unconsoling nonsense! Job 21:34.

3B(JOB)26(j)(ii)  Assessment of Job’s response

Job was trying to fathom how God dealt with all people and what God was doing with him.  But like his critics he was here trying to gain understanding of God from his own experiences and observations.  This only left him confounded by the seeming inconsistencies in God’s justice.  Yet he was daring to question the simple “reap what you sow” theology and explore the complexities of his own experiences that it did not answer.

Not being aware of God’s purpose and the Satan’s role in his troubles, Job could only raise unanswerable questions.  Again this highlighted Job’s ongoing struggles arising from maintaining his wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(vii) 

Cycle 10

3B(JOB)26(k)  Job’s response to Eliphaz’ third speech

3B(JOB)26(k)(i)  Job lamented his alienation from God

Job did not react to Eliphaz’ speech at all.  Instead he groaned  bitterly about his inability to communicate with God Job 23:1-3,8-9.  If he could “find” God, he would seize the opportunity to “state his case” Job 23:4 and was confident that God would listen and vindicate his “uprightness” Job 23:5-7.

Yet Job rose above his distress by acknowledging God’s unseen presence and awareness of him Job 23:10a (refuting Eliphaz’ accusations Job 22:12-14).  Job correctly perceived that with good intentions God was testing him in order to refine him like gold Job 23:10b (see Job 7:17-19).  This reference to gold echoed some of Eliphaz’ exhortations Job 22:23-25.

Job then declared that he had been “walking with God” Job 23:11 and maintaining his moral integrity and wholehearted commitment to God Job 23:12.

3B(JOB)26(k)(ii)  Job’s further daring questioning of God’s ways

Job continued to realise that God had total authority over him Job 23:13-14 and this terrified him Job 23:15-16.  Yet confident before God of his integrity, he was determined not to be silenced by his troubles Job 23:17.  So he again launched into questioning God’s ways.

This time Job asked why God did not act to vindicate the righteous and sufferers and judge obviously wicked people Job 24:1,12.  Summarising their wickedness Job 24:13,17 Job laid out his own list of their dark deeds Job 24:2-4,9,14,15,16,21 and the resulting destitution of their victims Job 24:5-6,7-8,10-11,12a (these examples had some similarities to Eliphaz’ false accusations against Job Job 22:6,7-8,9).

Job then answered his own question.  Even if wicked people enjoyed some feelings of security for a while, God knew all about their evil ways Job 24:22-23.  God would bring it all to account, by death if not sooner Job 24:18-19,20,24.  Job challenged anyone to deny this! Job 24:25.

3B(JOB)26(k)(iii)  Assessment of Job’s responses

Job’s remarkable declarations of his faith in God were made in the midst of his inexplicable sufferings and his feelings of being alienated from God.  His continuing confidence that he was wholeheartedly committed to God was borne out by his terrified acknowledgment of God’s total authority over him and his longing for renewed communication with God.

Although Job bitterly complained and raised further questions about God, he did this within assumptions of God’s absolute power, perfection and love.  This showed that Job continued to maintain his integrity and his wholehearted commitment to God in what he was saying.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(viii) 

Cycle 11

3B(JOB)26(m) Job’s final responses to his critics and “presentation of his case” to God

3B(JOB)26(m)(i)  Job’s response to Bildad’s third speech

Bildad had referred to God’s universal dominion Job 25:1-3.  So Job took up the subject of God’s sovereignty.  He spoke of the anguish of the dead, as the grave could not hide them from God Job 26:5-6.   The wonders of the skies, seas and sea monsters were His powerful works Job 26:7-9,10-11,12-13.  Yet they were but “faint whispers” of Him and posed a crucial question Job 26:14.  This introduced Job’s discourse on the whole matter of understanding God.

3B(JOB)26(m)(ii) Job’s final declaration of his position concerning his three critics

The introduction to this section Job 27:1 contrasts with the previous introductions “Then Job (and others) replied” Job 25:126:1, etc.  It indicated the ending of the long series of debate speeches, giving way to Job’s more considered and final declaration of his wisdom.

Job introduced this discourse by stating his basic position.  With an oath, he bluntly reasserted his three central convictions:-

#  Almighty God had unjustly been responsible for his bitter sufferings! Job 27:2

#  Yet Job was determined to always maintain his moral integrity and a clear conscience before God Job 27:3-4,6

#  His critics had been wrong in accusing him of losing his integrity Job 27:5

Job then wished that all his opponents might suffer the fates of the wicked! Job 27:7.  It would then be hopeless for them to try and call upon God or find joy in Him? Job 27:8-10.   

3B(JOB)26(m)(iii)  Job undertook to instruct his three critics concerning wisdom

3B(JOB)26(m)(iii.i)  Job’s changed approach

Job then changed his tone by turning to instruct his three critics about the powerful ways of Almighty God Job 27:11.  But he began by rebuking them for their empty words, since they already knew His ways Job 27:12.

3B(JOB)26(m)(iii.ii)  The fate of the wicked

Job first gave them “a taste of their own medicine” by adding his own long outline of how God brings judgment upon the wicked!  Job 27:13-23.  This expanded on his previous outburst Job 27:8-10.

3B(JOB)26(m)(iii.iii)  The search for true wisdom

The next section of Job’s discourse (JOB 28:1-28) taught about where to find true wisdom and what it is.  It seems to be a rather detached “interlude” within his responses to his critics.  But if it is seen as part of Job’s continuing instructing of his critics there is no need to suggest that it was added later during the “wisdom literature” period.

It is a picturesque poem that explored the core questions about the source of true wisdom or understanding Job 28:12-13,20.  These questions reflected Job’s own crucial need to know what was “right” and correctly inform his conscience.  Then he could keep God’s first Covenantal requirement [3A10(a)] by acting with moral integrity in all situations, so carrying out His Covenantal commission [3A11(b)].

Job compared this quest for true wisdom with the lonely search for precious metals and gems in the forbidding darkness and dangers of underground mining Job 28:1-11.  Yet wisdom cannot be found anywhere on or under land or sea Job 28:13b-14.  Nor could it be bought because its value was priceless Job 28:15-19.  It is hidden from all living things and even from Death and Destruction Job 28:21-22.

Job then repeated his questions Job 28:20 and gave his answers.  Only God knew where wisdom was and how to find it Job 28:23-24.  In His very acts of creation He had proven what it was Job 28:25-27 and declared this to all people Job 28:28.

This was Job’s final word to his three critics.

3B(JOB)26(m)(iv)  Job’s final laments

Job then continued with a long discourse Job 29:1 that was not directly in response to any of his critics or even related to his preceding teaching about wisdom.

3B(JOB)26(m)(iv.i)  Job’s nostalgic lament for all he had lost

Job mourned having lost his former “intimate friendship” with God Job 29:4-5a.  This obviously had been an experience of “walking with God” in an ongoing relationship Job 29:2-3 as promised under the Covenant with Noah [3A11(b)(ii)].

Job recalled God’s blessings in those days, when his children were with him and he prospered greatly Job 29:5b-6.  In great dignity he had been held in high honour by all as their leader Job 29:7-9,10-11,25.  He had shown his moral integrity Job 29:14 by rescuing the poor and needy Job 29:12-13,15-16a and by defending the oppressed against injustice Job 29:16b-17.  He had been a wise and valued counsellor Job 29:21-23,24 and he expected to continue living like this for the rest of his days Job 29:18-20.

3B(JOB)26(m)(iv.ii)  Job’s lament about his present humiliation

But Job was now disrespected by all, even the sons of worthless outcasts Job 30:1-8.  Without restraint they mocked and detested him Job 30:9-10,11b taking advantage of his defenceless weakness to attack and destroy him Job 30:12-14.  This lack of safety terrified and humiliated him Job 30:15.  He continued to suffer pain as his life ebbed away Job 30:16-17.

Worst of all was that God had brought all this upon him Job 30:11a.  He was binding him, ruthlessly attacking and knocking him down Job 30:18-19.  Then addressing God directly, Job said he had cried out to Him but got no response other than further assaults from Him! Job 30:20-22.  Job expected all this to end with his death Job 30:23.

3B(JOB)26(m)(v)  Job again tried “pleading his case” to God

3B(JOB)26(m)(v.i)  Job had appealed unsuccessfully to God for basic compassion and relief from suffering

Job had shown compassion Job 30:25 so he expected that in his own calamities surely God would help him Job 30:24.  But instead he got the opposite! Job 30:26.  His sufferings were relentless Job 30:27,30 reducing him to utter destitution Job 30:28-29,31.

3B(JOB)26(m)(v.ii)  Job finally turned to “case law” pleading with God

Job finally tried to defend his moral integrity by again presenting his case to God Job 31:4-5.  Job believed he would be vindicated by Him Job 31:6 who justly judges all wrongdoers Job 31:2-3.  He then outlined a string of ten “case law” scenarios of his hypothetical wrongdoings and the “if/then” just punishments for some of them:

# sexual immorality Job 31:7-8,9-10,11-12

#  deception Job 31:5a

#  unjustly exploiting his servants Job 31:13,14-15

#  not giving relief to the poor, needy or fatherless Job 31:16-17,19-20,21-22

#  relying on his wealth Job 31:24-25

#  worshipping the sun or moon Job 31:26-27,28

#  gloating over the troubles of his enemies Job 31:29

#  refusing to give hospitality to strangers Job 31:31

#  concealing his sin for fear of being shamed Job 31:33-34

#  abusing his lands and not paying its tenants Job 31:38-40a

But Job stated or implied that he had not been guilty of any of these wrongdoings Job 31:1,6b,18,23,30,32.

As Job neared the end of all his speech-making and his case, he once more cried out for God to hear him and state His indictment against him Job 31:35.  Job was ready and confident that he could argue his case successfully with God! Job 31:36-37.  Such confidence could only have been sustained because Job knew he actually did have a wholehearted commitment to God and had maintained his moral integrity.

Job thus ended all his speeches Job 31:40b.  At least his sustained confidence about his integrity had resulted in finally silencing his three critics! Job 32:1.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(ix) 

Cycle 12

3B(JOB)26(n)  Job’s response to Elihu

Unlike his responses to his other three critics, Job never replied to Elihu.  Possibly Elihu was one of the younger generation that Job had despised and dismissed so vehemently! Job 30:1-8,9-15.  For no apparent reason,  Elihu was not even mentioned again.

Continue to 3B(JOB)27(b)(x) 

Cycle 13

3B(JOB)26(p) Job’s brief response to God’s first interrogation

3B(JOB)26(p)(i)  Job completely capitulated

With a single question Job acknowledged his own unworthiness to reply to God at all Job 40:3-4a.  He frankly admitted that although he had already spoken about God, he had no answers to any of God’s questions! Job 40:5a.  So he twice committed himself to say nothing more Job 40:4b,5b.

3B(JOB)26(p)(ii)  Assessment of Job’s response

Job was probably so pleased to have at last “found” God (even though He spoke confrontingly to him from within a storm!) that all of his questioning and reasoning evaporated immediately!  Job demonstrated his wholehearted commitment to God by readily humbling himself completely before God.

Continue to Cycle 14 [3B(JOB)24(a)(xiv)]

Cycle 14

3B(JOB)26(q) Job’s brief response to God’s second interrogation

3B(JOB)26(q)(i) Job again immediately capitulated completely

Job admitted that he had spoken of things he did not understand, that God’s power and purposes were irresistible and a mystery Job 42:1-3.  So in response to his now increased understanding of God, he repented immediately Job 42:4-6.  

3B(JOB)26(q)(ii)  Assessment of Job’s response

Job made the only appropriate response to God’s interrogation and challenges.  He recognized that, although it was beyond human understanding, God did have a primary purpose and it would always prevail! Job 42:2b.  That was true wisdom.  It went to the core issue underlying all of God’s questions.  

Yet it would also seem that Job was thrilled that he was not only hearing about God but at last also seeing Him! Job 42:5.  So his only concern now was to remove all possible hindrances to restoring his relationship with God, as previously enjoyed Job 29:2-3,4-5.  This was a clear demonstration of his wholehearted commitment to God.

Continue to Cycle 15 [3B(JOB)24(a)(xv)] 

Cycle 15

3B(JOB)26(r)  Job and his three critics obeyed God’s instructions

3B(JOB)26(r)(i)  Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar prepared and offered the required sacrifice

Job’s three critics humbly went to Job with the required animals and offered them as a burnt sacrifice for their sins Job 42:9a.  This demonstrated their wholehearted commitment to God.

3B(JOB)26(r)(ii)  Job prayed for Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar

Job would not have found it easy to pray for his three critics.  He had been repeatedly dishonoured by them.  He had reacted by vehemently rejecting their criticisms on a number of occasions!  Under the stresses of his acute heart-testing situations Job had also spoken rashly to God and about Him.

But his final responses after he “found” God indicated his core heart desire.  All he wanted was to “walk faithfully with God”.  He aimed to achieve this by obeying God’s Covenantal requirements, so fully maintaining his moral integrity.

This meant he had to act in humble forgiveness of his friends’ past deeply hurtful words by seeking God’s forgiveness for them.  And he did it! Job 42:9c-10a.  This again demonstrated Job’s wholehearted commitment to God.

(Continue to Arrow below)

Arrow 3B(JOB)25 -> 3B(JOB)26

This arrow indicates that despite their initial reactions to various acute heart-testing situations, all the responses made by Job, as well as initially and finally by his three critics, expressed their wholehearted commitment to God.  

Continue to [3B(JOB)27(e]