Soli Deo Gloria

Job 21 – Job Answers Zophar: “The Wicked Do Prosper”

Job answered and said to Zophar to let Job’s words be Zophar’s comfort, but after he’s spoken “mock on” (v. 3). Job’s complaint isn’t against man. He asks Zophar to look at him and be appalled with hand over mouth. When he remembers his dismay his flesh shudders. Why do the wicked live to old age, grow mighty in power, see their offspring established, have houses safe from fear, without God’s rod upon them? Why do their bulls breed without fail? They sing and dance to instruments, spend their days in prosperity and go to “Sheol” (the grave) in peace. They don’t desire God or His ways. They see no profit in serving or praying to God. The have prosperity. Job says the counsel of the wicked is far from him. How often do the wicked have their lamp put out, face calamity, receive pain from God’s anger in the fact that they are like straw/chaff before the wind of the storm that carries away? Zophar has said that God stores up their iniquity/injustices/wickedness for their children. Job says, “Let God pay it out to them that they may know it” (v. 19). Job asks that their eyes see destruction, that they drink the Almighty God’s wrath, for what do they care of their houses after their death. Will any teach God knowledge since he judges people on high. One dies in a life of full vigor/prosperity. Another Dies in bitterness/no prosperity. They both lie in the dust ad worms cover them. Then Job speaks again to Zophar thoughts and scheme to harm him with his words asking where the house of the prince/wicked lived. You (Zophar) have not asked traveling people, and will not accept their testimony that the evil man is spared in the day of calamity, that he is rescued in the day of wrath. Job then asks the question that implies the answer that no one declares the wickedness of the way of the wicked to the face of those who are wicked, and no one repays the wicked for what the wicked has done. And even after death people keep watch over the prosperous wicked’s remains. The clods of the valley are sweet to him; all mankind follows after him, and those who go before him are innumerable. Job closes by asking Zophar, “How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing led of your answers but falsehood.”

Not only is Zophar bearing false witness against Job as chapters 19-20 show, but he’s also proclaiming knowledge that contradicts reality easily seen by people who live in the real world. Zophar has a theology divorced not only from God’s Word, but also reality. In a sense Zophar has wrongly made a “half-truth” grow to a “full-truth” becoming a complete “un-truth”. In one sense Zophar is correct; God is just a judge and he will not let the wicked go unpunished (Proverbs 11:21; cf. Psalm 94:3; etc.). But it’s too simplistic to say that earthly prosperity in this life is directly correlated to God’s final judgment. That’s the point of Job’s response here. One of the reasons Job is able to keep moving forward is the fact that he knows God will finally judge what is right and wicked (Job 19:25). But there’s no justification for Zophar to aggravate Job’s suffering by implying that he’s in the camp of the wicked now, and that his suffering the loss of all is “exhibit A” of his wickedness. In fact, the perfectly Holy One of God Almighty would suffer the loss of all. The perfectly Righteous One of God would lose all for the sake of declaring an unrighteous people righteous. Jesus Christ emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, humbling himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:7-11). According to Zophar’s theology Jesus was unrighteous, but  praise God that is clearly and powerfully not the case. Also, Jesus has taught us that God’s people are blessed when others revile, persecute and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on His account. The final vindication of the righteous isn’t something we can evaluate by the suffering or lack of suffering a person faces in this fallen and broken world.

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