Jun 25, 2009

Job The Accused

Job's Theology

Job The Accused - Chapter Three

The righteous and prophetic character of Job having been established, we may now ask - "Of what sin(s) was Job guilty?" Or, "What sin(s) caused his tragedy, if any?"

Eliphaz had pressed Job with a insinuating interrogative - "Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?" (Job 22:5).

He accuses Job of extraordinary sin. He affirms that Job's suffering is great because his sin is great. Many Hebrew and Christian "interpreters" likewise believe that Job was guilty of rebellion and sin against God. But, like Job's accusing "friends," they are wrong about Job!

Not only Eliphaz, but next Bildad accuses Job of sin. He said to Job:

"If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous." (8: 6)

Bildad does not believe Job is pure, righteous, just, nor upright. He, like Eliphaz, is convinced that Job is truly God's enemy and is suffering his just and equitable wrath, resulting from his sins. Job, they believe, is an evil man.

First, Satan, living up to the significance of his name and character, becomes Job's adversay and accuses him of several sins, as I have previously shown. Next, Job's wife, becomes adversarial and also accuses Job, followed by his remaining family. To them it is Job's fault for the calamities the family has experienced. Next, Job is accused by Eliphaz, and Bildad, and Zophar, and Elihu, his supposed "friends." Finally, he is accused of numerous sins by Hebrew and Christian "interpreters" of Job.

Strikingly, however, Job is never accused of any evil by God. He only blesses and approves of Job's character and teachings. Again, if our understanding of the character and teachings of Job puts us into the place of accusing righteous Job of unrighteousness, of accusing patient Job of impatience, etc., then we have a different view than God, and are found guilty of condemning him whom the Lord has justified.

A proper understanding of the character and teachings of Job will put us in defence of Job, of vindicating him, as God did, and extolling the virtues and the relative innocence of Job, rather than condemning him.

Sins of Job (supposed)

1. Pride and arrogance (presumption)
2. Self righteousness (self justification)
3. Hypocrisy and idolatry
4. Cowardness (too much complaining)
5. Selfishness and greed
6. Impenitence (refusal to confess sin)
7. Impatience (complains too much)
8. Unbelief (refusal to trust God)
9. Unfaithfulness and disloyalty
10. False Teacher (bad theology)
11. Respecter of persons (envious)
12. Murderer (for being suicidal)

If one reads the words of Job's "friends," and of commentators and interpreters since their day, he will discover one or more of the above sins charged against Job. In fact, many commentators on the Book of Job invariably end up being just as accusatory and critical against Job's character and theology as were Job's "friends," the very ones God condemned in the Epilogue for sin and heresy!

Remember from chapter one where the divine testimony of Job consisted of these declarations.

"None like him in the earth."
"Man of Integrity"
"Fears God"
"Eschews evil"
"God's servant"
"In all this Job sinned not"
"In all this Job did not charge God foolishly"
"Job has spoken concerning me what is right"

The divine record has him righteous, innocent, and of unblemished character. But, the judgment of Job's "friends" and of many interpreters of Job, and of the Book of Job, have him guilty and blemished with a multitude of sins.

Certainly God maintains Job's righteousness (innocence) throughout the narrative. There are some words in God's speeches that some use (or abuse) in an attempt to prove that Job was guilty of some sin or error, but which, as I shall show in future chapters, do not prove him guilty of sin or theological error.

All the above declarations concerning Job's words and godly character would be disregarded and made meaningless did we advocate the view that Job was guilty of sin and of grave theological error and affirm that it was due to sin and error that he suffered.

No only does God maintain the righteousness of Job, but Job himself maintains his righteousness. This is not to say that Job was sinlessly perfect as Jesus, for the record is - "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." (Ecclesiastes 7: 20) But, what is affirmed, is that Job was the most righteous of anyone on earth, and his sins the fewest and smallest. He did not commit any sin that deserved, according to God's ordinary rule, such a dispensation of chastisements, or temporal evils. According to the normal distribution of justice, the enormity of the evils that came upon him were out of proportion to any sin he may have committed.

Job The Fearful and Unbelieving?

"For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came." (Job 3: 25, 26)

Some affirm that this confession implicates Job of hidden sin. Job, prior to his tragedy, it is alleged, was a "fearful and unbelieving" man, the kind whom the scriptures identify as being "cast into the Lake of Fire" on the Day of Judgment, or the eternally lost. (See Rev. 21: 8)

Wrote one writer:

"Job was afraid that if he INSISTED THAT GOD would preserve him, that THIS would be THE sin that brought on the things he greatly feared. As it turns out, it was not his presumption on God's protection, but his DOUBT OF IT that invited and warranted these tragedies."

"JOB'S SIN was doubt of God's goodness and faithfulness, even after a full lifetime of proof that God would take care of him." (Some emphasis mine - SG)

See here

Sadly, this is typical of many Christian "interpreters." Job, in spite of the divine declarations to the contrary, is made into one of the worst of sinners. This is exactly the same estimation of Job that we see in Satan and in Job's "friends." Rather than being a great "man of faith" and patience, he is made out to be a man of doubt and unbelief, a man with unconfessed and unrepentant sin, and above all, an impatient man!

No, the words of Job in 3: 25, 26 do not imply sin or weakness of faith on the part of Job. Such a view reads into the passage what is not in it. Rather, if the words imply anything, they imply that Job was not guilty of the sin of presumption, but was cautious, and walked in the fear of the Lord. Is it wrong for Christians to have fears of loss? Are Christians to think of themselves as being absolutely secure in their earthly enjoyments? That godly living eliminates tragedies and lessons earthly sufferings?

Contrary to the view that Job was a man of doubt and carnal fear and dread, another writer wrote:

"Was Job to Blame for His Trials?"

"Some well-meaning people who want to exonerate God in this story, try to place the blame on Job for his problems. If we can find some flaw in Job, then we can let God “off the hook.” We need to be careful, however, in looking for flaws in a man about whom God Himself said, “There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil (Job 1:8).

Some have suggested that Job opened the door to Satan through his fear, based upon Job’s statement in 3:25: “For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.” They say that if Job had not been afraid, he never would have lost his children, servants, health, and livestock.

I must ask, If Job opened the door through fear, what is the point of the first two chapters of the book of Job? Why did Satan have to appear before God before he afflicted Job?

If Job was full of fear and not faith, why would God brag about him as the one person on the earth who stood out among all the rest? Especially when we know that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6)? Job was a man of much greater faith than the average person, as demonstrated by the fact that he worshiped God after being afflicted. How many of us would have lost all faith in God if we had been in Job’s place?

If Job’s fear was the reason for his affliction, did he become more fearful after the first test and, therefore, open the door wider to lose his health?

If Job opened the door through fear, why did God or Satan never mention that fact?

If Job opened the door through fear, why didn’t the loving God tell him so he could resist Satan and not be afflicted? Or why didn’t God mention to Job that he opened the door through fear during the final chapters when He spoke directly to Job? Foremost, why did God say to Satan, “You incited Me against him, to ruin him without cause.” (Job 2:3, emphasis added)?

Again, if Job opened the door through fear, then what is the point of the first two chapters of this book? The idea that Job opened the door to Satan through fear is certainly not valid, and such an interpretation, although well-meaning, is strained at best.

I might also mention that Job said in 30:26: “When I expected good, then evil came; when I waited for light, then darkness came.” By taking another scripture out of context, we could just as easily (and wrongly) prove that Job opened the door to Satan by expecting good things!" (some emphasis mine - SG)


Adam Clarke commented on this verse, saying:

Verse 25. For the thing which I greatly feared - Literally, the fear that I feared; or, I feared a fear, as in the margin. While I was in prosperity I thought adversity might come, and I had a dread of it. I feared the loss of my family and my property; and both have occurred. I was not lifted up: I knew that what I possessed I had from Divine Providence, and that he who gave might take away. I am not stripped of my all as a punishment for my self-confidence."

Thus, this confession of Job, rather than implying an unhealthy and carnal fear, rather demonstrates the spiritual health and righteousness of Job. He shows that he was not guilty of presumption, or over confidence, or self-confidence, or of having a carnal false sense of security. The wisest and holiest of people are people who do not overestimate themselves nor underestimate the powers of their enemies. Christians are to realize that tragedy may happen to them at any time and that they are not to take God's blessings and securities for granted.

Job is simply saying "my worst fears have come true." Does such language imply that Job was spiritually insecure and lacking in faith? No. In the case of Job, such language is the language of one who has understanding, of one who knows that he is liable to loss and tragedy (and who is therefore careful), and of one who knows that God often sends tragedies to even the godly for manifold good, and sometimes, for unknown reasons.

Besides, Job's fear of God was fear of his mysterious providence, which included his suffering the law breaker and immoral man to prosper and be in safety while suffering the law abiding to suffer numerous ills. Perhaps the prophet Isaiah had the story of Job in mind, to some degree, when he said - "And let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." (Isaiah 8: 13 KJV)

Job, when contemplating lawless people, said of them - "Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them." (Job 21: 19 KJV)

Here Job counters two false ideas:

1) The righteous are never fearful, but always fearless and safe against disasters and tragedies. And, that fearfulness of loss is sin or lack of faith.

2) The wicked are fearful against tragedies and enjoy no safety.

Job plainly teaches that the lawless or wicked person does not suffer from the application of the disciplinary "rod" of God. God judges all men, and dispenses, or will dispense, punishment to all, but the punishments dispensed to the Lord's own people are always in the manner of "chastisement," or discipline administered to children by parents, for the purposes of correction.

Job, as a righteous man, did not have the same false sense of security as the wicked.

He had a noble and lofty "fear of God." He had a "dread" of God and of his awesome workings. He realized that the wicked often feel safe. He realized too that they are often more safe from certain evils than are the righteous. This is seen in such passages as these.

"Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves...And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it." (Isaiah 28: 15, 18 KJV)

Here the wicked are described as having a firm sense that they are free of the possibility of loss or tragedy. The truly righteous, as Job, live in fear of God, knowing that he can take away, as in the case of Job, "without cause." He knows that the level of his closeness to Christ is not measured by the level of his freedom from tragedy and loss.

Again, speaking of the wicked, the Psalmist wrote:

"For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment." (Psalm 73: 4-6 KJV)

And the prophet wrote:

"...the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them." (Jeremiah 2: 37 KJV)

Again, the wicked possess both real and imagined (psychological) freedom from temporal troubles, loss, and tragedy, and such a freedom that is often greater than that of the righteous. The wicked are arrogant and presumptious about their security.

"The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted." (Proverbs 10: 24 KJV)

"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33: 14 KJV)

This is an important verse for our consideration of Job 3: 25, 26 concerning the fear and dread of Job prior to and during his sufferings. Notice that the righteous are not "surprised" by fearfulness and loss, but the wicked are surprised. This shows that the wicked live each day without any realization that today could bring great loss. The righteous, however, do realize it, and therefore, do not take for granted their blessings, but daily thank and petition God.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psalm 23: 4 KJV)

Such was the faith of Job! He feared God and his mysterious ways and knew that what he had, respecting earthly good, was not guaranteed to him. Job's fear of God over-ruled any fear of tragedy or loss. In fact, it was this holy fear and enduring faith in God that ultimately gave Job the victory over his sufferings.

Concerning the kind of fear the righteous experience, but which is not sin, is mentioned by Paul in these words.

"For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." (II Corinthians 7: 5, 11 KJV)

Is this not the same kind of fear and dread that Isaiah recommended and which Job possessed?

Thus, Job is falsely accused in regards to his fear and dread of the tragedies he experienced.

Next, let us notice additional information regarding the accusations that have been, and are made, against Job's character and theology.

Zophar's Accusations

"Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified? Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes. But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee..." (11: 1-5)

Amazingly, and ironically, God did "speak" and "open his lips"! But, the words of God were not "against" Job, either his character or his "doctrine," but against Zophar! What Zophar thought was "lies" in theology, was the pure doctrine of God. In this testimony, Zophar attests to the fact that Job maintained his purity in doctrine and righteous living. He only thought Job was wrong and that God would correct him if he spoke. But, obviously, Job was right, as God stated.

Eliphaz once again "chimes in" and charges Job's character and doctrine in these words.

"utters vain knowledge"
"unprofitable talk"
"no good speeches"
"no fear of God"
"doesn't pray to God"
"utters iniquity"
"tongue of the crafty"

Then, in conclusion, he says - "Your speeches condemn you," that is, "your words prove I am right, for they reveal your sinful mind and condition."

Next, he basically asks Job - "are you a know it all?"

Then he asks - "Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes wink at, That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?" (15: 12, 13)

Here Job is accused of being out of fellowship with God, a man who "winks at" sin and who "turns against God" and who speaks a false theology. But, again, such an accusation is false. It is sad that many commentators and interpreters of Job also falsely accuse Job.

Zophar accuses Job of sin with these expressions:

"full of the sin of his youth"
"wickedness be sweet in his mouth"
"hide it under his tongue"
"keep it still within his mouth"
"spare it, and forsake it not"
"gall of asps within him"
"he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor"
"violently taken away an house which he builded not"
"his iniquity"

Yet, in spite of all these false accusations, Job continued to maintain his faith and assurance of a right relationship to God. He confesses that the evils that have come upon him are "not for any injustice in mine hands" and that his "prayer is pure." (16: 16, 17)

He then says:

"Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.
O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!"
(16: 19-21)

And what is the record of that divine witness at the end of the story? Did God not bear witness to the rightousness of Job? And, of the purity of his doctrine concerning God?

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