Jun 29, 2009

Job's Apology

Job's Theology

Job's Apology - Chapter Four

In the previous chapter, notice was taken of the various sins that have been charged against godly Job, by Satan, by Job's family and friends, in the story itself, and then later and by commentators and interpreters of the Book of Job. It was also observed how this was so in spite of Job's vindication by God himself. It was also observed how both God and Job maintained the righteousness and integrity of Job's character and doctrine. We may safely say that Job maintained God's integrity and righteousness throughout the story, and likewise God maintained Job's integrity and righteousness.

In this chapter some notice will be taken of some further accusations against Job and of Job's defense or apology against his accusers. Let us begin with Eliphaz's further accusations against Job.

Eliphaz said:

"For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing. Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry. But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it. Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken. Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee..." (22: 6-10)

Here Job is further accused, by his "friend," of numerous sins. According to Eliphaz, it was Job who had disregarded the poor and had been covetous. According to the judgment of Eliphaz and of Job's "friends," Job loved money and cared not for people. Eliphaz also accused him of being a thief and fraudulent fellow. Further, says Eliphaz, these sins are the reason why Job has received the things he has confessed to having dreaded and feared.

Later, when Job is contemplating his former life in prosperity, and answering the accusations of Eliphaz, he said:

"When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth." (29: 11-17)

Here Job denies the accusations of Eliphaz. Further, knowing that he is innocent of the sins charged against him, he was resolved not to make confession of sins of which he was not guilty; And, his not doing so is not a case of self righteousness. For him to confess to sins of which he was not guilty would make him a liar.

Eliphaz then says to Job:

"If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles. Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver. For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God." (22: 23-26)

Here Job is accused of impenitence, of not "returning to the Almighty." He is accused of having "iniquity" in his "tabernacles," and therefore is urged to "put away" such sins. Eliphaz then gives to Job a false doctrine, saying to him that God rewards the righteous with silver and gold in this life. To Eliphaz, poverty and loss are signs of being an enemy to God. On the other hand, wealth and prosperity, and good health, are evidences of being a close friend of God.

Job Maintains his Righteousness and Integrity

"Moreover Job continued his parable, and said, As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul; All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live." (27: 1-6)

Was Job here wrong in vindicating himself? Was it arrogance for him to do so? Notice the language of Job in the above words. Are they words of unbelief? Of doubt? Of impatience? Of impenitence? Of unrighteous anger? Of an heretic? Of one who is desperate and given up all hope? Of course, the answer to all these questions is "no."

These words demonstrate how Job, as an inspired prophet and a holy man of God, held firm in his faith and convictions, and spoke only truth. Rather than being a man of doubt, Job was a man assured of his salvation status and his theology. Job did not utter anything deceitful or wicked. Job shows how important correct thinking and speaking, theologically, were to him.

"Then Job answered and said, I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest? I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief. Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased?" (16: 1-6)

Job did not believe (nor God either) that his words were "vain words," but rather the words of his "comforters" were such. Here Job accuses his friends of showing no friendship. They are not "helping" him, but making his sufferings greater by their infamous speeches.

"Then Job answered and said, How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words? These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me. And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself." (19: 1-4)

Here Job again maintains his righteousness and innocence. Job does not believe he has erred theologically or morally. He also claims that his friends have failed to demonstrate his error.

Job says:

"Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me. Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh? Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." (19: 21-27)

These words demonstrate the prophetic character of Job and his utterances. This petition was granted by God! Job's words have been immortalized. Yet, in spite of the righteousness of Job and his doctrine, his "friends" continue to show him no pity or mercy and refuse to see in him the likeness of God. They persecute him, but he does not render evil for evil.

"But Job answered and said, Hear diligently my speech, and let this be your consolations. Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on. As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled? Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth. Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh. Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?" (Job 21: 1-7)

Job sees the words and teachings of his "friends" as being nothing but cruel mockings. It is interesting that Job here calls upon his erring friends to lay their hands upon their mouths, the very thing Job does at the end. He also overcomes the doctrinal position of his opponents with his interrogative.

It is their view that long life, wealth, and power, are the rewards God gives to the righteous in this life. Yet Job argues that the facts of the case prove otherwise. Job says that observation alone is enough to prove his opponents are in error. Wicked men often are men of wealth, power, and long life. It is an undeniable fact. Thus, it cannot be true that such things are given only to the righteous. They could not answer "why."

Job also said to them emphatically:

"The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly." (Job 12: 1-6)

They did not know "why" any wicked person, such as robbers, could or would become wealthy and powerful, and "prosper." Yet, such was and is the case, and such an undeniable fact therefore disproves the main point of Job's theological opponents.

Job said to his theological opponents, or "friends";

"O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom. Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips. Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him? Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God?" (13: 1-8)

Again, "put your hand over your mouth"! "Hold your peace"! "Shut up"! "Be silent and still"! To do this, in Job's mind, would demonstrate true and heavenly "wisdom." Interestingly, Job's later silence, or his own putting his hand upon his mouth, upon hearing and seeing God, proves the godly wisdom of Job.

Notice also how Job maintains his integrity and spirituality and the purity of his theology. His "reasoning" and "pleadings" are correct and righteous, while theirs is not.

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