Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blogging the Bible: Round Three Begins

As the blog through the bible experience continues, moving far slower than I had envisioned, we come to chapter 22 of the book of Job. In chapter 22 we begin the third round of speeches. In the first round of speeches, the friends had individual points of view. In the second, they all concentrated on the fate of the wicked. Now in the third cycle, it’s going to be harder to see any logic in the speeches. Eliphaz will contradict his earlier position. Bildad gives a preface of a speech, (25:1-6), and Zophar doesn’t speak. The comforters have nothing new to say and are winding down, while Job speaks with extraordinary sweep and fervor. He defends his identity, and while not convincing his friends, he does grind them into a defeated silence.

Lets take a look at what we see in 22, as Eliphaz begins the third round. His message is, in essence, “So are you saying that God is punishing you for your righteousness? Is not your wickedness so great? God can see your secret sin. Give up your arrogant arguments, just repent”. In some ways this words are similar to what he said in chapters 4-5. He says things with more poetic imagery, but he doesn’t bring anything new to the table. He says, Can a man be profitable to God? Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right, or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless. Is it for your fear of him that he reproves you and enters into judgment with you?” In essences, God is so unimaginably great that no person could do something that benefits him. So why does Job think that God is impressed with his righteousness? That same greatness guarantees that God’s knowledge and justice are perfect allows him to see your sins, and punish you, and that’s what’ he’s doing. Your suffering is not groundless, God sees your hidden sins—and now you are getting yours. 

He begins to try to expose Jobs sin, as he accuses Job of untold wickedness, mainly social injustice. “Is not your evil abundant? There is no end to your iniquities…For you have exacted pledges of your brothers for nothing and stripped the naked of their clothing… The man with power possessed the land, and the favored man lived in it…You have sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless were crushed”. He moves on to saying, God can see your secret sin. "Is not God high in the heavens? See the highest stars, how lofty they are! But you say, 'What does God know? Can he judge through the deep darkness? Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the vault of heaven.' He says, evil me have not found it possible to escape God’s judgment, though for awhile their house was filled with good things. But in the end, God said, depart from us, causing the righteous to see and be glad. Once again, the line of reasoning ends with repent, and ask for forgiveness. Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. Here he barrows a theme from Bildad and says “If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents (i.e. repent),” if you put down your idols and allow God to be your treasure, “if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver”, and if you delight yourself in the Lord, you will prosper, “and light will shine on your ways”.

Notice one thing in all this. This is the first speech in awhile that ends with a word of hope. “he saves the lowly. He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands."

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