Reading through the Bible together
In this chapter it is Zophar who is speaking. He is referred to as a Naamathite, which some think means a descendant of Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
Zophar tells Job that he claims too much for himself and wants to know whether Job’s supposed character will silence the rebukes of all men (v. 3). He blames Job for saying that his teachings are pure and that God looks with favor upon him (v. 4). Zophar wishes that God would teach Job the true secrets of wisdom so that Job would be doubly careful about what he says (v. 6).
He upholds the unapproachability of God (vv. 7-10), and that God and iniquity cannot be mixed (v. 11). God does not originate iniquity. The solution for Job, as Zophar sees it, is that Job should prepare his heart, spread out his hands to God, distance himself from iniquity, and not allow injustice around him (vv. 13-14). Then he could lift up his face without blemish, forget his troubles, his darkness would be like the morning, there would be hope, he would feel safe, no one would frighten him, and many would come and bow to him (vv. 15-19).
When Zophar speaks about the wicked and how their eyes will fail, that they have no place to flee, and that their hope will turn to grief and loss of life (v. 20), he is not thinking about the end of time but about the present. On the other hand, the answer for Job lies in his willingness to approach God and listen to Him. If Job does so, all the so-called blessings expected by many to be in the future, as the prophets of the Bible explained, will be indeed in the present life for him. Job will flourish and the wicked will go under, with he will witness it.
Zophar, like his other friends, are wrapped up in focusing on present time. If something good is to happen to a person, it was to happen to a person right now and not in dreaming about future blessings up in the sky. Archaeological discoveries from Egypt and Mesopotamia did us the favor to demonstrate to us that a lot of this kind of thinking in the modern era already existed back then. Zophar and his friends, are no exceptions.
We want to keep to the hope of the Advent alive like Job and not be drawn into thinking only of the present at the cost of the Advent expectation. In Jesus name, Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea