Reading through the Bible together
Job answered Zophar the same way he did Bildad: “For unto the day of calamity is the wicked reserved, for the day of wrath they are brought” (v. 30). This is the main contention of Job with his friends. He wants to keep to the topic of the wicked at the end time and tries to compare their destiny to his at the present. He tells his friends not to speak to him without eye-contact “face me and be silent and listen” (v. 5). “Am I not speaking to a fellow human and if [so] why should my heart and spirit be cut off?” (v. 4). His friends are human but their thinking is wrong. Job wants them to “put a hand upon the mouth.”
Job, in his sick state asked why the wicked are prospering when the faithful are suffering. “Why do the wicked live on, grow strong and also powerfully rich?” (v. 7). Job was rich but he was faithful. He is asking this question not like one who does not know the answer. He knows the answer since he says “And when I remember, I become frightened and shuddering seizes my flesh” (v. 6). This is showing the reaction when he thinks of the finality of the wicked. Then Job lists all their success stories: their seed is established (v. 8); their houses have peace from fear (v. 9); God’s rod is not upon them (v. 9); the bull and cows are always plentiful (v. 10); they have many children and they dance (v. 11); they raise their voices, play the tambourine and the harp and respond joyfully to the sound of the flute (v. 12).
When a wicked man dies, he dies and is quickly placed in the grave (v. 13). The wicked send God away and do not wish to know His ways (v. 14). They see no necessity to worship the Almighty and prayer would be of no advantage to them (v. 15). Job asks a rhetorical question whether the prosperity of the wicked is in their hands? Job knows the answer, it is not. He says that the counsel of the wicked is distanced from him (v. 16). Living now with suffering and the successful wicked around him, Job knows the end is coming that will take care of them. He asks the “How long” question. Other “How long” texts are: Isaiah 6:11; Isaiah 10:24; Habakkuk 1:2; Joel, and Luke 16:16.
God has a program of delay but it is not precisely set and can’t be changed as some theologians think. Ellen White says, “The long night of gloom is trying but the morning is deferred in mercy, because if the Master should come, so many would be found unready” 2Testimonies 194 (1868). Delay theology is part of the remnant and the composite parts are: a theology of the Advent, of waiting, of mercy, and empowerment. While Job asks “How long?” he knows that “the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out and their ruin will fall on them in the end (v. 17). The wicked will be like chaff and straw (v. 18). Their peace is not in their own hands and their time has been cut off (vv. 19-21).
The wicked focus only on making money to buy property so that their children can live well but, says Job, their days are numbered. They do not live forever. God is in control (v. 22). One person dies in full strength, tranquil and peaceful, and he has partaken of good things (v. 23). The other one “dies with bitterness in the soul and does not eat good things” (v. 25). Together on the dust they lie and worms cover them (v. 26).
In verse 27 Job complains to his friends because they are tagging him as evil without proper understanding and thinking. They seem to arbitrarily allocate a certain section of humanity as good, the “Princes” and another as evil the “Wicked” (v. 28). But the ways of God at the end of time are certain and no one can change that (v. 31). Job ends by saying, to his friends, “How can you comfort me with empty words, since falsehood is in your answers (v. 32).
Pursuing our dreams can sometimes be nothing more than eventually burying us next to what we have accumulated. Gaining the whole world and losing our souls is not worth the energy. Keep us focused on You, dear Lord. Amen.
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea