The Wicked Prosper

Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?

Their offspring are established in their presence,
and their descendants before their eyes.

Their houses are safe from fear,
and no rod of God is upon them.

Their bull breeds without fail;
their cow calves and does not miscarry.

They send out their little boys like a flock,
and their children dance.

They sing to the tambourine and the lyre
and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.

They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol.

They say to God, ‘Depart from us!
We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.

What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’

Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand?
The counsel of the wicked is far from me.” Job 21:7-16

When you are down, you notice everyone who is up. Job’s exaggerated claims about how well it goes for the wicked says more about how angry he is about his own situation. And his three visitors aren’t helping.

Likewise, when you are blessed and happy, it is amazing what a fountain of advice you are to the foolish or lazy. To you, it’s all a matter of following instructions.

Today I look back on how we’ve lived and I believe we made a lot of good choices, and some bad ones. It’s tempting to connect the dots between some of the bad results and all of those choices. Surely, we must have done something wrong. If only. Meanwhile, you see people who did wrong who are getting better results.

Discouragement is a choice. So is envy. We must wait on the goodness of God during the days of trouble. It is He from whom all goodness comes, whenever it comes.

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:

“Therefore my thoughts answer me,
because of my haste within me.

I hear censure that insults me,
and out of my understanding a spirit answers me.

Do you not know this from of old,
since man was placed on earth,

that the exulting of the wicked is short,
and the joy of the godless but for a moment?

Though his height mount up to the heavens,
and his head reach to the clouds,

he will perish forever like his own dung;
those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’” Job 20:1-7.

Job is holding fast to his integrity and it is making Zophar furious. He wants Job to grovel and repent. Why is this? Does he think he is defending God’s honor? Does he think Job is just digging deeper into his sin?

Whatever it is, it reminds me of the back and forth recriminations between today’s political factions. Each wants to be right, and no one wants to put down the sword. There warfare is against flesh and blood instead of against the ruler of the darkness of this world.

Justice Beyond the Grave

FCC

“Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!

Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,

whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!” Job 19:23-27.

Job desires the justification of both history and a transcendant justice after his death. He wants a written record so the world will know, and a justified life. These are not just ideas or concepts. They are the longings of someone who has put all his hope in God, when it appears to have failed him.

What he wants is something only God can give. He can’t force this to happen, and humans are incapable of understanding it.

This is right where God wants us. He wants us to trust in Him alone, forsaking all other hope. He wants this of us whether we are healthy and full or sick and empty.

The People Versus Job

“Indeed, the light of the wicked is put out,
and the flame of his fire does not shine.

The light is dark in his tent,
and his lamp above him is put out.

His strong steps are shortened,
and his own schemes throw him down.

For he is cast into a net by his own feet,
and he walks on its mesh.

A trap seizes him by the heel;
a snare lays hold of him.

A rope is hidden for him in the ground,
a trap for him in the path.” Job 18:5-10.

Bildad is still building his entirely circumstantial case against Job. At least part of this is retaliatory, because Job has certainly leveled complaints against his three visitors. And that’s how the devil works. He gets us fighting against one another instead of the actual guilty party.

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” Luke 10:17-19.

We are under a totally different Covenant. We know more than the Ancients did. And we have powers that they did not have.

What You Don’t Know

“My days are past; my plans are broken off,
the desires of my heart.

They make night into day:
‘The light,’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’

If I hope for Sheol as my house,
if I make my bed in darkness,

if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’

where then is my hope?
Who will see my hope?

Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?
Shall we descend together into the dust?” Job 17:11-16.

According to many scholars, Job precedes not only Moses, but probably Abraham as well. He made sacrifices to God, but they were part of the framework left by Abel, whose blood sacrifice from his flock emulated God’s original sacrifice of the animals he used to make clothes for Adam and Eve. The Law had not yet been given to Moses.

God has made himself known in stages. He revealed the new reality of the curse after the fall of man, even hinting at a messiah who would crush the head of the serpent. But the hope of heaven does not come for a while. Job probably didn’t have that hope, just as he did not know about Satan.

We have so much more revelation than Job. Our deep well of God’s promises should keep us from ever feeling the despair of Job.