SUPERB, BUT IS IT TRUE?
To you, the Holy One, I give thanks and praise. Your poise and grace under pressure humble me. Infuse me now with renewed strength as I seek to live for your glory today.
Read JOB 20
20 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
2 “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer
because I am greatly disturbed.
3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,
and my understanding inspires me to reply.
4 “Surely you know how it has been from of old,
ever since mankind[a] was placed on the earth,
5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief,
the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.
6 Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens
and his head touches the clouds,
7 he will perish forever, like his own dung;
those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’
8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,
banished like a vision of the night.
9 The eye that saw him will not see him again;
his place will look on him no more.
10 His children must make amends to the poor;
his own hands must give back his wealth.
11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones
will lie with him in the dust.
12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth
and he hides it under his tongue,
13 though he cannot bear to let it go
and lets it linger in his mouth,
14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;
it will become the venom of serpents within him.
15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed;
God will make his stomach vomit them up.
16 He will suck the poison of serpents;
the fangs of an adder will kill him.
17 He will not enjoy the streams,
the rivers flowing with honey and cream.
18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;
he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.
19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;
he has seized houses he did not build.
20 “Surely he will have no respite from his craving;
he cannot save himself by his treasure.
21 Nothing is left for him to devour;
his prosperity will not endure.
22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;
the full force of misery will come upon him.
23 When he has filled his belly,
God will vent his burning anger against him
and rain down his blows on him.
24 Though he flees from an iron weapon,
a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.
25 He pulls it out of his back,
the gleaming point out of his liver.
Terrors will come over him;
26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures.
A fire unfanned will consume him
and devour what is left in his tent.
27 The heavens will expose his guilt;
the earth will rise up against him.
28 A flood will carry off his house,
rushing waters[b] on the day of God’s wrath.
29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked,
the heritage appointed for them by God.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).’ Pray this slowly, repeating it a few times.
Zophar comes in for a second bite, unable to remain silent in the face of Job’s flawed thinking. It’s a remarkable speech to illustrate his central point that ‘the joy of the godless lasts but a moment’ (v 5). He piles up images to show the destructive nature of sin, both for the perpetrator (v 7) and the victim (v 19) of wickedness. This is compounded by God’s burning anger (vs 23–29). It is a brilliantly constructed piece. But it’s not exactly true to life – and has little relevance to Job.
We must not be fooled by brilliant oratory or taken in by how we might like things to be. It is so easy to turn what we would like to be true into our theology. God will judge all people. How and when he chooses to do so is entirely his prerogative (v 29). Anti-Christian regimes and dictators continue to rule, despite our prayers for their end. Oppressors live long and prosper. We ache for the 90% of young people in Bolivia who suffer some form of abuse.* Why Lord? What we do know is that at the last, enemies will be made footstools and death swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:25,54).
God is grieved by the state of the world. How do we begin to feel his grief, remain conscious of our own sinfulness, and work for change?
Loving Heavenly Father, I pray for troubled nations. I long to see your powerful interventions bring your righteousness into dark places.
*Source: Tear Fund Prayer Diary www.tearfund.org
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