DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
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.
‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.’1 Praise God for all we have received through Christ.
In another poem, during his second and final speech, Zophar sets out again the blinkered reasoning of the friends. He brings yet another tired tirade against the emptiness of wicked living. Nothing Job has said appears to have reached their hearts. Preconceived formulas of faith and theology have so dominated this small group that they have failed to perceive the obvious need sitting in front of them. Jesus spoke about the danger of those religious leaders who approach others in this way. He calls them ‘blind guides’ and warns that both they and their followers could well ‘fall into a pit.’2 What kind of pit do you think he had in mind?
Being part of a group that all believe the same theories about life has its weaknesses. Among them is their inability to hear Job’s dissent without feeling threatened (v 3). Like Bildad before him,3 Zophar regards Job’s lack of conformity as a threat or an insult. Apart from Job, these men all sound the same. Their scorn rejects diversity, trying to press others into its dreary mold.4
There is, of course, some truth in what Zophar is saying. He is right, but short-sighted. People may be highly exalted in this life but if they do not acknowledge the Lord their span is as short as a dream in the night (vs 6–8). Evil may taste sweet in the mouth while it lasts, but it often turns sour in the stomach (v 14). If riches are gained by the oppression of the poor, the resulting prosperity cannot endure the grave (vs 19–21). The problem is that Zophar’s theology is unbending, unyielding, reflecting neither the circumstances Job is facing nor the possibilities offered by repentance and grace. Here is legalism at its worst.
Paul wrote, ‘… knowledge puffs up while love builds up.’5 Ask God that his love and compassion for those in need may be added to your knowledge and doctrine today.
Loving Heavenly Father, I pray for troubled nations. I long to see your powerful interventions bring your righteousness into dark places.
1 John 1:17 2 Matt 15:14 3 Job 18:3 4 Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, Crossway Books, 1994, p223 5 1 Cor 8:1
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