Sunday, January 25, 2004

Eliphaz Speaks, Job Responds: Job 22-23

Job 22

Eliphaz's Third Response to Job

1Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2"Can a person's actions be of benefit to God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him? 3Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect? 4Is it because of your reverence for him that he accuses and judges you? 5Not at all! It is because of your wickedness! Your guilt has no limit!

6"For example, you must have lent money to your friend and then kept the clothing he gave you as a pledge. Yes, you stripped him to the bone. 7You must have refused water for the thirsty and food for the hungry. 8After all, you think the land belongs to the powerful and that those who are privileged have a right to it! 9You must have sent widows away without helping them and crushed the strength of orphans. 10That is why you are surrounded by traps and sudden fears. 11That is why you cannot see in the darkness, and waves of water cover you.

12"God is so great--higher than the heavens, higher than the farthest stars. 13But you reply, `That's why God can't see what I am doing! How can he judge through the thick darkness? 14For thick clouds swirl about him, and he cannot see us. He is way up there, walking on the vault of heaven.'

15"Will you continue on the old paths where evil people have walked? 16They were snatched away in the prime of life, and the foundations of their lives were washed away forever. 17For they said to God, `Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do for us?' 18But they forgot that he had filled their homes with good things, so I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.

19"Now the righteous will be happy to see the wicked destroyed, and the innocent will laugh them to scorn. 20They will say, `Surely our enemies have been destroyed. The last of them have been consumed in the fire.'

21"Stop quarreling with God! If you agree with him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you. 22Listen to his instructions, and store them in your heart. 23If you return to the Almighty and clean up your life, you will be restored. 24Give up your lust for money, and throw your precious gold into the river. 25Then the Almighty himself will be your treasure. He will be your precious silver!

26"Then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and look up to God. 27You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him. 28Whatever you decide to do will be accomplished, and light will shine on the road ahead of you. 29If someone is brought low and you say, `Help him up,' God will save the downcast. 30Then even sinners will be rescued by your pure hands."

Job 23

Job's Eighth Speech: A Response to Eliphaz

1Then Job spoke again:
2"My complaint today is still a bitter one, and I try hard not to groan aloud. 3If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his throne and talk with him there. 4I would lay out my case and present my arguments. 5Then I would listen to his reply and understand what he says to me. 6Would he merely argue with me in his greatness? No, he would give me a fair hearing. 7Fair and honest people can reason with him, so I would be acquitted by my Judge.

8"I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. 9I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him. 10But he knows where I am going. And when he has tested me like gold in a fire, he will pronounce me innocent.

11"For I have stayed in God's paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. 12I have not departed from his commands but have treasured his word in my heart. 13Nevertheless, his mind concerning me remains unchanged, and who can turn him from his purposes? Whatever he wants to do, he does. 14So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny. 15No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me. 16God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. 17Darkness is all around me; thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere.

Job Asks Why the Wicked Are Not Punished: Job 24

Job 24

Job Asks Why the Wicked Are Not Punished

1"Why doesn't the Almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain? 2Evil people steal land by moving the boundary markers. They steal flocks of sheep, 3and they even take donkeys from the poor and fatherless. A poor widow must surrender her valuable ox as collateral for a loan. 4The poor are kicked aside; the needy must hide together for safety. 5Like the wild donkeys in the desert, the poor must spend all their time just getting enough to keep body and soul together. They go into the desert to search for food for their children. 6They harvest a field they do not own, and they glean in the vineyards of the wicked. 7All night they lie naked in the cold, without clothing or covering. 8They are soaked by mountain showers, and they huddle against the rocks for want of a home.
9"The wicked snatch a widow's child from her breast; they take the baby as a pledge for a loan. 10The poor must go about naked, without any clothing. They are forced to carry food while they themselves are starving. 11They press out olive oil without being allowed to taste it, and they tread in the winepress as they suffer from thirst. 12The groans of the dying rise from the city, and the wounded cry for help, yet God does not respond to their moaning.

13"Wicked people rebel against the light. They refuse to acknowledge its ways. They will not stay in its paths. 14The murderer rises in the early dawn to kill the poor and needy; at night he is a thief. 15The adulterer waits for the twilight, for he says, `No one will see me then.' He masks his face so no one will know him. 16They break into houses at night and sleep in the daytime. They are not acquainted with the light. 17The black night is their morning. They ally themselves with the terrors of the darkness.

18"But they disappear from the earth as quickly as foam is swept down a river. Everything they own is cursed, so that no one enters their vineyard. 19Death consumes sinners just as drought and heat consume snow. 20Even the sinner's own mother will forget him. Worms will find him sweet to eat. No one will remember him. Wicked people are broken like a tree in the storm. 21For they have taken advantage of the childless who have no protecting sons. They refuse to help the needy widows.

22"God, in his power, drags away the rich. They may rise high, but they have no assurance in life. 23They may be allowed to live in security, but God is always watching them. 24And though they are great now, in a moment they will be gone like all others, withered like heads of grain.

25"Can anyone claim otherwise? Who can prove me wrong?"