If you recall from the last set of chapters, Job’s friends are trying to talk to him. They sound like all friends in the middle of a tragedy, which is that they are not helping. There is no comfort that can be derived and no figuring out of what he did wrong to the Almighty to incur his wrath. Job, being the faithful sort that got him into this mess, insists that it was not something he did but that God has reasons and purposes that he can’t understand. That must be it. In the end, we all make our own opinions on that but here is Job’s journey for the next few chapters while his friends continue to try to tell him that he deserved this somehow.
A friend responds to his interpretation of the last thing Job had said. Job believes that even though God has done all these things to him out of some sin that he isn’t aware of committing, God will also deliver him from it. I honestly didn’t get it at first but had to go back and get some help from the study section.
The friend basically insists that even though Job appeared to be good and in God’s graces all that time before this set of events, he was actually doing wrong without anyone noticing it and now that God did notice, Job was dealt with. God had turned from him essentially because Job was actually a bad person at heart.
Some friend. What’s he even still doing there?
Job basically tells him off, insisting in a way that is so familiar today that horrible people are allowed to prosper all the time without direct intervention from God. This awful set of events that have come down on him are not necessarily punishment for something because there are terrible people out there all the time who not only do terrible things to each other but turn their backs on God and don’t fear him. Being a bad person doesn’t bring this sort of calamity to someone’s life alone.
I love the way he ends it:
How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.”
Again a friend insists that Job was in the wrong and wicked and that was why all this has happened to him, not because of anything with God.
Job comes back at them again with the idea that plenty of bad people go around doing bad things and nothing happens to them. This is not a sign that he is a bad person. He has been faithful to God and continues believing that God will deliver him from all these things that have happened to him.
In this, he also insists that once God has given him a trial, he will be seen in the right. He knows he hasn’t done anything so wrong as to deserve all this. I’m sure he sounds crazy to his friends because it all happened and so suddenly. Still, he knows he follows God and that God will see that if he is given the chance to defend himself.
I want to take a minute to note that most of the bad things that he talks about people doing are commonplace things that we live with all the time, even things that some who call themselves Christians find themselves doing. This is not to say that Christians don’t mess up, but I think we all know that there are those out there who use that word to cover up doing bad things and as an excuse to control other people’s lives. Most of the chapter 24 is a long list of things that any given person I know does. There’s a whole piece of American culture that is against giving a handout to those in need for almost any reason.
And yet I realize that a central part of this whole passage is Job insisting that the trial would exonerate him and I can’t help but think that part of that is the knowledge that things that seem wrong are misunderstandings and that things that were wrong or mistaken were properly repented. God hasn’t expected us to do the right thing and do what He says since Adam and Eve but He has expected repentance, some way of making up to Him what they did.
A different friend says that no man can be in the right with God in that way that makes it sound like he thinks Job is talking about being able to have a conversation like equals. He goes on about how no man can be truly righteous. While I get where he’s coming from, I didn’t get the impression from the last two paragraphs that Job thinks he’s going to be able to argue it all with God as if they were equals. He just knows that if God looked at all of it, he would be seen as having been faithful to Him.
Job begins a rant in response, insisting that no matter what his so-called friends say, God knows how faithful he has been to Him and whatever this is, it is not a punishment for being wicked. These friends don’t have the wisdom or understanding of God to be able to know what the reason for all this is, but he knows that it is not about himself not being in keeping with God’s ways. He says this line that I just love at the end of 27:
And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”
This is the male equivalent of the Proverbs 31 woman. I know we haven’t gotten there yet, but oh my. This is still Job and his rant, but to hear him talk about the way it was. If only there were more people like this running around.
But then 30 turns with his present situation. He goes on then about how people treat him now that he has fallen from his previous position of respect since everything has happened.
The rant then ends in this chapter with a series of things that he could have done and respective punishments or consequences that he’d take for them. I know it sounds wierd to say it that way, so here’s an example:
“If my land has cried out against me and its furrows have wept together, if I have eaten its yield without payment and made its owners t breathe their last, let thorns grow instead of wheat, and foul weeds instead of barley.”