Today: [Job Nine] Who Can We Rightly Blame for Human Suffering? Have you ever cried out in pain “why God!”? Have you ever thought if you could just figure out where your problem originated you could somehow get out from under it? In this chapter Job is exhausted and whithering under the blows and accusations of his friends. He throws up his hands feeling as though there is no escape because he is resolutely convinced that all his suffering is being rained down upon him by God. Is this true? Who is at fault and does it really matter?
[Job 9:1-35 KJV] 1 Then Job answered and said, 2 I know [it is] so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? 3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. 4 [He is] wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened [himself] against him, and hath prospered? 5 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. 6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. 7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. 8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. 9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. 10 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. 11 Lo, he goeth by me, and I see [him] not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not. 12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
In the previous chapter Bildad joins Elipaz in accusing Job of sin. In this chapter Job answers Bildad and we can detect Job’s exhaustion. He is grieved. He is mourning. His body is suffering painfully. He is wincing under the heated accusations of the only people who have feigned to show any support in this trial. He answers Bildad and Elipaz thus allowing the conversation to be about what they want to talk about regardless of his suffering. Eldad and Bildad have taken the suffering of their friend and turned it into a theological argument just for the sake of hearing their own voices and to tear down Job and criticize him now that he is at a low place where they can safely do so.
It is sure that Job’s relationship with Eldad and Bildad was not always this way. In better times we cannot imagine Job having so few choices that he would allow these men to be his companions and those he would spend time with. Usually when someone doesn’t have a true love for you will simply withdraw from you when you are going through a severe trial. David spoke of this in the Psalms:
[Psa 38:11 KJV] 11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.
These three men went out of their way to gather themselves to Job and initially just their presence was no doubt a comfort to Job. When the open their mouth they do what Kitty and I call “the flip”. You may experience this yourself at times. You may feel secure in a friendship and believe you have a relationship you can rely on in a certain person. However something takes place in your life that causes that person to do exactly the reverse and suddenly become a bitter adversary that is within the boundaries of your vulnerability and now turns and attacks you. In Job’s case his friends do “the flip” because he is going through an unusual and severe time of suffering. This can also happen when great blessing comes to your life. Sometimes friends connect with you because they see themselves as a guide to the blind and a big brother or sister to a struggling person. Then when the favor of God comes upon you in great measure they no longer have a need to be your companion. Of course they won’t tell you “I’m cutting this relationship because you are more blessed than I am…” They will find some pretext to attack your character or pull you down in some way. They will also reach out to other companions you may share in common because this kind of bad character does not have the courage to act alone. Thus a hemorrhage may open up in your set of friends and you will suddenly find yourself alone and under assault.
Job is in such a predicament and is so vulnerable that he can’t help but open his mouth and engage in a dialog. The fact of the matter is that Elipaz, Bildad and Zophar are not interested in what Job has to say. In answering Bildad Job is trying to agree with him about no man being righteous but his argument falls on deaf ears. Bildad has denounced Job and is simply ignoring Job’s reply waiting on the opportunity to say something else.
13 [If] God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him. 14 How much less shall I answer him, [and] choose out my words [to reason] with him? 15 Whom, though I were righteous, [yet] would I not answer, [but] I would make supplication to my judge. 16 If I had called, and he had answered me; [yet] would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice. 17 For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause. 18 He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness. 19 If [I speak] of strength, lo, [he is] strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time [to plead]? 20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: [if I say], I [am] perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. 21 [Though] I [were] perfect, [yet] would I not know my soul: I would despise my life. 22 This [is] one [thing], therefore I said [it], He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. 23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
In verse 12 we see Job describing God as one that takes away “who can hinder him…” He goes on in resignation saying “what is the point of making my case with God seeing he has chosen not to withdraw his anger from me…” Now is God angry with Job? There is no indication in the previous chapters that God is angry with Job. Is God the one taking away from Job? No, God points out in the beginning that all Job has is in Satan’s hand because as Job confesses “the thing I greatly feared has come upon me…” So again Job persists in believing this is all God’s fault. We don’t even see an indication thus far that Job, or his friends even believe in a personal devil who might be the cause of all this.
In verse 17 Job says that God is breaking him and multiplying his wounds without cause. In other words he is saying “I don’t deserve this…” He is wrong on both counts. It isn’t God doing this to him and as a man born in sin he is an enemy of God and but for the grace of God any suffering could not be construed as unjustified. He surmises in verse 22 that the only conclusion he can come to is that God randomly and arbitrarily destroys the wicked and the perfect alike at his own whim and for his own murky agenda. Much Christian theology agrees with this however qualifying the reason for Christian suffering is “because God loves us so much…” This is patently false and contrary to everything God represents in the scripture about himself. Many scholars would argue about this and point out many scriptures wherein God seems to reach out to afflict both the righteous and the unrighteous but consider the following verses:
[Heb 1:1-2 KJV] 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
When God sent Jesus he changed how He was speaking to man. He spoke through Old Testament prophets and through the law of Moses originally. There are many things that are said through the law and the prophets that can give us a certain view of God. However NOW God is speaking to us through His Son. That means we must interpret everything we perceive that God is saying through the lens of the character of Christ. Did Jesus in the gospels ever give someone sickness or disease? Did he ever lay hands on anyone and bless them with a life of suffering? Many would argue with this to which I would reply are you volunteering? If God does choose suffering for us then why are we spending our lives trying to avoid suffering thus (supposedly) keeping ourselves out of God’s will?
24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, [and] who [is] he? 25 Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. 26 They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle [that] hasteth to the prey. 27 If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort [myself]: 28 I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent. 29 [If] I be wicked, why then labour I in vain? 30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; 31 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. 32 For [he is] not a man, as I [am, that] I should answer him, [and] we should come together in judgment. 33 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, [that] might lay his hand upon us both. 34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me: 35 [Then] would I speak, and not fear him; but [it is] not so with me.
In verse 24 Job says in his view the earth is in control of the wicked and God has declined to bring justice. He then asks the question “if this is not true then show me anything good or just happening in the earth…” This is the common question of skeptics. If God is a good God then why do little babies die? Again the supposition is that it is all God’s fault. There may be argument over whether we suffering because God is mad at us or because God loves us but the common opinion of believers and unbelievers alike is that all human suffering is God’s fault. If not God’s fault then whose fault? Whether you believe the bible or not it does answer this question in various places – one example:
[Isa 14:16 KJV] 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, [and] consider thee, [saying, Is] this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
Most scholars attribute this to Satan which is interesting. If they can’t lay the blame of the earth’s ills upon God then they turn and accuse Satan. Who else is left? Who are we protecting? Paul said in Corinthians:
[1Co 15:22 KJV] 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Interesting it doesn’t say “becauses of God we all die…” or “…because of Satan we all die…” It says in Adam we all die. Of all the metaphors of Satan in the bible calling him a serpent, a dragon, an angel of light, nowhere do we see him compared to or referred to as a man. This verse in Isa. 14 no doubt points to man. In Adam all die. If Adam had not have sinned Job would not be suffering. Not only that but the nature and character of Adam is in each of us and to the degree that Adam is responsible for causing the ills of mankind to that same degree his character in us often engenders either passively or by our own overt actions much suffering in our own lives.
God knew that human nature would look for someone to blame. Therefore he takes blame out of the picture by putting all the sins of the world upon Jesus. What part of sin has Jesus not paid for? What part of the wrath of God was not poured out upon Jesus on the cross? What portion of human suffering did Jesus not pay for on Calvary? Therefore the price is paid and we don’t have to play the blame game or be seduced by the demand to know “why” or find some esoteric, false meaning to suffering or life’s struggles. We have a Savior! He has paid the price that we might have life and life more abundantly!
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