The Book of Job-Chapter Twenty:
Zophar (who roundly condemned Job back in Chapter 11) now speaks up again:
Verses 1-3: "Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I make haste. I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to answer."
It sounds like Zophar, who has been listening to Job's defense, has remained unimpressed and now he's going to erupt (or at least ooze a while). He lived long before Solomon, but could have benefited here from heeding the Proverbs about being slow to speak and slow to wrath:
Verses 4-5: "Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?"
Job's life and troubles are no mystery at all to Zophar. Job is clearly the hypocrite of whom he speaks. But it's all hogwash. It's scary and holy sounding, but it's all hogwash! A quick review of chapter one shows us plainly that Job is and was a "perfect and upright " man before God. Not that he never sinned, but he WAS following God as best he could at the time and was not a wicked man at all.
Verses 6-7: "Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?"
In his haste and wrath Zophar is contradicting God, saying that Job's righteousness was a sham and that Job's current state in the physical world proves it. Sometimes we can sound very holy and be very nasty at the same time. Mentioning Job's dung in this context is, I think, a cloaked form of cursing him out. And it's not going to get much better as Zophar continues:
Verses 8-9: "He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night. The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him."
Poof! You're gone, Job. That's what I hear in this. Sadly what Zophar means is that if and when your earthy blessings crumble, you're done for. For there is no more to a person or a life than those blessings. Satan may not have defeated Job yet but ironically Zophar, though yet unharmed physically in this struggle, has fallen deeply into his trap. Zophar now speaks as if Job were already dead and buried:
Verses 10-13: "His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods. His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust. Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth:"
A man like Job, in his friend's eyes at least, is so hypocritical and so evil that he can't even rest in death as his survivors must attempt to live down
the wickedness that the man cloaked away for much of his life. Don't forget this is all hogwash and bluster born of Zophar's legalistic attempt at worship and spiritual rationalization. Could he get more rude? Well...yep:
Verses 14-17: "Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him. He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly. He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper's tongue shall slay him. He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter."
His detached assessment of the end of an evil man's life on earth is a thinly veiled reference to Job's recent tragic losses.
Verses 18-22: "That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down: according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein. Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not; Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which he desired. There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods. In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him."
Paybacks. That is what this Gospel of works without true love is all about. Paybacks and punishments. And who is the horrid enforcer of all the misery in Zophar's cosmos?
Verse 23: "When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating."
He thinks it is God. A God whom he serves mainly from fear. How many today hold this kind of sad view of our Lord? One would be far too many.
And yet it permeates our own culture. God as both a single-minded executioner and a ridiculous genie in a bottle. That's a hollow religion to try to keep propping up and holding together. So hollow that no religion at all would be better. You see, Christ made an observation while living on earth after comparing the heavenly and eternal prospects of two distinct groups of people. Read what he said to the so-called religious group in Matthew 21:31 before returning to the close of Zophar's speech.
Verses 24-29: "He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him. All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle. The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him. The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath. This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God. "
He stops now even though he probably has plenty more he could say. Actually, I believe, he's pausing to check on old Job. I think he's was hoping to have pushed Job over the cliff of fear and into a pit of confession of his evil ways and acknowledgement that his recent tragedies are indeed only his just deserts from on High. But Zophar is waiting in vain. Job has come too far spiritually and suffered too much already to settle for this holy hogwash.