Loading...

The Book of Job - Lesson 23

Job’s Last Address to the Friends (Job 26 and 27)

Job sarcastically thanks the friends for their wise words, which he doesn’t think were wise at all.

Duane Garrett
The Book of Job
Lesson 23
Watching Now
Job’s Last Address to the Friends (Job 26 and 27)

I. Sarcastic Introduction

A. Job sarcastically thanks the friends for their wise words, which he doesn’t think were wise at all.

II. The Power of God

A. Job declares the power of God over the earth, heaven and the places of the dead.

III. Job Refuses to Make a Hollow Confession of Sin

A. Job knows that he doesn’t deserve God punishing him like this and he is not willing to lie by confessing to something he hasn’t done.

IV. Job Declares that God Will Oppose His Enemies

A. Job may be referring to his enemies in general as well as the three friends.

V. The Fate of the Wicked

VI. Unexpected Nature of This Passage

VII. Arguments For Attributing This Dialogue to Job

VIII. The Three Cycles of Debate Describe Two Different Spiritual Journeys

A. The friends

B. Job


All Lessons
About
Class Resources
Transcript
  • When you see what you would describe as evil and injustice in the world, how does that affect your view of God? When someone is suffering, do you assume that it’s because they are getting what they deserve? This lecture gives you an overview of book of Job by describing his situation, how he interacts with his friends and God, and what we can learn about how God is managing the world.

  • Because there is nothing specific in the text that tells you when the book of Job was written, the sections in Job that allude to other passages of scripture give you some helpful clues. The structure of the book of Job focuses your attention on the main subject of the book which is God’s wisdom.

  • Other cultures in the ancient near east created literature with themes that are similar to the book of Job. The book of Job is unique because of his character and the answer that the book provides for the situation he is in.

  • Job is one of the wisdom books of the Old Testament. It covers more “advanced” topics than Proverbs and uses a variety of literary genres and allusions to other Biblical passages to explain and illustrate profound truths about God’s nature and his involvement in the world.

  • There is limited information in the book of Job about its geographical and historical background. However, it can be helpful to understand general information about the geography and history of the area to give you a context for reading and studying the book of Job. The author of the book of Job was a Hebrew poet who had an extensive vocabulary. Being uncertain about history and geography is good because the message is timeless.

  • Job contains literary elements that are similar to what you find in other Biblical books that are Apocalyptic. These elements include depictions of events in heaven and on earth, the emphasis on specific numbers and persevering in your faith in God, the references to mythological animals and God’s supernatural control of all events. 

  • Satan appears before God with an accusation against Job. Even though Job is described as, “upright and blameless,” Satan accuses Job of serving God only because Job is prosperous. God allows Satan to take away Job’s possessions, children and health. The remainder of the book is the dialogue of Job and his friends attempting to determine why this is happening.

  • Job curses the day he was born. When you carefully examine what he is saying, you realize that it is more intense than just saying that he wished he had never lived.

  • Eliphaz begins tactfully in his remarks to Job. He did not intend to do harm. However, he thinks God is causing Job to suffer because of a sin Job committed. He speaks accurately of the justice of God, but in Job’s case he misapplies it. He also gives a message he received from the, “night spirit.”

  • Eliphaz considers the message of the, “night spirit” a revelation from God. However, at it’s core, this message is inconsistent with God’s attitude toward Job, and creation in general.

  • Job’s theological worldview has fallen apart because he knows he doesn’t deserve to suffer. Eliphaz calls Job to repent. Job responds questioning why he is suffering, because according to his worldview, he hasn’t done anything to deserve it.   

  • Bildad is direct is his rebuke and admonition of Job. He uses metaphors to get his point across.

  • When Job’s friends describe God as all powerful in an attempt to comfort Job, he becomes terrified because he sees God as causing his suffering and there is nothing that can stop it.

  • Zophar assumes that Job is being punished because he sinned and accuses him of mocking God. Job's three friends move from tactful suggestions to open hostility. As Job is searching for answers, he becomes disappointed in his friends.

  • Job agrees with his friends that God is causing his suffering, but disagrees with them about why it’s happening. Job believes that God will eventually vindicate him.

  • Eliphaz appeals to the night spirit and the tradition of the elders to tell Job that he is a babbling and blaspheming fool.

  • Job begins by criticizing what his friends are saying to him and then professes his faith in God. Bildad responds harshly to Job.

  • Even though Job’s friends have criticized him, he has grown in his faith in God. Job is worn out and begs for compassion. When he gets nothing but contempt and hostility instead, he confesses his faith and hope in God. The messianic theology of Job is different from any other book of the Bible.  

  • Zophar uses metaphors that are found in other passages of scripture as well as Job’s own words to accuse Job of being wicked. However, Zophar made a serious error, which we need to avoid in our lives.

  • Job continues to wrestle with the presence of evil in the world and the apparent injustice of God. 

  • Eliphaz attacks Job as being wicked by twisting the meaning of what Job has said previously. The irony is that Job will be reconciled to God and will pray for Eliphaz.

  • Job wants to lay out his case before God by claiming his innocence. Job says that God is hidden and does as he chooses, but that God neither judges the guilty nor helps the righteous. Bildad responds by contrasting God’s holiness and human lowliness.

  • Job sarcastically thanks the friends for their wise words, which he doesn’t think were wise at all.

  • This is a poem about wisdom that divides the content of the book and points to a deep truth. It is inserted by the author of the book and is not attributed to Job or the friends.

  • The crisis that Job is experiencing is not just the material losses and physical suffering, but also his crisis of faith. He thought he understood what his relationship with God is all about but he feels that God has abandoned him for no apparent reason. Job laments the pain he feels from being disgraced and humiliated.

  • This is the last major statement that Job makes, other than his responses to God that come later. Job is taking a series of oaths that he has not committed any of the sins he mentions. The Bible is distinctive in declaring that all people are created equally, in the image of God. In ancient cultures, some people intrinsically have more value than others because of heritage, wealth, gender, race, etc. God looks on everyone impartially.  

  • Elihu is not mentioned either before or after his speech. He claims to be perfect in knowledge. Elihu thinks that the other three did not convince Job because they did not give a satisfactory answer, but Elihu ends up repeating what they have already said. He thinks that the doctrine of retribution is the answer to Job’s situation. Elihu is a warning to us that we don’t have all the answers.

  • The questions of the book of Job are, “How does God address the problem of evil and why do we serve God? God created a world that is stable and not chaotic. Where there was chaos, God brought in light, shape and beauty. Chaotic forces are necessary for life and God controls them.

  • People in ancient Mesopotamia lived in constant fear of the chaos, danger, ferocity of nature and they valued subduing, controlling and pushing back nature. Wilderness was something to be tamed and pushed back by civilization. In the Gilgamesh epic poem, Enkidu is transformed into a civilized man who protects the domestic animals from the wild animals. In Egypt, there were gods of the Black Land and gods of the Red Land. God sees everything in the world as entirely under his control.

  • God’s care for the animals and how this relates to the problem of Job. All of the things that we see as chaos, and out of control depend on God and thrive because he provides for them and things that he manages and glories in. God describes nature as good, unlike the night spirit that describes it with contempt and loathing. God knows how to manage the chaotic elements of creation.

  • The societies of the Ancient Near East had a high concept of justice. It was the duty of the rulers to uphold justice and protect the powerless. If you are a man who leads, you need to make sure that evil is held in check. Listen to people who come to you with a grievance. God is asking Job if he comprehends what it means to bring justice to the world. It involves both power and wisdom.

  • Behemoth is the plural form of a Hebrew word that refers to animals in general also specifically to wild animals. In Job, it’s also used as a metaphor representing the composite forces of the powers of the earth that are against God.

  • Behemoth is a dangerous power that God must reckon with. Some people think this is an allusion to animals that God created in Genesis 1:24. “Lady Wisdom” is the wisdom that God built into creation. Behemoth is dangerous and a force to be reckoned with, not the embodiment of good behavior. One aspect of principalities and powers is forces outside of the world we can see. In Revelation, God protects people from the fury and wrath of the beast, which is an oppressive power that seeks to take the place of God.  

  • Job 41 describes Leviathan. Leviathan is not a natural animal like a crocodile. Sometimes Leviathan refers to a large sea creature, and sometimes death, chaos and the embodiment of evil. Satan is present at the first of the book but he is never mentioned again. In order for God to deal with evil in the world, he must defeat Leviathan.

  • Leviathan is a ferocious creature that no human can subdue. God is saying that he is willing to oppose Leviathan and  is not frightened of Leviathan or intimidated by his boasting. God is the one who will defeat this enemy who seems unbeatable to humans. God tells Job that he will deal with Leviathan but God doesn’t tell him how he will do it. Job embraced God’s answer even though Job didn’t know how God would deal with evil.

  • Job announces that he has changed his outlook on evil, God’s governance of the world and his own suffering. Job knew that God is all-powerful. Now Job knows something more about how God uses his power. Should God be merciful to people who will still be evil? Eschatological is an event that can only happen by a work of God. Emergence of divine power within the historical context. Job admits that he didn’t understand the complexity that is involved in God conquering evil. God forgives Job’s three friends because Job interceded for them. God is showing his approval with job by publicly restoring him.

  • Job’s suffering brought him to a new understanding of who God is and what God is doing in the world. Job’s hope, and our hope, is in a heavenly redeemer that rose from the dead. Legalism comes about often when people hold to essential teachings but they don’t know God. They substitute the rules for relationship.

  • Job mentions composite animals similar to those described in other apocalyptic passages. Job had faith that God would do a work of salvation but didn’t understand everything that Jesus would do. There is a hidden plan of God to redeem people and conquer evil that is a major theme in apocryphal books and also in Job.

  • Job tells us about the heavenly mediator. Prior to his afflictions, Job’s life was almost god-like because he was relatively free of suffering. Job through his affliction, faces the problem of evil and the enormity of suffering in the human race. Even though some people commit evil and violent acts, Job describes them in pitiful terms.

  • Should virtue, or piety, be disinterested? If it’s not done for it’s own sake, is it real? Job’s love for God is not disinterested, but it is real.

If God is good and powerful, why do you see suffering in the world? Why do you serve God even when you experience suffering? How do you respond to others when they ask these questions? How have you answered them for yourself? These are such important questions that the entire book of Job is devoted discussing only these issues in the context of the perspective of the experiences of one person. 

The theme of the book of Job is timeless and singular. There are clues about its geographical and historical setting but nothing in the book itself that identifies the place or time of its writing. However, the setting is irrelevant because the questions that are addressed in the Book of Job are ones that people have asked in all cultures, throughout time. It would be distracting and even limiting to frame the dialogue in a specific time or culture. There are enough clues in the text to give you a general idea of the culture and time it was written in to help you understand the logic and metaphors used by the main characters in their dialogue. 

The complete book of Job is composed of the dialogue of Job, his friends and God regarding the issues of God's goodness, his power, and evil in the world. No historical events. No other personal, corporate or theological issues. Since these questions are central to your understanding of God's character and how he works in the world around us throughout history, the book of Job compels you to consider this question deeply and exhaustively. The point is that by the end of the book, you can understand and articulate who God is and how he works in your life and in the world. 

The value of this class is that Dr. Garrett helps you understand what the text means, the historical and theological implications, and how you apply it to your life. Dr. Garrett's knowledge of the Bible, understanding of the Hebrew language and background in Ancient Near Eastern history and culture inform his insights into the message of the book and what it means to you. He is skilled at explaining technical linguistic and theological issues in a way that helps you comprehend them and see how they apply to your life. Whether you are just beginning in your study of the Bible or you have had training at an advanced academic level, studying the Book of Job with Dr. Garrett has the potential change the way you understand God and also how you live each day. 

Recommended Books

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

The Book of Job: A Biblical Answer to Pain - Student Guide

Course: The Book of Job

Lecture: Job’s Final Retort to the three

 

The speech of Bildad was the very last thing we hear from the three friends. Job will give them a final answer and then the debate with the friends is over. After that we will have the poem on “wisdom.”

Let’s look at chapter 26 where Job begins his speech against the friends. It begins in chapter 26:2-4 with a sarcastic introduction, then a statement on the power of God in 26:5-14. Then Job will declare that he refuses to make a hollow confession of sin, 27:1-6. Job declares that God will oppose his enemies, 27:7-12; and a statement on the fate of the wicked, 27:13-23.

I. Sarcastic Introduction

The sarcastic introduction: “How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble! What advice you have offered to one without
wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! Who has helped you utter these words? And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?” For the most part, this is, as I’ve said, pure sarcasm. He hasn’t gotten any help from them at all. They have done nothing but abuse him and give him advice he did not need. So when he speaks of how great their advice was, obviously he is not serious. But as part of his sarcasm, in verse 4 he asks, “Who helped you utter these words?” So the point would be, “Your words were so wise, they were so powerful, you must have gotten them from somewhere else.” Then he adds: “And whose spirit spoke from your mouth?” Which takes us back to what? It takes us back to the night spirit and Eliphaz’s very first speech in chapter 4. Whether Job meant it that way or not, we as the readers can make the connection that the spirit that has inspired their words and has in fact twisted their words, is the night spirit, the satanic figure who has a gospel of nihilism.

II. The Power of God

Job then speaks of the power of God, 26:5-14: “The dead are in deep anguish, those beneath the waters and all that live in them. The realm of the dead is naked before God. Destruction lies uncovered. He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the water in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the full face of the moon, spreading his clouds over it. He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between the light and the darkness. The pillars of the heavens quake at his rebuke. By his power he churns up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces. By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent. And these are but the outer fringe of his works. How faint the whispers we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

This is kind of surprising, that Job would suddenly just make this declaration that God is powerful, that God is great, that God rules over the living and the dead, that God rules over all of nature. A number of interpreters are so confused and almost offended by this that they say, “These cannot possibly be the words of Job. These have to be the words of the friends because they are the ones who talk this way so much, about how great and powerful God is.” For example, a number of scholars will say, “These verses, verses 5-14, have been misplaced and they are actually part of say, Bildad’s speech.”

We will come back to this in a moment, but let’s first of all just see what he says. In verse 5 and 6: “God rules over the dead.” Notice the dead are conceived of as in two places. They are in the sea and they are in what is translated as “the abode of the dead” or “Sheol.” Sheol is the equivalent to Hades. It is sort of the underworld where the dead abide. Of course the sea is the sea, but it is also conceived of as a place that holds the dead. We even see this in the book of Revelation. When we come to the great judgment at the end of Revelation, it says “The sea gave up its dead.” So both the underworld of Sheol, or Hades, and the sea are conceived of as places where the dead are. The idea is, no one can escape from the power of God. One would think that at least the dead have somehow avoided God or escaped God; but God’s power is so great that he rules over even them.

It then speaks of how God functioned as the Creator, verse 7: “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space.” The northern skies is kind of a poetic way of speaking of what we would call outer space, the visible heavens when you look up at the sky at night and you see all the stars. And of course if you are in the northern hemisphere, you see all the stars that seem to revolve around the northern star. The metaphor is the spreading out of a tent. It says God spread out a great canvas tent and on this tent were all the stars; and you look up in the sky and you see the stars all up there. Then God puts the earth out in the middle of nothing.

So God is the creator of heaven and earth. In addition, God controls the earthly heavens, that is, what we would call the sky, and enables it to hold vast amounts of water. Verse 8: “He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.” It is an astonishing thing even to us when we look up at the sky and we can see a massive thunderhead and it will rain and rain and rain often for days on end. I think, how did the sky hold that much water? He is just using this as an illustration of how powerful God is, that he can take enormous volumes of water and suspend them in the air, to rain down upon us. He talks about how God can obscure the moon with his clouds. He talks about how the horizon is the limit of how much one can see, this is in verse 10: “He spreads out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness.” If you are out at sea, for example, or if you are on a large lake, something like that, the limit of what you can see of the earth is the water; above that you will see the sky. You will see the starry sky and then the black waters at night. He says that God is responsible for all of this. He is responsible for the light above, he is responsible for the horizon below. God in his power can make storms and he can calm storms, verses 11-13 again: “He churns up the sea and he can (verse 13) make the skies fair.”

We should also note he speaks of “by his wisdom he cuts Rahab to pieces.” Rahab
in this passage is to be understood again as kind of a chaos_____?(8:38.5),sea
dragon type figure, but really metaphorical for the storms and the powers of the
sea. God can control all of these things.

He basically is making a sudden and I guess we would say, unexpected statement about the power of God. We will have to come back and try to ask, why does he do this? Or to deal with the view of some scholars, is this actually a section that has been misplaced and should be put in the mouth of Bildad?

III. Job Refuses to Make a Hollow Confession of Sin

Job refuses to make a hollow confession of sin, 27:1-6: “Job continued his discourse: As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who
has made my life bitter, as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not say anything wicked and my tongue will not utter lies. I will never admit you are in the right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it. My conscience will not reproach me as long as I live.”

Once again, we read this and we think, “Wow! What an arrogant man!” But that is not the point in this book. We have to keep going back to the premise of the book, the very first verse of Job: “There was a man who was righteous, who feared God, who turned away from evil.” This is who he really is. For Job to
pretend that he had committed some sin that was the reason he had all of these terrible things happen to him, some sin that caused God to punish him; if Job were to pretend that was the case, he would be lying. So Job says flat out, “It would be a lie. My tongue will not utter lies by making a hollow, meaningless confession of sin.”

When you read these verses, do not read it thinking in terms of how we normally understand people, and rightly understand people. If I were to stand before you and say, “I am a righteous man, I never sin, I have achieved complete perfection before God” you would rightly say, “He is full of himself and he is a liar.” That is not true with Job. We need to see that that is of the essence of the book.

IV. Job Declares that God Will Oppose His Enemies

In verses 7-12 he says that God will oppose his enemies. “May my enemy be like the wicked, my adversary like the unjust! For what hope have the godless when they are cut off, when God takes away their life? Does God listen to their cries when distress comes upon them? Will they find delight in the Almighty when they call on God at all times? I will teach you about the power of God; the ways of the almighty I will not conceal. You have all seen this yourselves. Why then the meaningless talk?”

Job says that God will ultimately vindicate him and will reprove his enemies. He could be speaking just very generally about his enemies. You see this in the
psalter all the time. When the psalmist is speaking about his life before God and he is praying for God to help him, or he is assured of how God is with him, he will say something about his enemies. We even see this, for example, in Psalm 23. Psalm 23 of course, a beautiful psalm that speaks of God as our shepherd. He leads us beside the still waters. He watches over us. He takes us through the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Then he says, “You’ve set a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” It is a very common thing in the Old Testament when someone is speaking of how they believe God will deliver them and how God will vindicate them, that they also speak of the enemies. More specifically, however, in this case he is probably thinking of the three, the three friends – Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar – who have become so hostile to Job and are certain that Job is in the wrong. Job says that God will confront them and deal with them. In fact, Job is right. That is what God does. He does rebuke the three friends at the end of the book.

V. Fate of the Wicked

He then speaks of the fate of the wicked in verses 13-23: “Here is the fate God allots to the wicked, the heritage a ruthless man receives from the Almighty:
However many his children, their fate is the sword; his offspring will never have enough to eat. The plague will bury those who survive him, and their widows will not weep for them. Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay, what he lays up the righteous will wear, and the innocent will divide his silver. The house he builds is like a moth’s cocoon, like a hut made by a watchman. He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone. Terrors overtake him like a flood; and a tempest snatches him in the night. The east wind carries him off, and is gone; it sweeps him out of his place. It hurls itself against him without mercy as he flees headlong from its power. It claps its hands in derision; it hisses him out of his place.”

I think anybody can read that and get the main point. God punishes the wicked. It is very clear. They may be rich, they may be powerful, but their big houses that they had turned out to be no stronger than a cocoon or a spider’s web. God sweeps them all away. God punishes the wicked. When you read this, you can kind of get a sense of how the critical scholars think about this passage, why they argue the way they do.

First of all, remember Bildad’s speech was very short, only six verses long; very unusual for one of these three friends to say anything succinctly. And then Job says things that sound exactly like what the three friends say. He gives this big discourse on the power of God, how God made heaven and earth and how God makes the storms and how God rules over the dead. Then he talks about how God judges the wicked. It sounds exactly like something Eliphaz, Bildad or Zophar would say. So a lot of scholars will say, Well, probably part of this is Bildad’s speech; and probably part of it belongs to Zophar because of course, Zophar is just gone. He doesn’t give a third speech at all. So scholars believe part of these passages should be re-arranged so that some of it belongs to Bildad, some of it belongs to Zophar, but it has been accidentally all attributed to Job. Some scribe somewhere along the way miscopied a text. Is that the case?

In my opinion, it is not. In my opinion, the text as it stands is correct. Job uttered all of these words; and we need to simply come to terms with what Job is saying here and what it relates to. Against changing the text, against the idea that we should move these words around and attribute some to Bildad and some to Zophar, we need to think of what a satisfying conclusion to the three friends we actually have in Eliphaz’s and Bildad’s speeches.

Eliphaz concludes with this furious accusation of Job in which he accuses him basically of every sin a man can commit. He declares that Job is absolutely wicked. Eliphaz gives as his final speech that Job is wicked, that Job is in every sense one of the sinful men whom God naturally would punish and whom God would destroy. Bildad ends with the theology of nihilism, the theology of the night spirit, saying that man is a worm, man is a maggot. You really couldn’t have a better ending to the theology and the message of the friends. That is where they end up. Anything after that put in their mouths would be anticlimactic. So I don’t think we can say that these words actually belong to Bildad or to Zophar.

Some people will take a look at this passage and say, “Job is being sarcastic. The words actually belong to Job, but he is just continuing his sarcasm. After all, he begins with sarcasm.” Job 26:2. “How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble!” So they say that everything he says is sarcasm. Everything where he talks about the power of God and how God made the heavens and the earth and how God rules over everything, that is all pure sarcasm on Job’s part. When Job is going on and talking about how God punishes the wicked, that too is more sarcasm on Job’s part.

In fact, when you read it, there is nothing in those words that sounds sarcastic. It sounds very much like Job really means what he says: God is great, God is the Creator, God is the Maker of heaven and earth and God judges the wicked. So I don’t think we can do it that way. His recitation reiterates core traditional teachings about divine justice. Job believes everything he is saying.

VI. Unexpected Nature of This Passage

We need to go back to a starting point. Job is not different from his three friends in his basic theology. They believe God is great, Job believes God is great. They believe God punishes the wicked, Job believes God punishes the wicked. They believe God repays the righteous, and Job believes the same thing. Job is not really that different; and when he makes this great confession of faith, he is holding to the traditional wisdom and this is still part of his problem. He cannot reconcile it with his condition. He doesn’t know how to bring the two together. If Job did not hold to their theology, he wouldn’t have a problem. If Job believed God was not all-powerful, or if Job believed God did not judge the wicked, then he would look at his condition and just say, “Okay, this is just what happens, this is how life is.” There would be no theological crisis.

I think that when Job expresses what he does in these chapters, he is expressing a core conviction of his with a core conviction that is really troubled at this time. He wants to believe, but he is also experiencing things that contradict everything he believes. It is precisely Job’s confidence in God expressed in chapter 27 that gives meaning to his bewilderment and his desire to lay out his case before God.

VII. Arguments For Attributing This Dialogue to Job

To summarize, I believe that the words of Job in chapters 26 and 27 should be all attributed to Job. I believe they are not sarcastic. I believe he is confessing things he has always believed; but I believe it is precisely this confession of faith that gives him his troubles. Again, if he believed in a God who didn’t care, then he could just curse God and die, as his wife recommended.

VIII. The Three Cycles of Debate Describe Two Different Spiritual Journeys

The three cycles of debate are thus ended and they describe two different spiritual journeys.

A. The Friends

The friends begin with compassion, but end up hurling lies and insults at Job and end up holding to the nihilistic doctrine of the night spirit.

B. Job

Job begins in bleak despair, cursing the day of his birth, but fearlessly expresses the significance of his suffering. He sees the injustice of the world with new eyes, for he now has experienced it firsthand.

We have not explored this much, but it is worth taking note of. When Job gives those beautiful, poignant and yet painful presentations of how people suffer; how the orphan and the widow have their livestock taken away from them; how the poor lie out in night with no roof over their heads in the cold and the rain; how they starve; how they do all the hard work, but nothing good comes to them, he is more aware than ever before of the reality of human suffering and what an offensive thing it is. Before his suffering, like the three friends, he probably could have said, “I guess God is just punishing them for something.” Now he can’t do that. So Job has learned how to empathize and sympathize with people; and again, he sees the evil and the suffering of the world for what it is as a true offense. He cannot look upon the wretched of the earth without compassion, knowing that the claim that their ills are entirely their own fault is a lie. So Job has learned compassion from everything he has seen.

Job has groped about for the possibility of an eschatological solution. He realizes that people need a heavenly mediator between themselves and God.

He ends his discourses by confessing his faith in the power and the justice of God; but it is a hope against hope, a confession that he can declare, but that he cannot fully defend because of the crisis of his own faith. He believes, but he does not understand. So Job in his pilgrimage has become incredibly honest. He has not given in to the pressure that was put upon him by the three friends to confess to sins he did not commit. He has recognized how much injustice there is in the world. And out of it all, he has come to recognize his need for some kind of heavenly salvation, a heavenly eschatological redeemer.

This is where the debate between Job and the three end. Before we get to the second half of the book, we have a remarkable passage on the wisdom of God in Job 28, and that is what we will do next time.