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Job 7-12

Job 7-12…Zophar

Job gets advice from a number of friends, but Zophar is the most critical in his approach. He tries to lock Job into the same system as his friends, namely that suffering comes from sin, so the solution must be repentance. We see this logic three times: from Eliphaz (5:17), from Bildad (8:20), and from Zophar (11:14).

In the first part of his speech, Zophar dismisses Job’s words as idle chatter. He can’t hear Job’s anguished cries in the context of despair, but rather focuses only on Job’s bold outbursts and questions. He accuses Job of being self-righteous and mistakenly charges Job of claiming to be flawless and pure before God. Yet neither of these claims can be found in Job’s earlier speeches. Zophar prays that God would rebuke Job. At the end of Job, this is exactly what happens, but Zophar and his two companions are also roundly rebuked as well!

Much of what Zophar says is doctrinally correct, but he lacks compassion. He has heard Job’s words, but not his heart. Part of what may be motivating Job’s friends is their own fears: if suffering comes from sin, then maybe they can avoid suffering if they avoid sin. But Job’s situation is much deeper than that, and the logic that suffering in this life comes directly as a result of specific sins we’ve committed is simply false.

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