Eliphaz said, "Who ever perished (like you Job) being innocent" (4:7)? "Are not thy wickedness great and thine iniquities infinite?" (22:5) Bildad said, "God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evildoers" (8:20) (so you must be guilty of something). Zophar said, "God exacts of you less than your iniquity deserves" (11:6) (since you are being afflicted). Why were these three accusers incorrect (42:7)?
Job responded sarcastically, "Yes, I realize you know everything! All wisdom will die with you" (12:2; Tay). "My righteousness will I hold fast. God forbid that I should justify you." (27:6). Job had no sin (Job 1:8). He was misrepresented by them (19:7). Job pointed out that the wicked sometimes live long and prosper and die in peace (21:2-7), in health (21:9), with plenty of cattle (21:10), and numerous happy offspring (21:11-12), and an easy death (21:13) even though they reject true religion (21:14-15). Other times the wicked are punished (21:16-21). So life is random (21:22-26; Matt. 5:45; Heb. 11:37-39; 1 Tim. 6:5) -- until the Judgment Day (21:27). Therefore, no certain conclusion can be drawn regarding whether men are good or bad based on the amount of suffering they endure in this life. Good men are sometimes delivered; and the wicked are sometimes punished. Other times the wicked prosper and the good suffer.
Elihu condemned Job's friends for blaming him for crimes they couldn't prove. "They had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job" (32:3). He confirmed the truth that virtue is not uniformly rewarded, nor vice uniformly punished in this life (32:21). It is true that we do reap what we sow -- eventually (Ps. 1; Gal. 6:7). God can do no wrong, and will render to every man according to his work (34:11). And again, "For he will not lay upon man more than is right; that he should enter into judgment with God" (34:23). But God tries and tests good men like Job and proves them, seeing what they can do and what they can take (1 Pet. 1:7; Job 23:10). Job will come "forth as gold" (23:10). Suffering can occur for many reasons (John 9:1-7). Trials may come because God wants to know how a person will react (Gen. 22:1-12). Suffering helps us become spiritually strong (2 Cor. 12:7-10; Heb. 12:4-12; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 4:12-19). Does that make God unfair? God doesn't have an obligation to explain himself to man. Sometimes suffering is beneficial. No pain, no gain. (Gen. 18:25; Rom. 9:20; 11:33-34; 2 Cor. 4:17; Rom. 8:18; 1 Pet. 2:21-23; Job 23:3-4; 31:37-40; Job 1:21; 2:10; 13:15). Prosperity and success are not owed to the righteous immediately. Its not merely cause and effect right away. A future judgment will redress all these irregularities, when ultimately the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked punished. Even in this life, after the test, God gave Job twice as much as he had before (42:10).
|The Odour of Affliction
Aromatic plants bestow
No spicy fragrance where they grow;
But crushed and trodden to the ground,
Diffuse their balmy sweets around -- Goldsmith
|"Forgetting God, in bitter shame it ends;
Like trusting a cobweb, which an insect rends." -- Job 8:14