Was Job's Suffering Due To His Sins or Not?
Eliphaz (from Ishmael's son Teman -- Gen. 25:15) said, "Who ever perished (like you Job) being innocent" (4:7)? "Are not thy wickedness great and thine iniquities infinite?" (22:5) Bildad (from Keturah's son Shuah -- Gen. 25:2) 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, king of the Minnaei, 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)? Elihu the son of Barachel ha-Buzi (from Nahor's son Buz -- Gen. 22:21) apparently was innocent (Job 42:7).
Job, the son of Esau (p.383 Eusebius Prep. For Gospel) 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. In John 9:2 the disciples asked the Lord, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" His answer was, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be manifest in him."
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).
Rectitude alone makes life a success. Without it, it is a miserable failure. Whatever wealth, fame, and pleasure are obtained, they mean nothing. Righteousness is its own glory and reward. "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning." "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace." "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." "Everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
|The Odour of Affliction
The good man suffers but to gain,
And every virtue springs from pain;
As 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
"It is a strong argument for a state of retribution hereafter, that in this world
virtuous persons are very often unfortunate, and vicious persons prosperous."
"Though the mills of God grind slowly,
yet they grind exceedingly small;
Though with patience he stands waiting,
With exactness he grinds all." -- Logan
Herod the Great -- the cruel slayer of the innocents, and first
persecutor of Christianity, was overwhelmed with agonizing physical disease; and his numerous family was extinct in a hundred years. Pontius Pilate, who condemned Christ, was soon after expelled from office, and committed suicide. The infamous Nero, after slaying thousands of eminent Christians, among them Peter and Paul, -- attempted to take away his own life, but failing through cowardice, called others to his aid. How true are the words of the Bible respecting the foes of the Almighty -- "His enemies shall lick the dust" and "whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein." -- E. Foster
Frankincense, when it is put into the fire, giveth the greater perfume; spice, if it be pounded, smelleth the sweeter; the
earth when it is torn up with the plough, becometh more
fruitful; the seed in the ground, after frost and winter storms,
springeth the ranker; the nigher the vine is pruned to the
stock, the greater grape it yieldeth; fine gold is better when it
is cast in the fire; rough stones, when hewing, are squared for building. These are familiar examples to show the benefit which the children of God receive from tribulation. -- Bp. Jewel
"Till from the straw the flail the corn doth beat,
Until the chaff be purged from the wheat,
Yea, till the mill the grain in pieces tear,
The richness of the flour will scarce appear:
So, till men's persons great afflictions touch,
If worth be found, their worth is not so much;
Because, like wheat in straw, they have not yet
That value which in threshing they may get;
For till the bruising-flails of God's corrections
Have threshed out of us our vain affections;
Till those corruptions which do misbecome us
Are by Thy Sacred Spirit winnowed from us;
Until from us the straw of worldly treasures,
Till all the dusty chaff of empty pleasures,
Yea, till His flail upon us He doth lay,
To thresh the husk of this our flesh away,
And leave the soul uncovered; nay, yet more
Till God shall make our very spirit poor,
We shall not up to highest wealth aspire,
But then we shall, and that is my desire." -- Abp. Trench