Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse
Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages
“Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest?” ~Job 21:22
Job tells his friends that they are in denial. If they understood the way the world really worked, they would be astonished. They would clap their hands over their mouths in horror (Job 21:5)! The wicked do prosper, Job argues. And in a parody of previous poems, he replaces the prosperity of the righteous with the prosperity of the wicked. They grow old and have large families. They throw parties where they eat, drink, and dance to the music. They don’t pray, and yet they prosper. No one can deny this is reality unless he lives in another world! Don’t these fellows ever get out? Have they never conversed with travelers who can tell them about the wealth of the wicked in far away lands?
Job’s complaint (one we can all relate to) is met with a vehement rebuttal. Eliphaz has no tolerance for Job’s worldview because obviously Job is deflecting and still doesn’t grasp his own need for repentance. Eliphaz becomes even more direct and cutting than before. “Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?” (Job 22:5). In desperation, Eliphaz tries to get more “sin specific.” When Job was a wealthy man, he could have been more generous. Yes, that’s it! That’s why he suffers now! No doubt Eliphaz even has specific incidents in mind (incidents for which he assumes he knows Job’s motivation and intent). Job was proud and selfish. He should have shown more humility and gratitude and been more generous with his possessions!
Neither Job nor Eliphaz are getting it right at this point. How can they when they do not know the whole story? The men are groping for answers, and there is some truth in almost everything they’re saying here. Yes, wicked people prosper; Job is right on this. Yes, wicked people endure punishment for their sin; Eliphaz is right on this. What the Scriptures teach on this topic is that wicked people often prosper for a while, but in the end, they do receive punishment (see Psalm 37 and 73). Job and his friend are right and wrong. However, even if they both spoke the exact truth, they are still a long way from knowing what is actually happening behind the curtain. God is up to more than they know or suspect. No one has yet hit on the larger issue—the mysterious ways of God. Sometimes He allows hurtful things into our lives without immediately disclosing His reasons.
There are times when we may not be able to understand what God is doing and theological analysis won’t answer every question. However, even when we cannot understand exactly what God is doing, we CAN remember the truth: He loves us, He is accomplishing good in our pain, and in His time, He will rescue us.