Job’s Response

Why Do the Wicked Have It So Good?

21 1-3 Job replied:

“Now listen to me carefully, please listen,
    at least do me the favor of listening.
Put up with me while I have my say—
    then you can mock me later to your heart’s content.

4-16 “It’s not you I’m complaining to—it’s God.
    Is it any wonder I’m getting fed up with his silence?
Take a good look at me. Aren’t you appalled by what’s happened?
    No! Don’t say anything. I can do without your comments.
When I look back, I go into shock,
    my body is racked with spasms.
Why do the wicked have it so good,
    live to a ripe old age and get rich?
They get to see their children succeed,
    get to watch and enjoy their grandchildren.
Their homes are peaceful and free from fear;
    they never experience God’s disciplining rod.
Their bulls breed with great vigor
    and their cows calve without fail.
They send their children out to play
    and watch them frolic like spring lambs.
They make music with fiddles and flutes,
    have good times singing and dancing.
They have a long life on easy street,
    and die painlessly in their sleep.
They say to God, ‘Get lost!
    We’ve no interest in you or your ways.
Why should we have dealings with God Almighty?
    What’s there in it for us?’
But they’re wrong, dead wrong—they’re not gods.
    It’s beyond me how they can carry on like this!

17-21 “Still, how often does it happen that the wicked fail,
    or disaster strikes,
    or they get their just deserts?
How often are they blown away by bad luck?
    Not very often.
You might say, ‘God is saving up the punishment for their children.’
    I say, ‘Give it to them right now so they’ll know what they’ve done!’
They deserve to experience the effects of their evil,
    feel the full force of God’s wrath firsthand.
What do they care what happens to their families
    after they’re safely tucked away in the grave?

Fancy Funerals with All the Trimmings

22-26 “But who are we to tell God how to run his affairs?
    He’s dealing with matters that are way over our heads.
Some people die in the prime of life,
    with everything going for them—
    fat and sassy.
Others die bitter and bereft,
    never getting a taste of happiness.
They’re laid out side by side in the cemetery,
    where the worms can’t tell one from the other.

27-33 “I’m not deceived. I know what you’re up to,
    the plans you’re cooking up to bring me down.
Naively you claim that the castles of tyrants fall to pieces,
    that the achievements of the wicked collapse.
Have you ever asked world travelers how they see it?
    Have you not listened to their stories
Of evil men and women who got off scot-free,
    who never had to pay for their wickedness?
Did anyone ever confront them with their crimes?
    Did they ever have to face the music?
Not likely—they’re given fancy funerals
    with all the trimmings,
Gently lowered into expensive graves,
    with everyone telling lies about how wonderful they were.

34 “So how do you expect me to get any comfort from your nonsense?
    Your so-called comfort is a tissue of lies.”

Eliphaz Attacks Job—The Third Round

Come to Terms with God

22 1-11 Once again Eliphaz the Temanite took up his theme:

“Are any of us strong enough to give God a hand,
    or smart enough to give him advice?
So what if you were righteous—would God Almighty even notice?
    Even if you gave a perfect performance, do you think
        he’d applaud?
Do you think it’s because he cares about your purity
    that he’s disciplining you, putting you on the spot?
Hardly! It’s because you’re a first-class moral failure,
    because there’s no end to your sins.
When people came to you for help,
    you took the shirts off their backs, exploited their helplessness.
You wouldn’t so much as give a drink to the thirsty,
    or food, not even a scrap, to the hungry.
And there you sat, strong and honored by everyone,
    surrounded by immense wealth!
You turned poor widows away from your door;
    heartless, you crushed orphans.
Now you’re the one trapped in terror, paralyzed by fear.
    Suddenly the tables have turned!
How do you like living in the dark, sightless,
    up to your neck in flood waters?

12-14 “You agree, don’t you, that God is in charge?
    He runs the universe—just look at the stars!
Yet you dare raise questions: ‘What does God know?
    From that distance and darkness, how can he judge?
He roams the heavens wrapped in clouds,
    so how can he see us?’

15-18 “Are you going to persist in that tired old line
    that wicked men and women have always used?
Where did it get them? They died young,
    flash floods sweeping them off to their doom.
They told God, ‘Get lost!
    What good is God Almighty to us?’
And yet it was God who gave them everything they had.
    It’s beyond me how they can carry on like this!

19-20 “Good people see bad people crash, and call for a celebration.
    Relieved, they crow,
‘At last! Our enemies—wiped out.
    Everything they had and stood for is up in smoke!’

21-25 “Give in to God, come to terms with him
    and everything will turn out just fine.
Let him tell you what to do;
    take his words to heart.
Come back to God Almighty
    and he’ll rebuild your life.
Clean house of everything evil.
    Relax your grip on your money
    and abandon your gold-plated luxury.
God Almighty will be your treasure,
    more wealth than you can imagine.

26-30 “You’ll take delight in God, the Mighty One,
    and look to him joyfully, boldly.
You’ll pray to him and he’ll listen;
    he’ll help you do what you’ve promised.
You’ll decide what you want and it will happen;
    your life will be bathed in light.
To those who feel low you’ll say, ‘Chin up! Be brave!’
    and God will save them.
Yes, even the guilty will escape,
    escape through God’s grace in your life.”

Job’s Defense

I’m Completely in the Dark

23 1-7 Job replied:

“I’m not letting up—I’m standing my ground.
    My complaint is legitimate.
God has no right to treat me like this—
    it isn’t fair!
If I knew where on earth to find him,
    I’d go straight to him.
I’d lay my case before him face-to-face,
    give him all my arguments firsthand.
I’d find out exactly what he’s thinking,
    discover what’s going on in his head.
Do you think he’d dismiss me or bully me?
    No, he’d take me seriously.
He’d see a straight-living man standing before him;
    my Judge would acquit me for good of all charges.

8-9 “I travel East looking for him—I find no one;
    then West, but not a trace;
I go North, but he’s hidden his tracks;
    then South, but not even a glimpse.

10-12 “But he knows where I am and what I’ve done.
    He can cross-examine me all he wants, and I’ll pass the test with honors.
I’ve followed him closely, my feet in his footprints,
    not once swerving from his way.
I’ve obeyed every word he’s spoken,
    and not just obeyed his advice—I’ve treasured it.

13-17 “But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?
    He does what he wants, when he wants to.
He’ll complete in detail what he’s decided about me,
    and whatever else he determines to do.
Is it any wonder that I dread meeting him?
    Whenever I think about it, I get scared all over again.
God makes my heart sink!
    God Almighty gives me the shudders!
I’m completely in the dark,
    I can’t see my hand in front of my face.”

An Illusion of Security

24 1-12 “But if Judgment Day isn’t hidden from the Almighty,
    why are we kept in the dark?
There are people out there getting by with murder—
    stealing and lying and cheating.
They rip off the poor
    and exploit the unfortunate,
Push the helpless into the ditch,
    bully the weak so that they fear for their lives.
The poor, like stray dogs and cats,
    scavenge for food in back alleys.
They sort through the garbage of the rich,
    eke out survival on handouts.
Homeless, they shiver through cold nights on the street;
    they’ve no place to lay their heads.
Exposed to the weather, wet and frozen,
    they huddle in makeshift shelters.
Nursing mothers have their babies snatched from them;
    the infants of the poor are kidnapped and sold.
They go about patched and threadbare;
    even the hard workers go hungry.
No matter how backbreaking their labor,
    they can never make ends meet.
People are dying right and left, groaning in torment.
    The wretched cry out for help
    and God does nothing, acts like nothing’s wrong!

13-17 “Then there are those who avoid light at all costs,
    who scorn the light-filled path.
When the sun goes down, the murderer gets up—
    kills the poor and robs the defenseless.
Sexual predators can’t wait for nightfall,
    thinking, ‘No one can see us now.’
Burglars do their work at night,
    but keep well out of sight through the day.
    They want nothing to do with light.
Deep darkness is morning for that bunch;
    they make the terrors of darkness their companions in crime.

18-25 “They are scraps of wood floating on the water—
    useless, cursed junk, good for nothing.
As surely as snow melts under the hot, summer sun,
    sinners disappear in the grave.
The womb has forgotten them, worms have relished them—
    nothing that is evil lasts.
    they prey on those less fortunate.
However much they strut and flex their muscles,
    there’s nothing to them. They’re hollow.
They may have an illusion of security,
    but God has his eye on them.
They may get their brief successes,
    but then it’s over, nothing to show for it.
Like yesterday’s newspaper,
    they’re used to wrap up the garbage.
You’re free to try to prove me a liar,
    but you won’t be able to do it.”

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