Job Chapter Twenty
You would think that Job’s confession of his faith in God in chapter 19 would have satisfied his friends or at least caused them to not attack him further but such is not the case. They don’t seem to have been paying attention to his words at all. So Zophar, in his second discourse, attacks Job with as much or more vehemence as before. His subject does not change; it’s still on how that the wicked man can be assured and certain of the misery and ruin that he will have to endure because of his wickedness.
Read Job 20:1-9
v1-3. “THEN ANSWERED ZOPHAR THE NAAMATHITE, AND SAID, THEREFORE DO MY THOUGHTS CAUSE ME TO ANSWER, AND FOR this I MAKE HASTE. I HAVE HEARD THE CHECK OF MY REPROACH, AND THE SPIRIT OF MY UNDERSTANDING CAUSETH ME TO ANSWER.”
Zophar appears to be angry. Since he resolved to condemn Job as a bad man he’s was very much displeased to here him speak as a good man. It would seem that he actually broke in on Job and begins this discourse very abruptly. He takes absolutely no notice of what Job said to move them to compassion, he does not acknowledge Job’s integrity but instead chastises him for the reproof of them that Job has just ended. He heard the check of his reproach, Job’s chastising of them for their empty words and lack of wisdom and he’s firing back.
It is common for men to mistake passion for reason and therefore think that they do well to be angry.
Zophar begins to lay down the foundation of his argument again that the ruin and destruction of wicked people was due to their sin. He insinuates that because Job was destroyed and ruined he must have certainly been a very wicked man and a hypocrite. He begins in the next two verses:
v4-5. “KNOWEST THOU not THIS OF OLD, SINCE MAN WAS PLACED UPON EARTH, THAT THE TRIUMPHING OF THE WICKED is SHORT, AND THE JOY OF THE HYPOCRITE but FOR A MOMENT?”
Can you be ignorant of a truth so plain? Can you ignore a truth which has been confirmed by the suffrages of mankind? Something that has been experienced by all ages. It was known of old, since man was placed upon the earth; that is, ever since man was made he has had this truth written in his heart, that the sin of sinners will be their ruin; and ever since there were instances of wickedness there were instances of the punishment of it, beginning with Adam and Cain.
Psalms 37:35-36 “I HAVE SEEN THE WICKED IN GREAT POWER, AND SPREADING HIMSELF LIKE A GREEN BAY TREE. YET HE PASSED AWAY, AND, LO, HE was NOT: YEA, I SOUGHT HIM, BUT HE COULD NOT BE FOUND.”
v6-9. “THOUGH HIS EXCELLENCY MOUNT UP TO THE HEAVENS, AND HIS HEAD REACH UNTO THE CLOUDS; yet HE SHALL PERISH FOR EVER LIKE HIS OWN DUNG: THEY WHICH HAVE SEEN HIM SHALL SAY, WHERE is HE? HE SHALL FLY AWAY AS A DREAM, AND SHALL NOT BE FOUND: YEA, HE SHALL BE CHASED AWAY AS A VISION OF THE NIGHT. THE EYE ALSO which SAW HIM SHALL see him NO MORE; NEITHER SHALL HIS PLACE ANY MORE BEHOLD HIM.”
It is not man’s wisdom and virtue, but his worldly wealth or greatness, that he accounts as his excellency and uses to value himself. We will suppose that to mount up to the heavens, and, since his spirit always rises with his condition, you may suppose that with it his head reaches to the clouds. In other words, he thinks very highly of himself. Zophar is confident that accordingly his ruin will be just as great; his fall will be greater and more fearful because he has risen so high. This is certainly true of impenitent sinners in the other world; they shall be undone, forever. But Zophar means his ruin in this world; and indeed sometimes God did visit destruction on the sinful of this world, even at one time destroyed it all but eight people.
He will be brought to destruction in a moment, so that those about him, that saw him but just now, will ask, where is he? Where is the one that made so great a figure? Why did he vanish, disappear so quickly.
He shall fly away upon the wings of his own terrors, and be chased away by the just imprecations of all about him, who are glad to get rid of him.
It will be final, the eye that saw him, and was ready to hold him high, shall see him no more, and the place he filled shall no more behold him having given him an eternal farewell when he went to his own place, just like Judas.
Acts 1:25 “THAT HE MAY TAKE PART OF THIS MINISTRY AND APOSTLESHIP, FROM WHICH JUDAS BY TRANSGRESSION FELL, THAT HE MIGHT GO TO HIS OWN PLACE.”
Read Job 20:10-22
v10-22. “HIS CHILDREN SHALL SEEK TO PLEASE THE POOR, AND HIS HANDS SHALL RESTORE THEIR GOODS. HIS BONES ARE FULL of the sin OF HIS YOUTH, WHICH SHALL LIE DOWN WITH HIM IN THE DUST. THOUGH WICKEDNESS BE SWEET IN HIS MOUTH, though HE HIDE IT UNDER HIS TONGUE; though HE SPARE IT, AND FORSAKE IT NOT; BUT KEEP IT STILL WITHIN HIS MOUTH: yet HIS MEAT IN HIS BOWELS IS TURNED, it is THE GALL OF ASPS WITHIN HIM. HE HATH SWALLOWED DOWN RICHES, AND HE SHALL VOMIT THEM UP AGAIN: GOD SHALL CAST THEM OUT OF HIS BELLY. HE SHALL SUCK THE POISON OF ASPS: THE VIPER'S TONGUE SHALL SLAY HIM. HE SHALL NOT SEE THE RIVERS, THE FLOODS, THE BROOKS OF HONEY AND BUTTER. THAT WHICH HE LABOURED FOR SHALL HE RESTORE, AND SHALL NOT SWALLOW it DOWN: ACCORDING TO his SUBSTANCE shall THE RESTITUTION be, AND HE SHALL NOT REJOICE therein. BECAUSE HE HATH OPPRESSED and HATH FORSAKEN THE POOR; because HE HATH VIOLENTLY TAKEN AWAY AN HOUSE WHICH HE BUILDED NOT; SURELY HE SHALL NOT FEEL QUIETNESS IN HIS BELLY, HE SHALL NOT SAVE OF THAT WHICH HE DESIRED. THERE SHALL NONE OF HIS MEAT BE LEFT; THEREFORE SHALL NO MAN LOOK FOR HIS GOODS. IN THE FULNESS OF HIS SUFFICIENCY HE SHALL BE IN STRAITS: EVERY HAND OF THE WICKED SHALL COME UPON HIM.”
In this section of Zophar’s discourse the instances are given of the miserable condition of the wicked man in this world and expressed with great fullness and fluency of language, and the same thing turned to again and repeated in other words.
First the wickedness for which he is being punished:
The lusts of the flesh, the sins of his youth (v11), those sins which at that age, mankind is most tempted to commit. The forbidden pleasure of sense, that which appeals to the sensual; that which is said to be sweet in his mouth (v12); that which gratifies the carnal appetite. When a youth he takes an inordinate amount of pleasure in them as they yield the most agreeable delights. He keeping within his mouth (v13) indicates his unwillingness to depart from this sin; he spares it when he should shed it from him, forsakes it not, but goes forward in it, remembers it with pleasure, like Ezekiel describes Israel:
Ezekiel 23:19 “YET SHE MULTIPLIED HER WHOREDOMS, IN CALLING TO REMEMBRANCE THE DAYS OF HER YOUTH, WHEREIN SHE HAD PLAYED THE HARLOT IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.”
The love of the world and the wealth of the world control’s his life. It is worldly wealth upon which he gains his happiness, therefore he sets his heart upon it. Notice the greed that is used to describe this sin (v15); he has swallowed down riches as eagerly as ever a hungry man swallowed down meat; is never filled and cries, “give me more” (v17-18).
He is guilty of the sin of violence, oppression and injustice against his neighbors (v19). This was the sin of the giants of the old world, and a sin that, as much as any brings God’s judgments upon nations and families. He has forsaken the poor, taken no care of them, shown no kindness to them, nor made any provision for them.
As a result of these monstrous sins the wicked man will be visited by the punishments that Zophar describes in this discourse:
He shall be disappointed in his expectations, he will never find satisfaction or a sense of being complete or contented even though he possesses great worldly wealth. The world (v17) is never to those who live for its pleasures, love it, admire it, what they expect it to be. They will not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.
He shall be diseased and distempered in his physical body and have little comfort in his wealth because of the sickness and pain he will endure. He can find no happiness when his bones are full of the sins of his youth; that is the effects of the sins of his youth. By his drunkenness and gluttony, his uncleanness and wantonness, when he was young, he contracted those diseases which are painful to him long after and perhaps makes his very existence miserable.
He shall be disquieted and troubled in his mind: surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly (v20). He does not have the ease in his own mind that people think he has, but is in continual agitation. From his conscience looking back, and filling him with the fear of the wrath of God against him for his wickedness. This sin which was so sweet and so pleasurable is turned into the gall of asps, which there is nothing more bitter; the poison of asps (v16) which there is nothing more fatal, more deadly.
His wealth shall be removed, taken away (v18). What he has unjustly consumed upon his own pleasure will make him sick (v15). If he will not make restitution on his own to those he has taken his wealth from, God will, by his providence, force him to it, and bring it about, one way or another. His ill-gotten wealth will be returned to its rightful owners.
Perhaps like Judas he will be forced by a horror of a conscience that so troubling to return the wealth gained by his sin:
Matthew 27:3-5 “THEN JUDAS, WHICH HAD BETRAYED HIM, WHEN HE
SAW THAT HE WAS CONDEMNED, REPENTED HIMSELF, AND BROUGHT AGAIN THE THIRTY
PIECES OF SILVER TO THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND ELDERS, SAYING, I HAVE SINNED IN THAT
I HAVE BETRAYED THE INNOCENT BLOOD. AND THEY SAID, WHAT is that TO US? SEE THOU to
that. AND HE CAST DOWN THE
PIECES OF SILVER IN THE
In the end he will lose it all. He shall be stripped of all he has and become a beggar. He that spoiled others shall himself be spoiled for every hand of the wicked shall be upon him. Though the innocent have forgiven him, though they will make no reprisals, divine justice will, and often in the days of the writing of this book would bring death and destruction upon the wicked by men that were even more wicked.
Read Job 20:23-29
Zophar, having described the many vexations and troubles of those who chose to be wicked, now, in this section shows their complete ruin.
v23. “When HE IS ABOUT TO FILL HIS BELLY, God SHALL CAST THE FURY OF HIS WRATH UPON HIM, AND SHALL RAIN it UPON HIM WHILE HE IS EATING.”
The wicked might have been able to overcome other wicked men who would destroy him but cannot but fear the terror of God’s punishment. It is not only the justice of God that stands against him, but his wrath, the deep resentment of provocation’s given to himself; it is the fury of his wrath, incensed to the highest degree; it is cast upon him with force and fierceness; it is rained upon him in abundance; it comes on his head like the fire and brimstone on Sodom.
v24. “HE SHALL FLEE FROM THE IRON WEAPON, and THE BOW OF STEEL SHALL STRIKE HIM THROUGH.”
His ruin will be inevitable and there will be no possible way of escaping it. His guilt will cause him to flee but he might as well try to outrun a steel arrow.
v25. “IT IS DRAWN, AND COMETH OUT OF THE BODY; YEA, THE GLITTERING SWORD COMETH OUT OF HIS GALL: TERRORS are UPON HIM.”
It will be a terrible ruin. When the dart of God, in this context think of lightning, has struck him through comes to be drawn out of his body, his terror will complete and death will be brought in agony.
v26. “ ALL DARKNESS shall be HID IN HIS SECRET PLACES: A FIRE NOT BLOWN SHALL CONSUME HIM; IT SHALL GO ILL WITH HIM THAT IS LEFT IN HIS TABERNACLE.”
Sometimes it is a ruin that comes upon the wicked man that he cannot see. He is living in total, abject darkness regarding the calamity about to happen to him. Or it finds him in his secret place were he might have tried to hid and felt secure from any danger. The fire he is consumed with doesn’t seem to have a source, there was no warning, he is destroyed by an effect that everyone sees but nobody can identify a cause. His family, those of his tabernacle will also be destroyed with him. Zophar is making application of his argument on Job directly.
v27. “THE HEAVEN SHALL REVEAL HIS INIQUITY; AND THE EARTH SHALL RISE UP AGAINST HIM.”
The God of heaven shall reveal his iniquity; he will be as an example of those who oppose God. God who sees all of the wickedness of all wicked men will use him as an example and by some means let all the world know just how bad a man he was so that even those of the world will count him as their enemy.
v28. “THE INCREASE OF HIS HOUSE SHALL DEPART, and his goods SHALL FLOW AWAY IN THE DAY OF HIS WRATH.”
ruin visited upon him will not be to him alone but to his entire
household. What was the promise of God
Exodus 34:5-7 “AND THE LORD DESCENDED IN THE CLOUD, AND STOOD WITH HIM THERE, AND PROCLAIMED THE NAME OF THE LORD. AND THE LORD PASSED BY BEFORE HIM, AND PROCLAIMED, THE LORD, THE LORD GOD, MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS, LONGSUFFERING, AND ABUNDANT IN GOODNESS AND TRUTH, KEEPING MERCY FOR THOUSANDS, FORGIVING INIQUITY AND TRANSGRESSION AND SIN, AND THAT WILL BY NO MEANS CLEAR the guilty; VISITING THE INIQUITY OF THE FATHERS UPON THE CHILDREN, AND UPON THE CHILDREN'S CHILDREN, UNTO THE THIRD AND TO THE FOURTH GENERATION.”
v29. “THIS is THE PORTION OF A WICKED MAN FROM GOD, AND THE HERITAGE APPOINTED UNTO HIM BY GOD.”
Zophar ends his discourse like an orator. This is God’s portion for the wicked man, it is allotted him, it is designed for him, it is his portion, generated as a heritage by his evils deeds. He could have just as well used the words that Ezekiel used:
Ezekiel 33:8 “WHEN I SAY UNTO THE WICKED, O WICKED man, THOU SHALT SURELY DIE; IF THOU DOST NOT SPEAK TO WARN THE WICKED FROM HIS WAY, THAT WICKED man SHALL DIE IN HIS INIQUITY; BUT HIS BLOOD WILL I REQUIRE AT THINE HAND.”