Welcome back to my study on the Book of Job! Today we explore Chapter twenty in which Zophar the Naamathite responds to Job’s previous speech. Right away we see where Zophar’s focus is: on himself. Yet even so, God uses Zophar’s speech to lay before us the truth and lies of sin and Himself. God hides nothing of Himself from us. Satan hides everything. Sin wants to take. God wants to live life with us. I hope today’s study will draw you closer to the hope that Job’s story is truly about.
Zophar’s Speech Begins
Therefore my disquieting thoughts make me answer; Because of the uneasiness that is within me. I have heard the reproof which insults me, But the spirit of my understanding makes me answer.Job 20:2-3 AMP
What first caught my attention from Zophar’s opening was the statement, “But the spirit of my understanding makes me answer.“
Zophar isn’t speaking from God’s Spirit. He is speaking from an un-renewed spirit, a carnal, self-centered spirit. We see this backed up in the words: disquieting; uneasiness; insults me.
God’s Spirit is peaceful not disquieting. God’s Spirit takes no offense, yet Zophar claims he was insulted by Job’s reproof. These are not evidence of a man secure in God.
The only one that I could maybe argue is from God is uneasiness, but in the context we’re given, this isn’t a from of discernment from God’s Spirit. It’s the unease of being called out, of being forced to look in a mirror and view that which one would rather keep hidden.
Therefore we know that whatever will come out of Zophar’s mouth next will not be God-centered but world-centered. Thankfully, for us, God can reach us and teach us even through ignorance.
Do you not know this from the old days, since the time that man was placed on the earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless is only for a moment? Though his pride reaches the heavens and his head touches clouds, yet he perishes forever like his own refuse;Job 20:4-7 AMP
Often as Christians, we are called lofty and prideful. We go against the grain of the world and often that develops a perception of us that outsiders take. I’d like to say that they’re wrong, but all too often, Christians act more like elitists than actual followers of Jesus. However, that isn’t what’s happening here, exactly.
Zophar’s pride has been hurt and he turns that hurt onto Job. Instead of hearing the words that Job is trying to speak, the hope that Job is trying to bring before them, Zophar only hears the words as if Job is talking down to him. Zophar is claiming that Job is being prideful by admonishing them, but it is Zophar who is acting out of pride.
I can imagine Zophar waving his hands toward the sky as he speaks with a whimsical voice before hardening and staring at Job in judgement. His intent isn’t well hidden. He’s already revealed that he’s speaking out of a place of self and not God. As they say, Zophar’s answer reveals more about himself than it does Job.
Some of Job’s last words in his speech prior to Zophar’s answer was to remind them that God is Just. That whatever they lay before Job, God will repay whether it is kindness or falsehoods.
Here with Zophar’s beginning, I think we need to ask ourselves how we take admonishment. How do we take instructive guidance and godly discipline? Do we hear the truth of it and allow the mirror to be placed before us so that we might truly view what we are hiding? Or do we take offense and turn it around on the other person?
No Longer Seen…
The eye which saw him sees him no longer, neither does his [accustomed] place behold him any longer.Job 20:9 AMP
This verse reminds me of Jesus’ words, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” (Matt. 7:20-23)
Once passed from this life and brought into judgement, the wicked will no longer be seen by God. Well, they will but they will be separated from Him.
The eye of God, Who so carefully watched their life on earth hoping against hope to be reconciled to His creation, will no longer gaze on that creation in mercy. We become our true selves, our inner being and nature with nothing to hide behind, in eternity. Those who are wicked and still under the burden of sin become that sin, and God does not and cannot look upon such sin. It cannot exist within His presence.
That word, Know, speaks of an intimacy. In Hebrew it is Da’as. It is a type of knowledge that comes from living with someone closely, of being intimately familiar. It is not the same as knowing of someone, but truly knowing them. Being intrinsically familiar with their ins and outs, their fears, their hopes, their routines, their secrets, their dreams. It is a knowledge that cannot be obtained outside of a closely connected relationship.
Never being known by God is as close to being forgotten by God as one can get. Let me tell you, that is a lonely and horrible state to live in.
The Appeal of Sin
Though evil and wickedness are sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue, though he desires it and will not let it go but holds it in his mouth, yet his food turns [to poison] in his stomach; it is the venom of vipers within him.Job 20:12-14
Give us this day our daily bread…
Our inner beings will eat one of two things: Wickedness or Godliness. What we allow ourselves to feast on will determine who we truly are. What is our daily bread? Sin or God’s Word?
Sin may seem harmless for a time. We may even want to keep sinning and going the way we are because it appeals to us, but eventually it will kill us.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23 CSB
From the beginning, the appeal of sin has been whispering to us, “Surely you won’t die.”
What that whisper fails to say is that it is not a physical death that we need to be aware of, it’s the spiritual one.
We’ve lived with the knowledge and understanding that at some point, our life on this earth will come to an end. We cannot escape it. Hopefully, it won’t happen for a very long time, but we have no control over that. So this knowledge becomes like every other mundane knowledge, there but un-acknowledged for the most part.
There is another lie in that whisper being delivered to us. Depending on the world we’re surrounded with it’s either, You’ll get a second chance in your next life, or, There is no life after death so live it all now.
Sorry, I have to pop those bubbles. There is no second life on earth. No reincarnation that will give us a second try to get things right. This life is the only chance we get before entering eternity. Which brings us to, Yes there is life after death and depending on how we live this life will determine where we spend our life after death for eternity.
No second chances. No getting to check out. We will have to deal with the consequences of our decisions and way of living this life as soon as we leave it.
We are born under the curse of sin. If the immediate consequence of sin was only a physical death, we would all drop dead the second we’re born. There would be no life on earth if the consequences were constrained to only the physical. But they are not.
Sin and its death-curse apply to the spiritual. Because Adam sinned against God, we are born separated from His Spirit. We still have a spirit, an inner being, because it is part of how God designed us, but it is not in its original design. It has become diseased by sin.
As soon as Eve ate that fruit, she experienced a spiritual death, a separation from God. When Adam did the same, he not only experienced the same thing, he cursed all of his descendants as well.
While the enemy does try to keep us from God in this life, his ultimate goal is to take us away from Him for eternity. Satan knows that our true life is one of spirit not physical. Yes, this physical life matters, it’s where the most important decision of our existence will be made, but this life on earth is a blip in the expanse of God’s design for us.
Remember, our spirits are created from God’s breath, from His Spirit, that is eternal. Because of this, we will not pass away. But a spirit that is sin cannot abide in God’s presence.
The Truth of Sin.
Because his appetite is never satisfied, he does not let anything he desires escape. Nothing is left for him to consume; therefore, his prosperity will not last.Job 20:20-21 CSB
Sin will not let us rest. It calls for more and more. We become consumed by devouring and partaking ever “vice”, everything that God cries out against. The deeper we go, the more we will do and as the burden of sin bears down on our inner being, eventually we will break apart.
An unrepentant sinner will have nothing left to consume and nothing will have been gained.
Total darkness is reserved for his treasures. A fire unfanned by human hands will consume him; it will feed on what is left in his tent. The heavens will expose his iniquity, and the earth will rise up against him. The possessions in his house will be removed, flowing away on the day of God’s anger.Job 20:26-28 CSB
There will be nothing left for the person consumed by sin. They will be judged by Justice and even the earth will cry out against them.
Sin takes and it takes and it gives nothing back. Perhaps there is temporary pleasure, but it never lasts. Even as we fall into the appeal of sin, it will feast on us, devouring us.
We shy away from speaking about God’s anger because we want to view the merciful God alone. God’s anger isn’t toward His creation, it is toward sin. However, as we are born sinful beings due to the fall, if we do not turn away from the sin and become re-born and our inner beings, our eternal selves, be brought back into God’s original design, we will be tried and judged as beings of sin.
When Jesus hung on the cross, He didn’t just take on our sin. He became our sin. At that point, He could not have entered into God’s presence. I think of the sky turning dark and that’s taken as when God looks away from His Son, not only because the Father probably wanted to order Jesus off the cross, but because He could not look upon what Jesus was becoming–a being of sin.
Jesus became that being for us, so that we don’t have to. But if we choose not to accept His life for ours then that is exactly what we will be revealed as in the day we stand before the Judge, and we will be judged according to our spiritual nature.
One way or another, we will give ourselves away. The only difference between our options, Jesus or sin, is that Jesus gives us our life back. Sin takes it then will stand there and accuse us of our misdeeds. Without a Defender, sin will once more take our life, this time for eternity without hope of salvation.
The hunger of sin, of the enemy, is never satisfied.
As Zophar says, The possessions in his house will be removed, flowing away on the day of God’s anger.
A person’s house is their life. Their possessions are all they have built up and done. Another word for possessions could also be treasure. Whatever earthly and sinful treasures a person has built up are all temporary. Those treasures will not stand the trial of judgement. They will be meaningless and the person who has built them up will be left with nothing.
Satan isn’t going to keep our treasures safe. He won’t guard them or protect them for us. He will steal them from us. He is a thief and a liar. Why, then, would we put any credence in his assurances?
God, on the other hand, stores up our treasures for us. True treasure in the hands of God are safe. They will multiply and prosper. God will not take them from us for His own gain. God will keep them and preserve them, just as He does the same for us. He gives us an inheritance that will not fade or pass away or be taken from us. We can trust God’s Word and be assured of what He promises.
Just like Satan has proven to be a liar and thief, God has proven to be trustworthy and faithful.
We Have to Choose.
We cannot rely on our own understanding. We cannot rely on what we feel. Though our feeling are real, they are not reliable. We cannot live out of a sense of self- anything.
We need to allow the mirror of truth to be placed in front of us. We have to look into it and see ourselves as we truly our, to view the true state of our inner being.
We cannot claim ignorance in the face of eternity. We have to choose our daily bread: Sin or Jesus. Death or Life.
We have to choose whether we wish to be known by God, and to know Him in return, or whether we wish to be consumed by Satan with nothing to gain.
The choice of Life and death has been placed before us. We can live eternally within God’s mercy and love. Or we can exist eternally forgotten.
Either way, we have to choose.
What do you rely on?
Are you like Zophar, relying on your own understanding and wisdom? Or do you rely on God’s understanding and wisdom?
Do you rely and trust in the appeal of sin? Or do you rely and trust in the promises of God?
I hope with all my heart that it is the latter.
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