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Bible: What Does Job 11-15 Teach Us About God's Sovereignty and the Brevity of Human Life?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Potter: Symbolic of God's Sovereignty

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Zophar Adds His Wisdom

Finally, Zophar, Job's third friend, responds (v. 1).

He argues that while Job believes his speech should silence men's "advice", his words, in reality, deserve a rebuke for their emptiness and mockery (vv. 2-3).

He thinks that Job—the one who claims purity of life and teaching (v. 4)—deserves more chastening from God than what he has received (vv. 5, 6).

Zophar discourses on the sovereignty of God (vv. 7-8a, c, 9-11) and man's inability to override anything (ultimately) that He chooses to do (v. 8b, d).

He maintains that if Job confessed and forsook his iniquity (vv. 13-14), then the LORD would restore him, (v. 15) cause him to forget his agony (v. 16), and grant him light (v. 17), security (vv. 18-19a), and respect (v. 19b).

On the other hand, Zophar implies that if Job refuses to repent, he will die as a wicked man (v. 20).

[Again, if Job were truly guilty, then Zophar's instruction would be sound].

Job Speaks to His "Friends"

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God Humbles the Proud

Job 12

Asserting that all nature knows that God is sovereign (vv. 7-10), Job rejects the patronizing, mocking attitude and words of his "friends" (vv. 1-4).

He extols the wisdom and strength of God (cf. Job 9) in humbling the mighty among various classes of men (vv. 13-25).

Among those groups are counselors and judges (v. 17), kings and princes (vv. 18-19), trusted ones and elders (v. 20).

[In this latter part Job referred to categories in which his friends might find themselves.

In other words, "Watch out, or God will humble you wise men!"]

Job Prays for Light

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Job Seeks God for Answers

Job 13

Continuing his rebuttal, Job declares that he is not inferior to his friends, since he knows the same things they know (vv. 1-2).

He desires to talk to God to find answers, because he considers his companions unfit to give wise counsel (vv. 3, 4).

Using a series of questions, Job warns them to beware trying to talk for God against him (vv. 7-11).

When the LORD tests their advice, He will find it weak and worthless like ashes and clay (vv. 9-12).

Job feels constrained to defend himself, believing that God will finally vindicate and restore him (vv. 13-19).

As he begins his prayer, he asks the LORD for continued protection and courage (vv. 20-21). Any way that God desires to converse is fine with him (v. 22).

Without delay, Job pleads for illumination regarding any sin of which he is unaware (v. 23), and wonders why the LORD continues to be against him and put pressure on him (vv. 24-27).

With verse 28 he begins a discourse about man's mortality and frailty, continuing it into the next chapter.

[Job puts his friends on the defensive, admonishing them about their dangerous position as self-appointed judges.

He continues to question God in search of answers].

The Fall of Humanity

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Mankind's Mortality and Frailty

Job 14

In describing man's life, Job is partial toward similes.

He compares his mortal body to

(1) something rotten,

(2) a moth-eaten garment (13:28),

(3) a short-lived flower, and

(4) a shadow (v. 2).

He continues the logic of an earlier stage in his prayer, inquiring why God concerns himself with such a creature (v. 3; cf. 13:25).

His question (v. 4) seems to limit God's ability, but perhaps he refers to this life.

Since the sovereign Lord limits man's life span, Job suggests that He let this hired man (another simile) rest until his time is done (vv. 5-6).

Christ the Firstfruits

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My "Change": Restoration or Resurrection?

When Job speaks of his "change," does he refer to his restoration to prosperity in this life, or to his resurrection?

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Mankind Will Rise From The Dead

Then he contrasts man with a tree (vv. 7-12).

A tree is renewable (v. 7), and even parts of it may die (v. 8), yet water revives it (v. 9).

Conversely, man dies and, like a dried-up river (vv. 10-11), "does not rise" until the day of resurrection (v. 12).

Job desires God's protection from any more distress, and determines to wait for his "change"--a term that may merely refer to his restoration to "normal" (vv. 13-14)-- when the Lord will once more favor him (v. 15).

Again, Job resorts to figurative language, comparing God's destruction of man's hope to a mountainslide (v. 18) and the eroding effects of water (v. 19).

The LORD is relentless in His actions against humanity; they can do nothing but acquiesce (vv. 20-22).

[The Fall of man has produced many results-- some of which Job discusses here.

He does indicate, however, a belief in the resurrection, too].

The Flaw of the Three Counselors


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Eliphaz's Rant Continues

Job 15

After Job's three-chapter discourse, Eliphaz charges Job with empty talk (vv. 1-3), claiming that he incriminates himself by his many words (vv. 4-6).

Eliphaz poses six questions with which he intends to deflate Job (vv. 7-9).

Then he rebukes him for turning away from the "consolations of God" which he believes he (and his friends) brings (vv. 10-13).

He reiterates the truth of man's depravity (vv. 14-16).

This latter topic seems to remind him of some traditional wisdom story about the plight of the wicked (vv. 17-19).

In this tale an evil man lives in pain (v. 20), in fear and destruction (vv. 21-22), in hunger and darkness (v. 23), in trouble and anguish (v. 24).

He rebels against God (vv. 25-26), and though he is outwardly prosperous, the good times will not continue (vv. 27-29), for God will destroy him (v. 30).

If the wicked continues to trust in empty things, this destruction will occur before his maturity (vv. 31-35).

[Again, Eliphaz’s advice would possess some merit if he were talking to someone guilty of sin. Instead, he is digging a hole for himself].

© 2014 glynch1

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