As we begin the 11th chapter of Job the third and final of Job’s first three friends, Zophar, finally speaks up. Unfortunately for Job he sides with the first two friends in blaming Job for all of his misfortune. And while he says less, he is far harsher than Eliphaz or Bildad. Job has effectively declared his innocence to his friends, not an innocence or purity comparable to God. He was simply a man in mourning who while confused, was also confident that he had not committed a sin egregious enough for God to have punished him so harshly. Zophar though, does not accept this explanation and stops just short of calling Job a dumb, lying, fool. I very much believe that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were all telling Job what they thought he needed to hear, but where they fell short was assuming that they knew the ways and intentions of God better than Job, or at all. Their corrections of Job betray their ignorance, and while they are riddled with half truths, they wrongly attribute the misfortune of Job(who was selected because of his righteousness), to a sin that he must obviously must be overlooking or lying about.
When we consider all of this, it is easy to see how Job would become frustrated with his friends. But it’s important to acknowledge that no one here really understands God correctly. Job’s friends believe that Sin will always be punished, and up to this point Job would agree, but where his friends see an obvious answer that Job is responsible, Job sees a contradiction in God’s character. They all believe that the wicked should perish, and the righteous prosper. But Job sees that the wicked often prosper, and he has been punished, and we start to see the beginning of an existential crisis for Job.
This is where Job begins to recognize the wisdom of God separate from man, even if he doesn’t quite trust in it yet. And this is where many of us, myself included most of all, often falter. It is easy enough to KNOW something, but trusting in it is an entirely different animal. We can know the bible inside and out, but if we do not trust in God and believe that he will do what he says he will do then our knowledge is useless. In the 14th chapter, Job turns from his friends, and ignoring them, speaks directly to God. He laments the fact that Man is born into sin, in a hopeless state he recognizes the divide between god and man.
Who can produce something pure from what is impure?
Job was not wrong here, we are born into sin, and by ourselves we would be hopeless to escape the eternity of suffering that sin deserves. How wonderful then, that God has given us a path to be remade, so that while we were once born of sin, we can now rightfully claim to be remade in the image of Christ.