My oldest child, Nate, has become very good at noticing the wrongdoings of others, while simultaneously looking over his own. He is quick to point out when one of his sisters or brother do something they are not supposed to, but sometimes he has a hard time seeing where his is falling short.
This isn’t just an 8 year old problem, this goes to the very core of our fallen nature. Even we, as adults, often see the wrong in others but glaze over our own sinful behavior. Zophar, the third friend to speak, has quickly identified what he believes to be wrong in Job’s life, and is now going to give a “prescription” to get things right with God.
It is almost painful to read Zophar’s first speech. The other two friends at least expressed a degree of comparison before calling Job a filthy sinner. Zophar comes swinging right out of the gate! He actually tells Job that he has gotten of easy, and God should have given him way worse for how bad he has been. WOW, what a great friend! Isn’t that who you want around after you go bankrupt, your kids die, and you are physically sick!?
After Zophar blast Job for his wretchedness, he then positions himself on a prideful perch to give a fitting remedy… a prescription to Job’s problem. Really the advice that Zophar offers is not bad advice, but, as with the other friends, he is applying it to the wrong situation. It would be great advice if it were accurate and true. The great failure of Zophar is that he rushed to judge Job, and we can be guilty of the same great fault.
I believe this is the reason Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-5 – “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Zophar, from his false supposition that Job is sinful, offers this remedy, REPENT. He tells Job to do two things: Prepare thine heart – trust the Lord, and Stretch out thine hands toward him – ask God and God alone. It really is great advice for repentance. Turn back to the Lord, and trust Him. It is like a young child holding out their chubby little hand hopping for a snack. The hope is that by extending the hand and asking, they might receive. We are to do the same with God; extend our hand, and in dependence… ASK.
He then tells Job all about the rewards of repentance… what will happen if he would simply turn back to God. The reality is that everything Zophar says in verse 15-19 are accurate and true! It is a beautiful picture of how repentance can lead to a restored relationship. To put the cherry on top, Zophar then tells Job the consequences of sin and refusal to repent. This is all great, and would preach so nice! What is the problem then…? Well, Job was not judged because of sin.
Job’s judgment/trial was not a result of Job’s sinful behavior that needs to be repented of. Actually, God’s testimony of Job was that there was none like him in all the earth!
Repentance is a very necessary and right part of every believer’s life. If you are in sin, I implore you to repent and turn back to God. In simple child-like faith, stretch your hand out!
May I also offer a word of caution: be careful passing judgment on others, and prescribing repentance to their life. It is not that you shouldn’t do it, but it should always be done from a prayerful, humble position. Considering our faults, we ought to make sure our life is in step with the Master before we dictate remedies to others for their shortcomings. Zophar’s “prescription” did not come from love, humility, and prayer, and that is why he missed the mark so wide.
Daily Scripture Reading
Job 13 - 15
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”