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James wrote of Job’s “steadfastness” (ESV) or “endurance” (CSB) (5:7). The King James Version famously translates it as “the patience of Job.” If Job was a model of patience, perhaps it was with his friends more than anything else!

We have considered the opinions of the first two friends, who agreed that Job was getting what he deserved. Though they had been unable to identify any particular sin on his part, their simplistic theology led them to believe that the innocent do not suffer. Chapter 11 adds Zophar’s opinion to the mix, and his was even stronger than his friends’.

Zophar had grown increasingly agitated as he listened to Job answering to his counsellors. Job, indeed, was wrestling and, in so doing, making some pretty serious accusations. We saw yesterday, for example, that he accused God of destroying the wicked with the blameless. This was not Job’s settled theology but the anguished cry of one who was wrestling with God. Zophar had no time for such wrestling. He felt that it was time for Job to hold his tongue and listen to wisdom (vv. 1–3).

Zophar accused Job of claiming things he never actually claimed. For example, Job had never claimed that his “doctrine” was “pure” (v. 4). If anything, he was working through what he believed. It was his friends, not he, who claimed to have their theology all sorted out. Nor had he really claimed to be “clean in God’s eyes” (v. 4). Yes, he had objected that he had not committed any specific sin to invite affliction, but he was well aware that he was, indeed, a sinner.

Zophar demanded that Job listen to him, for he would speak on God’s behalf (vv. 5–6). And what was God’s message to Job? “Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.” The first two friends claimed that Job was getting what he deserved. Zophar, claiming that he was speaking on God’s behalf, added that he was getting less than he deserved. He had lost his wealth, health, and family, and that was only half of what he deserved! His claim was both cruel to a man in deep distress and profoundly arrogant, for he claimed insight into God’s ways that Job could never know.

In vv. 7–12, Zophar reminded Job that he could not possibly understand the depth of God’s wisdom—though, of course, he, Zophar, could and did. And since he understood the deep wisdom of God, he could speak on God’s behalf. If Job would but prepare his heart and lift up his hands to God in prayerful repentance (vv. 13–14), his fortunes would be restored (vv. 15–19). If he refused to do so, his affliction would persist until death (v. 20).

Zophar was like a lot of modern-day prosperity preachers. He said a lot of things that sounded true but, because he misapplied those truths, his words were deeply dangerous. His words in vv. 7–9 sounds almost Pauline (see Romans 11:33) and his words in vv. 15–19 almost Christlike (see John 10:10). Indeed, having uttered such glorious truths, one might be tempted to affirm his claim that he was God’s messenger to Job. But digging just a little below the surface reveals a far more insidious truth.

Zophar’s message was simple: Repent to experience blessings. That advice, far from sounding Christlike, echoed Satan’s sentiments: “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (1:9–11). Satan’s theology was simple: God was blessing Job because he was a good boy. Zophar’s counsel was strikingly similar: God would bless Job if he was a good boy. Whose messenger was Zophar: God’s or Satan’s?

Godless worldviews are often so compelling because they sound so true. As we encounter truth claims, we must do the hard work of digging below the surface of those claims to understand their true import. Similarly, we must be careful of uttering trite, unthinking soundbites as if we are speaking the very truth of God when, in fact, our words may contradict God’s truth.

As you meditate on Job 11 this morning, ask God for the grace to be wise in understanding every worldview with which you come into contact, to align it with the truth, and to be careful to speak truth as you have opportunity to do so.